5 important things happening in South Africa today

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 3,266 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,616,075. Deaths have reached 95,545 (+82), while recoveries have climbed to 3,465,681, leaving the country with a balance of 54,849 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 30,101,147.

  • Load shedding: As South Africans suffer through yet another round of load shedding, Eskom has given more insight into what led to the current state of affairs. Starting Friday, 28 January, the power utility was hit with a series of breakdowns that wiped around 4,000MW off its grid. By Wednesday, Eskom had over 8,000MW completely offline due to breakdowns – contributing to the combined 13,000MW offline on the grid. During this time, Eskom’s pumped storage was not coming through as planned, and it was forced to burn through its diesel reserves. Failures at Kusile due to lack of maintenance and further losses forced management’s back against the wall, it said. [News24]

  • Lockdown: Dean of the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences, Shabir Madhi, says that South Africa’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic needs to be independently reviewed and assessed so that South Africans and the international community can have a better sense of the successes and failures over the last two years. Madhi said that despite having some of the strictest lockdown conditions globally, South Africa still suffered waves and infection patterns similar to other countries and still had high fatality rates. At the same time, it made many economic sacrifices. He argued that the infection and fatality rate shows that lockdown didn’t stop the spread – and joined calls for the state of disaster to be scrapped. [BusinessLive]

  • Collusion: FirstRand finance group WesBank denies allegations of collusion in its deal with Toyota Financial Services, saying its agreement with the company is legitimate. On Thursday, the Competition Commission laid charges of collusion against the companies for a clause in a shareholder agreement that prevented WesBank from offering vehicle financing on Toyotas, effectively dividing the market. However, WesBank says that in the context of the joint venture, the restraint clause was legitimate and best served customers. The Competition Commission argues that both companies provide vehicle finance services and thus should be competing. [Moneyweb]

  • Criminals: The City of Johannesburg says it will have to fork over R37 million to repair 120 traffic lights that were damaged in just two months – mainly due to criminals cutting through the infrastructure to get at the copper cabling inside. On top of the R300,000 to R400,000 it costs to repair a traffic light, the city says it suffers further financial losses through increased insurance premiums due to the damage. The city is calling on law enforcement and other agencies to assist it in finding ways to combat criminality and vandalism, saying that simply repairing the traffic lights is futile if the criminal elements just come back to destroy them again. [TimesLive]

  • Markets: South Africa’s rand weakened on Thursday, with the market soured by continued scheduled power cuts locally and as global risk appetite faltered. Power utility Eskom said on Wednesday it would implement power cuts until Monday because of breakdowns at some of its generating units, the latest in a series of outages that have constrained economic growth in South Africa. Investors were also awaiting signals from central banks in Britain and Europe on interest rates, with the US jobs report on Friday in focus. On Friday, the rand was trading at R15.24/$, R17.47/€ and R20.73/£. [Reuters]

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5 important things happening in South Africa today