Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 1,228 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,625,190. Deaths have reached 96,021 (+186), while recoveries have climbed to 3,482,274, leaving the country with a balance of 46,895 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 30,255,366.
- SONA: President Cyril Ramaphosa faces high expectations for the State of the Nation Address this week, with demands rolling in from different sectors of society. Unions are looking for answers for the country’s persistently high unemployment numbers – particularly for the youth. The country is unable to function with an extended unemployment rate of 46%, they argue and call on the president to intervene. Adding to this, Ramaphosa is also expected to extend the R350 distress grant or make some sort of announcement about a universal income grant. Almost half the population are receiving a grant of some kind, and pressure is mounting for state intervention in this regard. [ENCA, 2]
- Hard times: Harvard economists have outlined how South Africa’s economy has performed poorly relative to its peers over the last decade, failing to recover growth following the 2008 global financial crisis. While emerging markets saw growth decelerate by one percentage point per annum between 2010 and 2019, South Africa’s growth more than halved. The country also slowed more than other mineral exporters. The economists highlighted the country’s power crisis as a key hurdle over the period, with productivity dropping despite increased spending on capital and labour. They warn that fiscal consolidation is the only path forward and that there is no more room for tax hikes. [Fin24]
- Price hikes: If Eskom is permitted to hike its prices by 20.5% this year, it could increase municipal electricity bills by as much as 17.5%, Joburg’s City Power says. The group said it has strongly argued against Nersa granting Eskom this increase but has warned that the hikes may still be coming. Eskom, meanwhile, has warned of further load shedding and has promised to take action against executives for not doing enough to prevent power outages. Load shedding made a quick return on Monday and was terminated early on Tuesday morning. The system remains under pressure, and load shedding could return at short notice. [702, News24]
- Failings: The report into the July 2021 riots has painted a bleak picture of post-Zuma South Africa, directed by lawlessness and disregard for order and authority. On Top of the R50 billion looted from state coffers through State Capture, the fallout from the riots wiped out another R50 billion and led to the deaths of over 340 people. The panel of experts lay this massive financial and moral cost at the feet of failed ANC leadership, whose factional battles, politicking and failed policy execution have led South Africa down this path. While acknowledging “complex circumstances”, the ANC’s failings ultimately put South Africa’s security at risk. [Daily Maverick, Business Live]
- Markets: The South African rand weakened against a stronger dollar on Monday, as domestic headwinds also weighed with power utility Eskom announcing the resumption of scheduled power cuts barely hours after suspending the outages. Eskom scheduled power cuts from 21h00 after more breakdowns at its ailing coal-fired power stations. It had only suspended outages on Sunday evening when it said its generation capacity had recovered. The outages are a major drag on Africa’s most industrialised economy. On Tuesday, the rand was trading at R15.55/$, R17.77/€ and R21.03/£. [Reuters]