Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 3,628 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,631,642. Deaths have reached 96,502 (+213), while recoveries have climbed to 3,491,626, leaving the country with a balance of 43,514 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 30,397,806.
- SONA: President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his latest State of the Nation Address tonight at 19h00. Among the retreads of topics from previous years – such as job creation, investment and reviving the economy – the president is also expected to focus his speech on South Africa’s emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic, talk around the basic income grant, and also the developments that have taken place over the last year, such as the energy department’s progress in opening up electricity procurement. South Africans can also expect a positive spin on notable pain points such as widespread corruption uncovered in the state capture reports and the social unrest and failure of state security in mid-2021. [Daily Maverick]
- Cut off: The City of Tshwane has embarked on what it calls an ‘aggressive revenue collecting campaign’, sweeping through the municipality, cutting off defaulting businesses and buildings that have not been paying their bills. Executive mayor Randall Williams said that only 56% of the city’s customers pay their accounts regularly every month and have accrued R17 billion worth of debt. Many of the buildings cut off on Wednesday were government departments, with private businesses also not spared. The city said it would move into estates, complexes and other residential areas next week doing the same. 
- Rates compared: An analysis of rates paid in major metros in South Africa shows that the City of Johannesburg carries the highest cost for an entry-level household. The analysis, conducted by Moneyweb, looked at the cost of rates, refuse removal, water, sewage and electricity in five major metros. After Joburg, Cape Town was the second most expensive, followed by Ekurhuleni. However, due to Ekurhuleni’s different price structures, a different tariff plan also made it the cheapest. The main differentiator in the pricing is electricity tariffs, where sourcing power directly from Eskom, or City Power in Joburg, can significantly reduce total costs. [Moneyweb]
- Lost control: A panel of experts says that president Cyril Ramaphosa has effectively failed to control the ANC and the party’s mechanisms which enable corruption. The panel, set up by the president, said that his anti-corruption stance had isolated him from other members of the party, who themselves have been implicated in corrupt activities. They said a call for an end to corruption rallies people outside the ANC. The only agency seen as effective against corruption is the Special Investigating Unit, with the overall attempt at combating graft seen as having plateaued. Meanwhile, South Africans – who have borne the brunt of corrupt activities – are growing impatient. [EWN]
- Markets: The South African rand was flat on Wednesday as investors maintained a cautious stance ahead of economic data releases and a presidential address to the parliament this week, while stocks rose. South Africa’s December manufacturing and mining figures will be released on Thursday, and President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to give his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA), in which he typically announces reforms. On Thursday, the rand was trading at R15.24/$, R17.41/€ and R20.62/£. [Reuters]