Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 0 new Covid-19 deaths, taking the total reported to 99,543. The country has 24,559 active cases and a recovery rate of 96.6%.
- Covid tourism: The Tourism Business Council of South Africa says that it is happy to hear the government is planning to ease Covid-19 restrictions – however, it stressed that the PCR test requirement for vaccinated travellers has to be scrapped urgently to remain competitive in the tourism market. This follows an announcement from the Health Ministry stating that it plans to end the national state of disaster. The chief executive officer of the Tourism Business Council said that the mandatory negative PCR test for incoming travellers was the biggest threat to South African tourism. [ENCA]
- Russia-Ukraine neutrality: United States deputy secretary of state, Brian McKeon, says that the department left no diplomatic stone unturned when confronting the Russian invasion of Ukraine. McKeon responded to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s suggestion that if US President Joe Biden had agreed to meet with Russia’s Vladimir Putin unconditionally days before the invasion, it would have been averted. McKeon stressed that South Africa abstaining from voting at the UN General Assembly to condemn Russia was not seen by the US as endorsing the invasion. He added that the abstention would not impact US relations with South Africa. [Daily Maverick]
- SAA licensing: SAA’s privatisation deal could stall, as transport minister Fikile Mbalula failed to appoint two crucial air permitting councils that need to approve the deal. Approval is required from the South African International Air Licensing Council and the Domestic Air Licensing Council. However, the terms of office of these councils expired in March 2021, and Mbalula failed to appoint new office bearers. Aviation experts believe that the failure to appoint the councils was a deliberate move to avoid scrutiny of SAA after it came out of business rescue in April last year. [Moneyweb]
- Vaccine mandates: The Universities Alliance South Africa, an organisation representing students and staff across South Africa, is preparing a legal case against several public universities over their mandatory vaccine policies. The protested policies require all staff and students to be fully vaccinated to access campuses and facilities. Unvaccinated individuals are expected to produce a weekly negative Covid-19 test. The alliance argues that this violates an individual’s right to bodily autonomy and has described the policy as irrational, medically unjustified and unlawful. [EWN]
- Markets: Global oil prices soared more than 10% after hectic trading as the risk of the US and European ban on Russian products and delays in Iranian talks triggered what was shaping up to see a large increase in economic inflation and stagnation. The chief economist at Bank of America estimates that the loss of Russia’s 5 million barrels could see oil prices double to $200 a barrel and lower economic growth globally. This Monday, the rand is currently trading at R15.40/$, R16.73/€ and R20.34/£. [Nasdaq]