Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 13 new Covid-19 deaths, taking the total reported to 99,656. The country has 19,229 active cases and a recovery rate of 96.8%.
- State of disaster: The South African government is considering extending the country-wide state of disaster, which was imposed in mid-March 2020 in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, regulating the movement of people, the size of social gatherings, curfews and introducing mandatory mask-wearing in public. This comes despite president Cyril Ramaphosa saying that the February extension would be the last. Government insiders said that officials have not yet finalised alternative legislation to continue to manage Covid-19 and that it would take time to process such laws through proper channels. [BusinessLive]
- Mineworkers strike: Employees affiliated with the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) and National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) from Wednesday began strike action over wage-related matters at the operator’s Free State and Gauteng gold mines. Workers demand an increase of R1,000 for underground and surface workers and a 6% increase for artisans, miners and officials. Mining giant Sibanye-Stillwater – the core target of the strike action – said it would offer workers R700 and 5%, respectively. [EWN]
- South African disparity: A World Bank report has found South Africa to be the most unequal country in the world, with race being a determining factor. The report found that 10% of the population – mostly white people – own more than 80% of the wealth. The World Bank attributed this disparity to the legacy of apartheid and colonialism in South Africa and its effect on the current education system and labour market. While South Africa ranked first, the report also outlined the state of other African nations, including neighbouring Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia. [ENCA] [EWN]
- Former minister guilty: The Johannesburg magistrate’s court has found former social development minister Bathabile Dlamini guilty of perjury. This comes after a Constitutional Court judgment in 2018 that inquired whether she should pay costs in her capacity for a social grants payments debacle involving the South African Social Security Agency. Dlamini denied lying under oath and pleaded to the judge to be lenient with her as she was a single mother who ‘only’ earned R110,000 a month from her pension and position as president of the ANC Women’s League. [TimesLive]
- Markets: The rand strengthened on Wednesday, boosted by higher commodity prices and in line with other emerging market stocks and currencies, spurred by hopes of a negotiated end to Russia’s conflict with Ukraine. Experts say that South Africa’s high exposure to commodities, including gold, platinum and palladium, has helped limit losses in the rand. This comes after the Johannesburg Stock Exchange saw its first net positive inflow last month in three and a half years. The rand is currently trading at R15.07/$, R16.66/€ and R19.85/£ [Nasdaq]