Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 40 new Covid-19 deaths, taking the total reported to 99,767. The country has 14,743 active cases and a recovery rate of 96.9%.
- Proposed Covid regulations: The Health Department published new proposed Covid-19 regulations for public comment. If approved, these regulations will replace the National State of Disaster. The government extended the state of the disaster until 15 April 2022. The proposed regulations include that people entering and leaving the country without a vaccine certificate must provide proof of a negative Covid-19 result not older than 72 hours. It is further proposed that outdoor and indoor gatherings be limited to 50% capacity. [BusinessTech]
- Confusion and concern: The proposed regulations have already been met with confusion and concern. Independent sources told Business Day it is unclear how restrictions will be tightened or loosened, and which aspects are specific to Covid-19. There are also inconsistencies in the proposed changes to the regulations relating to the surveillance and control of notifiable medical conditions, which limit funerals to 100 people but permit indoor gatherings of up to 1,000 people. Legal experts have also flagged possible Constitutional issues in the regulations around vaccines. [BusinessDay]
- Big firm break up: The Competition Commission told Parliament that large firms were still dominating several sectors of the South African economy – and that it would introduce measures to address this imbalance. A report drawn up by the Commission outlined how sectors such as the agricultural, retail and pharmaceutical which are very concentrated, drove up prices and undermined job creation. [News24]
- Oil leaks: More than 70 incidents of theft along the Transnet fuel pipelines in the past financial year have taken place. On Wednesday, thieves pumped thousands of litres of diesel out of a pipeline in the Free State. The thieves left the valve open and thousands of more litres extended for 300m into the Meul River, contaminating the environment. Albi Modise, the spokesperson for the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment said that approximately 6,000 square metres of land and vegetation have been affected by this incident. In April 2021, it was reported that in the 2020/2021 financial year, 134 thefts resulted in a loss of 8.5 million litres of fuel valued at R102 million. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: Main Wall Street stock indexes and U.S. Treasury yields rose on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve hiked interest rates and planned further increases to combat inflation. European stocks closed at more than two-week highs as fresh talks of compromise in the Russia-Ukraine conflict boosted market sentiment just as China proposed to roll out more economic stimulus. The rand is currently trading at R14.92/$, R16.46/€ and R19.63£. [Nasdaq]