Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, 44 new Covid-19 deaths have been reported, totalling 100,020. The country has 13,699 active cases and a recovery rate of 96.9%.
- Postbank theft: It has been revealed that more than R89 million in cash was stolen through Sassa accounts from the state-owned Postbank between 16 and 28 October 2021 by unknown individuals either employed by Postbank or as contractors. This marks the second major security breach since the South African Post Office and its subsidiary, Postbank, took control of the bulk of the social grant system in 2018. A commission that looked into the cyber breach noted that the perpetrators would have needed a large coordinated effort and that it was likely an ‘insider threat’ due to the necessary knowledge required and the need for access to the Postbank database. [amaBhungane]
- Motion of no confidence: The DA’s motion of no confidence in the Cabinet has failed in the National Assembly. Members of Parliament completed voting, with more than half of those present voting against the motion. 231 members voted no, 131 yes, and there was one abstention. The ATM’s motion of no confidence in President Cyril Ramaphosa was withdrawn earlier in the day after the party refused to move the motion for debate. The motion may be tabled at a later stage. [EWN]
- UIF surplus: The Unemployment Insurance Fund [UIF] is paying out more than it received in contributions. This practice, which has been seen before, has raised concerns despite investment income ensuring that the fund remained in surplus for the nine months ending December 2021. The fund provides short-term financial support to workers who lose their jobs or cannot work. Concerns surrounding the UIF have been enough for their actuaries to compile a report on its long-term sustainability. [BusinessLive]
- Corruption: A former senior Eskom manager has been issued a warrant of arrest after failing to appear in court. He is amongst several Eskom officials who stand accused of fraud, money laundering and corruption regarding the Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga. The case concerns an allegedly fraudulent R745 million contract related to the construction of the Kusile power plant. It is alleged that the managers deliberately understated costs so that preferred companies could win contracts and were paid kickbacks. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand firmed on Wednesday, holding on to gains from the previous session as signs of progress in Russia-Ukraine peace talks lifted risk appetite. Negotiators from Russia and Ukraine met in Turkey this week to discuss a peace deal. Russia promised to scale down military operations around Kyiv, and Ukraine proposed adopting a neutral status. The South African rand has strengthened almost 10% this year and is currently trading at R14.52/$, R16.21/€ and R19.05£. [Nasdaq]