Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 cases continue to rise, with total confirmed cases now at 5.3 million, and 342,000 deaths. In South Africa, cases are still increasing dramatically, with an increase of 1,240 cases taking the total to 22,583. There have been 429 deaths, and 11,100 recoveries.
- Too little too late: Critics of South Africa’s extended lockdown say that president Cyril Ramaphosa’s declaration that the whole country will move to level 3 lockdown from 1 June is a case of too little, too late. Business interest group Sakeliga says that the eased restrictions do not go far enough to help businesses get back to work, and will continue its court action against restrictions on permits and licences – while the DA said that easing has come six weeks too late, and that the extended lockdown has already destroyed many businesses and lives. [Sakeliga, DA]
- Supportive science: Over 250 academics and scientists have come out in support of Professor Glenda Gray – the advisory panel member who went public with her criticism of government’s lockdown strategy, and claimed that it was not based on scientific fact. The 250 experts are throwing their weight behind Prof Grey and ‘academic freedom’ after Acting Director-General of the Health Department, Anban Pillay, called for investigations into her for criticising government and ‘making false claims’. [Daily Maverick]
- WHO predicts: The World Health Organisation’s predictions on the path of coronavirus in South Africa closely follows local models which have pointed to over 30,000 deaths in the country. The WHO predicts that South Africa will be the third-hardest-hit country on the continent, with deaths at around 23,600 people. Nigeria and Algeria will have higher tolls, it said. The body said that while the virus has spread to over 100,000 on the continent, it appears to be taking a different route than other places in the world. [TimesLive, BusinessTech]
- Reach to teach: Teachers’ unions are pushing back against government’s plan to re-open schools from 1 June, and have teachers return from today. Surveys show that over 90% of schools are not equipped with the necessary protective tools to start getting kids back in classes. Some teachers have been instructed not to return to work while the unions continue to have discussions with government around ensuring sanitisers and protective gear are available and delivered. 
- Markets: There is some positive news locally as we move to level 3 of the lockdown on 1 June, which will enable up to 8 million people to return to work. This comes as a welcome relief to many who have been severely negatively impacted by the lockdown. With Memorial Day in the US and Spring bank holiday in the UK, there will be little global activity driving the markets as we start the week. On Monday the rand is at R17.58 to the dollar, R21.42 to the pound and R19.15 to the euro. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]