Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 38.6 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,093,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,770 new cases, taking the total reported to 698,184. Deaths have reached 18,309 (a daily increase of 158), while recoveries have climbed to 628,301, leaving the country with a balance of 51,574 active cases.
- Credibility: President Ramaphosa’s economic recovery plan presented on Thursday says nice things, but analysts have again called into question government’s biggest issue: credibility. Commentators have noted that policy paralysis has been a hallmark of government for about a decade, and the president gave no indication of why this time would be any different, or how this paralysis will be broken. The reviews seem to settle on the same conclusion: all talk and no action. [702, Daily Maverick, ENCA]
- Budget worries: Finance minister Tito Mboweni had to delay his MTBPS budget speech because of two items that were forced on him in the preceding weeks: SAA’s bailout, and a three-month extension of Covid relief payments. Sources speaking to the M&G said the minister needed more time getting these affairs in order, with pressure from all sectors that these be done right, and tough decisions be made. The desperate search for R10 billion to bail out SAA reportedly eclipsed other urgent budget items. [Mail & Guardian]
- E-toll fines: Word from the transport department over claims that motorists will be fined for not paying their e-toll bills under the country’s new driving laws is a solid ‘we don’t know’. The department offered no clarity or comment over the issue which has been raised by the DA, saying that nothing is set in stone as the question of e-tolls is still sitting with cabinet, and nothing is known until they give direction on the matter. There is no indication as to when that will be. [Moneyweb]
- Transport costs: A new study into the cost of transport in Gauteng has found that the majority of drivers in the province spence about 10% of their income on transport costs, with poorer households the most adversely affected. Motorists in the province are financially depressed, with poor infrastructure leading to congestion, keeping people on the roads for longer. Travel times have doubled in the last 20 years – with no real alternatives available. As South Africa’s economic core, this has a direct impact on the wider economy. [TimesLive]
- Markets: After a week of flat trading, the rand shed some value against the greenback yesterday as broader risk-off sentiment weighed on the currency. European CPI today will be followed by US retail sales as well as industrial and manufacturing production. The rand starts the day on Friday trading at R16.66 to the dollar, R19.49 to the euro and R21.48 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]