Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 171 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.56 million. In South Africa, there have been 3,755 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,662,825. Deaths have reached 56,439 (+76), while recoveries have climbed to 1,556,874, leaving the country with a balance of 49,512 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 968,319 (+4,443).
- No alcohol ban: the alcohol industry can breathe a sigh of relief with the latest move to lockdown level 2 – infographics published by the presidency say that sales continue as per normal. Alcohol sales were not specifically mentioned by the president in his speech, leaving many worried that there was a chance they would still be affected by the tighter restrictions. In a sense, sales will be affected, though this is limited to sales at restaurants and taverns, which now have to close a bit earlier to make sure they meet the extended curfew. [ENCA]
- Irregular spending: A leaked internal audit report from the SAPS shows that R1.6 billion in irregular PPE spending has been uncovered within the police department, pointing to serious mismanagement regarding procurement protocols. 34 orders were tracked, totalling R1.6 billion, which did not comply with procurement processes. Five of these were valued over R86 million each, and the companies involved were not tax compliant. Other suppliers were not listed on government databases of approves companies – and other simply overcharged. [Daily Maverick]
- Adapt or die: South Africa’s tourism industry has suffered significant losses due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and experts in the field warn that the industry has to adapt to a new way of doing things or die. Some tourists are returning to South Africa, but the numbers are a tiny portion of pre-pandemic levels, with Stats SA recording only 2.8 million people visiting South Africa in 2020 – a 72.6% drop. Tourists are tending to avoid long-haul flights, and when they do travel, they want to be in safe and clean environments – while the status of the vaccine rollout it also key. [TimesLive]
- More vaccines: President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that South Africa would get more Covid-19 vaccines this week with the next 636,000 doses arriving on Sunday evening, and weekly deliveries of the same volume happening until the end of June, when the country will receive 2.5 million doses. South Africa has vaccinated just under 1 million people – but needs to ramp up the vaccine rollout significantly to meet government targets. Government wants 16.6 million people vaccinated by November – this requires over 100,000 vaccinations a day, every day, including weekends. [EWN]
- Markets: The rand continued to make gains on Friday, ending the week on the front foot against the dollar. The rand’s strength has been largely driven by stronger commodity prices, which have given South Africa boosted terms of trade. While some economists believe that this is pushing the currency into a position of being overbought, lining it up for a correction – others believe the rally could continue. The currency’s direction is also dependent on US markets and economic policy. On Monday the rand was at R13.79/$, R16.81/€ and R19.56/£.