Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 414 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,916,593. Deaths have reached 88,612 (+25), while recoveries have climbed to 2,805,186, leaving the country with a balance of 22,795 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 20,200,231 (+20,861).
- Danger Zone: News24 has launched a new municipal index – the Out of Order Index – which assesses the state of South Africa’s municipalities based on financial metrics, unemployment, poverty and basic service delivery to households. The index pulls in data from National Treasury’s budget, the Auditor-General’s reports, and Statistics South Africa. According to its findings, over and above the 87 municipalities flagged by the government as being on the brink of collapse, 43 more municipalities are in the ‘danger zone’ and heading in that direction. The average index score is 45 out of 100, which shows the local government crisis South Africa faces. [News24]
- Electricity Tariffs: Eskom is again taking energy regulator Nersa to court over fees. The power utility has launched an urgent application against Nersa’s decision to reject electricity fee adjustments from 2022 to 2025. Nersa narrowly rejected the proposal in favour of a different tariff determination process. However, Eskom argues that Nersa’s plans are ‘fanciful’ and won’t be processed in time for the price adjustments next year. Nersa wants to do away with Eskom’s use of ‘allowable revenue’ to adjust tariffs, which has allowed the utility to implement massive price hikes over the last few years, largely due to low sales. [Moneyweb]
- Elections: South Africa is likely to emerge from the 2021 elections with more coalition governments than ever before, according to analysts, who say that an expected low voter turnout may boost smaller parties and hurt the ANC. Large metros like Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane are more likely to once again result in coalition leadership, they said – while Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni may also end up in a similar position. However, 20 to 50 smaller municipalities are scattered across the country where there may be no clear winner and force opposing parties to work together. [EWN]
- Zuma: Despite being on medical parole – and by his own account, being too unwell to attend rallies of support – former president Jacob Zuma was spotted out and about this past weekend. He was sighted leaving a casino on Friday, with Carl Niehaus and Dudu Myeni in tow. According to the Department of Correctional Services, Zuma’s monitoring official had permitted him to leave his residence. Zuma was granted medical parole against the recommendation of the medical parole advisory board. Legal processes are underway to have his parole revoked because it was not rational and because no reasons were given for doing so. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: The South African rand gained momentum last week to trade around R14.70 against the US dollar – its strongest since 23 September – as the dollar retreated, despite persistent fears of a slowdown in global growth and the prospect that the US Fed would announce a tapering of stimulus next month. At the same time, the South African Reserve Bank turned more hawkish on raising borrowing costs through 2023. On Monday, the country starts the week at R14.67/$, R16.99/€ and R20.14/£. [Citadel]