Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 1,275 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,950,035. Deaths have reached 89,657 (+22), while recoveries have climbed to 2,839,768, leaving the country with a balance of 20,610 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 25,002,232 (+127,704).
- Elections: The ANC narrowly won the mayorship of eThekwini on Wednesday, giving the party control over four metros (Mangaung, Buffalo City, eThekwini and Nelson Mandela Bay), with the DA governing the other four (Cape Town, Joburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni). The ANC victory came after the party managed to rally smaller parties to support it in the metro, beating out a DA/IFP collaboration. While the metro split may be even, the DA faces an uphill battle governing as a minority in the Gauteng metros. The party’s Federal Executive will meet next week to determine how it will proceed. [News24 – paywall]
- Spike: South Africa has seen a sharp rise in the number of Covid-19 infections, with parts of Gauteng identified as hotspots. The province accounts for 80% of new infections, with Tshwane singled out as the main region. New infections have continued to rise sharply in the city, with Pretoria West, Atteridgeville, Centurion, Hatfield, and Soshanguve identified as hotspots. The NICD said the rise is concerning as the country’s vaccination programme has slowed down significantly, with around only 100,000 jabs happening a day – a third of the numbers seen a few months ago. While the country has administered 25 million doses, only about 14 million people are fully vaccinated. [EWN]
- E-tolls: Following reports that road agency Sanral had been approved for a R7 billion loan from the Brics New Development Bank, the group has clarified that it could not get the loan because National Treasury blocked it. The loan was blocked because there was still uncertainty around e-toll collections in Gauteng, and Treasury was not prepared to take on the guarantees for the loan while this uncertainty persists. The government has been dithering on e-tolls for several years now. Motorists in the province refuse to pay for the system that was forced on them without consultation, and authorities, despite many promises, refuse to provide any plan for the system. [Moneyweb]
- Fogging: The special tribunal into Covid looting at schools is proceeding at pace. The tribunal heard legal arguments from the Special Investigating Unit why R431 million in decontamination contracts should be declared invalid. Much of the money was spent on unnecessary fogging and sanitisation in classrooms, where service providers were paid as much as 27 times the standard rate. The companies used were also hastily set up and were not on the centralised service provider database. The SIU wants the tribunal to revert all contracts to a non-profit state, where the companies involved can take money for services rendered (if any), but at cost, with no profit attached. [Daily Maverick]
- Markets: The South African rand fell to a 12-month low on Wednesday as the US dollar strengthened and contagion from the under-pressure Turkish lira lingered. The US dollar continued its upward trend on renewed bets the Federal Reserve will hike rates to tame inflation. With no major domestic market-moving news, analysts are expecting the rand to keep tracking global drivers. The lira remains in record-low territory. A sharp drop in one emerging market currency can hurt highly liquid peers such as the rand as investors dump assets of a similar risk profile. On Thursday, the rand was trading at R15.88/$, R17.81/€ and R21.20/£. [Reuters]