Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 3,658 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 3,564,578. Deaths have reached 93,551 (+100), while recoveries have climbed to 3,380,374, leaving the country with a balance of 90,633 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 29,084,975.
- Electricity: Eskom’s plants are deteriorating faster than anticipated, and so the embattled power utility will turn to burning more diesel to keep the lights on this year, its CFO says. This was not previously factored into the group’s operations for this year and could lead to a further 5% tariff increase being passed on to customers – over and above the 20.5% increase it has already requested from the energy regulator. The extra burning of fossil fuels may also present other problems for Eskom, which is already the highest emitter of greenhouse gases in the country. [News24]
- Matric results: Matrics who wrote the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) have passed with an average of 98.4%, improving on the results of the class of 2020 who achieved 98.06%. A total of 12,857 full-time and 968 part-time candidates sat the IEB exams, with 89.2% achieving entry into further study for a degree. Matric results for the National Senior Certificate will be published by the end of the week – publicly, thanks to a court order. Senior research associate at the University of Johannesburg Mary Metcalfe says her reading of the court’s ruling is that the department can publish learner ID numbers but not their names. [TimesLive, 702]
- Common sense: Scientists have warned against complacency around the Covid-19 pandemic, saying that the apparently less severe Omicron variant should not set minds at ease and open the door to lax behaviour – however, they believe lockdown should end. They say that lockdown restrictions should be lifted and common sense, vaccines and non-pharmaceutical interventions (social distancing, sanitising) should prevail. They said that keeping people in an ‘eternal code red’ will just cause them to stop taking protocols seriously. [Daily Maverick]
- Red flag: SARS whistleblower Johann van Loggerenberg’s house was burgled this week – marking the second state capture witness to have their home invaded in a week. While typical criminality, common to South Africa, could be at play, Van Loggerenberg says that several factors about the burglary indicate this was not a normal break-in. Given its proximity to the burglary of former GCIS CEO, Themba Maseko – another state capture whistleblower – and the release of the first part of the state capture report, observers are raising red flags. There have been calls for authorities to take whistleblower safety more seriously. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: The South African rand slipped on Tuesday as rising US Treasury yields lifted the dollar. Traders were positioning for the possibility of a hawkish surprise from the Federal Reserve that could end with four rate hikes this year. The rand has tended to track global factors, especially dollar moves and the outlook for US interest rates, in recent sessions, moving little on the few domestic economic data releases since the start of 2022. On Wednesday, the rand was trading at R15.53/$, R17.60/€ and R21.14/£. [Reuters]