5 important things happening in South Africa today

 ·11 Aug 2023

Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:

Koeberg delays: Work being done at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant on unit 1 has been trudging along, with the unit’s return to service being delayed until November 2023. This is almost 5 months after it was initially supposed to be back online. Concerns have been raised that both units of the station will be offline at the same time, with unit 2 scheduled to be taken down at the end of the year. Eskom chief nuclear officer Keith Featherstone has assured this will not happen. [Engineering News, BusinessLive]

Debt write-off: Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi wants power utility Eskom to write off the debt owed to it by municipalities. Eskom is owed over R56 billion from municipalities, with Lesufi revealing that R13 billion of that is owed by those in Gauteng. The premier argued that the national government bailed out Eskom’s debt by taking over two-thirds of the amount, so the utility should do the same for municipalities. [EWN]

Back to jail – but not: Jacob Zuma was ordered to go back to prison to serve out the rest of his 15-month sentence for being in contempt of the Constitutional Court – however, he has been granted remission and is already a free man. Correctional Services National Commissioner Makgothi Thobakgale announced on Friday that the former president voluntarily returned to the Estcourt facility to be processed. Zuma was granted remission because he was a “low risk prisoner”, according to the department. [News24]

New Covid variant: The World Health Organization has declared the first new Covid-19 variant since Omicron in 2021. The new variant has been designated the Greek letter E for Eris and is more technically known as the EG.5 subvariant. The WHO said EG.5 had an increased transmissibility but was not more severe than other Omicron variants, and is currently leading to a spike in infections in the USA and China. Omicron remains the dominant variant in South Africa no cases of Eris yet detected. [Daily Maverick]

Markets: The South African rand strengthened more than 1% against the dollar on Thursday, helped by dollar weakness in the run-up to a closely-watched US inflation reading and strong local mining and manufacturing figures. The recovery follows a brief crash back above R19.00 on Wednesday. On Friday, the rand was trading at R18.86/USD, R20.73/EUR and R23.92/GBP. Oil is trading at 86.19 a barrel.

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