5 important things happening in South Africa today

 ·22 Nov 2023

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

  • Bad news for medical schemes: The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) select committee on health, and social services has adopted the contentious National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill without making any changes, dashing the private healthcare sector’s hopes that MPs would soften its provisions on the role of medical schemes. The development takes the bill one step closer to final approval by the ANC-dominated NCOP, which is expected to vote in favour of it next week. [Business Day]

  • Russian roulette: The state-owned Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA) wants to partner with Russia’s Gazprombank – one of 20 bidders – to restart the gas-to-liquids refinery in Mossel Bay. Concerns were raised about partnering with Gazprombank, which is under US sanctions, and PetroSA was advised to enter into negotiations with other bidders. However, the possible imposition of secondary sanctions on South Africa … could lead to financial instability in South Africa, said the SARB. A source close to the bidding process told amaBhungane that PetroSA plans to award the contract to Gazprombank anyway. [amaBhungane]

  • NPA competency questioned: University of Pretoria’s senior law lecturer, Dr Llewelyn Curlewis, has described the striking off the roll of a R2.2 billion fraud case against former Eskom CEO Matshela Koko as a reflection of NPA’s inability to deal with complex, high-profile cases. “This is a very sad day for justice in South Africa,” he said, adding that the outcome gives the perception that the NDPP is not competent in fighting corruption. [TimesLive]

  • Stage 4 load shedding: Due to insufficient emergency reserves and generation capacity as a result of four units not returning to service as planned, stage 4 load shedding was implemented on Wednesday and will continue until further notice. [BusinessTech]

  • Markets: The rand slipped on Tuesday after mixed local economic data, ahead of inflation figures and an interest rate decision this week. Central bank data earlier in the day showed South Africa’s composite leading business cycle indicator rose 0.6% month-on-month in September. However, a survey by the Rand Merchant Bank showed business confidence slipped in the fourth quarter. On Wednesday (22 November), the rand was trading at R18.62 to the dollar, R23.34 to the pound and R20.32 to the euro. Oil is trading at $82.37 a barrel. [Nasdaq]

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