This report outlines some important things to note coming from South Africa at the moment. Stories have been extracted from various news agencies and summarized to give you an informed perspective.
Global Covid-19 infections have hit 167.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 3.48 million. In South Africa, there have been 4,236 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,635,465. Deaths have reached 55,802 (+53), while recoveries have climbed to 1,539,395, leaving the country with a balance of 40,268 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 647,983 (+5,037).
- Alcohol bans: Liquor traders in South Africa are requesting a meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa over potential restrictions on trade that may be coming along with tighter lockdown rules, as the country heads into a third wave of Covid-19 infections. The National Liquor Traders Council has written to the president, asking to be included in discussions around how to best handle the new wave. Liquor trade in South Africa has suffered four bans under lockdown, costing billions to the economy and putting thousands of jobs at risk. Traders want to work with government to ensure any further actions are based on scientific evidence, and they want clear timelines and communication on any restrictions so they can plan. [News24]
- E-tolls: Transport minister Fikile Mbalula says that a decision on e-tolls is “imminent”, with the two-week deadline previously promised already passed. A solution to the problem of e-tolls – which has been draining the fiscus due to widespread non-payment of bills by road users – has been promised for well over a year, with the delays being blamed on the Covid-19 pandemic. Mbalula says government is ‘near’ to a sustainable, responsible and legal solution. On May 6, the minister said an announcement was two weeks away, putting the deadline at the end of last week (20 May). This date came and passed with no announcement, however, leaving MPs accusing Mbalula of misleading the NCOP. [Moneyweb]
- Looting: Further investigations into close associates of health minister Zweli Mkhize benefitting from multi-million rand government contracts have revealed that the people pocketed as much as R90 million in ‘suspicious payments’ coming from these contracts. Of the more shocking revelations is that the company involved charged the health department millions of rands just to set up Mkhize’s media briefings during the Covid-19 pandemic. Of the R150 million doled out in the contract, R90 million was channelled to the two people linked to Mkhize – his former personal spokesperson and a long-time friend of his. [Daily Maverick]
- Magashule: The ANC will reportedly hold a high level meeting today to discuss what further action should be taken against suspended secretary general Ace Magashule for his continued defiance of all decision-making bodies’ orders. There is speculation that his suspension could be escalated to an expulsion. Magashule last week filed court papers against the ANC, seeking to have his suspension declared invalid and set aside. The politician was suspended because he refused to step aside voluntarily based on the ANC’s resolution that members charged with corruption to be relieved of their duties until the matter has reached a conclusion. [BusinessLive – Paywall]
- Markets: The rand continued its winning streak versus the dollar at the close of the week, breaking under R14 to the dollar. The rand’s gains have been supported by demand for the mining commodities, higher interest rates, and a weaker dollar. The Reserve Bank provided a more optimistic outlook for the country last week, with the overall growth outlook pointing to annual growth of 4.2%, up from a previous projection 3.8%. On Monday, the rand opened the week at R13.94/$, R17.00/€ and R19.74/£.