Africa’s second largest economy is battling two pandemics. First the Coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over 18,600 lives, and second the economic recession which has seen the gold-rich Nation, scramble to keep jobs and the economy afloat.
This report by BusinessTech highlights the 5 important things happening in the Southern African country today.
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 40.5 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,119,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,050 new cases, taking the total reported to 706,304. Deaths have reached 18,656 (a daily increase of 164), while recoveries have climbed to 639,568, leaving the country with a balance of 48,080 active cases.
- Red list: There are growing calls from the tourism sector for South Africa’s ‘red list’ approach to travel restrictions to be scrapped. The Tourism Business Council of South African (TBCSA) and the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) say the restrictions on high-risk countries makes no sense when tourists can follow the same guidelines as business travellers who are allowed to enter from the same countries. Many countries on the list are the biggest sources of local tourism. [Moneyweb]
- Looting: A new investigation reveals how beneficiaries of the looting of contracts in the Free State used the ill-gotten funds to finance ‘grotesquely expensive’ lifestyles, buying Ferraris, Bentleys and upmarket properties, while thousands of people in poor communities remained at risk for work not done. The looting relates to a R230 million asbestos audit contract in the province, where only 20% of the total paid appears to have been used for the intended purpose. [Daily Maverick]
- Dodgy contracts: A proposal is being put to Parliament to change the country’s procurement laws to ensure that those who are politically connected to the state can no longer score lucrative government contracts. The Special Investigation Unit is currently investigating R10.5 billion worth of contracts that were dished out under Covid-19 procurement measures, looking for signs of illegality. The SIU says that just because a contract is given to politically connected people, doesn’t mean they are necessarily illegal. [ENCA]
- Auditor general: South Africa has a new auditor general, with Tsakani Maluleke taking over from Kimi Makwetu, whose term ends in November. Her appointment was unopposed, with the ad hoc committee for the appointment of the new AG fully agreeing she was the best candidate for the position. Maluleke continues the important work done by Makwetu and the office of the AG in uncovering billions of rands lost to irregular, wasteful and fruitless spending in the country. 
- Markets: Some renewed optimism made its way to markets, as US lawmakers continued to negotiate the relief package, with emerging markets gaining on the hopes in the overnight session. It’s a slow day on the data front, with UK CPI and PPI due for release today. The rand managed to win some ground, making its way to R16.42 to the dollar, however R16.40 remains a resilient technical level. On Wednesday the rand is trading at R16.43 to the dollar, R19.45 to the euro and R21.31 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]