Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 14,858 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,342,330. Deaths have reached 68,625 (+433), while recoveries have climbed to 2,109,820, leaving the country with a balance of 163,885 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 6,085,108 (+253,719).
- Eligible: Acting minister of health Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane wants to move South Africa’s vaccine rollout from one that targets specific people and sectors, to a more simplified age-based system. The current system seeks to target sectors like essential workers and those most at risk for eligibility to get the vaccine, but this has proven to be complicated, with many industries putting forward arguments for why they should be next in line. The government, meanwhile, has slowly moved to an age-based system anyway, first opening up shots to those over 50, and soon to those over 35. It is targeting 35 million vaccinations by December. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Counting costs: Economists, analysts and even the Reserve Bank say it is not yet clear how much the week of riots and destruction in South Africa will cost the economy, or how it will impact rates, taxes and businesses – but the warning signs are there, and there will be a price to pay. However, there are some tax implications that are more immediately apparent: businesses have lost trading stock which must be replaced. The lost stock will impact VAT. Job losses will also affect payroll taxes, and income taxes – and destruction to machines, and other assets will affect certain deductions. These will add to the damages caused by the riots beyond the initial insurance costs. [Moneyweb]
- Unrest: The death toll associated with the recent riots in South Africa has now reached 337 – of which 79 were in Gauteng and 258 in KwaZulu Natal. The revision of the number comes as some succumbed to wounds sustained during the riots. Police have opened 213 cases of murder tied to the events, and 132 cases of arson have been opened in KZN. There has been no new update on the arrests of the instigators, though four so-called ‘masterminds’ who orchestrated things remain in custody. Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that all instigators, be it 12 or more, will be arrested and face the full might of the law. [Daily Maverick]
- Zuma: KZN premier Sihle Zikalala says it would be “correct” for president Cyril Rmaaphosa to grant Jacob Zuma a presidential pardon. Zuma was granted compassionate leave from prison to attend the funeral of his brother – however, he is now back in custody to serve his 15 months sentence for being in contempt of a Constitutional Court order. Blame for the unrest of the past week has been laid at the feet of his supporters, who have been calling for his release. Zuma is in prison because he ignored a ConCourt order to take part in the state capture commission, where he has been named by over 40 people as being core to the network. [EWN]
- Markets: Emerging market stocks and currencies recovered from recent falls on Thursday on optimism over the second-quarter earnings season, with South Africa’s rand up 0.4% ahead of the central bank meeting. The Reserve Bank voted to keep the repo rate on hold at 3.5% – a move welcomed by most commentators. The rand pulled back slightly after the meeting. On Friday the rand was at R14.73/$, R17.33/€ and R20.27/£. [Reuters]