Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 118.64 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 2.63 million. In South Africa, there have been 1,477 new cases, taking the total reported to 1,524,174. Deaths have reached 51,015 (a daily increase of 109), while recoveries have climbed to 1,445,979, leaving the country with a balance of 27,180 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 128,887.
- Third wave: As health officials warn that South Africa is likely to miss its vaccination targets, it is almost a certainty that the country is going to face a third wave of Covid-19. Medical experts have warned that the slow rollout of Covid vaccines in the country means that infections are likely to pick up again in April and May, and said that authorities need to prepare for that now, to avoid more deaths and overloaded hospitals. They said that there is ample data from the first and second waves to help government prepare. [TimesLive]
- Investigations: Health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize says there is no reason for him to step down from his position, amid investigations by the SIU into R82 million worth of contracts between a communications company and his department, where two ‘friends’ of Mkhize’s are allegedly involved. The minister said he and the health department were fully cooperating with the investigation, and that no further action was needed. [EWN]
- Unhappy: Business leaders are unhappy about the current business conditions in South Africa, the latest RMB business confidence index shows – this, despite the survey taking place when Covid infections were declining, and Eskom load shedding was far less pronounced in the country. While economic data shows that South Africa is showing signs of recovery from lockdown, the BCI reveals that things on the ground are not as rosy as one would expect. [Daily Maverick]
- Blew it: The director-general of the Department of Public Service and Administration says unions blew their chance to negotiate for higher wages when government approached them with a compromise – because the any funds that were available have now been diverted to the health response to Covid-19. Government reneged on the last year of negotiated wage increases for public sector workers. The matter has been taken to the Constitutional Court. [BusinessLive – paywall]
- Markets: Inflation fears eased after the release of CPI data from the US yesterday, while bond yields continued to slide. Local current account data is due today, followed by gold and mining production numbers, while manufacturing data is due this afternoon. We also turn our attention to the ECB this afternoon, with the spotlight focusing on its interest rate decision. We start the day significantly stronger, trading at R15.07 to the dollar, R17.98 to the euro and R21.00 to the pound. [Citadel Global]