5 important things happening in South Africa today

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

Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 13,155 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 1,823,319. Deaths have reached 58,702 (+112), while recoveries have climbed to 1,647,503, leaving the country with a balance of 117,114 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 2,141,624 (+4,553).

  • Gauteng Covid: Gauteng is at the epicentre of South Africa’s third wave of Covid-19 infections, with hospitals warning of diminishing bed capacity as active cases escalate. While the provincial health department assures that the situation is under control, private hospitals say they are running out of space. The country recorded 37,240 new cases over the weekend (Friday to Sunday), almost two thirds of which were in Gauteng. Daily infections in the province have surpassed the numbers seen in the first and second waves. People in the province have been urged to act as if they are in a tighter lockdown than is currently set nationally, to prevent further spread of infection. [ENCA]

  • Carbon tax: While businesses celebrate the upping of private power generation to 100MW, tax implications of the move are also coming to the fore. Of note is South Africa’s carbon tax regime, which is already in effect for businesses operating on more than 10MW of power. The tax launched in 2019, and has had slow adoption by companies – but plans are in place for this to ramp up starting from 2023, with government’s teeth in regulating and managing the tax to get a lot sharper. If companies focus on renewable energy generation, their carbon tax liability will go down, experts say. [Moneyweb]

  • Deterioration: Engineers have warned that South Africa’s secondary and tertiary roads are deteriorating rapidly, and this is having a massively detrimental effect on road transport and freight, which should be shifted to rail networks instead. The comments follow a report by Frost & Sullivan on the condition of South Africa’s roads, which found that 30%, nationally, are in a poor condition. The primary intercity roads are being fairly well-maintained, the engineers noted – but the secondary and tertiary networks are neglected. A key problem is that maintenance is handled at three different levels of government – with municipalities in particular failing to do their job. [TimesLive]

  • Diamond flush: Mining experts have determined that the ‘diamonds’ discovered in KwaZulu-Natal – which led to a rush of thousands of people trying to get in on the discovery – are nothing more than quartz crystals, common to the area and across the Karoo. While the quartz stills holds some value, it is significantly lower than diamond. Government has implored people who rushed to the area to vacate as soon as possible, raising concerns about the spread of Covid-19. [EWN]

  • Markets: The rand continued to buckle on Friday, as the US Federal Reserve Bank took a hawkish position on monetary policy, pushing investors out of riskier emerging market assets, and back into safer fields. Economists also noted that commodity prices – which were giving the South African rand its long-run boost – were also tapering out, further contributing to rand weakness. However, it is too early to tell whether this is a trend yet, they said. On Monday the rand is trading at R14.40/$, R17.07/€ and R19.86/£.

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