Here is what is happening in South Africa today and influencing it:
Coronavirus: There were 21,427 new cases of Covid-19 in South Africa, bringing the total to 2,112,336. The death toll has reached 63,039 (+411) while recovery climbed to 1,853,804, leaving the country with a balance of 195,493 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 3,819,730 (+188,628).
- Third wave: The Western Cape has warned to prepare for rising death tolls in the province as Gauteng has its deadliest week on record. Funeral directors in the Western Cape have been warned to stock up on coffins to avoid the same shortage that occurred during the second wave in December. The province is currently in the grip of the third wave with around 25,000 active cases. In Gauteng, the province has now recorded over 4,800 natural deaths not attributable to Covid-19. However, most of these excessive deaths are likely due to the virus, as the rising number coincides with the peak of the third wave in the province. [News24, ENCA]
- Tax matters: Taxpayers are reminded to accept or reject the SARS automatic assessments as it is not automatic. The tax season for natural persons started on July 1st and the tax office has already started sending notifications about the automatic assessment. Taxpayers must register with eFiling to complete their tax affairs by November 23rd (January 31st for provisional taxpayers), otherwise the SARS “probable assessment” will be used. This can neither be objected to nor challenged. [Moneyweb]
- Power ships: Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has indicated that she is open to extraordinary measures or a special approach to the multi-billion dollar powership deal that has been blocked due to non-compliance with environmental regulations. The minister replied to questions this week that the electricity situation was an emergency and therefore contracts should not be treated as an ordinary matter. He also said he was warned that the powership deal would meet a lot of frustrations. He reiterated that gas is an important source of energy and that nuclear power is still part of the country’s planned energy mix. [Daily Maverick]
- Zuma: Jacob Zuma was arrested and spent the first night of his 15-month sentence in custody. The ex-president turned himself in to police during a dramatic countdown to the Constitutional Court’s deadline for his arrest. Zuma’s followers gathered at the gate of Nkandla and vowed to prevent anyone from arresting him; However, Zuma went in a convoy, ostensibly to avoid bloodshed on his doorstep. The police are said to have been on their way to his home at the time to arrest him. The Zuma family have expressed shock and dismay at his sudden decision to face himself. [TimesLive]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand stabilized against the dollar on Wednesday, with market attention being focused on the release of Federal Reserve minutes. Investors will check the Fed minutes for more clues as to when US rates may rise. Any sign of an imminent rise hurts emerging market currencies like the rand. South Africa’s net currency reserves fell to $ 51.368 billion in June, central bank data showed on Wednesday, but that did little to affect the local currency. On Thursday the rand was R14.35 / $, R16.93 / € and R19.78 / £. [Reuters]