Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: Stage 4 load shedding will continue to Friday, with the Koeberg unit pump repaired and in the process of being synchronised to the grid. However, load shedding in its various stages may continue over the weekend.
- It’s a pandemic: The World Health Organisation has declared that the Covid-19 coronavirus is a global pandemic. The declaration carries no legal implications, but signals to countries not yet affected by the virus how serious the outbreak is, and how countries need to work together to coordinate to deal with it. Globally there have been over 126,000 cases. 68,000 have recovered, but 53,400 remain active. 4,633 people have died. In South Africa, 13 people have the virus, and over 100 people are under quarantine. [IOL]
- RAF vs lawyers: The Road Accident Fund has liabilities totalling over R262 billion, and is technically insolvent. The group says it needs to urgently reassess its operating model – but the legal firms which have been making billions of rands from litigating RAF claims are not on board, and are turning to the courts to prevent the fund from cancelling contracts and pulling out of tender processes. The RAF’s legal costs have escalated to R10 billion a year, despite the number of claims decreasing. [Mail & Guardian]
- Safety concerns: Business rescue practitioners have flagged safety concerns at SA Express, saying that the airline’s cash crunch means that planes have been unable to be booked in for maintenance. The administrators have filed their first progress report – and not much progress has been made saving the airline from collapse, it shows. The group had R1.4 million in its bank account, and R17 million in outstanding payments. [Daily Maverick]
SA Express has since refuted the Daily Maverick article, saying that it has successfully completed necessary audits on the maintenance of its aircraft, while it “has retained a healthy technical skills talent pool which effectively provides maintenance services for SA Express aircraft”.
- Under administration: Gauteng Premier David Makhura says that the decision to place the City of Tshwane under administration still stands and won’t be reversed. The decision was made after months of political bickering between the DA, ANC and EFF, where all parties are wrestling for control of the city – in the wake, service delivery has taken a back seat, and many projects were stopped in their tracks. The DA maintains the move was unlawful and is prepared to go to court to challenge it. [EWN]
- Markets: The rand came under renewed pressure on Wednesday evening, as the WHO moved to declare the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic following the 31% surge in Italy’s death toll. South Africa’s rand weakened as another bout of risk aversion dragged emerging market currencies lower, with investors fretting over the impact of the coronavirus and opting for safe-haven assets. Stocks fell, as a drop in oil prices hit chemical and energy firm Sasol. On Thursday the rand was at R16.43 to the dollar, R21.06 to the pound and R18.55 to the euro. [XE]