Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global coronavirus cases are approaching the 2.5 million mark (2,482,272) with deaths recorded at 170,472. While 652,172 people have recovered from the virus, 1,659,628 cases remain active, with 57,355 in serious or critical condition. In South Africa, 3,300 cases have been recorded, with 58 deaths. 1,055 people have recovered, however, so only 2,245 are active cases.
- ANC response: The ANC has called for a basic income grant to the unemployed in the informal sector, as cabinet mulls a R1 trillion stimulus package to soften the blow of the coronavirus lockdown on South Africa’s battered economy. The party has also spoken out against councillors and other officials who have taken advantage of relaxed procurement processes and been looting food parcels or using them to campaign politically. [Daily Maverick]
- What lockdown?: Residents in many South African townships, such as Diepsloot, are carrying on their lives as if there is no lockdown in the country – with residents saying that they need to continue working and making money as government’s aid processes have failed them. Food parcels are not being delivered to those in need, and the lockdown is simply not being enforced by police and the army, over fears of backlash over “assault”. [TimesLive]
- Food court: Despite government publishing regulations banning the sale of hot foods during lockdown, the measure will still face a legal challenge, as business rights group Sakeliga takes the matter to court. The group wants to challenge the regulations on its rationality, saying that stores, its employees and customers will suffer as a result of the move, which has not been explained by government. Opposition parties say the ban was pushed through for political reasons, while the Department of Trade and Industry has not said anything. [ENCA]
- Eskom woes: While the country awaits feedback from government following its cabinet meeting on Covid-19 and the local economic situation, more local bad news has come to the fore with Eskom declaring force majeure on one of its biggest coal suppliers, Exxaro. Eskom said that it has put some of its generating units out of service due to a drop in demand during the lockdown. Exxaro said it would defend against the move. [Peregrine]
- Markets: Overnight trade saw US crude oil near futures trade negative for the first time in history as the May contract for West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures expires at the end of trading today – a time when storage tanks are nearly at capacity. The oil price collapse is bound to add to the market jitters, that will likely support safe haven assets and add additional pressure to riskier emerging markets. On Tuesday the rand was at R18.88 to the dollar, R23.41 to the pound and R20.45 to the euro. [XE]