Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: Global Covid-19 infections have hit 37.9 million confirmed, with the death toll reaching 1,082,000. In South Africa, there have been 1,178 new cases, taking the total reported to 694,537. Deaths have reached 18,028 (a daily increase of 165), while recoveries have climbed to 625,574, leaving the country with a balance of 50,935 active cases.
- Budget delay: Finance minister Tito Mboweni has asked that the mid-term budget policy statements (MTBPS) be postponed by a week to 28 October – a worrying sign, say analysts, of the grim financial reality the government faces in executing lofty goals of development and economic recovery. Mboweni has been given the unenviable task of finding money to finance the ANC’s vague plans, while bailing out failed state companies – all while dealing with the crippled economy in the fallout of the Covid-19 lockdown. [Daily Maverick]
- Covid relief data: The labour department says the UIF has paid out almost R50 billion to South Africans through the TERS Covid-19 relief scheme, with over 11 million beneficiaries getting paid. This compared to the R7.5 billion paid under normal UIF conditions to around 1.3 million people. As reported by the auditor-general, the scheme did make fraudulent payments, R3.4 billion of which has been recovered. [Government]
- What upgrades?: Motorists were left scratching their heads this past week after Joburg’s mainline double-decker highway was left flooded after heavy rains, bringing into question what the government spent R170 million upgrading on the route over the last few years. The Gauteng legislature’s roads and transport committee said that the money appears to have been wasted, as the drainage system that was meant to have been addressed and rehabilitated still does not work. [TimesLive]
- State capture: Testimony at the state capture commission is lifting the lid on how Eskom operates around its revolving door management, with former board chair Ben Ngubane saying that it was common for the utility to pay suspended managers to leave – particularly when the company was under investigation. Ngubane is being questioned at the commission around the sudden suspension of Eskom executives to make way for alleged Gupta cronies in top spots, helping to facilitate the capture of the utility. [EWN]
- Markets: Question marks around a Covid-19 vaccine and US stimulus remain, as both seem to be stalling. Locally, the MTBPS has been postponed to 28 October, as Treasury awaits final details on matters such as the economic recovery plan. The rand remains range bound, trading between R16.40 and R16.58 to the dollar. The currency starts the day on Wednesday at R16.45 to the dollar, R19.32to the euro and R21.28 to the pound. Commentary by Peregrine Treasury Solutions. [XE]