Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Coronavirus: In South Africa, there have been 16,585 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total reported to 2,062,896. Deaths have reached 61,840 (+333), while recoveries have climbed to 1,808,082, leaving the country with a balance of 192,974 active cases. The total number of vaccines administered is 3,314,278 (+8,313).
- Tax revolt: SARS commissioner Edward Kieswetter says that if taxpayers withhold their tax money to punish the government, as part of a tax revolt, the people who will end up being harmed are the poor and vulnerable. Kieswetter said that people feel morally justified to evade tax when they see that tax money is not going towards the delivery of services or is being stolen through corruption. However, he warned that doing so would result in fewer schools and hospitals, and would leave the most vulnerable without social grants. Tax evasion is also a crime, he said. [News24 – paywall]
- Strikes: Even more strikes loom for South Africa as the government has tabled its final offer to unions for public sector salary increases – offering the same budgeted 1.5% increase, and a slightly higher once-off bonus of between R1,220 to R1,695 for workers, depending on their pay level. Unions are demanding an increase far above inflation of CPI+4% – which would be around 9.2% – as well as a once-off bonus of R1,500. Municipal workers have already rejected offers made in their salary negotiations, and have applied to go on strike. If the government’s offer is rejected by other public workers, the same could happen. [Daily Maverick]
- Alcohol ban: The latest alcohol ban in South Africa is piling on the pressure for AB InBev, which has long been struggling to recover from the massive acquisition of SA Breweries in 2016. Analysts say the acquisition was incredibly overpriced, and the global brewer has struggled for years to pay off the debt of the $100 billion deal. It left the company exposed to a highly volatile South African market, and while the problems predate the pandemic, four extremely damaging alcohol bans due to lockdown have exacerbated the problems with recovery. The group’s first-quarter data pointed to better performance, but it has now again been hit by another ban. [Mail & Guardian]
- Defiant: Jacob Zuma says he won’t go to prison voluntarily, insisting that he is innocents, and vowing to challenge the matter. He is also confident that the police will not come and arrest him, given the sheer number of supporters he has blocking their way. Legal experts, meanwhile, maintain that the police are still under order by the Constitutional Court to arrest Zuma. The former president had until Sunday to hand himself over, failing which, the police are to arrest him within three days. While Zuma has been granted permission to appear before the court to plea for his sentence to be rescinded, this does not stay the sentence. [ENCA]
- Markets: The rand ended the week on a stronger note, after the dollar dropped from a three-month high on Friday, weighed down by what analysts viewed as mixed US payroll data. On Monday, things again turned for the dollar, with a slight uptick in strength, with commodities like gold easing off two-week highs. These moves are all happening in marginal amounts – fractions of percentage points – keeping the rand bound in quite a tight range. On Monday, the rand is trading at R14.25/$, R16.90/€ and R19.69/£. [Reuters]