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5 important things happening in South Africa today
School’s out: Education minister Angie Motshekga says that if schools do not reopen on 19 July as is currently planned, the effect on the education sector will be devastating. The department has already struggled to make up for lost time in 2020, where schools were shut down for extended periods and had to adopt less effective teaching times to catch up – something which South African can ill-afford to go through again. While the minister is set on schools returning on the set date – she said it can only be done if it is safe to do so. The situation is being actively monitored, and the vaccination of teachers is progressing. [ENCA]

Next in line: Debates are raging on who among ‘essential workers’ in South Africa should be next in line to get vaccinated. The government has told the South African National Editors Forum that journalists would be prioritised for vaccines when the rollout expands – however, this has been criticised in some quarters, where it has been pointed out that other workers like petrol attendants, waiters and cashiers are more on the front-line and should be given preference. Similar debates emerged during the first phase, where veterinarians and childcare workers were pushing to be included as healthcare workers for the initial rollout. [702: 1,2]

Chopped: South Africa’s administrative capital, Tshwane, has just been axed by rating firm Moody’s, which slashed the city’s sovereign rating by four notches to an even deeper level of junk. The rating cut puts the city in the ‘substantial risk’ category, pointing to a rapidly deteriorating financial position. Moody’s said that the city’s access to external borrowing is constrained and that it has failed to secure funds to meet its financial obligations. Worse yet, the rating is also shackled with a negative outlook, with the firm saying it expects these conditions to persist for a while. The city’s Caa1 rating is seven notches below investment grade and sits only four notches above default. [Monewyweb]

Zuma: Jacob Zuma’s supporters, led by his son Edward, are rallying, vowing to stage a fightback against the prison sentence for the former president. Disregarding lockdown regulations, the younger Zuma is attempting to mobilise supporters, calling on them to gather in their masses at Nkandla to block police and other authorities from arresting Zuma. Under current lockdown laws, all gatherings are prohibited, and a new regulation introduced this week makes it illegal to incite others to break these regulations. Zuma was sentenced to 15 months in prison by the Constitutional Court for being in contempt. Zuma has openly ignored and defied court orders and legal proceedings. [EWN]

Markets: The rand remained under pressure on Tuesday, trading weaker against major currencies as markets weighed the effects of lockdown level 4 restrictions on the local economy. While announced to be only in effect for two weeks, analysts have warned that the harder lockdown could be extended for longer, given that modelling shows the third wave is likely to be longer than the previous two. South Africa’s losses vs the dollar make it the worst-performing emerging market economy – a complete reversal from a few months ago when it was the top performer. On Wednesday, the rand is trading at R14.33/$, R17.06/€ and R19.85/£.
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