By Jackie Cameron
- 5,000 people are reported as having died from Covid-19, but the figure is believed to be far higher in provinces like the Eastern Cape. Bloomberg reports that the country recorded 10,994 excess deaths between May 6 and July 6, according to the South African Medical Research Council, which publishes weekly figures. The provinces with some of the highest confirmed infection rates — Gauteng and the Eastern Cape — are experiencing a particularly sharp increase, it says. Compared with the predicted number of natural deaths from historical data in the week ending July 3, the Eastern Cape had 90% more and Gauteng 71% more, the latest report showed. “Tracking excess mortality is widely seen as way to gauge the full scale of fatalities from Covid-19. It includes those suspected of having the coronavirus who died without having been tested, as well as people who died of other causes after being unable to seek treatment because hospitals were swamped. Neither of those categories would be reflected in the official pandemic tally,” says Bloomberg. “Particularly in the Eastern Cape, we are getting a significant underreporting of mortality in villages and smaller towns,” it quotes Ian Sanne, head of Right to Care, a non-profit organisation that provides treatment to people with HIV and associated diseases, as saying. “The risk is that we are missing quite a bit.”
- South Africans will be paying close attention to a Reserve Bank meeting on 23 July when the base rate may be cut, leading to a further chop in interest rates. It is expected to cut its repo rate for the fifth time this year, most likely by 25 basis points to an all-time low of 3.5% as the Covid-19 pandemic batters the economy, a Reuters poll found. The SARB cut rates in May by 50 basis points after the economy was shut down to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. That followed two aggressive 100 basis point cuts in succession in March and April, says the news agency. “But the decision at the July 23 meeting is in the balance. The July 9-16 poll found 13 of 28 economists expected a 25 basis point cut and two expected 50 basis points to 3.25%. Thirteen said the Bank would leave rates unchanged.”
- Prosus, owned by Naspers, has made a big play for EBay’s classifieds business. Prosus NV handed in the highest offer for EBay’s classifieds unit, putting the Naspers-owned business in pole position to win one of the largest auction processes this year, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.
- The Zimbabwe government has targeted a large mobile phone company, Econet Wireless, accusing it of money laundering; this follows a move to get Old Mutual delisted from the Harare stock exchange in connection with ‘economic sabotage’. Zimbabwe’s police have accused Econet Wireless, the country’s dominant mobile phone company, of money laundering, demanded a list of its subscribers and issued a search warrant against it, says Bloomberg. The move escalates a clash between the government and company whose money transfer service facilitates the bulk of transactions in the southern African country. The government says its activities are contributing to the rapid depreciation of the national currency, it reports.”In an order against the company, the police accused the company of creating fictitious mobile money, converting it to cash and then buying foreign currency on the black market before sending it out the country.” In late June Zimbabwe banned most of those transactions and also shut the Harare stock exchange. The nation’s ruling party has since demanded the listing of Old Mutual, the biggest company by market value, be terminated because the insurer’s share price is used to determine a future rate for the Zimbabwean dollar. For more on that, listen to the BizNews report on Zimbabwe.