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5 important things happening in South Africa today

South Africa’s top 20,000 public servants are recommended to receive a 3.8% salary increase, according to recent reports. However, some judges have demanded a 7% increase, citing a 20.6% decrease in their effective pay over recent years. Finance minister Enoch Godongwana noted that the fiscus can only afford a 1.5% increase. President Ramaphosa will make the final decision on whether the ministers, MPs, judges, and traditional leaders will receive the increase.

In other news, Johannesburg Mayor Thapelo Amad has resigned less than three months after his election. His resignation came a day before he was due to face a vote of no-confidence. Amad was elected with the backing of members of the African National Congress who were seeking to regain influence over South Africa’s richest city.

On Monday (24 April), the ANC top brass endorsed a proposal to delay the shutdown of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations. This was seen as a political victory for electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. In light of the decision, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that ending load-shedding takes priority. However, extending the lifespan of the plants could jeopardize South Africa’s ability to secure financing for its just energy transition (JET) program.

Outgoing Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer supports the idea of extending the life of some of the utility’s ageing coal-fired power plants. However, he believes it’s not the quick fix that Ramokgopa makes it out to be. Oberholzer says it would be a mistake to think that the entire coal-fired fleet could be fixed quickly. Near-term targets to raise the utility’s overall energy availability factor (EAF) will be challenging, and a substantial easing of load-shedding intensity will only be evident by early next year.

Finally, the South African rand slipped on Monday (24 April) as markets awaited economic data from the US later in the week. The lack of risk appetite for the rand is driven by the Federal Reserve, which will likely shape the South African Reserve Bank’s rate reaction. On Tuesday (25 April), the rand was trading at R18.19/$, R20.10/€, and R22.69/£, while Brent crude was trading at $82.49 a barrel.

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