Friday 23 February 2018
(AFP (eng) 02/22/18)
Hundreds of workers at a South African coal mine owned by the Guptas, a family closely associated with ex-president Jacob Zuma, have gone on strike over uncertainty about the company's future. Some 2,500 workers downed tools at the mine in eastern Mpumalanga province, demanding clarity on whether the firm has been sold to a new owner and if their salaries due this week will be paid, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said Thursday. "Our members say if they don't get paid their salaries the strike which started yesterday, will continue," NUM spokesman Livhuwani Mammburu told AFP, adding "the workers also want to know if the mine has been sold or not". The company's chief...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/22/18)
CAPE TOWN/LONDON (Reuters) - South African bonds stayed in demand on Thursday as markets priced in expectations that government efforts to reduce the country’s large debt pile will enable it hang on to its last investment grade rating in a Moody’s review due soon. In a budget announced on Wednesday, Africa’s most industrialized economy took the politically risky step of raising value added tax, a move likely to prove less popular with voters than with foreign investors. Raising VAT for the first time in 25 years, along with a commitment to cutting debt, further burnished the market credentials of President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected a week ago. S&P Global said the VAT measure was a welcome step. “It is...
(AFP (eng) 02/21/18)
South Africans were hit by the first sales tax increase since apartheid when the finance minister delivered a tough budget on Wednesday, dampening optimism spurred by the country's new reformist president. President Cyril Ramaphosa took over last week from the scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma, raising hope for a turnaround in the economy that slid into recession in 2016 and has grown sluggishly since. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba warned in his speech to parliament in Cape Town that "this is a tough...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/20/18)
SOWETO, South Africa (Reuters) - Ndumiso Madlala, head of the Soweto Gold Brewery, says he is banking on new South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to kick-start the economy and help his business grow. The micro brewery was founded five years ago in the Johannesburg township but has struggled to grow in a fiercely competitive market for beer as high unemployment and a weak economy strangled consumer spending. Madlala places much of the blame on the administration of Jacob Zuma, who...
(AFP (eng) 02/19/18)
About 224 million people are suffering from malnutrition across Africa as climate change and conflicts heighten food insecurity across the continent, a top UN food agency official said Monday. The official, speaking at a conference on Africa organised by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the situation was a "cause of concern" as the continent's population was expected to reach 1.7 billion by 2030. "Under-nourishment appears to have increased from about 21 percent to nearly 23 percent between...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/16/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s Treasury is set to present its 2018 budget to parliament on Wednesday but market focus is on whether new President Cyril Ramaphosa will reshuffle the cabinet before then and replace Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba. Ramaphosa was sworn in as head of state on Thursday after his scandal-plagued predecessor, Jacob Zuma, reluctantly resigned on orders of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) after nine years in office blighted by corruption, economic mismanagement and disputed appointments. Ramaphosa...
(Reuters (Eng) 02/16/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African stocks index rose as much as 5 percent on Thursday, putting the main index on track for its biggest one-day gain in more than three years, on hopes the resignation of Jacob Zuma as president paves the way for new leaders to quicken the pace of economic growth. The currency remained on the frontfoot, soaring to its firmest since early 2015 in the wake of Zuma’s exit. Analysts have however warned the rally faces serious...
(AFP (eng) 02/06/18)
Renewed optimism about South Africa's mining future coursed through the industry this week, focused on hopes of pro-business reforms under the ruling party's new leadership. The world's largest mining investment conference started in Cape Town on Monday, as the ANC party met to discuss whether President Jacob Zuma could soon be replaced by his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa. Ramaphosa, a wealthy former mining executive, recently took over as head of the African National Congress from Zuma. "For the first time, it's possible to look forward with reasonable hope rather than a sense of foreboding,"...
(AFP (eng) 02/05/18)
The name of Eskom, Africa's largest electricity company, has become synonymous with the worst corruption scandals in South Africa and the utility could well become the final nail in the political coffin of President Jacob Zuma. The sacking of yet another of its short-lived CEOs this week and the release of dire financial results confirmed the depth of the crisis plaguing the power utility. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba admitted Eskom represents the single worst crisis facing the government. "Eskom is...
(AFP (eng) 01/31/18)
With a history dating back over three centuries, South Africa's world-renowned wine industry has long been the domain of generations of just a few elite white families. But the emergence of a crop of new black players such as winemaker and owner of Aslina Wines, Ntsiki Biyela, is changing the makeup of the industry that is among the world's top 10 wine producers. Biyela, 39, shot to fame in 2004 as South Africa's first black female winemaker, shattering stereotypes about...
(AFP (eng) 01/18/18)
South Africa's central bank chief Lesetja Kganyago will take over as chair of the International Monetary Fund's policy advisory committee, the IMF announced Thursday. Kganyago, who has served as governor of the South African Reserve Bank since late 2014, takes on a three-year post as head of the International Monetary and Finance Committee. He replaces Agustin Carstens, former head of the Bank of Mexico, who resigned in December to take over as head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS)...
(AFP (eng) 01/17/18)
South Africa is fighting to revive its frayed clothing industry, once a crucial provider of jobs in a country suffering from high unemployment, as a flood of cheap imports forces local factories to shutter and lay off workers. Once the economic lifeblood of many small regional towns, the abundance of cheaper products from China has led to the loss of nearly two-thirds of the sector's jobs over the past two decades. "After being employed for 22 years we were informed that the factory would close down in eight weeks," said Vimla Padayachee, 46, who lost her job three years ago.
(AFP (eng) 01/16/18)
South African prosecutors said Tuesday they are seeking $130 million from global consultancy McKinsey and a local firm linked to a graft scandal that has engulfed President Jacob Zuma. The announcement was the first move against the Gupta family that is accused of corrupt dealings with Zuma, including allegations it profited from lucrative government contracts and chose ministerial appointments. The local company, Trillian, was controlled by an associate of the Guptas at the time of the allegations in 2015 and...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/16/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African court has authorized the freezing of 1.6 billion rand ($130 million) in assets earned by global consultancy McKinsey and a firm linked to friends of President Jacob Zuma, a source at the state prosecutors’ office told Reuters. The Pretoria High Court made the decision in December after a request by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to freeze the fees earned by McKinsey and local consultancy Trillian for advising South African power utility Eskom. Privately-held McKinsey, one of the world’s largest management consultancies, has already lost several clients over the contract. This month Zuma agreed to set up a commission of enquiry into allegations...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/09/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A South African tribal leader has agreed to a more transparent structure for a 175 million rand ($14 million) community trust funded by Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), a move that aims to curb unrest around the firm’s most profitable mine. The changes relate to the Mapela Trust, which was set up to fund development projects in communities around Amplats’ Mogalakwena operation, the world’s largest open-pit platinum mine and the Anglo American unit’s main cash spinner. The structure...
(Reuters (Eng) 01/05/18)
JOHANNESBURG/FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Steinhoff’s (SNHJ.J) finance chief stepped down from the role on Thursday to focus on helping the South African retailer plug a 2.4 billion euro ($2.9 billion) hole in its finances after an accounting scandal. The owner of more than 40 multinational retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland, revealed the “accounting irregularity” last month along with the immediate departure of its chief executive. Its chairman briefly took the reins then also stepped down. “While the Group...
(Reuters 01/03/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s rand was firmer on the first trading day of 2018, buoyed by improved sentiment for emerging currencies and a sluggish dollar. At 0645 GMT, the rand was 0.24 percent firmer at 12.3500 per dollar, slightly changed from its 2-1/2-year high of 12.2400. The currency advanced by about 13 percent in 2017, making most of those gains after Cyril Ramaphosa was elected president Jacob Zuma’s successor as head of the African National Congress (ANC) last Monday...
(The Associated Press 01/03/18)
A Kenyan official says suspected members of the Somalia-based extremist group al-Shabab have killed five police officers in the northern county of Mandera. North Eastern regional coordinator Mohamud Saleh said Wednesday the vehicle carrying the three police reservists and two administration police officers was attacked. He says several other officers were injured in a second attack on security officials who responded Tuesday evening along the Elwak-Kotulo road. Al-Shabab has carried out a series of attacks in Kenya since 2011, when Kenya deployed...
(Reuters 01/03/18)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - Steinhoff will have to restate its 2015 accounts and maybe earlier figures, the South African retailer said on Tuesday, having already warned on its 2016 numbers. The owner of more than 40 retail brands including Conforama, Mattress Firm and Poundland is fighting for survival after flagging accounting irregularities last month and parting ways with its veteran chief executive, Markus Jooste. A review being carried out by accounting firm PwC now suggests that “accounting irregularities” may stretch beyond...
(AFP (eng) 01/02/18)
The scandal-hit South African retail giant Steinhoff announced Tuesday it would restate some financial results for 2015 and 2016 amid a probe into accounting irregularities. Last month, Steinhoff revealed it was under criminal and tax investigations, with a reported six-billion-euro ($7-billion) hole in its accounts. "The 2016 and 2015 financial statements of Steinhoff Investment Holdings Limited will need to be restated and can no longer be relied upon," the company said in a statement. Steinhoff had been a darling of...

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