Thursday 21 September 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 09/15/17)
The head of South Africa’s state-owned pension fund dismissed as spurious allegations made by a newspaper on Friday that he had misused funds and improperly raised salaries for some executives. Daniel Matjila has been chief executive officer of Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which manages nearly 2 trillion rand ($152.30 billion) of civil servants’ pensions, since 2014. He told Reuters he would meet board members later on Friday to discuss the allegations made by newspaper Business Day. “These are spurious allegations,” Matjila said. “They are trying to find a reason to suspend or fire me.” Business Day reported on Friday that Matjila had been accused in a letter sent to PIC’s board of using funds reserved for corporate social investment to...
(Bloomberg 09/15/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma’s lawyers conceded in a court hearing that a decision by prosecutors to drop bribery and corruption charges against him in 2009 was irrational, opening up the possibility that they will be reinstated. Zuma’s lawyer gave the concession Thursday before the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein. It’s considering an appeal by the president’s legal team and the National Prosecuting Authority of a High Court ruling that the decision to drop 783 charges for fraud, corruption and racketeering, was irrational and they should be reinstated. The case was scrapped a month before Zuma became president after recorded phone calls indicated the lead investigator’s actions may have been politically motivated. Lawyers for the prosecutors told the court...
(Business Day 09/15/17)
The portfolio committee on trade and industry will look into Transnet’s R50bn locomotives acquisition and a purported R5.3bn in kickbacks for Tequesta Parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry has agreed to hold an inquiry into Transnet’s R50bn acquisition of 1,064 locomotives‚ the DA said on Friday. The party said it was hoping to get answers after two failed attempts at extracting answers from Transnet CEO Siyabonga Gama‚ who appeared before the committee to answer for the many allegations that have dogged the purchase. The allegations include the involvement of the Gupta family through associate Salem Essa’s Tequesta Group‚ which purportedly received R5.3bn in kickbacks from China South Rail‚ and the nature of the relationship between Gama and Essa in...
(Bloomberg 09/15/17)
The South African Reserve Bank’s fight against its detractors escalated this week, and now even has President Jacob Zuma in its sights. The central bank in court papers accused Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane of bias and being part of a campaign to undermine its independence after documents showed the anti-graft ombudsman held a secret meeting with Zuma’s lawyers before proposing changes to its mandate. It’s another in a series of wrangles that could keep the institution in the public eye for something else than monetary policy this year. Its mandate isn’t the only front on which the central bank has come under fire in the past three months. After Mkhwebane instructed lawmakers in June to change the constitution to make...
(Business Day 09/15/17)
Absa CEO Maria Ramos reveals meetings in a supplementary affidavit in Absa’s bid to set aside some of Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s contentious remedial actions. Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane met the State Security Agency (SSA) not once, but twice, and discussed the independence of the Reserve Bank before drafting her final report in the Ciex/Bankorp saga, despite her denials. Absa CEO Maria Ramos says this in the supplementary affidavit in Absa’s bid to set aside some of the remedial actions in the report, filed in court on Thursday. Mkhwebane has directed the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to reopen an investigation into Absa and recover an illegal R1.1bn apartheid-era lifeboat granted to Bankorp, which Absa acquired in 1992. Ramos’s affidavit includes...
(APA 09/15/17)
South Africa’s current account deficit widened from 2 percent to 2.4 percent in the second quarter of 2017, the country’s reserve bank disclosed on Thursday. “The deficit on the current account of the balance of payments widened from $7.0 billion in the first quarter of 2017 to $8.5 billion in the second quarter, and as a ratio of GDP from 2 percent to 2.4 percent” the South African Reserve Bank said in its September 2017 quarterly bulletin. However, the apex bank said the value of merchandise exports increased by 3.1 percent in the period following a marginal decrease of 0.2 percent in the first quarter of this year. The value of mining and manufacturing exports increased in the second quarter,...
(Reuters (Eng) 09/15/17)
A violent feud between South African meter taxi drivers and ride-hailing services Uber and Taxify escalated with another three vehicles torched using petrol bombs, police said on Thursday. Drivers for Uber [UBER.UL] and Estonian start-up Taxify operating in Johannesburg and capital Pretoria have faced threats and protests from regular taxi operators who accuse the app-based drivers of poaching customers with cheaper fares. One Uber vehicle and two other taxis were torched last week in the upmarket Sandton district and on Wednesday three Taxify vehicles were set alight in the Pretoria suburb of Sunnyside. Police said in one incident on Wednesday a Taxify driver responding to a pick-up request was cornered by a group of eight men who threatened him with...
(Bloomberg 09/15/17)
Societe Generale SA, challenged on its home turf by Orange SA’s push into banking, is fighting back with a new mobile lender in Africa. The French lender started YUP, a new app for smartphones, in Senegal and Ivory Coast and plans to begin operating in four other sub-Saharan countries this year and next, the company said on Thursday. The bank aims to double its client base to 2 million in the region within three years. “Telcos have opened the way and they’ve gotten ahead,” Alexandre Maymat, who oversees Societe Generale’s operations in French-speaking Africa, said at a press briefing. “We’re catching up” by redefining the retail strategy and providing a broader offering than telephone companies. Chief Executive Officer Frederic Oudea...
(AFP (eng) 09/14/17)
South Africa's embattled president Jacob Zuma goes to court on Thursday in a fresh attempt to fend off the reinstatement of 783 graft charges relating to a 1990s arms deal. The country's main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has sought in 11 court appearances since 2009 to reactivate the charges over controversial post-apartheid military contracts, which have dogged Zuma for much of his time in government. In 2005 his former financial advisor Schabir Shaik was convicted for facilitating bribes in exchange for...
(AFP (eng) 09/13/17)
A former South African minister was convicted on Wednesday of brutally beating two women at a Johannesburg nightclub after one of them called him gay. Ex-deputy higher education minister Mduduzi Manana pleaded guilty to three counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and described how he kicked and punched the women after one asked "Who do you think you are? You gay." He had been in the upmarket Cubana nightspot in Johannesburg's Fourways district in the early hours of August 6 when the two women joined his table, Randburg Magistrates court heard. Manana, who resigned from the government last month but remains an MP, will be sentenced on November 7. He has publicly apologised for the "shameful...
(Business Day 09/13/17)
SA is stuck in a low growth trap and is at risk of another downgrade if the government doesn’t implement structural reforms, according to Moody’s vice-president and senior sovereign analyst Zuzana Brixiova. Speaking at the Moody’s summit in Johannesburg on Wednesday, Brixiova said: "Investors have such low confidence that they don’t invest because of the low growth environment." Amid fear of another downgrade, Brixiova said there were positives and negatives, but "on balance, the risks are tilted to the downside". SA could be at risk of another downgrade if the strength and independence of institutions notably diminished; if the policy framework becomes even less predictable or undermines economic or fiscal strength; and if liquidity pressures begin to re-emerge at state-owned...
(Bloomberg 09/13/17)
Strong supporters of South African President Jacob Zuma are on a provisional list of people who would run for the top positions at the African National Congress’s leadership conference in December on the ticket of his former wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, according to two people familiar with the matter. A proposed list drawn up at a meeting late Monday includes David Mabuza, the premier of Mpumalanga province, as the choice of ANC deputy president, and Ace Magashule, the head of Free State province, as the party secretary-general, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly
(Reuters (Eng) 09/13/17)
Bell Pottinger’s British arm collapsed on Tuesday after the global public relations agency’s clients deserted it over a racially-charged political campaign it ran in South Africa. After working behind the scenes on some of the most defining moments in recent history, from the election of Margaret Thatcher to the death of Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko, Bell Pottinger crumpled following a scandal of its own making. It entered a tailspin earlier this month after it was thrown out of an industry body for running a campaign in support of South African President Jacob Zuma, funded by the influential Gupta family, that sought to stir racial tension. Bell Pottinger, which is based in London, has lost customers, partners and its second-biggest shareholder...
(Business Day 09/13/17)
Parliament’s finance committee has concluded that it appeared the extension of South African Airways (SAA) chairperson Dudu Myeni’s contract until the airline’s AGM in November was irregular, and has called on the executive to fix the matter. The proper process was not followed in extending Myeni’s contract because the Cabinet did not approve it, as required. Her contract was extended in 2016 for a further year, which ended on August 31. It was then extended until the AGM took place — Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba sent a letter to Myeni informing her of this latest extension. Questions over the legality of the extension were raised after it emerged that the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) had not been informed...
(Business Day 09/13/17)
Plan to cut flights includes cutting flights in the crowded domestic market by more than a third South African Airways (SAA) plans to significantly reduce its flights by 23% from the end of the year. Domestic routes will be slashed by 37%, regional routes by 11% and international routes by 4%. The initiative is part of a programme to remove loss-making routes and rationalise the airline’s network. The flight reduction will be the outcome of the removal of narrow-body aircraft from the airline’s fleet, with one having already left and four more expected to leave by December 2017. The last of the five excess wide-body aircraft will exit the fleet in October 2018. These plans were revealed in a presentation...
(News24 09/13/17)
The ANC's alliance partners in Gauteng are calling for a reconfigured alliance. The announcement was made by Cosatu and the SACP during their joint press briefing on Wednesday at Cosatu House in Braamfontein. The SACP and Cosatu in the province held bilateral meetings on Monday where the two alliance partners resolved to re-evaluate the alliance. "We have therefore resolved that as part of our principled and profound resolutions on the call for a reconfigured alliance, and as part of a practical giving effect to this principle, we should, as a matter of urgency, launch our election campaign in the province," SACP provincial secretary Jacob Mamabolo said. Mamabolo said the two partners had resolved to commence immediately with their Qina Msebenzi/Tia...
(Business Day 09/13/17)
Sales growth slowed more sharply than expected, with sales at general dealers shrinking Retail trade sales growth slowed more sharply than expected in July, coming in at 1.8% year on year, from June’s 2.9% and against expectations of between 2.4% and 2.7%. The retail sector is an important indicator of consumer spending, a key driver of growth in the economy. June’s figure was the strongest since November 2016 and a moderation had been expected, but the outcome was worse than expected. Sales of food, beverages and tobacco in specialised stores rose 7.1%, with household furniture, appliances and equipment up 6.8% from a year earlier, the main positive forces in the July reading. General dealers fell 0.6%, and hardware, paint and...
(Xinhuanet 09/13/17)
In an effort to promote economic development and solve complex conservation challenges facing world heritage sites, the African World Heritage Fund Patron and former President of Namibia Hifikepunye Pohamba will host a business leader's breakfast event in Namibian Capital, Windhoek on Thursday. The African World Heritage Fund is an initiative of the African Member States of the African Union and UNESCO, launched in 2006. Webber Ndoro, executive director of the African World Heritage Fund, at a media briefing on Tuesday in Windhoek said that the aim of the event is to promote a holistic private sector engagement, raise a sense of ownership and accountability for heritage protection as well as transmission of World Heritage sites in Namibia and Africa. "To...
(News24 09/13/17)
Eskom has delayed planned interruptions of bulk electricity supply to three Eastern Cape municipalities on Wednesday, but said plans must be made before Friday for outstanding payments. Raymond Mhlaba, Walter Sisulu and Inxuba Yethemba municipalities were due to have their power cut on Wednesday, as the municipalities had failed to make adequate payment or to table firm debt settlement proposals to Eskom. These power cuts have been delayed to Friday, by which time Eskom hopes a plan has been provided. “Eskom has been engaging the municipalities and the provincial government regarding the pending interruptions over the last few days and we are still hopeful that we will be able to find mutually acceptable solutions before Friday, 15 September 2017,” it...
(Reuters (Eng) 09/12/17)
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma suffered a setback on Tuesday when a court ruled that the election of a faction loyal to him in his home province two years ago was invalid. The High Court ruling highlights growing rifts within Zuma’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) and could hamper his efforts to ensure his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma replaces him as party leader and eventually as president. KwaZulu Natal province, situated on the east coast of South Africa, is the ancestral home of the scandal-prone president and will also command most votes at the ANC’s national conference in December, when Zuma will step down as party chief. Zuma loyalists took control of the province in November 2015 at a party conference...

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