Friday 23 June 2017
(AFP (eng) 06/01/17)
British banking giant Barclays said Thursday it has further reduced its stake in its South African operations as part of a global strategic re-think unveiled last year. Barclays said in a statement that it had placed a stake of 33.7 percent in Barclays Africa with institutional investors, raising some £2.224 billion (2.5 billion euros, $2.9 billion). Barclays, which has decided to focus on its two core markets of Britain and the United States, now holds a stake of just 16.4 percent in the unit. It does want to pull out completely, however, and will hold on to a stake of 15 percent, it said. Barclays Africa, which is listed on the Johannesburg stock exchange and is present in around 10...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/01/17)
South African pension funds have cut their holdings in local government bonds to the lowest level in nearly 4-1/2 years because of political turbulence in the country, but yield-hungry foreign investors are proving less hesitant. Domestic pension funds have historically been the largest investors in South African government bonds, but National Treasury numbers show their share has fallen to 27.2 percent as of end April -- the lowest since December 2012. Conversely, foreign investors have been buying, according to data from the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and now hold 39.4 percent of the bonds -- their highest level on record. The rest are held by banks and other financial companies. Local funds have steadily decreased their holdings in government debt since...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/01/17)
Leaked documents released by the South African media on Thursday alleging improper dealings in government contracts opened President Jacob Zuma up to renewed scrutiny and may deepen divisions within the ruling African National Congress. Zuma has survived calls to resign from within the usually united ANC in recent weeks due to disputes over political appointments and his friendship with the Indian-born Gupta family, wealthy businessmen whose companies have contracts with state-owned firms. Investigative journalists at AmaBhungane, a non-profit group that has a strong track record of exposing what it says are government corruption scandals, released some of more than 100,000 leaked emails and documents. It says they prove Gupta-owned companies unduly influence the awarding of government contracts worth hundreds of...
(Reuters (Eng) 06/01/17)
South African ministers ceded to mounting political pressure by dismissing an ally of President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday, in an effort to mend deep rifts in the ruling African National Congress ahead of a party leadership contest. State power utility Eskom was told to remove chief executive Brian Molefe "for the best interests" of the country after members of the ANC criticised his reinstatement just two weeks ago, given he resigned last year amid allegations of graft. Zuma has come under increasing calls to resign, including from within the ANC, following a series of corruption scandals, and analysts say Molefe's removal will placate the top echelons of the ANC who want unity. Zuma wants to avoid the public reprimand he...
(Bloomberg 06/01/17)
Spar Group Ltd. said the firing of South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and subsequent credit rating downgrades had caused a “massive loss of confidence” among shoppers already battling weak economic growth. While there has yet to be a “huge impact” on trading at the Durban-based food and liquor retailer, the decision by President Jacob Zuma at the end of March was another barrier to economic growth, Chief Executive Officer Graham O’Connor said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “All of us are disappointed by the firing of Gordhan, and the cabinet reshuffle just breeds uncertainty,” he said. “We want a strong economy where our consumers have confidence.” Spar’s focus on locally sourced food and resilient liquor sales have helped...
(Bloomberg 06/01/17)
South Africa will remove Brian Molefe as chief executive officer of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. less than three weeks after his controversial return to the state power utility. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown will appoint an acting CEO within 48 hours, after a committee of cabinet ministers asked by President Jacob Zuma to review Molefe’s reinstatement found that the decision was incorrect, she told reporters in Cape Town on Wednesday. Brown has asked the Eskom board to propose two alternatives to replace Molefe. “I directed the board to rescind its decision and the board must provide me with two names from within the executive” for approval, she said. Zuma formed the committee, which included Brown and the ministers of justice,...
(Bloomberg 06/01/17)
Booming demand for macadamias is transforming farmland in eastern South Africa, as landowners switch focus from bananas and sugarcane to the creamy nuts used in sweet treats from ice cream to cookies. First introduced in South Africa in the 1960s, evergreen macadamia nut trees are grown on farms across the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces, with about 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) being added every year. The country, which vies with Australia as the top grower and exporter, produced about 28 percent of the world’s total output in 2015, according to data from the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council. “The macadamia story is a beautiful one,” said Richard Mattison, one of the biggest private growers in South Africa, who has...
(Xinhuanet 06/01/17)
China-South Africa relations are expected to be lifted to new heights with increasing cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two BRICS countries. Lucas Banda, an international relations expert at the Midrand University, cited the tourism sector as a highlight of the trend. "Chinese arrivals were up 93 percent in 2016," Banda told Xinhua. Chinese tourists to South Africa increased by 56 percent during the period from January to October in 2016 compared to a year earlier, showed data from South Africa's tourism research institute. "The cooperation between China and South Africa is expected to surge this year because of the bilateral agreement," he added, referring to the bilateral high-level people-to-people exchange mechanism launched in April. While addressing the April conference...
(AFP (eng) 06/01/17)
One in five children born with a twin sibling in sub-Saharan Africa dies before the age of five -- three times the rate among singletons, said a study Thursday. Almost two-thirds die in the first month of life -- often succumbing to the after-effects of a difficult birth or entering the world too early or underweight, according to research published in The Lancet medical journal. And while rates of under-five deaths in the sub-Saharan African region have declined over two decades, the improvement has been much slower for twins than for single-borns. "Twins account for 10.7 percent of all under-five deaths and 15.1 percent of neonatal (newborn) deaths in the region and these percentages are increasing," the study said. "The...
(AFP (eng) 05/31/17)
The piles of stinking rubbish are growing, running water and electricity are scarce. In Ennerdale, public anger over the failures of post-apartheid South Africa has reached boiling point, exploding into a wave of violent protest. Here, on the outskirts of Johannesburg's sprawling Soweto township, the tightly-packed redbrick houses conceal a deep-rooted sense of frustration which in recent weeks has morphed into fury. Outraged locals have burnt tyres and attacked police over chronic unemployment, shortages of electricity and water, as well as sub-standard education and healthcare. "Look where we're living. Ten people are staying in this room, nine more in the shack behind, all from the same family," said 21-year-old Celine Brown
(Bloomberg 05/31/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma’s public approval rating has reached an all-time low and most members of his ruling African National Congress want him to resign, according to an opinion poll released two days after he survived a second bid to oust him. Almost two-thirds of eligible South African voters want Zuma to quit, the survey released Tuesday by research company Ipsos found. About 54 percent of ANC supporters say the president should step down voluntarily, while 27 percent want him to stay in his position, according to the poll, which was commissioned by broadcaster eNCA. The survey of 3,471 eligible voters from April 21 to May 22 had a margin of error of as much as 1.63 percent. The...
(Bloomberg 05/31/17)
Mining companies in South Africa have been frozen out of consultation over regulatory changes that could dilute shareholders, raise costs and impose new levies to fund community development. South Africa’s Cabinet last week approved a new draft of the country’s Mining Charter and Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane has promised it will be gazetted within weeks. Yet while labor leaders have been consulted on the long-delayed new rules, the Chamber of Mines, which represents producers, says it “does not have any insight” into the latest version and hasn’t met government officials on the subject since March. The looming dispute threatens to prolong uncertainty and further slow spending in South Africa’s biggest export industry. Fixed investment in mining dropped in each of...
(Bloomberg 05/31/17)
While some stock investors may choose to flee South Africa as political turmoil engulfs President Jacob Zuma, HSBC analysts argue the noise around the embattled leader and his ruling party makes it a good time to buy. That’s because a pick-up in the South African economy and a favorable commodity price cycle as China, the biggest consumer of metals, avoids a hard landing are positive for the local market. In addition, elections due in 2019 should deter Zuma’s African National Congress from policies that harm the economy for fear of defeat at the polls, the analysts, led by John Lomax, head of global emerging market equity strategy at HSBC Bank Plc, wrote in a report. “We are overweight the South...
(The Associated Press 05/31/17)
South Africa has renounced the citizenship of the man who killed anti-apartheid leader Chris Hani in 1993. Polish immigrant Janusz Walus was sentenced to life in prison for shooting Hani, head of the military wing of the African National Congress. South Africa's main anti-apartheid movement became the country's ruling party after the end of white minority rule. Walus' lawyer Julian Knight confirmed the renunciation of his South African citizenship on Tuesday. Walus has said he hoped the assassination would plunge South Africa into chaos ahead of the country's first all-race elections in 1994. That election saw Nelson Mandela become the country's first black president.
(BBC News Africa 05/31/17)
South Africa is expecting to harvest its biggest maize crop in four decades, a year after drought devastated output of the country's staple food. Farmers are set to produce over 15 million tonnes which means the country will have a 50% surplus for the year, according to government figures. The bumper harvest is a result of good rains in January and February. The extra produce is expected to help to push food prices down, according to agricultural economists. Food security is a concern for many and in South Africa rising food prices have made life more difficult particularly for the millions of poor and unemployed, says the BBC's Pumza Fihlani. A drop in the cost of food would be a...
(AFP (eng) 05/31/17)
Nigeria have left out Chelsea star Victor Moses from their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa next month. Speculation has been rife in recent weeks over the whether Moses would be available for the June 10 match in the southern city of Uyo. The 26-year-old has been Nigeria's most outstanding player in Europe this past season but there have been doubts about his commitment to the Super Eagles. Another surprise in Gernot Rohr's 23-man squad is a first call-up for Maroof Youssef, who plays for Egyptian side Zamalek. The 24-year-old, who can operate as a defensive midfielder or forward but is listed in the squad as a defender, helped the Cairo club win a league and cup...
(Washington Post 05/31/17)
The old man’s house had become a camp for the displaced. In the back yard, groups of women boiled water for rice. Small children skittered across the dirt, running into the bedroom, where they careened around the long, skinny legs of Elijah Karama. “Because of the conditions, they are mine to take care of,” said Karama, 57, more tired than proud. By conditions, he meant Boko Haram’s destruction of vast areas of northeastern Nigeria, and the hunger crisis that has followed. This city of about 1 million has absorbed an additional 1 million people who fled the Islamist militants who burned their villages and kidnapped hundreds of children. In Maiduguri, the vast majority of the displaced aren’t living in U.N...
(Bloomberg 05/30/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma’s public approval rating has reached an all-time low and most members of his ruling African National Congress want him to resign, according to an opinion poll released two days after he survived a second bid to oust him. Almost two-thirds of eligible South African voters want Zuma to quit, the survey released Tuesday by research company Ipsos found. About 54 percent of ANC supporters say the president should step down voluntarily, while 27 percent want him to stay in his position, according to the poll, which was commissioned by broadcaster eNCA. The survey of 3,471 eligible voters from April 21 to May 22 had a margin of error of as much as 1.63 percent. The...
(Los Angeles Times 05/30/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma, a political survivor, beat a weekend bid to topple him by members of the governing African National Congress party. It was the second failed attempt to oust him since November. But that’s not all. He has survived multiple no-confidence votes in Parliament, a rape trial, corruption charges, a court finding that he breached the country’s constitution, attacks from elders of his party, his country’s downgrade to junk status, condemnation by church leaders and even an alleged plot to poison him. At the heart of most of the bids to get rid of him are allegations that Zuma allowed a family of Indian
(Mail & Guardian 05/30/17)
South Africa has, in the past, been credited with taking on innovative corporate governance standards and integrated reporting. So it’s particularly depressing to see the spectacle around the country’s largest state-owned enterprise, its power utility Eskom. The drama has revolved around Eskom’s chief executive Brian Molefe, who has returned to the job just months after quitting. The contradictory explanations of his return point to huge flaws in the accountability systems of the country’s state-owned enterprises. It’s clear that Eskom flouted many basic principles of sound corporate governance. This poses enormous risks as these systems are imperative for ensuring an ethical public service and society. When Molefe announced his departure from Eskom, he specifically connected his leaving to “corporate governance”; he...

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