Monday 20 November 2017
(Financial Times 09/28/17)
Cosatu backs Ramaphosa to succeed the president as ANC leader. South Africa’s biggest trade union federation brought thousands of workers on to the streets of cities to protest against corruption under President Jacob Zuma, and demand that Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president, replace him. Wednesday’s national strike, organised by Cosatu, which has 1.7m members, and the South African Communist party, took place in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other big cities across the country. That the protest was even called for reveals the deep fractures within the ruling African National Congress over Mr Zuma’s scandal-hit leadership — including his ties to the Gupta business family — as Cosatu and the Communist party are part of the ruling African National Congress alliance...
(Bloomberg 09/28/17)
As the battle to succeed South African President Jacob Zuma as leader of the African National Congress grows increasingly fractious, party Treasurer-General Zweli Mkhize is emerging as a possible compromise choice to keep the continent’s oldest political movement from tearing itself apart. While the race for the top job is widely seen as a head-to-head contest between Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s ex-wife and former chairwoman of the African Union Commission, Mkhize, a 61-year-old medical doctor, has two advantages: he’s stayed above the infighting and has strong support in his home region of KwaZulu-Natal, which has the most ANC members of the nation’s nine provinces.
(Reuters (Eng) 09/28/17)
South Africa’s economic growth will be significantly hampered by increasing political uncertainty in the run-up to the ruling African National Congress’s leadership contest in December, Fitch said on Thursday. In a report released by its BMI research arm, Fitch said a turn to more “radical rhetoric and policy positions by the traditionalist wing of the party” would weigh on investor confidence. “Mining and manufacturing activity are likely to be hit especially hard by the political challenges, as the elevated policy uncertainty stymies much-needed investment,” Fitch said in the report. The continent’s most industrialised economy contracted in the last quarter of 2016 and the first of 2017 before recording marginal growth in the second quarter. Average expansion is forecast around 1...
(Reuters (Eng) 09/28/17)
South Africa's political parties should be required to disclose the source of their funding, a court ruled on Wednesday, potentially exposing the patronage networks that have influenced power in the two decades since apartheid. The ruling by the Western Cape High Court, which orders parliament to amend access-to-information laws, comes against opposition from some parties who fear disclosure could jeopardize funding. Judge Yasmin Meer said in court papers that disclosure of the private funding of political parties and independent candidates was required for the effective exercise of the right to vote in elections and to make political choices. She instructed parliament to amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) accordingly. The application challenging the constitutionality of PAIA, which...
(Bloomberg 09/28/17)
South Africa’s notoriously volatile rand has been sailing into calmer waters in recent months, with price swings narrowing to the lowest level in almost three years. That’s about to change, options pricing suggests. The rand’s three-month implied volatility against the dollar has soared relative to actual fluctuations as the ruling African National Congress’s leadership contest approaches, suggesting traders are paying up for protection ahead of an event that may introduce two-way risks for the currency. The ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, is in turmoil because of scandals that have shadowed Jacob Zuma, 75, during his eight-year presidency. The party is embroiled in a factional split between supporters of his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma,...
(Bloomberg 09/28/17)
South Africa’s potential bailout of the state-owned airline could place pressure on the nation’s finances because other government-run companies that are cash-strapped and mismanaged may come to expect the same, Moody’s Investors Service said. “It generates moral hazards because then larger state-owned enterprises see it and there perhaps will be the perception that the government will always come and bail out, without reforms,” Zuzana Brixiova, Moody’s senior vice president for sovereign risk and its lead analyst for South Africa, said in an interview in London Wednesday. Loss-making South African Airways needs a recapitalization of at least 10 billion rand ($738 million) and there are plans to strengthen its board, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said last month. In addition, the government...
(AL Jazeera 09/28/17)
Trade union confederation says time has come for 'workers and citizens to stand up and push back against this rot'. Thousands of workers have taken to the streets in cities across South Africa to protest against government corruption, state capture and job losses. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), both in alliance with the ruling ANC, say the strike on Wednesday is largely against corruption, but the call to take to the streets is also seen as an indictment against President Jacob Zuma. Protests took place in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, among other cities, with marchers carrying 'Zuma Must Fall' placards and singing anti-Zuma songs. COSATU wants Zuma to appoint...
(Reuters (Eng) 09/28/17)
The ratings downgrades have put pressure on South African asset prices and could increase its borrowing costs. South Africa’s credit rating is well placed at the lowest investment grade, but rising foreign ownership of the government’s local-currency bonds is a risk, a senior analyst at Moody’s ratings agency said. Two of the three large international ratings agencies S&P Global and Fitch - downgraded South Africa’s foreign-currency rating to speculative grade, or “junk” status, this year after the economy slowed and an abrupt Cabinet reshuffle in March. Moody’s downgraded South Africa to “Baa3”, one notch above junk, in June and has the continent’s most industrialised economy on a negative outlook. The ratings downgrades have put pressure on South African asset prices...
(AFP (eng) 09/27/17)
Thousands of angry South African trade unionists took to the streets across the nation on Wednesday to call for President Jacob Zuma to resign over alleged top-level corruption. In Johannesburg roughly 2,000 members of the COSATU trade union federation, South Africa's largest, marched armed with "Zuma must go, corruption is a crime against humanity" placards. They accuse Zuma of massive looting of state resources and collusion with the influential Gupta business family who are at the centre of many of the graft allegations against the president. COSATU...
(Reuters (Eng) 09/27/17)
Thousands of South Africans will march on Wednesday against corruption under President Jacob Zuma’s rule, in protests led by unions which have backed a rival to the president’s faction as the next leader of the ANC. The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which is in an alliance with the ruling African National Congress (ANC), has called on its more than one million members to strike and join marches in major cities across South Africa. Though the protests are officially against graft broadly, much of the frustration and anger is aimed at Zuma. “Corruption has become endemic under this administration,” COSATU said in a statement. “This calls for all of us as workers and citizens to stand up and...
(Bloomberg 09/27/17)
South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said he won’t ask Africa’s biggest money manager to provide funds to bail out state-owned companies that will put the pensions of government workers at risk. “There is no attempt to dip into pensions for reasons that are unscrupulous,” Gigaba told reporters in Pretoria on Tuesday after a meeting with the board of the Public Investment Corp. The event was scheduled after media reports said that the National Treasury is seeking to use PIC funds to put into struggling government entities such as South African Airways. The Treasury is in talks with the PIC about buying part of its 39 percent stake in phone company Telkom SA SOC Ltd., and the discussions are ongoing,...
(Bloomberg 09/27/17)
South Africa’s biggest labor organization urged workers to strike on Wednesday to protest against what it called “the cancer of corruption” spreading among business and government leaders and threatening the nation’s democracy under President Jacob Zuma. The action is the boldest step yet by the Congress of South African Trade Unions to pile pressure on Zuma, whom it helped to win control of the ruling African National Congress in 2007 and then turned against after he fired Pravin Gordhan as finance minister in March. That move prompted S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. to downgrade the nation’s credit assessment to junk. “This strike is about sending a message to both government and private sector that as workers and citizens...
(Bloomberg 09/27/17)
The South African High Court in Pretoria has restricted access to 1.75 billion rand ($130 million) in rehabilitation-trust accounts for two mines owned by companies linked to the politically connected Gupta family, according to The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, a civic action group. The interim order directs India’s Bank of Baroda to continue to hold the trust funds of the Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines in accounts in the trusts’ names, the group said in an emailed statement Tuesday. The trustees or those with signing powers are barred from “directly or indirectly dealing in any way with, disposing of or removing from” South Africa any of the funds or assets of the trusts, OUTA said, citing the interim court order...
(Bloomberg 09/27/17)
Studio 189, a label founded by actress Rosario Dawson and fashion executive Abrima Erwiah, is reinvesting in its African roots. It’s hard enough to build a fashion brand, let alone an empire. Rare is the person who makes a mission of using fashion to build communities. Such is the case with Studio 189, a label founded by longtime friends Abrima Erwiah (formerly a marketing executive at Bottega Veneta) and Rosario Dawson (an enduring star most recently seen in Netflix’s Marvel franchise). “The idea is to produce everything in local markets,” says Erwiah. “Particularly in Africa, particularly in Ghana.” The founders set up the company in partnership with the United Nations’ Ethical Fashion Initiative, which also works with such socially conscious...
(Xinhuanet 09/26/17)
South African Police Minister Fikile Mbalula vowed Tuesday to ensure safety of visitors after a group of Dutch tourists were reportedly robbed at gun point. Mbalula called the robbery, which occurred on Sunday night in Johannesburg, as "an attack on the tourism industry and the economy". "Tourism is part of our economic drivers and provider of jobs for the youth. We must work hard in protecting this industry," the minister said. The 36 tourists were traveling on a bus when it was allegedly stopped by a police-marked vehicle with one man dressed in police uniform and five others in civilian clothing. The men allegedly demanded their possessions and one of the tourists was injured in the process and taken to...
(Bloomberg 09/26/17)
David Mabuza, premier of South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, said the ruling African National Congress needs to coalesce around a unifying candidate at a December conference where leaders will be elected to end infighting that is damaging the party. Factions backing Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former head of the African Union and an ex-wife of South African President Jacob Zuma, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the country’s deputy president, are “far apart,” Mabuza said on Monday on The Justice Factor, a program screened by broadcaster eNCA. Unless there is unity, Mabuza said he will not consent to serving in a leadership position. “We see an ANC that is gradually depleting itself, rather than growing,” he said. “We are tearing ourselves apart. If we are...
(Business Day 09/26/17)
Gigaba denies SAA has requested funds from the Public Investment Corporation, but SAA confirms it has done so. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board are due to hold a crunch meeting on Tuesday to deal with reports that the government is planning to raid the fund manager to bail out struggling companies under its control. Gigaba has less than a month to find the R15bn that is desperately needed for airlines SAA and SA Express and the national broadcaster SABC. The finance minister has also said Eskom needs "soft support", while other state-owned companies are in need of billions of rand to keep operating. Bloomberg said this week the Treasury wanted R100bn. The meeting will...
(Business Day 09/26/17)
The High Court in Pretoria has granted an urgent interim interdict freezing the Gupta-owned Optimum and Koornfontein coal mines’ rehabilitation fund accounts, worth R1.75bn, which sit with the Bank of Baroda. The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) last week approached the court after Gupta-owned companies failed to stop the Bank of Baroda from closing their bank accounts at the end of September. The Gupta companies, however, will still have a shot at trying to stop the Bank of Baroda in the main application for an interim interdict on December 7. Outa’s application was not opposed and on Tuesday the court granted the interim order, which directs the Bank of Baroda to continue to hold the rehabilitation funds in interest-bearing accounts...
(Times Live 09/26/17)
Activities at schools, municipalities and mines are expected to be disrupted on Wednesday as Cosatu affiliates strike and march against state capture and corruption. The disruption is aimed at making the ANC deal with workers' concerns about the looting of state coffers. The labour federation will be holding another protest march next month over job losses that are a result of state capture. Cosatu supporters will march on city halls, banks, the Chamber of Mines, Eskom and the offices of the SA Local Government Association. Cosatu spokesman Sizwe Pamla said: "Our member unions are ensuring that teachers, nurses, miners and municipal workers will down tools. There will be a total shutdown of schools and municipalities." He said the federation had...
(APA 09/26/17)
Cash-strapped South African Airways has confirmed it will cancel flights on six of its regional destinations starting from October due to "operational reasons", APA learnt on Tuesday. According to a tourism update newsletter, the airline has already sent out notifications to confirm it "will cut flights to Brazzaville via Pointe Noire in the Congo Republic; Douala in Cameroon via Libreville in Gabon; Kinshasa in the DR Congo; Entebbe in Uganda; Luanda in Angola; and Cotonou in Benin via Libreville in Gabon." The update said SAA has said it would re-accommodate passengers with alternative travel to be finalised "on or before 17 October 2017." The SAA issued a statement towards the end of last month saying the airline was set to...

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