Friday 23 June 2017
(Reuters (Eng) 05/20/17)
France will step up the fight against resurgent Islamist militants in north and west Africa and will work more closely with Germany to help the tinderbox region, President Emmanuel Macron said on his first trip outside Europe on Friday. Visiting Mali days after taking office, Macron vowed to keep French troops in the Sahel region until there was "no more Islamist terrorism" there. He said operations would be escalated in response to signs that militant groups were regrouping and uniting. "It is vital today that we speed up. Our armed forces are giving their all, but we must speed up" efforts to secure the Sahel, he told a news conference in Gao, Mali, where he held talks with President Ibrahim...
(Bloomberg 05/19/17)
The International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for economic growth in South Africa, saying that the end of the worst drought in more than a century will lift agricultural production while rising commodity prices will boost mining. The Washington-based lender forecast growth of 1 percent for Africa’s most-industrialized economy in 2017, up from the 0.8 percent prediction it made in April. The consumer inflation rate will probably fall below the 6 percent upper limit of the central bank’s target rate in the second half of this year, it said in a statement after a so-called Article IV visit by officials this month. “Following last year’s near-stagnation, there are signs that a modest improvement in the pace of economic growth is...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
The influential South African Council of Churches has warned corruption is turning South Africa into a "mafia state" under a government that intimidates whistleblowers, local media reported on Friday. In unusually frank comments from the council (SACC), its secretary general Bishop Malusi Mpumlwana was cited as saying President Jacob Zuma's government had "lost the moral radar". The criticism puts more pressure on Zuma, who in past weeks has faced calls to resign from within his own ruling African National Congress (ANC) party and the opposition amid a slew of scandals that prompted street protests and credit-rating downgrades. "We have come to recognize that South Africa may just be a few inches from the throes of a mafia state from which...
(Independent Online 05/19/17)
Johannesburg - General Motors’ (GM) decision to disinvest from South Africa and stop manufacturing and sales of Chevrolet in the domestic market was based strictly on a global decision on where it believed it could get the best return on investment. “It was not influenced by local economic or political considerations,” said Ritch Schaafsma, General Motors’ international vice-president yesterday. “After considered assessment we determined that continued or increased investment in manufacturing in South Africa would not provide GM with the strong returns we require to support our global strategy.” In terms of GM’s disinvestment plan, Japan-based Isuzu Motors, through newly established company Isuzu Motors South Africa, would acquire GM’s light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations in Struandale, Port Elizabeth. It will...
(Business Day 05/19/17)
SA was ranked 119 out of 195 countries in the Healthcare Access and Quality Index published by medical journal Lancet on Friday. This placed SA one rank below Namibia. SA received a score of 52 points. The country with the best score, Andorra, received 95 followed by 94 for Iceland and 92 for Switzerland. Central African Republic received the worst score of 29, with Afghanistan and Somalia rounding off the bottom three, with scores of 32 and 34 respectively. Although SA was ranked in the bottom half, the researchers rated it among the countries that had improved their healthcare access and quality the most in the 25 years between 1990 and 2015. While the report was released in 2017, the...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/19/17)
When rich countries wrote off billions of dollars of African debt in 2005, they hoped governments would think twice about borrowing again in costly foreign currencies. Over a decade later, most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive. Aside from South Africa and Nigeria, governments have not yet done enough to develop capital markets that would have allowed them to raise more money in their own currencies, investors say. United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa's external debt stock rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated...
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
After months of attacks by opposition parties, labor unions and the courts, South African President Jacob Zuma now appears to be on a collision course with a more dangerous adversary: his own ruling African National Congress. ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said this week that the party told Zuma’s administration to rescind a decision to reappoint Brian Molefe, who’d been implicated in a graft probe, as the head of the state power utility. Last month three of the party’s top six leaders slated the president’s decision to fire Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, a move that cost the nation its investment-grade credit rating from S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. The faction fighting is pushing the ANC across a line...
(Business Day 05/18/17)
The rand was sharply weaker at midday on Thursday as fallout from a renewed Brazilian scandal affected emerging market sentiment. Global trading was clearly risk-off as US Treasuries and the Japanese yen gained in safe-haven trade. According to reports, Brazilian President Michel Temer tried to bribe officials involved in last year’s impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff. The allegations, based on apparent secret recordings, sent Brazil’s real currency and the Bovespa stock index sharply lower. Brazil has attracted large capital inflows over the past few months as Temer embarked on economic reforms. South African traders at first were at a loss to say what caused the sharp fall in the rand, but analysts at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking said...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/18/17)
General Motors Co plans to quit selling vehicles in India by the end of this year and will sell operations in South Africa, the latest steps in a strategy of focusing cash and engineering effort on fewer, more profitable markets. The Detroit automaker said on Thursday it will take a $500 million charge in the second quarter to restructure operations in India, Africa and Singapore. It will cancel most of a planned $1 billion investment to build a new line of low-cost vehicles in India. About $200 million of the charge will be a cash expense, GM said. The moves are expected to save $100 million a year in a sector of GM's global business that last year lost about...
(Business Day 05/18/17)
Justice Minister Michael Masutha is in talks with Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba over the restoration of the special advisory council which was legislatively provided for under the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (Fica) of 2002 but then abolished under this year’s amendments to the legislation. The council was never established but Masutha said at a media briefing ahead of his budget vote speech in the National Assembly Thursday that it was "concerning" that the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Act did away with the "all important" advisory council. The minister is trying to get it reincluded in the legislative regime created by the Financial Intelligence Centre Act and its amendments. "We will possibly be approaching Cabinet collectively with proposals to remedy the...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/18/17)
Police recovered 25 bodies, believed to be those of illegal miners, from a disused Harmony Gold mine shaft, near an area where 76 illegal miners died in 2009 in what was one of South Africa's worst mining disasters. The bodies were recovered from the Eland shaft near the town of Welkom, following a gas explosion late last week, in an area where disused mines without commercially viable amounts of gold still hold enough deposits to attract illegal mining syndicates. Illegal gold mining has plagued South Africa's mining companies for decades, robbing the industry and state coffers of billions of rand through smalltime pilfering as well as networks run by organized crime. Police confirmed that 11 illegal miners survived and believe...
(Eye Witness News 05/18/17)
He says an ad hoc committee also needs to come up with a means to regulate private funding in the interest of transparency and enhancing democracy. The African National Congress (ANC) is calling for a Parliamentary ad hoc committee to investigate and make recommendations on both public and private funding for political parties. ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu says the party will be tabling a motion to this effect soon. Mthembu says the R150 million in public funding to be shared among 13 political parties is a "pittance". The chief whip says the motion is prompted by resolutions taken at the ANC national conferences and has been agreed to by other party whips. He says an ad hoc committee also...
(Eye Witness News 05/18/17)
Brian Molefe returned to Eskom as its CEO on Monday after resigning last year following the Public Protector’s 'State of Capture' report. African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has confirmed that the party's top six have requested Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown deal with the issue of Brian Molefe’s reappointment at Eskom. Molefe returned to the power utility as its CEO on Monday after resigning last year following the Public Protector’s State of Capture report, which showed he had been in regular contact with the Gupta family while they were buying a coal mine that supplies Eskom. The ANC has condemned his return. Mantashe says they now expect Brown to take action. “We said deal with it. We’re very...
(Bloomberg 05/18/17)
Steinhoff International Holdings NV plans to list its African assets separately as the acquisitive retailer seeks a new prize for shareholders following this year’s failed merger talks with Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The company said Wednesday it will seek to list businesses including clothing retailer Pepkor and furniture chain JD Group Ltd. on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, about 18 months after moving its primary listing to Frankfurt from the South African commercial hub. The new business could be worth as much as 60 billion rand ($4.5 billion), said Evan Walker, a money manager at 36one Asset Management in Johannesburg, although the valuation could also be as low as 40 billion rand depending on how much debt Steinhoff puts into the vehicle...
(AFP (eng) 05/17/17)
A South African who attempted to climb Mount Everest without permission has been arrested in Nepal where he faces a $22,000 fine -- double the cost of the permit he was trying to avoid. Ryan Sean Davy handed himself in to authorities in Kathmandu on Tuesday after being caught last week hiding in a cave near Everest's base camp without a permit. The 43-year-old began swearing and threatening officials from the tourism department during questioning and was arrested under Nepal's strict public order laws, Tourist Police Inspector Tulasha Khatiwada told AFP. He is now in custody and will appear in court next week to face charges related to his Everest attempt and possible additional offences over his conduct during the...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Fitch is very concerned that South Africa's economic and political situation is not improving, Fedusa said on Tuesday after it held talks with the ratings agency. In April, Fitch cut South Africa's debt to subinvestment, citing the recent cabinet reshuffle, when President Zuma fired his third finance minister in two years and which it feared would weaken standards of governance and public finances. Firing Pravin Gordhan and the subsequent sovereign downgrade rattled local markets and investors worldwide. The Federation of Unions of South Africa's (Fedusa) General Secretary Dennis George told Reuters that Fitch said it was also worried about the lack of progress in reforming state firms. "They wanted to know how we see the future and what we see...
(Bloomberg 05/17/17)
The newly reinstated head of South Africa’s power utility has been accused of attempting to influence a former minister, reversed plans to close power plants that his predecessor claimed weren’t needed, and set the country’s ruling party against its president. He’s only been back on the job for two days. Brian Molefe, who returned as Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s chief executive officer on Monday to staff posters welcoming back ‘Papa Action,’ was moved to tears when he left the role in November. He resigned following a graft probe by the Public Protector that found he made decisions favoring the Gupta family, who are friends with President Jacob Zuma. Molefe’s surprise reappointment, announced Friday by Eskom Chairman Ben Ngubane, sparked a...
(BBC News Africa 05/17/17)
South African police say four people have been arrested in connection with the murder of former actor on popular local TV series Generations. Mandla Hlatshwayo and his friend were shot after confronting a group of men who had robbed women of their mobile phones in a pub in Soweto. The suspects were found in possession of drugs and an unlicensed gun. South Africa has one of the highest murder rates in the world with more than 50,000 cases reported every year. "Police are questioning the suspects to see if they can link them to the shooting," says the police's Lungelo Dlamini. Tributes are still pouring in for the star who was also a DJ on local radio station Jozi FM...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/17/17)
Gay and lesbian Africans who fled abuse in their home countries face a "culture of disbelief" which makes their experience of seeking asylum in Britain traumatic, a Nigerian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender rights (LGBT) campaigner said. Aderonke Apata, 50, who fled persecution in Nigeria, said the practice of assessing Africans' sexual orientation claims based on Western standards was problematic. "They expect an LGBT person to have used sex toys, to go to gay clubs," Apata, an asylum seeker who founded African LGBT charity, African Rainbow Family, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Apata has been trying to claim asylum in Britain for 13 years, but her case was refused several times after a judge ruled that she was pretending to be...
(Bloomberg 05/16/17)
South Africa’s ruling African National Congress told President Jacob Zuma’s government that it should rescind a decision to reappoint Brian Molefe as the chief executive officer of the state power utility, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe said. ANC officials told the government of their position at a meeting Monday attended by Zuma, Mantashe said by phone from Johannesburg. The ANC previously condemned the reappointment of Molefe, who resigned as head of Eskom in November after a graft probe questioned his conduct. “They should look into that; ideally they should reverse that decision,” Mantashe said on Tuesday.

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