China Retaliates To U.S Sanctions

China announced that it will impose additional tariffs on some American goods in retaliation for the latest increase of U.S. duties on $200 billion of Chinese imports. The tariffs will take effect on June 1, according to a statement on the Ministry of Finance’s website. The year-long trade frictions between the world’s two biggest economies re-escalated last week when the Trump administration announced a 25% punitive tariff on thousands of Chinese products.

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Warning Of Extreme Climate Events

More extreme weather events and a rise of 6°C in average temperatures across the country could be possible by the end of the century. That’s according to an official government report released this week, which has pulled no punches in summarising just how climate change has already ravaged South Africa, with the worst yet to come. Over the past few years, we have seen droughts cripple entire provinces. Then, when the rain does come in certain regions, the intensity of the storms often lead to displacements and deaths.

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Uber IPO A Disaster

The ride-hailing giant, which went public on Friday, six weeks after its rival Lyft, sputtered to a 7.6% loss in its stock market debut, wiping out $655 billion of investor wealth. When the dust settled, it was the biggest first-day dollar loss in US IPO history, according to an analysis from Jay Ritter, a professor at the University of Florida. Prior to Uber’s loss, the largest first-day dollar loss was during the dot-com bubble of two decades ago. Genuity, an internet company spun out of Verizon, lost $277 million its first day.

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Net1 Suffers 72% Profit Decline

Financial services group Net 1 UEPS Technologies has reported a 72% decline in their bottom line since their Sassa contact came to an end during the first quarter of 2019. The decrease in segment revenue and operating income was primarily due to the substantial decrease in the number of Sassa grant recipients paid under our Sassa contract as the contract ended at the end of Q1 2019,

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MTN Share Price Up 36% In Two Months

Between March 6, the day before MTN announced its results for the year to December, and Thursday (May 9), when it published a first-quarter trading update, its share price has increased by 36% from R76.06 to R103.45. This performance, which should be viewed against MTN’s steady decline from a high of over R260 in September 2014, reflects the outcome of a clearly-communicated plan to deal with issues that have not sat well with investors for some years. In March the group defined its position and outlined its future direction, and a flurry of activity since then – including board changes, positive quarterly update, imminent Nigerian listing and asset disposal programme – has hit the right notes with investors as the price continues its upward trajectory.

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Ethekwini Mayor To Appear On Corruption Charges

eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede is expected to hand herself over to the Hawks and appear in the Durban Commercial Crimes court on Tuesday on a raft of corruption charges. In May last year it emerged that Gumede, a strong ally of former president Jacob Zuma, was being investigated by the Hawks for facilitating money laundering‚ fraud and corruption, allegedly to pay back cronies who helped her political ambitions. In December a City Press article reported that a forensic report by Integrity Forensic Solutions named Gumede and Mondli Mthembu‚ a councillor who chairs the human-settlements committee in council‚ and three other officials who allegedly orchestrated a corruption and money laundering “scam” which saw eThekwini pay R25m to hire about 800 chemical toilets for six months.

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Zimbabwe Starts Loadshedding

Zimbabwe has started rolling power cuts lasting up to eight hours that will also hit mines, a schedule from the State power utility showed on Monday, after reduced output at both the largest hydropower plant and ageing coal-fired generators. The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) said power cuts, known locally as load-shedding, would start on Monday and will last up to eight hours during morning and evening peak periods.

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Trump Increases China Tariffs

Emerging-market equities saw their worst rout since October 2018, while currencies extended a four-week losing streak as trade clashes intensified between the world’s two largest economies. The US ratcheted up tariffs on $200bn of goods from China, which vowed to retaliate. American officials gave China a month to reach a deal or face tariffs on all its exports to the US.

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Over R2 Billion Spent On Electioneering

Political parties spent about R2 billion combined this year’s general elections, and the cost of politics is only projected to increase. Madlala, founder and director of ZOE PR Communications Managers, has estimated that over R2 billion was collectively spent by political parties on campaigns, with the ANC, which emerged triumphant, having spent more than R1 billion – a boost for public relations and marketing companies.

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Zim Turns TO Eskom To Avoid Loadshedding

Zimbabwe will turn to electricity imports from South Africa and Mozambique to ensure that the country does not resort to load shedding following a significant reduction of power generation from its anchor power station Kariba Dam, said a senior government official. Commenting on the latest development where the country is set to lose 33% of power generation capacity, Energy and Power Development Minister Jorum Gumbo said on Friday the southern African country will look at other means to make sure that “the nation doesn’t go dark”.

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More Ford Models At Risk Of Security Breaches

Ford South Africa has been testing various models within its line-up to understand potential security vulnerabilities around the key lock barrel. Through this process, Ford said that its Focus ST and Focus RS appear to be unaffected by the particular modus operandi being used – however certain Focus Ambiente and Trend models (built from September 2015 to date) could be the target of opportunistic thieves. In a statement, Ford said “Our dealer network is now able to assist Focus customer with a security upgrade for the nominal cost of R155.25 (including VAT). The replacement lock will cost R1,199 (incl VAT) providing there is no additional damage to the door that requires repair.”

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DSTV Now Crashes 

DStv Now subscribers who tried to use the service on Sunday were greeted with the message “Error 500 – There is a problem with the page you requested”. The DStv Now service was unavailable for hours on Sunday which prevented users from viewing high-profile sporting events like the Premier League’s final matches. The company said on Twitter that their technical teams are aware of performance issues on DStv Now and have been working round the clock to resolve these problems.

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IEC Strike Averted

A potential strike by permanent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has been averted. Nehawu and the commission reached an agreement after two days of marathon negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues. Workers had threatened not to report for duty on Wednesday, which may have disrupted voting on election day.

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Steinhoff To Present Restated 2017 Financials

Steinhoff is set to release its restated and audited financial results for 2017 on Tuesday, giving investors insight into how a yearlong forensic probe by PwC has altered the multinational retailer’s financial position. The Stellenbosch-headquartered retailer has not made the full PwC report public, but published an 11-page overview stating that a “small group” of former executives inflated the group’s profit and asset values for years.

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Boeing Admits 737 Max Mistakes

Boeing on Sunday said that a key alert system linked to faulty sensors was sold as an optional feature on Boeing 737 MAX planes. Boeing has taken heat in recent months, following the crash of Lion Air Flight JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302, which both featured Boeing 737 MAX planes. Investigators have linked the crashes to a sensor called the angle of attack (AOA), which delivered faulty readings and triggered a mechanism on the MAX planes to automatically push the nose of the plane downwards, causing them to plummet.

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System Crash At OR Tambo Causes Chaos

Passengers boarding international flights subsequently queued behind the check-in desks of Terminal A, with the line of passengers stretching all the way to Terminal B. Airport staff moved throughout the line attempting to get passengers onto their flights on time, while others took the opportunity to ask people for tips in return for helping them make it through immigration in time for their flights. At the time of reporting on this issue, Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) did not provide comment on the problem, but OR Tambo management has subsequently released a statement on the issue.

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New R1.2 Billion Pretoria Mall Gets Green Light

McCormick Property Development (MPD) has announced that it will begin moving ahead with Capital Mall, a R1.2 billion mega-development in Pretoria West. The development has been stuck in limbo, but an appeal to halt the development was overturned during a sitting of the City of Tshwane’s Municipal Appeals Tribunal (MAT) in April, the developers said. The development node includes a 150-bed private hospital, value retail centre, motor dealerships, affordable housing, student housing, schooling and community facilities

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Currencies : Rand/USD 14.46 – Rand/GBP 18.96 – Rand/EUR 16.21

China Withholds Eskom Loan

China is withholding a R7-billion payment meant to help Eskom combat its current financial issues due to fears that the power utility will not complete its power station construction projects. According to a report in the City Press, the Chinese Development Bank (CDB) has become wary of Eskom’s promises and is concerned that it will not complete the construction of Medupi and Kusile. The R7-billion payment is part of a R33-billion loan which was meant only to aid in the construction of the two ongoing power station projects, and the CDB is reportedly concerned that these funds will be used on salaries and diesel instead of developing these projects.

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SABC Close To Total Shutdown

The SABC is potentially facing a total broadcasting blackout because of spiraling debt woes and lack of relief funding, the Sunday Times reports. SABC CEO Madoda Mxakwe told the Sunday paper that the public broadcaster cannot pay its creditors and while the company’s application for a R6.8 billion bailout was approved, the funds have not yet arrived. National Treasury agreed to provide the SABC with interim financial relief in March, to prevent the broadcaster from collapsing. It was declared technically insolvent at the end of January 2019. If it is unable to secure sufficient funding, the SABC will be forced to cut its national broadcast due to the inability to continue operations, the Sunday Times said.

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Congo Ebola Deaths Top 1000

The death toll from the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo has passed 1,000, the health ministry says. DRC’s Ebola outbreak began in August and is the second deadliest in history. World Health Organization deputy director Dr Michael Ryan said mistrust and violence was harming efforts to tackle the disease as it spread through the east of the country.

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Trump Threatens More China Tariffs

President Donald Trump intensified pressure on China to strike a trade deal in Washington this week by threatening to more than double tariffs on $200bn of the Asian nation’s sales to the world’s largest economy. In an abrupt shift from the White House after both sides had indicated negotiations were going well, Trump tweeted on Sunday he’s not satisfied with the pace of progress and that the duties would increase Friday. He had twice delayed increasing tariffs to 25% from 10% after agreeing to a December 1 truce with President Xi Jinping to give their negotiators time to work out a comprehensive agreement.

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Amazon Robots TO Unload / Load Trucks

Siemens AG and Honeywell International have built machines that pull packages from the back of a tractor-trailer and place them on conveyor belts, whizzing the parcels off for sorting. Making robots that can load trucks is more complicated, although clearing that hurdle isn’t far off. The devices, unveiled at a recent automation conference in Chicago, hold out the promise of increasing productivity while reducing the need for one of the most grueling jobs in logistics. Couriers are relying on automation to grapple with the rise of online shopping, which is fueling record demand but pressuring profit margins. Amazon’s plan to handle more of its own shipping and offer more one-day deliveries is only upping the ante.

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Transnet On The Stand At State Capture Inquiry

ransnet is set to take the stand at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture this week to shed light on how the Guptas and their allies gained access to the freight rail and transport logistics company’s lucrative contracts. Board chairperson Popo Molefe is expected to give details on how billions in kickbacks ended up with the controversial family. Investigations thus far have revealed that Transnet paid more than R5billion in advisory services on the purchase of 1064 locomotives from China that the utility spent more than R50bn on.

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Duarte’s In Tender Kickback Scandal

A company that scored tenders worth millions of rands from state-owned enterprises diverted money meant to fund supplier development programmes to ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte’s family members in return for them assisting it to snatch more state business. Combined Private Investigations (CPI), a company that was previously found to have spied on journalists and politicians, among them Peter Bruce, Rob Rose and Trevor Manuel, has told law-enforcement agencies that it paid more than R40m in two years to a group led by Gupta associate Salim Essa. The group included Malcolm Mabaso (a former adviser to former minister of mineral resources Mosebenzi Zwane), Duarte’s son Yusha and her ex-husband John Duarte

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Currencies : Rand/USD 14.47 – Rand/GBP 18.99 – Rand/EUR 16.20

Huawei Overtakes Apple – Begins

Huawei Technologies Co. overtook Apple Inc. to claim the No. 2 spot in smartphones in the first quarter, moving a step closer to its avowed ambition of displacing Samsung at the top of the market. It was the only name in the top 4 that managed to expand volumes as the overall market slid for the sixth consecutive quarter. Huawei’s been steadily gaining on Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. with an increasingly high-end line-up of devices, particularly in its home market of China.

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Standard Bank Accused Of Double Dipping

In a case due to come before the Eastern Cape High Court this month, Standard Bank is accused of double charging the arrears amount owed by a mortgage client, resulting in a guest lodge being repossessed and sold at auction for a fraction of its market value. The bank concedes in its court papers that it made an error in calculating the arrears due to a computer glitch. Legal consultant Leonard Benjamin, who is advising Homewood, says this is an explosive admission by the bank, and urges home owners to carefully interrogate their monthly statements if they have been sued by the banks after falling into arrears.

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Ramos R30 Million ABSA Farewell Bonus

Retired Absa CEO Maria Ramos earned a total pay package of R29.7 million in her final year at the financial services company, topping off her decade as chief executive of the group. Ramos announced her retirement from Absa in January 2019, with her plan to leave the company after her 60th birthday in February.

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Lesotho Broke – Needs R203.73m For Food

Lesotho needs about R203.73m for food aid for almost half a million people. Crop production in the mountainous country that’s surrounded by South Africa declined by 21% and the sale of livestock products dropped by 70% due to drought. The number of people who will need food will increase to about 640 000 from July until June next year unless production is boosted by intensive agriculture practices

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Newsroom Afrika Launches

Newzroom Afrika’s new 24-hour service goes live on DSTV channel 405 on Thursday, just in time to cover Wednesday’s elections. The channel replaces the controversial Gupta-owned ANN7, which was taken off air last year despite an attempt to rebrand it under “new ownership” (supposedly Mzwanele Manyi, who bought the channel from the Indian business family using their own money).

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US Pharma Boss Convicted In Opiods Case

The founder of Insys Therapeutics John Kapoor has become the first pharmaceutical boss to be convicted in a case linked to the US opioid crisis. A Boston jury found Kapoor and four colleagues conspired to bribe doctors to prescribe addictive painkillers, often to patients who didn’t need them. The former billionaire was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy for his role in a scheme which also misled insurers. Tens of thousands of deaths have been caused by opioid overdoses in the US. Indian-born Kapoor founded drugmaker Insys Therapeutics in 1990 and built it into a multi-billion dollar company.

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Pig Ebola Virus Decimates Hog Numbers

What started with a few dozen dead pigs in northeastern China is sending shock waves through the global food chain. Last August, a farm with fewer than 400 hogs on the outskirts of Shenyang was found to harbor African swine fever, the first ever occurrence of the contagious viral disease in the country with half the world’s pigs. While official estimates count 1 million culled hogs, slaughter data suggest 100 times more will be removed from China’s 440 million-strong swine herd in 2019, the Chinese zodiac’s “year of the pig.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture forecast in April a decline of 134 million head — equivalent to the entire annual output of American pigs — and the worst slump since the department began counting China’s pigs in the mid 1970s.

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Currencies : Rand/USD 14.53 – Rand/GBP 18.95 – Rand/EUR 16.24

iPhone Sales Drop At Record Pace

Sales of Apple’s iPhones fell at their steepest-ever rate, according to data for the three months to the end of March. The firm said revenue from the iPhone dropped by 17%, compared with the same period a year earlier, to $31bn. However, Apple chief executive Tim Cook said sales were stronger towards the end of March, including in China where it cut iPhone prices to boost demand.

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Most State Owned Companies Show Improvement

A Moneyweb analysis on the latest results of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) shows that most performed satisfactorily in the year to March 2018, but 13 of the 30 are still performing dismally. Nine of these – Eskom, SAA, SA Express, the SABC, the Post Office, Denel, roads agency Sanral, PetroSA and passenger rail agency Prasa – continue to bleed so much cash they dwarf the positive results from the rest. The nine struggling companies posted total losses of nearly R20 billion over the 12 months.

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MTN Plans To Sell Jumia Stake

MTN Group Ltd. plans to sell at least half of its $655 million interest in newly listed Jumia Technologies AG as Africa’s biggest wireless carrier looks to pay down debt and enter new markets. A selldown of the 19 percent stake in the online retailer could happen before the end of the year, said the people, who asked to remain anonymous as the deliberations are private. Johannesburg-based MTN first needs to wait out a half-year investor lock-in period that followed Jumia’s successful share sale in New York, they said.

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Congestion Tax And Other Road Taxes Planned

The Department of Transport plans to introduce a number of regulatory changes in an effort to cut down on South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions. The Department of Transport said that it will prepare the following regulatory actions targeted at encouraging the modal shift from road to rail and from private vehicle use to public transport: Congestion tax, Environmental levy, Car life limits etc

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Putin Signs Russia Private Internet Law

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed the law on providing stable operation of the Russian Internet (Runet) in case it is disconnected from the global infrastructure of the World Wide Web. Under the legislation, assuming it actually works in practice, the government would deal with “threats to the stable, safe and integral operation of the Russian Internet on Russian territory” by centralizing “the general communications network.” Put more simply, the law sets in train plans for an alternative domain name system (DNS) for Russia in the event that it is disconnected from the World Wide Web, or, one assumes, in the event that its politicians deem disconnection to be beneficial. Internet service providers would be compelled to disconnect from any foreign servers, relying on Russia’s DNS instead.

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Druglords Mistakenly Send Elderly Couple R100m In Meth

An elderly couple in Australia were the surprise recipients of an illegal drug shipment after signing for a wrongly delivered parcel containing millions of dollars’ worth of methamphetamine, police said Thursday. The Melbourne couple immediately called police when they discovered bags containing the white powder in the parcel on Wednesday, a police spokesman said. The package contained what police said were 20 kilograms of methamphetamine with an estimated street value of AU$10 million (R100 million).

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Currencies : Rand/USD 14.44 – Rand/GBP 18.85 – Rand/EUR 16.18

 

 

Women The Real Labour Winners After Apartheid

South African women have benefited more than men from changes in the labour market and education opportunities since the end of apartheid, according to a study published by the United Nations University. While in 1993, a year before the end of apartheid, women in low-paying jobs such as domestic work or unskilled farm labour were paid 21% less than men in equivalent positions, the wage gap narrowed to 7% in 2014, she said. Across the workforce, the proportion of women with tertiary education doubled to 20% in 2015 from 10% in 1993, compared with a more modest rise to 15% from 11% for men. “The post-apartheid government has been successful in improving the human-capital characteristics of women,” Mosomi said. “This has led to an increasing number of women in high-skilled occupations.”

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ICASA Takes Minister To Court Over Funding

ICASA has instructed its attorneys to launch legal action to force the Department of Communications (DoC) to release funding allocated to it by Parliament. Keabetswe Modimoeng, the acting chairperson of ICASA, told media about the situation at an emergency press briefing. The briefing was called after the City Press published an article which said that ICASA and the Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, are “at war”. Modimoeng confirmed that there was a dispute and said ICASA has not received any of its annual allocation of funding, around R400 million.

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KZN Floods To Cost R1.1 Billion In Damages

Devastating floods last week in KwaZulu-Natal will cost Durban over a billion rand in damages to infrastructure, according to the province’s premier, Willies Mchunu. The floods destroyed houses, roads and other bulk infrastructure, and killed many people in various communities in the eThekwini, Ilembe, Ugu, and King Cetshwayo municipalities. Mchunu’s estimation of R1.1 billion in damages follows an earlier estimate of R658 million by the Thekwini metro in an interim report following an emergency meeting with the executive committee of the municipality.

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Ford Promises To Fix Security Risk Problems

Ford South Africa says it will fix potential security risks to certain Fiesta and EcoSport models, specifically around manipulating the driver’s door, which can ultimately provide access to the cabin if deliberately targeted. Ford said in a statement said that its older EcoSport and Fiesta were at risk, but stressed that newer models are not affected. It said that it is in the process of finalising solutions which it will communicate to customers as a matter of urgency.

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Lack Of Artisans Hurting Economic Growth

While South Africa’s unemployment rate of 27.1% in the fourth quarter of 2018 reflected a figure of 6.14 million jobless people – with youth unemployment above 50% – lack of skilled artisans has been singled out by experts as a major barrier to job creation and economic growth. According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter, jobs in the construction industry increased by over 10% from 1.36 million to 1.5 million – on an annual quarter-on-quarter basis. With a gross domestic product (GDP) for this year standing at $349.3 billion (about R5 trillion), South Africa – the second largest African economy after Nigeria, with a $376.3 billion GDP – faces a challenge of lack of growth in the artisan economy. Deepening the dilemma of government and business in finding required qualified artisans is the fact that few young people take up training in the 13 key critical areas of the artisan economy, compared to many who prefer going to university after high school.

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Consumers Resorting To Credit For Food

Many people are deep in debt and some are defaulting on payments and resorting to loans to feed themselves, in an ever-deeper spiral. Neil Roets, CEO of Debt Rescue, said yesterday there was “clear evidence” consumers were now resorting to credit just to put food on the table. A Stats SA report recently found the average salary-earning individual in SA earned around R21,000 a month. Of this, wrote economist Francois Stofberg of the Efficient Group, they paid about 20% (R4,200) in personal income taxes (PIT). “However, and here is where government claims their pound of flesh, indirect taxes account for almost 19% of the average individual’s salary.” “In the end, an average salary-earning South African only takes home R14,700 each month. Such an individual might receive R21,000 cost to company, but pays R6,300 (30%) to government for the privilege of living in SA.

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Currencies : Rand/USD 14.34 – Rand/GBP 18.56 – Rand/EUR 16.05