Theresa May Backtracks As Pound Tanks

May told the House of Commons that she would pull her earlier plan to have a vote the next day on the Brexit deal that she has negotiated with the European Union. The prime minister acted after being advised by government whips that she would lose the vote by a large margin. Sterling dropped to its lowest since April 2017 while May was addressing the House of Commons, but bounced back from its low of $1.2507. The pound last bought $1.2562, down from $1.2731, its weakest since June 2017.

 

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China Court Bans Sale Of Most iPhones

A Chinese court has banned the sale and import of most iPhone models in a stunning decision amid the trade war between the United States and China. The ban does not cover the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Plus or iPhone XR, which were not yet available when Qualcomm filed its lawsuit. The phones covered by the ban make up about 10% to 15% of current iPhone sales in China. The court granted a pair of preliminary injunctions requested by Qualcomm, an American microchip maker. Qualcomm claims that Apple violates two of its patents in the iPhone 6S, iPhone 6S Plus, iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X. The patents allow people to edit and resize photos on a phone and to manage apps by using a touchscreen, according to Qualcomm.

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Major Debt Judgement To Help Consumers

A new Supreme Court of Appeal judgement will bring welcome relief to indebted South Africans. The ruling upheld that borrowers may not pay more than 3% interest a month on a second short-term loan taken out in a 12 month period. The High Court originally ruled in favour of MFSA but this was overturned on appeal by a full bench of the court. That decision was also appealed by MFSA at the Supreme Court of Appeal, which has now ruled in favour of the NCR and DTI. This means that the new regulations remain in force.

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Pule Mabe Accused of Sexual Harassment

Pule Mabe has been accused of sexual harassment by his personal assistant, who claims Mabe wanted to have sex with her in return for the job. The 26-year-old sent a grievance letter against Mabe to the party’s deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte last month. She accuses Mabe of sexual harassment, cutting down her salary and emotional abuse when she refused his sexual advances. She says these were clear attempts by Mabe to have sex with her in exchange for giving her the job. When she declined, the emotional abuse began, and her salary was cut to R15,000.

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Softbank In Second Biggest IPO In History

SoftBank is raising $23.5 billion from the IPO of its Japanese mobile business, making it the second biggest stock market listing ever.

Strong demand from investors for a piece of one of Japan’s biggest wireless carriers prompted the Japanese tech company to increase the number of shares available by 160 million. That makes it Japan’s biggest ever IPO — and the world’s largest since Alibaba.
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No Salary Increases For Ministers

“President Ramaphosa has determined that there will be no annual salary increase for the Deputy President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, the Speaker of the National Assembly, the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly and the Deputy Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces,” the presidency said. Members of provincial legislatures will, however, receive a 2.5% salary increase. This is a great move but in my view, there should be no bonuses either but there was no mention of what will happen in that regard.

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Shivambu’s R1.46 Million VBS Home Loan

Despite not qualifying for a loan, VBS Mutual Bank gave Brian Shivambu’s company Sgameka a R1,46m home loan after his brother Floyd Shivambu had private discussions with VBS chair and kingpin in the bank robbery Tshifhiwa Matodzi, leaked emails show. This VBS home loan was given to Sgameka Trading on top of the illicit R16,1-million that Brian Shivambu received in a fronting scheme on behalf of his brother, EFF president Julius Malema and the Economic Freedom Fighters. When asked about the home loan, Floyd Shivambu had this to say, “Fraudulent activities are dealt with by the criminal justice system and not some imaginations of a lousy journalist… I think your narrative is bullshit and pure drivel driven by narrow obsession. Please give me the proof that I received R10-million from VBS.” Personally, i think there is a lot for Shivambu to answer for and these allegations keep piling up. Thus far he hasn’t provided any evidence to clear himself and its getting worse.

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Crunch Brexit Vote Looms

With less than 48 hours to go before May faces the reckoning of her MPs, few of the 100-plus rebels who have vowed to vote against her deal showed any sign of altering their positions. The prime minister is under intense pressure from aides and senior ministers to considering pulling the vote on Tuesday, a move Downing Street has emphatically denied will happen, though a final decision is unlikely to be made until the 11th hour.

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National Minimum Wage Of R20 From 1 January

The national minimum wage will kick in on January 1, meaning no South African worker will earn less than R20 an hour in the new year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Friday. My hope is that there will be minimal job losses but the fact is that the economy is struggling and businesses are feeling the strain. There will most definitely be more job losses.

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House Prices Down 21% Since 2007

In real terms, including the impact of inflation, house prices have declined by 20.8% since August 2007, the peak of the pre-2008 boom period. This is according to November’s FNB House Price Index, published by John Loos, now property sector strategist at the bank’s commercial property finance division. Property intelligence outfit Lightstone reports even lower house price inflation, at just 3.5% in its latest report (for October). FNB saw (downwardly) revised growth of 4.1% in October.

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America Opens Case Against Huawei CFO

On Friday, the U.S. began a market-shaking case against the Chinese telecoms giant in a Vancouver courtroom, alleging that Meng had hidden ties between Huawei and a company called Skycom that did business in Iran, said a lawyer representing Canada during the court hearing. Canada is presenting the case on behalf of the U.S., which wants to extradite Meng. Meng, 46, daughter of Huawei’s founder, spent the weekend in jail after a decision on whether to grant bail was not reached. The case will continue today.

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AFU Loses Case Over Gupta Assets

The Guptas and their associates scored a second court victory on Monday when the High Court in Bloemfontein freed assets such as luxury cars, aircraft and properties seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU). The assets worth at least R250m were seized in April after the AFU obtained a provisional restraint order in relation to the Estina dairy farm matter.

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Reserve Bank Fines VBS And China Bank

The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) said on Tuesday that it had imposed R77.5 million in administrative penalties to two banks for failing to comply with the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Act and directed them to take remedial action to address the identified deficiencies. The China Construction Bank Corporation and the embattled VBS Mutual Bank were penalized for not identifying and verifying customers’ details, failing to report certain cash transactions above R24,999.99, not keeping records of customer identification, and inadequate controls pertaining to the reporting of suspicious and unusual transactions.

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160 Million Worth Of Unclaimed FNB Policies

FNB Life has identified over R160m worth of unclaimed policies on its books, it said in a statement on Tuesday. The bank has, therefore, started an initiative to proactively identify customers who have not submitted claims in the past. It wants to track down nominated beneficiaries, family members or the next of kin.

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White Sasol Workers Strike Over Share Scheme

Solidarity, a labor union that represents skilled, mainly white workers, registered a dispute with the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, or CCMA, after Sasol introduced benefits that it said would exclude workers based on race. The CCMA ruled that workers at Sasol are allowed to strike over the exclusion of white staff from an employee-shareholding plan.

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Fiat Chrysler Recalls 5.3 Million Cars

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is recalling more than 5.3 million vehicles in North America over a defect that could prevent drivers from deactivating cruise control. The Italian-American carmaker said no injuries or crashes were related to the large recall campaign, but said it had one report of a US driver of a 2017 Dodge Journey rental car being unable to deactivate the cruise control. Fiat Chrysler, which in 2015 was hit with penalties from US regulators totalling $175million (R2.18billion) for safety lapses, did not say how much the recalls would cost.

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R2.4Billion SA Express Tender Scandal

A virtually unknown music promoter was given a three-year tender to supply SA Express with fuel worth R2.4 billion – but failed to deliver a single drop. This is despite a deal already being in place to receive fuel from South African Airways. SA Express confirmed that its current fuel supply deal with SAA came at an average cost of R45 million a month, thus the dodgy EML Energy deal meant the already troubled airline paid roughly R800 million more than SAA over the three years.

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R1 Billion Crypto Scam Uncovered

The Hawks said Gauteng-based Bitcaw Trading Company, commonly known as BTC Global, was being investigated after more than 28,000 investors suffered losses in a cryptocurrency scam. The company is alleged to have targeted potential investors with promises of 2% interest per day, 14% a week and 50% per month. The Hawks said payments were initially made every Monday but suddenly stopped.

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Court Ruling On Gupta Assets Expected Today

The Bloemfontein High Court on Monday will make a crucial ruling on the state’s successful freezing of R250-million in Gupta assets – and whether prosecutors had enough evidence to justify it. The Guptas’ attorney has confirmed that Varun Gupta, the only family member charged so far in relation to the alleged scam, is back in the country for the ruling. Varun Gupta successfully applied for the right to travel to Dubai for a traditional ceremony. He returned to South Africa over the weekend.

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MTN & Vodacom Fight Over Transnet Tender

Mobile network giants MTN and Vodacom are entangled in a fresh row over a multimillion-rand cell phone and data tender at state-owned freight and rail transport company Transnet. MTN will square off with over Transnet following its refusal to port (switch networks) nearly 13 400 sim cards to Vodacom. The matter is heading to the South Gauteng High Court where MTN will argue that its contract with Transnet is still valid and binding as there is a clause that prevents the state-owned entity from procuring the service from a competitor.

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SARS Releases New Customs Regulations

The South African Revenue Services has released a Customs Requirements for South Africa statement which informs South African travellers about the items that they have to declare when leaving and returning to the country. According to the statement, South Africans that are travelling abroad are not required to declare their personal items when leaving or returning to the country, in terms of customs legislation. In the legislation, personal items are described as personal laptops, cameras or iPad that are are a part of the travellers luggage when they are leaving the country.

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Brazil Truckers Strike Causes Economic Havoc

Sao Paulo, a megacity that’s home to more than 12 million people, declared a state of emergency and warned that shortages caused by the strike may cause a state of public calamity, while export group ABPA said a billion chickens and 20 million swines may die in coming days due to a lack of feed. President Michel Temer said he’s called for the deployment of national security forces to unblock roads and asked governors to do the same. Still, truckers group Abcam – which didn’t take the government’s deal – said the number of highway blockades rose to 521 on Friday from 402 the day prior. Local media reported that drivers continued protesting in at least 14 states. Abcam represents about 700 000 of roughly one million self-employed truck drivers.

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STATS SA Labour Survey Results Released

Youth unemployment in South Africa surged to 52.4 percent in the first quarter from 51.1% recorded in the fourth quarter of last year. Stats SA said unemployment maintained the 15-year high, remaining unchanged at 26.7 percent despite a slight increase in employment with the formal sector adding 111 000 jobs and the informal sector contributing 93 000. The quarterly employment increase of 206 000 jobs in the first quarter was driven by sectors including mining, which added 1 849 000 jobs, construction 1 431 000 jobs and manufacturing with 1 849 000 jobs NKC African Economics said official unemployment remained very high by historical standards.

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Beyond R15 Petrol Price Expected In June

Motorists can expect another massive fuel price hike at the beginning of June, the Automobile Association warned on Tuesday. South African fuel users are currently facing increases of 74c/l for petrol, 81c/l for diesel, and 78c/l for paraffin. The price of petrol increased by 49c/l and 69c/l in March and April respectively, bringing the per litre price for petrol at the coast to R14.21 and R14.38 for 93 and 95 unleaded respectively and R14.38 for 95 LRP.

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SAA Needs R21 Billion Over 3 Years

SAA needed to raise R21.7bn over the next three years to turn the company around and make it profitable, CEO Vuyani Jarana said in an interview on Monday. The funding requirement arises from SAA’s turnaround plan, which was to be presented to Parliament’s finance committee on Wednesday. However, after a dispute in the committee in which the ANC tried to close the meeting to the media and public, the presentation of the plan was deferred.

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Fracking Set To Go Ahead

Government intends to fast-track the exploration and exploitation of shale gas, says Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. Mantashe tabled the budget vote in Parliament on Tuesday, where he explained the development of shale gas as a resource was necessary to transform the country’s energy economy. The southern Main Karoo Basin is considered the most prospective area for shale gas, with a possible estimation of 205 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of gas technically recoverable.

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Gordhan Estimates State Capture Cost At R100 Billion

State capture may have cost South Africa R100bn or more, Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan told reporters on Tuesday. Gordhan said he would, however, leave it Judge Raymond Zondo’s judicial inquiry into state capture to conduct the full investigation of the matter. He also laid down the law regarding practices of state-owned entities, their executives and their board members.

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VW Announces Polo Recall

Volkswagen South Africa has confirmed it will be recalling the 2018 Polo over what it calls “a minor safety concern”. General manager of group communication at VW South Africa Matt Gennrich said: “All new Polos that have been produced… meaning over 8,000 customers in South Africa will be affected. We’ll be contacting all customers.”

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ETV Owners To Launch Another News Channel

Etv and eNCA owner eMedia has announced it will launch a second television news channel, eNCA reported. The channel will be named OpenNews and will be broadcast on the OpenView platform. eMedia CEO André van der Veen said the OpenNews channel will launch near the end of 2018 and will be distinctively different from eNCA.

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Home Affairs Launches New Biometrics System

Minister of home affairs, Malusi Gigaba has announced that he plans to launch a new Automated Biometric Identification System (ABIS) on Wednesday (16 May). The new identification system will be powered by a sustainable technology and will offer a single view of citizens across the life cycle and their status change at various stages. The new systems form part of an ongoing revamp of home affairs offices around the country.

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Nationwide Bus Strike Ends

Labour unions in the bus sector have accepted a wage increment offer of 9% across the board‚ ending a prolonged national strike. The offer is effective from April‚ while a second pay rise increment of 8% will be implemented from April 2019. There will also be allowances‚ including nightshift and subsistence‚ over both years.

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Gordhan Fires Transnet Board

The Department of Public Enterprises has confirmed that a new interim board has been appointed at Transnet. In a statement issued on Monday night, Public Enterprises announced that he has removed all the remaining Transnet directors with immediate effect and that he’s appointed a new interim board, pending a full appointment, in consultation with Cabinet.

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Vodacom To Implement Data Rollover And Transfers

Vodacom will abide by ICASA’s new regulations, which require operators to allow subscribers to roll over unused data or transfer it to another user on the same network. Additionally, the new regulations will not allow operators to charge out-of-bundle tariffs without first obtaining consent from subscribers.

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Vehicle Loan Defaults Hit Record Highs

Over the first three months of 2018, the vehicle loans consumer default index (CDI) hit its highest level yet, according to the latest Experian CDI. The 3.55% CDI level for vehicle loans defaults was even higher than the overall Experian CDI. While there was a month-on-month (m/m) and year-on-year (y/y) deterioration in the vehicle finance category, the latest CDI shows a y/y improvement in personal loans, credit cards and home loans.

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Moyane Threatens Ramaphosa

Moyane faces charges of misconduct in violation of his duties and responsibilities linked to his handling of allegations against second-in-command Jonas Makwakwa, making unauthorised bonus payments, misleading Parliament and instructing a SARS official not to co-operate with an inquiry by audit firm KPMG. Moyane’s attorney, Eric Mabuza, has since written to President Cyril Ramaphosa to raise concerns about the format of the disciplinary inquiry. Mabuza has given Ramaphosa until Tuesday afternoon to respond favourably to his demands, which includes legal costs. It is understood that Mabuza will approach the courts if the president fails to comply with his demands.

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Another 70 Cents Increase In Fuel Price Expected

Despite the stronger dollar and a number of geopolitical worries, the rand has held up remarkably well. While a positive sentiment continues to surround the country, it is definitely not a great time to be a motorist. The record-high inland petrol price of almost R15 per litre looks set to rise by another 70 cents per litre (in June 2018).

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Mark Shuttleworth Now Worth £500 Billion

Mark Shuttleworth’s wealth has increased by £340 million in the past year, according to a report by the BBC. Directly translated into rand, this equals R5.6 billion. The report was based on the UK’s Sunday Times Rich List for 2018, which stated that Shuttleworth is now worth £500 million (R8.3 billion). Shuttleworth big rise in wealth was attributed to the success of Canonical, his company which offers open-source software solutions.

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Coronation Takes Steinhoff To Court

Coronation Fund Managers, one of the largest shareholders in Steinhoff when it announced “accounting irregularities” in December, will be taking legal action against the company. Its statement follows last Thursday’s announcement that GT Ferreira and the vendors of Tekkie Town lodged demands with Steinhoff. They were prompted by former chairman Christo Wiese’s decision to serve summons on Steinhoff. Coronation said that where possible it would also be taking action against any other parties that have been complicit in any wrongdoing.

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Mzawanele Manyi Demands R144m From SABC

Mzwanele Manyi, who bought ANN7 and The New Age from the Gupta family, is demanding R144 million from the SABC. According to a report by the Sunday Times, Manyi said the money is owed to the Guptas for business breakfast shows they held with the public broadcaster. The report stated that Manyi has entered arbitration proceedings on the matter, as he has “suffered damages” amounting to R144 million.

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How Brian Molefe Milked Transnet

Former Eskom and Transnet CEO Brian Molefe helped inflate contracts by as much as R16 billion, which was split between four companies – including a Gupta-linked group – giving them billions in kickbacks. Citing a report compiled by law firm Werksmans, Molefe lied to the Transnet board to inflate a tender for 1,064 locomotives. The contract would have initially seen Transnet pay R38.6 billion, but withe reported help from Gupta-linked businessman, Anoj Singh, this was inflated to R54.5 billion, with a kickback of R10 million for every R50 million locomotive that was built.

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Billions Lost Due To Ongoing Bus Strike

Transport economist from North West University Ofentse Mokwena said the country could be losing at least R589 million a week because of the ongoing strike, adding that billions of rands have been lost because of the industrial action. “A general estimate for the weekly costs of bus use from households earning R150 000 a year or less is to the tune of R589 million a week, [and that is] looking only at people between the ages of 15 and 65, and 18% of them use bus services

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ZTE US Ban Causes Network Havoc

ZTE recently announced it had ceased operations after it was banned from purchasing technology products from companies in the United States. The Chinese company was served with a seven-year ban from buying US technology products after it was found to have violated sanctions involving bonuses issued to employees who shipped telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. ZTE manufactures telecommunications equipment which is used in mobile network infrastructure around the world, including South Africa.

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Apple And Goldman Sachs Team up For Credit Card

Apple and Goldman Sachs are teaming up for a new credit card, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The aim of the Apple Pay-branded card — which could be released in 2019 — is to expand Apple’s mobile payments and also help Goldman Sachs expand into consumer banking, according to the report.

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California Makes Solar Roof Panels Mandatory In New Homes

On Wednesday, the Golden State became the first in the U.S. to require solar panels on almost all new homes. Most new units built after Jan. 1, 2020, will be required to include solar systems as part of the standards adopted by the California Energy Commission. While that’s a boost for the solar industry, critics warned that it will also drive up the cost of buying a house by almost $10,000. Solar shares surged on the decision. Homebuilders fell.

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