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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Currencies: Bcoin R89 830,35 . Ether 7,117.874 . R/USD12.52 . R/GBP16.65 . R/EUR14.57

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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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Currencies: Bcoin R102 742,50 . Ether ZAR 8,584 . R/USD12.27 . R/GBP16.64 . R/EUR14.68

 

Icasa Data Decision Expected Today

Consumers will know later on Thursday whether Icasa will slash data prices. There has been general concern regarding the high cost of data as well as the expiry of data bundles.The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has held public hearings to draft the charter regulations.

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Tiger Brands Conceded Products Had Deadly Listeria

Tiger Brands Ltd. said it’s confirmed that the bacteria strain responsible for the world’s worst listeriosis outbreak was found in its products. Results from independent laboratory retesting found the listeria ST6 strain, the company said in a statement Wednesday. The strain has been identified by South African authorities as responsible for the outbreak that’s killed 199 people since the start of 2017.

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Half Of Mining Industry Unprofitable

Mine closures, job losses and the cutting of hundreds of thousands of platinum ounces will be forced on SA’s beleaguered platinum sector, despite companies’ efforts to keep operations going when more than half the industry is unprofitable. Platinum mines employ about 170,000 people, a far cry from 199,948 a decade ago. Lonmin is embarking on cutting 12,600 jobs as it closes old mines, while Impala Platinum (Implats) is reviewing mines in its flagship Impala Lease Area near Rustenburg as it accelerates the closure of old mines by “harvesting” them.

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Consol Drops Relisting Plan

Glass packaging firm Consol, which planned to ease its hefty debt burden by raising R3bn in fresh capital, has canned its proposed JSE flotation barely 10 days after publishing a pre-listing statement. On Wednesday, Consol announced that challenging market conditions had scuppered the listing and associated capital raising. It deemed the prevailing environment not conducive to the offer achieving valuation objectives and not in the company’s best interests.

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Transnet Loses Massive Pension Claims Case

Transnet and two pension funds have 20 court days within which to file a plea in answer to the class action claim by about 60‚000 Transnet pensioners. This follows a Constitutional Court judgment on Wednesday which dismissed exceptions to the claim raised by Transnet‚ the Transport Pension Fund and Transnet Second Defined Pension Fund a few years ago. The pensioners’ claim is based on a promise made to them in 1989 that they would receive the same pension benefits under a commercial entity‚ Transnet‚ as they did under the state entity that had employed them until then‚ the South African Transport Services (SATS)‚ and its two pension funds. The pension funds kept the promise until 2002‚ when the funds failed to grant any pension increases beyond the minimum of 2% per year. The pensioners had calculated that the debt owed to the two pension funds stood at R80-billion by March 2013. This figure is now higher.

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Forex Rigging Case To Start Next Year

Court proceedings against 18 banks accused of rigging the rand are likely to start next year, as prosecutors need time to prepare the complex case, the head of cartels at the Competition Commission said. The commission concluded an investigation last February into whether local and foreign banks colluded to coordinate their trading activities when giving quotes to customers who were buying or selling currencies.

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Currencies: Bcoin R114,753 . Ether R8,158 . R/USD12.45 . R/GBP17.35 . R/EUR15.16

Manyi Repays Gupta’s In Full

Mzwanele (Jimmy) Manyi claims he has paid the Gupta family in full for ANN7 and The New Age newspaper. Manyi said in a statement released on Saturday that the original amount owed has been lowered after renegotiations. He said he made full settlement of what he still owed the Guptas. The Gupta’s Oakbay company had sold The New Age and ANN7 to Manyi for R450m.

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Construction Cartels Dealings Exposed

New testimony in the ongoing construction cartel prosecution case has revealed the day-to-day mechanics of rigging tenders on everything from hotels to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the Gautrain. A witness for the Competition Commission has even revealed how cartel members fought with each other because other members were trying to “rip out the guts” of the Gautrain by demanding an embarrassingly high cover price from other cartel members.

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Supra’s R1.5m Cattle Gift To Zuma

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo gave Jacob Zuma a herd of cattle worth R1.5-million as a gift – and paid for it using public funds. The cows, which should have gone to emerging farmers in the province, were delivered to Nkandla and signed for by Zuma himself. Now the Hawks are investigating the scandal, which could lead to charges of fraud and corruption against Mahumapelo and the former president. Zuma is already facing 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering and money laundering, stemming from the multibillion-rand arms deal.

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SAP In Software Double Billing Scandal

Software giant SAP and the Department of Water and Sanitation are involved in a “double billing” scandal where hundreds of millions were wasted. The City Press reported that the department purchased R950 million in “unlimited” SAP software licences for itself, all nine water boards, and the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority (TCTA). This five-year deal was concluded despite the water boards and the TCTA having contracts with different software companies and paying their own licence, maintenance, and support fees.

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Grace Mugabe In Dangote Bribery Scandal

A cabinet minister asked Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, for a $5-million bribe on behalf of the Mugabe family. Robert Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao is said to have allegedly requested the bribe weeks after Dangote visited Zimbabwe in October 2015, the sources said. Zhuwao was the youth development and indigenisation minister at the time. It was allegedly contained in an e-mail from Zhuwao and informed Dangote that “as with all investors which come into Zimbabwe there was a need for him to secure his investments and grease elbows, and therefore a sum of $5-million is requested”.

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High Costs Force Private School Dropouts

South Africa’s top private schools have lost thousands of students over the last year due to rising school fees and other costs. According to a report by the Sunday Times, two of South Africa’s biggest private school chains, Curro and AdvTech, lost 3,881 pupils last year – mainly because parents could not afford to pay fees. In addition, both St John’s College in Parktown and St Stithians College in Sandton confirmed that they had seen a number of drop-outs as well as an increase in students who had fallen behind in school fees.

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Bus Strike Intensifies

The continued strike action comes as a result of failed wage negotiations between unions and employers over the course of a two-day meeting with the Commission of Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). Workers initially demanded a 12% increase and employers offered 7%. The workers have since rejected an offer of 8% for the first year, and 8.5% in the second year, instead proposing a 9.5% increase in the first year and 9% for the second.

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Currencies: Bcoin R111,818 . Ether R8,002 . R/USD12.11 . R/GBP16.97 . R/EUR14.86

 

Ramaphosa Clarifies Land reform Plans

South Africa’s government will ensure land reform takes place as a matter of urgency without harming agricultural production, but it won’t allow people to forcibly take over farms, President Cyril Ramaphosa said. A land audit released by the government in February showed that farms and agricultural holdings comprise 97% of the 121.9 million hectares of the nation’s area. Whites own 72% of the 37 million hectares held by individuals, more than two decades after the end of apartheid.

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SOE’s Present Revival Plans

Chief executives of state-owned entities (SOEs) this week presented President Cyril Ramaphosa with ambitious proposals to reignite the South African economy. The business leaders, led by Telkom chief executive Sipho Maseko, said that the plans were aimed at rekindling manufacturing, meaningful employment in the crucial agriculture sector and the development of logistics systems to accelerate economic growth, among others.

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Zuma Should Pay His Own Fees If Guilty

Responding to a question from EFF leader Julius Malema, Ramaphosa revealed that the government had contributed a total of R15.3m towards Zuma’s legal costs since 2006. Of this amount, approximately R7.5m was spent between 2006 and the withdrawal of the corruption charges against Zuma in 2009. The state had paid a total R7.8m on Zuma’s legal costs since 2009. Ramaphosa explained that Zuma had entered into an agreement with the government that the money would be paid back if he is found to have been personally responsible for the crimes he was accused of.

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A Third of Moz Plants Destroyed By Pests And Disease

Pests and disease sweeping through Mozambique have destroyed at least a third of the country’s agricultural crops over the past 11 months, a government spokeswoman said. More than 41,000 hectares of crops in Mozambique have been affected by pests including caterpillars and fruit flies.

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KPMG And Deloitte Fined By US Authorities

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has slapped KPMG, Deloitte & Touche, and BDO for their involvement in audit work that circumvented its guidelines. The firms agreed to settle the charges by paying penalties or disgorging their profits from the audits.Without admitting or denying the findings, BDO Canada agreed to pay a $50,000 penalty, KPMG in South Africa agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty, Deloitte in Zimbabwe agreed to pay disgorgement and interest totaling $99,057, and KPMG in Zimbabwe agreed to pay disgorgement and interest totaling $141,305. 
Toys R Us Officially Shuts

Toys R Us employees have been informed that the company is selling or closing all its US stores as part of a liquidation plan. According to USA Today, Toys R Us will file liquidation papers in advance of a court hearing scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

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3500 Tons Of Polony And Cold Meat Returned

Tiger Brands had recalled 3 500 tons of its Enterprise ready-to-eat, chilled meat products by Monday. This, as it awaits the outcome of a report it commissioned on why the ST6 strain of listeria was found at its Polokwane facility.

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Bitcoin Drops Below $8000

The price of bitcoin is down to start the day, dropping below $8,000 during early-hours trading on Thursday according to CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). At press time, the price of bitcoin is roughly $7,811.22 across global exchanges, a figure that represents a decline of over $300 from the day’s open, and the lowest price observed on the index since Feb. 11, when the BPI hit a low of $7,845.13.

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Currencies: R97,904 . Ether R7,325 . R/USD11.77 . R/GBP16.45 . R/EUR14.57

VAT And Excise Duty Hikes In Budget 2018

64% of the R36bn of extra revenue is coming from a 1% VAT hike to 15%, 12% is from excise duty hikes and 19% coming from personal income tax adjustments and 3.4% from fuel levy hike. There will be R57billion allocated for free higher education for students from households earning less than R350 000 a year.

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Zwane To Face Own State Capture Inquiry

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane will be subjected to a full-scale state capture inquiry by the parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources and could be summonsed to answer questions after his repeated failure to appear before the committee. Zwane has been linked to dodgy interactions with the Guptas as a Free State MEC when R150m was stolen in a failed dairy project.

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Strike At Optimum Coal Mine

Work at the Gupta-owned Optimum Coal Mine in Mpumalanga came to a standstill on Wednesday as workers marched to hand over a memorandum of grievances to CEO George van der Merwe. The mine supplies coal to power utility Eskom for its power generation.

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Michael Jordaan To Launch Bank Zero

Bank Zero, which in January said it got a provisional license from the central bank and has 10 staff, isn’t going to lend out money. Instead it’s going to encourage South Africans to save through attractive interest rates. With a mutual bank structure, which is funded by its members, the Johannesburg-based Bank Zero is entirely backed by its founders and will offer customers with smartphones an app and a card.

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Uber Teams Up With Toyota On Self Driving Cars

The world’s largest car maker and the world’s biggest ride-hailing company plan to team up on autonomous driving as technological changes sweep through the transportation industry. Uber and Toyota have given few details of their collaboration on autonomous technology before, though both have been active in the field separately. Toyota bought a stake in Uber in 2016, without disclosing the size or the reason for the investment.

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Currencies: BCoin R134,999 . R10,766 . R/USD11.67 . R/GBP16.23 . R/EUR14.32

Experts Predict Tax or Vat increases

According to experts, around R45 billion of tax hikes and spending cuts are needed in the fiscal year that starts 1 April 2018 to stabilise the South African fiscal outlook. An alternative to increasing VAT in a linear manner would be to remove the zero rating for VAT on fuel sales. Malusi Gigaba, will table the 2018 National Budget in parliament today at 14:00pm

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Ramaphosa To Atone For Marikana

President Cyril Ramaphosa is determined to play whatever role he can in the process of healing and atonement in the wake of the Marikana massacre. “I would like to use this opportunity to address the role that I played in my capacity as a Lonmin director in the events of that tragic week,” he said. “Notwithstanding the findings of the Farlam Commission on my responsibility for the events that unfolded, I am determined to play whatever role I can play in the process of healing and atonement. In this, I am guided by the needs and wishes of the families of the 34 workers who lost their lives.”

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KFC’s Shut In The UK Due To Lack of Chicken

KFC has temporarily closed hundreds of locations in the UK and Ireland on Monday night after its shops ran out of chicken following delivery problems. On Monday, 575 KFC restaurants were closed. Stores had initially run out of chicken over the weekend.

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SARS Investigates Churches On Tax Compliance

Sars said while it acknowledged that most religious organisations operated within the law, some were enriching themselves at the expense of the fiscus. It said its own investigation and several interactions with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) confirmed that there was massive non-compliance in the sector.

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SABC Needs Another Govt Bailout

The SABC runs the risk of sinking into deeper financial trouble after it missed the deadline to submit its corporate plan. The SABC is facing its worst financial crisis to date and is still waiting on a R3bn government bail-out.

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Cell C Posts Massive revenue Growth

Cell C’s service revenue jumped 12% to R13.2bn with a total revenue increase of 7% to R15.7bn for the year ending December 2017. Cell C’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) grew 151% to R7.8bn with net profit of R4.1bn, growing 660% year-on-year.

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Coinbase To Add Segwit Support

Coinbase Inc., the largest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, is planning to roll out a long-awaited software update in an effort to reduce transaction fees customers pay when sending Bitcoin. The upgrade, called Segregated Witness or SegWit, was first made available by developers in August as Bitcoin’s growing popularity led to congestion in the network. Coinbase said in a tweet Tuesday that it will begin a phased rollout this week, and expects to launch the change for all customers by the middle of next week.

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Currencies: Bcoin R137,650, Eth R11,060. R/USD11.76 . R/GBP16.44 . R/EUR14.50