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

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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

Zuma To Address The Nation

In a televised interview with CNN, finance minister Malusi Gigaba confirmed that Pres Jacob Zuma will address the nation at 10am and is expected to resign. Gigaba further went on to say that if Zuma does not resign, the ANC will have no choice but to side with opposition parties in parliament in a vote of no confidence in Zuma

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Reserve Bank To Regulate Crypto Currencies

The South African Reserve Bank has confirmed that it will be launching a special unit to address regulation in the growing fintech space. In a statement released on Tuesday, the SARB said that the main goal of the programme is to track and analyse fintech developments and to assist policymakers in formulating frameworks in response to these emerging innovations.

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National Credit Amendment Bill Mooted

According to legal experts, the Amendment Bill, should it pass, is expected to have a significant impact on the lives of thousands of ordinary South Africans as well as large parts of the finance and banking sectors because of the wide-scale debt relief it will provide. The proposed Bill makes provision for debt intervention for consumers earning a maximum of R7,500 per month and with less than R50,000 in unsecured debt. As the proposed Bill is currently crafted, 16 million loans could qualify for debt intervention.

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Unemployment Rate Improves Slightly

SA’s unemployment rate improved to 26.7% in the fourth quarter of 2017. This was a one percentage point improvement on the unemployment rate of 27.7% recorded in the third quarter of the year. A decline in unemployment was observed across all age groups, but was highest among the youth, irrespective of educational level.

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City Of Joburg To Launch Jan Smuts Avenue Revamp

The City of Joburg will proceed with a planned expansion of Jan Smuts Avenue in the Parktown area and beyond, in a two-year project that will impact congestion levels and travel times for many residents in the area. It is expected to involve major roadworks on and around Jan Smuts, stretching from Zoo Lake to Bompas road. The drive behind the project is to alleviate traffic congestion in the area, and will be the start of a new phase in infrastructure upgrades in the city.

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KZN To Get Direct Flights To London

KwaZulu-Natal could soon have direct flights between Durban and London. “We had a very productive meeting with British Airways. They see huge potential in the Durban-London route and we are extremely optimistic that our engagements will bear fruits. For a number of years now, KwaZulu-Natal has been working on securing air services between Durban and the UK and we are happy that British Airways has finally given us the opportunity to engage them on the viability and potential of the route,” said MEC Sihle Zikalala.

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Diesel Cars On The Way Out In Europe

In 2012 European governments started reducing incentives on Diesel cars in favor of electric vehicles and consumers have shifted with those incentives. From 2015 to 2017, diesel’s market share has dropped from 51% to 44% and it is dropping every year in Europe

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Currencies: Bcoin R108,917. Ether R10,679. R/USD11.93 . R/GBP16.58 . R/EUR14.77

ANC NEC To Decide On Zuma Today

President Jacob Zuma’s fate is set to be sealed when the top leadership of the ruling African National Congress meets to conclude the transition to a new administration. The National Executive Committee will assemble on Monday in Pretoria. In his speech Ramaphosa said, “As you have all heard, the national executive committee of the African National Congress will be meeting tomorrow to discuss this very matter. Because our people want this matter to be finalised, the national executive committee will be doing precisely that”

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Christo Wiese Cuts Shareholding In Steinhoff

Christo Wiese, the former chair of Steinhoff International, has slashed his stake in the retailer to 6.2%. Wiese reduced his shares in Steinhoff, which is dealing with accounting irregularities, from 21%, according to a filing the billionaire made to the Netherlands’ Authority for the Financial Markets on Friday. The filing didn’t provide further details on the share disposal.

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Zimbabwe Wont Give Farmers Land Back

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday said the country will not return land seized from former white commercial farmers almost two decades ago. “It will never happen,” Mnangagwa said. “Our land must be productive. We must mechanise and modernise our agriculture,” he said, adding that the land reforms were “irreversible”

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Eskom Refuses To Reduce Staff Or Cut Salaries

Eskom has said that charity starts at home, which is why the pension fund for government employees and local banks must be used to bail it out. This is according to the Rapport newspaper. The utility also stated that staff cuts are not on the table in order to make its operations more sustainable. A World Bank study from August 2016 found that Eskom was overstaffed by 66%. At the time, Eskom had 41,800 employees – while it only needed 14,200.

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New Mandela Centenary Bank Notes

As the commemoration to mark the 28th anniversary of the release from prison of former president Nelson Mandela continued on Sunday, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has announced that it will issue a set of commemorative bank notes to honour the former statesman’s centenary. In addition, the South African Mint, a subsidiary of the SARB, will issue a new R5 circulation coin celebrating Mandela’s birth centenary.

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Bitcoin Bounces Back Over 50%

Bitcoin clawed its way back from the four-month low of $5,922 it touched on Tuesday, rebounding 53% to $9,069. The S&P 500 Index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average both fell more than 5% this week, wiping out gains for the year. Emerging markets stocks and currencies also plunged, while shorter maturity U.S. Treasuries climbed as investors fled from risky assets to safe-havens.

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Whatsapp Launches Peer To Peer Payments In India

WhatsApp first announced the feature in April 2017, the company finally took the leap and launched the peer-to-peer payments service in beta in India, one of its most important markets. WhatsApp has reportedly signed up a number of Indian banks to help bolster its payments service.

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Currencies: Bcoin R103,237 .  EthR10,306 . R/USD11.97 . R/GBP16.59 . R/EUR14.69

Bitcoin Down 30% In Four Days

The price of bitcoin fell to less than $13,080 on Friday morning, according to CoinDesk.com. That makes an 18-percent drop since its previous slide, and more than 30 percent since it reached the historic $20,000 mark last week. The cryptocurrency has experienced its second major drop in just days. Rival bitcoin cash has also fallen, plunging to $2,536 per coin, following its rapid climb of more than 50 percent to almost $4,330 per token on December 20.

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Shoprite Employees On Nationwide Strike

More than 30‚000 workers are expected to take part in the protected strike on Friday‚ according to the South African Commercial‚ Catering and Allied Workers’ Union (Saccawu) and union federation Cosatu. The workers are demanding a reversal of changes to working hours‚ the reinstatement of Sandton Checkers employees who were dismissed for protesting against the changes‚ safe transport for night-shift staff and a guaranteed number of minimum working hours for part-time workers.

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Facebook Signs Landmark Deal With Universal Music

Facebook Inc. signed a multiyear licensing deal that lets the social network carry songs and artists from the world’s biggest record label, Universal Music Group, across its platforms. The deal announced Thursday solves a long-running dispute, with Facebook agreeing to compensate the company and artists including Taylor Swift when users post videos that include copyrighted material. The accord includes Facebook, Instagram and Oculus virtual-reality technology, with Universal saying the company would become a “significant contributor” to the industry.

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British American Tobacco To Buy Twisp

British American Tobacco, the world’s second-largest traded cigarette maker, agreed to buy South African vaping company Twisp, expanding in a continent where it has grown in since buying Rothmans in 1999. The deal increases BAT’s offering of so-called next-generation products, or alternatives to smoking cigarettes, the London-based company said in a statement on Thursday. It didn’t disclose the price of the deal or how it’s being funded.

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Canada Cancels Gupta Jet Loan

Canada’s trade financing agency Export Development Canada (EDC) said on Thursday it has scrapped a deal to help finance the sale of a Bombardier Inc jet to the wealthy Gupta family. The Guptas failed to meet loan repayment obligations in recent weeks and, with the EDC assessing a “political exposure” risk, it terminated the loan which allowed Canada’s Bombardier to sell a Global 6000 jet to them.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R190,339. R9,645 . R/USD12.72 . R/GBP17.04 . R/EUR15.14

Bitcoin In Flash Crash Down By $4000

Bitcoin flash crashed today on some of the exchanges after the Asian market open, with waves of selling hitting the most valuable coin even before that. The digital currency fell below the $16,000 level (Bitstamp prices) marking a 20% decline from its recent all-time high

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Old Mutual Wealth Sold To Buxton

Insurer Old Mutual has finally let superstar fund manager Richard Buxton go, selling the single-strategy business he runs at Old Mutual Wealth to him and his team, together with private equity group TA Associates, for £600m.

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ANC 68 Missing Votes Fiasco

The election of the entire ANC top six leadership structure – led by newly-elected president Cyril Ramaphosa – risks being challenged amid allegations of 68 unaccounted votes and irregularities in the tallying of votes. North West chairperson Supra Mahumapelo confirmed that the ANC’s steering committee met to investigate what is presently dubbed as “the disappearance” of 68 delegate votes.

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Steinhoff Cant Explain Irregularities

Steinhoff’s eagerly awaited presentation to a group of its bankers was met with dismay on Tuesday, as the global furniture retailer said that it could still not quantify the magnitude of the “accounting irregularities” that had led to the bombshell resignation of its charismatic CEO Markus Jooste two weeks ago. Its stock, which has lost most of its value since Jooste’s abrupt departure, had recently recovered from its lows of R6 a share, but plunged afresh, closing 17.45% weaker at R7.

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ANC Technically Insolvent

The ANC is technically insolvent as its liabilities exceed the value of its assets, according to the financial report tabled by outgoing treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize. The organisation is also R215m in debt and had a deficit of R47m over the past financial year. This was despite a debt-management programme over the past five years that brought debt down from the 2013 level of R249m.

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SABC And Unions Reach Wage Deal

The SABC says this has brought to an end the workers strike after Bemawu also signed the agreement last week following the CCMA intervention. Last week workers downed tools over salary disputes, demanding 10% salary adjustments while the employer was offering on 4.5%. The public broadcaster says CWU has agreed to a 4.8% increase, back-dated to July 2017.

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Currencies: R267,134 . Ether R12,360 . R/USD12.78 . R/GBP17.07 . R/EUR15.13