Mandela Funeral Fraud Report Expected Today

Former public protector Thuli Madonsela announced in 2016 that her office was investigating allegations of maladministration, corruption and misuse of public funds relating to the procurement of service providers for the former statesman’s memorial services and funeral. Various Eastern Cape municipalities allegedly spent nearly R65m without following proper procurement procedures. A report in May 2016 revealed that R22m was used for T-shirts, food and transport. The full report is set to be released today.

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FIFA Struggling For World Cup Sponsors

Teams from 32 countries learned Friday who they will play at the soccer showcase, but with just six months until kick off, FIFA is struggling to find companies that are willing to spend millions of dollars on ads and logo placement. Brands have been scared off by the 2015 corruption scandal that ensnared top FIFA officials, including former general secretary Joseph “Sepp” Blatter. Political controversies involving Russia, sanctioned in 2014 following the annexation of Crimea and accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election, haven’t helped.

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Eskom Says Loadshedding Is Unlikely

On Thursday investigative news outfit AmaBhungane reported Eskom may be forced into nationwide electricity cuts after a coal mine linked to the Gupta family threatened to halt supply. Eskom has been at the heart of allegations of illegal contracts and undue influence in awarding tenders to the Gupta family, friends of South African President Jacob Zuma. Spokesman Khulu Phasiwe confirmed Eskom had held an emergency meeting last Friday to determine whether strategic coal stockpiles at Hendrina and other stations were sufficient after Tegeta Exploration and Resources threatened to halt supply to Hendrina.

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Gauteng To Build Five Mega Cities

Gauteng is currently undergoing massive infrastructure development with over a R100 billion being invested in more than 800,000 houses within 30 residential developments, across five designated development corridors. According to the Gauteng Department of Human Settlements’ (GDHS), these developments form part of a new mandate to shift away from sporadic and uncoordinated developments to purposely planned and developed “Mega Cities” that are completely self-sufficient in providing for the housing, economic and social needs of the community.

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Germany Offering Migrants Money To GO Back Home

Germany wants to support rejected asylum-seekers who voluntarily move back to their home countries with a one-time payment of 3,000 euros ($3,570). The Interior Ministry says those who qualify can apply by a Feb. 28 deadline and they would get the money once they return home. Migrants who agree to go back even before their asylum request is rejected have already been offered 1,200 euros per adult and 600 euros per child under a different program for almost a year. They are now eligible to apply for both programs.

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AdvTech Fraud Drops Share Price

Private education group ADvTECH’s share price dropped by 7.06% on the JSE after the group said on Friday it had uncovered incidents of fraud in the schools division. ADvTECH shares closed 3.99% lower on the JSE at the end of the day at R15.65. The group said that the fraud was perpetrated by a financial manager in the schools division head office and took place over a period of three years, beginning in 2015.

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MTN Launches Data Saver Option

MTN has launched a simple way for subscribers to block out-of-bundle (OOB) data usage, with its new “Out of Bundle Barring” service. Out of Bundle Barring is available to users via the USSD menu, by dialing *141*0# and selecting the relevent option.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R170,013 . Ether R6,942 . R/USD13.78 . R/GBP18.51 . R/EUR16.35

 

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Koko Claims Eskom Bosses Were Bribed

Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko on Thursday accused some of his colleagues of taking bribes from suppliers and said that they had started leaking damning allegations against him in retaliation when he dealt with corruption. The allegations against him, said Koko, started surfacing when he dealt with corruption on becoming interim CEO. For instance, France Hlakudi, the former Kusile power station project manager, was paid a R61m bribe, Koko said. He produced a document that showed another R400,000 was paid to Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation — owned by Hlakudi — by Tubular Construction Projects on the day that Eskom’s tender committee approved a tender for Tubular. The money was transferred into Hlakudi Interpretation and Translation’s bank account in 2015, said Koko.

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Gigaba Says Ignore Economic Gloom

Speaking in the National Assembly on Thursday during a debate on the Medium Term Budget Policy statement he delivered last month‚ the Finance Minister chose to look on the bright side of life. “South Africans should brush aside the message of despondency and doom. Even at our bleakest moments we must not drown ourselves in our own message of doom and gloom. The difficult decisions are being taken now‚ but our economy will turn around. A brighter day beckons.” he said.

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Taxman Going After US Bitcoin Traders

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has won a US court case which will force Coinbase to disclose customer information. Coinbase must now share the data of users who have bought, sold, sent, or received over $20,000 through their accounts in a single year, between 2013 and 2015. This is estimated to be 14,355 individuals.

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Firstrand To Drop State Capture Implicate Companies

Outgoing FirstRand chairman and cofounder of the group Laurie Dippenaar expressed extreme disappointment on Thursday with “the number of large corporations that have been complicit” in state capture, saying that some would lose FirstRand’s business. Commenting on state capture, he said: “I’ve been bitterly disappointed. We have expressed our disdain and disappointment [to these companies] and some of them will not get business from FirstRand again.

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NPA Panel Convened For Zuma Corruption Charges

Controversial KwaZulu-Natal director of public prosecutions Moipone Noko will lead the National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA’s) team that considers President Jacob Zuma’s representations on corruption charges. NPA boss Shaun Abrahams gave Zuma until Thursday to argue why he should not be charged after the Supreme Court of Appeal upheld a high court judgment that the 2009 decision to drop charges had been irrational. The president is facing 783 counts of fraud, corruption, racketeering, money laundering and tax evasion.

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Guptas Hijacked Lesotho Mine

In August 2014 Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane appointed Atul Gupta as an “economic investment envoy”. Thabane said ANC president Jacob Zuma had introduced him to the Gupta family and he had enlisted them “to help scout for investment” for the country. Now new evidence is emerging that the main “investment” the Guptas were touting – apart from in Thabane himself – was their takeover of a Lesotho diamond mine.

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PWC Does First Major Commercial Bitcoin Transaction

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), one of the world’s largest accounting firms, has accepted its first ever bitcoin payment for its advisory services. PwC in Hong Kong revealed it is working with a number of startups involved in bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency industry, prompting the firm to accept the world’s most widely-known cryptocurrency. Notably, PwC also confirmed its advent into advising clients about crypto funds and investments, cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings –  a radical new form of fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R156,949 . Ether R6,934 . R/USD13.73 . R/GBP18.54 . R/EUR16.36

Brian Molefe Says He Never Left Eskom

Brian Molefe is adamant he should be reinstated to his position as Eskom’s CEO. He insists he and Eskom made an honest mistake when they agreed on his early retirement from the power utility five years too early. The DA, EFF, and Solidarity  went to court on Wednesday to have Molefe’s R30-million pension payout declared unlawful and set aside.

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Tegeta Threatens To Cut Eskom Coal Supply

On Friday last week, Tegeta Exploration and Resources threatened to shut down the conveyor belts that supply coal to Hendrina power station. Tegeta – owned by the Guptas, Trillian founder Salim Essa, and the president’s son Duduzane Zuma – wanted Eskom to increase the R150/ton it pays to Tegeta for coal from the Optimum mine.  According to leaked minutes of an Eskom meeting on Friday, Eskom retaliated by threatening to approach the court. “Legal counsel was instructed to prepare the interdict and a meeting was held with [Tegeta] this morning, to discuss actions to be taken. Verbal commitment [were] made by [Tegeta] at 12:30 that they will not stop the conveyor belt to [Hendrina]; Eskom requested written confirmation by 15:00 today. If it is not delivered urgent legal action will be taken,” the minutes read.

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Multichoice’s R500m “Bribe” To SABC

Minutes of a high-level 2013 meeting between South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) executives and MultiChoice suggest the Naspers pay-TV subsidiary tried to use a R500m payment for an SABC news channel as cover to secure influence over government policy on encryption. Analysts said MultiChoice saw encryption as a threat to its dominance of the pay-TV market and the company was determined to reverse government policy and ensure set-top boxes were not encrypted.

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SAA Losses To Hit R4Billion

Losses at South African Airways are set to widen to R4 billion ($292.86 million) in 2017/18 – up from a previous estimate of R2.8 billion, according to Chief financial officer, Phumeza Nhantsi. Last week, SAA said even with a government injection of R10 billion, the struggling airline will remain under-capitalised with a negative equity position of over R9 billion. Vuyani Jarana, SAA’s CEO, said the airline had outstanding debt of R13.8 billion($1.01 billion) as of this month and that it needed to pay back domestic lenders and U.S. bank Citi R4 billion by March 2018.

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Naspers Interim Profits Up 65%

Group core headline earnings, the board’s measure of sustainable operating performance, was US$1.5 billion – a 65% increase year on year. Naspers, which owns a 34% stake in Tencent, said headline earnings climbed to $1.5 billion, or 350 cents per share, from $914 million, or 212 cents per share. The group said that it delivered a solid performance for the six months to 30 September 2017 with group revenue, measured on an economic-interest basis, increasing 33% year on year to US$9.0 billion (or 39% in local currency and adjusted for acquisitions and disposals).

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Bitcoin Breaks $11000 Barrier

The price of the cryptocurrency bitcoin smashed through $11,000 on Wednesday — less than 12 hours after bursting through the $10,000 mark. Hitting almost $11,400 per coin, the digital currency has now gained about 1,000% year-to-date. Bitcoin’s rise in 2017, according to the Guardian, has been the largest of any asset class. But, drawing comparisons between previous rallies the cryptocrrency has enjoyed, the price is only up about 5,000% since it hit a low in January 2015. Previous rallies, from July 2010 to mid-2011, and from 2012 to 2014 have seen bitcoin soar just less than 40,000% and 55,000% respectively.

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Big Changes To Parental Leave Law

The Labour Laws Amendment Bill‚ which was passed by the National Assembly on Tuesday‚ is a landmark achievement for parental rights as it allows for all parents to access parental leave‚ regardless of gender. In terms of the Bill‚ an employee who is a parent and who is not entitled to maternity leave‚ is entitled to ten consecutive days’ parental leave when their child is born or when an adoption order is granted.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R162,331 . Ether R7,001 . R/USD13.66 . R/GBP18.36 . R/EUR16.20

 

 

Time Magazine Sold TO Rivals

Time magazine is about to have new owners — including the billionaire Koch brothers.
Media company Meredith (MDP) announced Sunday that it has agreed to buy the 95-year-old magazine’s publisher, Time Inc., for $2.8 billion. Acquiring the legendary magazine business gives Meredith control of dozens of other big titles such as People, Sports Illustrated, Fortune and Entertainment Weekly. Meredith already publishes several top magazines, including Parents, Shape and Better Homes & Gardens.

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New Govt Plan To Battle Downgrades

The government is looking to implement R30bn in tax hikes and more than R50bn of spending cuts in 2018 as it struggles to stabilise the ballooning public-debt ratio and respond to the concerns of ratings agencies and investors.

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Water Dept To Throttle Municipalities

An ongoing culture of nonpayment by local municipalities has exacerbated the water troubles South Africa faces, with the Department of Water and Sanitation currently owed R10.7-billion. The Minister has now issued notices to 30 municipalities that the department would terminate bulk water supply should they fail to pay their water debts by December 8.

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Mining Charter Court Case Postponed

The showdown between the mining sector and Mining Minister Mosebenzi Zwane over the controversial Mining Charter will now only take place next year, after the charter’s court review was postponed. The hearing was moved to mid-February next year at the request of the Chamber of Mines, which voiced concerns that the two days set aside in December was not enough time to argue the case properly.

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China Pollution Harming The Economy

China has transformed over the past four decades from an economic backwater to an unrivaled industrial power that consumes huge amounts of raw materials and energy. The tremendous change has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, but also polluted the country’s air and water. The government has already undertaken initiatives to promote clean energy vehicles and sideline polluting industries. Beijing has signed the Paris Climate Accord and is working on a plan to eventually phase out cars powered solely by fossil fuels. The changes are coming at the expense of economic growth, which has dropped from above 10% in 2010 to below 7% in recent years.

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New Eskom Board To Be Announced Soon

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown will present the names of the proposed members of the Eskom board to the cabinet on December 6. In his medium-term budget policy statement last month, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said that a new Eskom board would be appointed before the end of this month. Business Report understands that this week’s cabinet meeting has been postponed until next week. Zethembe Khoza has been Eskom’s interim chairperson since the unexpected resignation of Ben Ngubane in June this year.

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Bitcoin Billionaire Estimates Rise To $40000 By End Of 2018

Bitcoin was hovering just $300 shy of the vaunted $10,000 mark at one point on Monday but it could “easily” reach four times that amount by the end of 2018. That’s according to former Fortress hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz. “Bitcoin could be at $40,000 at the end of 2018. It easily could,” Novogratz said on the CNBC show Fast Money, Monday. “Ethereum, which I think just touched $500 or is getting close, could be triple where it is as well,” he added.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R170,675 . Ether R8,197 . R/USD13.77 . R/GBP18.32 . R/EUR16.39

Farmers Warn Of Rocketing Food Prices

South African consumers are about to be hit by high food prices this festive season because of the lingering effects of drought, Agri SA warned on Friday. It said things would get tougher due to the recent drought that hit large parts of the country and affected food production in provinces such as the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. Already, South Africa has witnessed an average increase in meat prices of 15.5%, while milk, cheese and eggs increased by 2.7%, the last also attributed to avian flu.

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SA Downgraded TO Junk By S&P

Global ratings agency S&P Global Ratings on Friday evening downgraded South Africa’s long-term local currency rating to ‘BB+’, or junk, from ‘BBB-‘ with a stable outlook, while Moody’s has placed the country on review to be downgraded. S&P also further lowered SA’s long-term foreign currency debt to ‘BB’ from ‘BB+’, meaning this debt is now on the second rung of non-investment grade. Moody’s Investors Service then announced that it had placed the Baa3 long-term issuer and senior unsecured bond ratings of the government of South Africa on review for downgrade.

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Britian Now Out Of Worlds Top 5 Economies

Britain has officially abandoned its claim to be the world’s fifth largest economy. While there are several ways to measure the size of an economy, the U.K. Treasury pointed to GDP forecasts published by the International Monetary Fund in October to back up his statement. The numbers show that France will narrowly squeak ahead of Britain in the group’s 2017 ranking of global economies, with its advantage predicted to widen considerably in 2018.

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SARS Pays R18.5 Billion To Taxpayers

The SA Revenue Service (SARS) paid R18.5bn to 2.22 million taxpayers at the close of the tax season for non-provisional taxpayers on Friday November 24. This is a 26% increase compared to last year, SARS said in a statement issued on Sunday. It explained that these refunds apply to returns filed for the 2016/2017 tax year, which have been submitted during Tax Season 2017 from July 1 to November 24.

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Bitcoin Smashes Through $8500 Mark

Bitcoin has reached another all-time high, breaking through the $9,000 mark on international exchanges and R150,000 on Luno. The price of Bitcoin has continued to climb despite the calling off of a switch to SegWit2x.SegWit2x would have been the culmination of a compromise that was set in motion earlier this year, through “The New York Agreement” and a document called BIP91 (Bitcoin improvement proposal 91). Despite the consensus achieved through BIP91, increasing Bitcoin’s block size remained a controversial change – and it has since been suspended due to a lack of buy-in from many Bitcoin players. Bitcoin has seen huge growth since the start of 2017, with the token trading at around R12,000 at the beginning of the year.

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Witnesses Fail To Testify In Koko Case

The prosecution in Eskom’s disciplinary process against Matshela Koko was forced to close its case prematurely on Saturday after witnesses declined to testify against the suspended former acting CEO. Evidence leader Cassim Moosa told advocate Mzungulu Mthombeni, chairman of the hearing, that a number of witnesses had declined his invitation to testify against Koko. This means Eskom will struggle to prove the serious allegations against Koko, paving the way for him to be reinstated and to assume the “rotating” CEO’s seat that was vacated by Brian Molefe in 2016. This entire thing has been a sham and tailor made for Koko to get off unscathed.

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Ex Zim Finance Minister Facing Corruption Charges

Ignatius Chombo, Zimbabwe’s finance minister until the military seized control of the country, was charged with three offenses including corruption, abuse of office and fraud. Chombo appeared in a Harare court on Saturday to face the charges, which were listed in a document handed to reporters at the court by his lawyer, Lovemore Madhuku. The court ruled that Chombo must remain in custody until Monday when his team can apply for bail.

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Hawks Investigating Brian Molefe Pension

The NPA said in papers that the office of the Hawks is probing those involved in the alleged pension fund saga. Solidarity has asked the court to order that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) investigate the matter. Earlier this year, the union filed an affidavit in which it asked the court to overturn Eskom’s decision to reappoint Molefe as CEO, as well as the approval of the payout

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Currencies: Bitcoin R160,553 . Ether R7,873 . R/USD13.89 . R/GBP18.47. R/EUR16.56

Black Friday Causes Site Crashes & Chaos

The annual Black Friday discount bonanza happening in South Africa and around the world has some outlets offering discounts of up to 50%. Stores experiencing problems are; retail giant Takealot, online fashion store Superbalist.com. and websites across The Foschini Group (TFG) have been experiencing technical difficulties due to the Black Friday craziness. There is also gridlocked traffic around shopping malls as people rush to get deals.

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IDC To Sue Oakbay After They Miss Deadline

Gupta-owned Oakbay Resources & Energy’s woes have escalated with news that the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) is suing it for its failure to meet a demand to pay R293m by Thursday. The claim arises from the alleged unlawful manipulation of the Oakbay share price ahead of the company’s listing on the JSE in November 2014. The allegations, investigated by the Financial Services Board, were that a Singaporean entity funded by the Gupta family bought shares in Oakbay just prior to its listing in order to boost the share price.

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Reserve Bank Leaves Interest Rates Unchanged

The Reserve Bank kept interest rates unchanged on Thursday‚ when the monetary policy committee (MPC) wrapped up its last meeting for the year. That leaves the repo at 6.75%‚ where it has been since July’s cut of 25 basis points — the first cut in five years.

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Fitch Leaves SA Credit Rating Unchanged

On Thursday at about 5.30pm, Fitch held SA’s sovereign credit rating at the BB+ “first tier of junk” level it downgraded the country to on April 7. Fitch maintained its outlook at stable, and the outlooks of the big three ratings agencies are important clues as to their next actions. At about 11pm on Friday night, S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s are scheduled to release their latest verdicts on the creditworthiness of South African government bonds.

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Vodacom Facing Lawsuit Over Disappearing Airtime

In an attempt to quell customer dissatisfaction, the network began the process of “gifting” their customers with 500 megabyte once-off data bundles. Despite the action Vodacom denied robbing it’s customers purchased data, instead saying, “the reality is that data is not disappearing – we are just using more data at a much faster rate. “The reason for the higher data use is because our smartphones are becoming more entrenched in all our daily activities,” Vodacom said. Despite it’s claims, Vodacom is now facing a class action lawsuit for tens of millions for “unauthorised fees” that it has charged it’s subscribers. Bidvest Car Rental executive, William Douglas has decided to take action against the network giant over his Vodacom account allegedly being “billed without consent for content services.”

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British Salaries Could Be Frozen For 17 Years

The Resolution Foundation, a non-partisan think tank, said that average earnings, when adjusted for inflation, are likely to stay below the level they hit before the global financial crisis until the start of 2025. That means 17 years without a pay hike. The Institute for Fiscal Studies, the country’s leading independent economic research institute, gave a similarly dire warning. Britain’s independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) on Wednesday slashed its growth forecast for this year from 2% to 1.5%. The watchdog said that weak productivity means growth won’t pick up until 2021, and it cited Brexit as one factor.

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Mitshubishi Admits Falsifying Data

Mitsubishi Materials said Thursday that it had falsified data on multiple products — including components used in cars and airplanes — for more than a year. Mitsubishi Cable Industries had been misrepresenting data on rubber sealants used in automobiles and aircraft, the company added. Data was falsified for around 270 million units sold between April 2015 and September 2017 to a total of 229 customers. Another subsidiary, Mitsubishi Shindoh, had been fudging details of some of its metal products for at least the past year, including brass and copper parts used in the automotive and electronics industries. At least 29 companies are believed to have bought the parts in question.

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Currencies: Bitcoin R132,546 . Ether R6,462 . R/USD13.94 . R/GBP18.48 . R/EUR16.49

Tsotsi Reaveals Dudu Myeni Eskom Influence

Former SAA chair Dudu Myeni met with former Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi in President Jacob Zuma’s Durban home‚ where she told him to institute an inquiry and suspend three top Eskom executives. These shocking claims were among explosive evidence given by Tsotsi in his testimony to Parliament’s Public Enterprises committee. Tsotsi said Myeni had told him that because of Eskom’s financial distress‚ an inquiry should be instituted and three executives – acting CEO Tsediso Matona‚ Dan Marokane and Mathsela Koko – should be suspended.

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Gigaba Seems To U Turn On Nuclear

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba appeared to backtrack on his nuclear stance on Wednesday, saying in Parliament that SA would pursue the nuclear build programme at a pace and scale the government could afford. In his maiden medium-term budget policy statement in October, Gigaba suggested SA had neither planned for spending on nuclear nor could the country afford it. It is estimated the nuclear build programme could cost R1-trillion.

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Gupta’s To Appear Before Eskom Inquiry

Tony, Ajay and Atup Gupta, President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, former SAA boss Dudu Myeni, Eric Wood and Salim Essa are to be “invited” to appear before the parliamentary inquiry into state capture. All have been implicated in testimony heard by the committee over the past month. Members of the public enterprises portfolio committee – which is conducting the probe – said on Wednesday afternoon that they should first be invited to attend, but agreed that if this failed, the seven should be served subpoenas.

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China Bans Skype

Skype, Microsoft’s internet phone call and messaging service, has disappeared from app stores in China including that of Apple, indicating the latest setback for a foreign tech service in the country. Apple, responding to questions about Skype’s absence, late on Tuesday said it had removed several internet phone call apps from its App Store in China after the country’s government said they violated local laws.

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Uber Fined R123 Million Due To Unqaulified Drivers

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission said its probe found violations that included 12 drivers with felony convictions, 17 drivers with major moving-vehicle violations and three drivers with a type of driver’s license required after recent drunk-driving convictions. Since the findings, Colorado has ordered Uber to pay a fine of $8.9 million (R123.95 million). Uber Technologies Inc said in a statement that it recently discovered an error in its background check process in Colorado and began working to correct the issue.

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Interest Rates Unlikely To Change

A rate cut will be unlikely given the “significant event risk” of another credit rating downgrade by the end of this week, according an analyst. News that inflation eased to 4.8% for October will not have much influence on the interest rate decision of the Reserve Bank’s monetary policy committee on Thursday, explained FNB’s senior economic analyst Jason Muscat.

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Currencies : Bitcoin R124,977 . Rand/USD 13.85 . Rand/GBP 18.41 . Rand/EUR 16.37