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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Day Zero Wont Happen In 2018

DA leader Mmusi Maimane believes that the City of Cape Town and the wider region of the Western Cape may avert ‘day zero’ in 2018, thanks to the measures put into place to conserve water over the past several months. Maimane said that consumption now sits at between 510 and 520 million litres per day – down from almost 1.2 billion litres in February 2015.

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State Capture Inquiry Team Announced

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Wednesday announced key appointments to the inquiry, which included former auditor general Terence Nombembe. Nombembe, who is now chief executive of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, will head a team of investigators. Other key appointments are legal eagles Leah Gcabashe, Vincent Maleka, Thandi Norman and Paul Pretorius as part of the legal team.

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Nehawu To Strike At Water Departments Countrywide

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) announced on Wednesday that its 3,000 members would lead a strike at the Department of Water and Sanitation’s 53 workplaces across the country after negotiations collapsed at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council.

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Eskom To Undergo Major Budget Restructuring

Eskom will hold a strategic session next week as part of an effort to address flaws that forced it to take a 5 billion rand ($422 million) loan for the month of February to maintain essential liquidity levels. “Our cost structure is definitely not right,” Jabu Mabuza, Eskom’s chairman, said in Cape Town, where he attended a Bloomberg conference. “We have to have to help the organization to be structured with people, assets, funding in a manner that is appropriate.”

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BSI Awarded SAPO Tender

Technology firm Altron said yesterday its subsidiary, Bytes Systems Integration (BSI), had been awarded tenders worth nearly R220million to support the SA Post Office (Sapo) with biometric technology as it prepares to take over the payment of social grants. Altron said the system would verify beneficiaries’ identities through biometric technology connected to the Home Affairs National Identification System.

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Blackberry Sues Facebook And Whatsapp Over IP

BlackBerry Ltd has filed a patent infringement lawsuit against Facebook Inc and its WhatsApp and Instagram apps, arguing that they copied technology and features from BlackBerry Messenger. Litigation over patent infringement is part of BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen’s strategy for making money for the company, which has lost market share in the smartphone market it once dominated.

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Johann Rupert Wants To Buy Vumatel

Remgro is in advanced talks to buy fibre provider Vumatel as South Africa’s richest man seeks to consolidate the country’s expanding broadband infrastructure industry, according to people familiar with the matter. A deal by billionaire Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle would give an equity value of closely-held Vumatel of about R1.1 billion ($93 million), said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks are private.

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Regulation Announcements Cause Bitcoin Crash

Bitcoin slumped for a third day amid fears of a regulatory clampdown on cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan and the U.S., the world’s most active markets for digital assets. Bitcoin declined more than 3% in early Asia trading, extending its slump below $10,000, after Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered two exchanges to halt operations for a month and penalized four others.

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Currencies : Bcoin R122,999 . Ether R9,378 . R/USD11.84 . R/GBP16.46 . R/EUR14.69

 

Mashaba Under Fire Over Property Valuations

Businesses, residents and other property owners, hit by huge valuation increases by the City of Johannesburg, say the city has inflated property values unfairly to boost its flagging income. Rates bills, which are based on new valuations done every four years, kick in on July 1. The city recently sent section 49 notices to property owners, advising them of the new values for their properties with effect from July 1. Organised business wants to meet mayor Herman Mashaba, saying the increases are outrageous and unfair.

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Eskom Signs R20bn Short Term Loan

Eskom has signed a 20 billion rand ($2 billion) short-term credit facility with a consortium of seven local and international banks. “The funding provides Eskom with sufficient liquidity to allow the company time to continue resolving its governance related issues and enables Eskom to recommence with its normal funding program required to execute the FY 2018/19 funding plans,” acting Chief Financial Officer Calib Cassim said in a statement, referring to the utility’s current financial year.

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Comcast Offers $31bn For Sky

Comcast, the biggest cable operator in the US, yesterday offered to pay $31billion (R358.28bn) to buy Sky, challenging Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and Bob Iger’s Walt Disney for the European pay-TV giant. Comcast, a $184bn media giant which owns NBC and Universal Pictures, said it was offering £12.50 (R202.17) per share, significantly higher than the £10.75 per share agreed by Fox. Shares in Sky soared 18%.

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Walmart Raises Gun Buying Age To 21

Walmart is raising the minimum age for buying its firearms and ammunition to 21, becoming the latest company to change policies connected to guns in the wake of the mass shooting at a high school in Florida earlier this month. Walmart, which is the largest single seller of guns in the United States, will also remove from its e-commerce site toys that look like assault-style rifles.

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Eskom To Pay Back PIC Loan Today

Eskom has confirmed that the R5bn short term loan it received from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) will be paid back on Thursday. When the loan was extended by the PIC in February, the Public Servants Association (PSA) said that it felt “betrayed” by the agreement as this could risk government employee pensions being caught up in flailing state owned companies (SOC’s).

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Bitcoin Reaches Major Scaling Milestone

Bitcoin has quietly reached a major milestone in its quest to reach the masses. Segregated Witness, or SegWit, the software upgrade designed to speed up Bitcoin transactions, is gaining traction. The number of transactions using the technology doubled to more than 30 percent in just the past three days.

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Currencies: Bcoin R126,579 . R10,349 . R/USD11.81 . R/GBP16.23 . R/EUR14.40

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

Australia Exchange To Use Blockchain

Australia’s main stock exchange has said it will use blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrency bitcoin, to process its equities transactions in a shift touted as a world-first for a major financial institution. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the eighth-largest share market in the world, will replace its current system Chess with the distributed ledger technology to manage the clearing and settlement for buying and selling stocks. ASX chief executive Dominic Stevens said the move “will put Australia at the forefront of innovation in financial markets”, in a statement.

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Matsela Koko Wants His Job Back

Suspended Eskom executive Matshela Koko yesterday claimed the power utility had failed to prove wrongdoing against him and wants to be reinstated to his old job immediately. In his closing submission to the chairperson of the disciplinary hearing Mzungulu Mthombeni, Koko said Eskom had dismally failed to establish a strong case on any of the six charges he faced.

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California Fires Cause Billions Of Damage

Wildfires in California have caused insured losses of more than $3.3 billion, based on claims reported by 15 insurers, and the figure will rise. The number includes claims for 10,016 partial residential losses, 4,712 total residential losses, 728 commercial property losses, and 3,200 personal auto losses. California is the largest U.S. insurance market, where insurers collect about $289 billion in premiums per year. The $3.3 billion total is more than three times the $1.05 billion preliminary estimate. It’s also more than an estimate of $2 billion to $3 billion made last week by Boston-based AIR Worldwide.

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Russia Signs $30bn Nuclear Deal With Egypt

Egypt and Russia have signed a $30bn deal to build North Africa’s first nuclear power plant as the Kremlin moves to expand its influence in the region. The project increases Russia’s economic presence and political influence in the Middle East, already on the rise since Putin intervened in Syria’s war in 2015 and began a more active role in Libya, conflicts where he and El-Sisi see eye to eye. The Cairo visit comes less than two weeks after the countries said they were in talks to use each other’s military air bases.

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Russian Hackers Steal $10 Million From US Banks

A previously unknown ring of Russian-language hackers has stolen as much as $10 million from U.S. and Russian banks in the last 18 months, according to a Moscow-based cyber-security firm that runs the largest computer forensics laboratory in eastern Europe. The MoneyTaker group broke into 20 systems, which includes 15 U.S. lenders, targeting ATMs with “mules” and Russia’s interbank money-transfer system

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Blue Label Telecom’s Acquisition Of 3g Approved

Blue Label has completed its acquisition of 3G Mobile through its subsidiary The Prepaid Company. Blue Label successfully completed the initial acquisition of 47.37% of the issued share capital of 3G Mobile for R900 million in August. It has now received permission to acquire the remaining 52.63% of the issued share capital of 3G Mobile for R1 billion.

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Currencies: Bitcoin RR245,478 . Ether R7,664 . R/USD13.64 . R/GBP18.16 . R/EUR16.05

 

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

Zuma’s Lawyer In Sassa Grants Saga

it emerged in the Sunday papers that President Jacob Zuma’s special adviser played a key role in ensuring that Cash Paymaster Services would keep the lucrative contract to deliver more than 17 million social grants to recipients. Michael Hulley’s intervention coincided with Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini flatly rejecting any payment option that did not involve CPS, raising questions about why the minister was so intent on retaining the company.

Source : https://goo.gl/3FPu8Z

ANC Contradicts Zuma On Land Reform Method

The ANC says the state should pay fair compensation for land it acquires for distribution to the country’s black majority, contradicting a suggestion by President Jacob Zuma that the constitution should be changed to allow for free expropriation. The party said it needs to focus more intently on the “radical economic and social transformation of our country” to ensure its wealth is more evenly distributed and that it must act urgently to restore its moral character to win back public trust.

Source : https://goo.gl/VJpMbg

Popo Molefe And Prasa Board Take Minister To Court

Members of the former board of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) are lodging an urgent application in the High Court on Monday to reverse their removal by Transport Minister Dipuo Peters and to interdict her from appointing a new board.

Source : https://goo.gl/0HHTv0

Unions Join Up To Protest Eskom Power Station Closures

Rival unions are reaching out to each other to unite against Eskom’s decision to close five coal power stations within five years. National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) general secretary Irvin Jim said he wants to engage with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on this issue. Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 last week that at least two units of Komati power station have already been shut down to create space for the renewable energy projects.

Source : https://goo.gl/YxJgS1

Bitcoin Price Plunges After SEC Decision

The price of bitcoin plunged from record highs Friday after the Securities and Exchange Commission denied a request for the first bitcoin exchange-traded fund, which could have prompted greater investment in the digital currency.

Source : https://goo.gl/GmuZXo

Elon Musk Offers To Fix Australia Energy Crisis

Elon Musk has promised to solve an energy crisis in Australia within 100 days, or provide the technology for free. Musk was responding to a challenge from billionaire entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who wanted to know whether the company was serious in claiming that it could end blackouts in South Australia quickly. Tesla has offered to provide 100 megawatt hours of battery storage at a total cost of $25 million which should supplement the current grid and prevent cuts.

Source : https://goo.gl/NRUcXJ

Indicators : Oil 51.42 – Rand/USD 13.12 – Rand/GBP 16.00 – Rand/EUR 14.00