Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- UK bank HSCB has been implicated in the widening Gupta scandal, accused of being possibly “criminally complicit” in allegations of money laundering surrounding the family. The bank is being accused of ignoring internal warnings about some questionable transactions with Gutpta accounts, and not having the requisite licences to process them.
- Foreign investors have reversed their position on the South African bond market, and are now bailing at an alarming rate. According to data compiled by Bloomberg, foreign investors have dumped a net R11.5 billion rand of South African bonds in the five days since Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba delivered his mid-term budget statement.
- Eskom’s suspended group executive for generation, Matshela Koko has started spilling the beans on corrupt activities at the power utility, with his latest claim that a supplier at the Kusile power station was bribing employees – three of which he suspended. Koko is himself facing misconduct charges relating to conflicts of interest.
- You can now expect to pay 14% more for whole wheat bread in South Africa as the VAT exemption for the product has been scrapped. Whole wheat bread, high-fibre bread and whole wheat brown bread were all previously considered ‘brown bread’ and exempt from tax, however a technical amendment to bread laws has classed them as different types, subject to VAT.
- South Africa’s rand currency was firmer on Wednesday, boosted by positive economic data and a return of investors attracted by the low exchange rate and high bond yields ahead of an interest rate decision by the U.S. central bank. On Thursday the rand was at R13.95 to the dollar, R18.54 to the pound and R16.27 to the euro.