Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has had a falling out with the Black Business Council, accusing it of trying to capture National Treasury, and supporting a single, unnamed family. The council’s secretary general confirmed the accusation, which happened at what was supposed to be a post-budget meeting last week. Instead of meeting with Gordhan, the council reportedly refused, instead criticising Gordhan for failing to pursue president Jacob Zuma’s desires for radical economic transformation.
- Rumours are swirling that the man said to be in charge of South Africa’s failed attempt to rubber-stamp a R1 trillion nuclear deal – Senti Thobejane – has gone to ground and seemingly disappeared. An investigation by amaBhungane attempted to track the man down, but turned up fruitless. Two sources told the investigative group that Thobejane was in charge of getting the nuclear deal signed with Russia, but was axed when the deal fell through, allegedly upsetting Russian authorities. He has now apparently gone into hiding.
- Newly appointed ANC MP Brian Molefe insists he is innocent and has done nothing wrong, slamming former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela, saying her report into state capture was unfair. Molefe said he was never given an opportunity to reply to accusations in the report which listed 58 phone calls between him and the Gupta family, and placed him in the area of their home. At the time, Molefe said there was a shebeen in Saxonwold he was at.
- Education expert, Dr Miram Altman of the National Planning Commission, says that a 30% or 40% pass rate for matrics is not good enough, and not what the South African economy needs to provide decent skills and a decent life. Her comments came during a debate held this week, discussing major problems facing the basic education system. According to Altman, the market holds the view that a matric certificate is not worth much because its exit capabilities (ie the pass mark) is too low.
- South Africa’s rand firmed on Monday, shaking off a sluggish start to rise along other emerging currencies as investors closed dollar positions ahead of a speech by U.S. President Donald Trump expected to give clues on his fiscal policy. On Tuesday the rand was trading at R12.97 to the dollar, R16.14 to the pound and R13.74 to the euro.