Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
- Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan says he just wants to be left alone so that he can do the job that president Cyril Ramaphosa has given him. Gordhan has come under political pressure from political rivals within the ANC, with at least two Zuma-allied NEC members in Mosebenzi Zwane and Bongani Bongo trying to have him pulled from the position. The minister said that he is working hard to address the countless issues at state companies, which includes state capture, which still persists. [News24]
- After being presented with three options for SAA – liquidation, closure or restructuring – government has chosen restructuring as the way forward for the group. The ANC has made it clear that SAA should remain in the government’s hands as a national carrier, and that National Treasury is working on finding the funding that it needs. The airline, meanwhile, has assured passengers that its not leaving them stranded as it reassess its flight schedules. [ENCA]
- In a massive policy shift, the ANC wants to allow businesses and municipalities to be able to procure their own power from places other than Eskom, effectively breaking the stranglehold monopoly the power utility has always had on the country. The party also wants to scrap some of the debt owed by municipalities to the group – however it has not committed to this, nor how long it would allow independent procurement of power. [ENCA]
- The Communications Workers Union, which represents 41% of Telkom’s employees, claims that the telco group’s plan to retrench thousands of workers is a ruse to influence spectrum sales in South Africa. The union entered into an agreement with Telkom on a moratorium on retrenchments for 3 years – which ends in March. It said that Telkom is yet to deliver a proper presentation on the reasons for the retrenchments, but highlighted spectrum, data price cuts, regulations and the weak economy as key factors. [CNBC Africa]
- A surprise uptick in the rand toppled the sideways trade that had been widely expected on Wednesday, as fears surrounding the new Chinese coronavirus subsided. Ongoing concerns around the virus will depend on the WHO. The surprise rally in the rand makes it clear that markets are still mostly focused on international events, although this is likely to change as we head towards the national Budget Speech in February. On Thursday the rand was at R14.35 to the dollar, R18.84 to the pound and R15.91 to the euro.