CR starts Covid-19 graft crackdown in own office; more Eskom power cuts; Steinhoff; Rand

By Jackie Cameron

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised to take a hands-on approach to Covid-19 graft – and it appears that he is starting in his own office. The Spokesperson to the President, Ms Khusela Diko, has requested The Presidency to allow her to take leave of absence from all official roles in government, pending investigations on recent allegations involving her and her husband in tender irregularities in the Gauteng Department of Health, says the President’s office.
  • World Bank researchers estimate that an Africa-wide trade deal will lift 30 million Africans out of extreme poverty and 68 million from moderate poverty by 2035. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) due to come into force on July 1 and postponed because of Covid-19 may now begin operating from the start of 2021. The pandemic is expected to cost Africa up to $79bn in lost economic output this year alone with the additional risk of millions of job losses, says Reuters. Once in force, the AfCFTA will bring together 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with combined gross domestic product of $3.4trn, it says.
  • More power cuts loom, with Eskom warning on Monday that it may implement load shedding after six generation units tripped. “Today, six generation units suffered trips, while the return to service of three others has been delayed,” it said. “A generation unit each at the Majuba, Tutuka, Hendrina and Duvha power stations tripped. The return to service of the units at Matla, Kendal and Tutuka have been delayed. Any additional breakdowns will compromise Eskom’s ability to supply the country through the peak demand period of 5pm to 9pm. This constrained supply situation may persist for the next few days,” it said.
  • Shareholder rights group European Investors VEB said on Monday it supports Steinhoff’s proposal to pay around $1bn to settle outstanding legal claims following a massive accounting fraud, according to Reuters. The Netherlands-based group is one of the claimants holding the South African retail group liable for all losses incurred by shareholders after Steinhoff revealed holes in its accounts in December 2017. VEB also said it has agreed to withdraw its collective legal battle, which started in 2018, against Steinhoff in the Netherlands with immediate effect. Christo Wiese, once one of the richest men on the planet, is among those who have pursued legal charges against Steinhoff – which shattered his wealth. Wiese is now a millionaire in dollar terms, rather than a billionaire, according to Bloomberg.
  • The rand rallied on Monday. “The rand is once again targeting the 16.50/$ resistance level, aided by USD weakness as the gold price climbs on the scale of U.S. QE and the global yield seeking trend continues to fuel strength in the domestic currency,” chief economist at Investec Annabel Bishop is quoted as saying.
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