BizBriefing: World applauds Ace arrest; Teflon Zuma; Choppies; Rand; Eskom green plan

By Linda van Tilburg 

  • The court appearance of ANC secretary general Ace Magashule, the highest profile politician arrested in connection with state capture, has been viewed favourably overseas. Magashule appeared in court in Bloemfontein on Friday and was granted bail of R200 000. It relates to a R255 million asbestos audit contract. The New York Times described it as “a rare sign that powerful members of the party (ANC) could be held to account for endemic pilfering of public funds under former President Jacob Zuma,” while the London-based Economist, described the arrest of Magashule “a ruling-party bigwig who stood in the way of graft-busting reform” as a good news for South Africa. His next appearance in court will be on 19 February. More on this story and the growing list of over 100 rogues arrested for corruption on the BizNews website.
  • Former President Jacob Zuma‘s last ditch effort to avoid re-appearing before the Zondo Commission of inquiry into state capture will be heard on Monday. Zuma and his legal team are applying for Judge Raymond Zondo’s recusal. President Zuma is scheduled to appear before the commission this week and has been given the opportunity to make arrangements to give evidence by way of a video link, but it is not clear whether he will defy the summons to appear. The Commission’s Secretary Itumeleng Mosala has indicated that he expects Zuma to comply with the summons and appear before the commission.
  • Budget supermarket chain Choppies is back on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange after a failure to publish its financial results led to a 24-month suspension. Choppies said in a statement that the JSE agreed to lift the suspension following extensive engagement. The Botswana bourse lifted its suspension in July. As part of plans to consolidate its business, Choppies has exited the South African and Mozambican markets.
  • The rand ended last week on a high, trading at R15.51 to the dollar. The dollar weakened as concerns over the pandemic’s economic toll returned amid rising global coronavirus infections and uncertainty over the delivery of a vaccine. Reuters reported that gold shares were the main winners on Friday with the gold price jumping 1%. The banking index close 2.78% lower.
  • Eskom is working on a plan aimed at net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The power utility that is the nation’s biggest producer of greenhouse gases said it had an aspirational vision of reaching this goal which included the creation of jobs. It marks a dramatic shift for the utility that uses fossil fuel for roughly 90% of power production. In the shorter term, Eskom efforts to become less of a polluter would include to repurpose and re-power existing coal plants with lower carbon alternatives, enable large scale renewables roll-out and various storage options would be assessed.

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