Xenophobia storm hits MTN, Shoprite, Pepkor, Pick n Pay; Nigeria recalls SA envoy; Ramaphosa Tweets for calm

By Jackie Cameron

  • Mobile-phone giant MTN and grocer Shoprite are among South African firms facing a backlash to xenophobic violence in their home country, reports Bloomberg. Shoprite stores were attacked in at least one area of Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, according to the local government. The grocer said several stores in South Africa, Nigeria and Zambia were unable to open on Wednesday because of protests. MTN, the country’s biggest mobile-phone company, closed Lagos offices after following retaliatory attacks at some operations. And, as Fin24 reports, a Pick n Pay store in the East Park Shopping Mall in Lusaka, Zambia, was attacked by protestors on Wednesday morning. Pepkor, a pan-African clothing retailer, closed 21 stores in Lagos and seven in the Zambian capital, Lusaka. A store in Lagos was looted and the supply chain was also disrupted, reports Bloomberg. The latest spate of attacks, says the news agency, broke out in Johannesburg on Sunday leading to the destruction of more than 50 shops and business premises, mainly owned by Africans from elsewhere on the continent. Cars and properties were torched and widespread looting took place.
  • Nigeria has recalled the High Commissioner to South Africa in protest against attacks on its citizens living in the country, reports Bloomberg. It is also boycotting the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in Cape Town. Kabiru Bala, Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa, has been asked to return alongside a special envoy sent by President Muhammadu Buhari to South Africa, Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama told reporters Wednesday. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was due to attend the forum, has been asked by the president to cancel his trip, reports Bloomberg. “The security agencies are aware of the threats to various businesses in Nigeria and they are fully mobilised to address them,” Onyeama is reported as saying, referring to retaliatory attacks on South African companies operating in the country.
  • Hundreds of demonstrators protesting South Africa’s high rate of violence against women blocked the entrance to the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town as the event got under way on Wednesday, says Bloomberg. The protest, it says, was triggered by the murder last week of 19-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrwetyana – one of the regular incidents of femicide in a nation notorious for its grim crime statistics. The killing of Mrwetyana, who was raped and bludgeoned to death at a post office in an upmarket suburb of Cape Town, followed the murder of champion boxer Leighandre Jegels, 25, who was allegedly shot by an ex-boyfriend who had a restraining order against him, says Bloomberg. It also highlights the killing of Meghan Cremer, an avid horse rider who was allegedly killed by three men as she left her farm outside of Cape Town. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in more than a dozen Tweets, implored citizens to help battle the scourge of violence and femicide.The word “womxn” has been used in recent years by gender activists to denote transgender women, women of colour and as a rejection of the word “women” being derived from, or lesser than, “men”, continues Bloomberg.

  • A surprise rebound in economic growth in the second quarter means South Africa is on track to grow this year, central bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago is reported as saying. The central bank is comfortable with its previous growth forecast of 0.6% for the year, Kganyago said in an interview with Bloomberg at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. “South Africa averted a second recession in as many years after growth recovered to 3.1% in the second quarter. That beat the median estimate of 2.5% by 17 economists in a Bloomberg survey. The return to growth reduces pressure on the central bank to lower interest rates when its Monetary Policy Committee meets in two weeks.”
  • The release of audited results failed to ignite the Discovery share price. It lost about half-a-percent by the end of the day. The company explained its lacklustre financials, saying that the reports covered a “Period of considerable complexity, with a temporary decline in profits due to significant investment in new initiatives and large-claim volatility in Discovery Life.” The company announced plans to increase investment in Discovery Bank, but analysts question whether South Africa needs another bank.
  • Gold Fields, AngloGold and Amplats led the big losers of the day down, with their share prices losing 5-6% by the end of the day. Big movers up on the day included Assore, moving up about 6% and Naspers about 2.5%.