Cyril gets personal; Mboweni tells ANC to cut red tape; Woolies boss Moir creams it; Rand knocked

By Jackie Cameron

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has started a weekly email to the nation. In his first letter to South Africans, Ramaphosa says he will, each week, discuss some of the issues that interest and concern South Africans, and talk about the work being done in government to tackle these issues. “I hope you will find it useful,” he says. In his first email, he focuses on the economy – and in particular the very high unemployment rate. “This year, the economy will record growth that is lower than expected (and much lower than what we need). Government finances are stretched about as far as they can go, and several industries are looking at retrenching workers,” he says. Nevertheless, he is optimistic the situation can improve. “Much work is underway to improve the ease and reduce the cost of doing business, as are efforts to restructure state owned enterprises and ensure that they perform better in meeting the country’s needs. A clear strategy to place Eskom on a sustainable path of recovery is also being finalised,” he says. “On the first Monday morning of each month, the Deputy President and I meet with the leaders of business, labour and the community sector to review the implementation of measures agreed at last year’s Jobs Summit. Our continued focus is on job creation and how we can reduce the numbers of people who are unemployed. It is clear that, as a country, we are taking firm action to grow the economy and create jobs. But we need to do more to turn things around.
  • Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has once again called for the government to stop subsidising inefficient state-owned companies. Mboweni warned the African National Congress National Executive Committee (NEC) that government’s choices are becoming starker, and that urgent changes are needed. Mboweni, whose presentation was leaked to Fin24, reportedly said collective bargaining agreements are favouring big business and big labour to the detriment of the unemployed and small business. Treasury wants small businesses to be exempted from industry wage agreements.
  • Despite spearheading an ill-fated foray into Australia, Woolworths CEO Ian Moir pocketed R23m in the past year. This brings his total earnings over the past five years to R191m, reports Fin24. Despite a strong local performance from Woolworths, group headline earnings fell almost 5% for the year to end-June – due to David Jones, says the news website. “Moir was appointed CEO of Woolworths in 2010, and championed the acquisition of the Australian department store in 2014 for R21.5bn. But the group has since been forced to write down more than R6bn of the acquisition’s value. Continued investment in the underperforming David Jones has also increased the debt burden on the local company,” it says.
  • The world’s biggest predatory fish, the Great White, hasn’t been seen this year in False Bay, according to scientists and cage-diving operators. While the absence may be temporary it’s creating concern because, along with vineyards, the iconic Table Mountain and world-class restaurants the species is key to a $2.6bn provincial tourism industry, says Bloomberg.
  • Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has unveiled the latest iteration of his space company’s newly assembled Starship, outlining a speedy development timeline for the centre piece vehicle of SpaceX’s quest to launch humans to the moon and Mars, reports Reuters. Musk showed a crowd of space enthusiasts and reporters at SpaceX’s rocket development site late on Saturday in the remote village of Boca Chica, Texas, animations of Starship landing on the moon and Mars and predicted that the rocket’s first orbital flight could come in the next six months, followed by missions to space with humans aboard the next year, says the news agency.
  • South Africa’s rand weakened on Monday, tracking the euro and other emerging market currencies, as ongoing jitters about the trade dispute between China and the US and faltering euro zone growth dampened demand, says Reuters.
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