The world is changing fast and to keep up you need local knowledge with global context.
By Linda van Tilburg
- South Africa confirmed its first coronavirus case after a 38-year-old man who travelled to Italy tested positive, Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said. A tracer team has been sent to South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province along with experts from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases. The infected South African, who was part of a group of 10 people who travelled to Italy, returned home on March 1, went into self-isolation on March 3 and is now being treated in the hospital. Minister Mkhize outlined the steps the government is going to take to tackle the outbreak. Mkhize also told lawmakers in Cape Town that the government was meeting with churches and sport bodies to assess whether large gatherings should be banned. More of his speech and other information on the coronavirus are on our website and in the Biznews podcasts. President Cyril Ramaphosa vowed to inform South Africans openly and transparently about the steps that the government was taking to limit the spread of the virus but admitted that the effect was going to be “big” and that the country needed to be prepared.
- The Rand fell by almost 2.5% against the US dollar after the first confirmed case of the coronavirus in South Africa, trading at R15.53 cents to the with analysts indicating the markets are nervous with many questioning the ability of the government to deal with an outbreak. The currency reached R20.24 against the pound in late afternoon trade. On the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the All-Share Index was largely flat and Sasol stocksfell by almost 9% reflecting a drop in oil prices worldwide as economic activity slows down because of the global spread of the coronavirus.
- Eskom is going to institute liquidation proceedings against the Gupta companies, Trillian Management Consulting and Trillian Capital Partners in the North Gauteng High Court in an attempt to recoup money owed to it. The power utility said in a statement that Trillian failed to pay back R600m that Eskom had irregularly paid to the entities during 2016. The money was part of the R1.6bn that McKinsey and Trillian received from an Eskom contract to advise the power utility. McKinsey had paid back more than R1bn. Eskom Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter said he had a moral and legal obligation to do everything he could to claw back all the monies that were illegally paid out at the height of state capture and this was only one of many cases in which Eskom management would attempt to recoup what is due to the people of South Africa.
- South Africa’s current-account deficit narrowed to a nine-year low in the fourth quarter as outflows decreased. The shortfall on the current account, the broadest measure of trade in goods and services, shrank to 1.3% of gross domestic product from 3.7% in the previous period, the South African Reserve Bank said in a report. That’s the smallest gap since the final three months of 2010. The narrower-than-expected gap was mainly driven by an improvement in the shortfall on the nation’s primary-income account, which reflects outflows due to dividends and interest payments to foreign shareholders, and a decline in imports partly because of weak economic activity. The current-account shortfall for 2019 narrowed to 3% of GDP, from 3.5% in the prior year.
- Old Mutual, which is locked in a prolonged spat with its former chief executive officer Peter Moyo said earnings from its operations probably fell as much as 5%, weighed down by a stuttering local economy. Old Mutual is also having to contend with hyperinflation and the worst economic crisis in Zimbabwe in a decade. It’s been in and out of court since firing Moyo in June last year. Adjusted earnings per share before one-time items will probably increase 4%-9% for the 12 months through December, buoyed by higher returns on investments, Old Mutual said in a statement yesterday. Its shares dropped 0.7% reversing an earlier gain of as much as 2.8% in Johannesburg.
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