It’s all about zol – NDZ on tobacco ban; Comair trouble; Raphaely magazine empire collapses; Denis Goldberg tributes

By Jackie Cameron

  • As Covid-19 lockdown eases from 1 May, a strict ban on tobacco sales remains in force, angering many citizens. Cabinet minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has defended the move, saying “the way tobacco is shared does not allow for social distancing,” and encourages the spread of the virus.“When people zol, they put saliva on the paper, and then they share that zol,” Dlamini-Zuma said, according to Bloomberg. Tax Justice SA founder Yusuf Abramjee has slammed the move, saying it is costing billions in lost taxes and fuelling the illegal tobacco industry, which thrived on corruption in the Jacob Zuma era. For more, listen to the BizNews Inside Covid-19 podcast with Alec Hogg, who shares all the news you need to know on the pandemic.
  • The International Monetary Fund expects South Africa’s economy to contract by 5.8% in 2020 but rebound to 4% growth in 2021. That’s according to Reuters, which points out that South Africa was already in recession before the coronavirus shut down the economy, with overall GDP growth for 2019 at only 0.8%, owing largely to power shortages that hurt industry.
  • Comair joins other airline companies in trouble, warning investors that the grounding of South African air travel has put its finances in a precarious position, with the carrier preparing for at least five more months before it can resume flights. The five-week lockdown has caused the situation to rapidly deteriorate to a point where the company finds itself in a very difficult financial position and shareholders are advised to exercise caution,” the Johannesburg-based carrier said in a statement on Thursday. The stock slumped as much as 21%, and has lost more than 60% of its value in the year to date. State-owned South African Airways is in administration and SA Express is in provisional liquidation. Globally, aviation giants including Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG are locked in negotiations with their governments about bailout deals. The International Air Transport Association is estimating $314 billion in lost ticket sales this year and 25 million job losses.
  • Tributes have poured in for Denis Goldberg, a Rivonia trialist who has died at the age of 87. In 1963, Goldberg was arrested at the Rivonia Headquarters of uMkhonto weSizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress, says the government news agency. He was sentenced in 1964 at the end of the Rivonia Trial to four terms of life imprisonment. He was the only white member of MK to be arrested and sentenced in the Rivonia Trial. In 1985, after 22 years of imprisonment, he was set free and reunited with his family in London where he continued to work for the ANC. Among those offering condolences, was President Cyril, who said that Goldberg had “dedicated his life to achieving the better life we enjoy today and his revolutionary contribution reinforced the non-racial character of our Struggle and of our democratic dispensation.”
  • It’s the end of an era for Jane Raphaely’s women’s magazines, with the publisher of Cosmopolitan, House & Leisure, Good Housekeeping and Women on Wheels closing its doors permanently after 38 years in business. Announcing the move, AMP CEO Julia Raphaely said “the unexpected and devastating impact of Covid-19, causing the closure of printing and distribution channels, the global halt on advertising spend, as well as the inability to host events for the foreseeable future, have made it impossible to continue trading, despite large amounts of personal funds having gone into AMP. Other businesses that have not been able to survive the strict Covid-19 containment measures include Edcon, which owns Edgars and Jet stores.
  • Looking at performance on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, shares are on track for a record month, says Bloomberg. The benchmark index in Johannesburg is up 14% in April as of Wednesday’s close, the most in any month since Bloomberg began tracking the gauge in 1995. Global equity markets are rising as investors assess plans by countries to restart activity and amid signs of progress in treating the coronavirus, but South African stocks have outpaced their emerging-market peers. Naspers has been the biggest contributor to April’s gains, with the Cape Town-based tech investor advancing to record highs as it benefits from its 31% stake in Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Gold Fields Ltd. are also among leading market drivers as bullion heads for its best month since 2016, thanks to its allure as a store of value.
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