Desperate restaurant, bar owners protest in streets; gold stocks soar, but investors stay away from SA; Zim crisis

By Jackie Cameron

  • Thousands of South African restaurant and bar owners placed tables and chairs on the streets outside their premises on Wednesday in a nationwide protest against lockdown restrictions that prevent them from selling alcohol or trading after 9pm, reports Reuters. The nation’s hospitality sector is one of the hardest-hit by government restrictions imposed at the end of March to curb the spread of the coronavirus. At the end of June, restaurants were allowed to offer sit-down services again, but at limited capacity and without serving alcohol. Wendy Alberts, chief executive officer of the Restaurant Association of South Africa, is quoted as saying that about 400,000 jobs have been lost in the sector since the end of March, with more businesses closing their doors permanently every day.
  • South Africa’s retail sales plunged by a record 50.4% in April and 12% in May, data showed on Wednesday in the latest evidence of the impact of the early, stricter phase of the country’s coronavirus lockdown. Statistics South Africa said the April annual figures were the lowest since 2002 when the agency began compiling the data.
  • Not even a record rally can entice foreign investors to South African gold stocks, says Bloomberg. With gold prices soaring on the heels of monetary stimulus, shares in producers of the metal are back in favour around the world. But investors are fretting about supply disruptions at South Africa’s mines as a result of soaring Covid-19 infections, according to Benguela Global Fund Managers. Non-residents sold a net R2.1bn of the country’s gold shares since the beginning of last week through Tuesday, even as a Johannesburg index of gold miners climbed more than 6% to the highest on record, says Bloomberg, noting that this is more than half of the total outflows from the equity market in that period, more than any other sector, according to JSE Ltd. data.
  • The University of the Witwatersrand has appointed Maurice Radebe as the new Head and Director of the Wits Business School (WBS). Radebe is currently the Executive Vice-President of the Energy Business at Sasol. He has previously served as the Group Executive: Corporate Affairs, Stakeholder Relations and Enterprise Development, as well as the Managing Director of Sasol.
  • Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa has announced a night-time curfew and other measures to tackle rising Covid-19 infections, though critics say these measures are linked to growing discontent over his rule. Anti-government protests have been planned for next week. On Monday police arrested an opposition official and a journalist, accusing them of inciting violence ahead of July 31 demonstrations by activists who say government corruption has exacerbated economic hardship. For more on that, see the article on BizNews.com.
  • It is the end of an era. The last Rivonia trialist, Andrew Mlangeni, died after being admitted to hospital with stomach complaints. President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “The passing of Andrew Mokete Mlangeni signifies the end of a generational history and places our future squarely in our hands…Until recently, we were able to sit at Bab’ Mlangeni’s feet and draw on his wealth of wisdom and his unfailing commitment – even at his very advanced age – to a better life for all South Africans.”