News in South Africa 22nd September:
1. Gautrain wants motorists to fork out more:
Motorists and taxpayers appear set to become the cash cow to enable the government to reduce its percentage of the funding of the multi-billion rand expansion of the Gautrain.
Gautrain Management Agency (GMA) CEO William Dachs said on Monday: “We firmly believe the people in cars don’t pay their fair share in terms of the taxes that they pay and the failure of the e-tolls system has perpetuated that problem.”
Dachs was commenting on the GMA’s engagement with National Treasury about the sources of funding for the Gautrain expansion project and the need to move people off the roads and away from carbon intensive modes of transport during a virtual panel discussion on the ‘Future of Rapid Rail in Gauteng and its Impact on Social and Economic Development’.
He said the GMA started its engagement with Treasury on the funding of the expansion with “a clean sheet of paper and [to] look at all the possible sources”.
“We also looked at developer charges, bearing in mind that people who develop around existing Gautrain stations have seen massive increases in the values of their properties.
“We then did a quite detailed analysis of what each source could bring and which one of them would be the most viable,” he said.
Dachs did not comment on which of these sources was the most viable but said: “We would be looking at a blend of national government funding, provincial government funding, people who use the trains, private developers contribution as well as those who invest in the train itself.”
He confirmed that vehicle licence fees had been considered during the GMA’s engagement with Treasury but stressed that: “It’s not an infinite source.”
2. Rand suffered big losses yesterday:
he rand has suffered an almighty shock – falling 3% in a single day yesterday. It was trading at R16.92/$ this morning from R16.10 on Friday.
Turmoil hit global markets as investors worry about surging Covid-19 daily cases, a possible “mini lockdown” in the UK, and allegations of money laundering at big-name banks.
3. Bitcoin pyramid scheme exposed:
A hacker collective calling itself Anonymous ZA has released explosive details about Mirror Trading International (MTI), stating that at least R4 billion in bitcoin has flowed through the scheme.
In response, MTI stated that the information stems from private member data that was illegally obtained and that it is “inaccurate at best”.
Mirror Trading International is a South African registered company offering Forex trading services by using an automated system to trade with the trading pool on behalf of its members.
Johann Steynberg is the CEO and founder of MTI, which focuses on Bitcoin trading and promising members a “truly passive income”.
According to MTI, it has over 90,000 active members in 177 countries, and its numbers are growing daily.
MTI made headlines recently after the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) said it was investigating the company.
The company claims to have more than R2.9 billion in clients’ funds in trading accounts, but the FSCA has not been able to conclusively confirm that the funds exist.
“Moreover, the returns on the investments claimed by MTI seems far-fetched and unrealistic,” the FSCA said.
4. UIF resumed TERS payments:
After a long delay amid questions over fraudulent payouts, the UIF resumed payments of Covid-19 Temporary Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits yesterday.
The Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) had halted payments to workers who lost their income due to the Covid-19 crisis as its systems were investigated.
“It is with deep disappointment that B4SA has learned from its representatives at Nedlac that all payments of Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) benefits have been halted pending investigations by the Auditor-General,” the organisations Business For SA said.
It is understood that the auditor-general is investigating system integrity problems at the UIF related to the TERS system, B4SA says.
The TERS payouts have been hit by instances of fraud, with one group of fraudsters receiving a payment of R5.7 million which was intended for 1,400 workers.
The UIF has also picked up thousands of claims that have been submitted on behalf of dead South Africans, and found that 100,000 fake ID numbers were used in claims.
5. President to meet with unions:
Seale was responding to questions about Ramaphosa’s health after minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu told journalists at the Union Buildings in Pretoria that Ramaphosa couldn’t meet the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) because he was “really sick” and under the blankets.
Mthembu said Ramaphosa spoke briefly with Nehawu president Mzwandile Makwayiba and an arrangement was made for Ramaphosa to meet with the union’s leadership this week, most likely on Wednesday.
“They would then raise these issues that need the attention of the head of state. I’m too small to deal with these issues that have been raised by our trade union,” said Mthembu.
Nehawu members – who are protesting about the possibility that salaries of public servants will not being increased this year, as well as alleged lapses in the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers during the Covid-19 pandemic – staged a demonstration at the Union Buildings on Monday.
The union had handed its memorandum to the government on September 3 and gave Ramaphosa a week to respond to their demands.