News in South Africa 9th December:

1. ANC affirms stand-aside rule:

President Cyril Ramaphosa has won the latest battle in the fight to cleanse the party of corruption-accused leaders, with its top leadership reaffirming the decision to force them to step aside from their party and state posts.

ANC affirms stand-aside rule
“President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses Team SA” by GovernmentZA is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

The party’s national executive committee (NEC), which wrapped up a three-day virtual meeting on Tuesday afternoon, has confirmed its August decision to implement the rule, in line with the resolutions of its 54th national conference in December 2017.

Ramaphosa reaffirms ‘line in the sand’ as ANC talks tough on corruption

It decided that the party’s top six officials would now draft guidelines for implementing the decision, which has threatened to split the party, and present them to the ANC national working committee (NWC) and the NEC when they meet again next year.

In his televised closing address to the NEC meeting, Ramaphosa announced that secretary general Ace Magashule, who is out on bail after being arrested over the R255-million Free State asbestos audit scandal, would appear before the party’s integrity commission on December 12.

The commission would assess the situation of Magashule, who has previously declared that he would not step aside, and make recommendations to the leadership as to what action to take regarding the secretary general.

He said the ANC was a voluntary organisation, and that, although it had secured legal opinions on the “stand aside” rule, it had a moral obligation to implement the resolution.

2. AngloGold Ashanti new chairman:

Former Absa CEO Maria Ramos is AngloGold Ashanti’s new chairman, after Sipho Pityana resigned with immediate effect on Tuesday without giving a reason.

Ramos, an insider in the company, has been a director of the gold producer since May 2019 and served as chair of the group’s remuneration and human resources committee.

She was the CEO of Absa for 10 years, and led the bank through the process of unbundling from Barclays, its former UK parent.

AngloGold noted that Ramos brings to the role “exceptional experience in leadership roles across both the private and public sectors”.

AngloGold has faced controversy after its CEO, Kelvin Dushnisky also quit suddenly earlier this year. While this was ostensibly for personal reasons, the revelation of a $800,000 sign-on cash payment when he joined the company in 2018 may also have had something to do with it.

3. Good GDP don’t mean full recovery:

The GDP numbers are much better than expected. In fact, the 66% quarter-on-quarter, seasonally adjusted, annualised figure is better than even the best industry expectation.

It has definitely been a positive surprise which has been well received by the market, as we can see from the positive movements in the rand exchange rates as well as the bond market.

However, it is important to understand that this number is the result of a very specific cocktail.

The first ingredient is obviously the fact that we are measuring the growth off a very, very low base because GDP more than halved in the previous quarter (quarter-on-quarter, seasonally adjusted, annualised). We are now measuring from that lockdown pullback and comparing it to the economy opening up. As a result, we see an extremely strong rebound number.

Going from being closed and at rock-bottom to suddenly reopening for business has resulted in a massive base effect, which is visible in these numbers.

The second ingredient in the cocktail lies in the fact that not only has South Africa opened up but our trading partners and the rest of the world have too – a welcome tailwind for the SA economy to be sure.

We can then drop into the cocktail the fact that we have been blessed with fewer load shedding days, which means no further hampering of the economy.

Each of these factors has played a role in contributing to the better-than-expected growth that we see today.

4. Rand going strong:

The rand is at its strongest levels since February this morning, at R14.93/$, R19.97/pound and R18.11/euro.

This after US markets – including the S&P 500, Nasdaq composite, and Dow Jones indices – closed at record highs overnight as US Congress inched closer to a $908 billion stimulus compromise and coronavirus vaccinations began in the UK.

This has increased traders’ risk appetite for emerging-market currencies.

The currency also received a boost from stronger-than-expected economic growth numbers as previously stated. SA’s economy expanded by 13.5% in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter. This followed a 17.5% contraction in the second quarter (at the height of lockdown).

5. Western Cape fighting second wave:

The Western Cape is rallying hard to avoid a harder lockdown as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to climb.

Nearing 17,000 active cases, the infection rate in the province is now similar, to that at the height of the pandemic in early July.

Premier Alan Winde says hospitals are starting to reach capacity. The provincial government has submitted an in-depth plan to national government, around ways to mitigate the spread of infection.

He’s calling for more stringent enforcement measures.

Winde says he wants to keep the local economy open and to invite people to visit this holiday season.

But, he says it is a collaborative effort, and it will be citizen behaviour that will determine the need for harsher restrictions.

All information sourced from articles posted by: BusinessTech, Business Insider, Mail & Guardian, Fin24, Moneyweb, and ENCA.

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