This week has brought eventful news: the UK is leaving the EU; Trump may be acquitted today; and the Coronavirus has been classified as a global health emergency. Locally, the Public Protector has been asked to step down; Eskom’s CEO has been creating a buzz, and Cosatu has plans to rescue Eskom!
- Britain is leaving the European Union (EU) today. The United Kingdom (UK) will now enter a transition period that was agreed on between the British government and the EU. The terms of this agreement are that for the next eleven months, the UK remains an EU member state in all but name.
- President Trump’s impeachment trial continues: Republicans have attempted to get enough votes to block any witness testimony in order to fast-track an acquittal which could be processed today.
- On Wednesday, the White House officially objected to John Bolton’s book being published, on the grounds that it contained classified content.
- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined President Trump to announce the latest Middle East peace plan. The plan was constructed without Palestinian input and is even more favourable to Israel than past proposals which have failed.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the Coronavirus a global health emergency. For some insight into the virus’s origin follow this link to an article from The New York Times.
- The rand has started 2020 on the back foot – January has been torrid, with the rand weakening by more than 6% since the beginning of the month, trading at R14.90/USD this afternoon. The currency followed the lead of other emerging market currencies, due to concerns around global trade fallouts following the Coronavirus outbreak. Once again this demonstrates the tremendous influence that external events can have on rand directionality.
- The Public Protector is in hot water as various groups and organisations have asked her to vacate her position. Follow this link for an article from Stephen Grootes for more.
- Cosatu has presented a proposal to rescue Eskom and is pressuring the government to accept it before the upcoming budget speech. Cosatu suggested that civil servants’ pensions and the state-run unemployment fund should be used to cut Eskom’s debt and that the government should make it compulsory for private pension funds to invest part of their assets in local infrastructure.
- Follow this link for an article, written by experts Seán Mfundza Muller and Mike Muller, on why Eskom is in crisis and why the organisation continues its fruitless fall two years into President Ramaphosa’s presidency, even while businessmen, engineers, and politicians are trying to save it.
- The Chief Executive Officer of Tiger Brands, Lawrence MacDougall, will retire this week. This comes after Africa’s biggest packaged-food company is still battling the aftermath of a deadly outbreak of listeriosis linked to one of its factories.