Yesterday President Ramaphosa gave his State of the Nation Address (SONA) which received mixed reactions. It wasn’t that President Ramaphosa let us down on his orating skills, or in his vision of what South Africa could do for its populous and how it could be an international powerhouse. Many share his vision of this potential. It was that we have heard much of it before, and that paralysis within the ruling party, together with inadequate funding, continues to frustrate the pace and direction of meaningful structural reform.
- The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that the coronavirus may be stabilising in China but the apparent slowdown in the epidemic spread should be viewed with “extreme caution”. The WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, told a briefing in Geneva that, “this outbreak could still go in any direction”.
- President Trump and Prime Minister Johnson’s relationship has soured over the Huawei deal in the UK. Johnson announced that he would allow Huawei Technologies to supply part of the country’s 5G infrastructure. This comes after the Trump administration tried to block the Chinese telecommunications company for national security reasons.
- There has been a dramatic unfolding of events regarding the Roger Stone case in the US. Federal prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence Roger Stone (an associate of President Trump) to seven to nine years in prison. President Trump voiced his discontent, saying that the sentence was “very unfair” and “disgraceful”. Hours later the Justice Department issued an updated sentence recommendation asking for less time for Stone, undercutting the prosecutors’ initial request. This prompted all four of the prosecutors to quit the case.
- In a surprising announcement, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Angela Merkel’s successor has said that she would not be running for chancellor next year, and she will step down as chair of the Christian Democratic Party when a replacement is found. Since she succeeded Angela Merkel as the party chair in 2018, it has been expected that she would become the country’s next chancellor.
- Douglas Hodge, ex-CEO of Pimco, has been sentenced to nine months in prison after he was found to be involved in last year’s college admissions cheating scandal. Hodge paid $850 000, for preferential treatment, the most out of all the accused.
- In yesterday’s, State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Ramaphosa admitted the dire state of public finances. In this light, the announcement to create a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and a state bank was somewhat surprising. Follow this link for a critique, and for the full transcript of the address follow this link.
- Eskom has started offering voluntary severance packages to managers, as part of a strategy to reduce its costs. The board has allocated a budget of R400m to the plan and has stated that they expect to recoup that amount through savings within a year.
- AngloGold has sold its last remaining assets to Harmony Gold, as the company executes its exit from the country. It heralds a new age as Harmony backed by Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Minerals becomes the nation’s top gold producer.
- Last week Dynasty critiqued Cosatu’s plan to bail out Eskom. However the plan seems to be gaining traction with the president, the government, and surprisingly with business. Please refer to this link for a critique on the plan as presented by Tim Cohen.