As the globe continues to grapple with Covid-19 and its societal and economic impacts, it is noteworthy how some positive themes are emerging: Increased pressure is being brought to bear on president (Trump), and past president (Zuma), to hold each of them accountable for ‘unusual’ payments to avoid tax and to prove guilt on corruption charges, respectively; investors are warming to markets as the prospect of a Biden win rises and the chances of a contested election recede; and we include a few examples of how even oil and mining companies are responding constructively to the environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors that analysts are applying as non-financial metrics to identify investment risks and opportunities.
Meanwhile in South Africa, some high-profile arrests have been made, and there was a somewhat muted response to Tuesday’s (false) report of ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule’s arrest.
Against these backdrops, the question remains as to whether political and business leaders will heed the lessons from the past and adopt ethical value systems going forward.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
– John F. Kennedy
- Breaking News: Tax records expose more than $21 million in highly unusual payments from the Las Vegas hotel Donald Trump owns with Phil Ruffin, routed through other Trump companies and paid out in cash.
- Wall Street has started to favour a Biden victory in the upcoming elections. After President Trump’s erratic behaviour in the presidential debate; withdrawing and then recommitting to stimulus packages; and having contracted Covid-19, polls started to show that Former Vice President Biden’s popularity was rising in several key swing states. This resulted in optimism on Wall Street as many investors believe that the higher Biden climbs in the polls, the lower the chance of a contested presidential election, as reported by the New York Times.
- After a volatile week, it would seem like plans to implement a stimulus package in the US are back on track. How the stimulus package will be structured, however, is still contested. Nancy Pelosi rejected piecemeal bills from the Republican Party to address specific problems, including one to revive the struggling airline industry. Democratic leaders want a comprehensive stimulus deal instead.
- In an industry known to be environment-unfriendly, oil and gas company Total SE has made an investment in a US fuel-cell truck startup, Hyzon Motors. This initiative illustrates an effort by the French company to boost development of cleaner energy sources.
- Global gold miner Gold Fields has reinforced its commitment to lower carbon operations with the completion of one of the world’s largest renewable energy microgrids for the Granny Smith gold mine in Western Australia. The new hybrid power system, which has been integrated with an existing gas fired power station, is powered by more than 20 000 solar panels and supported by a battery system. Once fully operational, it will reduce the mine’s fuel consumption by 10-13% – the equivalent of removing 2 000 cars from the road.
- Emeritus Professor Jonny Myers has analysed South Africa’s response to Covid-19 in comparison to international countries. He argues that South Africa may have achieved a level of herd immunity which makes a second wave of infection seem unlikely. For further analysis, follow this link.
- President Ramaphosa last Sunday announced a R30 billion infrastructure development project. The Mooikloof Mega Residential development is the outcome of a public-private partnership between Balwin Properties, the Gauteng provincial government, and the City of Tshwane.
- The Zondo Commission will summons former president Zuma to appear before it after he refused to do so voluntarily. Zuma will be ordered to testify at the Commission on 16 November 2020.
- Secretary-General Ace Magashule may be less secure than previously thought. This came to light after it was falsely reported that he had been served an arrest warrant, which considering his long history of alleged corruption, did not have the shock and awe effect that was potentially anticipated by his camp. Read on for more.
- Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane’s bid to stop Parliament’s inquiry into her removal from office has failed. The Western Cape High Court found that the public interests and Parliament’s constitutional responsibilities were more important to uphold.
- There have been 17 recent arrests connected to government corruption. The first Zondo arrests took place, where seven people were apprehended in connection with the Free State asbestos project, including businessman Edwin Sodi. Former ANC MP Vincent Smith and former Bosasa boss Angelo Agrizzi were also arrested on charges of corruption. A further eight arrests were made in connection with tender fraud.
- The South African Reserve Bank announced in its bi-annual Monetary Policy Review, that despite the limited capacity for additional rate cuts, the strongest effects of the previous cuts – 300 basis points thus far in 2020 – would be felt in the middle of 2021.
Sources: Dynasty, Reuters, Bloomberg Markets, The New York Times, Daily Maverick, and Moneyweb, etc