Repo rate cut by 50 basis points
The SA Reserve Bank cut interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday, which is expected to bring some relief to SA’s battered economy, most of which is still under lockdown. The cut takes the benchmark rate to 3.75%, its lowest level since the repo was introduced in 1998. This was the fourth meeting of the Bank’s monetary policy committee (MPC) this year, after an emergency one was held in April, where the bank surprised the market with a 100 basis point cut as the economic effect of the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold. Though estimates vary, the economy is expected to contract by anywhere between 5.4% and 16.7% in 2020. The repo rate has now been cut by 275 basis points since the beginning of 2020.
Zuma loses appeal over 'enemy agent' tweet
The Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) has dismissed former president Jacob Zuma’s bid to appeal against a high court ruling that found he had defamed former minister Derek Hanekom by calling him a “known enemy agent” on Twitter. BusinessLIVE reported that Zuma’s application was “dismissed with costs on the grounds that there was no reasonable prospect of success”. Durban High Court judge Dhaya Pillay had in September 2019 ordered Zuma to remove the tweet and publish an apology within 24 hours. Hanekom, the former tourism minister in Zuma's administration, sued for R500,000 in damages after the former president tweeted in July 2019 that Hanekom was a “known enemy agent”. Hanekom said this had caused him “immense harm and damage”, giving the impression that he was an apartheid spy. Zuma in turn argued there were “common cause events” that demonstrated Hanekom had “colluded with opposition parties that sought to remove me as president”.
VW skitters into race row
Volkswagen has been forced to apologise after it was accused of overt racism in an online advert for its latest car. The video on its Instagram account showed a black man being pushed around by a giant white hand preventing him from touching a brand-new Golf parked in the street. The commercial, most likely intended as a humorous skit, was deleted within hours of its appearance following complaints. VW said: "Without question the video is wrong and tasteless. We distance ourselves from it and apologise for it. We will clarify how this could have happened, and draw the necessary conclusions." – © Telegraph Media Group Limited (2019)
Covid fight goes brown under
Australia is getting down and dirty to combat the coronavirus pandemic - unrolling a vast programme of sewage testing this week in the hope of finding hidden clusters of the virus. Melbourne has begun testing waste water and excrement for traces of the virus in a bid to focus conventional testing and tracing strategies on problem suburbs or neighbourhoods. Nicholas Crosbie of Melbourne Water said the utility hoped to monitor samples from 71% of people in Victoria, one of Australia's most populous states. Sewage has also been tested in places like Paris, Tokyo, Amsterdam, Massachusetts and Valencia, Spain - although mostly on a small scale to prove detection can work. - AFP
Lockdown helps cut expected load-shedding
Eskom says there is a reduced risk of load-shedding during winter, partly because the lockdown has allowed for critical maintenance to be done. This forecast emerged during a “state of the system address” by Eskom on Thursday. “Before we had lockdown, we forecast 31 days of stage 1 load-shedding. We are now forecasting three days of stage 1 load-shedding over winter ,” said COO Jan Oberholzer. However, he said it was important to stress that the forecast was not 100% accurate because the system remained unstable and unreliable because of a decade of neglect in maintenance. Oberholzer said the lockdown had reduced demand by between 6,000MW and 11,000MW. This created an opportunity for Eskom to execute additional short-term opportunistic maintenance to address urgent matters in the system.
Woman wins R20m Picasso in raffle
An Italian woman has won a Picasso painting worth more than $1m in a charity raffle to raise money for village water projects in Africa. The winner of the draw at Christie's auction house in Paris was named as Claudia Borgogno, who was gifted the winning ticket. Her prize is Picasso's 1921 oil painting Nature Morte (Still Life), which is signed and dated by the artist. The Spanish master's geometric composition representing a piece of newspaper and a glass of absinthe had been valued at €1m. - AFP