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Businesses try to coax Trump from tariffs brink, aides quarrel
3 March 2018, 7:22 AM

President Donald Trump, after shocking markets with the risk of a global trade war, came under intense pressure on Friday from U.S. business interests and foreign trading partners to moderate his threat to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Trump dispatched pro-tariff advisers Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro to TV news studios to defend his plan, while White House aides scrambled to downplay the prospect of a resignation by free trade advocate Gary Cohn, the top White House economic adviser, over the matter.

Cohn is part of a faction in Trump’s administration that warned the Republican president for months not to threaten the 25-percent steel and 10-percent aluminum tariffs that he pledged to impose in a chaotic announcement on Thursday.

There was speculation that Cohn, who told Trump the markets would slump on a tariffs threat, might step down as a result of Trump’s decision, but there was no indication of a such a move anytime soon, a senior White House official said.

“Gary was here yesterday afternoon, I talked to him in my office several times, so I don’t have any reason to think otherwise,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told reporters.

Turmoil inside the administration over trade came during one of the most hectic weeks of the Trump presidency, with confusion around the issue intensified by adviser Hope Hicks’ resignation on Wednesday and staff secretary Rob Porter’s on Feb. 7.

National Economic Council Director Cohn, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others for months had tried to steer Trump away from aggressive tariffs, but the president resisted their counsel, a senior administration official said.

Interviews with large trade associations, as well as lobbyists who represent companies in several industries, indicated back-channel discussions were underway, with companies trying to convince the White House and Commerce Department to include key exemptions in the coming official tariffs policy.

Industry groups want exemptions for imports from individual countries or for types of metals that cannot be found in the United States, the lobbyists said.

Companies that use cans for products like drinks or soup were among the most vocal opponents.

“Like most brewers, we are selling an increasing amount of our beers in aluminum cans and this action will cause aluminum prices to rise and is likely to lead to job losses across the beer industry,” said MillerCoors spokesman Colin Wheeler.

Can manufacturers plan to pressure lawmakers and administration officials next week.

“What Wilbur Ross doesn’t realize is that a few cents on 115 billion food and general line cans is a lot of money,” said Robert Budway, president of the Can Manufacturers Institute in Washington.


Trump’s attitude on tariffs should not come as a surprise, Commerce Secretary Ross said in a CNBC interview. “The president has been consistent all the way from his campaign days to the present about doing something big to protect steel and aluminum, so it should not have come as a shock,” Ross said.

A senior official at a major industry trade association, speaking on condition of anonymity, said businesses want to pull Trump back before he formally imposes tariffs next week.
“You’ll see a full-court press behind the scenes to try to get some, if not all, of the toothpaste back in the tube,” the official said.
“You can characterize the business community as being pessimistic about those chances given the dynamics in the White House right now,” the official added.

Trump said on Thursday his tariffs plan would safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products and would be formally announced next week.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Friday.

Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek, responding to Trump’s tweet,” wrote on Twitter, “There are no winners in global trade wars.”

Navarro, director of the White House National Trade Council, asked about Trump’s plans, told Fox News: “We have the lowest tariffs in the world … and what do we get for that? We get a half-trillion dollar-a-year trade deficit.”

Stock indexes recouped some losses on Friday, but ended the week in the red as investors fretted over a possible global trade war.

Mamelodi Sundowns too classy for Amazulu, win 3-1
3 March 2018, 6:55 AM

Mamelodi Sundowns picked up three valuable points on the road, as they beat Amazulu 3-1 in an entertaining Absa Premiership match played at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi near Durban on Friday evening.

Sundowns opened the scoring in the 24th minute from the penalty spot after Amazulu defender Sadat Ouro-Akoriko brought down Percy Tau. Ricardo Nascimento had no problem in converting the penalty.

However, the former CAF African Champions League winners will be disappointed in the manner in which they conceded the equaliser when their defensive wall failed to stand firm against an Amazulu free-kick in the 37th minute, with Usuthu striker Mhlengi Cele levelling matters.

Despite Sundowns’ raids on the Amazulu goal area, they seemed to lack the finishing finesse that they are renowned for. Whatever coach Pitso Mosimane said to his charges in the change-room at half-time seemed to do the trick, and they took the lead four minutes after the break.

Sibusiso Vilakazi was the man to find the back of the Amazulu net, after receiving the ball from Themba Zwane, after some poor defending by the home side.

Then on the hour mark, midfielder Gaston Sirino played the ball to Tau who brought Themba Zwane into play. His shot on goal was kept out by the Amazulu goal-post, but Vilakazi was on hand to tap home the Brazilians’ third goal of the evening.

Sundowns entrenched their top-of-the-table standing in moving to 43 points from 23 games, and will shift their focus to continental action, as they prepare to take on Rwanda’s Rayan Sport in a CAF Champions League first round, first leg game on Wednesday.

Amazulu, who remain on 27 points from 23 matches, will focus on their next fixture, which is a Nedbank Cup against Free State Stars in Durban on March 9.

Zimbabwe parents want to stop social development from repatriating their children
3 March 2018, 6:40 AM

The parents of eight Zimbabwean children, who have been held by authorities since November, and the social development department appeared in the High Court of Pretoria, sitting in the Palace of Justice, on Friday.

The matter was postponed to Monday by the court. The department of social development wants to repatriate the children by March 6.

The children were travelling early November 2017, unaccompanied and without documents, from Zimbabwe to apparently join their parents for Christmas.

They have been held by the department of social development for three months in Rustenburg without being granted access to their parents.

The driver has been arrested and appeared in court on charges of human trafficking and contravening the immigration act.

According to police, the children were smuggled, that’s also the argument from the department of social development. The driver has told officers that he was paid R200 per child to transport them to South Africa.

Advocate Simba Chitando who is representing the parents, on Friday asked for a postponement after the Office of the Family Advocate Chris Maree submitted a report concerning the children.

Chitando said this report caught them by surprise and he needed time to go through it, consult his clients and also amend papers.

“All of my clients are very poor people, they don’t have the resources available to them that the family advocate might have thought they did….That’s the concern we have with the family advocates, they haven’t considered the circumstances of the applicants,” Chitando said.

There has been questioned raised on the authenticity of the parents, however Chitando said he’s confident that the parents are genuine.

The parents want the court to stop the repatriation and release the children to their custody.

Spokesperson of department, Lumka Oliphant, said the children are in the country without documentation and have to be repatriated as their 90 days stay in the country has also come to an end.

“The childrens act stipulates that if you are removing children from a place of care they must be removed in 90 days, therefore we have exceeded 90 days.”

Oliphant said the parents had requested to have visitation rights, she said that could not be achieved because it’s not yet confirmed whether they are biological parents of the children.

“Every decision that the department social development makes, it has to be in the interest of the children. Even in this case, we are obligated by the different international treaties to make sure that every child regardless of their nationality is receiving the right protection and care,” she said.
The matter will be heard on Monday.

Four U.N. peacekeepers killed in roadside explosion in Mali
28 February 2018, 8:45 PM

Four U.N. peacekeepers were killed and four others seriously wounded on Wednesday when the vehicle they were in hit a mine in central Mali, the West African nation’s U.N. mission said.

The troops were driving on a road linking the towns of Boni and Douentza in the Mopti region, where six Malian soldiers were killed in a similar incident a day earlier, the mission (MINUSMA) said in a statement.

It said the death toll was provisional and could rise further. It declined to immediately give the nationalities of the victims.

The statement said MINUSMA was reinforcing its security presence in central Mali, which has seen a surge in violence by Islamist militants, in cooperation with the country’s army as well as regional and international forces.

“These acts demonstrate (the militants’) disarray and in no way affect MINUSMA’s determination to carry out its mandate,” said Mahamat Saleh Annadif, who heads the U.N. mission.

Nxasana ‘had no choice but to accept R17 million cash settlement’, Concourt hears
28 February 2018, 8:30 PM

Former National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) boss Mxolisi Nxasana was entitled to the R17 million golden handshake he received to vacate his post as he was subjected to very difficult circumstances by former South African president Jacob Zuma, the Constitutional Court heard on Wednesday.

Nxasana’s advocate Michelle Le Roux argued that her client faced an “untenable situation” where NPA senior officials such as Nomgcobo Jiba allegedly plotted against him by interacting directly with Zuma.

“He [Nxasana] put the NPA above himself for the country and for the stability of the NPA…that is why he ultimately decided to do this…perhaps it is easier for us to sit here and question why did he not stick it out and reject the payment,” Le Roux told the court.

“He explored every avenue that could improve his situation to absolutely no avail — he brought in retired justice [Zak Yacoob who completed an investigation into the NPA] hoping the president would listen to them, he got honourable members in the NPA to make submissions to the minister that things needed to change.”

Justice Johan Froneman interjected: “I accept all that and I have sympathy for him…couldn’t he not refuse to settle?”

Le Roux responded asking: “If we were truly reflective, I am not sure how many people would endure that two years and sign up for another eight. I think that is the just and equitable part that this remedy takes into account…if we put ourselves in his shoes, could we seriously expect him to continue for another eight years?”

“He was facing a commission of inquiry, high court litigation, a campaign against him where the police were sent to find dirt on him…could he endure that for a further eight years?…he took the president to court so he can stop interfering with his work, and stop threatening him with an inquiry.”

The justice minister and Zuma failed Nxasana, she added.

“It came to a point where he said I am here as per my contract, I am being prevented from doing my job by the number one citizen in the land. So he was ultimately entitled to his contractual worth…his position was — you want me out, then I am entitled to the value of the contract.”

Le Roux argued that Nxasana agreed to pay back the R17 million and continued assisting parties to get to the bottom of what happened in the long drawn case.

In December last year, the North Gauteng High Court set aside current NPA boss Shaun Abrahams’ appointment as National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) and ruled that President Cyril Ramaphosa appoint a new NPA boss, and that Nxasana repay the golden handshake.

Nxasana’s affidavit to the high court, in which Le Roux said contained evidence of communication trail between Nxasana and Zuma, was rejected by the court because it was filed too late.

Nxasana is appealing the high court’s refusal to admit his affidavit, he wants the Constitutional Court to admit his condonation so that his version of the events can be heard. Le Roux said it was unfair for the high court to label her client as “a man with a price” and that he committed to paying back the money.

However, Hiton Epstein, for the NPA, argued that Nxasana, after taking the payment and leaving the NPA in June 2015, never sought to return.

He asked where was the R17 million was that Nxasana had been promising to pay back.

“The first time he indicated he wanted to return was only in August 2017…he sat back for more than two years, content to keep the money. But the State should be saying ‘show me the money’…where is the money he got? He keeps tendering that he will pay it back but he is still here today talking about paying it back,” said Epstein.

“The court should note that not only did he get the R17 million, he received his pension and leave benefits.”
Epstein said his client agreed with the high court that the golden handshake was unlawful.

“It is irrational to use public funds to pay someone upfront to leave, including his pension. That is an absolute abuse of power…especially that the most he could have got was just his pension.”

Abrahams and the NPA are appealing the high court decision nullifying Abraham’s appointment, arguing that his appointment was valid and that the high court erred in its decision.

Judgment was reserved.



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