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Former president of Mozambique Armando Guebuza.
Mozambique’s ex-president’s son arrested in graft case
17 February 2019, 6:45 AM

The son of Mozambique’s former president Armando Guebuza was arrested on Saturday in a legal crackdown on suspects linked to a $2-billion government debt scandal, local media and judiciary sources said.

Ndabi Guebuza, the oldest of Guebuza’s four children, was picked up from his home in the capital Maputo.

Maputo-based independent STV channel said he was arrested in connection with a government debt which plunged the country into its worst financial crisis.

“He is one of the eight arrested by order of the Attorney General,” a judiciary source who asked not to be named.

Mozambican authorities this week arrested seven other suspects, including businessmen and intelligence officials in connection with the debt scandal.

The scandal came to light in 2016, a year after the ex-leader Guebuza left office following a 10-year tenure.

It is alleged that while he was still in power, the government in Maputo had taken out loans amounting to $2-billion to buy a tuna-fishing fleet and surveillance ships, but hid the transaction from parliament and international donors.

An independent audit found that a quarter of the loan amount was diverted, and unaccounted for.

When the debt was revealed, Mozambique – which is one of the world’s poorest countries and relies on donor aid – was plunged into the worst financial crisis in its history as donors froze contributions.

The United States alleges at least $200-million was spent on bribes and kickbacks, including $12-million for former Finance Minister Manuel Chang, who allegedly signed off the debt.

Chang, 63, was arrested at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport on December, 29 on a US extradition request over his alleged involvement in the fraudulent loans to state firms.

He was denied bail on Thursday.

Ndambi Guebuza, who is a businessman, is alleged to have received $9.7-million in bribes, according to a US indictment.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.
DA expects SABC loan guarantee in budget speech
17 February 2019, 6:21 AM

The DA says it expects Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to announce a loan guarantee for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) in his budget speech on Wednesday.

DA Shadow Finance Minister Alf Lees says a substantial loan guarantee will allow the SABC to go to the major banks and seek finance as it moves towards stabilising its operations and returning to profitability.

He was commenting on what he expects from Mboweni’s maiden budget speech.

The public broadcaster has been in a dire financial crisis, with senior management reporting late last year that the organisation won’t be able to pay salaries after March 2019. The SABC said at the time it had to retrench over 1000 full-time employees to reduce its heavy wage bill.

However, the SABC announced in January that it has decided not to renew the notice to invoke Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act.

Lees has warned that higher electricity tariffs are likely and has urged that South African Airways (SAA) be placed into business rescue.

Regarding the public broadcaster, Lees says cost cutting measures remain very likely at the SABC.

Click on video below: 

Meanwhile, Minister of Communications Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams  on Saturday met with the task team working on the recapitalisation of the SABC.

The team sought to provide the Minister with a progress update as she prepares to pursue Cabinet approval for the allocation of a SABC government bailout.

This will enable the public broadcaster to normalise operations and position it for a turnaround.

The team tasked with the recapitalisation comprises of senior officials from the Department of Communications, National Treasury and the SABC.

During the meeting the Minister reiterated her unreserved apology for the incident involving SABC journalists, amongst others.

READ: Full details of the outcome of the meeting…

 

UDM President Bantu Holomisa.
Economic Indaba needed to deal with crippling economy: Holomisa
16 February 2019, 2:55 PM

The United Democratic Movement’s (UDM) President Bantu Holomisa says an Economic Indaba is needed to deal with the country’s crippling economy. He was speaking at the Isaac Wolfson stadium in Port Elizabeth, where the party launched its election manifesto – ahead of the May elections.

Holomisa says if the UDM is elected to power, they will call an Economic Indaba where decisions taken will be sent to Parliament for ratification and implementation.

He says he does not discard the current administration’s economic summit, but believes a similar exercise to Codesa talks must take place in a form of an Economic Indaba with all stakeholders under one roof.

“UDM will adopt pro-poor economic growth policies for the benefit of all South Africans, and will cut Value-Added-Tax to 14% and increase Corporate Income Tax from 28% to 29%.”

The UDM will introduce programmes that will employ and train rural communities through Agriculture and Tourism, he added.

Looting and corruption

Holomisa says the ANC has not done enough to stop state looting and corruption.

“Our message is clear, we are ready to lead and we are ready to govern. This election is about trust. We have a president who pleads with you to trust him and this despite his party, because we know his party the ANC is not worthy of your trust. We all know the damage it does, be it to our economy, our safety, our education and health system. How can it be trusted when it stood meekly by as Jacob Zuma and his cronies looted the state and stole your hard-earned taxes?”

Job creation 

Meanwhile, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor and UDM member, Mongameli Bobani says job creation and an anti-corruption policy is the main focus of the United Democratic Movements drive in the May 8th election.

“We managed to create more than 3 000 jobs on only R21-million that was given to SMMEs, and 900 jobs through the SMME. We have been graded by Moody’s as a city where investors can come. So the UDM is there to create jobs, clean the city and environment and health wise. So the UDM is here to ensure the residents of SA benefit.”

Holomisa emphasised that the ruling ANC cannot be trusted to continue governing the country, as they have failed to ensure the advancement of the economy, state owned enterprises, and other government-run entities.

Click on videos below:

2019 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon
2019 Dusi marathon wraps up in Durban’s Blue Lagoon
16 February 2019, 12:18 PM

The first paddlers have begun to come through at the finish line in the 2019 FNB Dusi Canoe Marathon.

Saturday’s final leg was a reverse start, with the lead paddlers hitting the water from Inanda Dam.

This enables the elite athletes to come into a full house of supporters and paddlers at the finish.

The excitement is expected to follow the women’s race on Saturday as the front runners Christie Mackenzie and Tamika Haw have been neck and neck over the last two days.

Eight time Dusi champion Andy Birkett has maintained his five minute lead over Sbonela Khwela.

The leaders are expected in at the finish at Durban’s Blue Lagoon around one o’clock on Saturday afternoon

Click on videos below: 

Uber mobile app.
Uber posts $50 billion in annual bookings as profit remains elusive
16 February 2019, 10:39 AM

Uber Technologies Inc had $50 billion in total bookings for its ride-service and food-delivery businesses last year, a testament to the size and global reach of the company as it prepares to woo investors in one of the biggest public stock listings to date.

But figures released by the company on Friday showed revenue grew just 2% in the fourth quarter, a sign that Uber continues to heavily subsidize rides in competitive markets, raising questions about its future growth prospects.

Uber’s full-year revenue for 2018 was $11.3 billion, up 43% from the prior year. Its losses before taxes, depreciation and other expenses were $1.8 billion, an improvement over the $2.2 billion loss posted in 2017.

Uber highlighted the annual bookings figure, which was up 45% over 2017, in its release on Friday of a smattering of selected figures for its fourth-quarter and full-year results, a practice it has had for the last several quarters as it anticipated going public. The full-year figures are particularly important to show potential investors the trajectory of the business, as opposed to Uber’s more erratic quarterly results.

Uber in December filed confidentially for an initial public offering, which may come as early as the second quarter this year. It is racing neck-and-neck with rival Lyft to become the first ride-hailing IPO.

“Last year was our strongest yet, and Q4 set another record,” Uber Chief Financial Officer Nelson Chai said in a statement.

Uber said gross bookings for the fourth quarter were a record $14.2 billion, up 11% from the prior quarter. That marks an improvement after bookings growth slowed to just single-digit percentages throughout much of last year.

Uber’s revenue in the fourth quarter reached $3 billion, up 2% from the third quarter and a 24% increase over the previous year.

Intense competition

The food-delivery service, Uber Eats, accounts for more than $2.5 billion in bookings quarterly, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Uber has trumpeted Uber Eats as the largest online food delivery business outside of China.

Uber must convince public market investors that its market share, growth trajectory, global scale and diversity of businesses make it a compelling investment, despite its enormous losses.

“Uber needs to show it can control costs and can make money, basically provide a strong argument that its business model is not broken and that it can achieve and sustain profitability despite issues with drivers, customers and politicians,” said David Brophy, professor of finance at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

On-going intense competition with ride-hailing foes across the globe has kept Uber in the red. Rivalries in India with ride service Ola, in Latin America with Didi Chuxing and in the Middle East with Careem have pressured Uber to lower prices, raise driver commissions and invest heavily in marketing and recruiting. Uber has held talks with Careem since the middle of last year about a potential merger, but the companies have not reached an agreement.

Lyft’s strategy to compete with Uber on IPO

Uber Eats is also battling a crowded food-delivery industry, forcing it to adopt discounting tactics to compete with companies like food-delivery startup DoorDash, which is in the process of raising $500 million from investors at a $6 billion valuation, and restaurant and grocery delivery company Postmates, which filed for an IPO this month.

Uber has no plans to slow investment in Uber Eats or other costly areas such as autonomous car development to show profit any time soon. The company’s losses before interest, taxes and depreciation spiked in the fourth quarter to $940 million, a 43% jump over the previous quarter and 21% increase from 2017.

“I believe investors will forgive even higher fourth-quarter losses if there’s evidence of significant top line growth,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor of business at New York University Stern School of Business.

But, he said, Uber’s business still represents a fraction of global consumer spending on transportation, and “evidence that Uber is making significant inroads into changing behaviours,” is critical to its long-term success.

 

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