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Bitcoin keeps rising
28 November 2017, 7:51 PM

The Bitcoin frency continues to spread throughout the world. The meteoric rise shows no signs of stopping.

The crypto-currency has soared to another record high just slightly below 10,000 dollars, after gaining more than a fifth in value over the past three days alone.

The digital currency has seen an eye-watering tenfold increase in its value since the start of 2017 has more than doubled in value since the beginning of October.

Bitcoin’s price has been helped in recent months by the announcement that the world’s biggest derivatives exchange operator CME Group would start offering bitcoin futures.

The company said last week the futures would launch by the end of 2017 although no precise date had been set. Central bankers, though, say the success of bitcoin and other crypto-currencies is just a bubble.

However, it could still be a cause for concern because private currencies threaten their control of the banking system and money supply, which could undermine the monetary policies they use to manage inflation.

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DA supporters march over Mbombela’s failure to pay Eskom
28 November 2017, 6:12 PM

Members and supporters of the Democratic Alliance in Mpumalanga are concerned about the Mbombela Municipality’s failure to settle Eskom’s electricity bill. They marched to the Mbombela Municipality’s offices to submit a memorandum of grievances.

The march was led by DA’s provincial leader James Masango. According to Masango, the march is part of their campaign against municipalities that are struggling to settle their electricity bills.

Early October, Eskom started power cuts in municipalities that are struggling to settle their electricity bill.

Power cuts are still experienced in Thaba Chweu.

Masango accused the Mbombela Municipality of mismanagement.

“This municipality is owing something like a R150 000 to Eskom, but you must remember that this municipality is also owing other suppliers that is not paying them within the 30 days that is required by the PFMA and we just heard yesterday that this municipality is also owing the Department of Water and Sanitation.”

Acting Municipal Manager Neil Diamond accepted the memorandum of grievances.

Mbombela Municipality’s Spokesperson Joseph Ngala says the municipality is safe from a blackout.

“We take note of what the marchers have indicated. However, we need to indicate to communities and consumers out there that we have since moved a long way with Eskom. We have reached an agreement, payment has been presented to Eskom, which has been accepted. We have already paid some amount towards servicing the debts that we have with Eskom.”

The  has DA called on the municipality to address the electricity debt crisis within the next 14 days.

Gloucester players sing praises for coach
28 November 2017, 6:02 PM

Gloucester rugby coach, Johan Ackermann, has received praise from his players at the club for building structures which allow them to play to their strenghts. Gloucester recorded their fourth win in a row this weekend and are up to fifth place on the English Premiership table.

After leaving the Lions for the UK, Ackermann’s premiership coaching career started with a bang as his side beat defending champions Exeter in the opening round. It provided hope for a team that has finished in the bottom half of the 12-team log in the last four seasons.

However, they lost three of their next four games which provided some sort of reality check. Defensive structures got more attention which was evident in their 29-7 victory away from home at Newcastle this weekend.

“The reality is you will be without the ball sometimes, not as much as we were tonight but we gave the ball away too easy, but some brilliant performances collectively as a team, the way they stuck to the structures but also individually, there will be some big tackle totals,” said Ackermann.

After nine of their 22 Premiership matches, the team has shown improvement and character, but the journey is far from over.

“Let’s not get carried away there’s still a lot of tough games ahead and the reality is that teams will come more prepared and take us more serious and come harder for us and therefore we have to keep working hard,”added Ackermann.

Gloucester’s next match is against London Irish at home on Saturday.

Gigaba questions rating agencies criteria
28 November 2017, 5:14 PM

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has question measure used by some rating agencies to determine South Africa credit rating. This is in the wake of last week’s ratings outcomes by two agencies.

On Thursday, Fitch Ratings agency downgraded South Africa’s long-term debt to junk status and Standard & Poor’s followed suit on Friday, while Moody’s placed the country on review for a downgrade.

Political uncertainties ahead of the ANC’s National Elective Congress have been cited as one of the key challenges facing the country.

Gigaba had to embark on the roadshow to quell the investors’ concerns.

Infighting within the ruling African National Congress ahead of an elective conference in December has impacted negatively on investor confidence in Africa’s most industrialized economy. There has been no movement on the economic growth in recent years.

Gigaba has, however, slammed reports that the conference is likely to adopt new policies and even going as far as saying the conference not likely to take place.

“What prompted S&P to move is what they regard as political risks associated with political risks of the upcoming ANC conference, which took us by surprise because the ANC has national conferences every 5 years. It cannot be that every five years we are going to be downgraded because of uncertainties around the ANC conferences. The ANC is a democratic organization and hence every five years it goes to conferences. No one is guaranteed a position as if the ANC turns into a dictatorship where leadership is not contested and policies of the ANC are not open for review by members of the ANC at conferences.”

Meanwhile, government has been given a clear warning by ratings agencies and economists that there needs to be fiscal prudence.

However, Gigaba insist that the country is on track.

“I think rating agencies need to review the way they treat the five-yearly conferences of the ANC so that they don’t find themselves adopting reviews that are going to be subject to criticism, as being biased, as being subjective and being unfair on the country. Because in large measure, when you look at the structural reform issues, the fiscal consolidation issues we are implementing; our efforts to stabilize the debt, we are virtually faultless. We have stayed the line to ensure that we manage our fiscals in a manner that is credible and commendable. ”

However, economist Lumkile Monde says concerns by rating agencies are warranted.

“South Africans are talking about boycotting taxes, where South Africans are saying ‘in this government, we don’t get value for money’; the mass demonstrations in various localities, whether it’s Soweto were people are demanding electricity, or house … it’s a crisis that 23 years later a government that was so popular is facing credibility issues amongst its own constituencies. Therefore, the investors are reacting to what the South African public is responding to – failure to curb down corruption and arrest those responsible and the failure to signal that black South Africans under their government, they have been treated differently than they were under a white government.”

In the wake of negative rating, President Jacob Zuma has directed Minister Gigaba to identify concrete measures to urgently address challenges identified in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement.

The president, together with Cabinet, have reaffirmed government’s commitment to maintain a sustainable fiscal framework.

Zuma wants a committee to show him progress this week on plans to cut government spending by R25 billion and raise taxes by up to R15 billion.

Monde welcomed the president’s latest move with caution.

“(He has) firstly not done anything about the expose around how the minister of mines went on a plane with the Guptas to take away resources which was pre-funded by Eskom. So, lack of that responsibility, where the constitution expects him to do that – that has not happened – indicates to us that whatever the president says take it with a lot of salt because up until he leads, he ensures that there is accountability – that our security agents do what they are constitutionally supposed to do, we remain very skeptical, if anything, will come out of the budget in 2018.”

If Moody’s in the next few months decides to downgrade South Africa to junk status, the impact on the fiscus will be severe. This will make it even more difficult for the minister to strike a balance in appeasing the electorates over campaigns such as fees must fall ahead of the 2019 elections as well as retaining investor confidence.

Court hears school got donations on dead boy’s name
28 November 2017, 3:32 PM

The civil trial of the death of 5-year-old learner, Michael Komape, has been postponed to 1st February 2018 for closing arguments at the Polokwane High Court.

Michael fell into a dilapidated pit toilet and died at Mahlodumela Primary School in 2014.

The state wrapped its case on Tuesday.

Michael’s family is suing the Basic Education Department about R3 million with the assistance of human rights organisation, Section 27.

The trial has been going on for more than two weeks and the court has heard testimonies from about 13 witnesses.

During Friday’s proceedings, Mahlodumela Primary School’s former Principal Maphalane Malothane continued testifying under cross examination.

Malothane, who is now retired, has confirmed that the school accepted donations in Michael’s honour without informing the family because of a strained relationship that developed after the incident.

She  added that she does not regard the Komape family as humble after they had accused her and the teachers of having caused Michael’s death. She says the sour relationship is the reason she did not disclose to the family that desks and technological devices were donated to the school in Michael’s name.

The Komapes were also not told about a painting of the child’s face on the school wall, which was unveiled in July 2014.

Malothane says she did not see it necessary to involve them.

The family’s legal representative, Advocate Vincent Maleka also questioned Malothane about the discovery of Michael’s body on the day of the incident.

Malothane has admitted that they never looked inside the four pit toilets until his mother, Rosina Komape, urged them to.

Malothane has also testified that she did nothing to help Rosinah when the woman collapsed after seeing her son’s hand sticking out of the pit.

Meanwhile, Section 27 says the Education Department has agreed to settle part of the claim made by the Komape family.

The organisation says the department will pay about R135 000thousand rand to the family for special damages. The settlement agreement was reached on the 16th of this month. The amount covers funeral expenses, psychologists fees and loss of income in respect of Michael’s mother, who lost her job after his death. The lawsuit is now dealing with a R900 000 claim for pain and suffering, as well as a R2 million constitutional damages claim.

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