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Zuma’s Tax Chief Ousted Ahead of South Africa Ratings Decision

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Mark Kingon was appointed acting head of South Africa’s tax office on Tuesday, hours after President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended his predecessor and days before a Moody’s review that could see the country lose its last investment-grade credit rating.

The move was seen as a signal of intent to ratings agencies and investors that had lost faith in Africa’s most developed economy under former leader Jacob Zuma. It follows a cabinet reshuffle which sacked or demoted several allies of Zuma, who was forced to step down by the ruling ANC last month.

Ramaphosa suspended Zuma-appointed Tom Moyane late on Tuesday, saying he had failed as head of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and had lost the confidence of taxpayers.

Kingon, SARS chief officer for business and individual taxes, was announced as acting commissioner on Tuesday.

Mindful that investors who finance its big budget and current account deficits have lost confidence in South Africa, Ramaphosa has begun to reform the economy and state-owned companies like power utility Eskom and South African Airways.

A test of whether his early changes have helped shift sentiment will come on Friday when credit rating agency Moody’s completes a review that could see it downgrade South Africa’s local and foreign debt to “junk” status.

“This (Moyane’s suspension) is a clear sign to Moody’s that strong steps are being taken to turn financial institutions around,” said Joon Chong, partner in Webber Wentzel’s Tax Practice. “We may avoid a downgrade by the skin of our teeth.”

Rating agencies Fitch and S&P both demoted South Africa from investment-grade last year as economic growth slowed and public finances deteriorated.

Moyane, who was appointed in 2014, had been criticized by SARS employees and members of the ruling African National Congress after the tax agency missed revenue collection targets and faced allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

In last month’s budget the Treasury said it faced a 48.2 billion rand ($4 billion) revenue gap in the current 2017/18 fiscal year, partly due to SARS missing its collection target.

SOURCE: usnews.com

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British tourists capture South Africa’s beautiful tourist spots

If South Africa’s tourism board have got any sense, they’ll be picking up the phone and offering George Cotterhill a job, after he crafted a mesmeric three-minute video exhibiting the best things Mzansi has to offer.

His whirlwind tour of the Western and Eastern Capes (uploaded to Vimeo) features everything you could wish to see on a truly South African holiday. We try our best not to succumb to jealousy, but there’s very little we can do to stave off the FOMO whilst watching this.

Tourist hotspots in South Africa
He and his partner first take on the hikes of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Then, the pair hit wine country for an unforgettable Franschhoek visit. They eventually make their way down the Garden Route, before ending up on Safari in Shamwari, EC.

Their adventures across land, air and sea have become a hypnotic “must-watch” featurette for any proud Saffer or expat feeling like they’re due a return home.

Clip of South Africa’s scenery goes viral
Cotterhill felt the love from his viewers, too. The footage has been viewed over 15,000 times, and users of the Vimeo site praised him for the “beautiful job” he did of capturing South Africa in all of its glory.

The British filmmaker took it all in his stride, re-iterating his feelings that SA was “an amazing country”. However, we aren’t the first gorgeous part of the world that’s received the George Cotterhill treatment.

Santorini (Greece), Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and the Amalfi Coast (Italy) have all had their own three minutes of fame on George’s channel, too.

For those of you wondering about the more technical aspects of the video, all footage was shot using either the Sony A7S2, a GoPro Hero 5, and DJI Mavic Pro.

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Former President Zuma Will Face Prosecution in SA

Shaun Abrahams, the national director of public prosecutions at the National Prosecuting Authority, announced on March 16 that Zuma will face sixteen charges of corruption and money laundering. The governing African National Congress (ANC), which Zuma dominated during his years as party president and state president of South Africa, has restricted itself to affirming its confidence in the South African judicial system in its official statements. The Rand, South Africa’s currency, remained steady following the announcement.

Prosecution follows nine years of legal efforts by Zuma, at the taxpayers’ expense, to get the charges set aside. They date from an arms deals in the 1990s, and the prosecuting authority set them aside in 2009 shortly before Zuma was elected state president. In 2016, the High Court reinstated the charges and Zuma lost his legal battle to overturn that ruling. Now, Abrahams says that prosecution will proceed, and that “there are reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution.”

Abrahams has widely been seen as a political ally of Zuma, with critics claiming that Zuma irregularly appointed him director of public prosecutions to forestall his own prosecution. In the end, the courts sided with the critics and required current President Ramaphosa to appoint a new director within sixty days of its ruling. That time period has not yet lapsed, so Abraham remains in office. His replacement will be responsible for the prosecution of Zuma, but it is not yet clear who Ramaphosa will appoint.

That Abrahams is proceeding with prosecution shows just how far Zuma has fallen and how few allies he apparently still has within the ANC. Critics will likely question whether Abraham has made some sort of deal with the new Ramaphosa administration.

Prosecution of Zuma is a double-edged sword. South African civil society widely believes that Zuma is corrupt and that he should therefore be tried. Time after time, South Africans have reaffirmed their support for the rule of law and an independent judiciary. For his part, Ramaphosa, one of the architects of South Africa’s constitution, has always been a staunch supporter of the law. Not to try Zuma would be viewed by many as evidence that the Ramaphosa administration had “sold out,” that corruption has no consequences, and that he is willing to compromise on the rule of law for political ends. On the other hand, Zuma remains popular in his native KwaZulu and among the Zulus, South Africa’s largest ethnic group. Ramaphosa has therefore sought to treat Zuma with dignity, but also cannot be seen as favoring Zuma in the impending prosecution. Furthermore, it remains to be seen whether Zuma’s trial will expose the corrupt behavior of other ANC politicians still in office and how this affects party unity. For the time being, however, most South Africans across the political spectrum are likely to support the decision to prosecute.

SOURCE: cfr.org

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Deadly listeria could herald tighter food safety rules in SA

LONDON, March 16 (Reuters) – A huge and deadly outbreak of listeria in South Africa could alter the country’s approach to food-borne disease and prompt improvements in food safety standards, a leading health official said on Friday.

The World Health Organization’s top specialist on global food safety likened the South African outbreak’s potential impact to the “mad cow disease” BSE crisis in Europe that began in the 1980s and a vast E-coli outbreak traced to “Jack in the Box” burgers in the United States in 1993.

“I’m convinced we’re going to be talking about this outbreak for the next 20 years,” Peter Ben Embarek, who manages the WHO International Food Safety Authorities Network, told Reuters.

“This could be the crisis that will finally make at least South Africa – and possibly the whole of Africa – realize the importance of food safety and food-borne diseases and the need to invest in improving things.”

At least 180 people have been killed in South Africa since January last year and almost 1,000 infected in the world’s worst recorded listeria outbreak.

Health authorities there say the disease – which in severe cases can cause fatal bloodstream infections and meningitis – is likely to claim more victims before it is brought under control.

In the 1993 “Jack in the Box” outbreak, 732 people – most of them children under 10 – were infected with Escherichia coli traced to back to contamination in the restaurant chain’s “Monster Burger” sandwiches. Four died and more than 170 others suffered permanent injuries including kidney and brain damage.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, which is linked to the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s. It spread from there to other parts of Europe and ravaging cattle herds until the early 2000s.

Both events sparked heightened consumer fears about food-borne illnesses, altering shopping and eating habits and prompted a tightening of regulations covering the way foods are processed, stored and cooked.

Ben Embarek said there are still many unanswered questions in South Africa’s listeria outbreak, which health officials have linked to polony – a type of processed sausage meat – made by Tiger Brands. The company says it has appointed an expert team to identify the causes of the outbreak.

ONE OUTBREAK?
One line needing further investigation, he said, was whether there might be more than one outbreak occurring at the same time. The majority of the cases identified and tested so far have been caused by a strain of listeria known as ST6, but around 9 percent have been found to involve other strains.

“The question is whether the polony product linked to the main strain in the outbreak was also full of different strains at the same time, and they were only picked up by chance in some cases, or whether those cases are linked to other products carrying different strains,” Ben Embarek said.

“It’s still early days to say one way or another.”

Besides Tiger Foods, South African authorities are also investigating a plant owned by RCL Foods that makes a similar sausage product. RCL said independent tests had not found any traces of listeria.

South Africa’s processed meat market grew about 8 percent in 2017 to a retail value of $412 million, according to Euromonitor International. Tiger Brands has a 35.7 percent market share, followed by Eskort Bacon Co-Operative with 21.8 percent. Rhodes Food, RCL Foods and Astral Foods each have less than 5 percent.

Health officials have been criticized for taking so long to begin to pinpoint the possible sources of the listeria outbreak, which began in January 2017. Around 40 percent of cases have been in newborn babies, a factor Ben Embarek said would be due to the incubating infection being passed from the mother in the final few weeks of pregnancy.

Tracing listeria outbreak sources is tricky because the disease can have an incubation period of several weeks, and because the suspected foods – ready-to-eat processed meat products – are so widely consumed.

Asking people who may eat such meats almost every day to remember which type or brand they might have consumed two or three weeks ago is dogged by uncertainty.

Ben Embarek said these were a few of “probably many factors” that have come together to create such a large outbreak.

“We also have a situation where the control and food safety assurance within the production environment is probably not yet where it should be,” he said. “It’s a developing economy, so there are newcomers in the sector that may or may not be on top of how to manage safety in a food production environment.”

Reporting by Kate Kelland; editing by Giles Elgood

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A new deal for SA

A month has passed since Cyril Ramaphosa, the head of the African National Congress (ANC), replaced Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s president. Ramaphosa, a former protégé of Nelson Mandela, has reinvigorated the country with his competence and commitment to t

But while South Africa has taken the road less traveled – bucking the global trend toward populism and authoritarianism – the country remains at a crossroads. Zuma’s departure did nothing to address the imbalances that are undermining the economy. If South Africa is truly to turn a corner, inequality must be addressed; the majority of the country’s citizens must believe that they can achieve a brighter future.

In South Africa, poverty, inequality, and ethnicity overlap, to the disadvantage of a majority of the country’s 57 million people. With a per capita income of $13,000 last year (measured by purchasing power parity), South Africa is a middle-income country similar to Brazil, Mexico, and Thailand. But the headline figure masks a level of inequality that is particularly acute.

For example, in 2010, South Africa’s richest 10% accounted for 53% of total consumer spending. Compare this to Brazil in 2000, when the richest 10% of Brazilians accounted for 47% of total household spending. At the time, that made Brazil one of the world’s most unequal middle-income states. While Brazil’s income gap has closed slightly since then – as has Mexico’s and Thailand’s – South Africa’s has not.

In the absence of a strong middle class, most South Africans during Zuma’s tenure were either rich or poor. In 2010, the country’s poorest 40% accounted for just 6.9% of the country’s total expenditures. In 2016, 17 million people needed government assistance to make ends meet. And while South Africans earn, on average, four times more than low-income Kenyans, that is only one-fifth of what the average American earns.

Inequality has had a corrosive effect on South Africa’s public and private institutions, negatively affecting how wealth is generated. Immediately after apartheid ended, the removal of discriminatory hiring practices opened new routes to prosperity for many black South Africans. Some ANC leaders took corporate jobs, while other South Africans benefited from laws meant to encourage black economic empowerment.

But in the Zuma era, concentrated wealth led to nepotistic hiring practices, political appointments based on clientelism (owing to higher salaries for government employees), and other forms of corruption. An exclusionary labor aristocracy emerged, further deepening patronage networks within the public sector. The capacity of government to provide services weakened. So, while the top one-third of the population continued to do quite well, the sense of possibility that the vast majority of South Africans had felt at the dawn of the country’s post-apartheid democracy was disappearing.

To be sure, states have wrestled with inequality for as long as wealth has been generated. In 1973, the development economist Albert Hirschman likened Latin America’s struggles with inequality to drivers stuck in a traffic jam. Hirschman argued that when one lane of cars begins moving, people in the other lane “feel much better off,” because they expect to move soon, too. Similarly, poor people in a growing economy tolerate inequality for a while, because they believe “that eventually the disparities will narrow again.” As long as people are confident that the gridlock will eventually clear – that a better future awaits – they can put up with temporary immobility. If the traffic never moves, “there is bound to be trouble and, perhaps, disaster.”

The ANC’s promise of a “better life for all” after the end of apartheid was the economic equivalent of an ostensible easing of the traffic jam. Eventually, South Africans lost faith in the repeated promise that more opportunities were coming. Zuma’s corrupt administration and economic mismanagement only deepened the public’s disillusionment.

For Ramaphosa, then, recapturing the economic narrative is the only way to return hope to the majority of South Africans. South Africa needs an inclusive “new deal” for the twenty-first century. To reinvigorate social mobility, South Africa also needs a dose of economic dynamism, buttressed by a strong social-safety net.

Executing such an agenda will not be easy. But South Africa’s institutions are up to the task of overcoming resistance by established elites. As Patrick Gaspard, the former United States ambassador to South Africa, recently noted, the country has a strong system of checks and balances that, if steered properly, can trump corruption and deliver needed reforms. With a strong civil society, a free media, robust political opposition, and an independent judiciary, South Africa is well positioned for a turnaround.

The challenges that Ramaphosa has inherited – rising inequality, a growing wage gap, and jobless growth – are not unique, even if they are extreme. But South Africa’s new leader does have an advantage: the country is eager for change. If economic stagnation continues, and if the challenges of expanding economic inclusion are not addressed, Hirschman’s theory of political ruin may become prescient. But if Ramaphosa succeeds in creating a new narrative that all South Africans can embrace, the road ahead can clear before voters seek a riskier alternative route.

SOURCE: project-syndicate.org

ransparency. For this reason alone, South Africans have cause for optimism.

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Ramaphosa reboots South Africa’s renewables programme

New renewable energy deals point to a fundamental shift in South Africa’s energy investment priorities

The government of new South African president Cyril Ramaphosa is wasting little time in redefining the country’s approach to the energy sector, pushing ahead with an independent power project (IPP) programme for the renewables sector and signalling greater efforts to mobilise gas-fired power projects. A last-minute court challenge from a union is unlikely to slow progress.

Energy minister Jeff Radebe said in early March that state-owned utility Eskom would sign agreements for 27 Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Projects (REIPPPs). The move is an effort to reboot the country’s renewables programme, which is still in its infancy, following two years of delays under former president Jacob Zuma, who was replaced by Ramaphosa in February.

These 27 projects are expected to add 2.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity to the grid and the REIPPP programme as whole is intended to boost capacity as much as 30GW over coming years. Some 55 REIPPP accords have already been signed, but only around 20 are fully operational. These have power capacity of some 3 gigawatts of power, including wind, photovoltaic solar, concentrated solar and hydro projects, according to the South African Wind Energy Association.

Radebe has also played up prospects for gas projects, which have played a minimal role in energy provision thus far. No fresh gas projects have been announced, but the minister said in a statement on the REIPPP agreements that he would lead efforts to develop a gas market, in collaboration with neighbouring countries in eastern and southern Africa.

Radebe said he had asked the government’s IPP office to “take a lead in facilitating these initiatives, as matter of urgency, to ensure that South Africa speaks with one voice and prevent the confusion in the market and the region”.

Statement of intent

A couple of gigawatts of new renewable power capacity may look like small beer for a country seeking to wean itself off a heavy dependence on coal, in order to meet its emissions reductions commitments under the 2015 Paris climate change agreement. Coal-fired plants account for more than 90% of South Africa’s generating capacity. Coal capacity totalled around 39 GW in 2016 and may grow by another 6GW or so by 2025, even with new sustainable energy policies in place, according to International Energy Agency data.

But the speed with which the Ramaphosa government has announced the latest phase of the REIPPP programme is, at the least, a statement of intent, aimed at reassuring investors that the country is committed to diversifying its energy supply and to improve perceptions of the energy sector as a more fruitful home for investment than has been the case in recent years.

Former president Jacob Zuma had courted controversy through his support for a nuclear power programme, which could have added almost 10-gigawatts of capacity to South Africa’s over-stretched grid, but which was regarded by many, including Ramaphosa, as being too expensive-potentially costing up to $100bn. Negotiations with foreign nuclear firms were also viewed as being opaque.

While the nuclear programme is not officially dead, its pace is certainly likely to slow, following Zuma’s ousting as leader of the ruling African National Congress and then president.

Radebe has been eager to point out the potential economic benefits of the renewables programme, claiming it would bring in 56bn Rand ($4.75bn) of investment over the next three years, support economic growth and create 61,600 full time jobs. He needs to accentuate the positives for the economy to win the trust of a country where poverty is still widespread, unemployment is running above 25% and politicians of nearly any hue are widely mistrusted.

Court challenge

The difficulties have been highlighted by a court challenge to the signing of the new REIPPP agreements by the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) and pro-Zuma lobbying group Transform RSA on the eve of the planned signing on March 13. They claimed the deals would lead to job losses in the coal sector. Numsa also argues the switch to renewables would be too expensive.

While the High Court in Pretoria agreed to hold a hearing on the issue on March 27, it did not grant an interdict that would have halted the signing. However, Radebe said he would postpone the signing anyway until shortly after the hearing, “when the matter is finally disposed of in court”. He said he was doing so “in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law”.

Travis Hough, business unit leader, energy and environment at consultancy Frost and Sullivan, said he believed the court’s failure to grant an interdict affirmed his belief that the action would not have any effect on the signing of the REIPP agreements. He also noted that the falling cost of wind and solar power, plus the other economic and environmental benefits of the renewables programme, made Numsa’s arguments difficult to stack up.

SOURCE: petroleum-economist

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SPOTIFY ENTERS SOUTH AFRICAN MARKET

The Swedish company is the biggest music streaming company in the world.

JOHANNESBURG – Global music streaming provider Spotify is set to launch its services in South Africa on Tuesday, marking its entry into Africa, where there is a rapid uptake of smartphones and improving telecommunications infrastructure.

The Swedish company, launched in 2008 and available in more than 60 countries, is the biggest music streaming company in the world and counts services from Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google Play as its main rivals.

The South Africa launch comes as Spotify prepares for a direct listing for its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, which will let investors and employees sell shares without the company raising new capital or hiring Wall Street banks to underwrite the issue.

Further details about the South Africa service, pricing and content will be announced on Tuesday, the company said.

An increase in connectivity across South Africa, helped by higher investment in infrastructure, as well as a growing uptake in credit cards and bank accounts has drawn global video and music streaming providers.

Its music streaming market is dominated by players such as Apple Music, Google Play, France’s Deezer and Simfy Africa, with only a few local operators such as mobile phone operator’s MTN and Cell C with MTN Music+ and Black.

Internet and entertainment firm Naspers also recently launched music streaming platform Joox, from China’s Tencent, in which it holds a 33% stake.

In its filing to list its shares, Spotify said its operating loss widened to €378 million.

SOURCE: ewn.co.za

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What South Africa could look like in 2022

Economic growth and investment in South Africa is set to rebound following several years of economic and political decline, say economists in a new PwC report.

The country remains a promising investment destination with a bright future, and retained many strong fundamentals and positive factors for investment in spite of the above-mentioned declines. The country is certainly in a better place now than where it was when previous rating actions took place in late-2017, the report said.

“Our economists see a 75% probability of improved economic growth in South Africa over the next five years under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, compared to the preceding years,” PwC said.

PwC economist Christie Viljoen, said: “South Africa, like other emerging markets, has a critical need to attract foreign investment while at the same time driving economic transformation. At the time of writing this report, the most likely scenario is that President Ramaphosa is able to make the necessary changes and reforms to help economic growth accelerate to 3% by 2022.”

The report argues that the time is right for investing in South Africa, for both domestic and international investors, as president Ramaphosa takes over leadership of the party and government. There is a high probability that the South African economy will be in a much healthier position over the next five years compared to the start of 2018.

South Africa experienced a decline in economic and political conditions during 2014-2017, but was nonetheless able to hold onto some key strengths. The past three months have also seen dramatic changes in South Africa’s economic and political landscape with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as leader of the ANC and president of South Africa.

The country’s citizens, foreign investors and financial markets have welcomed these changes, and stakeholders are at present focussing on a more positive outlook for South Africa’s economics and politics.

In the report titled “Investment decisions: Why South Africa, and why now? Forward-looking scenarios for the Ramaphosa presidency (2018–2022)”, PwC first considers the country’s decline in 2014-2017 and the positive fundamentals that were retained despite the challenges faced by South Africa.

This is followed by an assessment of the game-changer event – the election of Cyril Ramaphosa – and the positive changes enacted within the first 40 days after this election.

The first several months of president Ramaphosa’s party presidency has already delivered tangible results in some of these areas, PwC said

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The rand exchange rate – which has been increasingly sensitive to domestic political developments over the past few years – welcomed the election of and forthright words from the country’s new leader. The South African currency appreciated from R13.70/$ in mid-December 2017 to around R11.60/$ by mid-February.

“A firmer rand improves the outlook for South African consumers through lowering the cost of imports and associated inflation. Indeed, the SARB was able to lower its inflation forecasts during January in part due to a stronger rand,” the report said.

The actual pace of economic growth over the next two to five years – a key factor in solving South Africa’s triple challenges – will be very dependent on the reforms that the new ANC leadership can implement, the report said.

Five scenarios

Within this context, PwC considered the possible future scenarios for South Africa over a five-year horizon (towards 2022). The five scenarios are pathways to different potential future states by 2020 under the guidance of president Ramaphosa as ANC and national president, as well as a significantly revamped cabinet.

“The scenarios enable the reader to look backwards from 2022 at the potential pathways that South Africa followed in the preceding five years,” Viljoen said.

From a quantitative perspective, the scenarios provide projections for economic growth and the rand exchange rate. The outlook for GDP growth in 2018 is still quite opaque due to the uncertainties about how quickly President Ramaphosa can implement his reforms, Viljoen said.

The ‘downside’ and ‘worst-case’ scenarios see little to no improvement in job creation and economic growth, respectively, in South Africa’s economic growth rate due to limited further reforms after the new administration’s initial successes.

The ‘baseline’ scenario – entitled #Ramaprogress – sees more success in job-creating growth based on notable reforms under the president’s New Deal agenda.

This translates into real economic growth rising to 2% in 2020 and 3% by 2022. As fiscal dynamics improve, no further downgrades are seen in the sovereign’s credit ratings. Meanwhile, the ANC improves its performance in the 2019 national elections and ends a recent decline in support.

The ‘upside’ and ‘best-case’ scenarios see even greater reform success that accelerates economic growth even further.

At present, PwC sees a 25% probability of the next five years delivering economic growth of less than 1.5%. This indicates a one-in-four chance that the election of President Ramaphosa will have no significant impact on the local economy.

Overall, PwC sees a 75% probability of improved economic and political outcomes over the next five years, compared to the preceding several years.

These scenarios include different projections for economic growth and the exchange rate, and will have varying implications for different industries and investment decisions.

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SOURCE: businesstech.co.za

Mercedes-Benz G 500 Limited Edition, 2017; designo platin magno; Polster designo Leder Nappa Schwarz;Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert: 12,3 l/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 289 g/km*Mercedes-Benz G 500 Limited Edition, 2017; designo platinum magno; upholstery in black designo nappa leather;Combined fuel consumption: 12.3 l/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 289 g/km*

Diesel vs Petrol in SA

37% of South African motorists say they will still choose diesel vehicles over petrol vehicles even though recent studies show up to 38,000 people die prematurely as a result of diesel engines exceeding their stated emissions standards.

This is one of the findings in a recent survey by the Automobile Association (AA).

According to the data, 56% of respondents say they prefer diesel over petrol engines, with only four percent say knowing of the deaths related to exceeding emissions standards will change their minds.

“South African motorists must, however, begin to realise diesel engines may be on their way out. Internationally car makers are being forced to adhere to stringent emissions standard or face hefty fines.

“These car makers are grappling with tough choices to either re-engineer existing (diesel) engines are huge costs, restrict sales of some profitable models, or risk hundreds of millions of euros in penalties. While this is not yet a big debate in South Africa, the impact of these decisions will have far-reaching consequences for the local market,” the AA said.

Sales of diesel vehicles also tell a story, specifically in Europe. Sales of diesel cars in Europe were sharply down in 2017 sparking concern that the decline in second-hand values would lead to a total collapse of the diesel vehicle market.

Mounting pressure on international car makers to meet imminent European emissions standards for new vehicles is also foretelling the fast-tracking of the demise of these engines.

“While the results of our survey still indicate a diesel favourability, we would urge motorists to carefully consider their options when buying new or used diesel vehicles. If European car makers begin reducing production of these cars, the effects will be felt on after-sales servicing, and parts.

“Local motorists can no longer ignore these signs which are coming through strongly from the European market,” the association said.

Among the other results is that 60% of respondents say having full electric vehicles available locally is a good idea, this despite the fact that these vehicles are still relatively new to the South African market. The AA says this is a good alternative for motorists, but warns charge stations, and the availability of clean, reliable electricity, may play a role in decision-making.

“Electric vehicles are certainly an option, especially for those conscious about the environment. However, South Africa still lags behind other countries in making charging stations readily available everywhere, especially on the scale which meets demand. And, while electricity supply seems stable for the moment, sustained availability remains a concern,” says the Association.

The same survey polled motorists on the use of dashcams (dashboard cameras) in vehicles. An astonishing 82% of respondents say this is a good idea with only five percent disliking the idea. More than 50% of those surveyed say dashcams would make them feel safer on South African roads if they were installed in their vehicles.

“What is interesting is that 63% of respondents say they will support a law specifying compulsory dashcams to be installed in all motor vehicles in the country,” the AA said.

SOURCE: businesstech.co.za

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South Africa opposition leader says economy is now in excellent hands

It’s not often that a political opposition leader is so positive about his or her ruling counterpart.

But Mmusi Maimane, leader of South Africa’s main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA), is keen to praise the appointment of new President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“I wish him well, I hope he succeeds at his job,” Maimane told CNBC in an interview last week.

Ramaphosa assumed office last month after South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) finally loosened scandal-ridden former President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power. Ramaphosa legitimizes South African politics, Maimane explained. “I’m glad that (Ramaphosa has) been elected because suddenly we can contest on the terrain of policy,” he said.

Maimane himself is the charismatic black chief of a party traditionally associated with South Africa’s white minority population. Elected to the leadership in 2015, he is known for his youth and skill as an orator.

Despite the ANC’s stronghold on South African politics since 1994’s first election after the ending of apartheid, the DA has made gains with each vote, most recently winning nearly 27 percent of the electorate in 2016’s local government elections.

“Maimane benefits from his age (he is 37) in a country where younger voters (the fastest-growing political constituency) increasingly are disillusioned with the older generation of politicians who they feel are detached from the issues younger people face,” William Attwell, practice leader for sub-Saharan Africa at advisory firm Frontier Strategy Group, told CNBC via e-mail.

Good news for South Africa’s economic growth
Maimane’s sanguine outlook on Ramaphosa’s leadership extends to the president’s picks to run South Africa’s economy, as announced in a cabinet reshuffle in late February. New Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene is “excellent,” while Pravin Gordhan, who is to head the Department of Public Enterprises is capable of doing an “admirable job for South Africa,” he said. Both Nene and Gordhan have previously served as finance ministers.

But, Maimane added the caveat that “they need to have the freedoms to be able to achieve what they need to achieve.”

Zuma’s tenure as president was plagued by corruption scandals, all while the country’s once promising economy struggled. According to data out last month, unemployment was measured at 26.7 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, with nearly 31 percent of black South Africans between 15 to 24 not in education, employment or training.

While a contingent of the ANC backs Ramaphosa and his tough stance on graft, there are supporters of Zuma that still remain, notably David Mabuza, Ramaphosa’s recently appointed deputy president.

Some of the ANC’s remaining senior politicians are implicated in corruption scandals of their own. “We haven’t had a Jacob Zuma problem as much as we’ve also had an ANC problem,” Maimane argued.

But, green shoots may be starting to emerge for South Africa’s economy at least. Gross domestic product growth for the fourth quarter of 2017 was higher than expected at 3.1 percent, up from the 2.3 percent of the three months prior.

“The question (for Ramaphosa) is whether or not he can grow the economy sufficiently,” Maimane said. “53 percent of people in South Africa live below the poverty line,” he detailed.

Shrinking the South African state
The DA’s own economic policy advocates trimming the fat off the South African state in numerous ways, including privatizing the country’s multiple struggling state-owned enterprises, shrinking the size of the cabinet and freezing salary hikes for middle and higher tier management in the civil service.

Maimane also spoke of setting up a year long internship scheme for young people and scrapping plans to build nuclear power plants in South Africa, anticipated to cost up to $100 billion.

He described February’s annual budget, in which a sales tax was raised for the first time in 25 years, as “the laziest route” to improving the country’s economy.

Aspirations of significant power in a political environment as one sided as that of South Africa can seem futile, but Maimane is still optimistic.

“We’ve started already to govern in more places and cities, and our long-term project is to govern in provinces and then govern nationally,” Maimane said. The DA’s slow but steady ascension in recent years means that it now controls the major cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Tshwane.

“You’ve got to offer South Africans an alternative,” he said.

For Maimane, the story of South Africa’s ANC is one told repeatedly by history. National liberation movements “start off as parties of the poor and end up being defenders of the elite… They mismanage the economy and end up with a citizenship that’s not only unemployed, but unemployable on a skills basis,” he said.