Have your say on land expropriation in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (Times Live) - The parliamentary committee that will review section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property, has invited the public to participate in the debate. The ruling African National Congress wants the hotly debated issue of expropriation of land without compensation to be included in the Expropriation Bill. The bill has been passed back and forth between the Presidency and parliament for the past decade. For it to pave the way for the government to seize land without compensation, it has to be updated to bolster the principle. Although the constitution already allows for land expropriation without compensation if it is "just and equitable", an updated bill signed into law would be the first amendment made so far to the Bill of Rights. The parliamentary committee that will review section 25 of the constitution, which deals with property, has invited the public to participate in the debate through a series of hearings and by engaging the committee. Its chairperson, Vincent Smith, said in an interview with the Parliamentary Monitoring Group last week that the committee wanted all South Africans "to feel free to come and give their views and to be tolerant enough to allow those who have different views to air their views". Having taken into account what ordinary South Africans, policy-makers, civil society organisations and academics say about the issue, the committee will then make recommendations to parliament, in the form of co

Kerry Logistics expands presence in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (Air Cargo World) - Hong-Kong based 3PL Kerry Logistics has acquired the services of South African forwarding and logistics company, Shipping and Airfreight Services (SAS), to help expand its presence on the African continent. Kerry Logistics will utilize SAS for its air- and ocean-freight shipment, consolidation, charter, warehousing and distribution services as it pursues its goal to “expand its coverage worldwide.” “South Africa’s economy has an important standing on the African continent, with excellent trade lanes not only to the Chinese market but also the large exporting economies of the European Union,” said Thomas Blank, Kerry Logistics’ managing director for the European region. Over the last two years, Kerry Logistics has been expanding its services in Europe and Asia. In July of 2017, it acquired a 50 percent stake in intermodal brokerage company, Lanzhou Pacific Logistics (LPL), servicing Asia and Eastern Europe, and underpinning its role in the One Belt, One Road initiative – the project forwarded by the Chinese government to promote trade connectivity between Eurasian countries. The company cites South Africa’s growth in automotive production, which accounts for 10 percent of South Africa’s manufacturing exports, as a driving factor behind the decision to partner with SAS.

These are the most complained about insurance products in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (businesstech.co.za) - The Ombudsman for Short-Term Insurance (OSTI) recently published its annual report for 2017, revealing the most complained about short-term insurers, and the types of insurance vehicles in South Africa that receive the most complaints. During 2017, the ombud said it finalised a total of 9,962 formal complaints, with an average turn-around time of 131 days. It said that it fielded nearly 80,000 calls and recovered a total of R87.1 million for consumers, down from R99 million recovered in the prior year from 8,631 cases closed. The OSTI noted that the bulk of complaints were received in the motor insurance sector, making up nearly half (49.3%) of all complaints, up marginally from previous years. 1 The insurance body said that 74% of complaints in the motoring sector were for ‘accidental damage’. Worryingly, this figure mainly comprised claims rejected on the grounds that the insured was driving under the influence of alcohol. The ombud noted that some insurance companies have introduced measures such as the ‘take me home’ service to manage the risk associated with drunken driving. “However, it is clear from this year’s statistics, that DUI remains a very real problem for the South African insurance industry,” it said. The second highest cause for compl

Bruce Whitfield: South Africa, let’s talk Turkey

The good news is that ratings agency S&P Global didn’t downgrade us deeper into junk on Friday. The bad news is that it remains sceptical about the Ramaphosa administration’s ability to transform the country’s finances sufficiently to justify a return to investment grade any time soon. Don’t let it worry you too much. There is a whole lot of really good stuff happening in the economy. National Treasury has upgraded its growth forecast and brought it more in line with the market’s own expectations of around 2% - not enough to see meaningful change for the vast majority of South Africans who are hoping for a jobs-led miracle to help them get out of poverty – but it’s going in the right direction. Probably South Africa’s biggest asset right now is the SA Reserve Bank. Despite many attempts, by among others the Public Protector, to undermine its legitimacy, the SA Reserve Bank succeeded in guarding its independence. The best lesson for South Africa as to what goes wrong when politicians convince themselves that they can outwit, outmanoeuvre and outsmart markets, comes from Turkey. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sought to rewrite the Economics 101 textbook recently and has landed his country in all kinds of trouble. His electoral populism combined with recent dollar strength, which also put the rand on the back foot, saw the country come within a whisker of a fully-fledged currency crisis. As the lira weakened, Erdogan sought to blame an amorphous “

In S. Africa, a unique telescope link offers new view of stars

SOUTH AFRICA (The Hindu) - Scientists in South Africa on Friday launched the world’s first optical telescope linked to a radio telescope, combining “eyes and ears” to try to unravel the secrets of the universe. The device forms part of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the remote Karoo desert, which will be the world’s most powerful radio telescope system. The latest move combines the new optical telescope MeerLITCH — Dutch for ‘more light’ — with the recently-completed 64-dish MeerKAT radio telescope, located 200 kilometres away. “We are listening and looking at the sky at the same time — that is a completely novel concept in astronomy worldwide,” said Paul Groot, from Radboud university in the Netherlands. “This is the eye, with the MeerKAT being the ears as a radio telescope. It is fantastic to see what amazing views it produces.” Astronomers have previously had to wait for a cosmic incident to be picked up by a radio telescope and then carry out optic observations afterwards. But combining MeerLITCH, in the small town of Sutherland, with MeerKAT, also in the sparsely-populated North Cape province, will allow simultaneous study of cosmic events as they occur. The project has been six years in the making by a joint-team of South African, Dutch and British scientists. “It is the first time you have a telescope that will track a radio telescope so that if there are discoveries that are made, you will be able to follow

10 of the highest paying jobs in South Africa right now

SOUTH AFRICA (BusinessTech) - Jobs portal CareerJunction has published its annual salary survey, showing how salaries vary across 10 major sectors in South Africa – and what employees can expect to earn at intermediate and senior level, including management. The salary review is compiled exclusively for South African job seekers and the HR/Recruitment industry to give a true representation of cost-to-company salary packages. The report provides up-to-date salary information including regional differences in monthly remuneration using actual salary offerings on CareerJunction’s website for the latest measurable period – December 2017 to May 2018. However some high paying professions such as lawyers, with that data available in more detailed reports based on firm sizes and types. Doctor positions are not represented in the report, also regarded as a high paying profession. According to the report, engineers remain some of the highest earners in the country, with highest earners, environmental engineers, taking home an average monthly salary of around R75,941 (R911,292 per yer). Senior managers across a variety of sectors also earn well, with senior financial managers taking home an average salary of R67,653 a month (R811,836 a year), and senior IT managers taking home an average salary of R68,281 (R819,372 a year). Based on its comprehensive jobs data BusinessTech looks at those positions that pay the highest salaries at the top end according to CareerJu

Megaprojects to deliver houses in South Africa might not work

In 2014, the South African government announced a new direction in housing policy. The aim was to phase out smaller low cost housing projects of a few hundred units and focus exclusively on megaprojects – new settlements made of multitudes of housing units combined with a host of social amenities. Given the uneven access to housing that resulted from apartheid, housing delivery has been a major focus of since 1994. Government’s 20 year review - 1994 to 2014 - reported that 3.7 million subsidised housing opportunities were created, undoubtedly a remarkable achievement. Nevertheless in 2014 the then Minister of Human Settlements, Lindiwe Sisulu, became extremely concerned that house production had been falling. And, a backlog of 2.3 million families remained. The Minister favoured megaprojects (also referred to as catalytic projects) as a way of getting delivery back on track. Large human settlement projects weren’t entirely new to South Africa. Several were already at an advanced stage of construction in 2014. What was new in this announcement was the idea that all housing would be delivered exclusively through the construction of megaprojects across the country. From 2014 to 2017, the Department of Human Settlements developed a list of 48 catalytic projects which was finalised last year. In a recently published academic paper we argue that the policy was underdeveloped. The megaprojects approach moved swiftly from announcement, to discussion documents and fr

South Africa kidnappers demand ransom in bitcoin to free teenager

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - A criminal gang in South Africa who kidnapped a teenage boy on Sunday are demanding a ransom in bitcoin cryptocurrency of nearly $120,000, police said. Katlego Marite, 13, was dragged into a car while playing with two friends near his home in Witbank, a town in the eastern province of Mpumalanga, on Sunday afternoon, police spokesman Leonard Hlathi said.
“They demanded that the family should deposit a sum of 15 bitcoins, not in rands,” he told news channel eNCA. “(The parents) don’t even know what these bitcoins are. They are not dealing in those things. They are in tatters as we speak.”
Although police in South Africa have reported a recent rise in kidnappings, the ransom demand in cryptocurrency appears to be a first.
In December, kidnappers in Ukraine received a ransom worth more than $1 million in bitcoins for releasing their victim - an employee of a British cryptocurrency exchange.

Charges filed against South Africa hunter over ivory import

DENVER (News Observer) - The owner of a South African hunting company was indicted this month in Colorado by federal prosecutors, who accuse the man of bribing Zimbabwean government officials while guiding a Colorado tourist on a hunt for elephants and working to have the ivory tusks of an elephant the group illegally killed inside a national park imported to the U.S. Prosecutors said 44-year-old Hanno van Rensburg took a client to the area around Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe to hunt elephants in 2015. The Colorado client shot one elephant that did not die. The hunting party then tracked the animal into the national park but could not find it, according to prosecutors. An indictment unsealed last week said van Rensburg and the hunter bribed government officials with at least $5,000 to let the party shoot other elephants inside the park. Zimbabwean law does not allow hunters tracking a wounded animal inside the park to continue hunting other animals. Someone in the group shot and killed a different elephant and prosecutors say van Rensburg conspired with the client from Colorado to export ivory from the dead elephant, falsely claiming that the hunter was a resident of South Africa and that the elephant was not shot inside a national park. In 2015, U.S. law banned importation of the body parts of African elephants killed for sport in Zimbabwe. However, the Trump administration announced in March 2018 that requests to import elephant trophies would be appr

South Africans are among the hardest workers in the world

SOUTH AFRICA (Quartz Africa) - South Africans may be some of the hardest workers in the world—they’re three times more likely to work 60 hours a week than Americans. On average, South African employees work 43.3 hours per week, the fifth hardest working country in a sample of countries by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Turkey has the employees who work the most hours, followed by Colombia, Mexico and Costa Rica. Comparatively, Germans, Danes, Norwegians and Dutch worked the fewest. Nearly 12% of the South African workforce spent more than 60 hours per week on the job. This is despite the fact that South Africa’s labor laws prohibit more than 45 hours per week and no more than 10 hours in overtime. 1 South Africa’s hardest workers are black men younger than 45 in a semi-skilled occupation and lucky enough to have a permanent job in a country with high unemployment, according to a study (pdf) from Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research. There has been a steady increase in the number of formal employees who more than 40 hours a week, says the study. There is also an increasing gap between hours worked in the public and private sector. That is likely due to the lack of competition in the public sector and perhaps an unwillingness to flout labor laws. <