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South Africa cannot afford the proposed NHI

SOUTH AFRICA (The Citizen) - The Davis tax committee warned in 2017 that an NHI would not be sustainable without much faster growth, which is unlikely to happen. The introduction of National Health Insurance (NHI) was likely to cost South Africa more than R600 billion at its start in 2026, with costs continuing to escalate thereafter, according to the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR). Reacting to the plans by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to introduce the NHI, SAIRR head of policy research Anthea Jeffrey cautioned government on the “dire implications” of introducing a medical health scheme South Africa could not afford. “No proper costing has ever been done on the NHI. The projected R256 billion in the 2025 figure provided in the 2017 white paper is a 2010 figure, which is badly outdated and entirely unrealistic. “South Africa cannot afford it, especially now that growth is so low and public debt so high. In addition, the tax increases which were earlier mooted to fund it – a 1% point in the VAT rate, or a 4 percentage point increase in the top marginal rate of personal income tax – have already both been introduced, simply to plug the holes in the government’s revenues. “The country has a very small and already overburdened tax base. “In December 2017, the Davis tax committee, which had been charged with investigating the funding of the NHI, warned that it would not be sustainable without much faster growth. Such growth i
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South Africa Plans Sweeping Changes to Health-Care System

SOUTH AFRICA (Bloomberg) - South Africa’s health-care system may face a major overhaul as the government moves ahead with plans to implement mandatory national insurance and reduce the cost of private care. The revamp is part of an effort to broaden access to treatment in a country where more than 80 percent of the population lacks private insurance. This leaves many people relying on a public system with too few doctors and dilapidated hospitals and clinics. Of the 8.7 percent of South Africa’s gross domestic product spent on health care, less than half goes to state facilities, government data show. “We need a massive reorganization of the public health-care system,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told reporters in the capital, Pretoria, on Thursday. “What we are designing here, no-one has done in the world.” A draft law published in the government gazette proposes setting up a national health-insurance fund that would buy services from accredited public and private facilities, which would then provide care for registered members. While the law is largely silent on how the system will be funded, Motsoaledi said taxpayer contributions would be compulsory. Pricing Panel A committee answering to the NHI fund board and the health minister would determine the prices the facilities could charge on an annual basis, while another advisory panel would decide what services should be offered. The government plans to fully implement the system by 2026. “I
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South African Miners Say Free Carry Will Kill New Projects

SOUTH AFRICA (Bloomberg) - The biggest threat posed by South Africa’s new Mining Charter may be to mines that haven’t been dug yet. The draft rules, published Friday by Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, lay out several requirements for new mining rights, including that nearby communities and employees each get a 5 percent free-carried interest in either the asset or the company that owns it. The charter is aimed at distributing the industry’s wealth more widely among South Africans to make up for racial discrimination during apartheid. New mines are already scarce in the country, which has been mined commercially for more than a century and where producers have struggled with rising costs, regulatory uncertainty and a restive labor force. The industry argues that the free carry -- which means the respective groups don’t have to buy their shares or pay their way -- will make new developments even less likely. “We consider much of the South African resource base to be in sunset,” analysts at Morgan Stanley including Brian Morgan wrote in a note received Monday. Many potential projects have marginal economics to begin with and “higher hurdle rates could equate to lower future mining investment,” they said. The free-carried interests for new mining rights are included in a mandatory 8 percent each to be held by workers and communities, while a further 14 percent must be owned by black entrepreneurs, according to the draft Mining Charter, which
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Almost half of deadly mine accidents in South Africa happened at Sibanye-Stillwater sites: Minister

SOUTH AFRICA (mining.com) - South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday that 20 out of 45 mining deaths reported since the start of 2018 have taken place at Sibanye-Stillwater’s (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL) mining sites. At a press conference in Pretoria, Mantashe announced that the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate is investigating and compiling a report on the precious metals producer with the idea of taking appropriate action. “Mining is not about rocks‚ it is about people. Once you lose that‚ you think that mining is about rocks‚ it’s about minerals‚ it’s about prices‚ then you have lost the plot … If you ignore human beings‚ you’ll have no mining,” he said. Earlier this week, five people died at Sibanye’s Kloof Ikamva gold project after they entered an abandoned section of the mine. This was just the latest in a series of fatal incidents at the companies' South African operations, which have generated concern in the government and an uproar from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, known as AMCU. Although it has acknowledged the accidents, the company says that AMCU only wants to hurt its reputation. Nevertheless, according to Minister Mantashe, fatalities in the gold mining industry seem to be on the rise in South Africa and there are growing worries about the proportion that take place at Sibanye’s operations. Mantashe’s pronouncement was made at a meeting aimed at discussing the
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South Africa proposes 5% black ownership in mining in mining firms

SOUTH AFRICA (Reuters) - South Africa plans to raise black ownership at permit-holding mining companies to 30 percent from 26 percent within five years, the latest draft of a hotly-contested new industry charter showed on Friday. The government and miners had been at loggerheads over a previous version of the charter, which the Chamber of Mines industry body slammed as confusing and a threat to South Africa’s image with investors. The new draft charter extends to five years from one year the time that existing mining permit holders will have to meet the new black ownership requirement. It also addresses a dispute over companies that were not recognised as having complied with black empowerment rules under the previous version of the charter, even when that was the result of a black investor selling shares. “Publishing of the Charter moves us a step forward in terms of ensuring regulatory and policy certainty for the industry,” mines minister Gwede Mantashe said in a statement. Agreeing a new version of the charter is seen as instrumental to securing further investment in the mining sector, which new President Cyril Ramaphosa has made a priority. The charter, published for public comment before being refined into law, is part of South African affirmative action rules that aim to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid. A new addition to the latest charter is that at least 50 percent of the seats on mining company boards will have to be allocate
Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, June 14, 2018. Eskom workers are demanding a 15% salary increase while Eskom has decided to cut completely any increases for this year, saying they simply do not have the funds. Photo: Greg Roxburgh.

South Africa faces a very bleak winter of electricity discontent

SOUTH AFRICA (Sunday Times) - Demonstrators protest outside Megawatt Park, Sunninghill, June 14, 2018. Eskom workers are demanding a 15% salary increase while Eskom has decided to cut completely any increases for this year, saying they simply do not have the funds.  Image: Greg Roxburgh
Economists and energy experts have warned that a current protest by Eskom workers who are threatening a national electricity shutdown could have dire consequences for the country. Just the hint of a possible shutdown could negatively affect the economy. Eskom said the generation and distribution of electricity across its network was constrained owing to “acts of sabotage and intimidation” by trade union members‚ but the National Union of Metalworkers of SA and National Union of Mineworkers denied this. Meanwhile‚ electricity demand is set to spike this weekend as two cold fronts slam into the country‚ with temperatures set to plummet and gale-force winds and snow expected.
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Two killed in South Africa mosque attack

SOUTH AFRICA (news.com.au) - South African police say two worshippers have been stabbed to death in an attack on a mosque in Malmesbury, Western Cape. Two people have been stabbed to death at a mosque in South Africa's Malmesbury in the Western Cape before the attacker was shot dead by police. Thursday's attack comes a month after three knife-wielding men stormed a mosque north of Durban, killing one person and seriously injuring two others. Police said that incident showed "elements of extremism" but did not otherwise comment on the motive behind the attack in Malmesbury, a small farming town north of Cape Town. "Police were called out to a local mosque and found two people stabbed to death and several injured," the police said in a statement. "The suspect, believed to be in his thirties and armed with a knife, was still on the scene and charged at the police who tried to persuade him to hand himself over. He ignored the calls and tried to attack police. He was shot and killed in the process."
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SOUTH AFRICA’S BLACK ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT LAW TO EARN BLACK INVESTORS $1.3 BILLION

SOUTH AFRICA (Black Enterprise) - Vodacom Group, Africa’s second largest mobile communications company, will pay out approximately $1.3 billion to its black investors as part of the company’s participation in the black economic empowerment (BEE) effort, enforced by South African law. The company said on Monday that it had “entered into an agreement of up to R17.5 billion with its existing black economic empowerment (BEE) partners and a newly formed staff scheme” that will see the partners swap their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for shares in its parent company, Vodacom Group. “Vodacom Group has agreed terms with Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH), Thebe Investment Corporation (Thebe), YeboYethu (existing BEE partners) and a newly formed staff scheme, whose combined interests will be consolidated into a new YeboYethu BEE structure that will own shares in Vodacom Group,” the company said in a news release. In the approximately $1.3 billion agreement, BEE partners will exchange their current holdings in Vodacom South Africa for a shareholding of between 5.8% and 6.25% in Vodacom Group, the company said.

WHAT EXACTLY IS BEE?:

After its transition from Apartheid in 1994, South Africa’s African National Congress government decided to address the inequalities of Apartheid by redistributing assets and opportunities to South African blacks, Coloreds and Indian citizens, not available to them under White rule. From South Africa’s o
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Three miners killed in accident at Sibanye gold mine in South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (Reuters) - Three gold miners were killed in South Africa on Monday at a Sibanye-Stillwater plant and the company said rescue teams are searching for two others. At least 18 people have died at Sibanye’s South African mines this year including seven trapped underground at the Masakhane mine in May. Sibanye said five employees entered an abandoned working place at its Kloof Ikamva mine near Johannesburg and were killed in an incident the company is investigating. “We are not sure what happened,” spokesman James Wellsted said. CEO Neal Froneman has said seismic events are a fact of life at South African mines. “It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye Stillwater and as NUM we are highly disturbed and angered by this,” National Union of Mineworkers said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.” Sibanye noted in a recent operational update that last month’s disaster was a concern for its investors and a factor behind a roughly 28 percent fall in its share price last month. In all, 88 people died in mines in South Africa in 2017 and 73 died the previous year. Prior to that, numbers of fatalities had fallen for nine years. The country has produced a third of all gold mined since records began. Safety matters for investors in South Africa’s gold industry. The country is home to some of the world’s deepest mines. Sibanye-Stillwater is South Africa’s biggest producer. The company also produces platinum a
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South Africa’s finance minister warns of challenges as rand tumbles

SOUTH AFRICA (Business Daily Africa) - The South African government is concerned by the rand’s plunge to its lowest this year and will step up a “defence mechanism”, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said, but he fell short of calling the currency’s dip a crisis. The rand dropped to 13.2875 against the dollar on Friday, its weakest since Dec. 18, Thomson Reuters data showed, as the country’s economy and slowed and global investors shied away from riskier assets. “Call it very challenging times. It then depends when you begin to call it a crisis,” Nene told the Sunday Times. “But these are very challenging times, and it’s for this reason that we can’t be complacent about it. We actually just need to step up our defence mechanism.” He did not say what measures South Africa could take. South Africa’s rand suffered last week when data showed the economy shrank by 2.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, with the most significant falls in agriculture, manufacturing and mining. At the same time, risk appetite among investors has eroded on speculation Europe’s massive monetary stimulus is nearing an end, compounded by uncertainty over trade relations before a meeting of G7 leaders. The rand had rallied when Cyril Ramaphosa seemed set to be elected leader of the ruling African National Congress in December. His election as state President in February, days after Jacob Zuma was forced out as leader by the ruling party, gave the currency ev