JOHANNESBURG - It goes without saying that the highlight of this week on the news radar was arguably the welcomed economic growth announced by Statistics South Africa.
The national statistics agency said the country’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 3.1 percent in the final quarter of 2017, but overall, the economy increased by 1.3 percent, following a 0.6 percent expansion in 2016.
The star performer was the agriculture industry, which surged 17.7 percent last year, from an extended contraction caused by devastating droughts in 2015 and 2016.
In turn, the growth in the back-breaking sector, which is currently up in arms following a recent motion by Parliament to expropriate land without compensation, was driven by agricultural exports.
They included edible fruits, beverages, spirits and vegetables, which grew past the $10 billion (R119bn) mark for the first time, rising 15 percent year-on-year.
Other interesting news were the controversy surrounding the Guptas’ citizenship in South Africa. This after Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba had told a media briefing on Tuesday that none of the controversial Gupta brothers were South African citizens, adding that Atul and Ajay both have permanent residency, while Ajay Gupta’s wife, mother and two children were granted citizenship.
But the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) asserted that Atul Gupta was on the country’s voters roll.
On Wednesday, Home Affairs Director-General Mkuseli Apleni sought to clarify the confusion, saying Atul had been naturalised in November 2002 and Rajesh in July 2006. Both of them appear on the IEC voters' roll. Apleni rallied behind Gigaba saying he had erred by saying Atul was not a South African citizen.
Displeased EFF MPs dubbed Gigaba, who failed to pitch in Parliament to answer questions regarding the saga, a pathological liar who had misled the nation.
The Guptas are accused of capturing key state institutions and milking them dry during the scandal-ridden tenure of their personal friend and former president Jacob Zuma.
It also came to pass this week that financial and asset management at embattled national carrier, the South African Airways, were indeed in a shambles.
The airline incurred a loss of more than R5.5 billion in the previous financial year, according to Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu’s qualified audit report, which his office tabled to Speaker Baleka Mbete last week.
It was tabled to Mbete because SAA had apparently failed to comply with legislation and submit it within one month of receiving it.
The audit process was delayed by several months as the airline failed to provide Makwetu with their financial records for the 2016/2017 in time.
The Famous Brands group was also thrust into the spotlight this week when it announced it would write down R400 million in impairments in UK-based burger chain Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK) it acquired for R2.1bn in 2016.
The group also announced it expected earnings to decline by at least 20 percent for the year to end February. It also noted that its annual results for the year ended February 28 will be released in May.
- BUSINESS REPORT