An economic review of this past week
JOHANNESBURG - Controversy-prone US President Donald Trump trained his guns on South Africa this week, instructing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to closely study the country’s land policy.
The led to the Rand weakening to R14.47 before recovering, following Trump’s tweet on Wednesday on what he erroneously described as “farm seizures and expropriations and large-scale killing of farmers” in the continental superpower.
The governing ANC dismissed Trump as a right-winger who was undermining the US and its crucial role in global politics by interfering in domestic affairs of sovereign countries.
International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu have lashed out at Trump’s tweet, saying it was based on false information and lobbying by groups seeking to derail South Africa’s long-drawn land distribution programme.
Sisulu’s department said South Africa was disappointed about the Trump administration’s failure to use available diplomatic channels.
If Trump’s tweet was not enough to rile South Africans, alleged racist Adam Catzavelos caused national outrage when he videoed himself using the k-word while holidaying overseas.
He was subsequently fired from his family business, St George’s Fine Foods, and removed from its board of directors. A case of racism against him was also opened by the police.
Catzavelos has since apologised, saying he had watched the video and felt total shame.
“It is hard to put into words what I want to say and genuinely apologise,” he reportedly said in a statement.
“I don’t expect people to forgive me‚ but will spend the rest of my life repenting and trying to make up for my total lack of respect and judgement.”
Meanwhile, as the contentious land policy issue raged on, the Land Bank issued a stern warning that if land expropriation without compensation was poorly executed, it could bring the organisation’s stability under threat.
It issued the warning during the launch of its annual report where it announced that its development portion of its loan book had increased to R5.5 billion for the year to end March 31, up from last year’s R4.9bn.
Trade unions were also up in arms this week, following Eskom’s announcement that it planned to let go of 7 000 people through natural attrition in the next five years.
Metalworkers union Numsa said it had not been informed of the decision and that if retrenchments were to take place at the cash-strapped parastatal, they should start with the bloated senior management.
A study by the World Bank in 2016 stated that Eskom was potentially overstaffed by 66 percent , while the Goldman Sachs Group warned in September last year that Eskom was the biggest single risk to the economy.
Going back to the infamous tweet, EFF leader Julius Malema lashed out at Trump, saying: “We must put it on record‚ unequivocally‚ (to) Donald ‘the pathological liar’ Trump: we are not scared of you and your US or Western imperialist forces.”
- BUSINESS REPORT