Seven big stories to watch this week
With the economy in recession, all eyes will be on early clues on the third quarter; alleged culprits in the spotlight at the state capture inquiry; and the ANC deals with claims of a plot against Ramaphosa
An economy in recession, and early clues about how the third quarter has started, will be in focus this week. SA also continues to grapple with the capture of the state by the Guptas during the Zuma presidency at the Zondo commission.
1. State capture inquiry:
• Decisions on cross-examination: on Monday deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo will hand down his decision on implicated persons’ applications for leave to cross-examine witnesses — including two Gupta brothers and Duduzane Zuma, the former president’s son. Jacob Zuma has decided not to cross-examine witnesses.
• The Sunday Times reported on Sunday that Robert McBride, head of police watchdog Ipid, will tell the Zondo commission about a secret police death squad, operating as a Hawks guard unit.
2. Agribusiness confidence index: investment sentiment in the agribusiness sector is in the spotlight on Monday, after the sector contracted by nearly a third in the second quarter, dragging the economy into a recession. Confidence in the sector has been rattled by the land expropriation issue.
3. Mining and manufacturing: data on production from two of the economy’s mainstay sectors will give early signs of where we’re headed in the third quarter, when Stats SA reports on manufacturing output for July on Tuesday, and mining output for the same month on Thursday.
4. Retail sales for July: Due on Wednesday, the stats will give an indication of how pressure on consumers is constraining spending. That release is followed by wholesale trade on Thursday.
5. SA’s economic woes are in focus in parliament on Wednesday, with a National Aseembly debate on the recession and how to kickstart the economy; and another on rising fuel prices, after the government took the extraordinary — and unsustainable — step of capping the increase last week. President Cyril Ramaphosa also faces questions on the economy when he answers questions in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.
6. Nelson Mandela Bay: the DA’s application to reverse the ousting of Athol Trollip as mayor will be heard in court on Thursday.
7. ANC plot: ANC leaders will grapple this week with a Sunday Times report that key Zuma allies are plotting a legal challenge to Ramaphosa’s election as party president.