Dear Reader,

It's been quite a week, with the president's sudden cabinet reshuffle dominating the news. We have provided subscribers to BusinessLIVE Premium with analysis, commentary and opinion on the reshuffle as we try to make sense of it all. 

Business Day news editor Xolisa Phillip has written about how each questionable decision taken by Zuma has enjoyed the tacit support of the ANC leadership, which must accept responsibility. Xolisa writes in her article 'ANC top six share blame for Zuma’s impunity':

The ANC missed an opportune moment in March 2016, when it failed to take any meaningful action after the Constitutional Court delivered its stinging judgment on Nkandla.

Any pretence at self-correction was betrayed by the governing party rallying around President Jacob Zuma.

The apologies from Zuma and the ANC for the "confusion caused" by the Nkandla debacle left a bitter aftertaste with the electorate.


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Also commenting on the reshuffle was Business Day political editor Natasha Marrian. In her article, 'Zuma puts in place useful pawn stars', Natasha observed:

It is abundantly clear the primary motive for Tuesday’s Cabinet reshuffle was to hand former state security minister David Mahlobo the keys to the energy department.

That R1-trillion nuclear deal continues to beckon and a nifty reshuffle marks yet another trick in a bag that is rapidly emptying. Zuma has gone through a string of ministers in energy and finance who have simply failed to deliver on the nuclear front.

Mahlobo has proven useful, given his involvement in the energy deal between the Central Energy Fund and Rosgeo, a Russian state-owned company, as reported in the Sunday Times in September.


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Ranjeni Munusamy, who writes political commentary for the Tiso Blackstar group, weighed in with 'Zuma moves chess pieces, but what is the end game?' which was carried by the Rand Daily Mail. She wrote:

A week before Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s medium-term budget policy statement‚ Zuma made another round of inexplicable changes to the executive.

Gigaba has just been to the United States for International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings where he tried to settle political uncertainty about South Africa ahead of the ANC’s December conference.

The country is also due to be reviewed again by international credit ratings agencies next month after a round of downgrades after Zuma’s last reshuffle.


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Business Day deputy editor Carol Paton turned her attention to the Treasury's decision to can the sale of its Telkom stake under the headline: 'Ambivalence on sale of Telkom stake the elephant on the stoep'. Carol observed:

So many things about the government’s sale or nonsale of its Telkom stake don’t add up that we shouldn’t be surprised if an elephant turns up on the doorstep.

The Elephant Consortium, you might remember, was the name of the ANC-backed group that bagged the last chunk of Telkom for sale, with the generous help of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), when the Malaysian/US equity partner sold its 15% share in 2005.

The PIC, run then by Brian Molefe, funded the transaction and warehoused the shares. The first strange thing is why the Treasury canned the deal when it so obviously needs the cash.


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Writer-at-large Ann Crotty wrote about Pick n Pay's harsh criticism of South Africa's bank charges, something which most readers will identify with. In her article, 'Retail giant Pick n Pay slams bank charges', she wrote:

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman has slammed South African bank charges, which he describes as excessive and, in many cases, more than double European benchmarks.

Ackerman said increasing numbers of the group’s customers were using credit and debit cards to buy groceries but the interchange fee charged by the banks remained at unjustifiably high levels.

"It adds a disproportionate and unjustified amount to our costs," Ackerman said.

"Despite an undertaking by the banks to revisit these charges, they remain excessive at 1.48% for credit card transactions and 0.44% for debit cards."


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Anticipating the medium-term budget, Hilary Joffe has written under the headline 'Gigaba has no rabbit to pull out of his hat'. She writes

Going into next week’s medium-term budget, the one thing that is crystal-clear is that it is impossible for Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba to deliver on his promise that he will stick to the path of fiscal consolidation outlined in the previous budget.

What, if anything, he plans to do about it is the big question economists and ratings agencies are asking. And a presentation last week by S&P Global’s lead sovereign analyst for SA, Gardner Rusike, highlighted the fiscal concerns that could prompt further downgrades, if not now then in 2018, after the ANC elective conference and the February budget.

Gigaba’s first budget has attracted a lot of attention; many economists have already released their previews, with varying estimates of just how far revenues will fall short of budget targets.



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Ray Hartley

Editor: BusinessLIVE

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