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Fresh allegations, denials trail PIC corruption Investigation

”I have done nothing wrong” SA’s Deputy Minister of Finance, Mondli Gungubele says

Kathleen Ndongmo

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South Africa’s deputy minister of finance and chairman of state-owned Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Mondli Gungubele, has denied allegations of corruption levied against him.

This comes after a whistleblower made new graft allegations at the pension fund.

The PIC, has nearly 2 trillion rand ($147 billion) of civil servants’ pensions under its custody and is Africa’s biggest pension fund

It says it would conduct an investigation after a whistleblower made the accusations in an email to the PIC’s board.

The state-owned pension fund did not disclose the new allegations, which come as a judicial inquiry into the firm continued to hear evidence from its staff members.

PIC’s acting CEO, Matshepo More, and two unnamed board members were also implicated.

Gungubele later issued a statement saying he was one of those facing allegations, and is welcoming the opportunity to clear his name.

“I am confident that I have done nothing wrong,” he said.

The third board member named in the anonymous whistleblower’s email is the non-executive director of PIC, Sibusisiwe Zulu.

Zulu could not be reached for comment.

The ongoing inquiry at the PIC was set up after a small opposition party alleged the PIC’s former chief executive Dan Matjila had misused funds and made careless investment decisions.

Matjila, who stepped down in November last year, has denied any wrongdoing.

The PIC is the biggest investor in South Africa’s economy, holding a large volume of bonds issued by government and state-owned firms, as well as stakes in blue-chip companies such as miner Anglo American, lender Absa and telecoms giant MTN Group.

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South Africa’s Foschini to halt Kenya, Ghana operations

South African retailers have recorded poor performance in the last year, due to slow economic growth and currency devaluations

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South Africa's Foschini to halt Kenya, Ghana operations
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South African fashion retailer, the Foschini Group is considering shutting down its Kenya and Ghana businesses.

The firm’s Chief Executive Officer, Anthony Thunstrom, affirms that at least, six stores will be affected in both countries.

South African retailers have recorded poor performance in the last year, due to slow economic growth and currency devaluations that had hit sales.

In July, department store chain, Woolworths pulled out from West Africa for a second time.

The Foschini Group will review economic growth, legislature and lease negotiations in Kenya and Ghana before making its decision.

Come September, in its home market, Thunstrom says The Foschini Group will launch a smaller format Sportscene store that will enjoy entertainment features such as a basketball court and a DJ booth, in an effort to lure millennials into its stores and away from online players such as Naspers’ majority-owned Superbalist.

The store will be launched in September in Johannesburg’s upscale Sandton shopping and financial district.

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Total Mozambique gas project will go on despite insurgency

Total will also acquire US energy giant Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa

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Energy major Total on Friday said it remained committed to a Mozambique liquefied natural gas project on the country’s northern coast despite deadly Islamist insurgent attacks.

Total will become the operator of the $25 billion Rovuma LNG Project whose construction began on August 5 in the Afungi Peninsula.

The company is also set to acquire US energy giant Anadarko’s assets in Algeria, Ghana, Mozambique and South Africa, strengthening Total’s position in Africa.

But the area where the project is located has been targeted by jihadists since October 2017, claiming more than 300 lives.

Attackers in February launched an assault on a convoy of vehicles from an Anadarko contractor, killing one worker and injuring others. 

This led to the suspension of operations for a few months, with activities only resuming after the government announced the deployment of armed forces.

Several hundred suspected attackers have been arrested, according to authorities, but sporadic assaults continue.

On Friday Total’s CEO Patrick Pouyanne reaffirmed Total’s commitment to the LNG project saying it “is a unique asset which perfectly fits our strategy and our skills.

“Please be assured of the commitment of Total to bring the best of our human, technical and financial capacities to further strengthen the project execution … in the interests of all those involved, including the government and people of Mozambique,” he said in a statement.

The project is expected to be transformational for Mozambique, creating an estimated 5,000 direct jobs and 45,000 indirect jobs.

The country’s gas deposits are estimated at 5,000 billion cubic metres and would make Mozambique a major exporter of liquefied natural gas.

The use of natural gas is on the rise globally as countries struggle to meet energy demands and shift away from using coal.

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Kenya plans to tax OTT services like Youtube, Netflix

The over-the-top services (OTT) will soon be required to declare the incomes they derive from Kenyan consumers

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Kenya plans to tax OTT services like Youtube, Netflix

Kenya’s Information Communication and Technology (ICT) ministry is working on completing a new tax scheme.

This framework, reports say, will be used to tax foreign online streaming media services such as YouTube and Netflix.

The over-the-top services (OTT) will soon be required to declare the incomes they derive from Kenyan consumers.

OTT services include all applications that offer voice, video and messaging services over the internet.

Communications Authority Director-General, Francis Wangusi says online content providers exploit the Kenyan industry. Yet, neither the government nor artistes benefit from them.

According to Wangusi, “many countries have policies that guide these services and that is where we are heading as a country”.

He adds that technologies that will facilitate taxation of OTT services are available.

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