Today's Big Stories

#SpyCables: the Israeli cyber-attack threat on SA

#SpyCables: the Israeli cyber-attack threat on SA

A group claiming to be former agents of Israel's Mossad threatened to unleash a devastating cyber attack on South Africa unless its government cracked down on the growing campaign to boycott Israel, That according to intelligence documents leaked to Al Jazeera's Investigative Unit. This is just one of raft of explosive revelations contained in spy cables leaked to TV network Al Jazeera. Phil Rees is an investigative reporter with Al Jazeera:

It's a good question about 'by whom' because this isn't specified in the cables, which are largely a snapshot of what's happening in Intelligence operations across countries. This clearly was an attempt by someone - whether it had fingerprints of someone in the Israeli government or not isn't clear - so it suggests it may have been someone working on their own whim.

Senior Researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, Andre Roux:

I think that Al Jazeera have been responsible about this in keeping the names of operatives, as this would be the biggest threat. The rest of what has been released makes for interesting reading, but in the Intelligence community, it's very run-of-the-mill kind of stuff. Where you got it from and what the information means politically obviously would have to be corroborated. I think it has done a lot of damage to South Africa's image and the State Security Agencies, because if you can have this kind of a leak, what else could possibly be leaked? It could damage cooperation in the short term, but in the long term, the need for security cooperation will continue.

Maties racist attack

Racism has again reared its ugly head, this time during an incident at a fast-food franchise in Stellenbosch where a confrontation between two groups of Stellenbosch University students left two of them injured. Students Lwazi Phakade, Sikhululekile Duma and Sphele Masuku said they were in a queue waiting to order food at an outlet in Merriman Street in the early hours of Saturday when they saw three white students insulting black staff. On of the students involved in the incident and the Chairperson of DASO at Stellenbosch University is Sikhululekile Duma:

Basically what happened is we went to order food at McDonalds in the early hours of Saturday morning and we found Afrikaans students intimidating workers there and whistling at them as if they were dogs. They were drunk and they continued to pet the staff workers as if they were petting dogs. It was at this point that we decided to intervene because we thought 'enough is enough'. They were addressing us in Afrikaans the entire time and one of my friends doesn't speak Afrikaans and they told him he doesn't belong at Stellenbosch because he can't speak Afrikaans. The university first released a press statement before they spoke to us this morning, but they said they would investigate this along with the police.

Stellenbosch University Spokesperson, Martin Viljoen:

Our primary interest is to be in contact with the students and check on them. This is an ongoing process, we were only notified of this yesterday, but there was contact made with the police to check up on footage and to address our crisis service. The university regards any human rights violation very seriously and we will take action, as we have a zero tolerance against such incidents.

#Budget2015 Focus: Forecast

In an hour-and-a-half's time, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene will reveal to the nation how much money the state has and how it will spend it. Nene will also reveal how he intends to raise money to pay off our increasing debt. Associate Professor of Economics at WITS University, Prof Chris Malikane gives the broad macroeconomic view:

I think he will (make difficult decisions) because last time he said he would look at creative ways of financing infrastructure projects, so we expect him to be more detailed in the financing side of things. He did mention looking at private-public partnership, so we expect some kind of an Act to address this.

#Budget2015 Focus: Tax

Senior Manager of International Tax at EY, Charles Makola:

In my view, what is very clear in terms of this year's fiscal inflow and rising expenditure needs is the question: where do you get the spend? Is it on the revenue side? Each of these instruments including personal income tax consider various things so the Minister will have to play a sensitive balancing act. In taxing the rich more than those who have a lower income, everything needs to be looked at in context - you don't have a huge space for policy maneuvering, which might come to affect everyone including the rich and the poor.

#Budget2015 Focus: Labour

Cosatu National Spokersperson, Patrick Craven:

We expect that the Minister will outline what the ANC says is the second phase of a transition for a complete restructuring of our economy and we opposed to what is referred to as an 'austerity budget' that's more concerned with balancing the books and addressing the short term. We will take into consideration the reports of Stats SA that address the humanitarian view as well. Cutting wages or keeping wages low is not a solution at all and in fact, we'd like to see the Minister commit himself to a national minimum wage, as this will also see less tax revenue in the long term, since people would be earning less.

HSBC tax scandal

In The UK, the chairman and chief executive of HSBC will appear before a panel of MPs today to answer questions about a tax scandal at the banking giant. Chairman Douglas Flint and chief executive Stuart Gulliver will appear before MPs on the Treasury Committee. Earlier this month it emerged that the Swiss unit of HSBC helped wealthy clients evade hundreds of millions of pounds' worth of tax. EWN UK's Gavin Grey:

I expect the chairman and chief executive to come in to answer a lot of questions. This committee is known to be manned by MPs that are deeply invested in the finance sector. This is 106 000 clients that have Swiss bank accounts, with 203 countries involved. There are a number of high-profile businessmen, pop stars and other celebrities hold these accounts. But nearly 5 years since, no action has ever been taken against this bank, there's only been one conviction.

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