Today's Big Stories

Midday Report Live Blog 2nd October, 2014

The rundown: has South Africa actually signed a deal that will see Russia building several nuclear power stations here? On Wednesday, the Department of Energy said the deal will still go ahead, despite the fact that the Finance Ministry has not yet worked out whether South Africa can in fact afford it.

Yesterday’s briefing came after the Ministry had appeared to announce that the deal with Russia was final; then it seemed to say that actually only a provisional agreement was signed. Energy expert Chris Yelland was in attendance at the announcement saying:

The funny thing about it is the Dept of Energy say they didn't make a mistake with the issuing of their statement and that 'the media got it all wrong'. I read the statement very carefully and it details how a deal has been done for 8 Russian VVR reactors for South Africa. The bottom line is they reassure us that an intergovernmental agreement has been done, but the procurement process hasn't been started and will only happen once the intergovernmental agreements with the various countries have been signed.

Listen to the podcast here.

On the postal worker strike: the Communication Workers Union (CWU) has now held a press conference about its strike that is now into its second month. The strike has caused widespread chaos with some firms saying they might have to go out of business because they simply cannot operate without the postal system. President of CWU, Clyde Mervin:

CWU has shown that they are not on strike, but the workers outside show that they are on strike. But the strike is of grave concern to the union (in as far as damage to business and the economy is concerned), but our workers haven't been paid for quite some time. We still condemn any level of violence or intimidation. We've fought for this freedom and this democracy and we don't need violence.

On the age of sexual consent: new proposed amendments to the Sexual Offences and Related Matters Amendment Act could see sexual intercourse between children aged 12 - 15 being made legal – so long as the two partners don’t have an age gap of more than two years. At the moment as I understand it – the age of consent is sixteen – doyou think it should be lowered. The Centre for Child Law's Prof Ann Skelton:

This proposed amendment bill does not lower the age of consent. It will still be illegal for a person over the age of 16 to engage with someone below the age of 16. What this bill is trying to do is respond to a Con Court judgement last year in the Teddybear Clinic case which found that it is inappropriate to criminalise activity between children below the age of 16.

Listen to the podcast here.

To a central bank owing a billionare: the Supreme Court of Appeal has ruled that the South African Reserve Bank must refund billionaire Mark Shuttleworth the quarter of a billion Rand he had to pay over when he took his assets out of the country in 2001. Shuttleworth says that the exchange control regime South Africa has makes it more expensive to work across our borders than almost anywhere else. Head of Tax at Norton Rose Fulbright, Andrew Wellsted:

The 10% exit levy was always controversial and in general, I agreed with the court's ruling. Fortunately the regulation was dropped some time ago, about 3 or so years ago. There was a long period that that was a difficult decision that people had to make - either have your Rands blocked in South Africa or pay the 10% levy to get your money abroad.

Listen to the podcast here.

On to assessing sugar levels in softdrinks: new claims have emerged that certain fruit juices contain more sugar than a glass of Coca-Cola; quite suprising when you consider the bad reputation the iconic acidic drink has been given in cities such as New York and countries such as Norway and Mexico - all of whom have made moves to institute various forms of 'soda tax' or 'soda limits'. The Director of Painfully Ordinary SA, Prof Karen Hofman:

We should eat our fruit, not drink it. Each piece of fruit - for example an orange - has two spoons of sugar in it. Because of the fibre in the orange, it's used very differently by the body. Once you start squeezing the fruit juice - say you use 4 oranges in a fruit juice, there you have 8 teaspoons right there - the sugar has been removed from the fibre, the body processes it differently and turns it into fat pretty quickly. An average fruit juice is about 9 teaspoons of sugar and a can of fizzy drink has about 8 (teaspoons), but of course it does vary with the particular brand.

Listen to the podcast here.


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