Today's Big Stories

What are the expectations of Nene ahead of the mid-term budget address?

What economic climate is the mid-term budget being made in?: statement due to be released by Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on government’s spending happens amidst a slowing economy and claims that our tax take is declining. There are also concerns that our sovereign rating could be downgraded if he is seen not to be taking strong action. Chief Economist at Econometrix, Dr Azar Jammine:

I think this is the worst fiscal situation we’ve encountered since the 1990’s when the government changed hands. Economic growth has fallen back to levels we experienced during the apartheid regime. Global economic growth may have been progressive, but we’ve been grossly underperforming. Our tax revenue is also low, meaning we have to borrow more. One in-between possibility is to increase tax rates, but evidence shows that you end up getting less as opposed to more tax. But the mid-term address shouldn’t raise expectations, because it is merely a continuation address, but it will determine the extent to which people will have confidence in Nene to the same levels as his predecessors.

Is NUMSA seeking to make a clean break from COSATU?: the Federation Central Executive Committee at COSATU House in Braamfontein is understood to be back behind closed doors, deciding whether to reinstate an ANC task team report on its relationship with metalworkers union, NUMSA. Independent Political Analyst, Ralph Mathekga:

Expectations will be made regarding NUMSA, since they’ve been very vocal outside of COSATU and they’ve also carved a space outside of COSATU. NUMSA wants to recapture that soul of the workers within COSATU and they wouldn’t want to leave without a chunk of COSATU. (Vavi) has been loyal to NUMSA because he owes them for protecting him and he’s been very careful in making statements.

What's the latest at the Dewani trial?: EWN Correspondent Rahima Essop gives details of a ballistic expert's testimony:

Which **SA city tops the ‘healthy’ list?: **the Business Day notes how Cape Town’s middle classes are said to be the most active and happiest inhabitants of South Africa’s six major cities. This is according to Discovery Health’s latest ‘obecity’ index released. Head of Discovery Health and Wellness, Dr Craig Nossel:

There’s probably a 10% difference between cities and the measurement is based on food consumption, sleeping patterns and other factors. Cape Town is conducive to these things (active lifestyle) and perhaps more forward thinking in terms healthy eating. Joburg wasn’t that far behind, we are seeing many people being more health-conscious there, but it is an environment that is more obesogenic.

What is going on at SAA?: the Business Day reports that 6 of the 7 board members non-executive directors of SAA are about to be fired by Public Entreprises Minister, Lynne Brown. Editor of SA Flyer Magazine, Guy Leitch:

It’s really bad news for us tax payers, because it seems that Minister Brown is taking a more political route in decision making. We have a board here with no aviation experience, they are pure political appointees, shuffling for positions of power. I suspect there are board members that genuinely have SAA’s best interests at heart and they’re going head-to-head with the political appointees. The board has to take some incredibly hard decisions in terms of the turn-around strategy and recapitalisation of the airline. I’m also worried about the position of the current CEO, Monwabisi Kalawe, who although he had the support of the previous minister, is looking very vulnerable right now. It would be an absolute tragedy to lose him after 18 months.

No housing for SA youth?: reports note that Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has said that no one under the age of 40 will get a free house from government. Sisulu also added that the intention by government to give free houses is to ‘right the wrongs’ of the past. Researcher at the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA, Kate Tissington:

What is going on is quite strange and it really is a matter of shift in terms of government policy. The government’s own policy has been to provide people with a capital asset to poor households, intended to create an economic asset. It’s quite unfair to blame housing delivery on what are a fair amount of young people. Government needs to look at alternatives, unlocking land and mass public housing rental programs. If government’s position is to change that policy, they need to have a discussion and debate around this. People can’t afford what’s supplied by the market.

What lessons can our elders continue to impart?: Former Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Aziz Pahad has released a new book called ‘Insurgent Diplomat: Civil Talks or Civil War?’ Pahad:

It is the twentieth year of our democracy and it’s important to take the lessons from the past to inform our present challenges in order to prepare for a better future. I hope the book also shows how none of us were born activists, but through the environment and through good leadership within strong organisations, we became activists and we were able to achieve democracy for South Africa.

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