By Phillip de Wet for Business Insider SA

The Constitutional Court has ordered the decriminalisation of dagga for personal use – but that doesn’t mean you can’t be fired for using cannabis.
Policies on inebriation are still in force, and in some jobs a legal requirement, even though they’ll need to be adjusted.

Things will be particularly complicated over the next two years, while changes are made to legislation.
Smoking dagga can still get you fired, under the right circumstances. And staying away cannabis – at least just before you go to work – could still be a legitimate requirement for some jobs.

But things got a whole lot more complicated after the Constitutional Court on Tuesday said the use of dagga is not a criminal act.

And during the two-year period the Concourt gave Parliament to bring legislation in law with the Constitution, things are going to be particularly difficult when it comes to people getting high on the job, experts say.

“This is a curveball,” Richard Malkin, managing director of company wellness provider Workforce Healthcare, told Business Insider South Africa after the Concourt judgment, even if, ultimately, “nothing is really going to change from a workplace perspective.”

Occupational health and safety rules demand that companies keep the workplace safe, and that includes making sure nobody operates dangerous machines while inebriated – whatever the substance of choice.

For jobs involving heavy machinery, Malkin says, policy should require employees to disclose, up front, if they are using tranquillisers, for instance, even if under the direction of a doctor.

“The requirement is that you can’t be under the influence of any mind-altering substance; whether it is legal or illegal doesn’t really come into play.”

Jobs in finance, or customer-facing jobs such as call centre agents advising customers, should also come with policies on inebriation.

But testing for dagga use is not as straight-forward as a breathalyser test for alcohol. The common, cheap, and fast urine test for cannabis actually detects a metabolic product that can linger for days – well after the user is no longer mentally affected.

So what happens if that test shows dagga use, and you tell the boss you smoked dagga days before? Right now, at least, Malkin believes the only thing a company could do is ask for a spectrophotometric test, which takes around two days and costs around R2,000.

In the meantime, the employee will have to be temporarily suspended from sensitive duties, as a precaution.

The result of such a test could be grounds for dismissal, speculate labour specialists who were still studying the Concourt ruling, on the basis of dishonesty. Using dagga may not be a firing offence, but lying about it could be.

First, though, there could be a considerable fight about the whole process.

“Someone may have okayed drug testing by a company in a contract, but now that company can no longer look at THC [the active ingredient in cannabis],” says Quintin van Kerken, of The Clear Option, an organisation that works in the cannabis and addiction-treatment industry.

“It is pointless, because THC now falls under your right to privacy, so they can’t do anything with a THC test.”

Van Kerken believes there will be test cases about cannabis intoxication and medicinal use of cannabis in the workplace – perhaps soon – but until then there will be considerable confusion about the matter.

In the meanwhile, employees and employers both had better look at the exact wording of policies around drugs and inebriation at work, because a blanket reference to “alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication”, such as those now commonly found, don’t strictly apply do dagga anymore. Probably.

By Luke Daniel for The South African

The Sunday Times has dropped a bombshell, exposing a secret plot to overthrow President Cyril Ramaphosa, spearheaded by Jacob Zuma and his cohorts.

According to the report, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is doing everything in its power to downplay the allegations, as some party members deny their involvement and others do damage control.

It’s alleged that Zuma has held a number of covert conferences with his ANC allies. According to sources within the party, battle plans are being drawn for a presidential overthrow.

Who is team Zuma?
Former president Zuma has some staunch allies within the part – most of them high-ranking officials, with the power to seriously disrupt the status-quo. The report alleges that two meetings took place in Durban last week. Below is a list of those who are said to have been in attendance.

Former President Jacob Zuma
The man with the plan, Msholozi himself – sources within the ANC claim that Zuma is the mastermind behind the fight back and that his political supporters have been brought together to enact a presidential coup. A top ANC executive, who wished to remain anonymous, said:

“Zuma has a grudge… because of his removal. That is why he is always in the public eye. He’s not campaigning for the ANC, but against the ANC. He’s campaigning to the extent of not sleeping. He attends every function, funeral and church service – to make sure he’s in the public eye.”

ANC Secretary General Ace Magashule
Ace Magashule was elected Secretary General at the ANC’s 2017 National Conference. Magashule has always been a part of team Zuma – his leadership position seen as a trade-off for Ramaphosa’s presidency.

No stranger to controversy, the former Free State premiere has been embroiled in the dubious Vrede dairy project. This connects him directly to the infamous Gupta family, and to the broader issue of state-capture.

Supra Mahumapelo
President Jacob Zuma with North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo at the National Day of Reconciliation celebrations under the theme “Bridging the Divide towards a non-racial society” at Gopane in the North West Province.
The former premier of the North West province, Supra Mahumapelo, almost singlehandedly, managed to collapse local government under his tenure. The province was hit by a wave of service delivery protests, state coffers were looted, and the province was eventually placed under national administration.

Mahumapelo, like Magashule, is a fierce Zuma loyalist and is said to play an integral role in Zuma’s political resurgence.

Meokgo Matuba
The presence of the Women’s League (ANCWL) secretary-general, Meokgo Matuba, is unsurprising. The ANCWL has always been a firm supporter of former president Zuma. Under the tenure of Bathabile Dlamini, the Women’s League has defended Zuma through his presidential ousting and court appearances.

Thanduxolo Sabelo
The ANC Youth League (ANCYL) KwaZulu-Natal secretary, Thanduxolo Sabelo, is expected to take charge of the organisation’s national administration at the next elective conference.

Sabelo, who has overwhelming support in KwaZulu-Natal will likely replace Collen Maine as the league’s president.

Dudu Myeni
South African Airways (SAA), is in a shambles, largely thanks to former board chairperson Dudu Myeni. The National Treasury has accused her of botching a multimillion-rand funding deal. The disgraced former chairperson is also implicated in the Gupta saga and is under fire for her role in state capture.

Myeni is a close friend of Zuma, with many political adversaries citing her appointment to SAA’s board as a direct influence of the former president.

Zuma meetings exposed
According to the Sunday Times, two meetings took place last week in Durban.

The first meeting, on Wednesday, was attended by Magashule, Mahumapelo and Myeni; it was held at the Beverley Hills Hotel in Umhlanga Rocks.

On Thursday, all players involved, including Zuma, convened at the Maharani hotel in Durban.

Deny, deny, deny
While all parties accused of attending these clandestine meetings have denied their involvement, several ANC executives confirmed the allegations.

KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Senzo Mchunu, said he was aware of the meetings but directed any further questions to Magashule.

ANC KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, argued that no formal meeting between Zuma and Magashule had been scheduled.

ANC NEC member, Enoch Godongwana, maintained that while he wasn’t aware of any secret meetings, a clandestine conference involving Magashule would be cause for concern, saying:

“I don’t know about the meeting. I don’t know about its purpose. Maybe they were meeting for a birthday party. But if [it was a secret meeting] then it’s a problem because the office of the Secretary General is supposed to be respected. It’s supposed to unite us. If it becomes involved [in such meetings] then it’s worrying.”

ANCYL executive, Sabelo, confirmed that he met Magashule, but argued that it was a chance encounter with no erroneous undertones.

Yet, denial falls flat before evidence held by the Sunday Times. A photograph showing Magashule, Mahumapelo, Matuba and Zuma gathered at the Maharani hotel has been published for all the world to see.

Team Zuma: Battleplan
While clandestine meetings are, by nature, designed to conceal plans, part insiders report that the group supporting Zuma are aiming to challenge the results of last year’s ANC National Conference. The outcome of which led to Ramaphosa becoming the country’s president.

It’s reported that the pro-Zuma faction is taking the legal route; arguing that the Nasrec conference was marred by voting irregularities relating to branch meetings and illegitimate delegates.

An ANC insider confirmed that Zuma’s battle plan is due to emanate from the North West, saying:

“We have been told about this serious fightback… the one way they are considering is the alternative political party that was formed. Then there is a fight to go to court and take that route. But the real purpose is to disrupt the momentum we are getting before election.”

The official response
The ANC Women’s League issued a statement saying it was “not surprised by the false story in Sunday Times by Qaanitah Hunter and Jeff Wicks”, adding: “We support freedom of media and believes that journalists must be independent voices, however we will not be silent when Qaanitah and Jeff peddles lies that there are plans to outs President Ramaphosa and portrays former President Jacob Zuma as an enemy that should be alienated by members of the organization.

“It might not be far from the truth that Qaanitah and Jeff are advancing interests of local or international forces that seeks to projects the ANC as unstable organization and by extension the government being unstable.”

Later, the party issued an official statement calling the story “shameless gossip”.

Source: Fin24

South Africa is in its first technical recession in nine years.

Stats SA announced on Tuesday that the country’s real gross domestic product contracted by 0.7% in the second quarter of 2018. This follows a revised fall of 2.6% in the first quarter of the year.

Here are 10 things you need to know according to the report:

  1. The country’s agriculture sector was the hardest hit, with a decline of 29% in the second quarter of 2018. It contributed -0.8 of a percentage point to GDP growth. Stats SA says the decrease was mainly due to a drop in the production of field crops and horticultural products, and the impact of drought.
  2. Transport and trade were the sectors that were the second hardest hit. The national statistic service reported that the transport, storage and communication industry contracted by 4.9%, contributing -0.4% of a percentage point the GDP. Meanwhile the trade, catering and accommodation industry decreased by 1.9% and contributed -0.3 of a percentage point.
  3. Positive contributions to GDP came from the mining industry as well as the finance, real estate and business services sectors.
  4. Net exports also contributed positively to growth in expenditure on GDP, with exports of goods and services up 13.7%. This was largely influenced by increased trade in precious metals, mineral products and vegetable products. Imports increased by 3.1%.
  5. Expenditure on real gross domestic product decreased by 0.9% in the second quarter of 2018, following a decrease of 2.6% in the first quarter of 2018.
  6. Household final consumption expenditure decreased by 1.3% in the second quarter of 2018, contributing -0.8 of a percentage point to total growth. This was the first quarter-on-quarter decrease since the first quarter of 2016.
  7. Government final consumption expenditure increased by 0.7%, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point.
  8. Gross fixed capital formation decreased by 0.5%, contributing -0.1 of a percentage point.
  9. The manufacturing industry contracted by 0.3% in the second quarter. The majority of the 10 manufacturing divisions reported negative growth rates in the second quarter. The largest contributors to the decrease were the motor vehicles, parts and accessories and the furniture and ‘other’ manufacturing divisions.
  10. The rand immediately fell on news of the recession, compounding its earlier losses. After opening the day at R14.85/$ on Tuesday, it was trading at R15.22/$ at 13:05, down 2.4% on the day.

Source: Fin24

The rand briefly broke below R14.00 to the US dollar following the news that Parliament’s portfolio committee on public works withdrew its expropriation bill on Tuesday.

The public works committee said in a short statement that it “officially resolved, in accordance with Joint Rule 208 (2), to reject (withdraw) the Expropriation Bill [B4D of 2015] so that it may be re-introduced at a later stage”. The bill is separate to the review of section 25 of the Constitution currently under way to make it possible for the state to expropriate land without compensation.

The rand, which immediately firmed to R13.95/$, returned to trade 0.06% firmer at R14.15 to the greenback by 17:13 in Johannesburg.

Important to note is that the expropriation bill existed before the latest processes on land expropriation and was referred back to Parliament by former president Jacob Zuma, who said consultation around the bill was inadequate.

Zuma returned the bill to parliament in 2017 due to inadequate public participation for the bill.

During its December conference, the ANC and its delegates agreed that expropriating land without compensation should be among mechanisms to effect land reform.

The condition was that expropriation should not undermine the economy, agricultural production and food security.

The constitutional review committee is due to report back to Parliament regarding its findings from the nationwide hearings on expropriation soon.

By Bekezela Pakathi for Business Day

British Prime Minister Theresa May has welcomed SA’s approach to land reform, saying the UK supported land reform that’s legal and transparent.

“The UK has, for some time now, supported land reform that is legal, transparent and follows a democratic process … it’s an issue I raised with President [Cyril] Ramaphosa when he was in London earlier this year. I will be talking about it with him later [on Tuesday] … but I welcome the comments he has already made about approaching land reform, bearing in mind the economic and social consequences … and that land reform will be no smash and grab,” May said at a business forum in Cape Town earlier on Tuesday.

Last week, US President Donald Trump posted a controversial tweet on SA’s push to expropriate land without compensation. “I have asked Secretary of State [Mike] Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers,” tweeted Trump. “South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers.”

Responding to questions on the matter and whether expropriation without compensation could hurt SA’s efforts to attract foreign investment, May reiterated that the UK supported land reform that is “legal and transparent”. She said SA and the broader African continent offered significant opportunities for investors.

“I think there are real opportunities for the future. I brought a significant business delegation with me across a wide range of business activities from financial services to agriculture. Obviously we look across Africa … they are looking to invest [but] want to ensure that countries have that stable aspect investors are always looking for,” May said.

The UK’s development aid would look at how “we can assist in bringing stability to those states that are fragile”, she said.

May was in SA as part of a three-nation visit to Africa in an effort to strengthen Britain’s economic relations with the continent, ahead of the UK’s exit from the EU In 2019. She is due to visit Nigeria and Kenya this week.

Source: The Citizen

The Democratic Alliance says the department of energy’s no-show at a parliamentary meeting on fuel hikes is ‘disrespectful’ to people struggling with the high cost of living.

Davis was reacting to Energy Minister Jeff Radebe and his department’s failure to pitch for a meeting with MPs about fuel hikes.

“Minister Radebe and the energy department’s failure to turn up at an energy portfolio committee meeting on the petrol price is the clearest indication yet that government has no plan to deal with escalating fuel costs.

“This no-show by a government delegation was disrespectful to parliament and, more importantly, disrespectful to the millions of South Africans who are struggling with the high cost of living,” he said.

Davis said Radebe was supposed to communicate on the petrol price in the second week of July, but he had said nothing.

“This was his opportunity to offer South Africans hope that government had a plan to cushion the blow of high fuel costs. The minister has an opportunity to prove us wrong by appearing before the committee next Tuesday and presenting a credible plan to bring down the price of petrol,” he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, chairperson of the portfolio committee on energy Fikile Majola also slammed Radebe’s department for what he described as a “boycott” of the meeting.

Majola said the minister would be summoned to parliament next week to explain the department’s failure to attend the meeting.

Petrol price has increased from R13.76 in March to R16.02 in July.

By Iavan Pijoos for News24

On Friday last week, lobby group AfriForum posted on its website that it had “obtained a list of farms identified” for expropriation. This can seen here.

It claimed it was being circulated within the rural development department.

AfriForum encouraged farmers to check if their farms were on the list and to contact the organisation so that they could “prepare for a joint legal strategy”.

Analysts at the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) believe that a list said to contain the names of farms that are to be targeted for land expropriation without compensation is “legitimate”.

“While we note the statement by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform that ‘there is no truth to this document, the IRR, whose analysts have had sight of the list, has every reason to believe it is legitimate,” campaign manager Terence Corrigan said on Tuesday.

Corrigan said government had decided to start farm seizures before public comment and parliamentary processes were concluded.

“This is at odds – as the IRR has long warned – with assurances made by ruling party and government leaders that only unproductive land will be seized.

“The IRR has long cautioned that undermining property rights will have catastrophic economic and social ramifications,” Corrigan said.

List disputed by government
The department has disputed that a such a list exists.

Earlier this month, City Press reported that the ANC had identified 139 farms to be expropriated without compensation in the coming weeks, to test section 25 of the Constitution.

The list, shared by AfriForum, contained the names of 195 farms.

AfriForum deputy CEO Ernst Roets said the list came from a “confidential source”.

Farmers ‘worried’ about exposure

Agri SA president Dan Kriek said AfriForum’s publishing of this list was “grossly irresponsible” as it had itself acknowledged that its legitimacy was in doubt.

“They themselves don’t know if it’s valid or not,” Kriek said.

Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, Kriek said that two farmers whose farms were on the list had contacted him.

“By the way, some of those farmers were extremely agitated that they have now been exposed,” Kriek said.

He said the farmers were “extremely worried about the name of their farm [appearing] on a list”.

Source: IOL 

Edcon Holdings said on Thursday that it will be closing three of their chains: Boardmans, Red Square and La Senza lingerie.

This is the latest strategy to save the company after dwindling sales and profits.

By shutting down the other chains they hope to attract more customers to their flagship Edgars stores.

The decision to shut down certain chains comes from the newly appointed CEO Grant Pattison who took over the position fro Bernie Brookes. Edcon is South Africa’s largest non-food retailer.

The Johannesburg company has had a hard time staying afloat amid weak consumer spending and economic growth and in 2016, the company had to be taken over by banks and bank holders to stop it from collapsing.

Under Pattison’s plan, Edgars will cut down on more than 1 300 stores’ footprints as well as reduce floor space by 17% over the next five years to increase profitability.

They will also be focusing on Edgars mainly, which sells most of the of the items that are available in the stores that are being shut down.

Other stores that have made the cut include CNA and Jet.

Pattison said that he thinks that the company can turn. He said, “The quicker we can do this, the better”.

Debt

The urgency to make changes comes after Edcon retail sales dropped by 9,4% in three months through December 23 while adjusted earnings before tax, taxes depreciation and amortisation declining by 25%.

The owners of Edcon Holdings are Frank Templeton Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC and Harvard University Pension Fund. They took over when Edcon was struggling under foreign-currency debt that was used to finance the takeover by Bain Capital Private Equity LP in 2007.

The 89-year-old company also employs 14 000 permanent a significant number in a country where more than 1 in 4 people are unemployed.

At the of last year, the company’s net debt was R4,2 billion. Some of the other attempts to revive the company include increasing the workforce, decreasing prices and bringing in international brands.

Edcon said earlier this year that they were in talks with creditors about refinancing debt to strengthen the balance sheet. Edcon also has liquidity facilities and credit facilities that will be maturing towards the end of 2018.

By Roxanne Henderson and Antony Sguazzin for Business Day

The Reserve Bank has written to the National Credit Regulator requesting a probe of loan-origination fees charged by Capitec, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The referral came after the issue was raised in a report by short-seller Viceroy Research in January, said the person, asking not to be identified because the matter is private.

The investigation is ongoing, the person said.

On Tuesday, Capitec shares were trading down 1.9% at R870.89 at 9.05am on the JSE.

Capitec chief financial officer Andre du Plessis said he was unaware of the central bank’s referral, or of an investigation by the Johannesburg-based credit watchdog.

In the report, Viceroy said Capitec’s income was boosted by excessive fees on its multiloan product, which carried a monthly charge for allowing a previously vetted customer to extend their facility by answering some questions.

While Capitec said it terminated the product in 2016 — after rules introduced by the NCR meant it was no longer viable — Viceroy said the lender rebranded it and that Capitec’s methods risk over-indebting consumers.

Capitec denied this, saying Viceroy did not understand how the product or its processes work.

The NCR had previously probed the multiloan facility and was satisfied with the fees and interest charged, Capitec said on February 8.

‘Very active’

Both the Johannesburg-based NCR and Pretoria-based central bank declined to comment.

The central bank monitors lenders for their compliance with rules ranging from their operations and capital levels to staffing and money laundering, with the ability to fine companies or revoke their licenses. The NCR can also administer financial penalties on lenders which violate the National Credit Act, legislation aimed at protecting consumers from becoming over-indebted.

Officials from the central bank and the NCR told MPs in March that many of the allegations made by Viceroy were not new and that not all of them were accurate.

“The Reserve Bank is very active in doing ongoing reviews at all the banks,” said Du Plessis, speaking more broadly on the regulator’s oversight. “If anything bothers them, they actually contact us or ask that we report on something. That happens on an ongoing basis.”

On Friday, Capitec announced it had reached an agreement with Summit Financial Partners, which was challenging the lender in court and before the NCR on behalf of six complainants.

The cases, which mostly centred on Capitec’s now defunct multiloan facility, were withdrawn.

Capitec’s stock has declined 19% this year, more than any of the other lenders on the six-member FTSE/JSE Africa banks index, which is down 5.6%.

By Adam Liptak and Michael D. Shear for The New York Times

The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld President Trump’s ban on travel from mostly-Muslim nations, delivering a robust endorsement of Trump’s power to control the flow of immigration into America at a time of political upheaval about the treatment of migrants at the Mexican border.

In a 5-to-4 vote, the court’s conservatives said the president’s statutory power over immigration was not undermined by his history of incendiary statements about the dangers he said Muslims pose to Americans.

Trump, who has battled court challenges to the travel ban since the first days of his administration, hailed the decision to uphold his third version of an executive order as a “tremendous victory” and promised to continue using his office to defend the country against terrorism and extremism.

“This ruling is also a moment of profound vindication following months of hysterical commentary from the media and Democratic politicians who refuse to do what it takes to secure our border and our country,” the president said in a statement issued by the White House soon after the ruling.

The vindication came even as Trump is reeling from weeks of controversy over his decision to impose “zero tolerance” at America’s southern border, leading to politically searing images of children being separated from their parents as families cross into the United States without proper documentation.

Trump and his advisers have long argued that presidents are given vast authority to reshape the way America controls its borders. The president’s attempts to do that began with the travel ban and continues today with his demand for an end to “catch and release” of illegal immigrants.

“We want strong borders and we want no crime,” Trump said Monday. “Strong borders. We want no crime.”

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said that Trump had ample statutory authority to make national security judgments in the realm of immigration. And he rejected a constitutional challenge to Trump’s latest executive order on the matter, his third, this one issued as a proclamation in September.

But the court’s liberals decried the decision. In a passionate and searing dissent from the bench, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the decision was no better than Korematsu v. United States, the 1944 decision that endorsed the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

By upholding the travel ban, she said, the court “merely replaces one gravely wrong decision with another.”

The countries affected include:

  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Syria
  • Libya
  • Yemen
  • Somalia
  • Sudan

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