Government seeks to ban medical aids

Source: MyBroadband

The ANC government wants to “ban” medical aids in its current format when its planned National Health Insurance (NHI) service kicks in.

This is according to a Rapport article, citing a leaked letter which the Treasury wrote to Olive Shishana, head of the government’s NHI war room.

This, the newspaper said, is a turnaround from the National Health Insurance Bill which was released for public comment in July – which stated that medical aids would continue to operate as normal.

The new version of the NHI Bill, which according to the leaked letter was already sent to cabinet for approval, does not support medical aids in their current format.

Rapport said the new version contains a clause which prevents medical aids or any other voluntary private health insurance scheme covering anything which is offered through the NHI.

This is to make sure the NHI “achieves its objectives” and will “eliminate the fragmentation of health care funding”.

NHI shenanigans exposed
Spotlight, which is published by Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign, said the NHI Bill has been changed without consultation and agreed upon changes were not implemented.

Spotlight said Shisana and Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi have sidelined Department of Health and Treasury officials in preparing a new version of the bill for submission to Cabinet.

“The Treasury letter highlights an amended provision stating that the role of medical schemes will only be complementary to the fund,” Spotlight said.

“Medical schemes will thus not be allowed to offer services already offered through NHI”.

According to the Treasury letter, such a provision is “highly premature given that it will take years for the fund to be meaningfully offering services equivalent to those existing 8.8 million current medical scheme users access from the private sector”.

“This section is unnecessary at this point and will be perceived as extremely threatening to existing medical scheme users and tax payers, to the entire private health sector, and will undermine investment.”

“This section will almost certainly bog the bill down in endless legal challenges and should be deleted,” the Treasury letter states.

SA retailers reveal deals for Black Friday 2018

By Lauren Hartzenberg for BizCommunity

Retailers and shoppers are gearing up for the biggest sale day on the retail calendar, Black Friday, taking place on 23 November this year. The event marks the beginning of the festive shopping season. It also allows consumers to save on Christmas shopping and retailers to boost sales and move stock before the festive season really kicks in.

Black Friday has picked up steam in South Africa since its entry into the local market in 2015, with a growing number of retailers and brands participating in the event each year. 2017 was the strongest Black Friday to date for consumer electronics sales in South Africa, and Superbalist celebrated its biggest trading day with over 118% year-on-year growth.

This year, many local retailers opted to extend the sale weekend into a week- or month-long affair, possibly to secure spend from those consumers whose payday only falls in the week after Black Friday.

Below are some of the retailers that have confirmed participation in Black Friday 2018:

@home
@home will offer discounts across categories on Black Friday. Deals include R3000 off a Smeg Mixer, R7000 off couches, up to R1,000 off pot sets, and further deals on kitchen, dining, décor, bedding and furniture ranges.

American Swiss and Sterns
TFG-owned jewellery stores American Swiss and Sterns will be offering in-store specials of up to 50% off selected jewellery and watches.

Clicks
Clicks is holding an online only Pre-Black Friday Extravaganza from 16 November to 22 November, that continues over the Black Friday weekend, in stores and online, and concludes with Cyber Week from 25 November to 2 December (online only). The deals are exclusive to ClubCard members.
The retailer has promised the following specials: Up to 70% off technology and accessories, up to 50% off beauty products, up to 50% off electrical products, up to 50% off household products, up to 40% off health products, up to 30% off baby products.

Dion Wired
Starting on 22 November at midnight, right through to 23 November, Dion Wired shoppers can save up to 53% on a variety of brands both in-store and online.

Faithful to Nature
Faithful to Nature is running its Black5Day Sale on its site from 19 to 23 November. Each day reveals new specials with savings of between 40% to 50% on wellness and eco-friendly brands like Wazoogles, Back2Nature, Bee Natural and Triple Orange.
The retailer will also donate a portion of their turnover from the Black5Day Sale to Endangered Wildlife Trust to support them in their animal protection movements, from poaching to climate change, habitat destruction and pollution.

FirstShop
FirstShop will run Black Friday deals from 21-27 November, with discounts across categories including laptops, desktops, monitors, hard drives, PC components, headphones, speakers, and PC peripherals.

Foschini
Shoppers can get access to Foschini’s best Black Friday deals by signing up to TFG Rewards to qualify for an exclusive preview taking place in stores nationwide on Thursday 22 November at 4pm. For extra offers and more info around the sale, customers are urged to sign up to Foschini’s newsletter.

Game
Game launched deals as early as 7 November to build up momentum for the main shopping event on Black Friday. The retailer promises discounts across all categories at all its 145 stores in South Africa and Africa on the day, and some stores will be opening several hours earlier than normal – some as early as midnight on 22 November – to accommodate the rush.
Additionally, on Cyber Monday shoppers will be able to pick up “phenomenal deals” on a variety of tech products including laptops, tablets, smartphones and digital accessories.

Makro
Makro is running a 5-day Black Friday promotion from 21-25 November 2018, with price cuts on over 26,000 products. Mobile POS systems will be rolled out during the sale, letting customers purchasing a small number of items pay while standing in a queue. In-store trading hours have also been extended for the period.
Interestingly, the retailer has partnered with Uber to offer a R50 discount on rides to and from Makro outlets in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. The voucher code MAKRO5DAY can be used twice per rider.

Markham
Markham is giving shoppers up to 50% off its fashion sale goods. The ‘Make your Mark’ Black Friday offer is also available in its Relay Jeans stores and on both online sites.
myTFGworld.com
Black Friday deals from TFG’s new marketplace include box sets of family favourites from Reader’s Warehouse at 20% off, fresh flowers and bouquets from Bloomable at 20% off, and a free retro phone with any Pylones purchase.

Pick n Pay
Pick n Pay got a head start on Black Friday, announcing online deals as early as 5 November. Online customers can expect discounts of up to 50% across various categories on the Pick n Pay’s online shop, including liquor, food, toiletries and household products. Deals have also been launched for select appliances. Deals will run weekly from 5 to 25 November.

Pricecheck
On Black Friday, price comparison site PriceCheck will have a list of curated Black Friday deals, encompassing all site-wide deals either above 30% or equal to R2,000 or more in saving. PriceCheck’s Black Friday deals will run from 19 November to 26 November, with category specials running daily in the build-up to Black Friday.

RunwaySale
Online fashion retailer RunwaySale will be running a week-long promotion, starting at 5am on 19 November and ending at midnight on 25 November.
Daily escalating discounts will be available on thousands of designer fashion and accessory brands, culminating in up to 80% off. There will also be exclusive offers for VIP shoppers, early launch sales and other daily pop-up specials.

Shoprite
Shoprite is promising “lower prices than ever” with up to 50% off on selected products on Black Friday. All deals are valid on 23 November 2018 while stocks last.

Sportscene
Sportscene Shoppers can score up to 75% off selected sneakers and shop a curated selection of streetwear apparel and accessories at up to 50% off.

Superbalist
Superbalist is running various Black Friday specials for five days, from 23 to 27 November, with new deals unlocked each day. These deals will be revealed via email, on the mobile app and via a Facebook event. Superbalist has also super-sized their 2018 Black Friday sale to run for five days.

Takealot
Takealot’s famous Blue Dot Sale will run for five days with discounts of up to 60% on Black Friday, throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday and Takealot Tuesday. Download the Takealot.com app for access to pre-Black Friday sales, app-only deals and sneak previews.

Teljoy
South African online retailer for electronics, furniture and household goods, if offering Black Friday discounts for a whole week, from 19 November to Cyber Monday on 26 November. Brands on sales include Hisense, Panasonic, Huawei, HP, Mecer and Defy.

The Fix
Fashion retailer The Fix will have buy-one-get-one-free offers both in-store and online this Black Friday. TFG Rewards customers get exclusive access to Black Friday offers at The Fix all day on Thursday, 22 November.

The Gadget Shop
The Gadget Shop will run a Black Friday sale from 23-25 November, with 20% off all products except for DJI drones, and up to 50% off selected products. There will also be buy-one-get-one-free specials on selected products. The Gadget Shop will also run Cyber Monday online-only deals.

Toys R Us
Toy retailer Toys R Us says it will be running Black Friday deals on its top brands with up to 70% off.

Zando
Zando is offering up to 90% across categories on its site, including on major brands like Adidas and Puma. Beginning at 00:01 on Friday, 23 November the Zando Black Friday sale will run over the entire weekend including Cyber Monday.

Government adopts land expropriation report

By Gaye Davis & Babalo Ndenze for EWN

South Africa’s taken the first step towards legislating for the expropriation of land without compensation, but there is a long road ahead before it becomes law.

Parliament’s constitutional review committee has adopted its final report, which recommends that Section 25 of the Constitution, the property clause, be amended to make expropriation without compensation explicit.

The report is expected to come before the National Assembly for debate and adoption in two weeks’ time.

Parliament is expected to debate and adopt the committee’s report at the end of November, but that’s just the start of a lengthy process to amend the Constitution, which could also face legal challenges along the way.

A parliamentary committee will then have to draft and process what will be the 18th Constitution Amendment Bill.

That’ll involve a fresh round of public participation and comment.

Given some parties’ and civil society organisations’ opposition to amending the Constitution, legal challenges could delay the process.

Parliament’s schedule also makes it unlikely the bill will be voted on before next year’s elections.

A final hurdle is that any constitutional amendment that affects the Bill of Rights requires a much bigger than a normal majority to pass.

Constitutional review committee co-chairperson Stan Maila said: “If you want to change anything in Chapter 2 (which deals with the Bill of Rights, and is where Section 25 appears), then you need a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly and six (of the nine) provinces (backing it) in the National Council of Provinces.”

At the same time, the ANC has made it absolutely clear that there’s no chance of a constitutional amendment before next year’s elections, as stated in the committee’s adopted report.

The EFF, which voted with the ANC, has also called on the amendment to be finalised before the end of the current term.

Committee member Vincent Smith said: “What is very clear is that there will be no voting on the actual constitutional amendment before elections, I hope that clarifies it. There will be no voting on it, it’s just not practically possible.”

The ANC has also dismissed opposition accusations that the party and EFF are using land expropriation as an electioneering ploy.

“Is this a sham for electioneering purposes? It’s not, because people who understand know that the process of actually amending the Constitution is not going to happen until after the elections,” Smith added.

The party added that the adoption of this final report will bring about an end to policy uncertainty while also addressing historic wrongs.

Standard Bank to retrench 526 IT workers

By Kabelo Khumalo for IOL 

South Africa’s jobs bloodbath is raging with Standard Bank today announcing that the restructuring of its IT division will see more than 500 workers sacrificed.

Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom says of the impacted permanent staff, the majority are in the executive and managerial bands.

“This process will result in 526 IT employees receiving Section 189 notices which will commence the consultative process with the employees involved”.

“This process will create over 180 new-generation IT positions within the bank. Regrettably, this will also result in the loss of a number of existing traditional IT positions,” Linstrom said.

The bank said the restructuring was instigated by “emerging technologies and increased demands from customers”.

The unrelenting jobs bloodbath seems to be gathering steam. Power Utility Eskom has already announced plans to cut its workforce, the SABC has said it would have to let go of more than 1 000 workers for it to keep afloat. Telkom’s subsidiary BCX last week also joined the bandwagon and warned that it will retrench about 700 employees.

Ironically, as part of stemming the jobs bloodbath, all stakeholders at the Jobs Summit held last month had committed themselves to concrete steps to avoid retrenchments and support struggling companies.

SAPO CEO sets deadline to clear backlog

A backlog of millions of items still waiting to be delivered at the Johannesburg nerve centre of the Post Office is being cleared as fast as possible.

That’s according to SAPO CEO Mark Barnes, who has stated that the provider is looking to clear the backlog by 24 November 2018.

“We started off in April with a 46-million item backlog and we are now down to a 7.8-million backlog.”

The bulk of that is sitting at the Witspos Hub in Johannesburg.

SAPO defines a “backlog” as any item of post five or more days behind schedule.

Barnes says there have been some improvements in clearing the domestic mailing backlog but they still need to catch up with international deliveries.

Listen to the full interview here.

Malusi Gigaba resigns

By Tshidi Madia for News24

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba resigned from his post following mounting pressure for President Cyril Ramaphosa to give him the boot.

He decided to step down of his own accord, following a meeting with some of his comrades in the ANC on Tuesday morning, one of the provincial party leaders says.

The presidency confirmed Gigaba’s resignation via a statement in the afternoon, saying he decided to do so “for the sake of our country and the movement to which he belongs”.

“He resigned of his own accord, he showed some remorse and decided to step aside,” Ekurhuleni Mayor and ANC chairperson in the region Mzwandile Masina told News24.

“We met with him in the morning, discussed this issue and said the writing is on the wall and that it was best for him to resign.”

“To stay on and wait to be fired is arrogant,” added Masina.

He said the former minister’s friends and comrades advised him to step down and fight his battles outside of government.

“We said he must think of the ANC and his family, telling him it was best to step aside and fight the issues from outside,” said Masina.

Gigaba has been at the centre of numerous controversies, which led to growing calls for President Cyril Ramaphosa to axe him.

In recent weeks Gigaba had: a leaked private video of him engaging in a sexual act; the Constitutional Court’s dismissal of his application for leave to appeal a finding that he lied under oath about approving the Oppenheimers’ private terminal at OR Tambo International Airport; and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane reaching similar conclusions to the court in her own investigation into the Fireblade scandal.

“He needs to apply for different court processes to clear his name. He cannot be a public representative, he cannot sit on boards… it’s about his integrity,” said Masina.

Masina also said Gigaba, out of his love for the ANC and his own contributions to the liberation movement where he once served as ANC Youth League president, agreed.

Internal battles in the ANC

Masina, who has been publicly defending Gigaba, refused to name others who took part in the Tuesday meeting. But said there appeared to be an understanding that the younger generation of leaders within the party, would not get a chance to lead it.

“There is a whole generation being wiped out of government, it has no prospects,” said Masina.

He told News24 this was linked to internal battles within the ANC.

Gigaba himself has previously said there was a campaign to destroy him, accusing Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises of joining in on the campaign after a report into his role at Eskom was leaked.

“We are blaming no one, he is taking responsibility and he will fight,” said Masina of his comrade and friend.

A guide to buying on Black Friday

Source: News24

Research shows that the Black Friday phenomenon has grown faster in South Africa than any other country in the world.

Black Friday, a retail promotion that takes place on the last Friday of November after the American Thanksgiving holiday, originated in America in the 1950s.

Last year, PriceCheck saw three times the number of daily visits to its online shopping comparison website on Black Friday, and twice the number on Cyber Monday, compared to its 2017 average.

In addition, these visits were on average 30% longer than the 2017 average duration. This year is likely to surpass that, with PayPal predicting that South Africans’ online shopping spend will top R53bn by the end of 2018, up from R37.1bn in 2017. But as the South African online shopping market grows, providing more to choose from, shoppers should put a game plan in place to ensure they get the best deals from the most reliable, and secure retailers.

Lebogang Mokubela, founder of township-based retail marketing company Lemok Group, says: “Black Friday marketing has been exceptional with millions of rand being invested to draw crowds to their offerings.”

Taking a look at shopping centres across the country with a combined GLA of approximately 23.4 million square metres, an average of 3.2% of tenants participated in Black Friday in 2016 and an average of 21% of tenants participated in Black Friday in 2017 – an increase of 17.8% year on year, Mokubela says. Small regional shopping centres indicated a growth average of 31% year-on-year.

Tips for getting the best deals on Black Friday

  • Have a plan. Know what you want, need and can afford before you get enticed by all the shiny offers in front of you
  • Choose a secure way to pay: credit card payments that ask you for a supplementary one-time pin – such as Verified by Visa, Snapscan and PayPal – are all good options
  • Take note of the delivery and return details. Will you get the purchase when you need it, and if you need to return it, will you end up paying more on delivery costs?
  • Look out for hidden costs or additional purchases you might need to make
  • Compare deals: similar deals might be packaged slightly differently, so make sure you are comparing apples with apples
  • Only buy from reputable retailers so you can be sure you will receive authentic products

Fired Moyane demands reinstatement

Source: Fin24

Axed SARS boss Tom Moyane has written to President Cyril Ramaphosa demanding that Ramaphosa withdraw his letter of termination to Moyane before the end of the week.

In a letter issued via his attorney Eric Mabuza on Tuesday, Moyane gave Ramaphosa a deadline of 12 noon on Friday November 9 to withdraw the termination on grounds that the president’s conduct was “irrational, unlawful and invalid”.

“[W]e are instructed to demand, as we hereby do, that you must forthwith withdraw your letter of termination dated 1 November 2018, restore the status quo which obtained before the service thereof (i.e. that our client is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the Disciplinary Inquiry) and duly await the outcome of the pending Constitutional Court application and/or the Disciplinary Inquiry,” the letter reads.

Last week the Presidency confirmed that President Cyril Ramaphosa had fired Tom Moyane as the commissioner of the South African Revenue Service (SARS).

Ramaphosa had heeded the recommendations of the Nugent Commission of Inquiry, which submitted its interim report at the end of September.

Retired judge Robert Nugent and his assistants unanimously agreed that Moyane does not have the character of a person fit to lead Sars and he should be removed from office as a matter of urgency.

South Africa’s fuel price cap is on the way

Source: Supermarket & Retailer 

Energy minister, Jeff Radebe, has announced that the proposal to cap the price of 93 octane petrol will be finalised by the end of January 2019.

Speaking in a parliamentary Q&A session on Wednesday (31 October), Radebe said that the proposal has been circulated to the fuel wholesale and retail industries which have been asked to comment on it, reports BusinessDay,

“We are very serious about changing and putting a cap on 93 octane,” said Radebe.

He added that the cap would go a long way in alleviating pressure on consumers.

The confirmation comes after Radebe announced that Government was considering fixing a maximum price for unleaded fuel at the start of October.

“Government is deeply concerned by the rising cost of petrol in South Africa which is largely caused by the rand-dollar exchange rate and the price of crude oil,” said Radebe at the time.

He added that a task team, including officials from the Department of Energy and the National Treasury, are examining what to do to cushion the blow of another increase as the international price of crude oil has kept increasing.

Radebe placed a hold on petrol price increases for the month of September, with only a five cents increase added as part of an ongoing wage agreement.

However, this was followed by a record increase in October as the price of 93 octane fuel increased by 99 cents per litre, while 95 octane was increased by another R1 at the pumps.

November is expected to provide a slight relief for owners of petrol vehicles, while the price of diesel is expected to see another large increase.

By Genevieve Quintal for Business Live

The VBS Mutual Bank is “hopelessly insolvent” and should be wound up as the purpose and object of the bank no longer exists.

This is according to the Reserve Bank’s Prudential Authority’s application to the high court in Pretoria.

The bank was placed under curatorship in March after looting by executives led to a liquidity crisis. A damning Reserve Bank report by advocate Terry Motau and Werksmans Attorneys, released earlier in October, detailed looting at VBS bank of nearly R2bn and identified the role of political players from the ANC and the EFF.

In an affidavit to the high court, Prudential AuthorityCEO Kuben Naidoo said the bank was hopelessly insolvent.

“Despite the efforts of the curator, the vortex of the black hole created by the role-players named in the investigator’s report, has resulted in the disappearance of VBS’s substratum and it being objectively impossible for VBS to achieve the purpose of its existence,” he said.

This decision will not sit well with various ANC MPs and those from the EFF who have called for the bank to be recapitalised.

During his maiden medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) last week, finance minister Tito Mboweni also indicated that the embattled bank could be saved. But Naidoo said the restatement of the 2017 financial statements, which were falsified and signed off by KPMG partner Sipho Malaba, was a monumental task for the curator, Anoosh Rooplal, to reconstruct the VBS balance sheet.

The results of this indicated that VBS’s liabilities exceed its assets and therefore it was “factually insolvent”. Naidoo said there was no possibility that VBS would be in a position to pay its debts and there was no possibility or prospect of the bank becoming a successful concern.

Rooplal also determined that curatorship was no longer viable for VBS.

It was necessary to bring an end to the curatorship as it would enable a liquidator to utilise the mechanisms provided by the insolvency and company law legislation, to recover monies from recipients in terms of void and impeachable transactions.

Naidoo said that after receiving a letter from the curator and after considering the investigator’s report he, in consultation with the governors of the Reserve Bank, determined that VBS must be placed in final winding up. “VBS is hopelessly insolvent and massive frauds have been perpetrated against it. There is no prospect of entering into any resolution plan in respect of VBS.”

The present activities relating to VBS are primarily directed at recoveries resulting from the thefts and frauds addressed in the Motau’s report, he said, adding that in the circumstances, it would not serve any purpose to grant a provisional winding-down order, as the conclusion of the “hopeless financial position” and the conduct of those who managed VBS, was unavoidable

He has asked the court to hear the urgent application to finally liquidate VBS on November 13, and has also asked the high court to appoint Rooplal as the liquidator as he has been inextricably involved in the affairs of VBS for the past seven months.

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