E-toll mess just gets messier

Sanral may have to restart the legal process from scratch should it want to recover the money it claims it’s owed, or abandon the cases entirely.

Last week, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) barred roads agency Sanral from pleading 55 cases against its members in court on the grounds that it had not followed court procedures and had delayed presenting its cases in court. These 55 cases represent nearly R2-million in outstanding e-tolls.

What this means is that Sanral may have to restart the legal process from scratch should it want to recover the money it claims it’s owed, or abandon the cases entirely. The roads agency has issued several thousand summonses to collect outstanding e-tolls and has obtained default judgement against some who failed to put up a defence in court. Though Sanral has trumpeted these default judgments as precedent-setting victories, Outa says they are nothing of the sort. They merely mean the defendants failed to show up in court and argue the case.

Outa is defending roughly 150 summonses issued against its members, roughly a third of which it says have now been barred.

Sanral is attempting to recover about R11bn in outstanding e-tolls from Gauteng motorists. Some 3m motorists are reckoned to owe e-tolls, out of 3,5-4m registered motorists in the province.

As usual, Outa and Sanral have entirely different interpretations of the same facts. Says Vusi Mona, Sanral’s GM for communications: “There are no matters in which Sanral has been barred from pleading. There have been ongoing engagements with Outa’s attorneys for agreed timeframes for the exchange of pleadings and there are no operative bars against Sanral.”

Both Sanral and Outa had previously agreed to run a “test case” which would serve as a legal precedent, so as to avoid clogging the courts with thousands of cases. Last month, Outa pulled out of the test case process as this was taking too long to get to court, opting instead to lodge papers in the high court in Pretoria in defence of one of its members, Thandanani Truckers and Hauliers, which outlines its opposition to e-tolls.

“We were aware that while developing the complicated e-toll test case process, Sanral was issuing default judgments and declarations against the general public, in the belief they would be able to secure a precedent-setting case,” says Ben Theron, Outa’s chief operating officer. “One would have thought Sanral would have learnt by now that coercion and intimidation have not worked in the past and will not resolve the entity’s mounting debt.

“As far as Outa is concerned, Sanral’s journey of following an extensive litigation process to collect outstanding debt will take years to unfold and is a significant waste of the courts’ time and taxpayers’ money,” says Theron.

Another potential problem for Sanral is the issue of prescription in terms of the Prescription Act, which makes it difficult for creditors to recover debts older than three years.

Who is going to criminalise 3m motorists? We know what happens to governments who go to war with their own people on issues such as this
E-tolls came into being in December 2013, so any outstanding e-tolls from December 2013 to May 2014 may have to be written off by Sanral. Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage reckons that more than R1bn of the outstanding e-tolls have now prescribed and are therefore unrecoverable by Sanral. And it’s getting worse every day.

Sanral’s Mona takes a different view: “To date, the issue of prescription has not been raised by any defendant in any matter where Sanral has sought payment of outstanding e-tolls. In any event, the failure to pay e-tolls is a criminal offence which is not subject to prescription.”

Sanral is relying on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, which criminalises certain traffic-related offences in the Joburg and Pretoria metropolitan areas.
Wayne Duvenage
A legal expert specialising in prescription told Moneyweb that Sanral is treading on thin ground if it is relying on Aarto to recover its debts. “Sanral’s attempts to recover debts is a civil matter, and the Prescription Act applies. If I was defending clients summonsed by Sanral I would argue this vigorously and have any debt older than three years thrown out. I doubt any court is going to look at this as a criminal matter.

“Another point I would argue is that Sanral is potentially engaging in reckless lending in terms of the National Credit Act, since it is effectively issuing credit without doing the requisite credit assessment, despite the fact that Sanral says it is exempt from the NCA.”

Duvenage says the matter of prescription is likely to be contested by Sanral but any entity attempting to criminalise 3m defaulting motorists through the courts is playing with fire. Who is going to criminalise 3m motorists? We know what happens to governments who go to war with their own people on issues such as this.”

Theron says despite warnings from civil society that the Gauteng e-toll scheme would collapse due to its cumbersome, costly and burdensome administrative processes, Sanral and the department of transport have decided to continue their litigious war against motorists.

Meanwhile, earlier this month, Sanral announced that it had cancelled all future bond auctions pending the outcome of a governmental task team inquiry into road funding. Sanral needs to borrow about R600m/month to cover its interest bill and operations, but the auctions have been poorly supported over the last year. Sanral says it has enough cash to last a few months. Institutional investors and rating agencies are increasingly concerned at the state of governance in state-owned companies, which means the government will be left to pick up the tab.

Source: MoneyWeb

Carmakers committed to SA despite GM’s exit

Car manufacturers say they are still committed to the South African market.

This comes after US carmaker General Motors (GM) announced its plans to dis-invest from the South African market. This is part of the group’s strategy to withdraw its operations in international markets.

GM confirmed to Fin24 that its decision was not influenced by local economic and political factors, such as the downgrade to junk status. GM embarked on a process to review its international operations, and its actions to improve its performance, as far back as 2013, when the group exited Australia, the carmaker said.

GM’s competitors shared similar sentiments about the local investment environment.

Matt Gennrich, General Manager of Communications at Volkswagen South Africa (VWSA), explained that the group takes long term investment decisions, which are not impacted by “short-term socio-political, economic issues”.

Last year VWSA invested R5.5bn toward new product development, with the new products expected to be launched to market next year, said Gennrich. He reiterated that VWSA is committed to the investment, and expects growth in the motor industry. VWSA produced close to 130 000 units in 2016, up from 123 000 in 2015.

Ford, which has been operating in South Africa since 1923, also said it would remain committed to growing its business in South Africa. The company sold 73 856 cars in South Africa in 2016.

So far for 2017, the motor company has sold 23 732 units, said corporate communications manager, Alisea Chetty. The company has doubled the amount of vehicles assembled at its Silverton Assembly Plant in Pretoria.

Regarding the low economic growth environment, Chetty said challenges such as market and political volatility, power supply concerns, underdevelopment of skills, poverty and unemployment are concerning. But the company remains bullish about the opportunities that still exist in the local market.
Diederik Reitsma, general manager of communications at BMW South Africa said his company was taking a long-term view regarding its investments. The company recently invested R6bn in its Rosslyn Plant in Pretoria.

In 2016, the Rosslyn plant produced 63 000 units. However, a volume below 63 000 is expected in 2017. “[This is] due to normal life cycle developments of the current BMW 3 Series and shutdowns for BMW X3 preparations,” he said.

City Press, reporting on GM’s recent performance, said that even though the manufacturer’s Struandale plant has the capacity to produce 100 000 units, it had not met the annual minimum production volume of 50 000 units since 2013.

Over the past four years, it produced 167 078 units, this is 40 000 units a year. This includes the Isuzu bakkies manufactured at the facility, City Press reported. In 2016, GM only produced 31 000 units.
This is 5% of the 604 000 units produced by the industry in 2016, according to the National Association of Automobile manufacturers if South Africa (Naamsa).

In a statement issued by GM South Africa on Friday, the group confirmed it commenced a Section 189 process, which may impact 589 employees.

By Lameez Omarjee for Fin24

Government wants to keep tabs on emigration

Government has unveiled plans to limit emigration by tracking those leaving SA for more than three months.

Despite working on building a more inclusive South Africa with opportunities for all, the government’s solution is to try and limit the number of South Africans leaving the country.

Sounds unbelievable? Well, it is.

On Sunday, Rapport reported that cabinet has approved a piece of legislation – don’t worry, it’s not law yet – that would allow the department of home affairs to put a trace on all South African citizens planning to leave the country for more than three months.

According to BusinessTech, the Department of Home Affairs’ White Paper on international migration would be used as a means of keeping tabs on folks outside of the country and to try and limit the number of people looking to leave.

The document also outlines the department of home affairs’ plans on how to deal with the massive influx of African immigrants looking for greener pastures in Mzansi, with the controversial ‘open borders policy’ forming the backbone of said strategy.

Since Jacob Zuma wrestled control of South Africa away from Thabo Mbeki we’ve seen an upswing in South Africans emigrating to the UK and Australia and, according to the paper approved by cabinet, emigration has been increasing by about 9% year-on-year, with more and more black professionals looking to leave.

Following Jacob Zuma’s latest cabinet reshuffle and the subsequent ratings downgrade, the number of South Africans enquiring about emigration options has surged significantly… no surprises there.

So what does government propose: limit those leaving and track the rest, instead of focusing on inclusive economic growth.

The white paper is, reportedly, the first of its kind put forward by the department of home affairs, aimed at preventing – or limiting — South Africans from emigrating.

By Ezra Claymore for www.thesouthafrican.com

Hush-hush Shoprite deal stuns investors

Back in 2011, when critics got into a flap about the R595m that former Shoprite CEO Whitey Basson made when he exercised a chunk of the share options he’d received as part of his remuneration package, chairman Christo Wiese told the Financial Mail: “I would pay R1bn in the middle of the night for another Whitey.”

At Shoprite’s AGM in late October 2016 Wiese again jumped to the defence of Basson’s remuneration package. This time he told testy investors, who’d questioned the R100m (including a cash bonus of R50m) paid to Basson in 2016, “I would have been happy to pay him much more”.

Shoprite’s recent shocking Sens announcement about Basson’s Put option is proof that Wiese was not exaggerating. Far from it. It seems Wiese actually understated the generosity he (on behalf of his shareholders) was prepared to heap upon Basson, who retired from the group in December. The Sens announcement released last Friday revealed the existence of a remarkable and hitherto unheard-of employment agreement that obliged Shoprite to repurchase any shares put to it by Basson.

A few days earlier, on May 2, Basson notified Shoprite that he was exercising the put option at the middle market price of R211. It turns out this was a five-year high for the share.
If shareholders approve the transaction, Shoprite will have to repurchase 8.7m of Basson’s shares at this price, which means handing over R1.8bn to the man who is largely responsible for building the group into the largest food retailer in Africa. Wiese’s comment about being happy to pay Basson so much more will come back to haunt shareholders as they face an eye-popping R144m/year in additional interest costs to fund his generous gesture.

Some analysts have expressed concern that Basson’s decision to sell all but 400,000 of his Shoprite shares is an indication that he believes the group is now ex-growth. Others say it’s an appropriate move for someone who must walk away and let a new executive team put their stamp on the business.

At this stage, despite Wiese’s 45% voting bloc, it’s not a dead certainty the transaction will get the necessary 75% shareholder approval. It’s difficult to see why shareholders, particularly the Government Employees Pension Fund with a 16.3% holding, would vote in support. It’s not as though Basson will ever do another full day’s work for the group. A R144m/year interest bill is a hefty thank you and not the sort of gesture hard-nosed investors are inclined to make.

If it is blocked, it is unclear what happens to Basson’s right in terms of the employment agreement. Presumably he could pursue the matter through the courts.

It wouldn’t be the first time this year Wiese failed to get his way with a controversial deal. In February a plan to combine Shoprite with Steinhoff’s African brands was called off when key shareholders were unable to reach agreement on the share-exchange ratio to be applied.
While there’s little debate about the contribution Basson made to Shoprite during his 37 years in the driving seat, there is huge debate over the nature and origins of this little-known employment agreement. It’s a debate that will grow in the weeks between now and when the shareholders get a chance to vote on it.

Jean Pierre Verster of Fairtree Capital says the issue is not about how much value a CEO creates: “This put obligation leads to a misalignment of interests between the company and its executives.”

Verster says inevitably, if it is in the interests of the executive to sell the shares, it will not be in the company’s interest to buy them. “R211 isn’t extremely expensive but it is close to full value, which means it’s in [Basson’s] interest to sell — but would the company be buying if it weren’t obliged to?”

Perhaps even more disturbing is that no-one outside the company seems to have been aware of the employment agreement giving Basson the extremely lucrative put option. There was certainly no sign of it back in 2011 when Basson sold the approximate 10m shares in the high-profile R595m deal.

The company says the agreement was concluded in December 2003 but analysts have been unable to find any trace of it, either as a note to subsequent remuneration reports or as a contingent liability. Analyst Syd Vianello said he was unaware of any such agreement anywhere in the past 15-20 years.

Amazingly, given the money and the parties involved, shareholders might never have been any the wiser were it not for the JSE’s listings requirements. The JSE’s Andre Visser says because it is a specific repurchase and involves a related party, shareholders have to give approval.

In addition, because the repurchase price is at a premium to the average price at which the share traded in the previous 30 business days, Shoprite must obtain a fairness opinion.

Shareholders will be provided with this opinion, full details of the repurchase and the date of the meeting “in due course”, says the company. This means shareholders will have plenty of time to mull over the latest controversial agreement involving SA’s wealthiest businessman — and to wonder how many other similar employment agreements are waiting to be detonated.

By Anne Crotty for Financial Mail

ConCourt reserves judgement in secret ballot appeal

After almost 10 hours of legal arguments, the Constitutional Court reserved judgment on the United Democratic Movement’s application to direct National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to hold a secret ballot on a motion of no-confidence against President Jacob Zuma. The matter boiled down to Mbete’s discretion to allow a secret ballot. Advocates representing opposition parties argued the secret ballot was required in this matter, while Mbete and Zuma’s advocates conceded it was permissible. As fascinating as the legal arguments were, this case is about politics. Therefore, the courts can only go so far in dealing with South Africa’s big political dilemma: the disastrous Zuma presidency.

Throughout the day, the judges of the Constitutional Court asked counsel for the various parties before them about the basis on which the court should be involved and why the secret ballot was necessary. The judges were clearly concerned and mindful of the separation of powers doctrine and the question of judicial overreach. The only thing the court could do, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng said, was look at the law and interpret it.

At the end of the day’s arguments, Justice Mogoeng thanked the advocates for their “enlightenment”. “You have no idea how challenging it was to conceptualise the issues,” he said.

Apart from the judges being cautious of another matter relating to Zuma, particularly as his supporters in KwaZulu-Natal were staging a protest against judicial overreach, they also wanted to be careful not to encroach on the functions of Parliament or prescribe to the Speaker how to act.

While the drafters of the Constitution spelt out that the president should be elected by secret ballot, they did not stipulate as much in the section on the removal of the president through a motion of no confidence. Mbete refused the UDM’s request for a motion of no confidence through secret ballot. She stated in a letter to the UDM’s attorney that she had no authority in law or through the rules of Parliament to grant this.

Lawyers initially fumbled on the question of why the court should intervene and what the National Assembly rules allowed for. Dali Mpofu, representing the UDM, said MPs were entitled to vote according to conscience and should be protected because of the risks they could face if they did so. He said the separation of powers was not at issue and there needed to be an interpretation of the instruments for holding the president accountable.

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, arguing on behalf of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), said the motion of no confidence could not take place effectively unless it was conducted through a secret ballot.

“The most practical way of holding the executive accountable is a secret ballot,” Ngcukaitobi said. He said the Constitutional Court must only deal with current motion and not secret ballots in Parliament generally.

But the advocate for the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), Anton Katz, said every motion of no confidence should be decided by secret ballot in principle. He said IFP MPs had consistently requested that motions be decided by secret ballot and were denied this.

Maruma Moerane, representing the Speaker, said the National Assembly had considered and decided against a secret ballot. He said the Constitution left the determination of voting procedures to the National Assembly.

“If it wanted a secret ballot, it would say so,” Moerane said. Mbete was not prepared to make an assumption that people would vote differently in open vote and in a secret ballot, he said.

But Moerane conceded eventually that Mbete had the discretion to allow a secret ballot, through the reading of section 103 and 104 of the rules of the National Assembly.

While Mbete did not oppose the application, Zuma did.

Ishmael Semenya, representing Zuma, argued that if there were any risks against MPs, this should be referred to Parliament’s rules committee together with the evidence so that that the rules could be amended. He said for the UDM application for a secret ballot to succeed, the Constitutional Court had to determine that the executive could not be held to account through an open vote.

It was interesting that the ANC did not participate in the case, although their MPs were the subject of the discussion, particularly the intimidation and possible risks facing them. Mpofu said that the risk to MPs was more than the daunting prospect of challenging the president. He said because ministers and deputy ministers also had to resign if a motion of no confidence was passed, it was not just the president that MPs were voting against but up to 70 of their colleagues.

While the judges’ line of questioning eventually led the senior counsel to come to some consensus that the secret ballot was permissible and the Speaker had the discretion to allow it, the matter remains complex. This is yet another matter before the courts where the President of the Republic is a respondent. The issues in this case are not about whether he is a fit and proper leader but it is difficult to see the arguments outside the context of Zuma being a disastrous president who has dragged the country to the brink.

If the Constitutional Court could hear arguments from lay people, in this case the opposition party leaders, the rationale for the secret ballot would be very different. It would be about the track record of Mbete in bulldozing the opposition, the frustrations they face in Parliament by being stonewalled through the ANC’s majority, and how Zuma has made a mockery of the accountability mechanisms. If this was the court of political opinion, they could argue why the motion of no confidence against the president needed to succeed.

But the case is not about Zuma or the merits of the motion of no confidence. It is only about the law, the rules of the National Assembly and the interpretation of these with regard to the secret ballot.

There is also another factor in this case. While there might be ANC MPs willing to vote according to conscience, the majority of the caucus will not do so – even though they might be opposed to Zuma’s continued leadership of the country and the ANC. Some of them might be influenced by the party line, as pronounced by the ANC national working committee. But others would want the ANC to decide on their leader’s future, not the opposition to drive the process.

But is the ANC capable of acting against Zuma? The party will have to answer that question at the end of this month when the national executive committee meets. If the party fails to deal with Zuma’s appalling leadership and fails to hold him to account for his Cabinet reshuffle, it might make it easier for ANC MPs to vote according to conscience.

For now, the question is how the judges of the Constitutional Court will continue to protect and defend the rule of law through their interpretation of the application for a secret ballot. If Monday’s riveting arguments are anything to go by, the answers are pretty obvious regarding the Speaker’s discretion.

But the Constitutional Court has surprised us in the past with their astute interventions in this period of turmoil. Perhaps they will do so again.

By Ranjeni Munusamy for Daily Maverick

12 signs your business model is broken

The death of a business is not like a car crash and as sudden as many tend to presume, but disasters do happen whether you are prepared for them or not.

History shows us that the warning signs for an industry or business are often present 1 – 3 years before disaster strikes. The savvy entrepreneur or business owner pays attention to these kinds of warning signs and addresses them by taking strategic measures to shift course, but in many instances these signals are not paid attention to, and worst of all, ignored entirely.

Kodak is a well cited example whereby the process of digitization, and the lack of attention to warning signs within their industry, eventually put them out of business.

The Impact of Digitization

Digitization is the process of taking something analog and converting it into a digital form. It is often referred to as the ‘uberization of business’.

When something becomes digitized, it enters a period of deceptive growth. For example, when Kodak invented the technology for the digital camera it slowly evolved from 0.2 megapixels to 0.4, 0.6 and 0.8 megapixels, but it was deceptive because it all looked like zeros. When it finally it became truly disruptive as a technology, it exploded as a marketplace and eventually, it put them out of business.

A Consistent Story

In consulting with my clients, the story is typically the same. They have been selling the same product to the same customer for years, and largely driven by a maturing digitally enabled economy; business models that used be competitive are slowly, but surely, becoming irrelevant.

This manifest into signals or warning signs like consistent declining revenues, sudden, significant loss of market share and many other attributes of a dying business.

The Financial Services Headache

While all businesses should look to adopt an agile philosophy, there are many that simply are not designed to be agile.

Take the financial services industry for example, for the last 100 years of so, banks have largely existed to record the movement of money – essentially the custodians of trust between a buyer and seller. However, exponential technology is beginning to change this for the first time in a century, and it’s causing a significant amount of upheaval in the financial services industry.

From Tally Up to Cryptocurrencies

Imagine going to the local store in Holland, in the mid sixteenth century and not having enough cash to pay for the pig you wanted to roast for dinner. You might have to borrow some money and, to record your debt, the person making the loan would use a tally stick like this one. The stick was notched in the presence of both the lender and the borrower and then split in two, so that each person retained half. You could only prove who owed who money by bringing the two different sticks together; hence the term “tally up”.

Then in 1821, the gold was introduced and we traded goods and services using gold as a physical bearer instrument. But then during the great depression in 1933, to deter people from cashing in deposits and depleting the gold supply, President Franklin D. Roosevelt cut the dollar’s ties with gold, allowing the government to pump money into the economy and lower interest rates.

Most economists now agree 90 percent of the reason why the U.S. got out of the Great Depression was the break with gold. Ever since then, banks have centralized control of the financial system using a fiat money system, meaning the dollar’s value is not linked to any specific asset.

But today, we are seeing the immergence of crypto instruments – an ingenious game changer that has the potential make the banking industry question some of the basic assumptions of its current banking model and imagine a new system of banking – crypto banking.

Disruptive Technologies

The disruptive nature of exponential technologies like the blockchain and cryptocurrencies, cannot be overstated enough. Research indicates, that there are over 700 cryptocurrencies already in market and with central banks from around the world expressing an openness to blockchain; it is only a matter of time before Central Bank issued Cryptocurrencies (CBCC’s) are issued.

This would drive the movement of equity and debt based financial instruments to the blockchain unlocking the means to significantly reduce fraud and improve organizational efficiencies for banks.

A New Trust Protocol

Blockchain as a technology was created as recently as 2009, but it is already putting a linear banking industry onto an exponential curve of disruption.

Thanks to the blockchain, we now have an opportunity to rewrite the economic power grid and the old order of things by essentially redistributing trust – the foundation of any transaction – from a centralized institution and into the hands of financially distributed democracy.

No Industry Is Immune

While it is easy to use the financial services industry as the poster child of an industry that is being threatened by disruptive technologies, the fact of the matter is that no industry or business is immune. For another example, see my opinion piece on how the advertising industry is being disrupted here.

So, here are three questions that will help you understand how to future pace the impact of disruptive technologies:

What are the warning signs that will spell disaster in your industry or business?
The warning signs of disaster are always present in an industry or business. Take the retail industry for example. Amazon is disrupting the way that goods and services are bought using voice.

By offering products at a cheaper price when ordered through Alexa, Amazon is fundamentally changing the consumer journey and the way that goods and services are bought. It also indicates the possible death of the brand we know it and democratizes the retail space in a way that we haven’t seen before.

What will put you out of business?
This question is a difficult one to answer for most business owners, but these days we are living in an incredibly disruptive period so, it’s important to ask the question.

A simple way to get some answers is to ask: “What if?” For example, “what if the consumer journey changed completely?” Or, “what if a cheaper more agile competitor entered your market?”

What is the solution to question #2?
Once you have identified possible answers to what could put you out business, how would you respond to such a threat?

Conclusion

Market leadership is proving to be increasingly illusive. Advances in technology, the threat of new entrants and a digitally connected business environment is making it increasingly harder for companies to remain relevant.

Being clear about possible warning signs of disaster in your industry is the starting point, but careful scenario planning for new eventualities and the ability to adopt a new organization strategy in an agile fashion, will be critical component of the successful enterprise of tomorrow.

By Matt Brown, CEO of Digital Kungfu

Low paper prices hurt Mondi 

South African packaging and paper company Mondi said on Thursday underlying operating profit for the first quarter of 2017 was down 6% due to lower selling prices and inflationary cost pressures.

Underlying operating profit fell to 252-million euros ($274-million) in the three months through March from 269 million euros a year ago, Mondi, which is also listed in London said in a statement.

The figure was up 12% on the fourth quarter last year due to higher sales volumes and prices.

“Strong sales volume growth was more than offset by a significantly lower forestry fair value gain, inflationary cost pressures and lower average selling prices,” the company said.

The packaging paper division was impacted by lower selling prices for containerboard, while significantly lower gains on the value of its forestry assets, lower average export selling prices for hardwood pulp and white top kraftliner products, and a stronger rand impacted the South Africa division.

“As previously advised, we are experiencing some inflationary cost pressures across the Group and the forestry fair value gain is expected to be lower than in 2016,” the company said.

*($1 = 0.9195 euros).

By Nqobile Dludla for www.moneyweb.co.za

Rand weakens in volatile trade

The rand was slightly weaker against the dollar on Tuesday afternoon, in volatile trade.

The local currency weakened to R13.71 to the dollar in earlier sessions, but improved to R13.58 in intraday trade.

Local political uncertainty and a ratings review by ratings agency Moody’s were the main risks the rand was facing.

In April‚ Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings downgraded SA’s debt to “junk” status after President Jacob Zuma fired Pravin Gordhan as the finance minister in a Cabinet reshuffle.

Moody’s was expected to visit SA in May, before announcing its country rating in the weeks thereafter.

At 3.33pm‚ the rand was at R13.6367 to the dollar from Monday’s R13.6135‚ at R14.8489 to the euro from R14.8805 and at R17.6230 to pound from R17.6191.

The euro was at $1.0889 from $1.0931.

By Reitumetse Pitso for www.businesslive.co.za

Potholes to cost Jo’burg R88m

Herman Mashaba, mayor of Johannesburg, recently revealed his plans to alleviate the city’s pothole problem by awarding R88-million to address the pothole repair backlog across the city.

The Johannesburg Road Agency has launched a new mobile app called JRA Find & Fix, to allow citizens to report road related defects like potholes, missing manhole covers, defective traffic signals etc.

This is according to Christelle Colman, Chief executive officer of Europ Assistance South Africa, who says that potholes cause major frustration among motorists as they can cause severe damage to a vehicle such as tyre punctures, rim impairments or damaged wheel alignment or suspension.

Colman said: “In extreme cases, vehicles can be written off and the occupants can be badly injured. By having roadside assistance service in place the motorists will at least have peace of mind that help is on its way should their vehicle not be driveable after hitting a pothole.”

R1.38-billion a year needed

She says that it is however worrying that the Johannesburg Roads Agency recently announced that it will need R1.38-billion per year for the next decade to be able to repair all the roads in the province. Due to the lack of maintenance 48% of the roads in the area are classified as being in poor or very poor condition.

Colman said: “There is generally no warning signs of potholes ahead and drivers often see the potential danger of a pothole when it is too late to swerve out of harm’s way, or another vehicle may approach from the front making it impossible for the driver to miss the pothole.”

In the event of hitting a pothole that causes damage to the vehicle, she urges motorists to contact their emergency roadside assistance provider immediately. She explains that this service can prove to be extremely beneficial to the motorist, especially when considering personal safety.

Colman said: “Should a motorist be travelling at night it is increasingly difficult to spot and avoid potholes and if they are stranded late at night in a deserted or dangerous area, this service can prove to be the difference between life and death.

The roads in the deserted areas are generally in a worse condition compared to the highways, therefore the driver faces a bigger risk of hitting a pothole in those areas leaving them stranded in a dangerous area. It is also important that drivers have their dedicated emergency number saved on their phone, as many insurers insist that the policyholder only deal the specified emergency assistance provider in order for the policy benefit to pay out.”

Another reason why potholes are such a frustration for motorists is because the general motor insurance policy does not cover pothole damage to one’s tyres – the motorist will need a separate tyre insurance cover in order to claim for this damage.

“Insurance policies will only pay a claim if hitting a pothole led to a bigger accident that caused damage to the vehicle, but will not pay for damage caused only to the tyres. Motorists therefore have to pay for new tyres out of their own pocket and this can become a costly affair if all four tyres have to be replaced on a regular basis,” she explains.

Colman urges all motorists to find out whether or not they have emergency road side assistance services readily available to them through existing service providers, as most insurers or banks offer these services to their clients.

“It is also important ascertain exactly what service they have and what it offers.

“Being stuck next to the road after hitting a pothole can become a very traumatic experience, but by having an emergency roadside assistance provider on speed-dial – this trauma and stress can be reduced significantly.

This initiative is however a great first stride in making the country’s roads safer for all road users, with the aim of reducing the number of accidents and consequently also fatalities,” concludes Colman.

Source: Wheels24

Hire local or pay the price

The department of labour has begun a countrywide crackdown on South African businesses, in an effort to ensure that companies are not employing more than 40% foreign labour.

According to a report by the Cape Argus , Home Affairs has already visited 85 places of employment in the last two months, including chain stores, farms, hotels and other businesses.

Home Affairs highlighted that the regulations requiring no more than 40% foreign labour in a company’s workforce were not new, but had been “significantly tightened” in the last few months to flush out companies breaking the law.

It said non-compliant companies will be fined heavily and have their licences reviewed, while managers and owners could be jailed for up to two years if the department decided to take legal action.

“This is not a one-off, but an ongoing activity which is achieved through inspections to ensure companies comply,” said Home Affairs minister Hlengiwe Mkhize.

“The role of the department is to continuously enforce compliance and there’s no limit on the number of times a place of employment can be inspected.”

Newly-appointed minister Mkhize’s actions stem from a similar message started by his predecessor, Malusi Gigaba, who warned in February of this year that he was coming for non-compliant businesses.

“Companies, businesses: Be warned. We are coming for you. We will charge them, there’s no doubt. The manger will be charged. Often times, we focus on the undocumented employee and not the company,” Gigaba said at the time.

“We are not saying businesses should only employ 60% of South Africans. Go higher.”

Source: www.businesstech.co.za

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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