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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

The ANC’s infighting over Sarb mandate, Q1 current account data, Stenprop results, Transnet to develop ‘inland’ port, state capture inquiry focuses on Transnet.

Here’s what caught our attention on Thursday:

1. The deal with the Reserve Bank

Turmoil is brewing on matters regarding the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb). On Wednesday, news emerged that the ANC’s secretary-general Ace Magashule had called for the Sarb’s mandate to be expanded beyond price stability, to include growth and employment, but the Sarb governor, Lesetja Kganyago, alongside finance minister Tito Mboweni are defending the bank’s mandate, saying that any changes would require a change to the Constitution. Mboweni took to social media on Wednesday to affirm the bank’s mandate, while Kganyago continued to uphold the importance of the Sarb’s independence and its current mandate.

Read: Top ANC officials clash over Sarb mandate

2. Q1 current account data

South Africa’s current account deficit widened to 2.9% of GDO for the first quarter of 2019, following a 2.2% shortfall recorded in the fourth quarter of 2018, data from the Central Bank showed on Thursday.  The quarterly trade balance narrowed to R43 billion ($2.89 billion) from R71.8 billion in the three months to the end of December, data showed. 

3. Stenprop results

UK-based real estate investment trust, Stenprop is reporting that its property portfolio for the year ended March 31, 2019 comprised 42.7% multi-let industrial estates, this is compared to the 20.1% reported in 2018. The company says it acquired 30 multi-let industrial estates during the period, for a combined purchase price of £103.6 million. Headline earnings per share amounted to 7.63 pence from 10.23 pence in 2018 and a final dividend of 3.375 pence per share has been declared.

4. Transnet to develop R2.5bn port in Gauteng

South Africa’s state-owned freight and logistics company, Transnet is going ahead with plans to build an ‘inland’ port worth R2.5 billion in Gauteng. Moneyweb is reporting that the port will be developed by Southern Palace Joint Venture Consortium in Ekurhuleni and represents a major public-private partnership. The terminal will be located within the broader Tambo Springs Logistics Gateway development and is expected to be operational by 2022.

Read: Transnet moves ahead with plans to develop R2.5bn Gauteng port

5. State capture inquiry turns attention to Transnet

The ongoing state capture hearings will, on Thursday, continue hearing evidence on state-owned freight and logistics firm, Transnet. The commission will hear evidence from Transnet’s former group treasurer, Mathane Eveline Makgatho. On Wednesday, corporate finance expert, Jonathan Bloom concluded his testimony relating to Transnet’s numerous questionable contracts. In his most recent revelation, Bloom told the commission how Gupta-linked consultancy firm, Trillian, had been paid R93 million for just five days work, EWN reported.

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