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Five things making headlines in South Africa today

2019 Tax Indaba kicks off, Stadio results, VBS’s looting of municipalities and more.

Here’s what caught our attention on Monday:

1. Tax Indaba kicks off 

Corruption and start capture will be a hot issue at the 2019 annual Tax Indaba, which kicks off on Monday at the Sandton Convention Centre. This year’s Tax Indaba will be the first for Sars commissioner Edward Kieswetter and will focus on whether it is possible to recoup taxpayer money lost during the decade long period of ‘state capture’, according to Moneyweb. The Tax Indaba enables engagement between tax professionals and government institutions and is being held over five days.

Read: Moving forward after years of plunder and corruption

2. Stadio reports a 46% increase in Heps

Stadio, an investment holding company specialising in private higher education is reporting a 46% increase in headline earnings per share to 5.1 cents for the six months ended June 30, 2019. The company’s revenue increased by 38% to R409 million and Ebitda grew by 75% to R105 million from R60 million in 2018. The company says its student numbers increased by 10% to 28 280, from 25 789 in 2018, mostly due to student enrolments at the Milpark Education facility during the period. Stadio says it is also nearing the completion of the purchase of a site in Centurion and has entered into an agreement to acquire vacant land in Durbanville to construct more large-scale campuses. No dividend is being declared for the period.

3. VBS’s looting of municipalities

Auditing firm Deloitte on Friday published the findings of its forensic investigation into VBS Mutual Bank deposits made by two Gauteng municipalities. According to the Deloitte report, the West Rand District and Merafong City municipalities in Gauteng made deposits of R661 million and R50 million, respectively. These investments were made between 2015 and 2018 and were approved by senior government officials in contravention of National Treasury regulations.

Read: How VBS looted municipalities

4. The e-toll scramble

Motorists are still protesting e-tolls on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project roads. According to research conducted by the Automobile Association (AA), at least 52% of motorists say there is nothing that government can do to get them to pay e-tolls, citing government corruption. The report comes at a time when transport minister Fikile Mbalula was appointed to find solutions to the e-toll saga, which he says needs to be a ‘win-win’ for both government and society.

Read: Government corruption to blame for non-payment of e-tolls

5. Rand update

The rand continues to trade under volatile conditions. On Friday, news emerged that China is planning to levy tariffs on $75 billion worth of US goods, after which US President Donald Trump again raised tariffs on Chinese goods.

Read: Trump regrets not raising tariffs on China higher, White House says

The rand weakened early on Monday, slumping to its weakest in almost a week as the increased trade tensions between China and the US since Friday soured global risk demand, sending investors towards safe haven assets.

The rand was at R15.29 to the dollar at 8:56.

Read: Rand slides as US-China trade spat weighs

In the week ahead, South Africa will release July PPI numbers on Thursday and M3 money supply, private sector credit and trade balance for July on Friday. 

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