Archive for July 8th, 2007

source: The Herald Tribune
The Associated Press
Published: July 8, 2007

HARARE, Zimbabwe: Police arrested 16 more business leaders in a crackdown on those suspected of violating the government’s order to slash prices by 50 percent, the official media reported Sunday.

The mandated price cuts are a desperate attempt to confront inflation that has spun out of control during Zimbabwe’s economic crisis. The falling prices have caused stampedes, panic buying and near-riots by impoverished Zimbabweans.

Among those arrested in the latest sweep were the directors of Edgars, a leading clothing and fashion retailer, and supermarket and gas station owners.

Also taken into custody were Michael Fowler and Zed Koudanaris, directors of the main food distributor and fast food chain, and Gavin Sainsbury, chief executive of the country’s biggest producer of pork products, the state Sunday Mail reported.

Fowler and Koudanaris pioneered popular branded bakery, pizza and take out franchises in Zimbabwe, including Nando’s, known for its chicken dishes across Africa.

No information was immediately available on specific allegations against the business leaders or where they were being held. Police holding cells are notorious for filthy and harsh conditions.

The country’s economic crisis, the worst since independence from Britain in 1980, began with the seizure of thousands of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to blacks in 2000. The country’s agriculture-based economy collapsed as a result.

Official inflation is running at 4,500 percent, the highest [continue reading]

source: IOL
Jeremy Gordin
July 08 2007 at 11:01AM

About R300-million – which would have been given to hundreds of arts and culture, sports and charitable beneficiaries – has been lost forever in the 99 days without a national lottery.

And, since there is still no definite date when the lottery will again be up and running, the loss of about R100-million a month from April 1, when the national lottery stopped, is set to grow larger.

Sershan Naidoo of the National Lottery Board said, “Obviously this situation, in terms of which there has been no lottery running since April 1, is a serious cause for concern. No one can deny that there has been a loss of revenue. And everyone hopes that the situation will be rectified soon.”

The country has been without a national lottery since Uthingo’s contract expired on March 31.

Mandisi Mpahlwa, the Minister of Trade and Industry, had appointed the Gidani Consortium to take over [continue reading]

source: IOL
Basildon Peta
July 08 2007 at 12:32PM

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is preparing a dramatic plan to rescue the shattered Zimbabwean economy by extending the rand monetary area into Zimbabwe, according to sources.

Tomaz Salamao, the SADC executive secretary, is drafting the plan, which would also include the South African and Botswana reserve banks pumping millions into the Zimbabwe reserve bank, the sources said.

The aim of these measures would be to stabilise the exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar and curb inflation so that the country could buy foreign exchange and continue importing essential goods.

The rand would effectively prop up the Zimbabwe dollar, which has become almost worthless, with inflation now hitting 5 000 percent and the real exchange rate to the US dollar currently running at about 250 000, though it has gone higher.

But to get the rescue package, President Robert Mugabe would first have to agree to fundamental political reforms in the negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which are due to start at a secret venue near Pretoria on Monday.

Salamao is believed to have [continue reading]

source: allAfrica
Zimbabwe Standard (Harare)

8 July 2007
Posted to the web 8 July 2007

Sebastien Berger and Walter Marwizi
Harare

THE Zimbabwean regime and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) began secret negotiations yesterday, as the country descends into ever-worsening chaos.

The talks, described as “substantive” and expected to be face-to-face, are being mediated by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and will take place in Pretoria. This represents a last-ditch effort by South Africa, with British support, to find a negotiated solution to Zimbabwe’s crisis. The country is in the throes of hyperinflation – officially put at 4 530% but estimated to be much higher – and a collapsing currency, with the regime ordering price cuts only to see entirely predictable panic-buying emptying the shops and businesses refusing to sell products at a loss.

At the insistence of the hosts, a cloak of confidentiality has been thrown over the discussions in South Africa, but sources have disclosed details of the agenda to The Daily Telegraph. With presidential elections due in March, the MDC is demanding the abolition of Zimbabwe’s deeply flawed electoral roll, notorious for excluding huge numbers of likely opposition supporters. Instead it wants anyone to be able to vote on production of a valid national identity card, and for Zimbabweans abroad to be allowed to participate in the election.

The MDC is also calling for an independent election commission to replace the existing one, which is appointed by a parliamentary committee stuffed with Mugabe’s allies, and for international observers to be allowed to cover the polls. It also wants the repeal of the Public Order and Security Act, which bars public gatherings of more than four people without police permission, and for restrictions on the media to be lifted.

British sources say that easing President Robert Mugabe (83), into retirement and ensuring that he is not a candidate in the next election is the unspoken objective of all parties, including the South Africans. For its part, the [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Thursday, 5 July 2007

WANETSHA MOSINYI
CORRESPONDENT

FRANCISTOWN: Exploration activity is the lifeblood of the mining industry and it is necessary to boost the industry.Principal Economic Geologist, Maureen Mokgaotsane from the Department of Geological Surveys, revealed to Mmegi Business that exploration for various mineral commodities are on the increase in Botswana.

She revealed that there are 86 registered and active companies in Botswana and 25 are into precious stone exploration while 61 follow a variety of minerals.
“The number of companies and licenses keep changing as new licenses are granted, existing licenses expire or are relinquished, and new companies are granted new licenses”.
She said energy and industrial minerals are in demand regionally. These include among others, diamonds, coal, coal-bed methane, aggregate stones, sand, cement and ornamental stones.

Mokgaotsane said the continuing boom in the minerals Industry is fuelled mainly by growth in places like [continue reading]

source: Mmegi
Thursday, 5 July 2007

LONDON: ABN AMRO’s investment bank business is becoming the second key battleground in the fight to buy the Dutch bank with both Barclays and Royal Bank of Scotland claiming an edge in cost savings and growth plans.

Barclays and RBS plans for integrating ABN’s wholesale business differ in detail but are broadly the same; they can offer their leading financing and risk management products to new clients and also strip out costs. “Applying the people, the processes, the procedures, the risk control systems that both Royal Bank and Barclays have to ABN’s wholesale business should deliver a better profit,” said Mark Thomas, analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Barclays and a consortium, led by RBS, are fighting to buy ABN in what would be the biggest bank takeover. Attention is fixed on a key Dutch court ruling in the next two weeks on the sale of ABN’s U.S. arm, LaSalle Bank, which will swing the outcome. But both Barclays and RBS are expected to continue the fight even if the LaSalle decision goes against them, and each is increasingly talking up its investment bank story.

NatWest Markets, now owned by RBS and BZW, the forerunner to Barclays Capital, both tried to build bulge bracket investment banks in the 1990s. Both failed but have since succeeded with [continue reading]

source: The Botswana Gazette
AUBREY LUTE
Botswana Medical Aid Society (BOMaid) has acknowledged growing competition in the industry but emphasised that it is still the market leader. The Society Board said there are several challenges facing the industry hence the need for all stakeholders such as service providers/doctors to become part of the delivery system and business partners.

They also called on members to actively participate in the decision making process and manage their benefits responsibly. At its annual general meeting held last week in Gaborone BOMaid announced that it has recorded a net deficit of P14.4 million compared to the net surplus of P3.2 million last year. According to the Chairman of the BOMaid Board,

T. Kgatlwane, the deficit reflects the effect of the decrease in subscriptions received and increases in benefits paid. Of late medical aid schemes have become targets of unscrupulous medical practitioners who swindle them of huge sums of money with the help of willing members. According to information reaching The Gazette some medical practitioners are under investigation because of this unlawful activity. But BOMaid did not dwell much on this issue.

Kgatlwane stressed that 2006 had been a challenging year for the private health care industry as a whole, “and for BOMaid in particular.” The medical inflation rate has far exceeded the general rate of inflation. Compounded with increasing competition, this has slowly changed the complexion of the medical aid industry in the recent past.

Kgatlwane said the Society must be ready for the challenges ahead. She emphasised the need to grow the customer base and retain current members so that it remains market leader. “There is need for increased energy to offer a quality service that will make people attracted to our services,” she observed.

With a membership base of about 200 000, BOMaid recorded total subscriptions of P150.3 million, a decrease of P6.3 million from last year`s P156.7 million. “The reduction in income reflects the effect of the realignment of subscriptions introduced this year in the face of aggressive pricing by the industry,” she said.

For the year under review, BOMaid benefits payouts increased from P135. 6 million recorded last year to P146.8 for this year. The Board attributes the increase to inflationary pressures. Consultation and drugs continued to be the major benefit payout at a payout of P75.6 million, accounting for 48.4% of total benefits paid. The hospitalization benefit recorded the highest increase of P6.7 million from P36.2 million (2005) to P42.8 million (2006).

During 2006, P20.7 million was withdrawn from short term investments to fund the operating deficit. However the society`s total investments portfolio appreciated by P43.8 million to P130.5 million from P86.7 million at the end of last year. Offshore investments also performed relatively well, growing by P12.5 million from P47.4 million to P59.8 million.

The Society`s local investments also performed well, making capital gains of P31.3 million to P70.7 million. Giving the outlook for the forthcoming year, Kgatlwane said the Board was confident about performance prospects for the forthcoming year. “Competition in the medical aid industry is fierce, but we will continue to set pace for the industry change in our drive to improve our service to members,” she said. The Botswana Gazette