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Trade Winds weekly update volume 10

Too rich for relief, South Africa is facing a public financing crisis, according to the supplementary budget Finance Minister Tito Mboweni presented on Wednesday.

Debt will continue to rise with an expected peak in 2024 with a drop below 80% of gross domestic product by 2028, which is, best case scenario as long as the government sticks to their plan of stabilizing the economy which is predicted to shrink by 7.2%, the worst the country has seen in 90 years.

“Debt is our weakness, even as South Africa responds to the current health and economic crisis, a fiscal reckoning looms. The public finances are dangerously overstretched.” the minister said in his budget speech.

 Zambian inflation slows as Zimbabwe’s soars, Zambian inflation slowed for the first time in 15 months in June as the kwacha pared some earlier losses.

“Consumer prices increased 15.9% from a year earlier, compared to 16.6% in May, costs rose 0.2% in the month.” Mulenga Musepa, the interim statistician general at the Zambia Statistics Agency told reporters Thursday in Lusaka.

Zimbabwe announced on Wednesday that petrol had increased from 28.96 Zimbabwe Dollars per litre to 71.62 Zim Dollars per litre, this is more than a 150% increase. Zimbabwe began weekly foreign currency auctions on Tuesday in a bid to increase efficiency in the allocation of scarce U.S. dollars in the economy.

This adds to the ever-increasing inflation rates, over priced food and scarce medical supplies, the country is enduring its worst financial crisis in over 10 years.

Border delays continue, Transporters headed towards the Trans-Kalahari Corridor (TKC) are being forced to use the Kopfontein-Tlokweng border, this is the result of  excessive delays from Covid-19 testing and testing measures being introduced at the Skilpadshek border crossing west of Zeerust. This is affecting Namibia’s main access route to South Africa.

Kasumbalesa’s clearing problems have eased as there was free flowing traffic, considering the Lockdown over the weekend, this is good news.

Elsewhere in the Sub-Saharan region, faster processing of truck traffic has returned to Chirundu, the problematic border crossing between Zimbabwe and Zambia and has resulted in higher volumes of cargo going North which can only be a good thing.

It’s not us, said ATDF chairperson Mr Ngwenya, Mr Ngwenya has said “It’s not us” after questions were raised as to who was behind the July 7 transport threat which is urging hauliers to replace foreign national drivers with local people.

This comes as a surprise considering that the ATDF last week issued a letter on official stationery, bearing the name of Ngwenya and three other officials, giving local trucking companies seven days to “get rid of foreign national drivers”.

“As South African truck drivers we are no longer going to tolerate this nonsense of non-compliance by South African trucking companies. “We demand that all foreigners driving South African trucks be removed and replaced by the South African citizens.” – statement from the letter issued by the ATDF.

Gavin Kelly, chief executive officer of the Road freight Association (RFA), said “groups like the ATDF had a legitimate concern that not all South African transport companies followed the rules and regulations of employment.

Yet they have no right to force operators, including those whose foreign national staff hold permits issued by the Department of Labour, to dismiss people based on nationality or face the consequences”.

“Knowing Is Not Enough; We Must Apply. Wishing Is Not Enough; We Must Do.”

Trade Winds weekly update volume 9

Collapse of mining, COVID-19’s impact on the mining industry locally and abroad has been devastating, Zambia has recorded a drop of 30% in mining revenue between February and April 2020 whilst South Africa suffered a plunge of 50% in mining revenue due to the Hard-Lockdown during April.

One of Zimbabwe’s top gold mines has halted operations blaming the country’s foreign currency policies, which requires the mine to surrender 30% of its forex earnings at a rate of 25 to 1 USD while suppliers are selling at 80 to 1 USD. The mine believes that they are achieving less than 80% of their gold sales compared to the international market.

“The impact of this situation on the Company’s operations has been that the Company is no longer able to meet its operational expenditure requirements considering that the company is required to pay for electricity and fuel in USD along with almost all of its consumables and spares also being denominated in USD,”

“The company has therefore been forced to stop production of bullion due to its inability to buy essential consumables and spares and is actively considering placing all its gold mines under care and maintenance until a viable solution is found.” the mine has said.

Steel Giants Fined, ArcelorMittal Limited South Africa (AMSA) which is Africa’s largest steel producer has been fined R3.6million for exceeding the minimum hydrogen sulphide emission standards. AMSA’s steelworks which is located in the Vaal Triangle, an Airshed Priority Area that was declared a priority area in terms of the National Environmental Management, whom has concerns about the elevated pollution in these areas.

According to departments minister Barbara Creecy, the money received from the fine would be used to install air quality monitoring instruments.

AMSA is currently producing over 5million tonnes of steel per year, supplying South Africa with over 61% of its steel as well as exports to Southern Africa and further north.

Lubumbashi Lockdown, this is due to a spate of coronavirus infections, however the lockdown is not expected to have any effects on Kasumbalesa itself, transporters should expect delays although word is that this lockdown is only affecting private transport.

“To see what is right and not do it, is a lack of courage.”