Feb 16, 2019

A US$3 billion platinum deal between Zimbabwe and Russia is now mired in controversy after it emerged this week that the funding for the project will come from African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) institutions and African Finance Corporation.

Sources in the mining sector told businessdigest this week that the platinum mining venture will not be financed by Russian capital.

According to sources, government entered into a memoranda of understanding between Afreximbank and Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Ltd concerning the Darwendale Platinum Group Metals Project in Zimbabwe.

Another memorandum of understanding was signed between the African Finance Corporation and Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Ltd for the Darwendale Platinum Mining Project.

"This deal is going to be funded by African money. All this talk about Russia financing this deal is just propaganda. The question we ought to ask is obviously around whether Zimbabwe needs Russia to get funding on this particular deal," a source said. "Government has basically given away platinum rights to the Russians for no monetary value."

The disclosures have brought into question Russia's contribution to the deal.

Sources say government could have gotten funding from Afreximbank and African Finance Corporation.

Great Dyke Investments chairperson Hesphina Rukato said she expected financial closure on the deal by June. 

"Working financial closure is expected to be in June and then we expect construction is going to start in July," Rukato said before requesting questions in writing last week.
At the time of going to print, Rukato had not responded to enquiries sent to her via email last week.

Rukato accompanied President Emmerson Mnangagwa on a trip to Russia last month that saw the signing of the controversial deal.

In a report back on Mnangagwa's state visit to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last month, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed agreements had been signed with Afreximbank and Africa Finance Corporation but did not elaborate on the actual details.

Mines minister Winston Chitando confirmed agreements with the two financial institutions had been signed, but said he did not have specifics on the deal.

"I don't have actual specifics but I know that Great Dyke entered into an agreement with the financiers and they have two separate agreements. You would need specifics from Dr Rukato," he said.

Asked what the Russians were bringing to the table, he said he did not have actual details of the deals.

"There is no project, especially one of this size, that can be funded only by equity. Such a venture would require a combination of equity and capital. I don't have the actual numbers, but projects that size normally require debt financing," Chitando said.

Additional efforts to seek a comment from Rukato were fruitless yesterday as she claimed to have been travelling since last week.

"I will get the team to look into them today as I have been travelling," she said.

Great Dyke Investments is a joint venture company between the Russians and Zimbabweans in the Darwendale platinum project. Pen East Investments and Russia's JCS Afronet are said to have commissioned the platinum mining project in 2014 but to date the deal has not moved an inch.

The project is expected to haul at least one million ounces of platinum per annum. At least 15 000 jobs are expected to be created when the company starts operating at full capacity.

Large-scale exploration works at the Darwendale deposit commenced in January 2015. GDI had planned to drill over 300 000 running metres, making it one of the biggest exploration ventures in Zimbabwe.

The scope of work was designed to prove the deposit resources in indicated category for longer than a 20-year mining period. The Darwendale deposit resources have been estimated at 40 million ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs).

The initial scope of the project entailed the phased construction of a complex for mining and concentration of 10 million tonnes of ore per annum, and a smelter to enable production of up to 800 000 ounces (25 tonnes) of PGMs in the form of converter matter as final product.

At optimum capacity, the project was expected to require an investment of up to US$4,2 billion. GDI plans to set up a refinery in line with the government's thrust on value addition. Apart from the Russian deal, government also signed an agreement with Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Limited.

Source - The Independent

Feb 15, 2019
Ahead of Saturday’s (tomorrow’s) presidential and National Assembly elections, President Muhammadu Buhari has said, he would remain in power and take Nigeria forward for the next four years.
 
He told CNN Africa that nobody will unseat him in an interview aired this Friday on the verified Instagram page of the international media platform.
 
Answering question on fears about his ability to run the country for a second term, Buhari said he was ready to continue as Nigeria’s leader and take the country forward for the next four years.
 
“This is a vibrant democracy. You came in, unseating the incumbent. Are you worried the same could happen to you?” his interviewer asked.
 
Responding, Buhari answered, “No. Nobody would unseat me. I am ready to take this country forward for the next four years.”
 
On the issue of Boko Haram Buhari said, “We have 774 local governments in this country. They (Boko Haram) used to hold 17. They are not technically holding any local government now.
 
“But they are indoctrinating young men and women, especially girls, wrap them up with explosives and let them explode them in soft targets like churches, mosques, marketplaces, motor parks and other places.
 
“Of course, we are doing our best (to contain the terror) and we thank some foreign countries in Europe and the United States for training our armed forces and going to the battlefront to see how they have performed.”
 
The race for the presidency seat is considered to be between incumbent President Buhari and Atiku Abubakar, the candidate of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
 
The two are Fulanis and from the northern part of Nigeria while their running mates are from the Southern part of Nigeria.
 
 
Feb 16, 2019
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
 
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
 
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
 
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
 
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
 
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
 
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
 
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
 
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
 
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
 
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
 
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
 
 
Nigeria’s inflation dropped by 0.07 percent in January 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics reports.
 
According to the NBS, the consumer price index, (CPI) which measured inflation increased by 11.37 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019.
 
“This is 0.07 percent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44) percent. Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index,” it said.
 
On month-on-month basis, the NBS said the Headline index increased by 0.74 percent in January 2019, same rate as was recorded in December 2018 (0.74) percent.
 
“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending January 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 11.80 percent, showing 0.3 percent point from 12.10 percent recorded in December 2018.
 
“The urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019 from 11.73 percent recorded in December 2018, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 percent in January 2019 from 11.18 percent in December 2018,” it added.
Feb 15, 2019
Twenty two stocks witnessed an increase in their prices on Thursday on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, leading to a rebound in the market, with investors gaining N14.83 billion.
 
Prices of 13 stocks however witnessed a decline at the end of trading.
 
The rebound is coming after the market witnessed a decline on Wednesday, with market capitalisation shedding a total of N18 billion.
 
At the end of trading on Thursday, market capitalisation rose from N12.087tn to N12.102tn, with the All Share Index increasing by 0.12 per cent from 32,413.92 basis points on Wednesday to 32,453.69bps on Thursday. Thereby improving the year-to-date return to 3.4 per cent.
 
Activity level however weakened as 423.379 million shares worth N3.729bn exchanged hands in 4,417 deals, representing a 10.1 per cent and 12.1 per cent decline in volume and value traded, respectively.
 
The top traded stocks by volume were Diamond Bank Plc (97.6 million units), Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (41.1 million units) and Zenith Bank Plc (40.3 million units), while the top traded stocks by value were Zenith Bank (N997.1m), Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (N992.6m) and Access Bank Plc (N263.7m).
 
Performance across sectors was largely bullish as three of five indices closed in the positive territory.
 
The insurance index was the biggest gainer, recording a 1.2 per cent increase, while the industrial and consumer goods indices gained 0.7 per cent and 0.3 per cent respectively due to buying interest in Dangote Cement Plc, Lafarge Africa Plc, Unilever Nigeria Plc and P Z Cussons Nigeria Plc.
 
The oil and gas and banking indices however declined by 0.8 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively on the back of profit-taking in Oando Plc, Eterna Plc, Zenith Bank and Access Bank.
 
Investors’ sentiment strengthened to 1.7x from the 0.7x recorded on Wednesday.
 
Associated Bus Company Plc, Livestock Feeds Plc, Unity Bank Plc, Unilever and Wema Bank Plc, topped the price gainers, as their share prices gain 10 per cent, 10 per cent, 9.62 per cent, 6.82 per cent and 6.74 per cent, respectively.
 
On the other side, Union Bank Nigeria Plc, Oando, Dangote Flour Mills Plc, Union Diagnostic and Clinical Services Plc and Eterna topped the losers table as their share prices declined by 8.03 per cent, 5.17 per cent, 4.57 per cent, 3.23 per cent and 3.09 per cent.
 
Feb 15, 2019
Feb 15, 2019

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday reinstated that he will conduct a free, fair and peaceful presidential election on Saturday and charged Nigerians to turn out massively to cast their votes.

The president, in a nationwide broadcast, assured Nigerians that the government would do its very best to ensure that the 2019 elections take place in a secure and peaceful atmosphere.

“It was indeed such free, fair and peaceful elections that made it possible for our Government to emerge, despite the fact that we were contesting against a long-standing incumbent party.

“And as your president and a fellow Nigerian, I ask that you come out and queue to fulfill this important obligation you have to yourselves and your fellow citizens – and to our common future.

“Let me at this point, reaffirm the commitment of the Federal Government to the conduct of free and fair elections in a safe and peaceful atmosphere. Just yesterday, I signed the Peace Accord alongside 72 other presidential candidates,” he said.

Buhari assured all Nigerians, the diplomatic community and all foreign election observers of their safety and full protection, saying that any comments or threats of intimidation from any source did not represent the position of the Federal Government of Nigeria.

“As Government has a critical role in maintaining the democratic traditions, so do citizens. I therefore urge you all, as good Nigerians, to take a personal interest in promoting and maintaining peace in your respective neighbourhoods during the elections. This is certainly not a time to allow personal, religious, sectional or party interests to drive us to desperation,” he said.

The president appealed to the youth not allow themselves to be used to cause violence and destruction., saying that “the people who want to incite you are those preparing the ground for discrediting the elections. Having lost the argument, they fear losing the elections.”

He said when Nigerians elected him in 2015, it was essentially in consequence of his promise of CHANGE, stressing that “we committed ourselves to improving security across the country, putting the economy on a sound footing and tackling rampant corruption, which had in many ways become a serious drawback to national development.

“Our Government spent the last 3 years and 9 months striving faithfully to keep this promise, in spite of very serious revenue shortages caused mainly by a sharp drop in international oil prices and an unexpected rise in the vandalisation of oil installations, which, mercifully have now been curtailed.”

According to Buhari, “our choices have had consequences about employment and cost of living. In making your choice this time, please ask yourself whether, and in what ways, others will do anything different to address the issues of Agriculture, Infrastructure, Security, Good Governance and Fighting Corruption.

“If they are only hoping to do what we are already doing successfully, we are clearly your preferred choice. Think carefully and choose wisely. This time, it is a choice about consolidating on growth for Jobs and Prosperity. February 16th is all about a choice. But it is more than a choice between APC and the opposition. It is a choice about you, it is a choice between going back or keeping the momentum of CHANGE.

“The road to greater prosperity for Nigeria may be long, but what you can be assured of is a Leadership that is not prepared to sacrifice the future well-being of Nigerians for our own personal or material needs. You can be assured of my commitment to remain focused on working to improve the lives of all Nigerians.”

Feb 15, 2019

Suspended Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Walter Onnoghen has pleaded not guilty to charges of non-declaration of assets levelled against him.

Onnoghen arrived the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT on Friday morning after he was threatened with arrest.

The suspended CJN entered the dock to answer charges levelled against him.

Upon the request by the prosecution, the tribunal Chairman ordered that the charge be read to the defendant.

An official of the tribunal read the charge to him, to which he pleaded not guilty.

 

 

Source: PmNews

Feb 15, 2019

South Africa, home to almost all of the world’s rhinoceroses, said the number of the animals killed by poachers plunged by 25 percent last year as it stepped up efforts to save the endangered species.

With 769 rhinos poached, it was the first year since 2012 that less than 1,000 of the animals were killed illegally, the Department of Environmental Affairs said in a statement. The animals are targeted for their horns, which are believed in Asia to help cure cancer and boost male virility. The horns are made of keratin, a hair-like substance. The number of rhino deaths peaked at 1,215 in 2014.

The fight against rhino poaching in South Africa has become emblematic of the global struggle against wildlife traffickers, with national awareness campaigns ranging from documentaries to the sale of plastic horns, which are attached to people’s cars.

The decline in rhino deaths is “a confirmation of the commitment and dedication of the men and women working at the coalface to save the species,” said Minister of Environmental Affairs Nomvula Mokonyane, who is also known as Mama Action.

More than half of the rhinos were killed in Kruger National Park, a reserve the size of Israel that lies on South Africa’s border with Mozambique. Poachers frequently cross the border and hunt the animals with automatic weapons and night sights before sawing off the horns.

During the year, 365 alleged poachers were arrested countrywide along with 36 horn traffickers, the department said.

 

- Bloomberg

Feb 15, 2019

Zimbabwe's government continues to explore avenues of attracting lines of credit from neighbouring South Africa after the continent's most prosperous nation rebuffed an earlier request by Harare for a R16 billion (US$1,129 billion) rescue facility, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube has revealed.

South Africa has emerged as the only hope for President Emmerson Mnangagwa's administration for a financial lifeline after several countries, including China, spurned its approaches, citing Harare's tendency to default on debt repayment.

Ncube confirmed in an interview this week that several meetings he held with his South African counterpart Tito Mboweni have so far failed to convince the regional economic giant to commit itself to rescuing Zimbabwe.

"There is no commitment, but we have ongoing discussions," Ncube said, adding government would welcome any form of financial assistance from south of the Limpopo.

"We are in constant talks with South Africa, they are our neighbour, biggest trading partner and we have a bi-national commission. So we have been interacting with them, to see whether they can be of help and support us whenever we need it," he said.

The Treasury boss said government remained hopeful in the face of shrinking sources of credit.

Although there remains a possibility of South Africa extending a US$7 million credit facility to clear part of Zimbabwe's World Bank arrears, the neighbouring country appears reluctant.

Mnangagwa told private media journalists a fortnight ago that: "We started engaging South Africa earlier this year when we had the cooking oil shortage. Then because of the nature of relations between us and South Africa, we said to South Africa can you give us lines of credit. So this is why discussions between the South African minister of finance, our own finance minister and the governor of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe started."

"Talks are therefore underway for a line of credit from South Africa Botswana has also given us line of credit worth 70 million Pula. What it means is that Zimbabwean businesses can get goods from those two countries worth that amount. We are then given a grace period and then we could be able to repay the credit within an agreed period of time, say to or five years. It is different from a bailout package in that it does not come with certain conditions attached to it," he added.

While critics in South Africa say lending to Zimbabwe would be a waste of money, President Cyril Ramaphosa has over the past week said there is need to support Harare.
However, he has not qualified the kind of support he would prefer.

Zimbabwe is desperate for lines of credit which could go a long way in fixing a tattered economy, which is on the verge of total collapse. Foreign currency shortages continue to haunt industry while the cost of living has soared.

To worsen the situation, Harare's biggest Western cheerleader Britain pulled the plug on Mnangagwa's re-engagement drive when London dissociated itself from the regime last week following the killing of an estimated 17 people during the suppression of violent protests which rocked the country last month while 78 others were injured and more than 1 000 were arrested.

Britain, a key Mnangagwa ally after the toppling of former president Robert Mugabe in the November 2017 coup, had also emerged as the only Western power supporting Zimbabwe's re-engagement with IMF, World Bank and re-joining Commonwealth.

Although Mnangagwa has denied that the country is seeking a bailout package, former finance minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed on a trip to China last year that government was seeking a rescue package of US$2,5 billion to support the productive sectors which include tourism, mining and manufacturing.

Acting Chinese ambassador Zhao Baogang said that they will not give Zimbabwe a bailout package, focussing instead on sponsoring infrastructural development.

 

Source - The Independent

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