(ltr, back) Eric Cornhill (Erixpix), Thabitha Lolliot (Mediclinic Pietermaritzburg), Lydia Nel (PMB National Office), Angie Narayan (Community Chest), and front, Adele Hodgson (Hepburn Inc), Janine Dupisanie (Cost To Build) and Sunshine Tam (Cost to Build).

(ltr) Sifiso Khoza (SANBS), Janet Finch (Communication 101), Lungi Buthelezi (Regus Business Centre), KK Zuma (SANBS) and front, Kim Minnie (Express Employment Professionals) and Yolandi Thomas (Express Employment Professionals).

Anthea Forder (AppCity), Murray Tessendorf (A Roche SA), Melanie Rood (A Roche SA), Katelin Theron (D&R Inc), Nicola Mngomezulu (FNB) and Liezel Van Antwerp (Pronel).

Easter came early for guests at the Chamber lunch, one of the most popular events on the calender of the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business. A plethora of lucky draw prizes, jokes and laughter spiced up proceedings, while Louise Klaasen (ActionCoach Summit), Ali Engelbrecht (Women in Business) and Shari Cade (Training & Consulting) were the guest speakers drawn at the previous lunch. The next Chamber lunch is on Thursday, May 9.

  Today in History  

1942: For the first time in history, a dying patient's life is saved by penicillin, the first documented succesful treatmnet by Orvan Hess and John Bumstead.

Today is pie day, both of the culinary variety and also the mathematical constant pi (π) of 3.14. Any guesses why today is observed as pi day?

  News worth knowing  


Eskom cautioned yesterday that the risk of load shedding remains high for the next few days. The state-owned power utility pointed out that it has not implemented load shedding since February 15 and will only implement it if absolutely necessary. "The power system remains tight and vulnerable and while Eskom is making every effort to return generating units online in order to limit load shedding, it could be implemented at short notice should there be a significant shift in plant performance. This could include a significant loss in generating plant due to unplanned technical breakdowns," it said. (Fin24)



The business confidence index, released yesterday and compiled quarterly by Rand Merchant Bank and Stellenbosch University’s Bureau for Economic Research, fell by three points to 28 in Q1 2019 – with more than seven out of 10 business people dissatisfied with current conditions and sentiment dented in four of the five business sectors. This is only slightly higher than the low of 27 reached in Q2 2017 and in Q1 2009 following the global financial crisis.A year ago, business confidence soared to 44 on “Ramaphoria”. A score below 50 reflects depressed business confidence levels. “Since taking the reins, Ramaphosa has launched several initiatives to help reverse SA’s decline,” RMB chief economist Etienne le Roux said. “Yet, as encouraging and necessary as these have been, measures such as these – to first expose past corruption and then deal with rebuilding institutions – will only bear fruit in the longer term,” he said. (BDLive)



The Rand weakened yesterday as the ongoing crisis in Britain over its exit from the European Union soured global risk appetite. At 8.30 am today, the Rand was trading at 14.45 per US Dollar compared its overnight close in New York. The currency was volatile, rallying to a three-day high of 14.2250 before retreating after British lawmakers again rejected a deal to quit the EU. Uncertainty over Brexit as well as caution over the prospects of a trade agreement between the United States and China has seen risk demand ebb, with investors increasingly opting for safe-haven assets like the US Dollar, Japanese Yen and gold. (Reuters)



South Africa's rising debt trajectory will make it difficult to weather a significant global economic downturn, the central bank deputy governor said, adding it would take at least a decade to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio down to the 30% to 40% range. Deputy governor Kuben Naidoo also said yesterday that growth in Africa's most industrialised economy was seen hovering around the 2% over the next few years. (Reuters)



The recent offshore gas find by Total provides SA with a rare opportunity to establish a sovereign wealth fund along the lines of other oil-producing countries, mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe said in the National Assembly yesterday. A sovereign wealth fund would ensure the benefits of the discovery are preserved for future generations, he said. The minister said it was early days to determine the opportunities that would arise from the discovery, but it offers the potential to reduce the country’s dependence on imported oil and gas; would assist SA in establishing a petroleum sector as an important sector of the economy; would help grow the economy with the opportunity of achieving a 5% growth rate at full production of the oil and gas; and would create jobs. (BDLive)



Plastics SA has called on the government to take steps immediately to ring-fence the plastic bag levy so it can all be used for recycling. Nearly R2 billion has been raised since the supermarket plastic bag levy was introduced 15 years ago but only half of it has gone to recycling. The Treasury has allocated the rest to other departments. Plastics SA represents plastics industry players, including polymer producers, converters and recyclers. The organisation said the levy should have been ring-fenced for its intended purpose: to develop better recycling facilities and incentivise sustainable consumer behaviour. The levy is applied to the producers of the plastic bags but is ultimately passed on to consumers, who buy the bags at tills for varying prices from 50c. Anton Hanekom, executive director of Plastics SA, called on the government on Wednesday to fix SA’s inadequate waste management facilities urgently and improve infrastructure for collection and recycling. “To start financing the upgrade of our flawed waste management system, our view is that the government must immediately take steps to ring-fence the plastic bag levy. This levy has increased from 3c per bag in 2003 to 12c in 2018, he said. (BDLive)



The state capture commission has heard how millions of rands flowed from state-owned enterprises (SOE)'s such as Transnet to Gupta-linked businessman Salim Essa, even though he didn’t do any work for the SOEs. This was revealed by Standard Bank’s head of compliance Ian Sinton who took the stand at the inquiry on Tuesday. He gave insight to the bank’s decision to cut ties with entities related to the controversial family, saying there were suspicious transactions that flowed in and out of the company’s accounts without proper explanations. Last year, an AmaBhungane investigation revealed that from 2014, Regiments Capital was earning more than R400 million a year in consultancy fees from Transnet, with Gupta linked businessmen Essa claiming between 30% and 50% of that amount.The commission believes this kind of scheme proves how money was laundered through state-owned entities. (EWN)



The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) commission of inquiry has heard the corporation didn't have the money to invest in AYO Technologies Solutions and had to sell off shares to create liquidity. Portfolio manager Gaanewe Adams revealed in her testimony that the then-CEO Dan Matjila gave the instruction to sell off shares in order to invest in Iqbal Survé’s AYO Technologies Solutions. Several witnesses have confirmed there was an immense amount of pressure for the controversial R4.3 billion investment to go through. Adams has told the commission how the PIC had to sell off shares amounting to around R3.8 billion in order to invest in AYO Technologies. (EWN)



With just two months left before the elections, unions at Eskom have warned of a shut down that could leave the country in the dark in the days leading up to the polls. There have been rolling outages in recent months as Eskom struggles to generate enough power while scrambling to fix the over-indebted utility that has been described as the single biggest risk to the economy. But differences between the ANC-led government and organised labour on how the power utility can be rescued have come to a head, with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) being the latest union to threaten a shut down of the country over the decision to unbundle Eskom into three entities. The NUM has taken aim at the ANC, resolving on Tuesday that thousands of its members would be marching to Luthuli House at the end of March before engaging in a shut down from 3 May until after the elections. (EWN)



The sugar tax and lower demand from bottling firms continue to stifle Mpact’s plastics business, CEO Bruce Strong says. The plastics business’s poor showing in the year to December counteracts the improved performance of the firm’s paper unit, which has benefited from recent capital expenditure. The investments include the R800 million expansion of the Felixton paper mill in KZN. Mpact is a  recycler of recovered paper and plastic collections and has operations in Namibia, Botswana and Mozambique. Mpact’s total revenue grew 5% to R10.6 billion, while earnings per share increased 25% to 208c a share. Operating profit jumped 47.3% to R672 million on the back of strong performance in the second of the financial year. Mpact, which increased final dividend by 37.5% to 55c a share, reduced its net debt by 5.3% to R2.1 billion. (BDLive)



Food producer Libstar Holdings yesterday reported a 16.1% fall in full-year normalised earnings, weighed down by the impairment in the niche beverages category. The producer of Lancewood diary products said normalised basic and diluted headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the full-year ended Dec. 31, 2018 fell to 73 cents from 87 cents in the previous year. "An impairment loss in the amount of R42 million was recorded in respect of the residual dairy-blend and fruit concentrate beverage operations, as the group deliberates its strategic options regarding this component of the business," it said. (Reuters)



MTN expects its Nigerian subsidiary to list on the local stock exchange "probably more towards April and May", the unit's chief executive said yesterday. The listing should be no later than halfway through the year, Ferdi Moolman, chief executive of MTN Nigeria told reporters in the commercial capital of Lagos. MTN last week said it aimed to list its Nigerian unit on the Nigerian Stock Exchange during the first half of 2019 without raising new money from investors immediately. MTN Nigeria said it would simplify its capital structure prior to the listing. The Nigerian company also said its subscriber base grew to 58 million users in 2018, up 6 million. (Reuters)



Volkswagen said yesterday it would halt preparations for an initial public offering (IPO) of its trucks unit Traton until market conditions improve, stalling what was expected to be Germany's biggest share offering this year. The automaker had previously said it could list up to 25% of Traton in a deal that was expected to raise between 5 and 6 billion Euros (about R90 billion and R100 billion). Volkswagen said it would still aim for an IPO once market conditions improve. (Reuters)


Simply Communicate Workshops


All 08h30 - 12h30 at Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business

Customer Service            Wednesday, 03/04/2019
Do you know what it’s like to do business with you? Your customers do. Are you listening to them and to your staff who face them every day? Learn how your employees can focus on what matters for every customer. 

Managing Discipline        Wednesday, 15/05/2019
Managing discipline is complex but not complicated. Learn how to keep order in the workplace and deal with problem employees. Discover the seven questions that will guide you through every investigation.

Managing Performance    Tuesday, 04/06/2019
Getting the right things done in the right way. This is the heart of management: empowering others to do the job you know so well. Discover the four steps to managing performance, and learn how to deal with poor performance, including medical and other incapacity issues.

Managing Change             Wednesday, 24/07/2019
The problem is not change but changing behaviours. It is not about managing change but managing people during change. 

Cost per workshop: R730 pp; R685 pp for 3+ delegates. NPOs R645 pp.

To book, or discuss in-house workshops, contact Ian on 083 321 0699 or


Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears. 

Les Brown

  financial indicators  
Dollar R14.45 - 0.31%
Pound R19.14 + 0.04%
Euro R16.35 - 0.09%
Yen 0.129575  
Repo 6.75  
Platinum $ 826.50 - 0.75%
Gold $ 1304.25 - 0.37%
Oil $ 67.61 + 1.36%
All Share 55829.10 + 0.23%
Prime 10.25  

These rates are correct at time of going to press.