President Vladimir Putin of Russia said on Friday BRICS leaders were not ruling out the possibility of increasing the number of the bloc’s member states, but the decision on accepting more countries to the organisation should not be taken in a rush.
 
BRICS is the acronym coined by British Economist Jim O’Neill meant for an association of five
major emerging national economies: Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.
 
“The candidates have not backed out, on the contrary, they have demonstrated readiness and to work within BRICS as full-fledged members, but at today’s meeting in a small format all my colleagues approached accepting new members to BRICS with caution.
 
“However, they certainly do wish to work with other states and do not exclude the possibility of BRICS expansion,” Putin said at a news conference after the BRICS summit in South Africa.
 
Putin said that the expansion issue needs further discussions, as such a serious question could not be solved “in one fell swoop.”
 
He also said that all decisions are being taken on the basis of consensus.
 
“There is really no some kind of formal leadership. All issues are resolved, decisions are being taken on the basis of consensus, with full respect for the interests of all participants in this
organisation,” Putin said.
 
“This is its huge advantage,” the president said.
 
 
 
Source: Bloomberg News
The Competition Commission believes British American Tobacco's (BAT) plan to buy e-cigarette company Twisp would lead to higher vaping prices in South Africa.
BAT is already a global e-cigarette player and could've easily entered the South African market without buying a competitor, it said.
BAT in January signed an agreement to acquire Twisp. 
Cigarette giant British American Tobacco's (BAT) planned acquisition of big South African e-cigarette maker Twisp would lead to higher vaping prices in South Africa, the Competition Commission says.
 
BAT, South Africa’s largest cigarette distributor, signed an agreement to acquire Twisp in January. Twisp is believed to be the biggest distributor of vaping products in SA. 
 
The deal is subject to approval from the South African Competition Tribunal. 
 
“The merger is likely to result in unilateral effects which may manifest in the form of an increase in prices of e-cigarettes in future or a reduction in the rate of price reductions that could potentially occur with BAT’s entry,” the Competition Commission said in a statement about the proposal.
 
“[The merger can also lead to] a reduction in the quality or rate of innovation of e-cigarette products offered post-merger.” 
 
The commission, mandated to promote and maintain competition in South Africa, said BAT is prominent in the e-cigarette market internationally and could easily have entered the South African market – without buying a competitor.
 
“It would have been in a position to compete effectively against Twisp, the largest and dominant e-cigarette supplier in the country.” 
 
“The Commission recommends that the proposed transaction be prohibited.” 
 
When BAT first announced the deal, the multinational said Twisp would help ensure the sustainability of the company in South Africa. 
 
“We already have a large footprint elsewhere in the world. We are committed to the growth of our next generation products business and it was only natural that we extend our offering in SA with a range that is familiar to this market,” BAT South Africa CEO Soraya Benchikh said at the time. 
 
"We are excited about acquiring a leading vapour brand and the opportunities it presents.” 
 
 
Source: The Business Insider
Its average price for a megabyte of data declined 17.1% in the months of April, May, and June, Vodacom reported in quarterly results Tuesday morning – and it is very happy with that steep decline.
 
The drop was largely because of its push to sell more personalised data bundles on its "Just 4 You" platform, the company said, and it continues to push such bundles aggressively.
 
"Just 4 You" uses big data and machine learning to offer customers bundles tailored around their behaviour.
 
As its data became cheaper, its customers bought 32.2% more data bundles, Vodacom said, which ultimately saw its data revenues increase by nearly 10%, the big drop in price notwithstanding.
 
Vodacom reported much the same effect in its last full year of earnings: lower bundle prices, more bundles sold, and higher revenue.
 
And it expects that trend to continue, despite the new data roll-over rules from the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) that its peers are still fighting in court.
 
Icasa's End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations on out-of-bundle data usage should have "a modest impact on data revenue growth" Vodacom said.
 
"We expect this to be mitigated in the short term by continued uptake of data bundles and strong elasticity in demand for these services."
 
By Vodacom's latest count it has some 43 million customers in South Africa, but only a little under 20.5 million of those use any data of any kind. Its numbers are roughly the same elsewhere in Africa as a whole: half its active customers do not yet pay for data.
 
The Icasa regulations require cellphone companies to allow customers to roll over unused data before it expires, or to transfer it to someone else. The rules also forbid companies from automatically defaulting customers to out-of-bundle data use (typically hugely more expensive than in-bundle data) once a bundle is depleted.
 
The implementation of the rules were suspended after Cell C, with support from MTN, went to court to challenge them. 
 
 
 
Source: Business Insider
 
 
Cape Town - The South African Human Rights Commission has said that economic challenges that prompted the VAT and fuel levy hikes announced in the budget could have been averted if the government had earlier demonstrated better management of the economy and clamped down on corruption. 
 
“Public and private sector corruption, according to the Auditor General, a fellow Chapter 9 Institution, costs the nation billions on an annual basis,” it said.
 
The commission, a national institution established to uphold constitutional democracy and human rights, said it believed a “significant portion” of the economic challenges facing SA could have been avoided had the state “demonstrated better management of the economy and demonstrated an intolerance toward corruption, inefficiency and maladministration”. 
 
In his maiden budget delivered on Wednesday, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that VAT would increase by one percentage point from 14% to 15%. 
 
The current zero-rating on foods including maize meal, brown bread, dried beans and rice would remain, and “limit the impact on the poorest households”. 
 
The SAHRC said it was “deeply concerned” that the VAT rate would go up, saying it was a tax that impacts the poor the most.
 
According to the budget, it is expected to bring in R22.9bn in additional revenue in the 2018/19 financial year. 
 
“Further, the SAHRC is also concerned with the increase in the fuel price through the introduction of a 52 cents per litre fuel levy,” it said. “This increase in fuel price particularly impacts on the poor as it affects the price of public transport and the price of goods as the vast majority of goods sold to the public are transported on the road.”
 
The commission also acknowledged that the budget was a “complex and difficult balancing act”, saying it was “fully aware” of the difficulties in limiting expenditure while collecting revenue through taxes and stimulating economic growth. 
 
Going up  
 
Gigaba had argued that the government was doing all it could to reduce the impact of the VAT hike on poor households, noting that the state was also boosting social grants payments and increasing the bottom three tax brackets.
 
He said plans to spend R57bn over three years on fee-free tertiary education for students with a family income below R350 000 per annum was another “important step forward in breaking the cycle of poverty and confronting youth unemployment”.
 
“Labour statistics show that unemployment is lowest for tertiary graduates,” he said.“Higher and further education and training is being made accessible to the children of workers and the poor.”
 
Source:News24
The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) says the introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) and Medical Schemes Amendment bills will "revolutionise" healthcare in South Africa.
 
On Thursday, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi presented to the public the two bills which aim to put in place a set of health-financing reforms to provide universal health coverage.
 
Sanco appeared to agree with the minister's plan to ensure that the "rich will subsidise the poor, the young will subsidise the old, and the healthy must subsidise the sick".
 
Sanco spokesperson Motlalepula Rosho said: "NHI will raise resources required to address inequalities while ensuring that all citizens access quality healthcare, which is currently the preserve of the affluent."
 
She said opposition to the introduction of NHI was largely influenced by sections of the private healthcare sector and pharmaceutical companies that benefit from medical aid schemes.
 
"Doctors who are servicing disadvantaged communities, who have curtailed claim rates from medical aid schemes as opposed to their counterparts operating from private healthcare facilities, will also derive equitable benefits from the proposed changes," Rosho emphasised.
 
During his presentation, the minister explained that an NHI Fund would be established as a public entity, which will be governed by the Public Finance Management Act.
 
The fund will be a single public purchaser and financier of health services in the country, to ensure "equitable and fair distribution", and will be a mandatory pre-payment health services system.
 
Healthcare services, medicines, health goods and health-related products from certified, accredited and contracted service providers will be financed by the fund.
 
It will "pool funds to provide access to quality health services for all South Africans based on their health needs and irrespective of their socio-economic status", the minister explained.
 
The ultimate goal of NHI is to ensure that everyone has the same access and standard of healthcare, regardless of their income.
 
The NHI Bill will also require amendments to 12 other pieces of legislation in order to pave the way for an effective national fund.
 
Source: News24
Eskom's current load shedding due to the impact of protest action by workers will add to the weakness of the South African economy which is already battling, Economist
 
"Load shedding is unfortunate, because South Africa already has serious economic problems. Load shedding will take away consumer and business confidence as South Africans are already struggling to make ends meet," said Schüssler.
 
"Investors have pulled out of South Africa and continue to do so. South Africa has so many protest actions. It really hurts the economy."
 
He believes it will be harder for the local economy to catch up on whatever pace it loses now, due to the impact of load shedding. It would also make it harder for the country to avoid going into a recession.
 
"South Africa is sending out a message that we have severe interruptions in economic activity, and that we are not quite as open for business as we'd like to advertise," said Schüssler.
 
"We are creating a reputation of not implementing what we claim we will do. We say we will create a certain number of jobs and that we are open for business, but then Eskom implements load shedding."
 
'Totally irresponsible and grossly negligent'
 
"If this is the way Eskom's new management wants to run the power utility, then they must not be surprised that we are having load shedding and blackouts. In my view, it is totally irresponsible and grossly negligent of them to operate the national energy supplier in this way. This is very serious," said Blom.
 
He thinks Eskom's management could even be held personally liable for losses due to load shedding.
 
"They knew what was coming and know how vulnerable the situation is. We are heading for dark days and if Eskom wants to bully its workers and bully analysts critical of its management, the public should act as watchdogs," said Blom.
 
Earlier this year, Fin24 reported Blom as warning that load shedding could likely be expected this winter. Eskom subsequently denied that possibility.
 
"Eskom will remain vulnerable until it sorts out the labour and coal issues - which will not be soon. Furthermore, I hear of plant breakdowns," said Blom.
 
Credit: Fin24
Sipho Pityana, businessman, Save SA convenor, and outspoken critic of former president Jacob Zuma, is set to take over as president of Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) later in June.
 
Pityana, the founder and chairman of black economic empowerment group Izingwe Capital, was unanimously nominated for election as president. He will take on his new role with effect from June 26, when the next AGM takes place, BUSA said in a statement on Tuesday. 
 
He will take over the reins from Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza, who served for two terms. Martin Kingston has been nominated to serve a second term as vice president. 
 
The new BUSA board and elected members will be ratified at the AGM.
 
"It’s an honour to be asked to serve the unified voice of business at such a critical time in our struggle for transformative inclusive economic growth, as we position our country to be a successful participant in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," Pityana said in a statement.
 
Pityana currently holds positions on various boards, including AngloGold Ashanti. He has held board positions at companies listed on the New York, London and Johannesburg stock exchanges, as well as unlisted companies.
 
He was the former chairperson of the National Students’ Financial Aid Scheme, or NFSAS, and is currently chairperson of Council of the University of Cape Town. He was also previously the chair of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution.
 
Pityana also has experience in government, having served as director-general of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 1999 to 2002. He was also director-general of the department of labour from 1995 to 1999.
 
He was one of the founders of the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) and the Council for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
 
Pityana has served in a number of other business groupings. 
 
BUSA, in a statement, recognised Pityana's "strong sense of civic duty" which led him to form advocacy group Save SA, after revelations of state capture emerged. 
 
Other elected BUSA board members include Absa CEO Maria Ramos, Managing Director of the Banking Association of South Africa Cas Coovadia, and CEO of the Minerals Council of SA - previously known as the Chamber of Mines - Roger Baxter.
 
Speaking on his term of office, Mabuza said he was confident that he was leaving the organisation in a "stronger state", with business having a credible voice anchored by "constructive engagement" with social partners.
 
"It is critical for business to adopt a proactive and unified stance as it seeks to unlock value in the economy and address poverty, inequality and unemployment. I congratulate the incoming board under the leadership of Sipho," said Mabuza.  
 
 
Source: Fin24

More than 20 years after democracy it seems incredible that a leading South African insurance company, Outsurance would put out a Father’s Day advertisement which featured mostly white dads.

If their marketing team didn’t see the problem, citizens on social media certainly did and helped the company to see the error of its ways – and fast.

Within hours of screening the advertisement, a twitter storm had broken out and the commercial was retracted. Outsurance issued an apology for any offence caused. It was a quick and decisive response – which is generally the right way to respond in a crisis – spoiled only by the fact that the company subsequently laid the blame at the door of a “junior lady” on the social media team.

The Outsurance experience underlines the growing importance of social media in branding. Branding scholars Chiranjeev Kohli and Anuj Kapoor point out that:

This rapidly evolving landscape has left managers at a loss, and what they are experiencing is likely the beginning of a tectonic shift in the way brands are managed.

Outsurance isn’t the only firm to have been caught in a social media storm. Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick was forced to step down after a prolonged online assault leading to a “shareholder revolt”. London based public relations firm, Bell Pottinger, had to lock its twitter handle recently because it had been twitter bombed by South Africans outraged at the firm’s service to the controversial Gupta family.

Another South African business, the family restaurant franchise Spur, suffered considerable brand damage after a video showing an altercation between a (white) man and a (black) woman at a Johannesburg outlet went viral, causing a racially charged firestorm. Spur was castigated from different directions for mishandling the matter.

These cases show how social media gives consumers the ability to influence business behaviour. But, we argue, this power should be channelled in a constructive way to affect lasting change.

A new kind of activism

There are many examples of deliberate online anti-brand behaviours targeting well-known brands such as American Express, Coca Cola, and Wal-Mart. Widely respected New York Times technology columnist Farhad Manjoo recently noted, that online campaigns against brands have become a powerful force in business by handing power to consumers. It has also given birth to a new kind of political activism:

Posting a hashtag and threatening to back it up by withholding dollars can bring about a much quicker, more visible change in the world than, say, calling your representative.

This is of course not good news to most corporations, businesses and politicians. Those operating in the public domain know the importance of protecting their reputation and fear the power of social media. Many organisations pay research companies for daily feedback on how their brand is perceived. In addition to newspaper clippings and magazine articles, they also have to sift through thousands of tweets and emails.

Not all negative comments deserve to be dealt with publicly. Some outrage may be the result of a vindictive individual or interest groups with less honourable intentions. Responding to comments such as these may only fan the fire, doing more harm than good.

But the power of social media is such that even a falsehood can cause immense damage, ruining businesses and individuals. Social media can awaken the mob mentality in people. All that’s required is for people to become angry – and have access to a medium where they can be relatively anonymous and vent their fury.

Social media brings out the best and the worst in people. On the one hand, it gives the power to do untold damage. On the other it can be used to do tremendous good.

Disciplining business

Take the case of American airline United Airlines. The video of how security dragged Dr David Dao off a flight in April 2017 after he refused to leave his seat when he was selected to be bumped off due to overbooking went viral on the Internet.

Millions of people saw Dr Dao being dragged, bleeding and injured, off the plane. There was an enormous backlash from consumers slamming the airline – and other airlines – for the practice of overbooking.

The consequences of all the anger led to the airline revising its policy and operations and spilled over into wider investigations into general procedures at airlines. This resulted in new legislation being drafted in the US, which could prevent airlines from forcibly removing passengers seated on an overbooked flight and providing compensation for those not allowed to board.  

A double-edged sword

Social media is here to stay – if anything its use is set to become more sophisticated. According to Pew Internet Research, YouTube reaches more 18- to 34-year-olds than any cable network in the US, 76% of Facebook users visited the site daily last year with over 1.6 billion daily visitors, and 51% of Instagram users engage with the platform daily. These trends are spreading across the globe.

Users may also become more discerning about which sites they visit and how often. For companies, this means a need to remain vigilant and being aware of how to react appropriately. They undoubtedly stand to profit as well – through clever marketing campaigns that make use of social media platforms.

But the biggest winners could be consumers – should they learn to properly use the power of social media to organise into interest groups, define objectives and agree on courses of action – thereby exerting pressure on companies to see the kind of change in corporations that they would like to see in society as well.

 

Mlenga Jere, Associate Professor of Marketing, University of Cape Town and Raymond van Niekerk, Adjunct Professor, with expertise in Branding, Marketing, Business Strategy, Corporate Citizenship and Social Responsibility. Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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