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Digital currency focus: China's yuan is a first for a major economy - expert insights

Professor Sarah Hall of the University of Nottingham is a specialist in the changing nature of international financial centres. She spoke to Jackie Cameron, of BizNews, about the digital yuan. China has created its own digital currency, a first for a major economy. Digitised money looks like a potential macroeconomic dream tool for the issuing government, usable to track people’s spending in real time, speed relief to disaster victims or flag criminal activity, says BizNews Premium partner The Wall Street Journal. There are concerns that, Beijing stands to gain vast new powers to tighten President Xi Jinping’s authoritarian rule. 

Offshore success: MAS Real Estate's Martin Slabbert on Romanian venture

Martin Slabbert, of MAS Real Estate, the JSE-listed company that is focused on the booming Romanian market - and is the top tip of Morne Wilken, CEO of Hyprop. In this interview, Biznews's Alec Hogg finds out from the low profile Slabbert why South African property players are so dominant in a country whose growth is second only to South Korea.

Flash Briefing: Greedy Eskom staff demand 15% pay hikes; B4SA roll out vaccines; jail for tax errors; expect US boom

* #Eskom workers are seeking 15% wage increases, even though the utility is struggling to pay its bills and repay debt of about R465bn - and inflation is at a much more modest 3%.
* As the government fails to roll out #COVID vaccinations en masse, South Africa’s biggest business grouping has said it will help develop private industry’s capacity to administer 160,000 coronavirus vaccinations a day.
* A new set of tax law amendments make it possible for the South African Revenue Service to impose criminal sanctions on taxpayers who neglect their tax affairs, reports
* The global economy is showing signs of recovery after a year of business shut downs, with forecasts of a two-year US boom.

Flash Briefing: New SAA boss is an airline ignoramus - DA; Huge Group insider trading probe; Shoprite exits Nigeria

* Western Cape Transport MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela has been suspended for 14 days while an investigation is launched into the misrepresentation of his qualifications.
* The DA is astounded by the appointment of Thomas Kgokolo as the acting SAA CEO. He is the latest person appointed to run the embattled airline despite having no experience in running an airline.
* The Financial Services Conduct Authority (FSCA) has begun an insider trading investigation that will “cover disclosures and transactions in Huge Group securities during January 2021”.
* South Africa’s central bank is likely to maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance to support the economy for as long as it has room to do so, according to Governor Lesetja Kganyago.
* Shoprite plans to sell its Nigerian division to a local property group, according to a person familiar with the matter, as Africa’s largest food retailer pulls back from the continent’s most populous country.
* The Biden administration has announced tough new sanctions on Russia and formally blamed the country’s premier intelligence agency for the sophisticated hacking operation that breached US government agencies and its largest companies.

Beheadings in Mozambique: Islamist Jihadists aren’t only to blame - expert

Islamic State has claimed responsibility for killing and displacing people - but experts in Mozambique don’t believe it’s that simple to blame Islamic militants for the humanitarian crisis that has unfolded in the southern African country. Complicated social conditions, ethnic rivalries, criminal gangs including drug traffickers, government corruption, elites and global corporate bosses turning a blind eye to the needs of the desperately poor communities around one of Africa’s biggest liquified gas investments are among the other factors playing into extreme violence. South African mercenaries are also interfering. Speaking to BizNews editor at large Jackie Cameron, Professor Adriano Nuvunga of the Centre for Democracy and Development in Mozambique says the solution is dialogue and that French multinational Total, behind the big liquefied natural gas (#lng) investment in the area, has been late in engaging with stakeholders. It should have done more to allow locals to benefit from the development, given the fragility of the situation, says the Mozambique expert. South African mercenaries have been hired to help the Mozambique government, but Prof Nuvunga says this exacerbate the problems in the long run.

Flash Briefing: Mkhize blames J&J for slow vaccine roll-out; DA's Madikizela 'lied' on CV; airline price war

* South Africa's health minister has blamed Johnson & Johnson for delays to the roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccine;
* Democratic Alliance Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela has been accused of lying about his qualifications.
* South African airlines are in a price war to attract customers - and one is tempting passengers with an offer to take a small dog on a flight with them, says
* Nearly three dozen of China’s largest technology companies have made public pledges to comply with the country’s antimonopoly laws, as they scramble to fall in line following Beijing’s moves to rein in the business empire of Jack Ma, the country’s best-known entrepreneur.
* The direct listing of the biggest U.S. crypto exchange has pushed tokens even more into the mainstream of investing, exposing legions of potential buyers to the digital asset class that have grown into a $2 trillion industry in little more than a decade.

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