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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Wednesday 28th of October 2020

Spectacular white jacaranda trees grace Gauteng @getawaymagazine H/T @cobbo3

Gauteng is known for its beautiful jacaranda trees that add splashes of bright purple to the lush green trees in residential and business areas alike.

However, even more spectacular are the rare white jacarandas that can be seen in certain areas.

‘The white jacaranda trees are in full bloom at the moment. Herbert Baker Street is the only place in South Africa where the white jacaranda trees grow in abundance,’ wrote local Facebook page Beautiful South Africa.

Jacaranda mimosifolia is a sub-tropical tree indigenous to South America. The word ‘jacaranda’ is of Tupi-Guarani origin and means ‘fragrant’.

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Leaning Into The Afternoons

Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets

towards your oceanic eyes.

There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens and flames,

its arms turning like a drowning man's.

I send out red signals across your absent eyes

that smell like the sea or the beach by a lighthouse.

You keep only darkness, my distant female,

from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets

to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.

The birds of night peck at the first stars

that flash like my soul when I love you.

The night gallops on its shadowy mare

shedding blue tassels over the land.

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An elephant herd passes in front of a pink sunset sky in Etosha National Park.

There is not the slightest sound coming from the procession of giants walking past, several tons heavy but quiet as mice. They soon fade in the dusty twilight before they finally are lost in the dark.

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Berber photographer Ferhat Bouda gets more exposure @dwnews

"I chose it because I want to do something for my culture," he says of his photographs. "The culture of the Berber people, or Imazighen, as we call ourselves."

Born in Kabylia in northern Algeria, Ferhat Bouda grew up in the village of Bouzeguene. Speaking the Berber language, his mother tongue, was not permitted in school. 

In 2000, Ferhat Bouda left his family in Algeria and went to Paris, hoping to study film.

"My grandmother could not even understand what was on the television in Algeria because all the programs were in Arabic," he says. "I wanted to make films for her, in her language."

For the past 10 years, Bouda has been documenting the lives of the Imazighen peoples who live all over Western Africa. 

Also referred to as Berbers, they have populated a territory stretching from Algeria to Burkina Faso for the past 2,500 years.

When a Tuareg woman says no, she means no, he says. "It is the woman who chooses her husband, not the other way around''

Once I asked a Tuareg man whether I could take photos; he could not give me a clear answer, he hummed and hawed. It took me a while to understand that he had to ask his wife first."

"Tuareg women are so proud," he adds. "And they are beautiful. That is what I wanted to capture."

There is a heaviness but also urgency to his voice as he continues. "That is what I am doing here. To make sure that this culture doesn't disappear." 

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American troops could be sent to ‘defend the Senkaku Islands’, US commander says @SCMPNews
Law & Politics

American troops could be sent to disputed islands in the East China Sea, the head of US forces in Japan said, as the two allies began a high-profile drill amid growing concerns over Beijing’s military activities in the region.

“Our arrival today was simply to demonstrate the ability to move a few people, but the same capability could be used to deploy combat troops to defend the Senkaku Islands or respond to other crises and contingencies,” Lieutenant General Kevin Schneider, commander of US Forces Japan, said on Monday.

Schneider made the remarks after touching down on a Japanese destroyer in waters south of Japan for the start of Keen Sword 21, the first joint military exercise between the countries since Yoshihide Suga became prime minister last month.

He was referring to a group of uninhabited but strategically located islands claimed by Japan and China, where they are known as the Diaoyus, as well as Taiwan. 

Controlled by Japan, the islands and the waters that surround them are at the centre of a bitter maritime territorial dispute between Beijing and Tokyo.

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Taiwan aims missiles at China to foil invasion plans @TaiwanNews886
Law & Politics

HIMARS and SLAM-ERs weapons systems tentatively approved for sale to Taiwan "are cutting-edge technologically and will diversify and improve the capacity of Taiwan's counter-strike missile force."

The Trump administration on Oct. 21 notified Congress it had approved the sale of 11 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) M142 Launchers, 135 AGM-84H Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) Missiles and related equipment, and six MS-110 Recce external sensor pods made by Collins Aerospace for jets. 

The mobile HIMARS launchers will include 64 Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS) missiles.

The ATACMS are surface-to-air missiles which carry 226-kilogram non-nuclear warheads up to 300 kilometers. 

Given the fact that the Taiwan Strait is only about 130 kilometers across, Chinese coastal bases, ports, and staging areas in Fujian are well within the range of the weapons.

Meanwhile, anti-ship missiles would pound People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships trying to transport troops to Taiwan, while anti-aircraft missiles would be used to deny the PLAAF its dream of air superiority.

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Europe currently growing total cases by 2.5% per day, a 48% increase in growth rate past two weeks. Europe still on track to >30M cases by end of year. @jmlukens

Europe added more than 280k new #COVID19 cases yesterday vs US 66k.  Europe currently growing total cases by 2.5% per day, a 48% increase in growth rate past two weeks.  Europe still on track to >30M cases by end of year.

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#COVID19 Worldwide Confirmed cases are growing in all global regions with the exception of Asia and S. America. @Marco_Piani

The fastest increase is in Europe, where daily cases have recently grown at about 5%/day, but there has been an acceleration also in N. America. 

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.1761

Dollar Index 93.144

Japan Yen 104.213

Swiss Franc 0.91055

Pound 1.3029

Aussie 0.7132

India Rupee 73.879

South Korea Won 1133.34

Brazil Real 5.7062

Egypt Pound 15.7288

South Africa Rand 16.2582

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The supermassive black hole is going to suck in everything. @RaoulGMI
World Of Finance

Again, this is there best trade/investment and future opportunity I have EVER found and it has the power to give the little guy a chance to grab their share of the wealth creation before Wall Street does. Grab it.

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08-JAN-2018 :: The Crypto Avocado Millenial Economy.
World Of Finance

The ‘’Zeitgeist’’ of a time is its defining spirit or its mood. Capturing the ‘’zeitgeist’’ of the Now is not an easy thing because we are living in a dizzyingly fluid moment.

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Africa total #COVID19 cases and deaths both growing on average 0.66% per day past week. @jmlukens

Case growth rate trending up slightly while death growth rate remains flat.

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Tanzania's @TunduALissu jailed, shot, but refusing to back down @AFP
Law & Politics

Tundu Lissu has been arrested countless times and was pumped full of bullets in an assassination attempt, but instead of shying away from politics the Tanzanian lawyer decided to run for president.

At 52, Lissu walks with a slight limp after being shot 16 times in the 2017 attack he believes was politically motivated, requiring almost 20 surgeries.

Nevertheless after returning from three years abroad, he has campaigned energetically to massive crowds, dancing on stages across the country as he rails against President John Magufuli's government for authoritarianism and a crackdown on the opposition and freedoms.

"I think I have handled the campaign pretty well so far but that is not to say that it's not difficult," he told AFP.

"I don't feel secure but there is a job that needs to be done. That job carries significant risk within it and it has to be done."

Lissu was born in 1968 in a small village called Mahambe in the central region of Singida, where he helped his family farm and took care of his father's cattle as a young boy, while attending primary school.

It was while listening to radio programmes on current affairs and reading voraciously that Lissu first got a taste for politics. 

He studied law at the University of Dar es Salaam and quickly plunged into human rights and environmental law.

He worked from 1999-2009 for the Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT), fighting for the rights of poor, rural communities, whether against industrial shrimp farming or foreign gold mining companies.

He also worked on environmental issues between 1999 and 2002 for the Washington DC-based World Resources Institute (WRI).

"He is not afraid to take on anyone that is challenging the rights and the livelihoods of rural people," said Peter Veit of the WRI, who has known Lissu for almost three decades and helped set up LEAT.

"I think that's part of the reason why he is successful but it is also part of the reason why he has gotten such a reaction from the administration in Tanzania."

Veit told AFP he had discouraged his friend from returning, due to fears for his safety, but is "not at all surprised" that he did.

"He is just driven by what he sees as the wrongs of this current administration," he said.

Lissu's activism led him into politics and he was elected as a member of parliament in 2010, working his way up to being number two in the main opposition party Chadema.

While he was arrested under the previous government in connection to his mining activism, it was after Magufuli's election that he became even more vocal, slamming the president as a dictator and denouncing a climate of fear.

In 2017 he was arrested six times, and then, in September, as he pulled up outside his house in Dodoma, gunmen sprayed his car with bullets.

"You have to be aware of the fact that... all my limbs, my legs, my waist, my arms, my stomach were basically ripped apart by 16 bullet shots and therefore to mend me, to put me back on my feet, took a long time," Lissu told AFP.

He has been taken aback by the large crowds at his rallies, after a five-year ban on opposition political gatherings.

"After five years of repression, I was not expecting this kind of enthusiasm and mass support from the people," he said.

As the election draws nearer, so have efforts to frustrate his campaign, with police firing tear gas to disperse crowds who formed around Lissu on an unscheduled campaign stop.

The election commission suspended his campaign for seven days due to "seditious language" and his entire convoy was blocked for hours by heavily armed police as he headed to launch new offices earlier this month.

Lissu said the opposition has "gone through hell during these five years".

"The biggest thing has been the untold suffering. Killings of political leaders, attacks on political leaders, abductions, disappearances, torture, illegal prosecution of opposition leaders and activists in courts of law, with trumped-up charges."

He believes his party will win, but that the election will not be a fair race, with an election commission appointed by the president.

Lissu is married to a fellow lawyer, Alicia Magabe and has two sons, who have been in high school in the US since he fled in 2017.

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China’s Feud With Bondholders Could Reset Debt Workout Rules @markets

The last time Zambia renegotiated its external debt, the well-oiled machine established by institutional lenders and western governments handled it with little trouble.

But 15 years later, with the southern African nation in the throes of a $12 billion debt overhaul, China and bondholders have emerged as powerful new players to upend the choreography.

Beijing is embroiled in a feud with money managers in New York and London, putting the impoverished nation in the middle. 

The outcome of the dispute over the billions Zambia borrowed from both sides could define how developing countries address debt crises from now on.

“The precedent set in Zambia is likely to be the one that everyone points to in the next couple of years as we have multiple sovereign debt workouts,” said Lee Buchheit, one of the world’s most prominent debt-restructuring lawyers. 

“This is the beginning of a new era.”

Ethiopia, Kenya and the Republic of Congo are among fiscally challenged African nations with high levels of Chinese debt. 

But with the coronavirus pandemic punishing economies around the world, the problem is wider than just Africa: the Maldives, Kyrgyz Republic and Venezuela are among the largest recipients of largesse from the world’s newest financial powerhouse, according to a study co-authored by the World Bank’s chief economist, Carmen Reinhart.

At the heart of the battle in Zambia is the suspicion from both sides that any relief granted to one would be used to repay the other. 

The players don’t trust each other and are barely on speaking terms. 

Bondholders delayed a key vote on Tuesday to defer coupon payments, with the next meeting set for Nov. 13.

In previous debt crises of the 1980s and 1990s, rich western governments grouped in the so-called Paris Club and commercial banks mostly from the same countries worked together to write off loans in exchange for budget cuts and promises to curb corruption. That world has changed dramatically.

China has become the world’s largest non-commercial lender, surpassing the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. 

In the past two decades, financing roads, airports and hospitals across Africa, Asia and Latin America has driven China’s loans and trade credits to the rest of the world to $1.6 trillion, or close to 2% of global gross domestic product, in 2018, from near-zero in 1998, according to the Reinhart study.

In just eight years since 2010, China extended $121 billion in loans to African nations

In addition, bondholders interested in the relatively high returns have provided $83 billion of risky debt in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“As a rising power, China has very different objectives in Africa than the private bondholders,” said Martyn Davies, Deloitte’s managing director for emerging markets and Africa. “I just can’t see how these interests can reconcile.”

Not only are their objectives different, but communication between them is almost nonexistent.

“We and other bondholders have tried very hard to engage with China,” said Lars Bane, a partner at London-based Farallon Capital Europe LLP and member of a group of private creditors holding regular talks with African borrowers. 

“It would certainly be beneficial for everyone to have better lines of communication so that we can all collaborate to work toward solutions, rather than the current silence.”

China has called on bondholders to follow its lead in granting relief to poor countries. Its official credit agency, the Export-Import Bank of China, has signed deals with 11 African countries to ease payment terms, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Oct. 12. 

China would support equal treatment of all creditors, Wu Peng, head of the Africa department at the foreign ministry, said in a tweet on Oct. 20.

As a member of the Group of 20 leading economies, China earlier this month backed the renewal of a debt-relief initiative for the poorest countries through at least the first half of 2021. 

After some initial opposition, China also agreed to coordinate debt negotiations with the Paris Club, a move which could increase transparency.

But increasing tensions between the U.S. and China could undermine any rapprochement between Beijing and bondholders, said Ye Yu, an associate research fellow at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies.

“High-level dialogue between the two could have provided a channel for China to communicate with private investors,” Ye said. 

“China feels that it’s contributing the most to the debt-relief initiative, but it’s still getting blamed for the debt problems abroad.”

Chinese lenders have so far been more lenient with African borrowers than private creditors. 

Over the past decade, China has restructured and refinanced about $15 billion of debt in Africa without slapping penalties or seizing assets from borrowers, according to a Johns Hopkins University study.

“China has been used a lender of last resort by countries like Zambia,” said Irmgard Erasmus, a Paarl, South Africa-based economist at NKC African Economics. 

“It’s a delicate game of theory for borrowers because China is a creditor that could help out after the crisis even if you have a bad credit record.”

Angering bondholders could lock governments out of debt markets for years, while irritating China would risk losing a reliable financier, making the IMF a potential mediator.

The renegotiation strategy may depend on the nature of a country’s exposure. Earlier this year Ecuador, which owes most of its debt to bondholders, first clinched a deal to reschedule payments to private creditors before agreeing to delay payments to Chinese banks. With the vast majority of its debt owed to China, Angola reached an agreement with Chinese lenders while it vowed to keep paying interest to bondholders.

In both cases, the IMF played a role with fresh credit, raising hopes that the global lender could serve as mediator to bring China and bondholders to the table. 

The lender also named a new representative to Zambia, two years after the post was vacated.

It could exert pressure on debtor countries by making funding contingent on restructuring, but its influence on creditors is limited.

“The agendas are not necessarily aligned, and IMF does not have the legitimacy necessary to be the arbiter,” said Agatha Kratz, associate director at Rhodium Group. “At the end of the day, Chinese banks and private creditors don’t want to be told what to do.”

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Africa is on the brink of debt disaster @SimumbaTrevor

China must take responsibility for financing huge loans that mostly finance highly inflated projects & end up in politicians pockets. need for stricter value for money audits and transparent processes for contracting Chinese loans. Africa is on the brink of debt disaster

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.@tito_mboweni Tough South African Budget Task Laid Out in Charts @markets

South African Finance Minister Tito Mboweni will have to balance finding money to help Africa’s most-industrialized economy recover from its longest recession in three decades, bail out state-owned companies and fund civil servants’ pay increases with pledges to rein in government debt and shrink the budget deficit.

Lockdown measures to curb the spread of the virus weighed on revenue collection and the forecast for the consolidate budget deficit for the year through March 31 could now be even wider than the 15.7% of gross domestic product that Mboweni projected in the June supplementary budget.

Debt as a percentage of GDP will peak in 2024, but that’s in the Treasury’s best-case scenario, where the government takes active steps to stabilize the trajectory and revive the economy. 

The cost of servicing the country’s loans has been the fastest-growing expenditure item since 2011 and is forecast to climb even further. 

While the cabinet backs Mboweni’s plans to target a primary budget surplus by 2023-24, any austerity measures are likely to face opposition, including from politically influential labor groups.

Plans to reduce the public-sector wage bill, which has climbed by 40% over the last 12 years, have stalled and the Treasury has warned a bid by unions to compel the state to honor a salary deal would lump the country with 37.8 billion rand ($2.3 billion) of additional debt.

If the government is concerned about ruining its long-term relationship with labor groups, which would affect service delivery, it could grant the 1.5% increase for 2020 promised in February and in return demand a compromise that would allow it to increase pay by 3% for the next two years, Michael Kafe, an economist at Barclays Bank Plc, said in a report. 

That would still allow it to save 176 billion rand of over the three years, the same outcome as a wage freeze in 2020, followed by 4.5% increases in the following two years, he said.

Mboweni faces pressure to continue to support state-owned companies. While power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has accounted for the vast majority of bailouts since 2009, the minister is expected to announce further support for South African Airways, arms company Denel SOC Ltd. and The Land and Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa this week.

With even more companies under pressure the “government and the finance ministry are going to have an avalanche of requests in the coming months,” said Mike Schussler, chief economist at Economists.co.za.

If the government fails to lower the public sector wage bill and reduce lifelines for state companies, it’ll be forced to continue cutting allocations for government departments to narrow the gap between spending and revenue. 

With Mboweni due to outline spending and revenue-adjustment measures amounting to about 250 billion rand over the next two years, 30% of economists polled by Bloomberg expect him to lay the groundwork for a wealth tax, among other levies.

Spending cuts and tax hikes could could hinder the recovery of an economy that’s expected to shrink 8.5% this year, according to a separate Bloomberg survey. 

That would be even worse than during the great depression. The Treasury will probably revise its June estimate for a 7.2% contraction this year, after the lockdown weighed on output, forced struggling companies to shut down and left millions without work.

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836 people have tested positive for the virus, from a sample size of 4,076 tested in the last 24 hours. @MOH_Kenya

This brings to 50,833 the number of confirmed positive cases in the country. Our cumulative tests are now 666,122.

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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October 2020

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