Top5 on Fin24: Concerns over Zuma’s free tuition plan and Jooste link puts Sun Met in firing line

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Cape Town – A roundup of Thursday’s must-read financial and economic news. 

Concerns over Zuma’s fee free tuition plan

President Jacob Zuma’s move to scrap tuition fees for students from poor South African homes and freeze tariffs for those from working-class households may cause chaos during registration at public universities this month.

Zuma unveiled the plan on December 16, two days before Cyril Ramaphosa replaced him as leader of the ruling African National Congress and two days after a body representing the 26 state-owned institutions said each would raise fees by 8%. 

On January 1, the universities said they won’t allow walk-in applications from people who qualify for free education, but people should instead submit details online for assessment. A day later, the opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party condemned the move and called on all academically deserving students to report to universities of their choice for registration.

“Zuma’s announcement on free tertiary education is very much a political project and it puts a lot of pressure on the new ANC National Executive Committee,” Joleen Steyn-Kotze, a senior research specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council, said by phone.

READ: Zuma’s fee free plan may cause chaos at SA’s universities

Markus Jooste connection places Sun Met in protest firing line

The Public Servants Association has said it would protest the upcoming Sun Met horse race after it received information that horses co-owned by former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste will be taking part. 

“In our view, Jooste will still be part of the horse racing fraternity and will continue to make millions while he managed to lose billions in investments of public servants,” PSA general manager Ivan Fredericks said in a statement. 

The glamorous race is set to take place on January 27 at the Kenilworth Racecourse.

The PSA said that the National Horseracing Authority, SA’s regulatory and governing body of horse racing, had informed it that Jooste, a well-known racing enthusiast, had resigned as a board member of the authority and “relinquished all privileges and colours of his horses”. 

However, the association said it had received information that the horses the NHRA reported on are “owned solely by Markus Jooste and not those that he co-owns with other partners”.

READ: Markus Jooste connection places Sun Met in protest firing line

OPINION: Number One, your time is up

It is not just that the President has had three litigious reversals in the last month, nor that he regards accountability as an unnecessary detail; it is not even that he is a complete stranger to the rule of law and constitutional democracy, writes advocate Paul Hoffman. 

No, actually, the crunch is that the consequence of him losing impeachment proceedings is that he may not receive any benefits of the high office he has held since May 2009. For as profligate a spender as Jacob Zuma (think of the 783 counts pending, so painstakingly assembled by Advocate Billy Downer SC and his team), this is the type of reversal that he is unable to risk.

READ: ‘Number One, your time is up’

Apple’s battery blunder big blow for iPhone sales

Apple’s offer to replace iPhone batteries cheaply may cut sales of new handsets by millions of units this year, according to Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz.

The Cupertino, California-based company recently said it intentionally slows down iPhones with older batteries to prevent the handsets abruptly shutting down. Apple stressed that it hadn’t intentionally slowed the devices to encourage users to purchase newer models.

In response to customer complaints, Apple apologised and cut the price of replacement batteries from $79 to $29 for many older iPhones.

While analysts agree this was a good public-relations move, some are concerned that it will dent future sales of iPhones, a product that accounts for roughly two-thirds of Apple’s revenue.

READ: Apple’s battery blunder big blow for iPhone sales

Private sector health continues to deteriorate – PMI

There has been a deterioration in the health of the private sector, according to the Standard Bank Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for December.

The report, released on Thursday, recorded PMI at 48.4, down from 48.8 in November. This marks a decline for the fifth month in a row. The index serves as an indicator of changes in private sector business conditions, with figures above 50.0 indicate improvement.

“A reduction in business activity formed the basis for the deterioration as output fell at a strong and accelerated pace,” the report read. 

READ: Private sector health continues to deteriorate – PMI

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