|Thursday 31st of October 2019
Inside the WhatsApp hack: how an Israeli technology was used to spy @FT
Law & Politics
Earlier this year, Faustin Rukundo’s phone started to ring at odd
times. The calls were always on WhatsApp — sometimes from a
Scandinavian number, sometimes a video call — but the caller would
hang-up before he could answer. When he rang back no one would pick
Mr Rukundo, a British citizen who lives in Leeds, had reason to be
suspicious. As a member of a Rwandan opposition group in exile, he has
lived for several years in fear of the security services of the
central African nation where he was born.
In 2017, his wife, also a British national, was arrested and held for
two months in Rwanda when she returned for her father’s funeral.
Unidentified men in black suits have previously queried her co-workers
about her route to the childcare centre where she works, he says.
His own name has shown up in a widely circulated list of enemies of
the government of Rwanda titled “Those who must be killed
In the two decades since Paul Kagame became president of Rwanda,
dozens of dissidents have disappeared or died in unexplained
circumstances around the world.
In response, those willing to criticise the regime or organise against
it, such as Mr Rukundo, say they have learnt to be cautious, masking
their presence on the internet and using encrypted messaging services
such as WhatsApp.
But the missed WhatsApp calls were more ominous. Powered by a
technology built not in Rwanda but in Israel, the calls were a
harbinger of Pegasus, an all-seeing spyware so powerful that the
Israeli government classifies it as a weapon.
Developed and sold by the Herzlia-based NSO Group, which is part-owned
by a UK-based private equity group called Novalpina Capital, Pegasus
was designed to worm its way into phones such as Mr Rukundo’s and
start transmitting the owner’s location, their encrypted chats, travel
plans — and even the voices of people the owners met — to servers
around the world.
Since 2012, NSO has devised various ways to deliver Pegasus to
targeted phones — sometimes as a malicious link in a text message, or
a redirected website that infected the device.
But by May this year, the FT reported, NSO had developed a new method
by weaponising a vulnerability in WhatsApp, used by 1.5bn people
globally, to deliver Pegasus completely surreptitiously.
The user did not even have to answer the phone but once delivered, the
software instantly used flaws in the device’s operating system to turn
it into a secret eavesdropping tool.
WhatsApp quickly closed the vulnerability and launched a six-month
investigation into the abuse of its platforms. The probe, carried out
in secrecy, makes apparent for the first time the extent — and nature
— of the surveillance operations that NSO has enabled.
In recent days, the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, which studies
digital surveillance around the world and is working in partnership
with WhatsApp, started to notify journalists, human rights activists
and other members of civil society — like Mr Rukundo — whose phones
had been targeted using the spyware.
It also provided help to defend themselves in the future.
NSO — which was valued at $1bn in a leveraged buyout backed by
Novalpina in February — says its technology is sold only to carefully
vetted customers and used to prevent terrorism and crime.
NSO has said it respects human rights unequivocally, and it conducts a
thorough evaluation of the potential for misuse of its products by
clients, which includes a review of a country’s past human rights
record and governance standards.
The company believes the allegations of misuse of its products are
based on “erroneous information”.
The NSO Group said in a statement: “In the strongest possible terms,
we dispute today’s allegations and will vigorously fight them. Our
technology is not designed or licensed for use against human rights
activists and journalists.”
But WhatsApp’s internal investigation undercuts the efficacy of such
vetting. In the roughly two weeks before WhatsApp closed the
vulnerability, at least 1,400 people around the world were targeted
through missed calls on the platform, including 100 members of “civil
society”, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
This is “an unmistakable pattern of abuse”, the Facebook-owned
business said. “There must be strong legal oversight of cyber weapons
like the one used in this attack to ensure they are not used to
violate individual rights and freedoms people deserve wherever they
Human rights groups have documented a disturbing trend that such tools
have been used to attack journalists and human rights defenders.”
The two-week snapshot provides a rare glimpse of how some of NSO’s
clients use its spyware — with greater frequency than previously
known, and often to monitor people unrelated to terrorism or criminal
Those targeted include people from at least 20 countries, across four
continents, with many showing clear evidence that the attempted
intrusions had nothing to do with preventing terrorism, says John
Scott-Railton, a senior researcher at Citizen Lab.
Earlier research by Citizen Lab had already traced Pegasus to the
phones of human rights activists, journalists and dissidents from at
least 45 countries including Bahrain, Kazakhstan, Mexico, Morocco,
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. After years of criticism,
NSO had claimed to have found only a handful of cases of abuse.
"Whoever attains maritime supremacy in the Indian Ocean would be a prominent player on the international scene." (US Navy Geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred Thayus Mahan (1840-1914)) @GRTVnews
Law & Politics
In May 2018, acting as a US proxy, the UAE established a military base
on the island, seizing control of both Socotra’s airport and seaport.
The Yemeni archipelago of Socotra in the Indian Ocean is located some
80 kilometres off the Horn of Africa and 380 kilometres South of the
Yemeni coastline. The islands of Socotra are a wildlife reserve
recognized by (UNESCO), as a World Natural Heritage Site.
Socotra is at the crossroads of the strategic naval waterways of the
Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (See map below). It is of crucial
importance to the US military.
Among Washington’s strategic objectives is the militarization of major
sea ways. This strategic waterway links the Mediterranean to South
Asia and the Far East, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and the
Gulf of Aden.
It is a major transit route for oil tankers. A large share of China’s
industrial exports to Western Europe transits through this strategic
waterway. Maritime trade from East and Southern Africa to Western
Europe also transits within proximity of Socotra (Suqutra), through
the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea. (see map below). A military base in
Socotra could be used to oversee the movement of vessels including war
ships in an out of the Gulf of Aden.
“The [Indian] Ocean is a major sea lane connecting the Middle East,
East Asia and Africa with Europe and the Americas. It has four crucial
access waterways facilitating international maritime trade, that is
the Suez Canal in Egypt, Bab-el-Mandeb (bordering Djibouti and Yemen),
Straits of Hormuz (bordering Iran and Oman), and Straits of Malacca
(bordering Indonesia and Malaysia). These ‘chokepoints’ are critical
to world oil trade as huge amounts of oil pass through them.” (Amjed
Jaaved, A new hot-spot of rivalry, Pakistan Observer, July 1, 2009)
From a military standpoint, the Socotra archipelago is at a strategic
maritime crossroads. Morever, the archipelago extends over a
relatively large maritime area at the Eastern exit of the Gulf of
Aden, from the island of Abd al Kuri, to the main island of Socotra.
(See map 1 above and 2b below) This maritime area of international
transit lies in Yemeni territorial waters. The objective of the US is
to police the entire Gulf of Aden seaway from the Yemeni to Somalian
coastline. (See map 1).
Socotra is some 3000 km from the US naval base of Diego Garcia, which
is among America’s largest overseas military facilities.
The proposed US Socotra military facility, however, is not limited to
an air force base. A US naval base has also been contemplated.
The establishment of a US military base in Socotra is part of the
broader process of militarization of the Indian Ocean. The latter
consists in integrating and linking Socotra into an existing structure
as well as reinforcing the key role played by the Diego Garcia
military base in the Chagos archipelago.
The US Navy’s geostrategist Rear Admiral Alfred T. Mahan had
intimated, prior to First World War, that “whoever attains maritime
supremacy in the Indian Ocean [will] be a prominent player on the
international scene.”.(Indian Ocean and our Security).
What was at stake in Rear Admiral Mahan’s writings was the strategic
control by the US of major Ocean sea ways and of the Indian Ocean in
particular: “This ocean is the key to the seven seas in the
twenty-first century; the destiny of the world will be decided in
28-OCT-2019 :: From Russia with Love
Law & Politics
“Late to the party: Russia’s return to Africa.” tweeted @pstronski.
“Our African agenda is positive and future-oriented''
Putin’s linguistics is an art form and I imagine he buttressed the
above points by discreetly showing his visitors a photo of a dead
Gaddafi and maybe he dwelled a little on the bottle and then a Photo
of a spritely Bashar Assad and would surely not even have had to ask
the question; what’s the difference?
Between 2006 and 2018 Russia’s trade with Africa increased by 335 per
cent, more than both China’s and India’s according to the Espresso
Economist.Russia is now Africa’s leading supplier of arms. According
to the Swedish think tank SIPRI, between 2012 and 2016 Russia had
become the largest supplier of arms to Africa, accounting for 35
percent of arms exports to the region“Russia regards Africa as an
important and active participant in the emerging polycentric archi-
tecture of the world order and an ally in protecting international law
against attempts to undermine it,” the story of a brave but
beleaguered Central African lion, who was fighting a losing battle
against a pack of hungry hyenas. Luckily the lion had a friend who
came to the rescue — the strong Russian bear I would argue Putin’s
timing is exquisite and optimal and his Model has an exponential ROI.
Russia’s “political technologists” have reportedly devised bespoke
solutions for confronting in- cipient and ongoing color revolutions
Once we look through the Optics of two nuclear-capable supersonic
bombers belonging to the Russian Air Force landing in Pretoria for the
aircraft’s first-ever landing on the African continent and, according
to an embassy official, only the second country in which it has made a
public appearance outside of Russia.The first was Venezuela. Then we
need to see this move for what it is. It is meaningful.Where Xi is fed
up and speaks about the ‘’The End of Vanity’’ becau-se the ROI
[outside commodities and telecoms for China] is negative, Putin has
created a hybrid model with an exponential ROI. I would imagine he is
on speed dial.
'A New Message': Russia Trains Its Propaganda Machine on Africa @nytimes
Law & Politics
SOCHI, Russia — Jose Matemulane said he left his native Mozambique
nearly two decades ago, spent years studying in St. Petersburg and saw
the Russian soul.
Now he’s in the vanguard of Russia’s new foray onto his home
continent, where he is spreading the word that working with Moscow to
reduce the influence of Americans and other Westerners is in Africa’s
“The Russians have their own way of thinking different from the
Western patterns,” Mr. Matemulane said. “I used to tell people:
Russians are nothing else than white Africans, white blacks.”
Russia has been playing for power in Africa in recent years by sending
arms, offering mercenaries, and cinching mining deals.
More quietly, it has started to set up a low-profile infrastructure of
political influence that bears echoes of the Kremlin’s strategy in
Europe and the United States. And it is already identifying African
politicians and activists who will carry its message.
Deploying its international propaganda arms, the television channel RT
and the Sputnik news agency, the Kremlin is honing this message: While
Western Europe and the United States are continuing a centuries-old
tradition of exploiting Africa, Moscow is ready to engage with Africa
on mutually beneficial terms.
Russia is also benefiting from a desire by African countries to lessen
their reliance on China, even as Moscow acknowledges that it cannot
come close to matching Beijing’s financial firepower.
Mr. Matemulane runs a think tank called Afric, which describes itself
on its website as “funded by donors with a common passion to foster
Africa’s development,” without mentioning Russia.
In an interview, though, Mr. Matemulane said the group was launched
last year with support from a St. Petersburg businessman he declined
Afric received prominent billing at a summit for dozens of African
leaders hosted by President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia at the Black
Sea resort of Sochi last week, and announced it would partner with a
Russian propaganda specialist who had previously focused on the United
It also drew the notice of Mamadou Koulibaly, a candidate for
president of Ivory Coast in elections next year.
“I will ask them if they can introduce me to people with money who
will help me,” Mr. Koulibaly said of Afric. “This is important. A
campaign needs money.”
Moscow has already injected itself into the geopolitics of Libya and
the Central African Republic. Now it is looking for inroads in public
opinion and the political elite across the continent.
Earlier this year, for example, Russia’s ambassador to Ghana met with
Albert Kofi Owusu, the head of Ghana’s main news agency, and discussed
Might Mr. Owusu distribute stories from Tass, a Russian
state-controlled news service, to newspapers, websites and television
stations in the West African country?
Mr. Owusu said the proposal made sense, especially since his agency
was already sharing Chinese state media reports. In October, Mr. Owusu
was here on Russia’s glittering Black Sea coast, shaking hands with
“Very simple man, cool,” is how Mr. Owusu described Mr. Putin, who
held a brief meeting at the conference with the heads of 11 African
Russian officials at the conference said that the Kremlin’s RT and
Sputnik would be glad to host African journalists in Moscow for
training courses on topics such as social media.
“We understand that getting to Moscow costs quite a bit of money, and
this may well be too expensive for African newsrooms,” Alexei Volin,
Russia’s deputy minister for communications and mass media, added
after making the pitch.
“We are ready to consider possibilities for RT and Sputnik specialists
to organize courses on the ground in this or that African country.”
Mr. Volin said RT was ready to provide its suite of documentaries to
African TV stations. In addition to animal movies, the library
includes features like “Drift It Like Putin’s Driver” and “Coups R Us:
American Regime Changes and Their Aftermaths.”
Perhaps the most prominent figure in Russia’s Africa push is Yevgeny
V. Prigozhin, the St. Petersburg businessman indicted by the United
States for running the online “troll farm” that sought to sway the
2016 American presidential election, who is said to run a military
contractor called Wagner that is involved in several African
Another is Konstantin Malofeev, a nationalist banker under American
sanctions who has cultivated ties with far-right politicians in Europe
and the United States, as well as pro-Russian separatists in eastern
Mr. Prigozhin did not appear in public at the conference, but Mr.
Malofeev had a stand right by the entrance showing off a new project:
an agency promising to help African governments gain access to
financing as an alternative to Western sources like the International
Mr. Malofeev described the new organization, called the International
Agency for Sovereign Development, as an economic approach to the
ideological battle he’s been fighting for a long time: breaking the
Western world order.
But it was the first time he’s ever been involved with Africa, Mr.
Malofeev said. Niger, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo have
already signed on to have the agency help them raise a total of $2.5
billion, he said.
“I oppose liberal totalitarianism,” Mr. Malofeev said in an interview
in the private meeting room at his stand, under a portrait of Mr.
Putin. “I’m against the global dominance of the Federal Reserve
Russia says the yearly volume of its trade with Africa has doubled to
$20 billion over the last five years, but that still pales in
comparison to Africa’s $300 billion in trade with the European Union
and $60 billion with the United States in 2018.
In the West, Russia’s messaging has sought to appeal to people
disenchanted by the political mainstream — from opponents of
immigration and same-sex-marriage on the right to critics of
capitalism on the left.
In Africa, Russia is similarly trumpeting itself as a protector of
“traditional values,” while also seeking to capitalize on Russia’s
Cold War past, when the Soviet Union sought to ally itself with
opponents of post-colonial influence on the continent.
“Our cooperation, rooted in the period of the joint fight against
colonialism, is strategic and longstanding,” Mr. Putin told dozens of
African leaders in Sochi gathered alongside him around a ring-shaped
Alexander Malkevich, a veteran of Russia’s propaganda wars, founded an
English-language website called USAReally, which tells the story of a
declining America caught in the throes of violence.
Now, he says, he spends about one-third of his time on Africa. His
Foundation for National Values Protection, with a website available in
English and French, argues that African countries are vulnerable to
the same sort of Western meddling that Russian officials say
undermined former Soviet republics like Georgia and Ukraine.
“We try to do our work honestly and address our partners with respect,
rather than from above, like the caricature of Uncle Sam,” Mr.
Investigative journalists have reported that Afric and Mr. Malkevich’s
foundation are funded by Mr. Prigozhin, but Mr. Malkevich and Afric
employees denied any connection.
Afric’s Mozambique-born president, Mr. Matemulane, said it was in fact
a different St. Petersburg-based businessman who helped him launch
Afric, but declined to identify him.
In Sochi, Mr. Malkevich and Mr. Matemulane appeared on a panel
together and signed a “cooperation agreement.”
“The Western system is broken,” said Clifton Ellis, who is British and
Jamaican, and moved to St. Petersburg recently, where he helps
coordinate Afric’s activities. “We have to fight the narrative that
because Russia is involved, it’s bad.”
Afric — an acronym for Association for Free Research and International
Cooperation — is building ties with African politicians and
commentators while publishing articles that extol the benefits of
cooperating with Russia.
It has also invested heavily in election monitoring missions that
mirror Russia’s approach in its own elections: bringing in sympathetic
foreigners who praise the votes’ fairness and transparency, even as
established Western organizations criticize them.
One of those, Volker Tschapke, the retired president of a small
conservative German association called the Prussian Society, extolled
Mr. Putin’s re-election vote in March of last year.
Since the summer of 2018, Mr. Tschapke has made five separate trips to
Africa on behalf of Afric to observe elections in Zimbabwe,
Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and
“It was unimaginably great. In all the countries I visited, I saw
truly perfect elections,” said Mr. Tschapke, who acknowledges that he
had no experience in election observation until last year. But he says
the process is really so simple that “you just need a little
He added in a telephone interview from Berlin that he had heard rumors
that Afric had received Russian start-up funding, but said he had no
problem with that.
Major elections loom next year across Africa, including in Ghana,
Burkina Faso and Burundi.
Mr. Koulibaly, the candidate in Ivory Coast presidential elections
next October, said he had already met with a Russian deputy foreign
minister, Mikhail Bogdanov, as well as with Russian agriculture and
He said he would talk about Russia in his campaign as a potential
economic partner that, for instance, can help Ivory Coast harness
“My experience is that the Russian authorities I meet with want
business,” Mr. Koulibaly said. “They don’t talk about ideology. They
don’t talk about political control.”
African leaders have also taken notice of Russia’s expanded influence
in the Middle East as a sign that Moscow is becoming a more formidable
In an interview, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, the foreign minister of
Djibouti, ticked off countries that he said suffered as a result of
misguided Western policies — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon.
“Why shouldn’t we try a new approach? A new message?” Mr. Youssouf
said. “Maybe Russia is the alternative.”
@StanChart Gets Boost Where @HSBC Flagged Setbacks @economics
Standard Chartered Plc is showing strength where HSBC Holdings Plc
The lender generated 19% more revenue in Europe and the Americas in
the third quarter -- regions HSBC flagged as disappointing this week
as it vowed an overhaul.
Standard Chartered’s results there, combined with a 2% increase in
revenue from Greater China and North Asia, sent adjusted pretax profit
up 16%, defying analysts’ predictions for a slight decline.
The figures are a sign the London-based bank has put the worst behind
it four years after Chief Executive Officer Bill Winters took over to
tackle issues ranging from a bloated cost base to government probes.
The company said it’s sticking to a target to boost return on tangible
equity to 10% by 2021, even as it faces “growing headwinds” from
geopolitical tensions, slowing economic growth and lower interest
“Our strategy of the last few years has progressively created a
stronger and more resilient business,” Winters said in a statement
announcing results Wednesday.
“The continuing execution of that strategy remains our priority,
enabling us to face the more challenging external environment
“Management are executing on cost control and financial markets
revenues are providing a tailwind to slowing transaction banking,”
wrote analysts at Jefferies International Ltd. in London in a client
“But, as with HSBC and others, the question remains whether or not
investors wish to reward banks with a rising contribution from
Altogether, Standard Chartered said revenue climbed 7% while costs
were little changed from a year earlier. Adjusted pretax profit was
$1.24 billion, beating the consensus analyst estimate compiled by the
company for profit to slip to $1.06 billion.
In Europe and the Americas, the company pointed to growth across
treasury, corporate finance and financial markets businesses.
HSBC had flagged declines in revenue in Europe and North America,
calling its performance there “not acceptable.”
The Asia-focused firm said revenue also rose in Hong Kong. Prolonged
protests in the city, Standard Chartered’s largest single market, have
weighed on the local economy.
Like HSBC, Standard Chartered said it had seen wealthy clients in Hong
Kong exploring opening accounts outside of the Chinese territory.
Speaking in an interview with Bloomberg Television, the bank’s Chief
Financial Officer Andy Halford said a “number of clients” were looking
to set up additional accounts, but added the bank had yet to see
significant outflows of money from Hong Kong.
“It’s not big time, but it is a number of clients that are looking to
do that,” he said.
The bank also predicted costs will be higher in this year’s second
half than in the first, as it plows money into growing business.
Speaking on a call with reporters, Halford said that achieving the
bank’s target of a 10% return on tangible equity by 2021 was becoming
harder as expectations grow for interest rate cuts, but insisted the
aim was “not out of sight at this point in time.”
The firm has been investing billions of dollars in technology as part
of a digital strategy unveiled earlier this year. The lender won one
of Hong Kong’s first licenses to open a virtual bank and opened
online-only banks across Africa to attract new customers. Client
adoption of digital channels “continued to improve,” the company said
5 Russian Mercenaries Reportedly Killed in Mozambique Ambush @MoscowTimes
Five Russian mercenaries are believed to have been killed alongside 20
Mozambique servicemen during an ambush in the southeastern African
nation, the independent Carta de Moçambique news outlet reported
The unconfirmed report comes a month after the reported arrival of 200
Russian mercenaries and three helicopters to help Mozambique’s
government forces fight jihadists amid Moscow’s wider push for
influence on the continent.
On Oct. 8, two days after the reported death of a Russian national,
the Kremlin denied that it had deployed any government troops in
“Five Russian members of the Wagner Group, which is helping the
Mozambican government tackle violence in that area of the country, are
... reported to have died,” Carta de Moçambique cited unnamed sources
Life on the Zambezi Is Hard. The Climate Crisis Is Making It Deadly @BW @mattstephenhill & @ZinyangePhoto
For millions of people across southern Africa, the Zambezi River
serves as highway, fishing ground, water fountain, laundromat, and
swimming hole. From its source—a trickling spring in the highlands of
northwestern Zambia—the river winds almost 1,700 miles through the
forests of eastern Angola and along the borders with Namibia,
Botswana, and Zimbabwe before fanning out into a delta with dozens of
channels in Mozambique.
As global warming intensifies, the Zambezi basin and other
impoverished coastal or riverine communities worldwide are
increasingly at risk. “For Africa, climate change is not a remote
prospect, it is a crisis now,” United Nations Secretary-General
António Guterres said in August.
A two-week journey down the Zambezi shows the hardships faced by those
whose livelihoods depend on the river. Water on the upper reaches is
near its lowest level in a half-century because of drought, resulting
in crop failures, a collapse in fish stocks, and a sharp drop in power
from dams that provide Zambia with 80% of its electricity. In
Mozambique, flooding from a pair of vicious cyclones has killed
hundreds and caused billions of dollars in damage.
With too much water in many places and too little in others, this
year’s harvest of corn—the region’s staple food—has been almost
entirely wiped out across large areas. The World Food Program says a
record number of people in the region—45 million—face severe food
insecurity because of climate change. Angola will need more than 1.2
million metric tons of grain to make up for its failed harvest. In
Mozambique, the International Monetary Fund has cut its 2019 growth
forecast below 2%, the lowest in almost two decades. Zimbabwe is
facing the worst food shortages in its history.
In western Zambia, the Lozi people canceled an annual ceremony called
the Kuomboka, where the king travels by royal barge to higher ground
when the Zambezi’s lowlands flood; the chief in charge of the ceremony
says he’s never seen a drought this bad in his 73 years, with marshy
areas that should be underwater at the end of the rainy season dry
enough to drive through.
Zambia’s president, Edgar Lungu, mentioned climate change 44 times in
his annual address to parliament in September. His government has even
considered a canal linking the Zambezi with the Congo River—a
near-impossibility because it would require pumping water uphill. “The
inability to have adequate water, generate enough power, and grow
enough food to feed our people have all been greatly caused by climate
change,” Lungu told the assembled parliamentarians. “This is a very
serious matter that should not be taken lightly.” —With Taonga
Clifford Mitimingi and Borges Nhamire
Rand Sinks After South Africa Spells Out Burden of Saving @Eskom_SA @markets
The rand plummeted and bonds extended declines after investors were
presented with the stark reality of what bailouts for the embattled
state power utility will cost South Africa.
The currency retreated 2%, the most since August and the biggest drop
in emerging markets, to 14.9240 per dollar, as of 2:51 p.m. in
Johannesburg. The yield on local-currency debt due 2026 jumped 18
basis points to 8.38%.
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. will receive 138 billion rand ($9.4 billion)
in bailouts through March 2022, or 10 billion rand more than
previously allocated, according to the medium-term budget policy
statement released by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday. He
warned that extra support may be needed if plans to turn the
loss-making utility around are delayed.
That means South Africa’s government debt will top 70% of gross
domestic product in the next three years and may continue rising after
that as bailouts for state-owned companies boost spending, according
to the National Treasury. The ratio was previously projected to rise
to 60.2% in 2024, before decreasing in subsequent years.
A combination of bailouts for government firms, declining economic
growth and falling tax revenue will cause the budget deficit to widen
to 5.9% of gross domestic product in the fiscal year.
“The South African rand is traveling back towards the 15 level as the
medium-term budget statement compounds investors fears,” Simon Harvey,
a London-based market analyst at Monex Europe Ltd.
“Ballooning projected debt-to-GDP levels, increased government support
for Eskom, and a widening budget deficit doesn’t bode well for an
economy struggling for growth while under the microscope of both
foreign investors and rating agencies.”