Good morning

The headlines:

  1. Oh MTN… Turkcell is accusing the Ayoba folk at MTN of having far too Ayoba a time in Iran. The dispute is over the Iranian mobile-phone licence (apparently – there is/was only one on offer). Turkcell got granted it first in February 2004, at which point MTN allegedly began ‘Project Snooker’,  as it’s termed in alleged internal memos. According to Turkcell, ‘Project Snooker’ included bribing officials (tsk), arranging meetings between Iranian and South African leaders (hardly a crime), and promising Iran weapons and United Nations votes in exchange for a licence (!!!). The UN votes weren’t really votes so much as abstentions: South Africa abstained from three votes on Iran’s nuclear program at the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Three days after abstaining from a vote held on 24 November 2005 – the licence was delivered to MTN. At the same time, MTN officials apparently used their influence with then Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota (of the Arms Deal fame), to secure the delivery of defence equipment to Iran. The case has been lodged in Washington. Turkcell is suing for $4.2 billion worth of damages. Observation: it sounds like a Dan Brown novel plot. Also – I keep getting random “please call me” smses that are proudly being brought to me by MTN. The elderly woman that I keep calling has no idea what I’m talking about. Link: When Ayoba Goes Too Far.
  2. Iran has started accepting payment for its oil in kind. Barter transactions – gold, wheat, etc. China and India are apparently at the head of the list. Where there’s a well, there’s a way. Link: India and China skirt Iran sanctions
  3. The Republican House of Representatives have passed another budget that is doomed to fail when it hits the Democrat Senate. All the usual spending cuts for Obamacare and no tax impacts on the rich. Frankly, I think they should just pass it. Better to start somewhere than to continually argue. Link: A New/Old Republican Budget. After all, there is this looming in the background: The Four Numbers that add up to an American Debt Disaster.
  4. The South African Reserve Bank left the repo rate unchanged at 5.5% yesterday. Link: SARB leaves key lending rate unchanged.
  5. And the African News in Brief. Link: ABN Briefs. The highlights:
    • Ethiopia’s privatisation is underway, with the government accepting bids worth $121 million for seven state-owned companies.
    • South Africa’s ABSA bank has repudiated union claims that it has undertaken large scale retrenchment.
    • The IMF has approved the release of the final instalment of Angola’s $1.4 billion loan agreement made in 2009. 
That’s all for now.
Happy Friday.