Category Archives: Business

Journalist Sikonathi Mantshantsha named new Eskom national spokesperson

State power utility Eskom has appointed prominent financial journalist Sikonathi Mantshantsha as its national spokesperson.

In a statement on Wednesday, Eskom said its CEO, André de Ruyter, had announced the appointment to employees earlier in the day. Mantshantsha is expected to start on 1 February, 2020.

De Ruyter was quoted saying, “His appointment is a firm step from our side to strengthen our efforts to improve Eskom’s image, to add another layer of success to our media response strategies in order to be more direct and proactive when engaging with media and other interest groups.”

Journalist of the Year

Mantshantsha is currently a journalist with Scorpio, Daily Maverick‘s investigative journalism unit. He was previously deputy editor at Financial Mail.

He is widely known for his investigative work on Eskom, which won him the Sanlam Journalist of the Year award in 2018.

De Ruyter added, “His extensive media experience, specifically within the energy industry, will benefit his transition into Eskom and allow him to adapt quickly to this dynamic environment.

“I, together with EXCO, am convinced that he will certainly add another layer of success to our efforts to change the fortunes of Eskom.”

From Eskom critic to spin doctor

Mantshantsha has established himself as one of the most strident critics of Eskom, the government’s handling of its crises, and the state capture networks that ravaged it.

In a recent article in the Financial Mail, he said the resignation of Eskom’s chairperson Jabu Mabuza “exposes the bankruptcy of ideas and lack of vision in the ruling political elite, led by the ANC government and [Presient] Cyril Ramaphosa.”

In December during Ramaphosa’s briefing to the nation on the Eskom load shedding crisis, Mantshantsha told the President that he “should have stayed in Egypt” because he had not offered a solution.

He has also been equally scathing of former Eskom executives such as ex-Acting CEO Matshela Koko, who he said failed to stop load shedding.

As the face of Eskom’s media liaison, Mantshantsha will now have to defend the institution he has been most critical of.

The embattled utility has managed to keep the lights on since the last round of load shedding earlier in January.

Tito Mboweni on SARB nationalisation: 'We adopted a wrong resolution'

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has said that the African National Congress (ANC) adopted a “wrong resolution” to nationalise the South African Reserve Bank (SARB).

In a series of tweets on Tuesday, Mboweni suggested that nothing would be gained by nationalising SARB.

He added that the ANC government’s main focus should instead be on “structural economic reforms.”

‘What do we want to achieve?’

Mboweni wrote, “As a longstanding member of the ANC and its leadership structures, I know and understand our resolutions. I don’t need lectures on that.

“But on the SARB, I am convinced that we adopted a wrong resolution. What do we want to achieve? Our strategic focus: Structural economic reforms.”

The Finance Minister added, “As of now, 90% of the SARB profits are handed over to the National Revenue Fund.

“So? What do we want to achieve? Tell the public. Let’s debate. Don’t say internal debates – this is a fundamental national debate.”

ANC conference resolution

Mboweni is also a member of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), which has previously reiterated its commitment to implement all conference resolutions.

Nationalisation of SARB as a resolution was adopted at the ANC’s 54th national conference in 2017.

The ANC introduced a motion in Parliament in 2018 to give effect to it, but it was withdrawn “for greater consultations.” It has not yet been re-introduced since then.

Some social users criticised Mboweni’s tweets, but he persisted, “Answer the question. What do you want to achieve by nationalising the SARB?

“Don’t tell me about internal debates, NEC, etc. What do you want to achieve? Let’s answer that fundamental question.”

The resolution is one of the contentious policies pushed forward by the “radical economic transformation” (RET) grouping within the ruling party.

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also strongly supports it. It is likely to be a bone of contention at the ANC’s National General Council (NGC) scheduled for June this year.

In an interview with eNCA on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa signalled that the NGC will be used to review performance and policies.

He said, “The NGC is about reviewal of our performance [and] what we have done in the interim since we were elected.

“We want to look at whether the policies that we adopted still have currency – do we need to tweak them, do we need to refashion them given the conditions that we are operating under right now?”

Ramaphosa calls on business community to donate land to aid land reform

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africa’s business community to assist government’s land reform process by donating land.

Ramaphosa made the call while addressing Business Unity South Africa’s (BUSA) economic indaba in Sandton, Johannesburg, on Tuesday.

He said, “This year, we are going to have to finalise the legislation and the constitutional construct on the land question, and this is where the business community can participate in, I believe, a much more proactive manner.”

‘Donations policy’

The President added, “One of the things we’ve been asking for is the business community to come forward with solutions.

“One of those things we’ve put out in legislation is a donations policy. Is it possible for the business community in our country to come forward and say, we actually have surplus land that we’re not using which we believe can be donated?

“Is it possible for a group of farmers or a number of people who own land to come forward?”

Ramaphosa was referring to the draft national policy for beneficiary selection and land allocation, which was released by the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform earlier this month.

Anglo American example

The draft policy proposes the establishment of an online portal where land owners can indicate willingness to donate land.

Applicants can then apply for land with the assistance of independent national and provincial panels for property allocation, according to the proposals.

Ramaphosa cited the example of mining giant Anglo American Platinum, which donated land to the Rustenburg municipality in the North West in March 2019 for residential purposes.

He added, “The people of our country want to see the land question addressed. The key issue for us is, are we going to be part of the solution or are we going to be part of the problem?

“And I would like to suggest that, as the business community, let us also be part of the solution when it comes to the most important issue that is of the greatest concern to the people of our country.”

Ramaphosa’s comments come soon after Parliament published the land expropriation bill for public comment in December.

The bill seeks to amend the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation under certain circumstances.

Likelihood of stage 8 load shedding is low, says Eskom

State power utility Eskom has denied reports that it is planning to implement stage 8 load shedding.

Reports emerged on Monday suggesting that Eskom had informed municipalities to prepare for stage 8.

In a statement on Tuesday, however, the beleaguered power utility said these reports are “erroneous and incorrect.”

Stage 8 load shedding not likely

It said while it has drawn up contingency measures for severe electricity supply constraints, this does not imply that stage 8 load shedding is imminent.

Eskom added, “The likelihood of reaching stage 8 is low. When stage 6 load shedding was implemented in December, not all metros or municipalities had published their extended load shedding schedules.”

It explained that it is the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities that had reached out to municipalities to ensure compliance with the requirement to publish extended load shedding schedules.

Eskom escalated load shedding to an unprecedented stage 6 in December and reports of stage 8 therefore caused panic among South Africans on social media.

No load shedding on Tuesday

Meanwhile, Eskom said in another statement that it was not anticipating load shedding on Tuesday.

It said unplanned breakdowns were at 11,723MW as of Tuesday morning. This is the lowest it has been in weeks. The target is 9,500MW to minimise risk of load shedding.

The power utility battled to keep the lights on over the festive season, with breakdowns persistently exceeding 12,000MW.

It had to implement load shedding earlier in January, breaking President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise that there would be no load shedding before 13 December.

This led Deputy President David Mabuza to claim last week that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board had misled Ramaphosa.

Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza subsequently resigned on Friday. Labour federation Cosatu and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have also called on Gordhan to resign or Ramaphosa to take action against him.

Mashatile joins calls for Eskom to be moved to Mantashe's Energy dept

African National Congress (ANC) Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile has joined calls for embattled state power utility Eskom to be moved from the Public Enterprises Ministry to the Department of Energy.

In an interview with Eusebius McKaiser on talk radio 702 on Monday, Mashatile said ideally, Eskom should be under the Energy Department, which is run by Minister Gwede Mantashe.

He said, “Ideally, my view is that it should be with Energy because then you have consistency in terms of policy and implementation. That’s the view I’ve held for long.”

‘It brings problems’

Mashatile added, “You have a Minister of Energy, whose responsibility is to sort out energy policy and implementation, but you have another big institution that doesn’t sit with that ministry.

“I think in the long run, it brings problems. It’s something you can’t change immediately, but I think that’s the direction we should move towards.”

On Saturday, former minister Bathabile Dlamini made the same call during an interview on the sidelines of the ANC’s January 8 celebrations.

She said, “Energy must be consolidated. It’s the department of energy that has the programme and a full strategy that is going to be used over many years to ensure that we have enough electricity in the country.”

Ramaphosa says matter to be handled later

In an interview with eNCA on Saturday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said the issue of whether to move Eskom to the Energy Department can be handled later.

“Once we’ve stabilised Eskom, we should then be able to look at how we synchronise everything – policy process as well as the execution process and see where the two can actually be positioned. So, it’s something that, for me, can be handled as time goes on,” Ramaphosa said.

The President further said the soon-to-be established State-Owned Enterprises Council will debate whether or not to establish an institution similar to Singapore’s Temasek, which oversees SOEs in the Asian country.

He said, “They don’t necessarily have a ministry [for SOEs], they have an entity that runs that. There needs to come a time when we will have a situation like that, but right now, in the transformative stage, we need to bear down everything and makes sure that we move forward.”

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has come under fire from labour federation Cosatu and the Economic Freedom Fighters which have both called on Ramaphosa to fire him.

Some have interpreted the calls to move Eskom to the Energy Department as a way of clipping Gordhan’s influence over it.

Ramaphosa 'notes' Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza's resignation

President Cyril Ramaphosa has “noted” the resignation of Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza.

Mabuza resigned on Friday and apologised for Eskom’s inability to meet its commitment to Ramaphosa in December to avoid load shedding until 13 January.

In a statement on Friday, Ramaphosa said Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan had accepted Mabuza’s resignation.

‘Reconfigured board’

The statement added, “President Ramaphosa has expressed his gratitude to Mr Mabuza for serving Eskom and the nation during a challenging period and has commended Mr Mabuza for taking responsibility and accepting accountability for events under his leadership.”

The President said government will continue to support Eskom’s efforts to restore reliable electricity supply.

“In the wake of Mr Mabuza’s resignation, government will soon announce a reconfigured Eskom board with the appropriate mix of electricity industry, engineering and corporate governance experience,” Ramaphosa said.

The controversy was kicked off by Deputy President David Mabuza on Wednesday when he said the Eskom board and Gordhan had misled Ramaphosa into promising that there would be no load shedding until 13 January.

Gordhan to stay on?

David Mabuza’s claim triggered calls for Ramaphosa to act against Gordhan and the Eskom board.

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in the Free State on Thursday called on Ramaphosa to remove Gordhan as Minister.

In an interview with SABC News on Friday, labour federation Cosatu similarly called on the President to “take action” against Gordhan.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said, “The results show that minister Pravin Gordhan has not delivered on what we expected him to in terms of fixing the SOEs.”

However, Ramaphosa’s statement made no indication that he’s contemplating any action against Gordhan.

The statement concluded, “The President wishes Mabuza well in his future endeavours and his existing leadership roles in various sectors of the economy.”

Free State ANCYL calls on Ramaphosa to fire Gordhan over Mabuza's claim

The African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in the Free State province has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “remove” Pravin Gordhan as Minister of Public Enterprises.

In a statement issued by provincial secretary Reagan Booysen on Thursday, the Free State ANCYL said it had learnt with “shock” of Deputy President David Mabuza’s admission that Gordhan and the Eskom board had “misled” Ramaphosa over load shedding during the festive season.

It said, “We feel vindicated that our longstanding view that Mr. Pravin Gordhan has no interest or the necessary competence to turn around the unfortunate state of affairs in our state-owned enterprises (SOEs) is confirmed on a daily basis.”

‘Gordhan wants privatisation’

It claimed Gordhan wants to “deepen” the crisis in SOEs, especially Eskom and the South African Airways (SAA), to pave way for their privatisation.

“We strongly believe that the misleading of the President was deliberate and a calculated move not only to embarrass the President, but to further create a public hysteria around Eskom’s challenges and prepare for its ‘donation’ to his friends in the private sector,” ANCYL Free State said.

It added, “We call on the President of the country and the ANC to remove Mr. Pravin Gordhan as the Minister of Public Enterprises with immediate effect, and appoint a young and competent minister who has the best interest of our country and its people at heart.”

Mabuza kicked off the controversy on Thursday when he admitted during an interview with reporters that the Eskom board and Gordhan had misled Ramaphosa into promising that there won’t be load shedding until 13 January.

Presidency denies claim

However, the Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko later claimed in an interview with TimesLIVE that Ramaphosa had not been misled.

This is because Eskom had not implemented any “planned” load shedding over the festive period, she explained.

“We didn’t see any planned load shedding during December and right now we are dealing with something that has been totally unplanned,” Diko said.

Neither Gordhan nor Eskom has responded to Mabuza’s claim. Eskom continues to load shed at a time when the demand is still low and is only expected to rise in mid-January.

The ANCYL in the Free State is known to be a strong supporter of ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule.

Some of Magashule’s allies, such as MP Bongani Bongo, have claimed that Gordhan is behind a campaign to target ANC leaders who did not support Ramaphosa’s ANC presidential campaign in 2017.

DD Mabuza: Eskom board misled Ramaphosa over load shedding

African National Congress (ANC) Deputy President David Mabuza has said the Eskom board misled President Cyril Ramaphosa that there would be no load shedding over the festive season.

Mabuza made the comment while addressing journalists during a walkabout in Kimberley, Northern Cape on Thursday.

SABC News journalist Samkele Maseko asked Mabuza whether the Eskom board and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan misled the President.

‘No effective maintenance’

Mabuza replied, “Well, they misled the President, but right from the day we went there with the President, I insisted on the problem of Eskom maintenance of the power stations. It’s very important.

“You can’t say there won’t be any load shedding if there’s no effective maintenance of these power generation plants.”

The Deputy President reiterated that Eskom’s power stations are ageing and there is need to get the new power stations (Medupi and Kusile) to run at full capacity.

He also suggested that there is need to build new power stations to replace the ageing ones.

Stage 2 load shedding at low demand period

President Ramaphosa told the nation in December that Eskom had undertaken not to implement any form of load shedding until 13 January.

However, the country experienced 2020’s first bout of load shedding last week. Eskom blamed a conveyor belt fault at Medupi power station at the time.

The embattled power utility resumed stage 2 load shedding again this week, announcing on Thursday that it would implement it during the day after two days of implementing it overnight.

Demand is usually low in the first two weeks of January and energy experts have raised alarm that Eskom has had to load shed at a low-demand period.

Ramaphosa recently re-established the Eskom “War Room” led by Mabuza. It also includes Gordhan, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

Energy expert Chris Yelland on Thursday questioned why the “War Room” hasn’t met to address the current crisis. Mabuza said he will meet Eskom’s new CEO Andre de Ruyter in the coming week.

Eskom warns of 'high likelihood' of overnight load shedding

Struggling state power utility Eskom has warned that there is a high likelihood of overnight load shedding.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, Eskom said it had terminated stage 2 load shedding implemented between 01:00 and 06:00 on Wednesday.

However, it foresaw “a high likelihood of implementing stage 2 again this evening in order to replenish water resources for its pumped storage schemes and minimise the use of diesel at the open cycle gas turbines.”

Load shedding could come earlier in the day

The utility said while it had managed to replenish water levels overnight, it is currently using emergency resources to meet electricity demand during the day.

It added, “In the event that we lose other generation units and are unable to bring back those that were out for maintenance, load shedding may be implemented earlier in the day.”

South Africans experienced load shedding in the first week of January despite President Cyril Ramaphosa’s assurance that it would be held off until at least 13 January.

Eskom blamed it on a conveyor belt fault at the Medupi power station in addition to power plant breakdowns.

Unpredictable power system

The latest round of load shedding comes after Eskom said in an update on Tuesday that it did not expect to implement it.

It said in a second update that overnight load shedding was necessitated by the extensive use of emergency resources during the day because of the loss of additional generation capacity.

This unpredictability is underlined by the fact that planned and unplanned breakdowns have consistently remained high above 12,000MW of capacity over the festive season.

Load shedding during the day may be a near-certainty as from mid-January when demand is expected to increase.

Speaking to journalists in the Northern Cape on Tuesday, Ramaphosa pinned hopes on Eskom’s new CEO Andre de Ruyter and his team to address the crisis.

He said, “The new management that is gong to come in place is going to be largely focusing on those issues, and I know that as South Africans, we’re impatient. We want everything to have been fixed yesterday and on an ongoing basis, but it will be.”

The provinces and sectors you're most likely to get a job in Q1 2020

Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – these are the provinces where you’re most likely get a job in the first quarter of 2020 (January-March).

This is according to the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey released this week.

The Survey interviewed a representative sample of 753 employers across South Africa. The key question was, “How do you anticipate total employment at your location to change in the three months to the end of March 2020 as compared to the current quarter?”

4% gains expected in Western Cape

Employers in the Western Cape reported a net employment outlook of +4%, meaning they forecast payroll gains of 4% in Q1 2020 compared to the previous quarter.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal followed at +3% and +2% respectively. However, Eastern Cape and Free State have net employment outlooks of -5% and -1% respectively.

Image credit: Screenshot from ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey Q1 2020

In overall terms, South Africa’s net employment outlook in Q1 2020 is just +2%. This is because 10% of employers are forecasting an increase in payrolls, 8% a decrease, and 81% expecting no change.

This is the weakest net employment outlook in five years. The Survey adds, “Hiring plans remain relatively stable when compared with the previous quarter, but decline by 3 percentage points in comparison with the same period last year.”

Sectors you’re most likely to get a job in

According to the Survey, hiring pace is forecast to be the strongest in the Finance, Insurance, Real Estate & Business Services sector at +4%.

Employers in the Wholesale & Retail Trade sector reported a net employment outlook of +7%, while those in the Agriculture, Hunting, Forestry & Fishing sector reported +5%.

Job seekers in the Restaurants & Hotels sector should remain optimistic because the outlook is +4%.

Manufacturing (+3%) and Public & Social (+1%) sectors show some promise, while Mining & Quarrying sector employers reported no change in outlook.

However, employment in the Construction sector continues to weaken with an outlook of -9%. The Transport, Storage & Communications (-6%) and Electricity, Gas & Water Supply (-2%) also remain weak.

The ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey has been running for over 55 years, according to its website.

It is conducted quarterly “to measure employers’ intentions to increase or decrease the number of employees in their workforces during the next quarter.”

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