news shutterstockIn our afternoon roundup, see summaries
of our selection of South African labour-
related stories that appeared thus far on
Tuesday, 10 December 2019.


TOP STORY – ESKOM LOAD-SHEDDING

Eskom load-shedding hits SA’s economy as mining operations shut down

BL Premium reports that Eskom dealt the economy a potentially devastating blow when it started implementing its highest level of power cuts to date, increasing the chances of SA slipping into a second recession in less than two years.  The crisis-hit state-owned power utility moved to stage 6 load-shedding, which meant cutting 6,000MW.  This was after a technical problem at the Medupi power station and extreme weather in several parts of the country over the last week.  Mining companies stopped or scaled back their underground operations and processing plants on Monday night because of the unprecedented power cuts.  Petra Diamonds said it has stopped all its mines and hoisted underground workers to the surface.  Impala Platinum (Implats) and Harmony Gold both said they had stopped their night shifts because of the cuts.  “It’s very serious.  We are not able to produce.  What we lose today we can never catch up.  If you lose a production shift it’s gone for good,” said Implats spokesperson Johan Theron.  “No mine in SA is able to operate or have production at this level of power,” he said, noting that mines have to pay salaries despite losing production.  Theron explained further that if the power shortage lasted for another seven to 10 days ahead of the Christmas and year-end break of 10 days then the consequences for underground mines would be severe, as they would need a protracted start-up period to retrain and reinduct thousands of employees, while making underground working areas safe.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Lisa Steyn, Lynley Donnelly and Allan Seccombe at BusinessLive (paywall access only). Read too, Load-shedding forces South African miners to halt work, at Mining Weekly

Eskom power cuts having devastating impact on small businesses, Uasa warns

ANA reports that according to the United Association of SA (Uasa), rolling blackouts by state-owned electricity utility Eskom were hurting small businesses the most, as many could not afford fuel-powered generators for alternative sources of energy.  In a statement on Monday, Uasa’s Stanford Mazhindu said Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s "valiant" efforts to bring Eskom under control about a year ago had "failed miserably" as shown by the company being forced to implement unprecedented "stage 6" load shedding to avoid tripping the national grid as its generating units broke down.  Lamenting that SA was in “deep trouble’, Mazhindu went on to state:  "A short stroll down a busy small business area during load shedding indicates just how dire the situation is.  People sitting outside because they cannot work.  Kitchens, laundries, opticians, veterinary clinics are closed and therefore losing money.  Micro businesses are hit the hardest as many cannot afford generators. Micro and medium sized business employers will soon be unable to afford to pay staff and more South Africans will join the masses of the unemployed," he added.  "The cumulative effect and cost of load shedding on the average South African is devastating," Mazhindu said.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard at Engineering News. Read too, Load-shedding could be with us another two years, says Eskom, at TimesLIVE

Other internet posting(s) in this news category

  • Eskom apologises to SA after 'shock' move to stage 6 on Monday, at Independent News
  • Eskom COO Oberholzer ‘hopes’ they won't have to implement stage 8, at EWN
  • Mines halt operations countrywide as Eskom asks for 20% power savings, at Fin24


SOEs IN CRISIS

Ramaphosa insists state-owned enterprises can be saved and ‘won’t be sold’

The Citizen reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa has allayed fears that the government is planning to privatise state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and has given the assurance that the state’s ownership would continue.  He said the government supported business rescue of SAA because there was no other viable and financially workable option for a credible future for the airline.  “The financial crisis had become so grave that the only way to secure its survival was to take this extraordinary measure.  With the support of lenders, government, management and workers, SAA will continue to operate while the airline undergoes the restructuring needed to make it a viable company,” he stated.  Writing in his latest online weekly newsletter, From the Desk of the President, published on Monday, Ramaphosa said business rescue was not the preferred option for fixing SOEs and it was not necessarily advisable in other circumstances.  “But the resolve we have shown in putting SAA into business rescue cuts across all key SOEs.  Whether it is Transnet or Eskom, Denel or Prasa, we are taking all necessary measures to turn them around,” he indicated.  The government would apply strict conditional support to SOEs in order to sustain them and ensure their self-sufficiency.  It would transparently introduce strategic equity partnership where necessary and appropriate so as to assist with raising capital, injecting skills and technology, and improving efficiency.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Eric Naki on page 7 of The Citizen of 10 December 2019. Read too, We will do what it takes to save our SOEs, Cyril Ramaphosa says, at BusinessLive

Unions welcome decision to dissolve board and place Prasa under administration

Moneyweb reports that trade unions have welcomed the decision by Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to dissolve the board of the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) and place it under administration with immediate effect.  Economists said Mbalula did not have any other option but to take action to address the serious issues confronting Prasa, which provides employment to 16,350 people.  Bongisizwe Mpondo, who has served on the boards of many public entities, including SAA, has been appointed administrator with immediate effect.  He will run Prasa’s affairs as a board of control.  Zanele Sabela of the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) said they welcomed Mbalula’s move because there was a crisis at Prasa.  She said there would be a meeting between the unions and the administrator in January and that Satawu was looking forward to it so it could provide meaningful input into what happened next at Prasa.  She added that Satawu was ultimately concerned about its members’ job security, which was the reason the union was insistent that it had a seat at the table at the January meeting.  Steve Harris of the United National Transport Union (Untu) commended Mbalula for his bold actions and indicated that Untu would support and contribute to the efforts made to ensure the 14,000 jobs provided by Prasa were not affected.  Harris said it was critical that Prasa employees were paid at the end of this month and that immediate measures were implemented to ensure employees were safe at work.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Roy Cokayne at Moneyweb. Read too, Transport minister’s Prasa decision widely applauded, at The Citizen


STATE WAGE BILL

Government mulling extending pay freeze to all public servants

BusinessLive reports that in a move that could see it clashing with trade unions, the government is considering implementing drastic spending cuts across the public service, including extending a pay freeze to all public servants.  Tabling the revised national ministerial handbook, which regulates the benefits and perks of public office bearers, public service & administration minister Senzo Mchunu said the government acknowledged that it must lead by example and demonstrate its commitment to addressing the problem of SA’s finances.  He said:  “We have taken the position of a freeze in our salaries and have also significantly reduced the benefits to the executive in terms of personnel in executive offices, travel, accommodation and security benefits, among others.  We will be engaging with the minister of finance, the relevant ministers of all entities, the relevant national and provincial legislatures and judiciary which all derive budgets from the fiscus to extend similar restrictions to their members and employees.”  The move could spark increased tensions with the unions, which have already argued that the government was doing nothing to protect jobs and narrow the wage gap.  Labour federation Cosatu said in October:  “We don’t support any pay freeze for lowly paid workers.  They can extend it to MPs and judges but not teachers, nurses and police officers.”

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Bekezela Phakathi at BusinessLive

Mchunu wields cost-saving axe on ministers’ perks

The Star reports that cabinet ministers have been left with no choice but to tighten their belts further as the Department of Public Service and Administration has indicated that it will not be held liable for any costs incurred by executive members.  This would include “bearing any costs in respect of security upgrades done at the member’s private residence”.  In releasing the guidelines in the ministerial handbook on Monday, Minister of Public Service and Administration Senzo Mchunu recalled that Cabinet had referred the guide for members of the executive back to a committee of ministers to revisit certain aspects”.  One of the changes made concerned procurement of official vehicles.  The cost of vehicles for ministers has been limited to R700,000 inclusive of VAT, maintenance plans and security extras.  Also, members and their spouses travelling by air transport must travel in economy class for all official domestic travel, as well as for international travel where travel time was less than two hours.  Travel by a spouse for official domestic trips is now limited to six domestic economy class trips per financial year.  Rental for cellphones as well as the cost of official calls has been restricted to an annual amount of R60,000.  In respect of water and electricity, the state’s contribution will be limited to R5,000 per month per state-owned residence.  No contribution will be made in respect of private residences.  No cleaning materials, equipment and chemicals will be provided to residences.  Members shall be responsible for all the costs related to domestic workers in the personal employ of the member.  “It is envisaged similar changes will take place to cut these costs in the Public Service and the public sector, including mayors, executive committee members, directors-general and state-owned entities,” said Mchunu.

Read the original of the above report on page 10 of The Star of 10 December 2019


MINING LABOUR

Sibanye-Stillwater allays fears of corporate action, says it is simplifying the group structure

Business Report writes that Sibanye-Stillwater on Monday shrugged off speculation that it was re-jigging its structure in anticipation of corporate action.  The diversified mining company published a pre-listing statement on the scheme that would result in Sibanye-Stillwater becoming a holding company for the group.  Group spokesperson James Wellsted said the company was simplifying the group structure in a bid to make it more efficient.  “There is a lot of market speculation.  People are speculating that we are getting ready for corporate action.  However, we believe that improving the group structure is a logical step for us.  It has been coming for years, and we had to work to ensure there were no tax implications,” said Wellsted.  Earlier, an anonymous analyst said that the decision to simplify the structure was likely to make it easy for Sibanye-Stillwater to house its gold assets under DRDGold.  Sibanye-Stillwater acquired a 38% stake in DRDGold last year.  “I still think that they will list their gold assets under the DRDGold banner.  Gold has been a drag on Sibanye, the sooner they separate the gold and platinum assets the better,” said the analyst.  Sibanye Gold was established in 2012 when JSE listed Gold Fields, spun off its ageing Driefontein, Kloof and Beatrix mines amid concerns about uncertainty in South Africa’s mining jurisdiction.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Dineo Faku at Business Report

Other general posting(s) relating to mining


UNION VIEWS

Sadtu says Mashaba 'should hang his head in shame' over his teacher comments

Independent News reports that the SA Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) has reacted angrily to comments attributed to former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba that the Cosatu affiliate was protecting unqualified and incompetent teachers.  Mashaba said that his new initiative, the People’s Dialogue, has received responses beyond his wildest expectations and that among the proposals made was that Sadtu must be restricted from protecting unqualified and incompetent teachers.  But the union hit back on Tuesday, accusing Mashaba of using his former master’s tactics, either suffering from a DA hangover or still dancing to his former master’s tune.  ”Mashaba, as a black African, should hang his head in shame for mimicking his master’s failed tricks.  The conditions our members work under in township and rural schools are well known and yet many, on a daily basis, confront and overcome them,” Sadtu said in a statement.  Sadtu also found it “nauseating” that Johannesburg’s former first citizen, whom it described as a product of inferior Bantu education who managed to overcome the odd, could call its members unqualified and incompetent.  It further said Mashaba must “go back to what you know best - fiddle with people’s hair.”  This was an apparent reference to Mashaba ‘Black Like Me’ hair products that made him rich.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Loyiso Sidimba at Independent News

SA Cricketers’ Association calls for entire CSA board to resign

TimesLIVE reports that the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) has again called for the entire board of Cricket SA (CSA) to resign.  For the second time in four days, the powerful players’ union called for the removal of suspended CSA CEO Thabang Moroe and the 12-member board led by its president, Chris Nenzani.  The embattled organisation resolved to suspend Moroe for misconduct on full pay on Friday, but it announced that Nenzani‚ vice-president Beresford Williams and current directors intended to continue in office.  On Monday‚ two days after Saca first called for the resignation of the board and Moroe‚ the players’ union welcomed the CEO’s suspension, but reiterated that the buck did not stop with him.  Saca called for the entire board to be dissolved.  Saca listed forecasts of huge and unprecedented financial deficits‚ reports of uncontrolled spending by staff‚ suspensions of senior employees‚ resignations of board members and attempts to silence the media among its concerns.  In a bid to calm things, the reeling organisation on Saturday roped in Jacques Faul as acting CEO in place of the suspended Moroe.  Faul‚ who previously served in the same interim capacity‚ will be assisted by former International Cricket Council CEO Dave Richardson in a consultancy role.  Saca welcomed the appointment of Faul, but maintained its call for the entire board to step aside.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tiisetso Malepa at BusinessLive


APPOINTMENTS / RECRUITMENT

BMF challenges appointment of Mango CE Nico Bezuidenhout in court

Moneyweb reports that the Black Management Forum (BMF) has filed papers in the Johannesburg High Court challenging the appointment of Nico Bezuidenhout as the chief executive of Mango Airlines.  In the application, BMF President Andile Nomlala asks the court to set aside Bezuidenhout’s appointment and calls into question the lawfulness of the process that was followed to appoint him.  The court challenge is not the first attempt by the BMF to get Bezuidenhout’s appointment reviewed.  It previously sent a letter of concern to the Public Enterprises Committee in Parliament and also raised the issue with Mango’s board.  The forum says it received no official response from either party.  In the papers, Nomlala states that it is not Bezuidenhout’s capability to do the job that is being questioned, but rather the process that was followed to appoint him.  In the BMF’s assessment, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the board of Mango, who are listed as respondents, “completely flouted the constitutional principle of equality and fairness and unduly favoured [Bezuidenhout] for the position”.  When Mango initially called for applications for a CEO, around August 2018, the minimum requirements specified included that candidates should have a tertiary qualification.  But, Bezuidenhout only has a matric qualification.  When the initial recruitment process was finalised Bezuidenhout was not shortlisted, as he did not meet the minimum requirements, the BMF says in its papers.  But, Bezuidenhout was ultimately appointed.  According to the BMF, he was only hired because of “undue pressure and an unlawful instruction” from Gordhan.

Read the full original of the report in the above regard by Tebogo Tshwane at Moneyweb


MISCONDUCT / DISCIPLINARY ACTION

Four Kruger Park rangers accused of poaching back on the job

The Lowvelder reports that four Kruger National Park (KNP) rangers are back at work after they were arrested on poaching-related charges earlier this year.  The four accused were arrested in two separate incidents and appeared in the Skukuza Court in January and February respectively.  In January 2019, the media reported that Nzima Joe Shihlangu, 32, and Lucky Mkansi, 30, were arrested on 15 January after authorities believed they were allegedly involved in rhino poaching incidents at the KNP.  The duo was arrested at the Crocodile Bridge Section closest to the Mozambican border.  They were each granted R10,000 bail and were instructed not to have any contact with other KNP rangers while SANParks’ internal investigations were under way.  In a separate incident, Hendrik Silinda and Musa Mlambo were arrested in February in the park on poaching-related incidents.  

Read the original of the above report at The Citizen


CORRUPTION / FRAUD

Five KZN cops arrested for allegedly colluding with ambulance services and tow truck companies

News24 reports that five police officials were among eight suspects who appeared before the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate's Court on corruption charges on Monday.  The Hawks indicated in a statement that the suspects, aged between 30 and 50, were arrested on Friday.  "The eight were arrested on Thursday after information surfaced in February 2018 that the police members were allegedly colluding with private ambulance services and tow truck companies.  These afforded the companies unfair advantage and prejudiced other service providers.  In return it is alleged the suspects received inducements from the companies," said KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Hawks spokesperson Captain Simphiwe Mhlongo.  The officers stationed at the Hilton 10111 call centre were arrested by members of the Hawks' Pietermaritzburg Serious Organised Crime and Crime Intelligence Unit.  More arrests are expected.

Read the original of the above report by Riaan Grobler at News24

 


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