Experts have warned that without urgent repairs the Kariba Dam risks collapse, unleashing a ‘tsunami’ of water through the Zambezi Valley, reaching the Mozambique border in just eight hours where it would overwhelm the Cahora Bassa wall, in so doing eliminating 40% of the region’s hydro-electric capacity and putting an estimated 3.5-million human lives at risk. Overlooked, perhaps inevitably, amidst the hyperbole of collapse, destruction and loss of life, is the cost of the poor management of the asset, and the water resource, something that can be relatively easily fixed and where the failure to do so is less dramatic but no less costly. By GREG MILLS.
South Africa’s beleaguered mining industry is in danger of losing almost 12,000 jobs: an employment vacuum the country can ill afford. As of Monday, a new plan signed by the industry, government and the unions won’t guarantee that the jobs will be saved. If further retrenchments are inevitable, however, the plan may ensure that life is a little easier for laid-off mineworkers. But is it enough to solve the problems of an industry in crisis? By REBECCA DAVIS.
What happens if you try to oppose some of South Africa’s biggest mining houses? Civil society organisations found out last week in the South Gauteng High Court. They were trying to join the potential class action against gold mining companies demanding compensation for contracting silicosis. The nongovernmental organisations won this round. Next round: October. By GREG NICOLSON.
Mining boss Roger Kebble, who for years insisted his son Brett did not orchestrate his own suicide, killed himself in his car in the upmarket suburb of Bishopscourt in Cape Town yesterday. The 78-year-old, who was found with a gunshot wound to the head, leaves an incredibly complex legacy. By MANDY WIENER.
Silicosis could become one of the defining issues for workers in our time. Tens of thousands of mineworkers are trying to launch a class action suit against gold mining companies. Now civil society groups are on board, claiming that occupational lung diseases not only affect mineworkers but perpetuate the cycle of poverty in labour-sending areas. By GREG NICOLSON.
Governments throughout Africa are not doing enough to support female entrepreneurs, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said on Thursday. As we near the end of Women’s Month, Zulu described the circumstances under which many small business owners operate as ‘criminal’. And she added that there should be far greater engagement between the government, analysts and ordinary people struggling to make a living. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The nuclear energy sector future looks to be in dire straits. Most of the current new builds are in China but in 2014, China paid $9-billion for nuclear while spending $83-billion on wind and solar. French nuclear company Areva, once the standard bearer for nuclear, is now technically bankrupt. Most telling is the fact that no Generation III reactors (the ones South Africa is apparently looking to procure) have come into service in the past 20 years due to continued delays. So what is the attraction? By DIRK DE VOS.
On Sunday the editor-in-chief of The New Age and ANN7, Moegsien Williams, wrote an opinion piece in the City Press newspaper, stating that "the media acts like the unelected opposition". Coming from someone in the media, during a time when once again people who should know better, like Zweli Mkhize, are calling for "patriotic journalism", he is clearly trying to influence the debate on how the media operates. Williams goes further, in suggesting that media organisations should "contribute to the country's growth and development". He makes some interesting points. The problem is, these points, and his assumptions, are mostly just plain wrong. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Faced with jobs being slashed across the industry, Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi took the first step in addressing the crisis on Wednesday by getting companies, the government and unions together to find a solution. The minister made it clear this week that he is not going to go easy on the mining houses, but if the parties can't find a solution in these challenging times the job losses will continue. By GREG NICOLSON.
MTN on Wednesday dumped their Tour de France conquering team. It doesn’t matter. When you’ve battled the hardest mountains in the Alps—blah blah blah, etc etc. But seriously, what’s next for this team? How will they cope? Can they keep making Africans across the continent happy? Or will a certain cell phone company ruin the show? We spoke to Team [Insert Sponsor]-Qhubeka's Number One, Douglas Ryder. By RICHARD POPLAK.
Online music giants such as Spotify and Apple Music have missed one important thing: they’re not catering for niche markets. That’s the view of one local entrepreneur, who is selling online music differently. Meet the team at NicheStreem, which plans to take on online music streaming, one targeted market at a time. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Lucky Montana, for years the driving force at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), has been suddenly sidelined. While Prasa has come under attack in recent weeks, his troubles began with the new board. Now, Prasa is without a CEO while it spends billions on new trains and with Montana promising to tell the full story, things might only get worse for the state-owned enterprise. By GREG NICOLSON.
If there is one thing that has changed my daily life in the last few years, that’s made my life safer, easier and quicker, it’s Uber. Despite the strong competition from the likes of Apple and Samsung (I have a tablet by one and a phone by the other) it is actually an app rather than a device that has made me feel safer than anything else. But Uber is under attack from all and sundry. And that's because it deserves it. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
An important judgment handed down in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday has declared 15 salary attachment orders issued by a loans company to workers to be invalid and unlawful. The ruling could have implications not just for unscrupulous credit providers attaching salaries in this way, but the micro-lending industry in general. By REBECCA DAVIS.
The media storm around Caitlyn Jenner has calmed down, and as it always does after any issue receives major attention for a while, the world has returned to its business. But what happens to the ordinary people living the reality of the issue that has been raised? MARELISE VAN DER MERWE has been interviewing transgender South Africans about their lives. Meet C.
Tazara railway can be turned around, though it will require dollops of political will to do so. At first, it will necessitate a recognition that its current state is not ‘fixed’, even though it suits several key actors to keep it down and out. Turning the political economy of protecting privilege, plunder and survival into one of prosperity will lie at the heart of the railway’s transformation, as with any infrastructure in Africa, writes GREG MILLS.
Just the other day, J. BROOKS SPECTOR quietly obtained a transcript of the discussion in a committee of the board of directors of a major multinational high-tech manufacturing company. This committee is the one that prepares final recommendations for the topmost layer of management in that firm for its future investment decisions abroad and at home. In the interest of South Africans, we thought it would be useful to reprint the relevant portion of that discussion.
How can you tell the difference between the Mining Indaba and the Alternative Mining Indaba? One trick is to look for people who are actually miners, or who come from mining-affected communities. If there are any around, chances are good that you’re at the Alternative incarnation. Another trick is to ask people if they paid up to R23,000 for a ticket to the event. If the answer is ‘yes’, then they’re at the Mining Indaba. REBECCA DAVIS has been at the other one.
While a reported 7,000 people attended the Investing In Africa Mining Indaba in Cape Town this week, those in the know say those with the money are “sitting on their hands” and taking a “wait-and-see approach” to government policy on key issues such as beneficiation, strategic minerals, re-empowerment and developmental pricing. By MARIANNE THAMM.
In a country with South Africa’s levels of rising inequality, people often say that they’d like to volunteer their time towards a good cause – but don’t really know where to start. REBECCA DAVIS takes a look at a new online initiative, forgood.co.za, which aims to match up people and causes in a way which makes the best use of an individual’s specific experience or assets.
By November last year, the true crime weekly podcast, Serial, had turned into an Internet sensation. The podcast about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high school student, supposedly by her former boyfriend, became one of the most popular in the history of iTunes with over five million downloads across the world including South Africa. What’s the appeal of the podcast and are we entering a golden age for the medium? By MARIANNE THAMM.
Last night, Jeffrey Immelt, CEO and chairman of GE, the world's largest infrastructure and technology company, spoke in Johannesburg. GREG NICOLSON was there to hear the influential American's thoughts on Africa, advice for South Africa, and tips for being a leader in uncertain times. And, of course, Eskom.
The 2014 electricity blackouts have brought into stark relief the failure by government, the Department of Energy, the Department of Public Enterprises, Eskom and municipalities to provide an adequate and sustainable electricity supply to meet the growing needs of the country, the economy and its people. By CHRIS YELLAND.
It is hard not to be depressed about Eskom. Eskom is not just another State-Owned Enterprise in perpetual crisis; it is far more important than that. It represents almost our entire electricity system. Electricity is the foundation of our economy and frankly, the foundation of our broader society. By DIRK DE VOS.
At a briefing by Eskom’s Medupi project manager, Roman Crookes, and the head of capital projects, Dan Morakane, it was indicated that a further delay in the first synchronisation of Unit 6 at Medupi power station was increasingly likely, and that the minister of Public Enterprises and other key stakeholders were being informed of this eventuality. By CHRIS YELLAND.