Credit ratings agencies Fitch and Standard & Poor’s shone their spotlight on South Africa this week, seeking signs of an economy righting itself before their June reviews of our international credit ratings. Dancing in that spotlight are a lowered economic forecast, a wheezy rand and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s efforts to signal policy certainty while fighting off political assaults. Whatever this week’s investigations turned up, a downgrade this year was very probably a foregone conclusion. By ANDREA TEAGLE.
On Friday, mineworkers and their dependants were approved to proceed in a class action case against gold producers for silicosis and tuberculosis. It will be the largest class action case the country has seen and workers and supporters had a rare chance to celebrate. The victory may be historic, but their fight far from over. By GREG NICOLSON.
Africa’s mining sector is in crisis. At its root is a lack of trust between mining companies, governments and civil society. A failure to tackle this will have adverse implications for economic growth and employment prospects just as Africa’s need for jobs is rapidly increasing. Hence the formulation of a Zambezi Protocol under the chairmanship of former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo, which aims to improve trust between parties to ensure longer-term investment horizons and improved competitiveness for Africa’s mining sector. The Protocol emerged following a dialogue held last month by the Brenthurst Foundation between opinion formers and mining companies on the banks of the Zambezi. By GREG MILLS and DICKIE DAVIS.
After months of financial uncertainty, international solar giant SunEdison and some of its international subsidiaries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US on 21 April 2016. This uncertainty has seen its share price tumble from a high of $33.45 in July 2015 to $0.34 before filing for Chapter 11 protection last week. By PIERRE POTGIETER and CHRIS YELLAND for EE Publishers.
A second trip, 32 years and a few months after the first, down the Mulungushi ravine was as exhilarating and interesting as it was all those years ago, the trolley going down a narrow track at a 45° angle connected to the “Allen West & Co, Brighton, England” winch at the top by a single cable, and some rudimentary engineering. You have to be a little off your own trolley to make the journey on that one. By GREG MILLS and DICKIE DAVIS.
While the nation has been caught up in the meaning and implications of the Constitutional Court ruling that the President and National Assembly had violated the Constitution, alarming details have emerged in a Cape High Court challenge of Government’s secret nuclear deal with Russia which also potentially violates the Constitution. EarthLife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Institute have revealed that Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Petterssen has attempted to illegally sidestep advice by the state law adviser with regard to the crucial public participation process. By MARIANNE THAMM.
Since Fifa awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, media and civil society investigations have repeatedly reported on the abuses inflicted on migrant workers, going as far as calling it modern-day slavery. A new report from Amnesty International shows there have been some improvements for those working on Qatar’s stadiums, but in practice little has changed. By GREG NICOLSON.
The approval of several patents related to a breast cancer drug has allegedly given pharmaceutical giant Roche a near-monopoly on this life-saving treatment in South Africa. When the price of life may be as much as R500,000, your bank balance may be a matter of life and death. By WILMA STASSEN for HEALTH-E NEWS.
While the nonaligned movement may have been born in 1960, its principles were established at the Bandung Conference in Indonesia in 1955. More than half a century later, both Indonesia and its African partners would do themselves a favour by turning the feel-good political sentimentality of Bandung into something meaningful, focusing on bringing cities and businesses closer together. By GREG MILLS.
Last week Anglo American South Africa and AngloGold Ashanti announced they had settled thousands of silicosis claims worth R464-million, affecting up to 4,365 mineworkers. For those miners, the agreement is welcome. For thousands of others still fighting for compensation, it’s a positive step in their journey. By GREG NICOLSON.
Protests at universities this year have largely been reported as a continuation of student protests last year, but at many campuses, workers standing against outsourcing have taken a lead. Some of their strategies are straight from the platinum sector. GREG NICOLSON speaks to #OutsourcingMustFall organiser Mametlwe Sebei.
At a media briefing on 1 March 2016, the National Electricity Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) announced the approval of an average 9.4% electricity price increase for Eskom for the 2016/17 financial year, while rejecting Eskom’s claim for a higher tariff increase to compensate the utility for unbudgeted costs of diesel incurred during the 2013/14 financial year. By JOANNE TAYLOR and CHRIS YELLAND for EE PUBLISHERS.
Reading our independent media, you can’t avoid knowing there is an epic battle between our President, his assorted supporters within the governing party and a collection of institutions, notably those notionally involved in enforcing the law, and the rest of the ANC, National Treasury and broad swathes of civil society. Where is it all leading? By DIRK DE VOS.
An important feature of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s 2016 Budget speech was the call to develop partnerships with business and the private sector. Prior to the speech itself, Mr Gordhan and President Zuma held high level meetings with so-called business leaders in an effort to kick-start economic growth. Is it time to revisit the relationship? By DIRK DE VOS.
The Philippi Horticultural Area (PHA) provides the majority of Cape Town's vegetables and potentially holds the key to its future water supply. But it is under threat. Together with concerned citizens, local farmers are fighting to keep the area from development that could spell disaster. They have won some battles. But according to the letter of the law, the war is far from over. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The investigation and report by the Public Protector into allegations of corruption, maladministration and misconduct by the management of the South African Post Office (SAPO) was published on 23 February 2016. The findings vindicate the formal complaints lodged against SAPO by publishers with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). By CHRIS YELLAND, managing director and investigative editor at EE Publishers.
President Jacob Zuma thought the drought serious enough to mention it during his State of the National Address. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, in presenting the budget on Wednesday, put the drought alongside “global uncertainties” as a major constraint to economic growth. But is drought ‘relief’ no more than a bail-out for bad governance? By YVES VANDERHAEGEN & DONNA HORNBY.
It’s unlikely anybody was particularly surprised when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced a number of initiatives to increase the amount of tax revenue; from sugar tax to a “tyre levy” to an increase in a number of existing sin taxes. But it’s perhaps the relaxing of voluntary disclosure rules that apply to individuals and companies with undisclosed offshore income and assets that will cause the most ripples, allowing tax authorities to act more effectively against abusive practices. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
When a rock-star French economist comes to our country to tell us that the surest way to fix inequality is to tax the hell out of the privileged, they are guaranteed a sympathetic audience. And so we will partly have Thomas Piketty to thank when Pravin Gordhan introduces tax hikes later on Wednesday. But does Piketty have a handle on the giant scam at the heart of the global tax system? KEVIN BLOOM speaks to a tax haven investigator who says that he doesn’t.
Earlier this month, the very first processing plant was launched for Refuse-Derived Fuel (RDF) in South Africa. RDF has been used for some time abroad, and now that we’ve joined the party, the technical team operating the plant says our fuels are cleaner and of better quality than the equivalents being made in Europe. Although there is currently only one plant in operation locally, plans are underway to expand to four. For cash-strapped South Africans facing multiple price hikes and a long-term energy crisis, this could be good news. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
Today it is difficult to think of Singapore as a fragile, poor backwater. Yet it was born in crisis and riven with multiracial, ethnic and religious sensitivities and differences. While the state under Lee Kuan Yew was at the helm of this transformation, its actions were always guided by commercial principles. This is an experience that Pretoria would do well to examine as it ponders how to repair South Africa’s failing state-owned enterprises. By GREG MILLS.
One of the thing s forecasters try to do is to identify “tipping points” or points at which an issue within their field of expertise crosses a certain threshold after which change is inevitable. Investors try to predict tipping points most of us can only identify them long after they have already happened. The privatization of Eskom - or parts of it- is a recurring topic. Is it about to happen? By DIRK DE VOS
An internal directive by South African Bureau of Standards CEO Dr Boni Mehlomakulu in 2015 requires that SABS Test House only perform “full testing” in future, and puts an end to “partial testing” by the SABS. This has elicited outrage from a wide range of industry associations in the electrical engineering sector. By CHRIS YELLAND and PIERRE POTGIETER for EE PUBLISHERS.
The ANC government’s fixation with its developmental state as the apex service delivery vehicle is proving to be the major impediment to the delivery of South Africa Connect, an ambitious and inclusive broadband policy to connect 100% of the population to high-speed communications infrastructure by 2030. By MARIAN SHINN.