Eskom: 'set aside' vs 'suspended'?
An announcement made this morning by the chair of Eskom, Zola Tsotsi, is that the board has asked four of its top officials – including the CEO Tshediso Matona - to 'step aside' while an inquiry is held into the organisation. The news comes as the country is battling an electricity crisis, with Eskom implementing planned power cuts from time to time as it conducts maintenance on its power stations. The other three executives are: Head of Capital Projects Dan Marokane, Technology and Commercial Executive Matshela Koko and Finance Director Tsholofelo Molefe. Tsotsi called a special media briefing to make the announcement. EWN's Gia Nicolaides:
What this means is that top management have been asked to 'step aside' pending the inquiry to be conducted. Tsotsi says there's nothing sinister about this, it's just to make sure the inquiry is conducted independently. We asked: does mean 'step aside' mean? They say they don't want to invoke the use of the word 'suspended'; the decision was taken just yesterday, following high-level Eskom meetings all week. There's been suggestions that this move is merely window dressing though, because there are many deep-seated issues at Eskom.
MD of EE Publishers and energy expert, Chris Yelland:
It is a big surprise - it's an indication of deep soul-searching within an organisation that isn't performing. It's a bit of crisis management within a war room. The new board is beginning to assert itself with this independent inquiry. Medupi and Kusile are deeply fundamental and these four are at the coal face with these two projects.
President's Parliamentary session with ducks, points and dives
In Parliament following Wednesday's session that saw President Jacob Zuma lecturing opposition MP's about claims he was dodging questions, is a decision this morning that he will be asked to come back to answer questions from last year’s session. EWN Parliament's Gaye Davis:
It started off quite fierce because the Opposition MPs came armed with questions from the August session last year. What shocked MPs was the President's denial of his being approached by Parliament to address questions, therefore nullifying that he was in breach of Parliament. There was a call from the Opposition to see correspondence between the Speaker and the President to confirm this. Another complication here in dates is that we don't have Parliamentary schedule published for Term 2, let alone Term 3 or Term 4, so it's difficult to know when arrangements have been made for the President to appear in Parliament.
FPB to set to govern online usage
The Film and Publications Board (FPB) says it wants to be able to classify online content generated and distributed in this country. It has released the claim as part of a draft policy that’s been released for public comment. Chief Operations Officer of the FPB, Sipho Rasiba:
The Act gives us the right to classify content across all media platforms, including mobile platforms. But due to our state of readiness in terms of ICT infrastructure, we've had a stronger focus on physically distributed content, rather than content that's distributed online.
Packing the smokes out
In the UK, the House of Commons has voted to ban branding on cigarette packets as part of a bid to make smoking less attractive, particularly to young people. Executive Director of The National Council Against Smoking, Dr Yussuf Saloojee:
The evidence from Australia - which introduced plain packaging in 2012 - shows that smoking levels have decreased to the lowest ever. When you use plain packaging, you find that 4 out of 5 adults will not buy the plain packs - they prefer to buy the normal packaging, even if the product inside is the same. The Minister of Health (Dr Motsoaledi) has already indicated he supports plain packaging, so hopefully we'll see this in South Africa in a year or so.
Low-income rental market opens up in Joburg
A report this morning is that Joburg’s social housing company Joshco has now opened the Europa building as an accommodation block in the Joburg CBD. This is an office block that was converted to housing. CEO of Joshco, Rory Gallocher:
The office blocks in commercial buildings are often easier to convert to residential. The industrial spaces are usually more of a challenge to convert. Rooms are a reasonable size, but they are 20/21/22 sq metres, targeting the lower end of the market at an average rent of R900/month - R1500/month. It's safe accommodation that's well-managed, but you would have shared, well-managed bathrooms - one for men and one for women.
Concerns over wait on teacher salary increases
A comment on Wednesday by Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi is that he believes teachers feel abandoned and that he’s taken aback by the fact that it’s going to take two years for the Presidential Remuneration Review Committee to investigate whether their salaries should be increased. Gauteng Provincial Secretary of Sadtu, Tshidiso Ledimo:
We are a bit concerned about that long process. This commission was set up after the State of the Nation Address by the President in 2013. The commission has taken the whole year to set up; we are concerned about the long-windedness of a long-standing matter. If you talk about the salary, you have to look at the various levels from entry to management. A first-time entrant into the sector with the minimum qualification requirements should receive a package of at at R180 000 per annum.
Ferguson, fires and shots
In the US in the town of Ferguson in Missouri, two police officers have been shot during a demonstration that was called to celebrate the removal of the town’s police chief. He had stepped down after a Justice Department probe showed that his force had unfairly targeted African American people, even before the shooting of Michael Brown that led to protests across the US. EWN US's Nadia Neophytou:
The source of the shots is said to have come from within the crowd, which hit one of the police officers from Ferguson and another one from an outside town that came to assist. This has been an issue that's been going on since August last year, but there haven't been any shots up until now, while yes, there have been protests and fires, etc. This now signals a change in the form of protest and it remains to be seen how the police might react to this.