News in South Africa 10th February:
1. SAA flight cancellations defended:
South African Airways Business Rescue Practitioners Siciwe Dongwana and Les Matuson released a statement on Sunday morning defending their decision to cancel domestic routes save for the Johannesburg-Cape Town route as being in the best interest of the imperiled carrier.
SAA’s Business Rescue Practitioners announced this past week that it would cancel a raft of domestic air travel routes, eliciting a strong rejection from organised labour. On Friday afternoon President Cyril Ramaphosa said he also disagreed with the decision.
With SA Express also ordered by the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to undergo business rescue processes, the prospects for the national carrier appear grim as ever.
The business rescue practitioners said in a joint statement released on Sunday that the decision to cancel routes was taken “in the best interests of SAA”.
2. Gwede Mantashe wants SAA shut down:
ANC chairperson and the minister of energy and mineral resources, Gwede Mantashe, has called for beleaguered carrier SAA to be shut down if it cannot sustain itself.
Speaking at the governing party’s 108th birthday celebrations in Komga, Eastern Cape, Mantashe said there was no reason for the state-owned airline to keep receiving bailouts if it was unable to function on its own.
“As government, we have a duty to ensure that state-owned enterprises (SOEs) deliver on both the developmental and financial mandate,” he said.
“SOEs cannot expect to be bailed out over and over again. All the time they run to Tito [Mboweni, the finance minister] to give them money. They must generate a developmental mandate and sustain themselves.”
3. Ramaphosa to deliver State of Nation Address on Thursday:
Ramaphosa is scheduled to deliver his annual address to lawmakers on 23 February.
“We would hope that the president could refer to mechanisms – short-, medium- and long-term” – to rescue Eskom, he said. There is “the issue of ensuring we can mobilise sufficient financial resources to fund projects going forward and alleviate the strain on the balance sheet.”
South Africa’s main business lobby said it’s working with labour unions and other social partners on enabling President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce a pact to rescue the debt-stricken state power utility in his state-of-the-nation address next week.
Representatives of Business Unity South Africa and the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the nation’s biggest labour federation, said significant progress has been made in talks with the government on Eskom’s R450bn debt burden.
“We all recognise pragmatically what needs to be done,” Busa Vice Chairman Martin Kingston said in an interview. There’s an objective to “ensure that all parties are on the same page as to what is practical and what is possible.”
4. EFF wants Minister Pravin Gordhan out:
The EFF will use President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) to call for the removal of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan if he has not already been removed by then, its leader, Julius Malema, announced on Sunday.
“That’s how it’s going to roll,” said Malema, promising that 2020 was going to be a “very interesting year”.
The red berets are known to bring proceedings to a standstill on matters such as former president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla renovations when calls of “pay back the money” cut through any speeches Zuma attempted to deliver.
5. Stage one load shedding from this morning:
Eskom resumed stage 1 load shedding at 9am on Monday morning.
In a power update, the utility said the cuts are due to a shortage of capacity and the need to replenish emergency supplies.
Eskom has not yet said whether cuts would continue for the remainder of the week. It will provide an update on Monday evening.