News in South Africa 10th January:

1. Eskom questioned for solutions:

With chronic power cuts continuing to bedevil South Africans, Parliament wants answers from Eskom.

Eskom questioned for solutions
Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán

Public Enterprises committee chairperson Khaya Magaxa said Eskom management will be called to Parliament even before it officially opens next month.

The country experienced unprecedented load shedding last year, including over the holiday period.

“In fact, the festive was very bad. We don’t think that the situation is going to be getting better. Hence, we would like to meet with them so that they can tell us exactly what is their plan and what are the problems currently,” Magaxa told Eyewitness News.

Magaxa said he was not optimistic that 2023 would be any different.

“The situation might be worse in 2023 to the extent that as the chairperson of committee I have instructed the secretary to initiate an early meeting even before Parliament is open for us to get the executive in a meeting just to take us through what is really the problem in this year, what should we expect.”


Outgoing Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter allegedly survived a murder attempt, claiming he had drank coffee laced with cyanide.

The attempted murder took place on 13 December at De Ruyter’s office in Megawatt Park in Sunninghill.

After drinking the coffee according to Yelland, De Ruyter felt dizzy, confused and disoriented, before falling ill and collapsing becoming unable to walk.

He was diagnosed with cyanide poisoning and doctors treated him for this.

Chris Yelland, managing director of EE Business, says the alleged attempted murder of Andre De Ruyter will likely scare off credible people from the Eskom CEO position so that criminal syndicates could continue to dominate and thrive off the corrupt practices at the power utility.

Yelland also says there is a fear that De Ruyter’s replacement will be a political appointment rather than the best-skilled person for the job.

2. The return of Covid-19?:

South Africans, especially the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, are being urged to vaccinate against Covid-19 or get booster shots as a precaution. 

This comes after the identification of the first case of a Covid-19 infection caused by the new XBB.1.5 mutation in the country, nicknamed “kraken” by some for its ability to spread. 

The case was detected on Friday by Stellenbosch University. It has been described by the World Health Organisation as “the most transmissible subvariant” found so far in the pandemic.

“People should get their shots. The virus is still around and we should be protected, especially those who are vulnerable, the old and those with underlying health conditions,” said leading virologist Barry Schoub.

Virologist Prof Tulio de Oliveira, head of a gene-sequencing institute at Stellenbosch University, told the Sunday Times they are alert but not concerned about the XBB.1.5 mutation.

“You must understand it is not a new variant, as people are saying. It is part of the Omicron family. It is a mutation,” he told the Sunday Times.

“We do not expect serious repercussions in South Africa. This is due to the high percentage of our population who are immunised. We are talking about more than 95% of South Africa, whether through vaccinations or previous infections. It is likely our wall of immunisation is strong enough to protect us,” De Oliveira said.

The mutation is yet to be identified in China, which is undergoing a surge in infections after relaxing strict controls that limited the effect of previous waves of Covid-19 in the country.

No spike in cases, hospitalisations, or deaths has been seen in South Africa so far, De Oliveira said. 

3. New vehicle supply disruptions:

The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) warns that there is a likelihood of further near-term global supply chain disruptions to new vehicles in South Africa.

According to the association, supply disruptions may stem from the rapid re-opening of the Chinese economy, resulting in surging Covid-19 infections.

In late December, TopAuto reported that the world’s No.1 automaker Toyota said that its outlook for 2023 remains uncertain due to a persistent shortage of semiconductors and spikes in Covid cases in China.

Chip and other auto part shortages continue to plague the industry, and the rapid expansion of Covid cases throughout China will present additional difficulties, reported TopAuto.

Naamsa found that over the course of December 2022, Toyota remained the most in-demand car brand for South Africans despite its Durban factory suffering from severe flooding.

Over the last month of 2022, 11,250 units of Toyota vehicles were sold, followed by 5,331 Volkswagens and 3,058 Suzuki, reported Naamsa.

Sales still growing:

In its latest brief on December 2022’s new vehicle sales statistics, Naamsa said that despite multiple national and international headwinds, the South African motor industry’s post-pandemic recovery continued, albeit at a slightly slower pace than in 2021.

“The new vehicle market registered its twelfth consecutive month of year-on-year growth during December 2022, with aggregate industry new vehicle sales at 41,783 units recording an increase of 5,839 vehicles or a gain of 16,2% compared to the total new vehicle sales of 35,944 units during the corresponding month of December 2021,” said Naamsa.

“The December 2022 new passenger car market and light commercial vehicle market reflected a sound performance with a year-on-year volume increase of 15,4% in the case of new passenger cars and a gain of 16,1% in the case of light commercial vehicles.”

Sales of medium commercial vehicles increased year-on-year by 36.9% while heavy commercial vehicles and buses increased by 23.1%, Naamsa added.

4. Investor favorites tumble:

It really is remarkable just how far some ‘household name’ shares on the JSE have fallen. In years past, they were all favourites among fund managers and retail investors.

Steinhoff is perhaps the best example, with the share down over 99% from its all-time high in 2016.

In April that year, shares traded very close to R100. The collapse of the house of cards has been well-documented. Today, the share price is little over 50c.

It is not common for a Top 40 share to collapse quite this spectacularly, but cast your eyes below the biggest shares on the market and there are some equally stunning declines.

On the JSE last year, a full seven former market darlings – all of which had market caps in the billions (during the year, at least) – saw decreases of more than 40%. Many of these were midcaps, being the 41 to 100 largest companies listed on the local bourse.

Murray & Roberts

Leading the declines is former construction favourite M&R, whose share price dropped 80.6% during last year.

It is nearly impossible to believe that during the 2010 Fifa World Cup and Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project-fuelled construction boom in the late 2000s, its share price crested R1 000 (in 2007).

Last year had been fairly non-eventful for the group until its trading update in August. Between then and the end of September, its share price nearly halved from R11.92 to R6.16.


Nampak has been staring down the barrel of a gun for quite some time.

Its aggressive African expansion – on the back of dollar-denominated loans – has meant impairments to the values of operations in Nigeria and Angola, and a stretched balance sheet. Its debt load is plainly unsustainable, and it has been unable to find buyers for its assets at prices that resemble anything close to fair value.

The first sell-off followed a trading update in March and by the time it announced a rights issue in early December, many shareholders bailed –meaning a drop from about R2 to around R1 a share.

Shares ended 2022 down 73%.


Like M&R, PPC rode the construction boom in the late 2000s. In today’s terms, it traded at over R30 a share. It is down 70% over the last five years.

A turnaround plan under new shareholders and a new CEO has yielded results and the group managed to avoid a rights issue which had hovered over the cement producer throughout 2021. Retail investors, in particular, piled into the share as they pinned their hopes on the turnaround materialising. A fair amount of money could’ve been made during 2021 when it took root.

ArcelorMittal SA

Shares of this steel maker are up over 20% over the last five years but ended 2022 down 47%.

An international price “correction” during last year, together with production disruptions (think Transnet and load shedding) meant a nearly 30% fall in crude steel production in the first half of the year. Sales (locally and for export) declined by a more modest 8% and higher prices attained translated into stronger revenue.


Telkom’s wild ride last year was, at least partially, triggered by a buyout approach from MTN in July.

This saw the share price leap from around R33 to nearly R50 where it stayed until October when the talks were terminated. The share plummeted back to around R35.


EOH’s fall from its peak has been almost as spectacular as Steinhoff’s.

It is down nearly 95% over five years, and 98% from its all-time high.


Aveng’s story is similar to Murray & Roberts’s – it too rode that construction wave in the first decade of this millennium. Today, the group looks very different with Moolmans (a contract mining business) and Australian construction unit McConnell Dowell.

In 2021, it was forced into two rights issues (raising around R400 million). It also did a 500:1 share consolidation at the end of that year.

It is down 95% over five years and relatively speaking – if the share consolidation is factored in – its share price exceeded (the equivalent of) R1 million a share in its glory decade.

5. Russia’s final decade:

Nearly half of top foreign-policy experts think Russia will become a failed state or break up by 2033, according to a new survey by the Atlantic Council think tank.

The Financial Times was the first to report on the findings, which seem to suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine could have costly political consequences back home.

The survey found that 46% of the 167 experts surveyed, who come from academic, non-profit, governmental, and consultancy backgrounds, anticipate Russia’s collapse within the next decade.

The survey found that 40% of those surveyed foresee Russia breaking up internally within the next 10 years because of “revolution, civil war, political disintegration,” or another reason.

Just over a fifth (21%) considered Russia to be the most likely country to become a failed state within the next decade, more than double the next highest choice: Afghanistan.

A British government source said that Russia could take up to 30 years to rebuild its economic and military strength, according to The Times of London.

The experts surveyed by the Atlantic Council also anticipate major developments elsewhere in the world.

The survey found that 70% of respondents agreed with a statement that China could invade Taiwan within the next decade, echoing a top US admiral’s March 2021 warning that Chinese military action could be coming by 2027.

All information sourced from articles posted by: EWN, CapeTalk, TimesLive, BusinessTech, Moneyweb, and Business Insider.

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