News in South Africa 24th November:
1. Second matric paper leaked:
The tutor who blew the whistle on the leak of physical sciences paper 2 erased the tweet on Monday after receiving calls from angry pupils fearing they would have to rewrite it.
The tutor received a screenshot of the question paper at 8.17am on Monday – just under an hour before it was to be written at 9am.
The reported leak of the paper comes in the wake of the maths paper 2 that was leaked last Monday.
The basic education department spent most of Monday locked in meetings to discuss the apparent leak of the science paper. By the end of the day, it released a statement revealing it had asked the Hawks to investigate the leak of the maths paper 2.
“The reported leak of physics 2 comes after the department asked the the Hawks to investigate an earlier incident involving maths last week,” the statement read.
“The investigations are at an advanced stage, and details on the progress of the probe will be made public at the right time while possible areas of weakness have been identified.
“In addition to this, the department has also dispatched teams to provinces to recheck the security systems.
Paul Colditz, CEO of the Federation of Governing Bodies of SA Schools, said: “If it transpired that the physical sciences paper 2 had also leaked, it will complicate matters further because plans are afoot for a possible rewrite of the maths paper depending on the outcome of the investigation by the investigative team.”
He said if there’s a leak “you must find the source and deal with that source decisively”.
2. Sasol to sell stake in Texas plant:
Sasol announced this morning that it will sell its 50% stake in a polyethylene plant in Texas for $404 million (R6.2 billion) in a new deal. This will help reduce its debt burden of around R160 billion.
The board of directors of Sasol announced that Sasol Chemicals North America LLC (“SCNA”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Sasol, has agreed principle terms with INEOS Gemini HDPE Holding Company LLC (“INEOS”) and a new entity to be formed by INEOS (“Newco”) to sell its 50% membership interest in Gemini HDPE LLC (“Gemini”) to Newco (the “Sale”) for USD404 million (subject to adjustment for cash, debt, working capital and other items ). Gemini produces and sells bimodal high-density polyethylene based in La Porte, Texas, United States of America.
As disclosed in the Sasol financial statements, prepared in accordance with IFRS and audited by the Company’s auditors, PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc., the value of the net assets relevant to the sale is USD 176 million (approximately R3 billion) as at 30 June 2020, which is net of the debt facilities associated with the interest. The loss attributable to the net assets was USD 18 million (approximately R290 million) for the year ended 30 June 2020.
The Sale between SCNA, INEOS and Newco will only be effective upon restructuring of the existing debt facilities and the Company’s security package in respect thereof. Closing is anticipated to occur by 31 December 2020.
3. Zuma in trouble for skipping inquiry:
The powers that former President Jacob Zuma gave to the Zondo Commission and his actions – or lack thereof – on allegations of state capture are all coming back to haunt him.
The commission is opening a criminal case with the police and seeking a Constitutional Court order to compel Zuma to appear at the hearings.
This comes after the former president left the inquiry last Thursday without being excused.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said on Monday that his decision to report Zuma to the police and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was based on the Commissions Act of 1947 and the Constitution.
Now Zondo is hauling him before that court and asking it to order him to appear at the state capture commission, which he established based on the 1947 act and the Constitution.
“Any person summoned to attend and give evidence before a commission, who without sufficient cause fails to attend at a time and place specified in the summons or to remain in attendance until excused by the chairman, shall be guilty of an offence,” Zondo said.
Added to that, Justice Zondo wants a Constitutional Court order to order Zuma to submit affidavits based on the regulations that he promulgated.
4. Surge in SA fuel imports:
South Africa, which buys nearly a third of its fuel requirements from overseas, is undergoing a surge in imports with the refining industry walloped by the coronavirus and anticipated clean-fuel regulations.
There are questions around the fate of five of the country’s six facilities. PetroSA’s 45 000 barrel-a-day plant is expected to run out of natural gas feedstock next month and Glencore’s Cape Town refinery has been shut since February. Combined they would take over a fifth of the nation’s processing capacity offline. Petroliam Nasional Bhd, Sasol and Royal Dutch Shell are reviewing their plants.
The shrinking refining industry could add to job loses in a country already facing a 30% unemployment rate. The pandemic has squeezed refiners’ margins while a pending clean-fuels policy is likely to increase their costs as they upgrade machinery. Africa’s most industrialised nation imported 135 000 barrels a day of clean fuels last year, and shipments are expected to rise 16% in 2020, according to energy consultant Citac.
Amid the gloom, there has been a rare investment in the sector. Sasol plans to spend as much as R6 billion to upgrade the 150 000 barrel-a-day Secunda synthetic fuel operation to meet the cleaner fuel standard by 2025.
The industry body Citac estimates there could be some relief with fuel imports expected to drop 2% next year.
That could depend on when Glencore unit Astron Energy restarts its Cape Town refinery. The facility closed in February for annual maintenance and has yet to resume full operations following a fatal explosion on July 2.
Astron intends to resume operations, “but it remains too early to determine when that will be,” a spokeswoman said. Until then the company will ensure security of supply for gasoline, diesel and marine bunker fuel, she said.
5. SABC under pressure due to retrenchments:
The South African Broadcasting Corporation’s meetings with labour – aimed at finding a better solution to the broadcaster’s financial challenges – saw unions pushing the SABC for more time to develop an alternative to retrenchment consultations, according to one union in the meeting.
Last week, pressure from employees as well as an emergency meeting with Parliament and the Department of Communications prompted the board to hold an emergency meeting where it decided to suspend the retrenchment consultations by seven days.
Unions have already pushed back against the section 189 consultations, with the Communication Workers Union kicking off strike action at the broadcaster on Friday and the Broadcast Electronic Media and Allied Workers Union seeking an interdict against the retrenchment process.
Engagements between the SABC board and the representative of the stakeholder, the Ministerof Communications and Digital Technologies, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, have also been ongoing. The parties met on Monday, joined by the Minister of Employment and Labour, Thulas Nxesi.
Ndabeni said the SABC board and its executive management had been urged to go back to the negotiations table with the unions to ensure that all available opportunities are thoroughly explored prior to engaging on a retrenchment process.
She said a functional SABC is in the interest of all South Africans, and that she is “determine to supports efforts aimed at finding an amicable solution to the problem.”