News in South Africa 3rd March:
1. JHB road plant down for over 5 months:
The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA), an entity within the City of Joburg, is currently unable to produce asphalt at a R50 million plant it acquired in 2017.
As lockdown eased and the JRA began tackling an enormous pothole backlog, reports suggested that a “shortage of input materials” was to blame. This was not the case. The plant has not produced a single kilogram of asphalt for over five months.
Launched with much fanfare by then-Mayor Herman Mashaba in August 2018, the plant in Booysens was intended to “speed up service delivery”. But it has been plagued by breakdowns and “operational issues”.
A long-awaited report tabled to the city’s transport committee reveals that the “plant has not met any of [its] production targets”.
The report reveals that in the first year of operation (2018/2019), the plant only produced 68 655 tons of asphalt, far below its target of 150 000 tons.
That it managed to achieve 45% of its target in that year seems to have been commendable as the report notes the “underperformance of the plant has been the case in [the] second year (2019/20) and [the] first quarter of the current year (2020/21)”.
2. Direct deposit from Shoprite and Checkers:
Customers can now deposit cash directly onto their bank cards at all Shoprite, Checkers, and Usave stores, for a single flat rate, to reflect in their bank accounts.
This means shoppers can now perform several basic banking services at all of the Shoprite group’s points of sale, including some account payments, airtime top-ups, and cash withdrawals – in a move similar to that of Pick n Pay’s last year,
The Shoprite Group says the service will add a new layer of convenience for its customers, many of whom receive salaries in cash and reside in rural areas, where bank branches and ATMs are scarce.
The group currently has a footprint of 1,700 stores that will accept these deposits, and many keep hours that are longer than banks and are often open on weekends.
The service works much the same as it does at Pick n Pay: shoppers simply need to present a MasterCard or Visa card at a point of sale, along with the cash they wish to deposit, and the teller will handle the transaction.
3. Former Eskom CEO accuses president:
Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said his allegations about President Cyril Ramaphosa’s capture of Eskom were speculation and he had no proof that he deliberately acted in the interests of Glencore, but he still had reason to believe he did.
Molefe, who has been speaking on the Tegeta and Glencore, has on Tuesday concluded his testimony at the state capture commission but is expected to return.
He has denied that he had any role in Tegeta elbowing out Glencore as owners of Optimum Coal Mine.
“My postulation was that they were hoping to use Mr Ramaphosa’s position to help them negotiate out of the pickle.”
Molefe said he had no proof that Ramaphosa deliberately acted in the interests of Glencore, but he could have benefitted.
“He would have financial benefit; he would have an interest in the settlement of the penalties. I’m not saying I know he peddled influence but the situation was likely to arise.”
4. Gauteng MEC wants E-tolls gone:
The Gauteng provincial government has made formal submissions to the national government indicating its rejection of the implementation of e-tolls, the Citizen reported.
Gauteng MEC Jacob Mamabolo stated that the province is working with the national government to ensure e-tolls are stopped due to concerns of the financial impact of the system on motorists.
“We have made a very comprehensive submission to the president, the minister of finance and that of transport which we believe can resolve the e-toll matter once and for all.
Mamabolo said that his government is also opposed to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act as a means of enforcing e-tolls in the province.
In February, transport minister Fikile Mbalula confirmed that his department is working towards a final answer on e-tolls.
“We are equally enjoined to finalise the funding and tariff structure on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) by the end of this financial year,” he said.
5. Spur’s profits fall:
Spur’s half-year revenue dropped more than 40%, while headline profit was down 75%. Group alcohol sales were 39% lower due to the ban on the sale of all alcoholic drinks for part of the period.
New lockdown restrictions in December and January hit sales – but Spur says trading showed a marked improvement in February 2021, thanks to longer trading hours as the curfew was extended.
Sales for February 2021 were at 82% of the prior year, with Spur and RocoMamas being the strongest performing brands.