With the ongoing strike President Mbeki has wisely decided to send his recommended +50% hike in salaray back to the * deep breath * Independent Commission for the Remuneration of Public Office Bearers. I guess it’s hard to justify offering workers a 7.25% raise when you’re giving yourself an extra 500K a year.
Once the strike is over I assume the offer (or one close to it) will be sneaked back in quietly.
And speaking of strikes it seems workers at Eskom may soon be going on strike as well. But that is alright because Eskom has been running so smooth lately that I’m sure it will have no effect. Right? Right
Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin took time out of his schedule shovelling tax payer money into SAA to appear on the BBC’s Hard Talk where he made it clear he won’t be voting for Zuma at the upcoming ANC NEC elections.
Q: Do you think Jacob Zuma, a man whose behaviour both towards women and in terms of his financial probity has been under close scrutiny over the last couple of years, do you believe he is a man who could credibly lead South Africa?
A:I think, on Jacob Zuma’s record, I think that he will have great difficulty winning this election in the ANC.
Here’s a few quotes from Alec Erwin from a talk given at the University of Pretoria referring to Eskom’s lack of power generation capacity leading us to a a few years of intermittent blackouts:
All of us have recently experienced the almost soul-searing shock that Eskom is not absolutely infallible… and that is a lesson that time and time again virtually every major enterprise in South Africa is going to learn in the next few years
The main obstacle to our own success is our own minds. We have to be confident we have to think hard about growth.
There’s only one small teeny tiny detail he’s left out and that’s the fact that between 2001 and 2004 the National Energy Regulator expressly forbid Eskom to build any new power generation plants despite their repeated requests to do so. But of course major governmental blunders like that are no one’s fault.
In my opinion, it’s high time for a cabinet shuffle. Despite the renewed statements committing themselves to delivery and better governance it’s still the same old of bunch of ministers that have lead us to what is becoming more and more of an administration so unsure of what to do next they’re too afraid to make a move. Here are the top four ministries that need a shake up.
- Health: It’s becoming apparent that Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is not healthy. After a lengthy stay in hospital for a lung infection she came out and gave a press briefing in which she was clearly not with it mentally and is now back in hospital. We know that Mbeki has protected Manto in the past but it’s clear her wacky views on HIV treatment are making him look an idiot. With her back in hospital it’s an ideal opportunity for her to ‘retire’ due to ‘health reasons’ and get someone in who will bring some international respect back to the Health Department.
- Communications: It’s not often that one person can cost a country billions of Rands but in the case of Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri we have a candidate. In the eight years since she’s been minister South Africa has had the highest communication costs in the entire world. ICASA is possibly the most ineffective regulator on the planet and meanwhile Telkom racks up billions in profit off infrastructure our taxes paid for. And then to add insult to injury just this morning she blamed the ‘private sector’ for not helping out in the local loop unbundling process, forgetting the fact that she had previously made self provisioning illegal.
- Public Enterprises: Thanks to Alec Erwin being asleep at the wheel while SA’s economy grew without a corresponding growth in power generation we can now look forward to five years of power blackouts. Meanwhile SAA needs a few hundred million Rand to bail themselves out of debt, but yet have the ability to launch a low cost airline. And when he’s not losing SA stacks of cash he’s involved in intra-governmental fights with our previous candidate Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri about who gets to control the state broadband infrastructure.
- Home Affairs: Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has not been in the position as long as the others listed above but one thing is certain, Home Affairs is as much a mess as the day she took over. Mapisa-Nqakula has made a step in the right direction asking for help from some of the other departments to help in sorting the place out but it may be too little too late. Departmental officials are leaving first chance they can, and the organisation needs a Sargent-Major more than a Director-General.
There are a whole bunch of other ministers who need a swift kick in the pants. Feel free to add your own recommendations in the comments.
The electricity supply crisis will not be getting better for at least another five years, with our reserve generating capacity being less than half of what it should be. Eskom plans to spend R97 billion rand over the next five years to bring our reserves up to the benchamrk 15% reserve capacity.
The cause of this complete balls up can be laid squarely at the feet of government, specifically the cabinet, who barred Eskom from building any new power plants from 2001 – 2004 although one must wonder why Eskom didn’t start furiously building power plants after 2004. Cabinet barred Eskom from building new plants in the hope of attracting private investors, but they didn’t do much else besides that. So much for the efficiency of central planning.
The electricity landscape is quite uncertain with some municipalities (such as Cape Town) buying power via Regional Electricity Distributors (who are always being threatened with closure) and others buying direct from Eskom or other third parties. With the enormous capital outlay required to build power stations you can understand why private investors didn’t swoop in.
Unfortunately this is not the only area where government has made a decree and then sat back to watch nothing else happen. After Telkom lost their “official” fixed line monopoly (which still exits for all intents and purposes) it took five years before anyone was prepared to invest in a competitor and they only did so with significant government investment as well (Neotel is 30% state owned).
I wonder which industry will be next to suffer the stellar planning of cabinet.
Cape Town is being subjected to power cuts again except this time the problem is not localised and is extending right across the country. The cause is once again Koeberg nuclear power station where one of the two generators tripped and shut down around 2:18am.
Despite a growing economy (and the growinf demand for power that comes with it) no new power generating plants have been built in SA well over 10 years. SA has pinned it’s hopes on the pebble bed modular nuclear reactor but that is still in it’s infancy and the prototype won’t be built for a few more years yet alone the 20 or so envisaged reactors that will be built round the country.
There are two things that are a bit disconcerting. First of all that all it takes for Eskom’s network to fall over is for a single power station to lose half it’s generating capacity. That’s a big indication that there is no redundancy or excess power generating capacity left. Secondly Eskom is stretching to meet it’s requirements in summer which doesn’t make it look to good when winter rolls around and energy usage goes up.
We await Minister of Public Enterprse Alec Erwin’s claims of “sabotage!” soon.
The National Energy Regulator’s report on the power outages that plagued Cape Town earlier this year was leaked to the media. It will reveal that it was negligence and not sabotage that caused the one of Koeberg’s nuclear reactor’s to go offline and causing intermittent power failures in much of the Western Cape.
Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin, who initially cast doubt about sabotage on the whole affair, has yet to produce any of those promised arrests.
- There are still calls by some in the SACP for them to contest elections on their own ticket. Every time this comes up Jeremy Cronin gets another gray hair.
- President Mbeki has stated that the Department of Home Affairs will try to make life easier for immigrants with scarce skills. No word yet on whether resident South Africans with scarce skills will be afforded the same courtesy.
- Had an accident at work? Thanks to the example set by our own Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin you can just plant that ‘Sabotage!’ seed of doubt. Who needs personal responsibility?
Well after coming back from holiday it’s good to see that I didn’t miss any major political scandals.
- Minister of Public Eneterprises Alec Erwin will finally release a report on the shenanigans at Koeberg. Frankly I’m feeling a bit cheated here. Where are the French speaking saboteurs and their high tech video camera invisibility gear?
- SA will not be helping Germany with it’s enquiry into the recently purchased corvette deal.
- SA will be helping Germany with it’s enquiry into the recently purchased corvette deal.
About three weeks ago we reminded Alec Erwin that the investigation into the bolt mischief at Koeberg was taking a bit too long. Well the good Minister has taken our words to heart can report that yes… investigations are still ongoing at the ‘appropriate agency’. Just to put everyone’s minds at ease.
I don’t know what concerns me more though. A bolt in a generator or an ‘appropriate agency’ that takes 4 months to review CCTV footage and interview the dozen or so people who have access to the reactor. Maybe it’s not high on the priority list?
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