A C T I V E Networking that works...!

Welcome to friendsofgeorge - Networking at its best....!
Saturday, January 19 2019 @ 05:23 pm UTC

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version


Renewable energy is expensive, unnecessary and authorised without proper public participation, says Coal Transporters Forum as it heads to court.

Eskom is sinking the economy in the name of greening it, claims Forum

Is renewable energy as good for the country as is made out? The Coal Transporters Forum argues that it is not.
BUSINESS NEWS - Eskom’s renewable energy drive is a financial disaster for consumers and an economic disaster for the country, according to papers before the Pretoria High Court.

The Coal Transporters Forum is asking the court to have dozens of power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with independent power producers (IPPs) set aside on the grounds that the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) authorised them without proper public consultation.

Lack of public participation sank the proposed nuclear deal in 2017 when challenged in court by Earthlife and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute. Coal transporters believe the Pretoria court should find in its favour on the same grounds.

The court papers provide a fascinating insight into the costs of alternative energy. Eskom is purchasing renewable energy for 214 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) when coal can produce the same electricity for 32 cents.

Eskom is then on-selling this renewable energy to the consumer at 86 cents per kWh. This cost the economy R9 billion in 2016, a cost that will be repeated each year until 2021. It also reduces coal consumption by three million tons a year, rising to 10 million tons by 2021, the court documents state.

Read: Business chamber asks Nersa to stop all new IPPs

Massive risk
These IPP contracts expose Eskom to massive risk, says the Forum. Nersa’s 2.2% tariff increase for 2017/2018 effectively means Eskom is sinking deeper into liquidity problems, at the ultimate cost of consumers and taxpayers.

“This means government is providing guarantees to the IPPs to destroy jobs in the mining sector,” says the Forum, which tallies the economic cost of the renewable energy programme as follows: Eskom will be forced to shut down at least five coal-fired power stations, one million permanent jobs will be lost, and 17 towns in three provinces reliant on coal mining will become ghost towns. Many more thousands of workers involved in coal transportation will be retrenched.

In short, it threatens to sink swathes of the economy in the name of greening it.

How did we end up in this mess?
In its answering affidavit, Nersa concedes that it did not allow for a public participation process, but followed the then minister of energy’s decision to procure renewable energy. The type of energy to be produced by Eskom is the minister of energy’s decision, in consultation with the regulator. The then minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson pushed the renewable energy contracts even though Eskom had spare capacity of 23%, excluding imports, renewable energy and other power purchases, says the Forum.

In response to the Forum’s court challenge, the Department of Energy’s director-general Thabane Zulu argues that the Forum was aware of the intention to sign agreements with the IPPs yet avoided seeking an urgent interdict as it lacked the necessary legal grounds. The agreements are now legally in force and cannot be stopped. Zulu says the Forum should have sought a review of the minister’s decision rather than a non-urgent interdict. He also challenges the Forum’s legal standing to bring its case before the court.

Interestingly, then acting CEO of Eskom Matshela Koko refused to sign off on the IPP agreements on the grounds these would bankrupt the company. He resigned early last year after being given a resign-or-be-fired ultimatum. In an article in The Daily Maverick last year, Koko outlines some of the background to the rush to renewables, driven at cabinet and departmental level.

‘No logical basis’
There was simply no logical basis for committing to renewable offtake agreements to the value of R56 billion when Eskom has 23% reserve capacity, sufficient to last the country until about 2025 before additional capacity is needed, said Koko.

The IPPs, also cited as respondents in the Forum’s court challenge, argue that the minister’s decision, with the backing of Nersa, is an administrative action that can only be set aside on review.

The 2003 White Paper on Renewable Energy committed the department to generating at least 10 000 gigawatt hours of energy from renewable sources by 2013. In 2009, at the Copenhagen Conference of the Parties (COP 15), former president Jacob Zuma committed to a 34% reduction in SA’s CO2 emissions by 2020, and below 42% by 2025. This renewable energy drive was supposed to create 300 000 ‘green’ jobs by 2020, though energy experts have blown holes in this claim. Nothing like this has been produced.

The department’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030, published in 2011, provides for a target of 17 800MW of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

There is an even bigger problem for the renewable energy independent power producers programme. The National Energy Regulator Act requires Nersa decisions to be in writing and to be based on reasons, facts and evidence. Most importantly, any Nersa decisions must be made available to the public.

No social or economic impact assessment appears to have been done prior to signing off on the IPP contracts. If such studies had been properly and independently done, some energy experts say that that many of these renewable projects would have been killed at conception.

The Forum’s court case will be heard in March.


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version


MEC Sello Lehari and the education department have no right to suspend her as she was appointed by the school and its governing body, she argues.

Laerskool Schweizer-Reneke teacher Elana Barkhuizen

NATIONAL NEWS - The teacher recently chastised for racially segregating grade R pupils at a school in Schweizer-Reneke in the North West did not have a hand in seating the children according to race as the pictured classroom was not hers, according to court papers.

In the court papers lodged by trade union Solidarity in the Labour Court, Elana Barkhuizen, who was suspended for taking photographs of the segregated children last week, said she was only supervising the class while their teacher, Elsabe Olivier, was with a parent.

The photograph of four black children seated in a corner away from the white pupils caused outrage across the country last week, leading to political parties protesting against racism at the school.

Barkhuizen was suspended for sending the image to parents.

Barkhuizen and Solidarity have filed an urgent application to get her “unlawful” suspension lifted and for her to be immediately reinstated.

In her version of events, Barkhuizen said she was not responsible for seating the children and was only supervising them because her class was next door. She said she took the photograph to send to parents who were enquiring about their children.

“I emphasised that the picture … was taken in another class and that I had no hand in allocating seating arrangements in that class. My explanation again came to naught.”

A parent of one of the black pupils had contacted Barkhuizen, outraged at the seating arrangements. She and Olivier reported this to the principal and the chairperson of the governing body, who supported the teachers, she said.

According to the court papers, MEC Sello Lehari and the education department had no right to suspend Barkhuizen as she was appointed by the school and its governing body.

North West education spokesperson Freddy Sepeng said earlier this week that the school and its governing body had decided to suspend Barkhuizen, and the MEC supported that.

On January 10, Barkhuizen got a call from the principal “informing me that after consulting with the MEC ‘they’ had decided to suspend me with full benefits with immediate effect… The MEC publicly announced that ‘he’ decided that I am suspended. I was not granted a hearing prior to my suspension.”

Olivier was not suspended.

Sepeng said the MEC was waiting for legal opinion.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version


Gold industry now employs less than a fifth of the number that used to power the apartheid economy.

The nation’s 130-year-old gold industry is locked in the final stages of a decades-long death spiral. Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg
BUSINESS NEWS - Back in 1987, President Cyril Ramaphosa - then a 34-year-old labour union leader - led 300 000 black miners in a strike that symbolised resistance to the apartheid regime.

Now, striking gold workers face a less politically charged battle, but one they can’t win.

The nation’s 130-year-old gold industry - which has produced half the bullion ever mined on Earth - is locked in the final stages of a decades-long death spiral.

Most of South Africa’s gold mines are unprofitable at current prices.

Dwindling output has cut gold’s contribution to little more than 1% of the South African economy, down from 3.8% in 1993 — the year before Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress won the country’s first democratic elections. While the industry’s demise won’t reverberate in the way it once would have, the mines minister has criticised Gold Fields’s plan to cut jobs as the ruling ANC seeks to shore up its base before elections next year.

Mines run by Gold Fields and Sibanye Gold have been halted by strikes over job cuts and wages respectively. Both producers cut their output projections for this year.

South Africa’s gold industry now employs just over 100 000 people, less than a fifth of the number that used to power the apartheid economy. The economic and social impact of a further contraction in the industry will be magnified as every gold miner supports between five and 10 dependents, while creating two jobs elsewhere, according to the country’s Minerals Council.

Higher wages and power prices, combined with the geological challenges of the world’s deepest mines, will mean more job losses and less production in the country over the next five years, said Gold Fields chief executive officer Nick Holland.

“When you work out the math, when you keep doing that year after year, you are going to go out of business very quickly,” Holland said in an interview. “The industry will just continue to see a slow death.”

Sibanye, the country’s biggest producer, faces wage strikes at three of its mines. CEO Neal Froneman acknowledges that pressure is building on the miner to resolve its safety problems after more than 20 fatalities this year. If that can be done, he’s optimistic that South Africa’s gold mines can survive a little longer.

“It’s an industry in decline, yes, and if sunset means the sun setting in 10 years or 15 years, that’s still 10 or 15 years away,” he said in an interview last month. “There is still money to be made.’’


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version



Panel supports land expropriation plans

Some opposition parties say panel didn’t follow proper process.


BUSINESS NEWS - A panel of South African lawmakers resolved that the constitution needs to be changed to make it easier to seize land without paying for it, the latest twist in a divisive debate over how to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to apartheid and colonial rule.

The ANC used its majority in Parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee to force through the adoption of a report Thursday that recommends that the wording of section 25 of the constitution be changed to explicitly allow for expropriation without compensation.

The decision was backed by the populist Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-largest party, and the United Democratic Movement.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition, and several other smaller parties complained that the panel didn’t follow proper procedure because it largely ignored more that 400,000 written submissions from the public on the issue.

While the National Assembly’s approval of the report is seen as a formality, it is likely to be challenged in court. The South African Institute of Race Relations, a Johannesburg-based research institution, on Wednesday said it has briefed its lawyers about the procedural flaws with a view to seeking a judicial review of the parliamentary process.

If the process isn’t derailed by lawsuits, another lawmakers’ panel will draw up revised constitutional provisions that deal with property rights, which could take several months.

Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version


- GENERAL NEWSIn a damning judgment slamming the rugby legend’s widow, Amor was described as lacking in compassion in trying to overturn his most recent will.

Amor Vittone inherits only a TV from Joost, judge rules

Joost van der Westhuizen and his estranged wife Amor Vittone during happier times.

NATIONAL NEWS - A high court judge in Pretoria has lashed singer Amor Vittone’s denial that her late husband, rugby legend Joost van der Westhuizen, was no longer able to hold a pen when he drew up a new will as “scandalous” and her conduct towards him as “lacking respect and compassion”.

Judge Hans Fabricius yesterday granted an order to Joost’s brother Pieter and attorney Ferdinand Hartzenberg, declaring his 2015 will to be valid and reflecting his last wishes. The master of the high court was instructed to accept the will and appoint Pieter as the executor of his brother’s estate.

Amor was also ordered to the pay the legal costs relating to the application.

In terms of the will Amor inherits only a television set while the bulk of Joost’s estate is left in trust to his children, aged 13 and 11. The will also makes it clear that Amor may not get any direct benefit from the trust and that Joost wanted his children to maintain a good relationship with his parents and brothers.

Amor opposed the application, claiming a 2009 joint will in which she was Joost’s only heir was the only valid will as he had not signed his 2015 will. She claimed he was still able to hold objects in 2015 and would have been able to sign his will and questioned his mental capacity.

Joost died of motor neuron disease in February 2017, but Hartzenberg said his condition had deteriorated to such an extent by 2015 that he could not hold a pen, although there was nothing wrong with his mental abilities and he could still communicate using modern technology and his eye movements.

Judge Fabricius said there was a whole history leading up to the new will, including Joost’s physical and mental condition, which indicated that he knew exactly what he wanted and why. It was strange that Amor, who was Joost’s wife for many years, would not have been able to say how his condition progressed.

He said there was enough evidence that Joost was unable to even hold a trophy presented to him in 2015 and Amor’s denial that he could not hold a pen was “scandalous, to put it lightly”.

As for his mental condition, Amor said nothing about what she observed. She also said nothing about allegations that she had threatened to change the children’s surnames and keep them away from Joost if she was not declared the heir of the entire estate or about Joost setting up a trust because of her undisciplined spending.

The judge remarked that this was not the way to treat someone you once were in love with, or how you should treat your children.

He said it was probably best to say as little as possible about Amor’s affidavit because of issues relating to respect and compassion, adding that he would have expected more than a denial of Joost’s physical and mental condition, which was no defence.

Amor in court papers blamed their break-up on a video allegedly depicting him having sex with another woman, but Hartzenberg said the video was irrelevant and only showed Joost “interacting” with the woman. He said Joost had often complained to him about Amor’s extramarital affairs and was so concerned that there would be nothing left for the children because of her spending habits that he set up the J9 Trust to ensure the children’s finances were properly managed.

He said Joost wanted to go ahead with their divorce in 2015, but kept it back after her father asked him to do so because she did not want negative publicity before the launch of her new CD. His condition deteriorated so badly thereafter that he was no longer able to proceed with the divorce.


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version



PROPERTY NEWS - For most South Africans, money is tighter than those jeans you bought just before the winter season started. On the bright side, thanks to the ever-rising fuel costs and a weak economy, you could probably still manage to squeeze that near-empty wallet into the pocket of those jeans.

"Our current economy has restricted the cash flow of most consumers. Many homeowners are searching for ways to cut back on their expenses. One trick they could try is to request that their bank reduce the interest rate on their home loan. However, only a few banks would be willing to provide this service and will only grant it provided that the debtor has shown an impeccable payment record. It is a bit of a long shot, but if you are successful, you stand the chance to save thousands," says regional director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa, Adrian Goslett.

The writer of the personal finance blog Stealthy Wealth gives a practical example. The original interest rate on his home loan was 0,05% below prime, and his instalments were around R9 219 a month with roughly R925 000 left to pay off over the next 18 years (216 months). He then had his interest rate reduced to 0,3% below prime, changing his instalment amount to R9 071 per month, saving him R148 each month and a total of R31 968 by the end of the loan term.

"During tight financial periods, this monthly saving can offer some much-needed relief for households. This is why it is so vital to keep up with payments - even more so when times are good. During seasons when they have cash to spare, I would advise homeowners to direct this money into their bond repayments. Not only will this shorten their lending term, but should they ever need to lower their instalments at a later stage, they will also stand a better chance of being able to do so," says Goslett.

According to Mary Lindemann, COO of BetterBond, not all banks will consider reducing your interest rate just because you ask. "Some banks regard your home loan agreement as a legal contract where the rate has been agreed on for a certain term. Other banks do consider relooking at the rate, based on the risk - i.e. the current loan to value (LTV) of the mortgage bond. Some banks will consider the request in an attempt to retain their customer and it will be referred to a special team called a retentions unit to consider."

Goslett adds, "In order to apply for a lower instalment rate, you would need to submit a formal request to your bank stating how well you have kept up with your payments and requesting that they re-evaluate the interest rate based on the fact that you've proven to be a low-risk client."

If this does not work, it might be worth exploring which rates you could receive at other financial institutions to use as leverage for your negotiations.

"Originators such as BetterBond do not assist with switching home loans, so you would have to do this research yourself. After reviewing all your quotes, if you do decide to change your home loan from one financial institution to another that offers you a better rate, you need to consider the various ad hoc costs this move would incur and weigh this amount up against how much you will end up saving by the end of the loan term at your new financial institution".


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

Eden skiet in kol aan Weskus


Junior voue is van links Zelda Delport, Janine Nigrini, Anita Butler, Junita van Zyl en Ashley Butler.

SUID-KAAP NUUS - Jacques du Plooy (manswenner), Junita van Zyl (vroue - derde) en Leras van Zyl (junior - derde) is drie Eden-skietkampioene wat tydens die afgelope Wes-Kaapse inter-distrikte-skietkampioenskappe presteer het.

Die kampioenskappe tussen Eden, Kaapstad, Westelike Provinsie en Wynland is die naweek van 19-21 Oktober aan die Weskus afgehandel.

161 skuts het aan die kampioenskappe deelgeneem.

Die kompetisie wat strek oor drie bene tussen die mans-, vroue- en junior spanne van die onderskeie distrikte is deur die loop van 2018 te George, Montagu en laastens Yzerfontein beslis tussen die onderskeie spanne.

Edenjaggeweerskiet in samerwerking met die Eden-sportraad se volgehoue ondersteuning in junior en vroue-ontwikkeling van dié skietsport is weer in 2018 beloon deurdat Eden se vroue- en junior span die reeks as oorwinnaars afgesluit het, met Eden mans in die tweede plek.

Die reeks skep die geleentheid vir kompeterende skuts om amptelike erkenning te kry en word die skut se harde werk en tyd wat ingesit is deur die jaar met provinsiale kleure beloon. Daar is tans sewe van Edenjaggeweerskiet se lede in die nasionale top 50-ranglys, wat insluit een vrou en twee juniors.

Manswenners is van links Freek Zeelie, Niaan Fourie, Christo Delport, Jacques du Plooy en Fanie van Staden.


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version



Fire at Great Brak shops

The fire in Long Street.

GREAT BRAK RIVER NEWS - Several shops lining Long Street in Great Brak River were ablaze earlier today.

According to an eyewitness, the fire started at around 12:00.

Fire and rescue arrived minutes later and are still at the scene.

According to an eyewitness at the scene, the fire seems to have been contained.


Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version

South Africa’s Zulu nation joins white farmers in fight against government land seizures


The largest ethnic group in South Africa, Zulu, has spoken out against the expropriation of land without compensation in the country. Zulu is ready to cooperate with the country's white farmers, known as Afrikaners or Boers.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has said the group will cooperate with South African minority rights group AfriForum.

“The Zulu nation I’m talking about will not exist if we don’t have food. That’s why I say farmers must come closer so that we discuss what we can do when we talk about agriculture and the availability of enough food in the land. That’s why I’m asking AfriForum of the Boers to come and help us,” Zwelithini said, as quoted by eNews Channel Africa.

“Because when government started talking about the appropriation of land, expropriation without compensation, Boers downed tools. There is no food in South Africa,” he added.

© Dimitri Otis‘We will take the land by force’

South Africa’s land crisis may explode into racial violence
Zulu people are the largest ethnic group in South Africa, with an estimated 10-12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The group accounts for more than a fifth of the country’s population and its opinion is important in the context of the general elections next year.

“Anyone who wants to be voted for and elected by us, I’m going to talk now, anyone who wants to be elected by us must come and kneel here and commit that I will never touch your land,” the Zulu King said.

While kings have no official power in modern South Africa, they still have the loyalty of millions of people and are recognized in the constitution as traditional leaders.

The land expropriation program run by President Cyril Ramaphosa is designed to redistribute land to poor black people to tackle severe inequality 24 years after the end of apartheid. It mostly involves lands owned by Boers, whites primarily of Dutch descent. However, the program has aroused discontent among the Zulus, too.

The Zulu King said he is waiting for a meeting with the president. “He (Ramaphosa) must come here... and say it, write it down in an agreement and sign off that the land of the Zulus will not be touched,” Zwelithini said.
Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version


Teacher stress and safety challenges

Debbie Schäfer.

WESTERN CAPE NEWS - Debbie Schäfer, Western Cape Minister of Education, joined thousands of teachers in the province on Friday 5 October to celebrate World Teachers' Day.

With the recent flare-up of attacks on teachers across the country, it is important that Government has programmes in place that provide psycho-social support to all teachers in need, said Schäfer. "We are aware that a number of our teachers are faced with increased disciplinary challenges in their classrooms."

World Teachers' Day represents an effort to raise awareness, understanding and appreciation for the vital contribution teachers make to education and development across the world.

The Western Cape's theme this year is "The Year of Value-Driven learning". The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) has also adopted a mindset change programme, which aims to help individuals make the shift from adopting negative attitudes to positive approaches instead.

Through the Employee Health and Wellness programme (EWP), the WCED aims to address teacher stress and safety challenges.

This includes:

Profiling schools in gang and violent areas (which commenced at the start of 2017) and offering EWP services.
An agreement with the EWP service provider to make contact with schools in gang and violent areas and advocate services and support. The service provider will also make contact with schools where incidences of violence, trauma and gangsterism are reported.
For 2019, an agreement was forged in the Provincial Education Labour Relations Council (Perc) to focus specifically on teachers in schools at risk and provide psycho-social support and training interventions.
During the period 1 April 2017 to 31 March 2018, 30 group trauma debriefing sessions took place at schools across the province, benefiting approximately 471 teachers.

Incidents supported during group trauma debriefing sessions are: loss of learners, loss of teachers, hijacking, stabbing, violence, armed robbery and gang violence.

The top psycho-social issues presenting in teachers accessing the EWP services are:

Relationship issues (personal);
Organisational issues (work relations, performance management);
Mental illness / psychiatric problems;
Schäfer stressed that the department requires the assistance of parents and community members. "They too have a crucial role to play. Parents need to take primary responsibility for their children's discipline and values and also need to set the right example of how one should behave.

Parents must also be made aware that if their children do choose to behave inappropriately towards a teacher, their children's actions will have severe negative consequences," said the MEC.

"We do not want to see learners' futures jeopardised through such unnecessary and unacceptable actions and we trust that this will serve as a caution. Our teachers are our most important resource, not just for the WCED, but for the country as a whole. They are valued professionals and should be given the respect that they deserve."

Schäfer wished all the teachers a happy World Teachers' Day and extended a big "thank you" for what they do.
First | Previous | 1 23| Next | Last