Public Protector Advocate Busisiwe Mkhwebane has refuted claims that the State Security Agency had instructed her to grant a 2017 order, which directed Parliament to amend the Constitution and change the mandate of the Reserve Bank.
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Johannesburg – Former Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe has broken his silence on the electricity crisis, saying the power utility needed to deal with systematic problems, increase the energy availability factor of its power plants, maintain them regularly and stop witch-hunts and diversion tactics.
In a wide-ranging interview with Sunday Independent at Irene in Tshwane on Wednesday, Molefe urged the Ramaphosa administration to run Eskom’s power plants by the book, focus on planned maintenance and dump ideological and “politically correct” decisions on the inclusion of renewable energy independent power producers (IPPs) into the national grid.
The former Transnet boss, who is credited with ending load shedding in 2016, said President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and the Eskom board must also stop obsessing with IPPs “that are not there when you need them during load shedding”.
This came after Eskom implemented Stage 6 rotational power cuts this week, hobbling the economy and causing job losses, especially in the mining sector. It cited wet coal as the reason for the rolling blackout.
In a week of drama, Ramaphosa cut short his visit to Egypt to attend to the Eskom crisis.
After meeting his deputy, David Mabuza, as well as Gordhan, Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza, and its board and management, Ramaphosa blamed “sabotage” at Tutuka power station near Standerton in Mpumalanga.
He said he had “instructed that the sabotage be investigated and they must immediately work with the SAPS and our intelligence services to find out exactly how anyone within Eskom could have disconnected the instrument that led to the loss of 2000 megawatts”.
Mabuza used his address at the SACP’s special congress this week to “apologise to the public for the inconvenience” caused by load shedding.
However, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) rejected Ramaphosa’s sabotage claim, saying the government was using load shedding to push for more IPPs because each boiler at Tutuka produced 600MW of electricity compared with the alleged 2000MW lost capacity.
Molefe said the implementation of Stage 6 load shedding took him by surprise, because “we have installed capacity of about 46 000MW” at Eskom’s 16 power plants.
“Demand on a typical day is about 26000MW, and Eskom reported that they had about 12500MW out on unplanned maintenance, which means breakdowns. That’s very big, where we expect unplanned outages to be limited to about 4000 and to have a portion of the fleet out on planned maintenance,” said Molefe, whose decisions to end load shedding included firing then Eskom consultant Mike Rossouw.
“At the moment, there is no planned maintenance. Everything is broken. Everything that is being fixed is broken without being maintained. It’s a big problem. The energy availability factor, I think it’s about 65% and that is why we have load shedding.”
He said the solution to the crisis lay in the energy availability factor of its power plants, which is the amount of time that they are able to produce electricity over a certain period, divided by the amount of time in the period.
Insisting that the energy availability factor (EAF) needed to be increased from 65 to 85%, Molefe said rolling blackouts would be something of the past if that were to be done.
“We will not have load shedding if EAF is at 85%. However, EAF is a function of operations. You know people complain that our power stations are very old and they break down.
“In Cuba, those people are still running cars that were left there in 1959 after the revolutions. How do they do it? Maintenance. They maintain them, they fix them and get them running.
“A 35-year-old power station should not be a problem. What we should do is run them according to the book as well as maintain them. It’s an operational issue.”
He said management priorities should also be reviewed. “So if the priority is focusing on, for example, signing renewables that are not there when you need them during load shedding, deploying renewables that are not practically useful to deal with this problem, then you have a problem.
“What are the priorities at the moment? It would appear that renewables have been prioritised over everything else, even EAF and maintenance. They are every expensive. The cheapest form of energy is nuclear and we are not even prioritising it,” Molefe insisted.
The former Public Investment Corporation chief said he would consider assisting Eskom if requested because the situation was similar to what he found when he joined the power utility in 2015.
“With those two units of Tutuka out, they won’t cause load shedding if there was somebody who pulled the plug. That’s not the issue. The issue is systemic. It’s not an isolated issue of somebody pulling the plug. But to focus on the real issues, we need to be sober-minded, we need to be genuinely interested in a solution,” said Molefe.
“As a South African I am concerned, as a patriot I am concerned, and if there is any assistance I can offer, I would like to offer it now. I would consider it to solve the problem. If there was no problem, I wouldn’t go back. But now that there is this problem, what is sometimes called the death spiral approaching Eskom, I am prepared to consider it, just to stop that and maybe leave after that.”
Molefe said that while it was “not a time for grandstanding”, he felt “from the bottom of my heart” that he really needed to “extend the hand and offer to assist if assistance is required”.
“I think we should put our differences aside, if there are any differences. I think we should put aside all these kangaroo accusations and look at the problem that is there,” he added.
He dismissed Ramaphosa’s sabotage claims, saying they were a diversion tactic similar to the one applied by former public enterprises minister Alec Erwin when the Thabo Mbeki government first experienced load shedding in 2008.
“It is a mistake that is being done right now to also start casting aspersions, to also start making people feel like you are about to start another kangaroo court, another witch-hunt and say ‘somebody did this’.”
Molefe said while IPPs worked, their inability to store the energy created was a problem.
“They generate electricity but it cannot be stored. Until the technology to store the electricity has been found in the way that you can store cost-effectively and effectively store the energy so that when you need it, when you load shed at 3am as we have been experiencing now, you can switch on the battery and use solar energy in the middle of the night. That is not available. At the moment solar is not available just after sunset. Wind is available when the wind is blowing.”
Molefe said three years after he was forced out of Eskom on accusations of enabling state capture by the Gupta family, he has not been charged nor taken to court. He said while he knew the Gupta brothers, they never instructed him to do anything and neither did he “do any business transaction with them”.
He said he worked with the Gupta family as Eskom service providers in terms of contracts signed before he joined the power utility.
“There is a tactic in our body politic at the moment of starting a witch-hunt, just sowing the seeds for a witch-hunt, then getting the media to follow through and conduct kangaroo courts with very disturbing narratives that are never sustained in a fair process of a judicial process or a court of law,” he said.
“I was never in their pocket.”
Molefe said state capture was also a “political slogan” used by the Ramaphosa faction to get rid of opponents.
“The only reason they got into power is because they cried wolf in the form of state capture. At the moment there is a commission of inquiry that is trying to find out whether there was state capture, and yet people are proceeding and talking as if there was indeed state capture.
“Pravin Gordhan’s only reason for load shedding is because of state capture. In fact, Mr Gordhan’s reason for anything is state capture.”
Gordhan’s spokesperson Sam Mkokeli failed to respond to the questions sent.
Molefe also blamed former public protector Thuli Madonsela for his departure from Eskom.
“She violated the rules of natural justice. It was not an innocent mistake, because she acknowledges that the investigation was not finished. However, instead of allowing the office of the public protector to continue with the investigation, she rushed to finish it, impugning on my dignity. It is a political reason that ‘I don’t want the next public protector to do it’.
“Why? Because I have got political differences with her, or because the next public protector is not in the same political camp that I support.
“What does politics have to do with it?” he asked.
Johannesburg – EFF leader Julius Malema has slammed some of the party’s security personnel for the chaotic and violent scenes that marred the party’s national elective conference on Saturday evening where some members were pepper sprayed.
Some of the delegates had to be sent to hospital after the scuffle.
Malema was speaking on Sunday morning as delegates returned to plenary to continue with the discussion of the organisational and finance report.
Malema condemned the behaviour from its paramilitary wing, known as Defenders of the Revolution, as unacceptable which was allegedly led by its leader, known as “The General”.
“I am told that there was a rascal who discharged on innocent delegates who were queuing to get their meal and proceed to their respective hotels. We had given clear instructions to both our security and the SA Police Service to behave in a manner that will show respect delegates, our guests and the media,” Malema said.
“This guy who discharged the pepper spray, when we came from the press conference, I could see that he was somehow agitated and he was looking for trouble. I even said to the former national chairperson (Dali Mpofu) that this guy is going to be the problem because he was even driving a golf cart recklessly around the entrance and hiding his face,” he said.
He said the EFF conference was above board and that he did not know why he had hid his face, adding that “The General” had been fired.
“Whatever happened yesterday has got no blessings of our leadership and as a result we have released that comrade. We have further given instructions that we don’t want to see him anywhere close to the activities of the EFF because he has got no respect for our delegates,” Malema said.
Malema apologised on behalf of the party’s top brass to delegates, before allowing plenary to continue deliberations on the tabled reports.
Humanitarian group, Gift of the Givers says South African photojournalist Shiraaz Mohamed is now a free man. The organisation says he escaped from captivity in Syria with the help of people who knew about his kidnapping.
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Johannesburg – The four women delagates who were rushed to hospital after being pepper sprayed by security at the EFF elective conference just before midnight. evening were discharged from hospital on Sunday morning.
An altercation broke out after delegates had a confrontation at the dining hall with the EFF para-military security unit, popularly known as the "Defenders of the Revolution (DOR)".
One of the delegates who declined to be named said things got tense after the people in the food line became rowdy and were soon after pepper sprayed by security personnel.
Paramedics were rushed to the scene.
"They always terrorize us at events. Can you imagine being attacked for food. We were literally standing in the line and people to more pushing, next thing they started spraying us with pepper spray and some of the people who were attacked are pregnant and asthmatic." said the delegate.
The party’s spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi told journalists that the perpetrator is a man whose face is always covered with a balaclava but is known to the EFF as "The General". He added that the man in question has since been expelled.
"Their explanation is that he wasn’t pepper spraying people. It was an accident it fell on the floor and exploded but we don’t believe him. We took them to Baragwanath because some were asthmatic and some are pregnant. By 6am they were back at their accommodation. Everything is under control," said Ndlozi.
DURBAN – Portio Dlamini, the founder and managing director Emakheni Cleaning and Industrial Solutions, says she intends to grow her company nationally.
Emakheni recently become the first beneficiary of the Business Accelerator to receive preferential financing and was awarded R1.5 million to grow their scale and expand the scope of her industrial cleaning operations.
The Impendle born and raised Dlamini, a qualified process engineer with more than 10 years experience, says she plans to use this opportunity to provide sustainable solutions for the treatment of liquid and hazardous waste.
The Business Accelerator programme came about when three local firms became aware of the significant challenges facing small businesses and took the responsibility to support, transform and develop them. The three chemicals manufacturers, Ferro Coating Resins, Ferro Dispersions and NCS Resins partnered with the Durban Chemicals Cluster (DCC) to develop a to fast-track small business’ success.
Dlamini says she would have never been able to breakthrough into the market without the entrepreneurial support.
The six-year-old business services the industrial and commercial sectors with cleaning and hygiene. “We provide tailor-made solutions to ensure clients take care of their core activities while Emakheni takes care of their non-core ones of hygiene,” saysDlamini.
Dlamini describes her company’s journey as having been intense and challenging as her business almost failed in its first three years.
“There are high barriers to entry as there are a lot of players in the industry doing the same thing. I had to go back to the drawing board on market research and the type of clientele we needed to sell too.”
The engineer says doors began opening for her company in the manufacturing sector. Her understanding of business has also improved because she was at the point where she had to make a decision whether she went back to work or continued with the business.
Dlamini says that she had never been exposed to running a business as she was mainly based in a factory, focusing on engineering and the production side. Taking a step of faith in business without understanding how it operated was a big risk.
“I thought I understood, but when I stepped out I began to realise that it was far from what I understood.”
In 2013 she embarked on programmes that honed her business running skills. There she learnt how to be an entrepreneur and how to run a profitable and sustainable business.
This helped Dlamini a lot in getting understanding on how as business is operated, how to sell, how to run different functions.
Enterprise Supplier Development(ESD) Programmes, which gave Dlamini an understanding how to run a business, included the Raizcorp ESD Programme founded by Allon Raiz funded by Engen, the Transnet ESD Programme through the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sekela ESD Programme by SA Homeloans.
Emakheni has spent the past 12 months setting up proper business systems that can service the private and public sectors.
Dlamini says: “That positions us so that when we get bigger contracts we will be able to services effectively. It will also ensure we are able to attract investors and funding when we have proper systems in place and sound financials.”
Dlamini says they are also starting to penetrate a new market, which they will be able to service through this funding. She plans to procure equipment to do high pressure cleaning and provide waste management solutions with liquid and hazardous waste.
Emakheni has been offering basic cleaning and hygiene, factory cleaning, garden maintenance, but such basic services will now go towards the industrial sector.
Specialised services will be mainly required by factories and industries to have their vessels and tanks cleansed, which required higher safety compliance.
Part of that specialised cleaning requires waste treatment that will require Dlamini’s chemical engineering expertise. She will work with other companies to bring waste management solutions as there is a high drive towards environmental management.
In the long-term, she wants to empower cleaners beyond the cleaning industry so that they will not remain cleaners for all their lives. Dlamini a later stage plans to run cleaner empowerment initiatives.
Police say their forensic teams and detectives are still busy with investigations.
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ITV Choice (DStv 123) has a line-up of Christmas specials this festive season with something for every member of the family to enjoy – from drama and comedy, to game shows and heartwarming stories. Make a date with your TV for these festive feasts.
"Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas"
Days before Christmas in Edwardian-era Toronto, Detective William Murdoch is called in to investigate a daring train robbery, while Dr. Julia Ogden tries to help two orphans who mistake her for a fairy-tale heroine. (Wednesday, December 18 at 8pm)
"What Would Your Kid Do Christmas Special
This special of the much- loved entertainment show, challenges parents to guess how their children will behave in a variety of situations. The show is full of laughs and heart-warming moments that will entertain and inform in equal measure. (Friday, December 20 at 10pm)
"Tipping Point: Lucky Stars Christmas Special"
A popular quiz show where three celebrities take on an extraordinary machine in the hope of winning £20,000 for charity. (Monday, December 23 at 7:05pm)
"Cannonball Christmas Special"
See Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff host a festive edition of the action-packed game show, in which 24 contestants are tasked with traversing four of the series’ most fearsome water-based challenges and custom-made inflatable obstacles. (Monday, December 23 at 10pm)
"The Chase: The Bloopers"
Two specials will reveal all the slip-ups and mistakes made during the filming of The Chase episodes. They were all edited out of previous episodes, but now they have been compiled into two hour-long installments to make us all laugh out loud. (Tuesday, December 24 at 5:40pm and Wednesday, December 25 at 6:10pm)
"Paul O’Grady: For the Love of Dogs at Christmas"
In this special episode to spread the festive joy around the home, Paul enlists the help of a Bichon Frise called Harlow to act as the dogs’ resident therapy dog. (Tuesday, December 24 at 7:30pm)
"Murdoch Mysteries S11 Christmas Special"
William and Julia travel to Victoria to spend the holidays with Murdoch’s brother, Jasper. Once there, they are called upon to solve an archaeologist’s murder and become embroiled in a land dispute between the indigenous Songhees and Haida peoples. (Wednesday, December 25 at 8pm)
"Rich House, Poor House Christmas Special"
A strapped-for-cash single mother and a millionaire family swap homes for a Christmas that they neither will ever forget. (Thursday, December 26 at 8pm)
INTERNATIONAL – Another party drug is showing signs of going legit as magic mushrooms cleared the first hurdle of tests required to become a treatment for depression.
The active ingredient in the mushrooms, psilocybin, was found to be safe and well tolerated when given to healthy volunteers in a study by researchers at King’s College London. Unsurprisingly, the subjects got high.
Companies and researchers have been investigating the medical and commercial potential of recreational drugs like marijuana.
Closely held Compass Pathways is working to bring to market a version of psilocybin for depression that resists other treatments.
The company sponsored the trial, which according to organizers was the largest controlled study of the chemical to date.
“Changes in sensory perception and positive mood alteration” were among the most frequent reactions doctors noted in the trial, Compass said in a statement.
Psilocybin is drawing researchers’ attention as a potential treatment for more than just depression. Scientists are seeking to enlist patients to test the chemical for ailments including Alzheimer’s disease, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder and migraines.
China has suspended additional tariffs on some US goods that were meant to be implemented on December 15, the State Council’s customs tariff commission said on Sunday.
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Traditional Affairs MEC in the Eastern Cape Xolile Nqatha has attributed the deaths of initiates in the province to commercialisation of the custom.
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Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams has called on communities to protect and stop the abuse of vulnerable women and children.
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A man who was arrested at the OR Tambo International Airport, east of Johannesburg, with heroin worth R3 million is expected to appear in court on Tuesday.
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Minister of Land Reform Thoko Didiza is expected to submit a framework plan, which includes a detailed layout of the redevelopment of District Six, to the Land Claims Court on Tuesday.
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Sundowns lived up to expectations and came from a goal down to claim victory over Maritzburg United, who were looking to add their name for the very first time in the Telkom Knockout.
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A woman, who allegedly killed her son and two of his friends with poison, is expected to appear in the Aliwal North Magistrate’s Court, in the Eastern Cape, on Tuesday.
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