Gerald Potash,

Hello again,

Again this week’s news is still mostly about our electricity supply……or more accurately, lack thereof. We are all hoping that with winter coming soon things will start improving but while Gwede Mantashe as Minister of Mineral Affairs and Energy is steering the ship can things get better?  What several columnists are suggesting is that the useless Mantashe be given marching orders and someone with knowledge should get to head-up that portfolio but that’s unlikely to happen. Mantashe is a Ramaphosa loyalist and it’s a case of you look after my back and I’ll look after yours. What is clear from where we are with our electricity supply, and from their mutterings, is that neither Gwede nor Cyril have a clue about how to fix the problem.

In last week’s Financial Mail the political writer, Justice Malala wrote a damning article on that windbag, Gwede Mantashe the man who has just been elected national chairman of the ANC and whom Malala labelled an utter utter failure. In the four years he has been minister of mineral resources and energy Mantashe has failed to deliver a single new megawatt of energy for the grid. 

Paul Hoffman of Accountability Now labelled Mantashe a constitutional delinquent. And William Sandeson-Meyer points out that the rot is so deep at Eskom that the best we can hope for is more competent crooks, parasites that don’t kill the host!

SA can expect to have these rolling black outs for the next two years at the very least and it is a well known fact that Andre de Ruyter is leaving Eskom because of Mantashe. The Wall Street Journal –thanks Mervyn –adds that Eskom’s departing chief writes what we know and that is that criminal networks thwarted his fight against rolling blackout throughout his time at Eskom. Mantashe and the whole country knows that……. but Mantashe called de Ruyter a traitor to the State.

De Ruyter said Eskom is paying for the sins of past executives (and the Guptas….but he didn’t say that.) This was Zapiro’s take on Mantashe earlier this week:

Ramaphosa was totally out of place to suggest on Monday at the Free State ANC elective conference that the 18.65% electricity tariff increase awarded by Nersa should be suspended. There are legal routes to follow to suspend or change Nersa’s pricing decisions and pandering to the public in front of the press is not one of them.

More and more flack for Cyril. In the meanwhile he still has not made one cabinet change and things are just continuing in SA as always…….mostly in the dark. 

Today’s Business Day reports on its front page that the ANC has lost a great deal of support and at its most recent poll less than 40% of the polled registered voters will vote for the Party at the next election. This is how Zapiro sees Mantashe, from Daily Maverick early this week:

The Free State elective conference delivered a sharp blow to Ace Magashule. Ace ran the show in that province powerfully for almost 20 years but now is facing serious criminal charges. Mxolisi Dukwana, once fired from Magashula’s cabinet now takes over the reigns as Premier and he is fully behind Cyril.  These two political heavyweights don’t get on well together and you can expect explosions.

This story WILL run.

Dukwana has work to do. Not one of the Free State municipalities received a clean audit.

On Monday the Russian foreign minister was here for bilateral talks. In about a fortnight’s time Russia and China will be joining our navy (one active ship) for military manoeuvres in our waters off the East coast. One wonders whether Naledi Pandor (our Foreign Minister) asked Comrade Sergei Lavrov (Russian Foreign Minister) to explain the crimes against humanity that Russia has been committing against Ukrainians in the on-going war in that country.

It truly does look as if SA is flirting with pariahs.  

And the West will not like the fact that SA comes begging for funds to help with its power woes while pandering to Russia.

Peter, a friend of ours and a travel agent wrote to me yesterday telling me that an extensive tour he was working on has been cancelled because the Australians are not prepared to support a government in bed with Russia. He believes that Australia will impose a boycott on SA (I have seen the letter). Australia is supporting Ukraine with millions of dollars in the form of military equipment and these loyal Aussies are not prepared to support this country which is so in bed with Russia. 

The Financial Mail also has an interesting article on Semigration and how Cape Town is benefitting from the steady inflow of new residents. The arrival of  new property buyers is reflected in the local property market outperforming all the other provinces. Cape Town has much to offer and one of the biggest features is the clean audits that the local governing DA achieves every year. What a difference to all the cities and provinces run by the ANC where lack of accountability unfortunately equates to a lack of service delivery.  There everything from filthy streets and continuing lack of water gets added to the dismal state of electricity and so those who can afford it make the move to the Cape.

Cape Town has also made news being the first city to be granted permission to buy electricity from private businesses and homes with excess power and without the bureaucracy that goes with any dealings with the Treasury.

I’m not sure that this is a big dent into the power crisis yet, but it is a start.

Whilst on Cape Town; the mayor, Geordin Hill-Lewis has accused the President and the ANC of ignoring the request for our city to manage its local passenger rail service. When you consider who the Min of Transport is, Fikile Mbalula (Mr Fix Fokol, as he is known) then you will hardly be surprised that almost a year has passed and still there has been no response to Hill-Lewis’ request despite reminders.

The matric results were a very big story of the week. Our Minister of Basic Education was very upbeat about the wonderful results achieved this year with a 80.1% pass rate. But, as many have pointed out to her the results are dismal and disappointing when the huge amount of drop-outs are taken into the reckoning. According to the DA the correct pass mark is just a little over 50% because almost half of public school learners drop out well before they get to their final year. What actually makes these results even worse than they are is how the pass-mark has been lowered for each subject to “allow” school levers to achieve their certificate. With a subject pass mark of just 30% what good is that matric certificate?

In private schools 98.1% of the students passed. This again confirms only too clearly that South Africa remains a divided country where those who can afford it buy quality lives, while the poor remain at the mercy of the state’s many failings.

At last a ‘State Capture’ trail has begun. Hooray! 

The multi-million Rand (R24.5 m) fraud and money laundering case which is connected to the Guptas started in Mangaung (Bloemfontein) on Monday.  The State alleges that the 18 accused charged the Free State R24.5 m for what they paid Deloittes R1.5 million to do. This matter is directly connected to the Vrede Dairy Farm case where Ace Magashule, the Guptas and others are charged with allegedly benefitting by about R280 million. 

The case against Magashule, the former Sec-Gen of the ANC and before that the Premier of the Free State is going to be very interesting. Ace and 17 others charged with him appeared briefly in court on Thursday. The case has been remanded.

Ace has said that he has a recording of some ANC big-shots conniving against him and he will release that tape when the matter comes to court.

This could be very interesting!    Watch this space. 

The University of Cape Town seems to be in the news every week. It says it will do everything possible to prevent a threatened strike by academic staff.  For the first time ever academic staff are planning a strike at the beginning of the academic year due to wage demands – its members want a 6% increase to go with the inflation figures while the univesity is only offering 3%. 

The usual suspects met for lunch yesterday at the behest of Dennis, that character of note. Only Robin, Paul and I joined Dennis but the conversion was lively and one of the matters raised was the tricky problem of who will want to take De Ruyters’ job as head of Eskom. Paul tells me that several other top level managers are leaving our power supplier and he believes that problems are not going to ease any time soon. To quote Paul, “ who in his right mind would want De Ruter’s job?” Paul also told me about an article in the Citizen that I missed and here I quote “CEO André de Ruyter says the general manager of Tutuka Power Station in Mpumalanga continues to wear a bulletproof vest at work and has bodyguards protecting him and his family, reports The Citizen.

Would you want to work at Eskom?

The coach has had an op and my mate on the couch has been missing for a week or so. The Stormers won on the weekend and have now, with the other SA franchises have  qualified for the last 16 of the European competition. Ourl fellows are playing good rugby.  But rugby is becoming boring with too much crash/bang and there are simply too many reset scrums.

Spurs played on Monday night and I was up until after midnight watching that Premiership encounter. Spurs won, but knives are out for Antonio Conte, the manager, and it seems there are serious changes in the air for the club which could even affect the chairman.

As always,



I am a huge fan of RW Johnson as most of you who follow this newsletter know. Dominique knows that too and offered me her “interview” with RW. It is fascinating and you get to read RW’s take on SA over a meal.

You can enjoy her piece by clicking on this link:

Email:     Phone: +27 82 557 5775
Forward to a friend