Gerald Potash

Hello again,

There were two enormous concessions made by the Government this week (actually Thursday and Friday last week). Those concessions were the allowing of privately sourced electricity and the selling off of a majority stake in SAA to private enterprise. Both concessions are understandable since both SOEs have been run so poorly and are costing so much money that there simply was no other way than for the State to give up control. 

SAA will be run by a consortium with a majority stake and they are putting in R3.5 billion, while the government will retain 49%, but it will need a hellofalot more money than that to get the airline up and running properly again. The consortium’s idea is to go to the stock exchange to help raise the extra funds needed but with the COVID downturn affecting travel and new airlines offering really cheap flights in these tough times, I’m not likely to be in the queue for shares just yet. Anyway this deal still has lots of hoops to jump over before it gets finalised and as yet nobody has even mentioned the subsidiaries, like Mango, SA Express, SA Technical or Airchefs. What happens to them?

The major shareholders in the consortium are all connected to the ANC and are loyal cadres with close connections to the ruling party and so this seems to be an ANC in-house takeover, with the bulk of the money coming from the PIC. I thought the PIC had denied this. Then, typically of the government we know nothing of the process or whether there were other bidders? Why the secrecy? 

The new SAA will be headed up by airways success, Gidon Novick who started and ran it so very successfully, but he has recently founded a new airline, Lift. Is he going into competition with himself?  There really is so much obfuscation, but then the Government is not known for its openness, is it? 

The electricity situation is a horse of a different colour. Here Eskom just can’t cope and for years many firms, mostly mines, have been begging for the opportunity to produce their own power. The government has been extremely reluctant to give up control and the idea was to allow qualifying entities to produce enough electricity just for their own needs. What was strongly argued was that a much larger amount of privately produced power should be allowed by government and the excess would then be able to be fed into the grid to help alleviate our current electricity crisis. Suddenly on Thursday Ramaphosa announced a huge concession— having clearly won this battle with his energy Minister —because the amount of power that will be allowed to be privately produced is going to be double what was optimistically expected or even asked for. Suddenly there is optimism.

The power-outage problems we are currently experiencing, however, are not going to end anytime soon. You see, the Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, doesn’t think it’s a good idea and he can hedge and anyway who has better layers of bureaucracy than the ANC and that will first have to be overcome. But the important first step has been taken and now there is no turning back.

Will it instantly solve our current energy crisis? Not for about two years, but at least jobs will be created and now at last there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Daniel Silk put it well when he said that ultimately Ramaphosa had no choice and these concessions are the admitting of the failure of the ANC.

Justus Malala asks why has it taken so long? These concessions should have come 15 years ago. This is how Brandon saw Ramaphosa’s win over Gwede Manatshe our Min of Energy in Business Day on Monday:

The question now is when will the Government get rid of those burdens like Denel, the bankrupt arms manufacturer and Prasa, the railways, which are both such a terrible on-going drain on the Fiskus.

Our vaccination roll-out programme is a total mess. The third wave is rampant, particularly in Gauteng (Transvaal, to you) and the virus is spreading far faster than our vaccination roll-out. What we didn’t need to learn this weekend is that we are dumping 2 million J &J vaccines shots because of contamination in the Baltimore (USA) plant, from whence they came. 

Can anything else go wrong?

On Tuesday night the President gave another of his infamous “family chats” on TV. We are back to level 3 of the lockdown. 

Earlier curfew times, limited hours for restaurants and liquor sales and fewer people at funerals etc. We have been here before and we are back here again.

The vaccination roll-out had better gather speed or else…. a disaster awaits.

One of my favourite journalist’s is Dana Snyman. This weekend in Die Burger he wrote about the Vrede Dairy Farm in the Free State. His article is so graphic that I had to curb myself from shouting-out in anger as I read what Magashule and his cronies have done to this country. He drove, he writes, along a quiet road. There are no signs, no name boards, no visible activity of any kind, and he comes to a gate, but the entrance gate is not working as it should and has to be pushed open manually to get access. That gate cost R2million. The buildings that are there are dilapidated, there is nothing but dirt and desolation in the project that cost R288 million and was set-up exclusively to create work for the poor of the Free State. Where are the milking stations, where are the cows, where are the workers, where are the jobs that were to be created? Where is our R288 million?  There are tractors, but they are rusting under an afdakie.

The guard who opened the gate for Snyman says he is there to try to stop the stealing. And that is where Snyman ends his story.

All this plundering took place under Magashule’s watch. How much did Ace Magashule’s children benefit from Vrede Farm contracts, I wonder.

And the real tragedy is that this is small change as to what has been plundered at Eskom.

Yesterday Iqbal Sharma’s brother-in-law was granted bail in the Vrede Dairy Farm case, where Sharma is still in jail and will probably stay for a very long time. Hopefully his R260 million undeclared funds found overseas will be repatriated with some of the Gupta funds that we are trying to get back.

Clover, this country’s largest cheese factory (with strong Israeli business connections) has decided to move from Lichtenburg in the North West Province to a site near Durban. They list lack of service delivery from the municipality as the cause. Huge potholes making deliveries almost impossible, lack of regular water (days go by without water) and intermittent electricity are given as the reasons for their leaving. They have been complaining non-stop about the poor service from the municipality and now they have done something about it.

The end result is that 3000 workers will be without work. The ANC has a lot to answer for.

Justice delayed is Justice denied. Tell that to our judiciary. 

The Constitutional Court still has not ruled on the contempt charges laid by Zondo against Zuma for his reluctance to give evidence before the Commission into State Capture. 

(The Commission has just 2 weeks to go before it must complete its  work)

Then, on the same tack, disgraced ex-Mayor of Durban, Zandile Gumede was in court on the usual: corruption charges, with a whole bunch of cadres. The case has been postponed again for more than another year because some of the accused have changed lawyers. So what?!

This really is a serious problem and the corruption wont end until cadres and especially top cadres are found guilty and imprisoned.

What really irritates about the court  hearing this week is that Gumede (and her like) use this as a platform to rant. In her case, with the TV cameras focused, it was how she did everything for the ANC and she will die still a member of the ANC.  Doesn’t she remind you of her loyal buddy, Ace Magashule?

The ANC is broke. They cannot pay their workers on time and have been scrambling to find donors to help them. Early this week ANC employees protested on the streets of Cape Town and Johannesburg  for their pay. 

A new Bill which limits undisclosed donations above a certain amount to political parties, is hurting them say some pundits. 

In spite of all that our economy is expected to do well this year. The pundits point out that it is off a low base, but they are talking a growth of over 5%. That’s good news.

William Bird of Media Monitoring Africa is highly critical of IOL. It all has to do with a story that Iqbal Survé’s newspapers have been propagating all week about a birth of 10 children to one woman in Gauteng. Bird pointed out how this Group has lost all credibility and is not beyond making up stories. He gave lots of examples. Who still subscribes to their junk? Mind you, it did make news for a day or so until it was found to be just more rubbish emanating from a Survé publication. Zapiro didn’t miss the opportunity to show us what he thought: (Giving birth in the cartoon is none other than our suspended Min of Health Dr Mkize and delivering the babies is Dr Iqbal Survé himself)

Hey, some more good news, we really won that first cricket test in the Windies, didn’t we? The boys did well and it’s nice to see some smiling faces again. Even more important, the cricket board has been re-jigged   and there are more independents running the show now. The big news from the weekend, though, is that at long-last they have gotten rid of the main culprit on the Board and the cause of much dissension and dishonesty, one Welsh Gwaza, who served as Secretary of CricketSA for years. The first job of the new Board, surely, is to find money; last year CricketSA lost R25 million. Now see if this Board works.

The Bulls beat the Sharks and are already in Italy to play in the final of the Rainbow Cup against the unbeaten Benetton team that romped through the Northern section unbeaten.

That gives us something to watch this weekend.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote to tell you of some of our young golfers who are doing really well and I mentioned Garrick Hugo the 21 year old from  Stellenbosch as one to watch. Well, this last weekend he won his first PGA tournament in America and pocketed more than $1 million.

His win had Gary Player, who had given him tips, in tears of emotional joy. 

As always, love to all,                                                                              


2 thoughts on “The Week That Was”
  1. I think with all this supposed legal cases , it is political posturing so Ramaphosa can get rid of his enemies and become the dominant one, so the open slather can continue. I would not be buying any shares where te anc have their claws. On a brighter note , the sport results are good. I think all my relatives from WW1 and 2 would be turningin their graves the way SA has gone.

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