Flash Briefing: Fresh Karpowership graft allegations; NUMSA strike could worsen SA unemployment; SA prepares for influx of UK tourists

  • DNG Energy Ltd., a losing bidder for state contracts to supply emergency power in South Africa, made fresh corruption allegations against a winning bidder, Karpowership, and a government official. In an October 12 supplementary affidavit to court papers, the first of which were filed in April, SA-based DNG alleged that businessmen who are now partnering Turkey’s Karpowership approached the firm’s CEO seeking a bribe. In exchange, they would ensure that DNG won a contract, Aldworth Mbalati, the CEO of DNG, said in the papers, adding that he spurned their offer. Powergroup SA Ltd., Karpowership’s local partners, and Karpowership denied the allegations.
  • South Africa’s ongoing steelworker strike is likely to lead to job cuts, further hammering an industry that’s been in decline for several years, according to the country’s main employer body. The week-long walkout by as many as 300,000 members and allies of NUMSA has affected five provinces and disrupted supply chains to major firms, including carmaker BMW AG. The labour group is weighing a response to a renewed pay offer, spokeswoman Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said Tuesday. The strike threatens to derail the potential recovery of South Africa’s economy from the coronavirus pandemic, which triggered the biggest annual contraction since at least the end of white-minority rule in 1994, and worsen an employment crisis.
  • South Africa’s beleaguered tourism sector is preparing for an influx of British visitors ahead of the busy summer season. This comes amid the United Kingdom’s decision to ease travel restrictions between the two countries. The UK has traditionally been SA’s largest source market for tourists. More than 430,000 UK tourists visited South Africa in 2019, representing almost 30% of all European arrivals. It’s estimated that UK tourists pump up to R790mn into the economy every month during the busy season. But the global Covid-19 pandemic, associated lockdowns, and travel bans – in this instance, the UK’s traffic light system – ground international tourism to halt. Less than 11,000 UK travellers entered South Africa during the first half of 2021, a drop of more than 95% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
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