Flash Briefing: EWC fails; polarising mandatory vaccination debate; Eskom’s coal fleets being run into the ground

  • The ANC’s bid to change the Constitution to make room for the expropriation of land without compensation (EWC) has failed. The proposed law could not garner the required two-thirds majority in the 400-seat Parliament, with 204 MPs voting in favour and 145 against. The ANC said that the changes are needed to manage the land issue, which the party had failed to address in the last three decades of power. Opposition parties like the DA have dismissed the proposed changes as damaging property laws and clouded with uncertainty. The EFF, which supports land expropriation, says the proposed changes do not go far enough.
  • The debate around mandatory vaccinations is polarising citizens and businesses alike, with a growing number of people, groups and organisations voicing their support or opposition to the policies. The National Economic Development and Labour Council has come out in support of the mandates, joining business groups like BUSA and unions like Cosatu – but industries like the National Liquor Traders Association have voiced opposition to mandates without consultation. At the same time, the SA Federation of Trade Unions says the mandates will just be used as an excuse to cut jobs. President Cyril Ramaphosa will be meeting with the NCCC this week to discuss the topic.
  • Investors and energy experts are worried about Eskom’s use of its ageing fleets, saying they’re being run into the ground. The international benchmark for using coal fleets is around 70%. However, in South Africa, Eskom is using its units at a rate of 90%, leading to about three boiler tube failures, per unit, per year. At the same time, Eskom’s maintenance expenditure remains low – meaning the power utility is not getting around to doing the necessary maintenance to take the load off its units, stressing the system even more. Investors say Eskom is about two years too late to plan and prepare for suitable maintenance programmes. Lungile Mashele, energy expert at the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), has warned that Eskom has for some time not met the technical criteria to justify any additional funding.
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