Zille back; More loadshedding? Green energy thumbs-up; PIC on Eskom, Moyo; Brexit; Boks

By Linda van Tilburg

  • Helen Zille has been elected as the head of the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Council in a return to a leadership role in the party. The former leader and premier of the Western Cape beat Athol Trollip, Mike Waters and Tom Walters for the position. Zille promised to “stay in her lane” and was congratulated by DA-leader Mmusi Maimane on her appointment, saying he was looking forward to new energy, ideas and vigour that she would bring to the party. The DA has adopted a recommendation for an early elective congress for the party as soon as it is constitutionally possible to prepare for the local government elections in 2021. Zille has also been mandated to establish a policy review committee for the DA.
  • The power blackouts that gripped South Africa last week ended on Saturday as Eskom’s power supplies improved, but the utility warned that the shortages may not be over yet. Eskom said in a statement that the power system was constrained and while they were making every effort to avoid loadshedding, it could be implemented at short notice should there be a significant shift in plant performance and increased unplanned technical breakdowns. Eskom says it expects additional electricity generation units to resume operations. While repairs at Medupi power station are still underway; it has replenished diesel reserves for open-cycle gas turbines and increased water levels at pumped storage schemes which may enable it to “avoid or minimise the extent of load shedding.”
  • The Public Investment Corporation will meet next month to consider options on how to help Eskom deal with its debt, according to PIC Chairman Reuel Khoza who was quoted in yesterday’s Sunday Times. A strategy meeting would look at how the asset manager could “come to the rescue or assist” Eskom. Khoza also told the Sunday Times that the PIC, who is the largest shareholder in Old Mutual, wanted the insurance giant to end its months-long dispute with fired Chief Executive Officer Peter Moyo. Khoza said the PIC was concerned that the legal route that Old Mutual is following may become protracted. He said the company’s performance and share price would be suffering and he would prefer the parties to come together and resolve the matter.
  • The renewable industry in South Africa has welcomed the significant allocation to renewable sources in the Government’s latest integrated Resource Plan which maps out the energy mix for the next decade. It has given the green light to solar and wind, while coal is gradually on the way out. According to Bloomberg the plan envisions the country’s total electricity-production capacity rising to more than 77,000 megawatts by 2020 and that the bulk of the increase would come from renewable sources. There is less emphasis on gas for the energy mix as it would take too long to bring plants online and extending the life of Koeberg by 20 years is envisaged. The renewable industry has called on the government to swiftly call for new bids from independent power producers to develop projects to supply the national grid.
  • British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has reluctantly sent a letter to the European Union asking for another Brexit delay, although he did not sign the letter. In a second letter he also urged the EU not to grant an extension. It follows after UK Parliament decided on Saturday to postpone a final vote on the country’s exit from the EU effectively stopping Parliament from voting on the deal that Johnson concluded with the EU. The Tory government is still insisting that they could get a deal through Parliament in time to leave the EU, at the end of the month. With Brexit again plunged into uncertainty, the rise in the pound to the dollar of 2.6% last week is likely to be short-lived unless Johnson manages to get his deal through. The Rand benefitted from the uncertainty and was also boosted by the government’s new energy plan improving from R15 to the dollar mid-week to R14.78 at the close on Friday.
  • The Springboks lifted the country’s spirits when they reached the semi-finals in the Rugby World Cup, booting out the plucky host nation Japan yesterday. After a first half with only 20% ball possession; the Boks came back in the second when their heavier forwards outweighed the Brave Blossoms, winning 26-3. They will meet Wales in the semi-finals in Yokohama City on Sunday and promised on their Twitter page “that it is going to be a cracker!”