Wet coal extends loadshedding; SAA’s bailouts can’t continue; Cricket SA loses sponsor; Teflon Musk

By Linda van Tilburg

  • Stage 2 loadshedding is set to continue this week, after Eskom has been battling to keep the lights on since the end of last week. On Friday the cash-strapped utility escalated the blackouts to stage 4 because of a strained system, but has since reverted to stage 2 rotational loadshedding. Eskom blamed the wet weather and coal-handling for the problems it had been experiencing saying generation units had been unable to produce power because of ‘wet coal’. The power company said if the weather persisted; loadshedding was necessary to prevent a national blackout. Customers were asked to switch off geysers over peak periods to reduce demand as a concerted collective effort to avoid or lessen load shedding.
  • South African Airways can’t keep counting on bailouts. That was according to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who told the Sunday Times that the national carrier would need to slash costs and boost revenue after pledging another R2bn of support to keep it operating. Gordhan said the Government was no longer able to provide “continuous bailouts.” SAA had become like a “patient experiencing multiple organ failure”, Gordhan wrote. Going into administration gave it the “best chance of retaining viable parts” and attracting an equity partner, he said. Business Day reports that Comair has said it will discuss its more than a billion rand settlement against SAA with the airline’s new business rescue practitioner, Les Matuson.
  • Cricket in South Africa is facing an uncertain future after Africa’s biggest bank opted not to renew its sponsorship deal and the chief executive officer of the governing body was suspended over allegations of misconduct. Standard Bank Group will end its financial support, which according to ESPNcricinfo is worth about R400m, when its current deal expires in April, citing “a culmination of long-standing problems” that have damaged its reputation. Hours after the announcement CEO Thabang Moroe was sanctioned and the CSA announced an investigation would take place into unspecified wrongdoing. The sponsorship decision will come as a major blow for CSA, which is already battling mounting losses, a dearth of financial backers and the resignation of independent directors. The organisation is also embroiled in a dispute with players over commercial rights and a plan to restructure the domestic system, and has been criticised over a recent move to temporarily withdraw the media accreditation of certain journalists.
  • Traders are standing by for the US Federal Reserve and European central banks last policy decisions of 2019, the outcome of British elections and trade negotiations to set the tone for emerging markets in 2020. The central banks’ new forecasts will provide insight into their ability and willingness to provide further stimulus for a global economy that the IMF predicts will grow at the slowest annual pace in a decade. Voters are going to the polls in the United Kingdom on Thursday where Conservative Party Prime Minister, Boris Johnson is expected to win, while the US and China are hoping to close in on a phase one trade deal. Consumer inflation data will be released in South Africa on Wednesday and it is expected to remain at the lowest level in almost nine years in November. This data and  third-quarter economic contraction gives the central bank room to cut interest rates when policy makers next meet in January.
  • Even before the verdict on Friday, Elon Musk had earned the title of Teflon Man on Twitter. When an American jury decided he hadn’t defamed a British cave diver by calling him a “paedo guy” in a post on Twitter; Musk’s reputation as a controversy-stirring billionaire who escapes relative unscathed from the firestorms he creates for himself, appears to be sealed. Loup Ventures’ Gene Munster told Bloomberg his defamation lawsuit was the last formal distraction from when Elon Musk went off the Twitter rails in 2018. Another Twitter post on taking Tesla private and that he had “funding secured” cost him $20m and stripped off his Tesla board chairmanship for three years; there was the famous pot-smoking episode and tweets about Tesla’s production figures that violated his settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US. Musk said his faith in humanity had been restored, but legal experts told Reuters that it would shift the legal landscape for the rough and tumble world of social media.
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