Steenhuisen leads DA; SAA intl flights resume; Ex-Denel staff ‘stole’ missile IP; Platinum wage deal; Wiese

By Linda van Tilburg

  • John Steenhuisen has been elected as the interim federal leader of the Democratic Alliance during a closed federal council meeting at the party’s headquarters in Johannesburg. Ivan Meyer was elected as the interim federal chairperson. It follows the resignation of Mmusi Maimane, who led the party for four years and former chair Athol Trollip who resigned on the same day. Steenhuisen said at a news conference following his appointment that he believed that the DA was not ignoring the role of race in South Africa. Those who still suffered from the injustice of apartheid needed to benefit from redress, but he believed that redress policy should be directed at the poorest of South African society; “the party did not need to resort to crude race classification to do so.” Steenhuisen and Meyer will occupy their positions until the party conference in April next year.
  • South African Airways has resumed some of its international flights but wage strikes are continuing. Flights to London, New York, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Perth, Frankfurt and Washington will depart from OR Tambo international airport. Domestic SAA flights are however still not operating since two unions decided to strike following a wage dispute with SAA and a decision that almost 1,000 jobs should be cut at the airline. Some of the domestic passengers are being re-accommodated on Airlink, a partner airline of SAA and other airlines where possible. Talks between the unions and SAA over the weekend ended without an agreement. The National Union of Metalworkers has threatened to shut down the country’s entire aviation sector with further industrial action. The union said consultations were underway at the Civil Aviation Authority, Mango Airlines, SA Express, the Airports Company and Comair.
  • A security breach at arms manufacturer Denel may have led to the theft of missile technology. That’s according to a report in City Press that the Special Investigations Unit has been authorised by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate the matter. The report states that former Denel engineers had allegedly given classified information about Denel’s missiles to arms company Saudi Arabian Military Industries (Sami). Many former Denel engineers have been employed by Sami. The allegation of Intellectual Property theft comes at a time when Denel is facing problems in paying salaries and servicing its debt which the company CEO Daniel du Toit said was “a hangover of state capture and mismanagement.”
  • Shoprite chairman Christo Wiese will retire from Africa’s biggest grocer by next year’s annual general meeting, putting an end date on a tenure that has spanned almost three decades. The move follows Wiese’s controversial re-election earlier this month, when his superior voting rights carried him over the line even as a majority of ordinary shareholders opposed his reappointment. Shoprite has started the search for a successor and will look for an independent candidate, the company said in a statement. The decision brings clarity to the future make-up of Shoprite’s board after a backlash against Wiese, whom investors have assailed for holding too much power.
  • Platinum producers have sealed a pay agreement with the sector’s biggest labour union concluding negotiations that started in the middle of the year. The agreement provides for putting workers’ renumeration on the back-burner for the next three years which analysts say give the companies a bit of breathing space. The agreement between the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Sibanye Gold amounts to more than R5.7bn over the course of three years. Platinum-group metals are one of the country’s biggest exports and the settlement could boost President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to reboot a stagnating economy and revitalise the mining industry. It also paves the way for Sibanye and Implats to resume dividend payments.