Here’s what is happening in and affecting South Africa today:
Load shedding: Eskom says the probability of load shedding on Thursday remains low, with generating units coming back online, and adequate reserves.
- SONA 2020: President Cyril Ramaphosa will deliver his State of the Nation Address tonight, though analysts do not expect much in the way of impact. The president will have to address many elephants in the room – such as Eskom, SAA, high unemployment and slowing economy – but is not in a strong enough political position to make full commitments to address any of them. Analysts expect the usual spin of admitting there are problems, but government is working to fix them. [TimesLive]
- Skills shedding: A new report argues that Eskom’s latest problems with load shedding isn’t because of poor maintenance and lower installed capacity at its power stations, but rather because of a loss of productivity due to skills shortages and ineptitude of current staff. The report, by Primaresearch, posits that without rehiring technical staff which have left the company, increased maintenance isn’t going to be enough to resolve load shedding. [MyBroadband]
- SAA: KwaZulu Natal’s government says it will fight SAA over the cancellation of the domestic Johannesburg-Durban route, saying that it is a vital and viable route for the country. SAA cancelled the route, along with all other local flights bar JHB-CT, as part of its cost-saving measures under business rescue. KZN premier Sihle Zikalala said he would meet with Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan to get the airline to reverse the move. [Enca]
- Class action: Hundreds of dispossessed homeowners have launched a class action lawsuit against banks over having their homes repossessed and then sold for a fraction of their value. There are different classes in the suit, including owners whose homes were sold for more than 10% below market value, those who remain indebted to the banks after their homes were sold; and those who were overcharged on bonds and whose homes were not sold as a last resort. Banks could be facing claims of over R60 billion. [Moneyweb]
- Markets: South Africa’s rand fell against the dollar in late afternoon trade on Wednesday, giving up gains from earlier in the session, following a string of dismal economic data. The disappointing retail figures came after data on Tuesday showing unemployment remained at an 11-year peak in the fourth quarter and manufacturing output for December shrank 5.9% year-on-year. On Thursday the rand was at R14.89 to the dollar, R19.29 to the pound and R16.18 to the euro. [XE]