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Solar expert on Eskom's woes: 'We don’t need this chaos anymore'

JOHANNESBURG — Just before his pre-Davos press briefing this week, President Cyril Ramaphosa meet with an Eskom task team to try deal with the headache that is our country's state-owned power utility. Eskom has been terribly run for years and after it asked for another massive price hike from regulator Nersa, it's set to continue to entrench itself as the most disliked company South Africa has probably ever had. Eskom is also an outdated machine, relying heavily on dirty coal to provide what...


Ramaphosa opens up on land, the Reserve Bank and child visas

JOHANNESBURG — President Cyril Ramaphosa at a pre-WEF briefing in Johannesburg on Wednesday morning spent a good 15 minutes addressing some sharp issues relating to the controversy surrounding expropriation of land without compensation, the independence of the Reserve Bank and what appears to be the unresolved child-visa disaster (which is reportedly still a major hindrance for travellers to South Africa, despite assurances from Ramaphosa that this wouldn't be the case any longer). In many...


Ramaphosa: 'Don't be discouraged by lacklustre economic growth'

JOHANNESBURG — President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the now-annual pre-WEF briefing that happens each year before our politicians fly over to Davos. This year's pre-WEF meet was a very different one to the one I attended last year. For starters, the venue was different. Last year, it was held in one of the big ballrooms in the Hilton Hotel in downtown Sandton - this time it was held in a much smaller venue in the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Rosebank. I was told that Ramaphosa prefers the Crowne...


Silver lining for Ubuntu Baba after Woolworths copycat incident

JOHANNESBURG — Local baby carrier business Ubuntu Baba has been in the headlines the last few days after Woolworths was exposed for copying its products. It all started with a blog post that Ubuntu Baba founder, Shannon McLaughlin, wrote on 7 January in which she explained, in-depth, as to how Woolworths had started stocking products strikingly similar in design and concept to hers. That post struck a nerve on social media amid Woolworths having been previously exposed for displaying similar...


Eskom's debt woes: Globally respected Debtwire offers its take

In this interview, BizNews editor and publisher Alec Hogg asks the Head of EMEA Credit Research at Debtwire, Nicholas Smith-Saville, about the company's perspective on Eskom's debt woes. Debtwire is well-known for its analysis of debt markets worldwide and in-depth credit analysis. As a result, Smith-Saville provides a much needed global perspective on Eskom's financial conundrum. Interestingly, Smith-Saville says it's not all bad news for as long as Eskom can start to get itself on the...


Paul O'Sullivan: 'Cyril Ramaphosa and his son are NOT corrupt'

JOHANNESBURG — Forensics for Justice has published a statement and affidavit indicating why it believes that Andile Ramaphosa (President Cyril Ramaphosa's son) is not guilty of corruption with regard to alleged kickback payments from the company formerly known as 'Bosasa' (now 'African Global Operations'). In this interview, investigative sleuth Paul O'Sullivan explains in detail why Forensics for Justice is adamant that there's no wrongdoing on the part of Andile and why Cyril is untainted...


IRR's snap poll - Gareth van Onselen on what it means for 2019

JOHANNESBURG — The IRR's latest snap poll on the build-up to the 2019 election has drawn a lot of interest. It's been lauded for being among the most credible yet and paints a picture of what could happen to the vote in 2019. While the ANC has been gaining lost ground, the DA seriously risks either not growing or going backwards. In the meantime, the EFF is still on a small base of just 10%-11%, but if it achieves this in 2019 it would have almost doubled its support base in 2019. In this...


SA's energy future: RMB's Keith Webb on diversifying the mix

JOHANNESBURG — Load shedding has been on many South Africans' lips over the last few weeks. Rolling blackouts commenced in late 2018 again as Eskom grappled with its coal supplies and power plant breakdowns. But looking to the future at times like this is important. And in this interview, RMB Investment Banking Transactor Keith Webb looks at what the years ahead hold for South Africa's energy mix. It's certainly a potentially a more promising picture than the one we have today with prospects...


How to fight back against land EWC - Advocate Mark Oppenheimer

JOHANNESBURG — Advocate Mark Oppenheimer of the Johannesburg Bar is probably the most sensible and rational voice you'll hear when it comes to those opposing a current process to change the Constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation in South Africa. After attending a recent summit where various interested parties came together to discuss their opposition to land EWC, Oppenheimer had an opportunity to chat to us at BizNews again about what can be done now to fight...


Prepare for 5 years of load shedding in SA — Ted Blom

JOHANNESBURG — Energy and mining expert Ted Blom always offers rather different opinions on what's gone wrong at Eskom. He touts himself as being energy agnostic and has controversial views about the sustainability of clean sources such as solar and wind in a country like South Africa. Nevertheless, Blom has some interesting insights and experience with regard to what's gone wrong with Eskom's coal supplies of late. Coal supply has become a major factor behind the recent bouts of load...


Paul O Sullivan's R4bn gift to SA - exposing corrupt Transnet deal linked to ConCourt judge

In this fascinating interview, South Africa's ace crime fighter Paul OSullivan tells the story of how a call to the Forensics for Justice tip-off line resulted in the termination of a corrupt R4bn contract at Transnet, the country's rail and port utility. It also explains O'Sullivan's confidence that his country will overcome its challenges, helped by a SA equivalent of Brazil's Operation Car Wash. He explains how the corrupt network used a now well-exposed template, which in this case...


Tech startup Memeza wants to cut crime in SA's worst areas by 50%

JOHANNESBURG — Local crime-fighting technology startup Memeza is doing something rather unique. They've built low-cost alarm technologies that connect to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and which alerts nearby safety community members. There's essentially a one-off affordable cost involved with the system plus small monthly data charges. The technology has already shown to reduce crime by up to 100% in one area. Now Memeza has bigger plans after winning a $250 000 prize from global...


PIC, GEPF a political piggy bank amid R7.4bn write-offs - expert

JOHANNESBURG — The Public Investment Corporation together with the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) have been under the spotlight this week amid revelations that they have effectively written off loans of R7.4bn to a Steinhoff connected entity and Sekunjalo, which is headed by controversial media owner Iqbal Surve. This is effectively a huge jump in impairments from the previous year when GEPF impairments were a cool R995m. The latest developments have sparked the ire of those...


Load shedding woes: Chris Yelland explains latest Eskom headache

JOHANNESBURG — For the first three days of December 2018, the country has been plunged into electricity shortages as Eskom restarted rotational load shedding. While coal problems have come to haunt Eskom once again, this time it's a range of other issues that have created this latest mess, according to energy expert Chris Yelland. In this podcast, Yelland explains why Eskom's entire model is increasingly under the spotlight as concerns mount over the state energy provider's long-future and...


Tech recovers, Microsoft shines, we benefit – The Editor’s Desk

After a devastating October, the global tech sector has posted a significant recovery in recent weeks. Many of the shares included in the Biznews Global Share Portfolio, like Apple and Amazon, clawed back a good portion of their share price decline. But one share in particular, Microsoft, outshone the rest and managed to overtake its long-time competitor Apple in market cap terms. In this episode, Alec Hogg and Felicity Duncan discuss the tech turnaround and look at how company's like...


Backstory to Motus Holding's new JSE listing

JOHANNESBURG — Motus Holdings, the automotive unit that unbundled from Imperial Holdings, listed on the JSE on Thursday. In this interview, Motus Holdings CEO Osman Arbee and his CFO Ockert Janse van Rensburg explain the story behind the new listing. - Gareth van Zyl


How RMB Ventures helped SA retailer Studio 88 reach 500 stores

JOHANNESBURG — RMB Ventures' Dwight Snyman and Studio 88 Chair Laurence Wernars have known each other for many years. So, when Laurence told Dwight on the golf course about a new venture of his dubbed Studio 88, it became the very beginning of a new partnership that would see the rise of a major athleisure retailer in South Africa. Just recently, Studio 88 opened its 500th store, with more planned in future. And RMB Ventures, as an equity partner, has played a key role in the rise of Studio...


White Zulu GG Alcock on the rise of the 'Kasinomic Revolution'

JOHANNESBURG — GG Alcock is no stranger to BizNews as he's been interviewed previously by Alec Hogg as well as having had one of his articles published on BizNews. It was therefore great to catch up with GG and find out about his latest book, 'Kasinomic Revolution - The Rise of African Informal Economies'. In this podcast, GG explains how the book consists of a series of fascinating case studies that illustrate how the informal economy in South Africa should be taken far more seriously. GG...


A big, bad week in Brexit and Bitcoin - The Editor's Desk

In this episode, Alec Hogg and Felicity Duncan look back on a chaotic week in Brexit. Theresa May secured a draft agreement, but defections from her own party have put its future in doubt. With some calling for a hard Brexit, it's anyone's guess what the future holds. Meanwhile, markets and businesses try to muddle through the uncertainty, at great cost. They also discuss Bitcoin, which had almost as difficult a week as May. Down over 60% on the year (and more than that from its December...


Fighting ELWC, IRR takes Parliament committee on judicial review

JOHANNESBURG — Fewer issues than land expropriation without compensation elicit such highly, emotionally charged feelings among South Africans. So, when a Parliament committee on Thursday controversially announced that it would start the process of changing the Constitution to affect so-called land 'ELWC', the likes of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) were already waiting in the wings to fight back. The battle has started with the IRR launching a legal process to take the committee on...