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Eskom to cut executive jobs
23 December 2018, 5:00 PM

South Africa’s power utility Eskom has announced its decision to go forward with retrenchments at the power utility after an approval from the board.

Eskom has also unveiled its new top structure which will see a reduction of top executives from 21 to nine.

However, it says some Executives volunteered to be relieved of their responsibilities within Eskom.

Spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe has confirmed that letters have been sent to some members.

 

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Congo fire destroys thousands of voting machines for presidential election
13 December 2018, 4:18 PM

A fire overnight at a warehouse in Congo’s capital destroyed thousands of voting machines and ballot boxes that were due to be used in the country’s long-delayed December 23 presidential election, authorities said on Thursday.

Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Electoral Commission (CENI) said in a statement the blaze had destroyed 8 000 of 10 368 voting machines due to be used in the capital Kinshasa, but said the election would go ahead as scheduled.

CENI did not say who it believed to be responsible for the fire – which broke out about 2 a.m. (0100 GMT) in the Gomberiverside area of Kinshasa that is also home to President Joseph Kabila’s residence – but the ruling coalition and a leading opposition candidate immediately traded accusations of blame.

Kabila’s Common Front for Congo (FCC), which is backing former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary in the presidential race, accused opposition candidate Martin Fayulu of inciting violence earlier this month.

“Over the course of this electoral campaign, (Fayulu) called on his supporters and sympathisers to destroy electoral materials,” the FCC said in a statement.

Fayulu rejected the charge and suggested that state security forces might have been behind the blaze.

“The fire erupted in a building guarded by the Republican Guard,” Fayulu told Reuters. “You understand today that the Kabila people do not want to organise elections.”

Kabila, in power since his father’s assassination in 2001, is due to step down because of constitutional term limits.

The vote has already been delayed by two years due to what authorities said were logistical challenges but the opposition said stemmed from Kabila’s reluctance to relinquish power.

This month’s highly anticipated vote could mark Congo’s first peaceful transition of power after decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups d’etat and civil wars in which around five million people are estimated to have died.

INVESTIGATION

CENI president Corneille Nangaa told a news conference the destroyed equipment represented the materials for 19 of 24voting districts in Kinshasa.

“Without minimising the gravity of this damaging situation for the electoral process, CENI is working to pursue the process in conformity with its calendar,” Nangaa said.

Barnabe Kikaya Bin Karubi, a Kabila adviser, said police guarding the warehouse had been arrested and that forensic police had launched an investigation.

He said voting machines from elsewhere in  Congo would be recalled for use in Kinshasa, which is home to more than 15% of the Congolese population.

The introduction of the untested tablet-like voting machines for the election has been widely opposed by opposition candidates competing against Shadary.

They say the machines are more vulnerable to vote-rigging than paper and ink and could be compromised by the unreliability of Congo’s power supply.

The delay in the elections has coincided with a break down insecurity across much of the vast mineral-rich country.

Militants fight over land and resources in the east near the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

Campaigning over the past three weeks has been mostly peaceful, though deadly clashes erupted between police and opposition supporters this week in the southeast.

Zimbabwe mining minister invites De Beers, Vast Resources to return
13 December 2018, 3:19 PM

De Beers and Vast Resources will be allowed to explore for diamonds in Zimbabwe, which would make them the first listed companies to mine there in that sector for two years, Mining Minister Winston Chitando said.

A spokesperson for De Beers, an Anglo American unit, said in an email it was not mining in Zimbabwe and did not intend to.

Vast Resources said it could not comment.

Zimbabwe has been working to rebuild investor confidence since long-term leader Robert Mugabe was ousted in late 2017.

This month its mining ministry said it would let in two new companies but did not name them.

On Wednesday, Chitando told Reuters De Beers and Vast Resources would be allowed to mine, but could not comment on any changes to ownership rules. “Those are the details that have tobe thrashed out,” he said.

Vast Resources signed a memorandum of understanding with Botswana Diamonds in May to form a special purpose vehicle majority-owned by Vast to develop resources in Zimbabwe.

In November, Chitando said Zimbabwe did not plan to change radically its ownership laws for platinum and diamonds.

Few miners doubt the potential of Zimbabwe’s mineral resources and it is among the world’s leading diamond-producing countries. But some investors are concerned about how much money companies can take out because of dollar shortages.

Mugabe accused De Beers of looting the largest diamond fields in Marange in eastern Zimbabwe, where production is dominated by state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company.

De Beers denied the charge.

Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company is one of two firms currently allowed to mine diamonds there.

The other, Murowa Diamonds, majority-owned by Rio Tinto until June 2015, is the only private company mining diamonds in south central Zimbabwe.

In early 2016, Mugabe’s government evicted all diamond miners from Marange, saying their licences had expired after they declined to merge under the state-owned mining firm.

As part of its quest to attract foreign investment, Zimbabwe’s new government has liberalised indigenisation laws for many minerals but still limits foreign ownership of platinum and diamond projects to a minority, with the state holding 51%.

Louis Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen three ahead in pursuit of SA, British Open double
8 December 2018, 9:55 PM

Louis Oosthuizen took a three-shot third-round lead in the EPGA South African Open Saturday as he seeks to become the sixth golfer to win the event and the British Open.

South Africans Ernie Els, Bobby Locke and Gary Player, Swede Henrik Stenson and New Zealander Bob Charles have won the two oldest national championships in the world.

Oosthuizen carded a four-under-par 67 for a 199 total at Randpark Golf Club in Johannesburg while overnight leader and fellow South African Charl Schwartzel slumped to a one-over 72.

Former Masters champion Schwartzel shares second place on 202 with Zambian Madalitso Muthiya (71) and Matt Wallace (68), hoping to become the fourth English winner in five seasons.

A group of eight are three strokes further back going into the final round with four-time major winner Els among them after a 68.

“It was a tough round but I played well,” said Oosthuizen, whose world ranking of 36 is the highest in the field.

“I was left off the tee with a few bad drives but fixed that problem during the inward half of my round.

“My putting gave me a lot of pleasure today. I could not make anything yesterday, but today the makeable ones went in.

“What I need tomorrow is 18 more holes of good golf, taking one shot at a time,” added the eight-time European Tour winner.

Schwartzel, twice runner-up in the South African Open, never recovered from bogeys on the first and third holes and had to wait until the 12th for his only birdie.

A seesaw round for Muthiya included five birdies, a bogey and two double bogeys as he eyes becoming the first Zambian winner on the European Tour.

Wallace, the second highest ranked challenger at Randpark, was another to experience a mixed round with six birdies and three back-nine bogeys.

However, he is the form golfer among the contenders with four European Tour titles since May last year and could pose the greatest threat to Oosthuizen.

Apart from 1.095 million euros in prize money, three 2019 British Open places are up for grabs Sunday.

Black barrels of crude oil
Slowing demand and a supply glut to drain oil’s gains in 2019 – Poll
30 November 2018, 3:20 PM

Oil analysts are increasingly pessimistic about the prospect of a price rally next year, when the outlook for demand is uncertain and supply is growing at breakneck speed, even though the market expects OPEC to cut output, a Reuters poll showed.

A survey of 38 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude to average $74.50 a barrel in 2019, lower than the $76.88 outlook last month.

The poll predicted Brent would average $73.20 in 2018, mostly in line with the $73 average for the global benchmark so far this year.

“In the first half of next year we expect upward price pressure resulting from OPEC production cuts,” said Adri à Morron Salmeron, economist at Caixa Bank Research.

“Then, we expect downward price pressures from an uptick in US shale production in the second half, as bottlenecks will disappear, and a deceleration of global growth.”

Of the 32 contributors who participated in both the October and November polls, 16 cut their 2019 average price forecast for Brent.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries as well as Russia and other producers meet in Vienna on December 6/7 in an attempt to support crude prices, which have fallen by over 30% from early October’s four-year high of $86.74.

The group could announce cuts of anywhere between 1 and 1.4 million barrels per day, analysts said.

“The oil market is definitely oversupplied at the moment.

Therefore, OPEC will decide to cut output in December,” said Frank Schallenberger, head of commodity research at LBBW.

“The recent drop in prices was so strong that I think the non-OPEC members will either agree to freeze production or join in the cut.”

A slowing global economy could erode oil demand growth next year, when supply from non-OPEC countries is forecast to expand at a record pace.

Citi had the lowest 2019 forecast for Brent at $57 a barrel,while ABN Amro and Raymond James had the highest, at $90.

FUNDAMENTAL GLOOM

The US decision to grant waivers to countries that buy crude from Iran, hit by sanctions on its energy exports, has changed the dynamics in a market already under pressure from soaring output from the world’s top three oil producers, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia, analysts said.

“Uncertainty over US sanctions against Iran had made the market fixated with supply.

The waivers changed the arithmetic, raising the possibility of a supply glut developing in 2019,”said Konstantinos Venetis, senior economist at TSL Research.

Non-OPEC output could rise by 1.5 to 2.2 million bpd in 2019, led by US shale, a few of the analysts said.

“Sharp increases in US production will be a key impediment in upside potential for oil prices in 2019,” said Benjamin Lu,commodities analyst at Phillip Futures.

The poll forecast US light crude to average $67.45 a barrel in 2019, down from $70.15 predicted in the previous poll.

The contract has averaged about $66.40 so far in 2018.

Adding to the possible glut was a recovery in output from Nigeria and Libya, excluded from previous cuts because of production declines caused by unrest.

On the other hand, oil demand was seen growing by between 0.9 and 1.5 million bpd in 2019, compared with 1.1 to 1.5 million bpd projected in the previous month’s poll.

“On the demand side, the main driver is the question how far worldwide economic growth will slow in 2019 and how far this will lead to lower dynamics of oil demand next year,” LBBW’s Schallenberger said.

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