Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. Chief Operating Officer Jan Oberholzer negotiated a contract with a construction firm in which he held shares and asked a subordinate to find a job for his brother-in-law without disclosing that he was a relative, according to probes commissioned by the company.
A payment approved by Oberholzer to another contractor was also questioned by an independent counsel in his 15-page report, which was not released publicly but has been seen by Bloomberg. Eskom declined to comment. Oberholzer could not be reached for comment.
The previously unreported findings came in documents related to a personnel grievance filed by a senior executive, Mark Chettiar. While the April 4 report, produced through a separate process independent of the grievance, by Nazeer Cassim, a former High Court Judge, cleared Oberholzer of corruption, it concluded that he breached Eskom policy. In a statement in April, Eskom’s board said there was no need for the company to take any action against Oberholzer.
Eskom, a nearly century-old monopoly that generates most of the nation’s electricity, is saddled with 450 billion rand ($26.7 billion) in debt and can’t supply the country with sufficient power. It’s battling to right itself after years of mismanagement and corruption documented in public testimony over the last two years to a state judicial commission. Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter took over in January pledging to root out graft and improve operations.
Oberholzer, a former employee of Stefanutti Stocks Holdings Ltd., signed a submission to Eskom’s investment and finance committee recommending an increase in a contract with the construction firm, Cassim found. At the time, Oberholzer held shares in Stefanutti Stocks, the value of which had declined to 6,000 rand from an initial 600,000 rand.
“Oberholzer breached the provisions of the Eskom policy -- he should have abstained from the transactions in totality,” Cassim said. “I propose and recommend that the CEO or a nominated board member counsels Oberholzer on the matter.”
Eskom has since said it overpaid Stefanutti Stocks. The construction company denied on July 10 that it was overpaid.
On another matter, Cassim said that if a 42 million- rand payment Oberholzer promoted or authorized to construction company Aveng Ltd. had not already been the subject of litigation between the two firms “there is no reason why the issue cannot be the subject matter of a disciplinary hearing.” Chettiar last year made a submission to the state graft commission about the procedures followed in authorizing that payment, which has yet to be made after the commission recommended it be held back.
In an April statement, Eskom said it would wait for the litigation to be completed before it decided whether to take any disciplinary action.
In separate documentation relating to the grievance filed by Chettiar on Sept. 13 against Oberholzer, the COO admitted to calling Chettiar and asking him to find a job in Cape Town for Gregory Jacobs, his brother-in-law. He said there had been “no pressure.”
Chettiar, who declined to comment, has since faced an internal disciplinary procedure initiated by Oberholzer over the allegations he made and documents show that he has been moved to a training job in human resources against his will. In his report, Cassim said Oberholzer shouldn’t have taken action against Chettiar, as he had done so “hastily and emotionally.”
In that grievance Oberholzer was accused of “use of the F word and shouting at the top of his voice with continued threats of firing people for non-performance.”
Oberholzer apologized for his language, according to documents related to the grievance.
StarTimes, a Pay-TV provider, has reaffirmed subscription affordability through the pay-as-you-go model as it adds new offerings.
The new contents to be offered by the company include Toonami, Ceebies, ST School Junior, ST School Senior, Human Right, Dunamis, Love Nature, Smithsonian, Colors TV, Sky News, Tiwa ‘n’ Tiwa, Filmbox and more.
Speaking during a virtual conference meeting, Marketing Manager of StarTimes, Viki Liu, who was represented by the Public Relations Manager, Mr. Lazarus Ibeabuchi said that subscribers can still adopt the pay-as-you-go model with the introduction of the Nova bouquet for N900($2.32).
“To bring these exciting offerings within the reach of every Nigerian, Liu said: “As entertainment provider we pioneered and remains the only player in the Nigerian market offering flexible subscription options allowing Nigerians to subscribe according to their needs and means.”
She noted that the pay-as-you-go options are available for all bouquets; and whether a customer subscribes daily, weekly or monthly to a bouquet, the subscriber will have access to the same channels and services, adding that flexible billing systems are reasonable for people who do not spend reasonable time watching television after subscription.
According to her, “due to StarTimes’ giant stride to make digital TV affordable to all families, the price of pay-TV has been greatly lowered, from average $50 per month to 3 or 5 dollars per month.
The pay-TV company which also made a slight increase on its offerings said this is necessitated by the impact of the rising foreign exchange rate which has lead to the upward review of its prices. According to her, “our business is not exempted from the effect of the naira depreciation affecting all businesses in the country.
All of our foreign content is bought in dollars and to continually serve our subscribers the best content, the subscription price has to be reviewed upwards.” “Over the last couple of months, StarTimes has been adding new and exciting channels, great local and international channels for the viewing pleasure of our teeming subscribers without an additional charge. These channels, including other existing flagship channels and content, were acquired at a cost which StarTimes has continued to bear to cushion the economic pressure on subscribers.”
Zimbabwe’s ruling party said it will expel Old Mutual Ltd. from its financial system, sowing confusion over the status of the insurance giant in the country and what will happen next in the government’s battle to fix its chaotic currency system.
The highest decision-making body of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front on Friday said it endorsed a decision to “eject Old Mutual from the financial system” and to shut down the country’s biggest mobile-money platform, Ecocash. The institutions have caused “runaway inflation through illegal parallel exchange-market rates,” the party’s acting spokesman, Patrick Chinamasa, said after the meeting in Harare.
The government wants to stop companies from using differences in the 175-year-old insurer’s share prices in London, Johannesburg and Harare to determine a potential forward rate for the currency. Measures that were being considered included suspending Old Mutual’s shares from the local bourse, having the securities traded in dollars, or moving it to a planned foreign-exchange based market, people familiar with the matter said earlier this month.
“When they say it is ejected, I’m not sure what he means,” said Lloyd Mlotshwa, the head of equities at Harare-based IH Securities. “I’m not sure it’s a delisting yet, at this point it’s a confusing statement.”
Chinamasa didn’t give further details or respond to calls and text messages from Bloomberg seeking comment.
The local stock exchange has been shut for two weeks after security forces forced the government to cease trading and halt most mobile-money transactions, people familiar with the matter said last month. Clive Mphambela, a Treasury spokesman, declined to comment. A spokesperson for Old Mutual in Johannesburg didn’t respond to calls and a text message seeking comment. Nick Mangwana, a government spokesman, didn’t immediately reply to a text message.
A perennial shortage of cash means anyone who has banknotes is able to negotiate exchange rates with brokers who pay the funds onto mobile-money platforms. The brokers can then sell the hard cash at an even higher rate. The Old Mutual Implied Rate values the Zimbabwean dollar at 122 against the greenback, compared with a black-market rate of about 100, and Friday’s closing price of 65.8765. The government in June abandoned a peg of 25:1 that was put in place in March.
Justin Bgoni, the chief executive officer of the stock exchange, said he is aware of the comments from the ruling party, but wasn’t sure what it implied and would rather wait for official communication from authorities before commenting.
Sean Gammon, managing director of Harare-based Imara Edwards Securities Pvt Ltd. said the comments by Zanu-PF were probably directed at delisting Old Mutual rather than its removal from the entire financial services sector. Old Mutual spans banking, property and insurance in the country.
The last communication received from authorities was that inspections would be conducted into stockbroker trades in the coming days, he said. Once concluded, trading should resume.
South African banks are looking at options ranging from debt consolidation to new ways of leveraging equity to avoid defaults when coronavirus-related debt relief measures end, industry officials said.
The banks gave customers in good standing relief on loans during the pandemic, including payment holidays of up to three months. But some consumers are still in trouble.
Some banks have offered extensions, while others like Capitec offered to refund interest accumulated during payment holidays.
Jacques Celliers, CEO of FirstRand’s retail division, said the lender was worried about the impact of job losses and wanted to avoid a wave of property evictions that would affect prices.
Mortgages make up 59% of 489 billion rand ($28.88 billion) in loans considered at risk, according to the Banking Association of South Africa (BASA).
“We’ll have to be very clever between all of us as to how do we navigate the property game,” Celliers said.
Options could include leveraging the equity in properties, including family members’ properties, in new ways, using pensions or granting term extensions on mortgages, he said.
Anton de Wet, chief client officer in Nedbank’s retail and business bank, said debt consolidation on home loans was a possibility and that term extensions, as well as other solutions, could be discussed with customers individually.
Standard Bank also said its solutions were based on individual clients’ circumstances. Absa said it would make an announcement on its post-debt relief plans in the near future.
Banks have already warned of rising bad loans: Capitec, for instance, said its credit impairment charge was 145% above expectation and it had increased provisions by 3.3 billion rand since February.
Some banks have applied a less-stringent approach to provisioning for loans granted relief after regulators allowed more flexibility in strict new accounting rules.
BASA managing director Bongiwe Kunene said higher provisions could be triggered if consumers can’t keep up with payments following the relief period.
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged African leaders to ensure the immediate actualization of the Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR), as the continent celebrates Anti-Corruption Day, July 11, 2020.
In a letter to South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of African Union, the Nigerian leader asked for a re-commitment to the anti-corruption war by leaders on the continent to engender an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
The President laments that “the massive corruption being perpetrated across Africa’s national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that worsen the socioeconomic and political situation in Africa.”
The letter by President Buhari reads in part:
“As Your Excellency is aware, the continental fight against corruption has been premised on an irreducible minimum that can pave the way for Africa’s transformation. In this effort, the emphasis has been on the continent’s collective determination to forge resilient partnerships among our national governments, civil society organizations and other interest groups, such as women, youth and the physically challenged, to ensure improved socio-economic, political and security development and ultimately, the improvement of our continent.
“The concern of the African Union is that the massive corruption being perpetuated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that have worsened the socio-economic and political situation in Africa.
“Your Excellency may recall that these continental concerns led our colleagues at the African Union, to appoint my humble self as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion. I believe that the efforts and focus of the Nigerian Government at home, partly informed this decision as well as the need for Africa, as a continent, to recommit herself to the fight against corruption and the imperative to free resources for meaningful development.
“I am, therefore, in full support of the call for the issuance of a continental message to commemorate this day, on July 11, 2020, to re-commit the African Union to the continental fight against corruption, including through a robust approach to assets recovery, hence the need for a strategic framework on a Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR).
“Happily, in February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, CAPAR was adopted. In my view, the African Union must go beyond the mere annual celebration of the Africa Anti-Corruption Day by moving swiftly to operationalize the African Common Position on Assets Recovery by all member states. This is an excellent way to drive Africa’s Agenda 2063, for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.’
“As current Chair of our Union, I sincerely commend to you, this suggestion that seeks to call our leaders in Africa to recommit ourselves to this very important task of reclaiming our continent from the vice of systemic corruption.
“Please accept, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the assurances of my highest consideration.”]
Credit: Daily Post
Malawians have voiced anger after newly appointed President Lazarus Chakwera unveiled a cabinet that they said was tainted by family ties.
Chakwera, 65, comfortably beat Peter Mutharika with 58.5 percent of the vote in last month's election, marking the first time in African history that an election rerun led to the defeat of an incumbent.
On Wednesday night, the new president announced a 31-member cabinet that included six figures who are related to each other, although not to the president.
The new labour and health ministers are brother and sister, while the incoming information minister is the sister-in-law of the new deputy agriculture minister.
Chakwera's former running mate in the 2019 elections, Sidik Mia, will serve as the transport minister while his wife will be the deputy minister for lands.
The Human Rights Defenders Coalition, which led sustained countrywide protests against the disputed 2019 elections, said there were "widespread concerns".
"First is the issue of family members in the cabinet, such as husband and wife and brother and sister," the coalition's national coordinator, Luke Tembo, told AFP news agency. The second was regionalism, he said.
"We have noted that 70 percent of the ministers are from the central region and that Lilongwe alone has nine ministers, and we know that the president comes from Lilongwe," he said.
Social activist Mkotama Katenga-Kaunda said the move was disappointing as the incumbent had promised: "This new Malawi will get rid of nepotism and cronyism."
"Malawians feel that these cabinet posts were not awarded to some individuals based on merit, but based on what monetary support they gave to the alliance during the campaign," he said.
Chakwera also nominated a new police chief, new central bank governor and tax authority head.
A former evangelical preacher, Chakwera promised to tackle corruption on his election ticket. His victory brought hope for change in landlocked Malawi, where about half of its 18 million people live below the poverty line.
Danwood Chirwa, a professor of law at the University of Cape Town, described the nominations as "political patronage", saying the president has "quickly transformed himself into a good salesman of words and rhetoric while serving the same stale dishes Malawians have fed on in the last 26 years".
Chirwa said Malawians should raise their voices and reject the cabinet.
"On Monday, he promised heaven, yesterday he unleashed hell," he said.
"He has reduced the electoral victory to the actions of a few individuals whose main interest is to profit from the state, not through the ordinary remuneration and other trappings ministerial positions offer, but through corruption and looting."
Gender activist Emma Kaliya also described the cabinet as a raw deal.
"We are deflated that the president has not lived up to the promise of 40 percent female representation. What is even more saddening is that most women are deputy ministers. His appointments are less inspiring," Kaliya told The Nation, a local daily.
Chakwera's spokesperson Sean Kampondeni said: "President Chakwera will himself address those concerns soon."
Pakistan overtook Uganda to become the biggest buyer of Kenyan goods in the first five months of the year after supplies to Kampala were largely slowed by coronavirus-induced delays at the border.
Earnings from exports to Pakistan, predominantly tea, bumped 19.37 percent to Sh24.13 billion($224m), pushing the world's fifth most populous country back to the summit of top importers of Kenyan products for the first time since 2017, official data shows.
The data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows supplies to the land-locked Uganda, Kenya’s largest overall trading partner, dropped 5.65 percent to Sh20.22 billion, largely hurt by delays in April and May due to a requirement for truckers to have Covid-free certificates.
That slowed delivery of goods – including vegetable oils, fuel, iron and steel as well as paper and paperboard– to Kampala, pushing the country down to third biggest buyer of Kenya’s after being leapfrogged by the United Kingdom (UK).
Revenue from exports to the UK, the former Kenya’s colonial master, grew at the fastest pace of 30.06 percent to Sh21.49 billion on increased demand for fresh farm produce such as fruits, cut flowers and vegetables.
Kenya Flower Council, the lobby for large-scale flower farms, said demand for Kenyan fresh produce in Europe and other key destinations has been rising since April at about 30 percent of targeted sales to current levels of nearly 75 percent.
Delivery has, however, been hurt by erratic freight services with most airlines prioritising medical supplies in the fight against contagious Covid-19, KFC chief executive Clement Tulezi said on phone.
“The biggest challenge we have at the moment is freight. It is only the UK which has remained open for the longest even when we were in the heat of Covid shocks two months ago,” said Mr Tulezi.
“Our hope is that as Europe and other markets start to open, and increased demand and less supplies comes in, we should be able to attract more freighters into Nairobi.”
Overall, Kenya’s exports rose 6.73 percent (or Sh16.98 billion) in the January-May 2020 period to Sh269.13 billion, spurred by increased sale of tea and horticultural products.
Tea earnings jumped 18.90 percent to Sh58.62 billion, cut flowers by 4.23 percent to Sh51.14 billion, while income from sale of fruits surged 78.91 percent to Sh11.09 billion.
Coffee is the second-most traded commodity in the world, behind only petroleum, and has become a mainstay of the modern diet. Believed to have originated in Ethiopia, coffee was used in the Middle East in the 16th century to aid concentration.
But did you know it also sparked a social revolution in Britain in the 17th century? Here are eight facts about the history of coffee…
Coffee may have been discovered by ‘excited goats’
Legend has it that Kaldi, a lonely goat herder in ninth-century Ethiopia, discovered the energising and invigorating effects of coffee when he saw his goats getting excited after eating some berries from a tree. Kaldi told the abbot of the local monastery about this and the abbot came up with the idea of drying and boiling the berries to make a beverage. He threw the berries into the fire, whence the unmistakable aroma of what we now know as coffee drifted through the night air. The now roasted beans were raked from the embers, ground up and dissolved in hot water: so was made the world’s first cup of coffee.
The abbot and his monks found that the beverage kept them awake for hours at a time – just the thing for men devoted to long hours of prayer. Word spread, and so did the hot drink, even as far afield as the Arabian peninsula.
A Yemenite Sufi mystic named Ghothul Akbar Nooruddin Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili also has a claim to the discovery of coffee: he is said to have spotted berry-eating birds flying over his village unusually energetically. On tasting some jettisoned berries he too found himself unusually alert.
It was brewed by a saint from Mocha
An alternative story has us believe that coffee was first discovered by a sheik named Omar, disciple to the Sufi mystic cited above. While in exile from Mocha (Arabia Felix in present-day Yemen), Omar, who was famous for his ability to cure the sick through prayer, lived in a desert cave near Ousab. Somewhat hungry, Omar one day chewed some berries only to find them bitter. He roasted them but this only made them hard; finally he tried boiling them, resulting in a fragrant brown liquid which, in an instant, gave him unnatural and exceptional energy and allowed him to stay awake for days on end. His ‘miracle discovery’ was held in such great awe that he was allowed to return home to Mocha and elevated to the sainthood while coffee percolated throughout the Arab world.
By the 16th century, coffee was the beverage of choice in Persia, Egypt, Syria and Turkey, its reputation as the ‘wine of Araby’ boosted no end by the thousands of pilgrims visiting the holy city of Mecca each year from all over the Muslim world. Yemeni merchants took coffee home from Ethiopia and began to grow it for themselves. It was prized by Sufis in Yemen who used the drink to aid concentration and as a spiritual intoxicant. They also used it to keep themselves alert during their nighttime devotions.
From the Middle East the popularity of coffee soon spread through the Balkans, Italy and to the rest of Europe, east to Indonesia and then west to the Americas, largely through the Dutch.
Coffee forged a social revolution
Coffee was so powerful a force that it forged a social revolution. Coffee was drunk in the home as a domestic beverage but, more significantly, it was also drunk in the ubiquitous public coffee houses – qahveh khaneh – which sprang up in villages, towns and cities across the Middle East and east Africa.
These coffee houses soon became all the rage and were the place to go to socialise. Coffee drinking and conversation were complemented by all manner of entertainment: musical performances, dancing, games of chess and, most crucially, gossiping, arguing and discussing the breaking news of the day (or night). These coffee houses soon became known as ‘schools of the wise’, the place you went to if you wanted to know what was going on in your world. The link between coffee and intellectual life had been established.
It was believed that coffee is ‘sinful’
Coffee, like alcohol, has a long history of prohibition, attracting fear and suspicion and religious disquiet and hypocrisy. Had the zealots (of all religions) got their way then there would not be very many coffee houses open today.
Coffee drinking was banned by jurists and scholars meeting in Mecca in 1511. The opposition was led by the Meccan governor Khair Beg, who was afraid that coffee would foster opposition to his rule by bringing men together and allowing them to discuss his failings. Thus was born coffee’s association with sedition and revolution. It was decreed sinful (haraam), but the controversy over whether it was intoxicating or not raged on over the next 13 years until the ban was finally rescinded in 1524 by an order of the Ottoman Turkish Sultan Selim I, with Grand Mufti Mehmet Ebussuud el-İmadi issuing a fatwa allowing coffee to be drunk again. Beg was executed for his troubles by command of the Sultan himself, who further proclaimed coffee to be sacred. In Cairo there was a similar ban in 1532; coffee houses and coffee warehouses there were ransacked.
Coffee was known as ‘the devil’s cup’
It did not take long for coffee to travel the short distance to the European mainland where it was landed first in Venice on the back of the lucrative trade the city enjoyed with its Mediterranean neighbours. Initially, however, coffee met with the suspicion and religious prejudice it had suffered in the Middle East and Turkey.
The word on the street, filtering back from intrepid European travellers to the mysterious and mystical lands of the east, was of an equally mysterious, exotic and intoxicating liquor. To Catholics it was the ‘bitter invention of Satan’, carrying the whiff of Islam, and it seemed suspiciously like a substitute for wine as used in the Eucharist; in any event, it was outlawed.
Such was the consternation that Pope Clement VIII had to intervene: he sampled coffee for himself and decreed that it was indeed a Christian as well as a Muslim drink. On tasting it he wittily declared: “This devil’s drink is so delicious… we should cheat the devil by baptising it!” From then on, coffee has been dubbed the devil’s drink, or the devil’s cup.
Coffee came to England in the mid-17th century
According to Samuel Pepys, England’s first coffee house was established in Oxford in 1650 at The Angel in the parish of St Peter in the east, by a Jewish gentleman named Jacob, in the building now known as The Grand Cafe. London’s first coffee house opened in 1652 in St Michael’s Alley, near St Michael at Cornhill’s churchyard. It was run by Pasqua Rosée, a Greek man who in 1672 also set up a coffee stall in Paris. Pepys visited the London coffee house on 10 December 1660: “He [Col. Slingsby] and I in the evening to the Coffee House in Cornhill, the first time that ever I was there, and I found much pleasure in it, through the diversity of company and discourse.”
Coffee houses became ‘the first internet’
For Pepys – and for many other literate men – the coffee house was his newspaper, his internet. In his diaries he refers to the latest news of the conflict with the Dutch, “the comet seen in several places” (15 December 1664) and the “threat of the plague growing upon us… and of remedies against it” (24 May 1665). In his entry for 3 November 1663 Pepys refers to diverse discussions on the Roman Empire, the difference between being awake and dreaming, and a discourse on insects.
By 1675 there were more than 3,000 coffee houses in England alone. Some even had bed and breakfast for overnight guests. Many seemed to follow the Turkish coffee house business model, if their exotic names are anything to go by: there were up to 57 different Turk’s Head coffee houses; The Jerusalem Coffee-house; various types of the Blackamoor or Ye Blackmore’s Head; The Oriental Cigar Divan; The Saracen’s Head (of Dickens fame); The Africa and Senegal Coffee-house; The Sultaness; The Sultan’s Head; Solyman’s Coffee House and Morat Ye Great.
Coffee was claimed to be a 17th-century ‘Viagra’
Unless they were prostitutes, women were excluded from coffee houses and they let their resentment be known: in An Essay in Defence of the Female Sex in 1696, an indignant Mary Astell wrote: “A coffee house habitué is someone who lodges at home, but he lives at the coffee-house. He converses more with newspapers, gazettes and votes, than with his shop-books, and his constant application to the publick takes him off all care for his private home. He is always settling the nation, yet cou’d never manage his own family.”
Astell was merely chiming with all the other wives left at home with their chores and cups of tea; in 1674 there had been the vitriolic The Women’s Petition Against Coffee, in which wives argued that their husbands were forever absent from the home and family, neglecting their domestic duties – “turning Turk”, and all for “a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water”.
Coffee, she said, “made men as unfruitful as the deserts whence that unhappy berry is said to be brought, so much so that the offspring of our mighty ancestors would dwindle into a succession of apes and pigmies”. She was referring here to erectile dysfunction brought on by the “noxious puddle”.
These claims were further outlined in the 1663 The Maiden’s Complaint Against Coffee pamphlet. Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee was the retort – it protested that it was “base adulterate wine” and “muddy ale” that made men impotent. Coffee, on the other hand, was the Viagra of the day, making “the erection more vigorous, the ejaculation more full, add[ing] a spiritualascendency to the sperm”. Pfizer could never have found a better opinion leader.
Paul Chrystal is the author of Coffee: A Drink for the Devil, published by Amberley Publishing, 2016.
This article was first published by History Extra in October 2016