Weekly Press Review – 27 March 2017

PetroSA has made headlines again this week. According to the press the state-owned oil company is set to suffer a projected devaluation of assets of R1.1 billion this financial year, in addition to the R14.5 billion in impairment it suffered in the 2014/15 financial year.

The PetroSA board, however, managed to escape an attempt to have it dissolved. A call was made to Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to fire the entire board.

Committee member, Motswaledi Matlala said, “On behalf of the committee I request of the minister: let’s fire the board and get new people who are serious about the lives of the people of this county.”

Interim board chairman, Bhekabantu Ngubane responded by saying that it would be sad day if the board were fired.

Adding to the company’s woes it was also reported in the press that an inexplicable decision by executives at the embattled oil company to feed oil into the state-of-the-art gas-to-liquid facility at Mossel Bay has led to a break down of the refinery, resulting in a two week shutdown and a R500 million loss in revenue.

Transnet has made headlines this week with parliament calling for a forensic investigation into Transnet and the Passenger Rail Agency’s multi-billion rand locomotive contracts.

A display commemorating the black South African troops who lost their lives aboard the SS Mendi in 1917 is currently open at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

According to the press the centre will also be hosting a multi-discipline conference focusing on the role that the soldiers aboard the SS Mendi played in the greater struggle for human rights and human dignity.

The SA Navy will just have to do more with less. That was the message delivered by Vice Admiral Mosuwa Hlongwana, Head of the SA Navy, in Simon’s Town this week.

According to the press the navy is experiencing more challenges, but with far less funding. Vice Admiral Hlongwana also stated that it is important to remember that the navy has 3,000km of coastline to patrol and traditional concepts would have to be challenged in driving the navy into the future.

The annual SA Navy Festival, in conjunction with Armscor, took place at East Dockyard in Simon’s Town last weekend. According to the press the event afforded the public the opportunity to tour naval ships and submarines, as well as view multi-capacity anti-piracy demonstrations.

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Weekly Press Review – 13 March 2017

Sea Harvest is set to list on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) this month, making it the second fishing company to list this year after Premier Food and Fishing (PFF).

According to the press Sea Harvest is a subsidiary of Brimstone Investment and is expected to retain its controlling stake in Sea Harvest after the listing, with an interest of more than 50 percent.

A bidding war is on for the ferry trade from mainland Cape Town to Robben Island.

According to the press, two new ferry tenders are embroiled in a battle over potential financial spoils. The vessel at the centre of the controversy is the Madiba 1, a R60 million, 200-seater ferry.

Butana Komphela, who has shares in the Madiba 1, also chairs a consortium bidding for a back-up ferry contract, currently shared by several companies based at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town.

A rival bidder claims the MEC’s political connections could help the consortium secure the deal.

A second tender for a new-build ferry is also causing controversy after it was reported in the Sunday Times that the tender had been awarded to Damen Shipyards, even with a bid R20 million higher than rival bids from Veecraft and Nautic Africa.

Damen has not commented.

According to an article in the Cape Times this week ghost ships may be the way forward for the shipping industry. With self-driving motor vehicles set to be a real prospect by 2020, the shipping industry will soon find it necessary to follow the same path.

One of the key manufacturers in the unmanned vessel space, Rolls Royce, expects remote controlled vessels to be in use within the next 10 to 15 years.

Internationally the elimination of human input is regarded as one of the key benefits of automation, but with the scarcity of jobs in the South African market one would have to look closely at the viability of such an option in developing countries.

Weekly Press Review – 6 March 2017

According to the press the residents of the small fishing village of Buffeljags on the Western Cape’s Overberg is being left destitute due to yet another fishing rights dispute.

A flagship seaweed business, Buffeljags Marine, has created more than 30 jobs in the area, but this week the community lost their harvesting rights after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) did not renew its 10-year rights allocation. The rights are now to be transferred into a yet-to-be-established small-scale community fishing sector.

The result is that the employees of Buffeljags Marine will no longer be paid as business has come to a standstill. Adding to their woes, the local crèche, which is funded by the seaweed income, is now also facing closure.

Johnny van der Bergh, director of Buffeljags Marine says, “There is no other income for us here. It’s not like around here one can go and look for a job in construction.”

The standstill also threatens the only other major business in the town, the abalone farms that buy the kelp harvest.

The department’s director of small-scale fishing, Craig Smith, said that Buffeljags Marine had applied for an exemption and that it was currently under consideration.

The police made another big bust last week, arresting four suspected lobster poachers found in possession of lobster and lobster tails.

According to the press, the four men appeared before the Gordon’s Bay Magistrates Court last week on charges relating to the Marine Living Resources Act.