Sunday, October 31, 2010

South Africa's Football Lesson-Brasil Take Note For 2016

South Africa’s football lesson
By Simon Kuper
Published: October 30 2010 00:31 | Last updated: October 30 2010 00:31
On Sunday Dilma Rousseff will probably be voted president of Brazil. Soon afterwards she should get on her plane and visit the poor South African town of Nelspruit. There she will see the football stadium built for the recent World Cup. It’s barely played in any more, and isn’t much use to the surrounding slum-dwellers. From Nelspruit Rousseff can fly to Cape Town and view the magnificent new stadium beside the Atlantic. That one’s now redundant too. The company supposed to operate it for 30 years just pulled out of the deal, largely because Cape Town doesn’t need another stadium.

Then Rousseff can fly home and revise plans for what should be the most high-profile event of her reign: Brazil’s World Cup of 2014. Brazil can learn from South Africa’s mistakes. So can the countries bidding to host the World Cups of 2018 and 2022. (The winners will be chosen on December 2, unless scandals delay the vote.) Hosts need to understand what a World Cup is: a party. It leaves nothing behind except a hangover, good memories and a large bill.

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Every host of a World Cup or Olympics ritually claims that the tournament will be “an economic bonanza”. South Africa said this nonstop, and Orlando Silva Jr, Brazil’s charming sports minister, made the usual noises when I caught him over breakfast in Johannesburg during the last World Cup. “I guess that the Cup has been a stimulus for developing infrastructure here, and we will follow the same path in Brazil,” he said, in blithe defiance of the pile of academic studies that find no economic benefit from sports tournaments.

Brazil is building airports, roads and ports for 2014. These are fine things, but they shouldn’t be pegged to a World Cup. If you need a new airport, build it. If you only need a new airport for four football matches, don’t build it. The demands of a football tournament are seldom those of daily life.

Brazilian officials should know this already. One chilly winter’s Saturday in Johannesburg this June, dozens of them came to a workshop where South African officials told them about hosting – about, as one South African said, “some of our cuts and bruises”.

The Brazilians were mostly cheery, as befits officials making a “study visit” to a World Cup. But they heard chilling things. Perhaps the most chilling came from a woman whom I won’t name, to keep her out of trouble. She’s a senior official for Gauteng, the province that includes Johannesburg.

She told the Brazilians how, in early 2009, she had reviewed the projected economic boost the tournament would bring her province. She looked for numbers – and found almost nothing.

South Africa had been saying the tournament would increase tourism, create jobs, build useful infrastructure, etc. But she realised: “It wasn’t going to be giving us the benefits that we had told the country the World Cup was going to give us.” True, Johannesburg’s creaky transport links would improve a bit, but “it wasn’t as much as we had thought”. And so, over a year before kickoff, Gauteng quietly binned hopes of economic bonanza. Somehow the officials forgot to tell the South African people, but then running a province keeps you busy. In the event, predictably, the tournament went well over budget, and attracted few big-spending visitors. I recently got an e-mail from an official at one South African university, which had reserved 92,000 “bed-nights” for football visitors. Shortly before the tournament began, he says, Fifa’s booking agency returned 91,000 nights unused. “We are still trying to sell off the additional linen we had to purchase,” the official complains. If sports economists are right, the Cup won’t boost future tourism and foreign investment in South Africa either.

Brazil should enjoy its World Cup. However, it should view it strictly as a party. A party is fun, but costs money. Nobody says, “I’ll have a birthday party, and I’ll turn a big profit.” Economically, the tournament will entail transfers from some Brazilians to others: from taxpayers to football clubs, which will get shiny new stadiums, and from women (generally not so keen on football) to men (more keen). The tournament could also be a nice little earner for anyone who happens to own a stadium-building company. It won’t do much for slum-dwellers.

Brazil needs to keep costs down. At least it hasn’t copied South Africa’s strategy of rolling over and giving Fifa anything it wants. One Brazilian aide told me about tough negotiations with the global football authority. Nor does Brazil appear as naive about the fabled bonanza as South Africa was. Even Silva admitted that Brazilians were fiercely debating the benefits of hosting. “OK, fine,” he said. “The good thing is that Brazilian public opinion is astute.”

It needs to be. As that woman from Gauteng told her visitors: “There are a lot of mistakes we made that you hopefully won’t make.” Brazil should remember the empty stadium beside the Nelspruit slums, and that unused mountain of university linen.

South Africa's Hugh Masekela At 71

Apartheid and all that jazz
By David Honigmann
Published: October 29 2010 23:24 | Last updated: October 29 2010 23:24

Hugh Masekela, photographed on his recent London stopover
Hugh Masekela began the day in Oslo; he will finish it in Brecon. In transit, making a quick stop in London, he knows precisely what he wants. “I need an espresso,” he growls, his trademark East Rand rasp undiluted by decades travelling the world. “And a cognac.”

Next month, Masekela, now 71 and South Africa’s most celebrated living musician, embarks on a UK tour with fellow veterans the Mahotella Queens.

They may join him on stage for a closing song. “We just did a tribute to [activist/singer] Miriam Makeba in Toulouse. [Singer/songwriter] Thandiswa Mazwai was also there, and Zohani Mahola, the lead singer of Freshlyground, and Vusi Mahlasela. We all rehearsed with the band I play with. It was a most marvellous night,” he says.

Masekela has been playing the trumpet since he was 14. At school in Sofiatown, the doomed black suburb of Johannesburg later bulldozed as a “black spot”, he “saw a movie about a trumpet player” – it was Young Man with a Horn, in which Kirk Douglas starred as Bix Beiderbecke. “And I fell in love with it. Especially the soundtrack, which was played by Harry James. The most beautiful sounds in the world.”

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Masekela had come to the attention of school chaplain Trevor Huddleston as a troubled youth. “I said to Father Huddleston, ‘If I got a trumpet I wouldn’t bother anyone.’ So he got me a trumpet and a trumpet teacher and we ended up forming a band.” An early recording of the Father Huddleston Band, playing “Ndenzeni Na”, showcases Masekela’s animated trumpet playing powering the music forward.

Huddleston went one better. Expelled from South Africa after convincing his diocese to reject the apartheid-era government’s Bantu Education Act, he returned to England via New York. “He met Louis Armstrong and told him about us and Louis Armstrong sent us a trumpet. We became news. The older musicians discovered us. Five of us are still professional musicians today.” Masekela apart, the best-known is the trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, who composed the score for Richard Attenborough’s 1987 film Cry Freedom.

With his friends, Masekela played “in all the townships, anywhere you could get work”. It was a tough apprenticeship. “Even today, South African muscians can play any kind of music because we were never categorical in our approach. When I played in the township dance bands we had to learn ballroom dance songs, the wedding march, waltzes. And we had the movies too. There was Doris Day, there was Mario Lanza ... and the cowboys. We would imitate Smiley Burnette – he was the greatest yodeller.” Masekela briefly yodels, impressively, then segues into a snatch of “My Darling Clementine”.

He worked his way through bands such as the Jazz Dazzlers and the Jazz Epistles. He was part of the cast of the musical King Kong and went into exile in the early 1960s along with many of its members. “We all sought more knowledge and skills – and recognition, because we thought we were good enough for the world. The apartheid regime isolated us, so it became a major yearning to go where you had access to enhancing your knowledge. That’s the reason there was such a big exodus.”

Also in the King Kong cast was Miriam Makeba, six years Masekela’s senior. She and Masekela were married from 1965 to 1968, during which time they lived in America. “We were very successful.” Masekela played trumpet with The Byrds and won a Grammy nomination for “Grazin’ In The Grass”; Makeba landed a Grammy for an album with Harry Belafonte. “We supported each other before we got married and long after we were married. We were passionate about South Africa and we also had our grudges. Miriam couldn’t go back to bury her mother after she died. [In 1960, when Makeba tried to return home for her mother’s funeral, she found that her passport had been revoked.] She addressed the UN in 1963 – she was the first person to bring knowledge about South Africa to the entire world.” At this point, Makeba was stripped of her citizenship altogether.

Makeba died last year, in the middle of a tour. “She was an amazing person because she sacrificed a very lucrative career to fight for liberation, to make people aware about oppression, not only in South Africa but in Angola, Mozambique, the Congo, Zambia, everywhere,” Masekela says. “She became friends with all the liberation movements and raised money for all of them. I don’t think anyone did more for Africa than Miriam Makeba in the history of the continent. She was an amazing woman.”

Even if Masekela’s best-known songs are breezy instrumentals, he is highly political. “The media has tried to compartmentalise me, but my biggest stand is against the decimation of nature and against injustice anywhere in the world.”

He insists that injustice is not restricted to Africa. “I see injustice in England. All over the world is injustice, against the poor, against the illiterate, against migrants. There’s racist injustice, there’s ethnic cleansing. If it exists in Africa, it was exacerbated by its exploitation by the industrial complex of the world.”

In Ghana he met another liberation-minded musician, Nigeria’s Fela Kuti. “Fela has been as over-compartmentalised as Mandela has,” he says. “The media always looks for somebody. The liberation of South Africa has been reduced to ... Mandela. But Mandela could never have been – with all due respect – without the people of South Africa. Without the people who laid down their lives and without the people who built his name while he was in jail.”

Masekela contributed his own piece of the Mandela myth with his song “Bring Him Back Home”. The original version of the song pictures Mandela, then imprisoned, walking down the streets of Soweto with his former wife Winnie; in performance she has now been airbrushed out of the chorus. Now, though, Masekela dismisses it: “It was just a song, it was just a song. I come from a people, and those people are much bigger than me. They are my source and my resource and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be. Whenever people try to say I did something I say, ‘One day I just woke up and wrote a song because Mandela sent me a birthday greeting from jail’. It doesn’t make me a liberation hero. I refuse that mantle.”

Nonetheless, Masekela’s concern with social justice is a constant thread in his music. “Stimela (Coal Train)” has grown into a chilling 20-minute tour de force in which he imitates the wheezing of the train bringing migrant workers to work in South Africa’s mines. “I grew up at a time when there were small townships, mining towns surrounded by mining compounds. There were immigrant migrant labourers from all the neighbouring countries and the entire hinterland of SA itself.”

But the anger is mixed with fondness. “There were 20 or 30 ethnic groups with types of clothing like plumage,” he says. “Different dressing and pageantry and drumming and singing and dancing.”

When not touring, Masekela lives on a one-and-a-half acre plot – “like a little farm” – in Bryanston, a well-heeled, liberal northern suburb of Johannesburg. “I have one of the most beautiful gardens in the world. The two things I like doing most outside music are gardening and tai chi. It helps to centre and focus me.”

When not gardening, he is involved in theatrical productions that revive South Africa’s musical heritage. “I’m part of the cast of a play called Songs of Migration that we’re bringing to England next year. It’s a cross-section of South Africa’s migration songs from as far back as we can go to the most recent. With very high-level performances” – notably from singer Sibongile Khumalo – “and a great script by James Ngcobo. We’re also working on a Miriam Makeba musical. And a Joseph Shabalala portrait. The women of South Africa – the Dolly Rathebes and Dorothy Masukas. Revival through entertainment.”

He is suddenly animated. “A lot of our heritage was rubbished by international business and religion as heathen and backward, and savage and barbaric. For very many decades we believed it. But that’s going to go away. When that goes away there’s going to be a major arts revival and renaissance in Africa.”

The cognac and espresso have come to an end. “My biggest obsession is working on a revival of the past for Africa. Africa’s past – there’s amazing history and diversity and wealth that has to be put together to show the world and to show future generations. We’re the only community that is impoverished all over the world. But the biggest wealth that cannot be taken away from us is our heritage, and that is my biggest obsession. To show it, in whatever vehicle, and to campaign for people to wake up to it and revive it. That’s the greatest way forward for the African. I don’t think anyone’s going to do it for us.”

Hugh Masekela’s UK tour runs from November 6 to 20. For details, go to

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Relations Between Tsvangirai And Mugabe Break Down In Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
Zimbabwe: Principals' Relations Plunge Further

Dumisani Muleya

28 October 2010

Harare — The recent good working relationship between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has all but broken down in bitterness and recrimination after the president's recent unilateral appointments which outraged the premier and re-ignited their fierce rivalry.

Mugabe's and Tsvangirai's relationship deteriorated further this week after the prime minister boycotted cabinet for the second time this month. Instead of attending Tuesday's cabinet meeting, the most important gathering on the government calendar, Tsvangirai chose to travel to Zambia to meet President Rupiah Banda to brief him on Mugabe's increasing unilateralism within the inclusive government.

Mugabe said this week he wants the referendum on the new draft constitution in March and elections in June next year. His relations with Tsvangirai will almost certainly get worse towards elections.

Tsvangirai went to Zambia on Tuesday morning and returned in the evening for the MDC-T's consultative meeting at Glen View 1 in Harare. Tsvangirai has been holding consultative meetings to find out what his supporters think about the current political situation in the country and his continued stay in the collapsing inclusive government. The move might culminate in the MDC-T pulling out of government, precipitating the collapse of the coalition in which Mugabe and Tsvangirai were awkward political bedfellows.

Tsvangirai's trip to Zambia is also part of the consultations on the state of the inclusive government. The MDC-T leader is expected to hold more meetings with regional leaders, including South African President Jacob Zuma, as part of his diplomatic campaign to resolve the current political stalemate in the country.

Tsvangirai on October 7 wrote to Zuma complaining about Mugabe's unilateral appointments of provincial governors, judges and ambassadors without consultation. He said the appointments were "unconstitutional, null and void".

Besides staying away from cabinet on Tuesday, Tsvangirai has also not attended his Monday meetings with Mugabe on October 11, 18 and 25. The premier boycotted cabinet on October 12, but attended last week's meeting before keeping away on Tuesday.

While Tsvangirai's spokesman Luke Tamborinyoka was not available for comment, ministers who attended cabinet on Tuesday said the premier was not there.

"He was not there for the second time inside three weeks," one minister said. "It shows there is something wrong. His relations with Mugabe have deteriorated and the bad blood is back. There is now a lot of mutual animosity, hostility and bitterness between them."

Another minister said Tsvangirai was now boycotting cabinet and his Monday meetings with the president because he has felt betrayed by Mugabe.

"Tsvangirai feels betrayed by Mugabe and he is very disappointed with him," the minister said. "This explains his behaviour and actions of late."

Tsvangirai recently spoke publicly about betrayal by Mugabe, in a move which left his critics feeling vindicated. Tsvangirai's critics insisted right from the beginning that trusting Mugabe betrayed political naivety on the prime minister's side because the president had a record of letting down even his own political loyalists and allies.

"Events of the past few months have left me sorely disappointed in Mr Mugabe and in his betrayal of the confidence that I and many Zimbabweans have personally invested in him," Tsvangirai told journalists in Harare on October 6.

Tsvangirai had decided in 2008 to put aside his personal and political differences with Mugabe and work together with him in the inclusive government. After a number of meetings, the two started warming up to each other, boasting in public their working relationship was now cordial. They even castigated the media for trying to cast aspersions over their new-found friendship.

Tsvangirai went all over the world, defending Mugabe and reminding everyone he was a liberation struggle hero whose besmirched legacy could still be rescued.

However, when Mugabe told Tsvangirai at their Monday meetings on October 4 that he had appointed governors arbitrarily, the prime minister was stunned and felt betrayed. He summoned his party's national executive on October 5 to discuss the issue and the following day he addressed journalists expressing his disappointment with Mugabe.
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The premier told journalists he felt betrayed and was "sorely disappointed". He even referred to Mugabe and his loyalists as his "yester enemies and tormentors", revealing his bitterness. Mugabe and his previous regime harassed Tsvangirai, arrested and charged him with treason on a number of times. In 2007 police brutally assaulted him at Machipisa police station after blocking him from addressing a political meeting in Harare.

In a flurry of activity after their October 4 tense meeting, Tsvangirai on October 7 wrote a series of letters to Mugabe, Zuma, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon, European Union Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Swedish Prime Minister Frederick Reinfedt and Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku expressing outrage at the president's actions which he described as "nonsensical and rank madness".

Mugabe has also been on the offensive, worsening their mutual hostility. He has also referred to Tsvangirai's complaints as "nonsensical".

Friday, October 29, 2010

South Africa Rev Up Your Economy!!

Rev up the engine
Oct 29th 2010, 9:57 by The Economist online | JOHANNESBURG

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s government announced a “new growth path” this week, with the aim of creating 5m jobs over the next ten years. Since the official unemployment rate stands at over 25%—and at almost 37% if those too discouraged to go on looking for a job are included—this should indeed be a priority.

Sadly, however, there is not much new in the government’s plan. It amounts to little more than a long list of worthy suggestions (less corruption, more efficiency, greater cooperation with unions and so on). If conditions were right this might do it. But they are not.

Since the African National Congress (ANC) came to power in 1994, growth has averaged 3.2%, not fast enough to make a dent in the high unemployment rate. In the four years up to 2008, when the global financial crisis struck, South Africa did achieve growth of more than 5% on average. But since then it has slipped into its first recession in 17 years. Last year the economy shrank by 1.8%. It has since picked up again. In his mid-term budget speech on October 27th Pravin Gordhan, the finance minister, said he expected GDP to expand by 3% this year, up from his 2.3% forecast in February, rising to 4.4% by 2013.

The ANC says it hopes to cut unemployment to 15% over the coming decade. It will be lucky to reach 20%. Mr Gordhan, the finance minister, recently estimated that it would require economic growth of 7% a year for the next 20-30 years to make significant inroads into the ranks of the unemployed. In his mid-term budget speech, he lowered that estimated to 6% a year. That level of sustained growth has not been seen since the mid-1960s, and looks unlikely to return now. / Companies / Retail - Walmart rethinks $4.6bn Massmart deal / Companies / Retail - Walmart rethinks $4.6bn Massmart deal

Walmart rethinks $4.6bn Massmart deal
By Simon Mundy in Johannesburg
Published: October 28 2010 15:04 | Last updated: October 29 2010 01:07
Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer by sales, is reconsidering a planned $4.6bn takeover offer offer for Massmart after talks with major shareholders of South Africa’s third-biggest retailer.

The US group last month made a non-binding proposal to acquire the entire listed capital of Massmart, which has operations in 14 African countries, at R148 ($21) per share.

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The offer would be Walmart’s biggest acquisition in an emerging market, and the first move by a major mass market chain into sub-Saharan Africa.

Massmart said in an update on the talks on Thursday that following consultation with its major shareholders, Walmart was “considering potential options for and the merits of retaining Massmart’s listing” on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

This could result in Walmart scaling back its ambition to buy all the South African company’s shares and result in a revised offer for a majority stake. But Massmart said any new offer would be at the earlier price.

Syd Vianello, analyst at Nedcor Securities, said some major shareholders had told Walmart they would insist on retaining reduced stakes in Massmart, to “reap the benefits” of anticipated faster growth following the takeover.

Walmart’s Mexican subsidiary provides a precedent for a partial takeover. It holds 60 per cent of the Mexican company, which is publicly listed. The Arkansas-based retailer is keen to pursue further growth in emerging markets, having expanded aggressively in China and Latin America.

Massmart has a particular focus on Nigeria, although 93 per cent of its revenue is generated in South Africa, where it has 290 stores.

Most of Massmart’s listed equity is held by international investors, but big domestic shareholders include the state pension fund. “The government would be delighted if Massmart remains listed,” Mr Vianello said.

A partial takeover could limit Walmart’s financial support for Massmart, as well as anticipated procurement savings.

But Grant Pattison, chief executive of Massmart, said that the takeover process remained “on track”.

“Walmart and Massmart have held initial meetings with all major stakeholders and have had constructive engagements with them.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

South Africa's Assylum Process Is Flawed

Asylum review process flawed — LSSA

Published 26 Oct 2010

Article by: Sapa0 Comments

Asylum seekers should be given the right and opportunity to make submissions to the Home Affairs director-general before the decision to reject their application is reviewed, the Law Society of SA (LSSA) said on Tuesday.

An automatic review by the director-general without the asylum seeker being afforded an opportunity to make submissions on the rejection of their application as "manifestly unfounded", was procedurally unjust, LSSA representative William Kerfoot told the home affairs portfolio committee.

The committee is currently holding public hearings on the draft Refugees Amendment Bill.

Kerfoot said that some years ago an eminent senior counsel provided an opinion confirming that these "reviews" could not be conducted without affording the affected person a hearing, even if it was merely an opportunity to make written submissions.

It also needed to be borne in mind that the DG was hardly likely, on top of all his other duties, to attend to these personally - especially should the department not want to increase the backlog and delays.

The DG would inevitably delegate the function, which raised further concerns about the independence and practicality of the proposed internal department process.

"Such a procedure will, it is therefore submitted, lead to considerable substantive injustice," he said.

The LSSA urged that this provision be amended to provide that the asylum seeker be afforded an express right and be given a reasonable opportunity to make submissions to the DG prior to the decision being reviewed.

The questionable quality of far too many refugee status determinations in the department at present was generally acknowledged.

Without denying that "manifestly unfounded" applications did get made, the LSSA submitted that all too often findings of "abusive, fraudulent or manifestly unfounded applications" were made in respect of bona fide, if poorly motivated, applications - and sometimes even well-deserving applications.

This revealed a regrettable ignorance of the Refugees Act, of the relevant countries, their country conditions and of the provisions of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees' definitive handbook on how to assess applications, he said.

A further factor might well be the time pressures under which overworked officials operated to get decisions out as required by their supervisors, however laudable it might be to obtain speedy outcomes.

The courts both here and in other countries had warned against applying what was termed "armchair logic" to critically assess the bona fide applicant's version of events, especially when some of these people might be traumatised, physically ill and ill-equipped in English - if at all - and were the classic "stranger(s) in a strange land".

"But tragically that is what is happening," Kerfoot said.

Given the unfortunate low standard of adjudication by Refugees Status Determination Officers, it was particularly important to ensure that members forming the status determination committee were properly trained and qualified.

The vague and unsatisfactory concept "indefinitely" in the bill, should be removed. Emphasis should be placed on the time the asylum seeker or refugee had lived in South Africa, he said.

"It is unconscionable that, for example, Angolan refugees who have been in the country for 15 years or longer and now apply for permanent residence should be disqualified because it is not believed that they will remain refugees 'indefinitely'."

The LSSA also recommended that the bill be amended to provide that any asylum seeker or refugee who had resided in the country for a particular period as an asylum seeker, be entitled to apply for permanent residence without need for further inquiry. This was unless the department had evidence to the contrary, which could be tabled as part of the application for permanent residence.

At the very least, and as a matter of common decency and to provide for a durable solution to the condition of refugees (as government was required to do in terms of its obligations under the Refugee Conventions), the bill should provide that a person with refugee status could apply after five years' residence in SA - calculated from the time he or she entered the country as an asylum seeker.

This did not preclude the department from opposing the application, as was already the case, Kerfoot said.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

South Africa's Rocket Man Elon Musk Sets November 18 As The Date To Launch His Dragon Space Capsule Into Orbit

SpaceX Now Targeting Nov. 18 For First COTS Demo Flight
SpaceX has pushed back the target date for its first NASA demonstration flight by 10 days, to Nov. 18.

The planned launch of a Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station will be the first in a NASA program testing the vehicles' readiness to deliver cargo to the International Space Station.

Hawthorne, Calif.-based SpaceX had been targeting Nov. 8 for the first mission under NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program, or COTS.

No reason was immediately given for the delay, which pushes the mission behind the next shuttle flight and the launch of a spy satellite by a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy. Those launches are targeted for Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, respectively.

Before the launch, SpaceX plans to test the rocket's nine first stage engines with a brief firing at Launch Complex 40. A new date for the static fire and a launch window were not immediately confirmed.

The window planned Nov. 8 ran from 9:30 a.m. to 12:52 p.m. The static fire was scheduled five days earlier.

The mission known as COTS-1 plans to orbit an operational Dragon vehicle for the first time, circling Earth one to three times before splashing down off the coast of Southern California.

NASA and SpaceX plan at least one or two more demonstration missions that will culminate in a Dragon docking at the space station. Then SpaceX will begin to execute a $1.6 billion contract awarded in December 2008 for 12 resupply flights.

IMAGE: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Cape Canaveral on its maiden voyage on June 4, 2010. Photo Credit: Chris Thompson/SpaceX.

Global house prices: Clicks and mortar | The Economist

Global house prices: Clicks and mortar | The Economist

Why HSBC Bank Got Frightened Of Nedbank

This learned gentleman makes some excellent comments. What he fails to take into account that HSBC was hurt with prior losses and afraid of possible credit losses at Nedbank. In a few months some Chinese bank with deep pockets will step up and buy Nedbank with a lot more cash.

The HSBC & Nedbank: Some Positives and Negatives

Published 25 Oct 2010

Article by: Denis Worrall0 Comments

The last Insight went out just before the ANC's National General Council met. That was intended to be an important meeting and the general hope was that greater clarity would be reached on economic policy and policy directions. However, as is now generally acknowledged, it was dominated by President Zuma's opening speech focusing strongly on discipline and on organisational matters. The result is that this was the dominant theme of the Council meeting, with scant attention being given to economic issues. As Investment Solutions' economist Chris Hart said afterwards: "The country simply doesn't have a long-term growth strategy." It is against this background that I'd like to comment on HSBC's termination of take-over talks with Old Mutual and Nedbank.

HSBC's expression of interest in Nedbank was very correctly seen in South Africa as a major development and positive expression of interest in the country. The South African media, and probably Old Mutual and Nedbank themselves, played up the possible deal. And because of this, HSBC's decision to end discussions was so much more disappointing to the South African institutions and South Africans generally. What aggravated the situation is that HSBC, when announcing its withdrawal, gave no reason - leaving it open to speculation. On Friday last, HSBC did give a reason, namely that Nedbank had simply not met its (HSBC's) strict acquisition criteria.

Business Day's editorial response to these happenings was possibly written before the most recent statement by HSBC. But it is important and for that reason is quoted at some length: "A deal this size would not have been dreamed up in a flash. There has been speculation about Old Mutual selling Nedbank for so long, HSBC would have been part of it way before the World Cup in June/July. Back then, anything seemed possible. SA pulled off a huge feat by constructing its facilities for spectators and teams on world-class standards. The country was united and excited. If a potential investor hadn't been excited about us then, when would they? Then the soccer ended and the South African story picked up where it had left off - a fight for power in the ruling party and, as part of that, a voracious attack on the free media. And the mines would be nationalised, declared the powerful ANC Youth League, and so would [and this HSBC would most certainly have taken note of] the banks. And did the leader of the ANC and of the country, President Jacob Zuma, stand up and shut them up? No. ....... If you were HSBC, you would have been astounded at the speed with which the atmosphere soured here after the World Cup. They were considering spending upwards of US$5 billion and it seems to us [Business Day] that it would be more than naive to assume that politics did not play a part in persuading them to go away. The ANC and its leader need to understand that money doesn't grow on trees. If we cannot make investors safe as we did visitors to the World Cup, they simply won't come here. You cannot have a ruling party threatening to nationalise huge businesses and expect business to carry on as usual. SA is going to become just too much bother."

Whatever the specific reason for HSBC's decision, most people would say Business Day's comment is justified.

While the ANC and its partners at their National General Council ignored the critical economic issues facing the country - jobs, hopeless service delivery, under-skilled municipalities, etc. - by contrast these issues were the centre of discussion at last week's South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (SACCI) Annual Convention. SACCI has its origin in the South African Chamber of Business (SACOB) which was established in 1945. It has approximately 50 affiliated chambers, many uni-sectorial associations and a large number of corporate members across all nine provinces. It is affiliated to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Under its present leadership, SACCI has worked hard at maintaining good relations with both government and labour. In fact, two influential ministers - Tokyo Sexwale and Ebrahim Patel - addressed its convention last week. However, the organisation's concerns were reflected in the motions which it passed and in the debates and free-flowing floor discussions. The motions related to, among other matters, lessening the growing reliance on road transportation by strengthening rail and rail freight; accountability and transparency in service delivery; and the shortage and need to develop technical skills.

But what was hugely impressive was a panel discussion following an excellent presentation by Colin Coleman, Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. The panellists included Andrew Etzinger of Eskom; Dennis Dykes, Chief Economist of Nedbank; and a down-to-earth and hard-headed journalist Ellis Mnyandu, recently appointed deputy editor of Business Report. They focused on what Dykes described as "getting down to basics" - teachers teaching, nurses nursing; the development of a long-term vision for the economy; the state enabling business rather than hobbling it; and the constant pressure for an open economy. As one of these bright fellows said - "These are things that we need to do because the world economy right now is very encouraging - we would find that there's lots of money available."

Organisations like SACCI strengthen not only civil society but are quite critical to the future of this country - one of the things which distinguished South Africa from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

Denis Worrall
Omega Investment Research
Cape Town, South Africa

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gideon Gono/Grace Mugabe Affair

Gideon Gono, Grace Mugabe Affair? Zimbabwean President's Wife Accused Of Secret Romance
First Posted: 10-25-10 09:58 AM | Updated: 10-25-10 09:58 AM

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's wife is rumored to have had a five year affair with one of the president's best friends, a South African newspaper reported on Sunday.

Mugabe was told of the alleged affair by his sister, Sabina, as she lay on her deathbed in the Zimbabwean city of Harare after a short illness. Reports stated that a trusted bodyguard, Cain Chademana, who was present at the time of death and is said to have admitted to also knowing about the affair, has been found poisoned.

Grace Mugabe, who is 41 years younger than the president, has been accused of extramarital affairs before. One purported paramour, Peter Pamire, died mysteriously in a car accident, while another, James Makamba, fled Zimbabwe.

Gideon Gono, the most recent man to be linked with Grace, was personally appointed as the head of the country's Reserve Bank by Mugabe in 2003. He is the first politician from Mugabe's inner circle to be romantically linked to the president's wife, which is said to be fueling Mugabe's anger.

President Mugabe was described as "devastated" at his sister's funeral, although whether this was due to her death or her shocking revelations was unknown. Grace has been embroiled in family feuding over her husband's wealth as Mugabe, 86, struggles with poor health. Some have said that the affair accusations are part of a campaign to discredit Grace.

An Open Letter To Julius Malema on Zanu PDF and Zimbabwe

Open letter to Julius Malema on ZANU (PF) and Zimbabwe

Believe it or not Julius, our fate is inextricably linked.

JOHANNESBURG - It is the inevitable consequence of history that, those who oppress others, whether they be black or white, will never prevail.

Greetings to you in the name of the peoples' national democratic revolution! My dear brother, it is with great regret that I recently read your speech at Medunsa on your continued support of ZANU (PF), a liberation movement that has brought many sorrows to us Zimbabweans. I must say that, your continued support of ZANU (PF) and what it stand for continues to pain my heart and it is important that I write and share with you how our alleged liberators have only liberated themselves and continue to oppress the masses and the poor, the very people that you claim to be fighting for. It was also at your youth conference in Midrand in August, that you mentioned the need for the ANCYL to strengthen its relationship with liberation movements against the onslaught of imperialism and neo liberalism. This was after your visit to Zimbabwe earlier this the year where you showered praises to ZANU (PF) and Mugabe.

Let me be quick to add that I have nothing against you in person, for, thank goodness, in this country each one of us is free to articulate their views and opinions without fear or victimisation, something that I may remind you, is very difficult in Zimbabwe under the ZANU (PF) freedom of speech laws that limit our personal freedoms to speak as you do and to organise and associate ourselves with those that seek change.

I am sure, given your position in this country, you have done your homework on the issues facing Zimbabwe right now. Despite the fact that the MDC was voted into power by the majority of Zimbabweans in March 2008, they remain a marginalised in a government of national unity (GNU) whose negotiations were spearheaded by your ex-President Thabo Mbeki, then the leader of your very own political party. In addition, I am sure you are also aware that in excess of 3m Zimbabweans have voted against ZANU (PF) with their feet in the last five years with most of them coming here to South Africa not out of choice, but because of the political and economic circumstances created by the very ZANU (PF) that you support.

As a matter of fact, I am sure that neither the ANC nor the ANCYL has 3m members so it is difficult for you to appreciate the sheer numbers involved and the conditions that led to so many people leaving their own country. This represents almost a quarter of the country's population Julius. Just to give you an idea, this would be equivalent to half of Soweto's residents leaving Gauteng for fear of violence and economic hardship. It is estimated that 80% of those Zimbabweans here in South Africa, are poor people and not professionals or business people.

You will also be aware that an estimated 700 000 people were displaced by ZANU (PF) during the politically motivated Murambatsvina campaign that was designed to rid urban Harare of those that voted for the opposition. There is also the outstanding issue of Gukurahundi that has been declared a crime against humanity, where an estimated 20 000 people perished and our Ndebele brothers and sisters from Matebeleland still have to come to terms with that. If I remember well, this is more people than those that died in the Sharpville Massacre that your country, even to this day, still remembers as a dark day during the days of apartheid.

As a member of the ANC leadership, I am sure you are also continually briefed on the progress in Zimbabwe and how South Africa is the intermediary in this process so that we may see the emergence of a new democratic system in Zimbabwe, something that South Africa will benefit from immensely in all fronts. Be it the return of Zimbabweans who are seen as taking your jobs here, or the volume of trade that is possible with a stable economy in Zimbabwe which can only benefit South Africa. Believe it or not Julius, our fate is inextricably linked and I do wish you would sit down and ponder on that before you support what us Zimbabweans have rejected and will continue to reject - ZANU (PF)'s continued oppression of the masses who, by the way, also sacrificed and contributed to the liberation struggle but remain poor and marginalised to this day.

You are also aware, of course, that the current effort by Zimbabweans to give their input into a new constitution has been disrupted by ZANU (PF) war veterans and the army. Violence has erupted in some areas as ZANU (PF) forces people to agree to their political views. In addition our diamond mines have been nationalised , yes nationalised in the name of ZANU (PF) who have become main beneficiaries.

Julius, Zimbabwe is not a democracy as South Africa is. Your very freedom to organise yourselves as the ANCYL and your freedom to associate with whomever you wish, your freedom of speech and the fact that you even exist are things that you must not take for granted but cherish. These are the similar conditions that we as Zimbabweans also wish for but are unable to achieve because of the ZANU (PF) dictatorship. The economic freedom that you want is also the freedom that we want from these oppressors who you continue to support.

My dear Julius, you cannot be pro-poor here in South Africa and support ZANU (PF) in the same breath, it is a contradiction in terms, a conflict of intent which compromises your bona fides. I must say that I am dismayed and disappointed at your insensitivity to our plight. We are as free to support the MDC as South Africans are free to support the ANC, DA or COPE regardless of what your opinion on them is. In addition, whether a political party is founded in a shack in Kwamashu or a hotel suite Sandton where you live, is neither here nor there Julius. It is irrelevant to the fight against black capitalism, black on black violence and oppression that is being presented to us as economic indigenisation and the fight against imperialism by ZANU (PF). I pray that this will not happen here?

Your liberation icons here such as Mandela, Tambo, Sisulu , among many, sacrificed their valuable lives so that you may have the freedom that you have now. Their sacrifice gave birth to the opportunities that you enjoy today including the fact that you as Julius Malema, can stand up and articulate your views and opinions without fear. That you can stand up today and claim your place in shaping of your country's future.

We in Zimbabwe also have our icons, such as Chitepo, Nkomo, Tongogara among many, who died so that we may enjoy the same freedoms that you have today but we stand oppressed and violated. Yes, we stand oppressed and violated by those that now claim to have liberated us. We stand despised and treated as foreigners in Africa, our motherland. We take menial jobs here in South Africa and all over the world despite our talents and skills and stand dejected by the economic circumstances created in our country because of the greed and selfishness of our own folk in ZANU(PF) who continue to call it a fight against imperialism as you now do.

Your blind support of ZANU (PF) clearly shows most Zimbabweans who have been disadvantaged, killed and maimed by them that you neither care nor are you qualified to be a leader that we can be proud of as Africans. What a pity because Africa needs young vibrant leaders yes, but leaders that have those values of human dignity and freedom that your partners ZANU (PF) sorely need. This of course has put to question in our minds what you Julius Malema stand for and in particular what the organisation you represent stands for.

Our fight Julius, is not against imperialism or neo liberalism as you state, our fight is against African dictatorships, such as that of Mugabe and those that prop him up who oppress their own. Our fight is against liberation movements who claim to represent the interest of the poor but are worse than those imperialists they condemn. Our fight is difficult yes because today we must fight our own who, after liberating us, have assumed that we do not have the same aspirations as they have. They have assumed that theirs is the sole right to have it all and we the masses must be content with the poverty that they have created. That, there is the sole right to govern us even when they misgovern and theirs is the sole right to enjoy the fruits of liberation.

You see Julius, we will not accept those conditions as I am sure that you would not. You have already said so many a time and I wonder why you think less of us Zimbabweans. That we Zimbabweans must be victims of ZANU (PF) by the mere fact that they are a liberation movement and accept to play lesser role in shaping our future than you and the ANCYL would accept here in South Africa. That Mugabe must rule our land for life despite his failure to protect our interests. That ZANU (PF) must have rights above everyone else.

In my opinion Julius, there is nothing wrong with what you claim you stand for, ie, the amelioration of the economic condition of the poor majority. In fact we all stand for that and some of us Zimbabweans who are here are actually doing more to assist poor South Africans than black South Africans themselves. My pain is your continued support of those that for 30 years have shown us that they neither respect our views nor do they care for the condition of Zimbabweans who have become poorer and more desperate by the day. If that is what you as an individual choose to support, that is your choice for we live in a democracy here in South Africa. However, let it be known that, as Zimbabweans, the majority of us do not support ZANU (PF) any longer nor do we respect those that do. All we pray for right now is to register our disapproval through a free and fair election, if that is ever possible in our land.

It is the inevitable consequence of history Julius that those who oppress others, whether they be black or white, liberation movements or imperialist, will never prevail. Freedom shall surely come in our lifetime.

I sincerely hope that our paths shall cross one day as we all seek to be free not only from imperialism as you state, but from those Africans who continue to perpetuate the oppression of the poor under the skirt of liberation and black economic empowerment.

*Vince Musewe is an independent Zimbabwean economist based in South Africa. He is also chairman and founder of Truth2Power. You may contact him on

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nuclear Power In Africa

In pursuit of power: Nuclear power in Africa

Published 22 Oct 2010

Article by: Consultancy Africa Intelligence CAI0 Comments

Nuclear power and nuclear weapons have been a contentious issue for decades and there is little consensus regarding the benefits and perils of nuclear power. The threat of nuclear war and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction have played a large part in dissuading the development of nuclear power options to replace high carbon dioxide emitting technologies such as coal-based power plants. However, in recent years we have witnessed rising expectations regarding the role of nuclear power as a source of electricity. This is largely due to the rapidly increasing global demand for energy, the sustained nuclear safety and productivity record of the last twenty years, and of course, nuclear power's advantages in terms of its minimal greenhouse gas emissions.(2) Moreover, with the global use of electricity projected to increase by 160% by 2050, embracing nuclear technology seems less like a choice and more like an essential obligation.(3)

In Africa, nearly all facets of human development are dependent upon access to reliable, modern and cheap energy sources.(4) Therefore, it is worth investigating whether Africa has a nuclear future. This paper addresses the preceding question and also investigates Africa's nuclear capabilities and ambitions in light of the merits, limitations and challenges associated with expanding nuclear electricity production in African states.

Going nuclear - The merits and limitations of nuclear power

Over the last two decades, there has been a nuclear power renaissance that has been facilitated by a number of factors. The first of these is the desire to diversify fuel sources and reduce the global reliance on fossil fuels. Dependence on fossil fuel imports carries high risks of disruptions from political, geographical and commercial events, among others. On the other hand, nuclear fuel - though also needing to be imported and transported in most cases - due to its high energy density, can be effectively stockpiled, thus mitigating the effects of supply shocks. (5)

The second factor concerns the need to mitigate increasingly volatile fuel markets and costs, given the low dependence of the price of nuclear-produced electricity on the price of uranium, which is used to produce nuclear energy. Unlike other electricity generation plants in which the price of fuel is the major cost, construction accounts for most of the costs in nuclear power generation. This means that nuclear plants are much more immune to fuel costs and therefore more efficient.(6) In addition, with future advances in technology, further decreases in the costs of nuclear power can be expected.(7) Thirdly, there is the need to mitigate climate change and air pollution by reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, specifically carbon dioxide. Nuclear power is a low-GHG emitting technology and the global utilisation thereof would make a significant contribution to the mitigation of GHG. Indeed, direct emissions from nuclear plants are approximately the same as those from wind and solar energy plants, while indirect emissions from nuclear plants are estimated to be lower.(8)

Aside from the benefits of nuclear power, the perils or limitations of nuclear power revolve around several basic concerns, including safety, nuclear waste disposal, and nuclear weapons proliferation. With regard to safety, the greatest concern is of a nuclear accident happening, such as that seen at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986. This could have serious consequences in terms of exposing the public to radiation as Chernobyl did, with hundreds of thousands of people affected by the radiation released from the explosion. However, according to the multi-agency Chernobyl Forum, only "56 deaths could be directly attributed to the accident, most of these from radiation or burns suffered while fighting the fire. Tragic though those deaths were, they pale in comparison to the more than 5,000 coal-mining deaths that occur worldwide every year".(9) Therefore, relatively speaking, nuclear power is a safe option.

Moreover, the occurrence of a nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in the United States of America (US) in 1979 showed how, with the appropriate safety measures in place, the risks of nuclear disaster are relatively low.(10) At Three Mile Island radioactive materials did not penetrate the barriers created in anticipation of such an event. Indeed, safety science has evolved considerably since the first nuclear reactors were developed, including sophisticated systems and provisions, which effectively diminish the risk of a nuclear accident.(11) However, while objective estimates of safety based on hard facts can be made, nuclear power plants are in the end run by human beings and they are therefore subject to human error. The risk of a nuclear disaster can never be completely ruled out and this for some is still too great a risk to run.

A second concern lies in the problem of the effective disposal of nuclear waste. As yet, no country in the world has yet developed a system for permanently disposing of it. The nuclear fuel cycle produces a number of different radioactive products. The most serious of these are spent fuel and high-level waste and the problem lies in ensuring that this waste can never come into contact with the public. The most widely favoured method of disposal is putting the waste into containers and isolating it geographically.(12) The challenges of effectively disposing of nuclear waste remain a serious impediment to the expansion of nuclear power, even in light of the fact that spent fuel can be reprocessed and that used fuel significantly decreases in radioactivity over time.(13)

The most serious concern is the risk of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, which emerges with the development of nuclear energy solutions, as the example of Iran has recently shown. According to Adamantiades and Kessides(14) the spread of nuclear technology "will give more countries the ability to make reactor fuel - or, with the same equipment and a bit more effort, bomb fuel". There are two links between nuclear power for civilian use and that used for explosive applications, namely uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing. A way in which nuclear weapons proliferation can be avoided is through instituting an international system of fuel supplier countries and user countries, whereby supplier countries such as the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US), France and Russia would sell fuel to user countries and also commit to removing and storing the waste products and spent fuel. This would effectively mitigate the chances of proliferation as user countries would forgo the construction of fuel producing facilities (including the enrichment of uranium and spent fuel reprocessing).(15) Questions about the proliferation of dangerous nuclear technologies do not have easy answers, nor can the scope of this paper afford to delve into the complex political nature of nuclear weapons proliferation. Rather, keeping the above merits and limitations of nuclear power in mind, this paper now turns to the issue of nuclear power in Africa.

Nuclear power in Africa thus far...

In comparison to the rest of the world, Africa has lagged behind considerably when it comes to nuclear technology. The exception is South Africa, which is home to the only two nuclear power reactors on the continent - Koeberg-1 and Koeberg-2.(16) Nuclear power therefore constitutes only a tiny fraction of Africa's total energy mix. However, many African countries have indicated that they are eager to commence civilian nuclear programmes to meet the rising demand for power throughout the continent. Indeed, the recent Nuclear Power Middle East and North Africa 2010 conference held on 28 and 29 September 2010 witnessed the increasing interest of many African states in nuclear power solutions. This conference offered a platform for African and Middle Eastern states to gain in-depth insights into embarking on and investing in nuclear power systems and solutions.(17) Another motivation for increased investment in nuclear power on the continent is the concern that Africa is more vulnerable than other regions to the consequences of climate change which include desertification, food shortages, epidemics, insufficient water supply, coastal erosion, and increased refugees".(18)

While Africa has no real record of nuclear power, bar South Africa, there is clearly an interest in pursuing nuclear technology as a solution to the continent's power woes. The nuclear aspirations of countries across Africa include the following plans. Algeria plans to build its first commercial nuclear power station by approximately 2020 and to thereafter build another one every five years. Algeria has large uranium deposits, as well as two nuclear research reactors, but no uranium enrichment capacity as yet.(19) In 2007, Egypt announced plans to build a number of nuclear reactors to meet the rising demand for power. China, Russia, France and Kazakhstan have all offered to cooperate with Egypt in building them. The US has also indicated its willingness to aid Egypt in its nuclear programme, provided Egypt gives up the right to enrich uranium and reprocess spent fuel.(20) The Kenyan energy minister announced in 2008 that the country was seeking investors to build a small nuclear plant to meet the growing electricity needs.(21) Libya has been in negotiations with Russia regarding a deal in which Russia will build nuclear reactors for the North African state. In this deal, Russia would aid Libya in designing the civilian nuclear facility, as well as in developing and operating it and providing the fuel.(22) Namibia is one of three African countries besides Niger and South Africa that is producing uranium and it also has plans to build a nuclear plant to supply electricity to both the domestic market and the region. The Namibian government is setting up a regulatory system with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide the legal framework to build the nuclear plant.(23) Niger, one of the world's largest uranium producers is also planning to build a nuclear power station and it has asked South Africa to aid it in doing so.(24)

As mentioned previously, South Africa is currently the only African country with operational nuclear reactors. These reactors generate approximately 5% of the country's electricity and have been in operation since 1984. While the South African Government's commitment to the future of nuclear technology is strong, the country is currently experiencing severe financial constraints to the extent that construction of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) has been cancelled. Since 1993, Eskom, South Africa's utility provider has been developing the PBMR in collaboration with other companies.(25) The modular reactor is an interesting prospect as instead of building a massive 1000-megawatt plant, modules each producing around 100 megawatts can be built, which is particularly attractive to developing countries such as South Africa because of the much lower capital costs involved.(26) In September 2010 it was announced by the South African Government that they would no longer be investing in the PBMR even in light of the country's current and future serious electricity shortages.(27) Another aspect of South Africa's nuclear history is its record of being the only country to ever have developed nuclear weapons and voluntarily given them up. South Africa embarked on a nuclear weapons programme in the 1970s and it had a nuclear device ready by the end of the decade. The country terminated its nuclear weapons programme in 1990 and in 1991 it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.(28)

Most African states are embarking on nuclear power programmes in order to provide electricity for their citizens. Africa's future as a nuclear-powered continent seems to be a matter of ‘when' and not ‘if'. However, there are a number of challenges associated with Africa's pursuit of nuclear power and these will be discussed in the next section.

A nuclear Africa?

There are a number of key impediments to the construction of nuclear power plants and the provision of nuclear power. The first and possibly most serious concern is contextual. Africa has a long history of interstate conflict, ethnic strife, insurgencies, corruption and crime, among others. These are serious risk factors that need to be taken into account as the absence of a safe and secure environment for the development and implementation of nuclear power could be disastrous on a national, regional and international level. As Khripunov(29) notes: "A nuclear power infrastructure includes manufacturing facilities, complex legal and regulatory frameworks, expanded institutional measures to ensure safety and security, and appropriate human and financial resources. These arrangements would require careful planning, preparation, and investment over a 10- to 15-year period. Nuclear power plants also require a large, upfront investment - usually US$ 2 billion to US$ 3.5 billion per reactor. These are daunting tasks and requirements for any country". In an African environment which includes many of the nefarious features described above, the prospect for the safe and successful development and operation of nuclear power plants does not seem likely. Indeed, in South Africa, which has the only two nuclear reactors on the continent, there have been a number of security incidences. In 2007, armed gunmen gained access to a major nuclear facility in the country and were even able to reach the emergency control before guards chased them away.(30) This incident, in one of Africa's most stable countries, indicates that instilling law and order and security must be a prerequisite for nuclear power development.

A related concern is that of nuclear waste management. African countries are notorious for their lack of responsible waste management practices. Indeed, many African countries have willingly become dumps for toxic waste from the EU and the US.(31) This raises a red flag, calling into question African state's willingness and ability to dispose of toxic waste in a responsible manner. Nuclear waste, as mentioned above, is extremely hazardous and the disposal thereof is one of the greatest global concerns, even in highly developed states.

A third concern for Africa is the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation. With conflict being rife all over the continent, the possibility of African state's pursuing nuclear weapons as a means to settle scores and win conflicts is a real and pressing issue that is intricately connected to African state's desire for civilian nuclear power.(32)

There are a number of ways in which these concerns can to an extent be mitigated. As mentioned above, the implementation of a system of nuclear fuel supplier countries and user countries would greatly alleviate both the danger of nuclear weapons proliferation and the issue of nuclear waste disposal in Africa. This type of system would be highly efficient in Africa as African states would be able to reap the many benefits of nuclear power, but would not have to take responsibility for nuclear waste management and they would also not have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons.

Another approach to nuclear power in Africa would be to start with small reactors whose output would better match existing grid capacity. In this regard, it has been suggested that a Russian floating nuclear power plant, operated by a Russian team and connected by cable to a country's grid could become a feasible option for Africa. This technology is based on the original reactor designs for Russian nuclear submarines.(33) A second, smaller-scale option on the market is the PBMR, recently abandoned by South Africa, which is far less capital intensive than more conventional options.

Another way in which nuclear technology can be better pursued in Africa is through increased regional cooperation. This would allow the establishment of the required economies of scale for nuclear power generation and would be a more cost-effective route of ascertaining cheap electricity throughout Africa. African countries are demonstrating an increased interest in regional cooperation that may involve interconnected grids, collective facilities, cooperative education and training programs, shared expertise in safety and security, and common management practices and skilled labour pools.(34)

Concluding remarks

This paper discussed the benefits of nuclear power as a solution to many current global problems. This paper also noted the perils of nuclear power, which as Chernobyl has shown, can be disastrous. While African countries stand to benefit enormously from nuclear power, it is not a quick fix for Africa's energy problems. Indeed as Khripunov(35) concludes: "In order to succeed, African Governments must go beyond the traditional framework of a technical programme and apply considerable effort toward ameliorating the problems that plague their industrial infrastructure, public governance, educational system, and other institutions in the public and private sectors. If well organised, the pursuit of nuclear power could become a rewarding endeavour for the continent and serve the needs of its people. But the international community must be aware that a lack of expertise, oversight, and safety and security measures could increase the likelihood of nuclear proliferation or terrorism both within and outside the continent". Nuclear power is a double-edged sword, with both great benefits and great perils attached. Africa is poised to embark on its nuclear journey, the navigation of which will hopefully be successful.

Written by: Catherine Pringle(1)

(1) Contact Catherine Pringle through Consultancy Africa Intelligence's Africa Watch Unit (
(2) Mohamed ElBaradei, ‘Nuclear Technology: Serving Sustainable Development', International Atomic Energy Agency, 09 January 2007,
(3) Deutch, J. M., & Moniz, E. J., 2006. The Nuclear Option. Scientific American, 295(3), pp. 6.
(4) Igor Khripunov, ‘Africa's pursuit of nuclear power', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 November 2007,
(5) Adamantiades, A., & Kessides, I., 2009. Nuclear power for sustainable development: Current status and future prospects. Energy Policy, 37, pp. 5150.
(6) Ibid.
(7) Patrick Moore, ‘Going Nuclear: A Green Makes the Case', The Washington Post, 16 April 2006,
(8) Adamantiades, A., & Kessides, I., 2009. Nuclear power for sustainable development: Current status and future prospects. Energy Policy, 37, pp. 5150.
(9) Patrick Moore, ‘Going Nuclear: A Green Makes the Case', The Washington Post, 16 April 2006,
(10) Ibid.
(11) Adamantiades, A., & Kessides, I., 2009. Nuclear power for sustainable development: Current status and future prospects. Energy Policy, 37, pp. 5159.
(12) Deutch, J. M., & Moniz, E. J., 2006. The Nuclear Option. Scientific American, 295(3), pp. 6.
(13) Adamantiades, A., & Kessides, I., 2009. Nuclear power for sustainable development: Current status and future prospects. Energy Policy, 37, pp. 5159.
(14) Ibid.
(15) Deutch, J. M., & Moniz, E. J., 2006. The Nuclear Option. Scientific American, 295(3), pp. 6.
(16) Igor Khripunov, ‘Africa's pursuit of nuclear power', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 November 2007,
(17) ‘The leading nuclear power event in the Middle East and North Africa', Nuclear Power Middle East and North Africa 2010,
(18) Igor Khripunov, ‘Africa's pursuit of nuclear power', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 November 2007,
(19) Daniel Fineron & Simon Webb, ‘Factbox - Nuclear power plans in Africa, Middle East', Reuters, 29 December 2009,
(20) Ibid.
(21) Ibid.
(22) Ibid.
(23) Ibid.
(24) Daniel Fineron & Simon Webb, ‘Factbox - Nuclear power plans in Africa, Middle East', Reuters, 29 December 2009,
(25) ‘Nuclear Power in South Africa', World Nuclear Association, September 2010,
(26) Deutch, J. M., & Moniz, E. J., 2006. The Nuclear Option. Scientific American, 295(3), pp. 6.
(27) ‘Nuclear Power in South Africa', World Nuclear Association, September 2010,
(28) Ibid.
(29) Igor Khripunov, ‘Africa's pursuit of nuclear power', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 November 2007,
(30) Ibid.
(31) Paul Redfern, ‘EU, U.S. Dumping Toxic Waste in Continent', AllAfrica, 05 July 2010,
(32) Deutch, J. M., & Moniz, E. J., 2006. The Nuclear Option. Scientific American, 295(3), pp. 5.
(33) Igor Khripunov, ‘Africa's pursuit of nuclear power', Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 28 November 2007,
(34) Ibid.
(35) Ibid.

Edited by: Consultancy Africa Intelligence CAI

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Soutrh Africa Faces Asian Compeition As It Takes Advantage Of African Growth

SA should take advantage of African growth, faces Asian competition

Published 19 Oct 2010

Article by: Loni Prinsloo0 Comments

The African continent is expected to see collective growth of around $1-trillion in gross domestic product over the next decade, increasingly fuelled by investment from emerging economies.

Investment Solutions chief economist Chris Hart said at a Gordon Institute of Business Science conference on Tuesday that South Africa, as Africa's largest economy, should actively participate in such a growth drive and become increasingly active in these markets.

However, he said that it was clear that South Africa would be facing strong competition, especially coming from countries such as China and India.

China, which is South Africa's largest trading partner, is expected to contribute around $7-trillion to the global economy in the next decade, far outperforming the traditional economic world leader, the US, that is only expected to contribute around $3-trillion.

Hart said that South Africa, as a multisectorial economy, had a diversity of products and services to offer the rest of the continent, but would have to compete against other countries trying to secure resources for the future.

South Africa does have some advantage, seeing that it forms part of the continent and to some extent understands the culture, specifically when it comes to indigenisation.

He added that it was possible for South Africa to grow its economy by between 8% and 9% if it started treating its wealth producing sectors and opportunities less hostilely. "South Africa needs a friendlier and more inviting tax and regulatory environment to accommodate higher growth rates," Hart said.

A number of positive political and economically enabling decisions over the past decade have made the continent more accessible for foreign investment.

Currently, Africa is able to attract abount $72-billion a year, although economists estimate that the continent really needs foreign investment of around $95-billion a year to build up the required infrastructure.

Also speaking at the event, the South African Institute for International Affairs national director Elizabeth Sidiropoulos pointed out that high levels of urbanisation were expected within the next 20 years, with 700 000-million people expected to move into cities by 2030. Without proper infrastructure, 70% of these people will be based in slums.

This in itself creates great economic opportunity and diversification away from traditional resource markets.

Sidiropoulos said that importantly, quality planning and decision making was necessary from African leaders to successfully accommodate growth and negotiate investment strategies to benefit the people of the continent. Key to this, was the provision of an enabling economic, political and regulatory environments, effective educational systems and decent healthcare systems.

Education and the building of skills were critical to the further growth of the continent, seeing that it would be the youngest continent demographically, with nearly half of its population anticipated to be under 24 by 2030. "Without proper education we will see the plague of unemployment further increasing on a continent already suffering with high levels of unemployment, especially South Africa."

Further, Sidiropoulos pointed out that even though Africa was attracting great interests and investment from countries such as China, the continent did not always have the capacity in numbers and skills to constantly negotiate beneficial deals for the people of Africa.

As far as China goes, the Asian giant is mostly backed by large sums of State capital, making it hard for South African companies to compete against this powerhouse. Around 90% to 95% of its investment into Africa is backed by State money.

In comparison, India and Brazil, mostly engage in the African economy through private company activity. The consul general of India in South Africa, Vikram Doraiswami, said that India was not really interested in competing with South Africa on the African market, but to rather form partnerships with South Africa and then move these partnerships into the rest of Africa.

Sidiropoulos said that the next decade would definitely be a hopeful one for the continent, if it was able to move away from predatory States and elites, corruption, unproductive and uncompetitive economies, and embrace empowerment instead of dependency.

Monday, October 18, 2010

My DearFriend Of 17 Years-Claud Knoesen

Jack Waldbewohner Last night I had quite an interesting dream with my lawyer and friend of 17 years, Claud Knoesen. In the dream he had graduated from the University of Texas Law School. He had then returned to South Africa to practice law in a system that is 180 degrees different. We talked about how uncivilized Texas criminal law could be. I awakened happy,

Friday, October 15, 2010

HSBC Close To Dropping Nedbank Deal

HSBC close to dropping Nedbank deal
By Patrick Jenkins and Paul J Davies in London
Published: October 14 2010 23:04 | Last updated: October 14 2010 23:04
HSBC is close to walking away from a £5bn ($8bn) plan to buy Nedbank in South Africa, after a two-month period of exclusive talks with majority owner Old Mutual expires this weekend.

The bank is not in a position to make an offer for Nedbank before the period of exclusivity finishes, according to people close to the UK group.

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They said due diligence on the South African bank’s operations had proved more complex than expected.

The bank could retain an interest in Nedbank, but it would face competition from rival bidders.

That could leave the way clear for UK rival Standard Chartered to gain the upper hand in the bidding to buy Nedbank, HSBC executives conceded. StanChart had previously been interested in buying Nedbank.

However, StanChart is in an awkward spot after it announced a £3.3bn rights issue and stressed the funds were to build up its capital reserves in line with new international regulations.

“This is not a war chest for acquisitions,” Peter Sands, StanChart’s chief executive, told the Financial Times on Wednesday, insisting his focus was on organic growth.

The wording in the rights issue documents would make it difficult to divert funds to back an acquisition, advisers to the bank said.

However, one banker close to StanChart said: “If HSBC walked away and if Old Mutual’s price expectations came down, then who knows?”

HSBC’s interest in Nedbank was orchestrated by chief executive Michael Geoghegan as a means to secure a stronghold in the fast-growing African market.

But bankers say Nedbank’s retail business, built up aggressively a few years ago, contains credit risks HBSC might find hard to stomach. It is still suffering losses on the legacy operations of its disastrous acquisition of US consumer lender Household.

The bank’s cautious approach has been heightened by HSBC’s management changeover, with Stuart Gulliver and Douglas Flint recently named as the next chief executive and chairman, to replace Mr Geoghegan and Stephen Green as of the year-end.

If HSBC did drop out of the bidding, StanChart executives say the price Old Mutual could expect for its stake would have to fall below the 15 per cent premium to Nedbank’s market price, which bankers have said was a benchmark.

That valuation puts a price tag of about £5bn on the 70 per cent stake that is for sale.

If both bidders drop away from Nedbank, it would be a blow to Old Mutual, which has plans to shrink and refocus its businesses and use the proceeds from a sale to help pay down £1.5bn of debt it has targeted to get rid of as quickly as possible.

Some of Old Mutual’s biggest investors have long wanted to see the Anglo-South African group offload its 52 per cent stake in Nedbank as part of a break-up of its conglomerate structure to refocus on European and South African savings businesses.

Old Mutual declined to comment.