South Africa: Powering power

The plane crash that killed the President Lech Kaczyński of Poland was making the headlines all of last week. There was speculation on why the pilots attempted to land the plane in the fog despite warnings from the control tower and whether his twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczyński would run for President.

The plane crash that killed the President Lech Kaczyński of Poland was making the headlines all of last week. There was speculation on why the pilots attempted to land the plane in the fog despite warnings from the control tower and whether his twin brother Jaroslaw Kaczyński would run for President.

Curiously, for a set of countries with such a long history of animosity, the tragedy brought Russia and Poland together.

The UN report on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007 came out; questions that were being asked quietly are likely to be expressed more openly now.

The report was scathing in its opinion of the Pakistan security forces conduct before the assassination, in its immediate aftermath and during the UN investigation.

In Sudan, elections were held and the result is still as predictable as it was on Monday morning. President Bashir is running virtually unopposed, however, for all the hiccups, and there were several, there does not appear to have been much overt rigging.

Looks like Mr. Bashir has got himself a lease of life.  In Iceland, a volcanic eruption brought aviation in Europe to a halt with huge clouds of ash covering continental airspace.

South Africa, this year’s World Cup hosts, are the continent’s largest economy, in fact they are the world’s 25th largest economy by GDP and are generally a big deal on the continent.

These are some of the things that spin doctors in Africa’s southern most country are hoping to get everyone focused on. Instead, with the killing of Eugene Terreblanche, the head of racist AWB [Afrikaner Resistance Movement] by two of his unpaid employees brought unwelcome attention on some of the continuing racial problems in the country.

The ANC Youth League President, Julius Malema, a man who is no stranger to controversy found himself at the centre of unwanted attention for his love of an apartheid liberation song that advocates for the killing of Boer farmers.

Upon his return, Malema held a cringe-worthy press conference where he ejected a BBC journalist while shouting that he was a ‘b***** agent’, ‘a small boy’ and was accused of ‘white tendencies’ for daring to ask for further explanation on an unclear response.

As you can see, it’s been a PR nightmare. Things took a turn for the worse when it came to light that South Africa was seeking a $3.75 Billion loan from the World Bank to help its national electricity company, Eskom, to complete a huge power station to provide for the electricity shortfalls that the country has been enduring.

The loan was approved by the World Bank despite US protestations about the fact that the power station would run on coal, which as you all may have noticed is rather unfashionable in these days of climate change awareness campaign.

The larger controversy was that a company called Hitachi Power Africa was supplying the station’s boilers. 25% of Hitachi Power Africa’s shares are held by Chancellor House Holdings, an investment arm of the ANC.

Chancellor House Holdings had hoped that its involvement would remain secret not because of any wrongdoing but because it figured, correctly, that its participation would receive negative press.

The fact of the matter is that the World Bank loan would not go to payments to Hitachi Power Africa and therefore there is nothing inappropriate with it supplying the boilers.

okabatende@gmail.com

Oscar Kabbatende is a lawyer

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