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Zimbabwe now accepting solar power plant tenders in renewable energy drive1 minute read

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A new plan to solve Zimbabwe’s electricity crisis is on and to make this a reality, contractors are being asked to submit tenders to build renewable energy plants in the country. Solar energy is the source of choice to supply 500 megawatts (MW) of electrical energy.

A public notice by the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company, ZETDC intends to contract 500MW of Private Venture, PV solar plants of varying capacities at different identified strategic locations.

Debt to external electricity suppliers and aging infrastructure at home has led to power cuts across the country also called loading shedding. This could last until 18 hours in a day or more adding to the economic slow down before the coronavirus pandemic halted most commercial activities globally.

Zimbabwe also paid off arrears to South African electricity power supplier Eskom, guaranteeing supplies of up to 400MW daily.

The country is producing 987MW of electricity daily.

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Business rescue team rule out mid-June return for SAA flights

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South African Airways business rescue practitioners have rejected an “unvetted” statement released by the state-owned airline indicating plans to resume domestic flights from mid-June.

The national carrier had on Tuesday, announced that its planes will be back in the skies between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

But Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the business rescue administrators, say the airline had breached communications protocol by issuing a statement which “created an unfair expectation on our relevant stakeholders, including SAA’s customers, as well as employees who are on unpaid absence as a result of the travel ban which led to the halting of the company’s operations, compounding its financial distress.”

SAA’s media statement had gone out without the approval of the practitioners as demanded by the business rescue procedure.

With the government of South Africa announcing that the country will enter into lockdown alert level 3 from June 1, domestic air travel will be permitted but only for business purposes.

The business rescue practitioners said SAA planes will remain grounded until a better understanding of what the level 3 regulations entail.

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South Africa to boost economy with $20.5 billion public work projects

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South Africa is planning projects worth $20.5 billion in sectors such as transport, energy and water as it looks to drive an economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.

Paul Mashatile, the ANC’s treasurer-general, told a video conference organized by think- tank Chatham House, that the infrastructure projects will soon be approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet after talks with the private sector and multilateral development banks.

The projects will focus on areas such as railways, ports, energy, information technology, water and sanitation and housing, he added.

Africa’s most industrialised economy was already in recession before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, with the central bank now predicting a seven percent gross domestic product contraction this year and some economists forecasting a double-digit budget deficit.

Enoch Godongwana, who heads the ANC’s economic transformation subcommittee, told the same video conference that the government hoped to stimulate economic demand via the infrastructure programme, drawing on lessons from the 2010 soccer World Cup the country hosted.

“Global trade is going to be subdued, therefore exports will be minimal, we have got to look at how we stimulate demand in our given circumstances,” Godongwana said.

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Strike looms as public sector wage dispute enters arbitration in South Africa

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The ongoing face-off between workers in the public sector and the South African government continues. According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC), disagreement between the trade unions and government has moved the talks to arbitration for further hearing.

PSCBC General Secretary, Frikkie De Bruin explains that the arbitration hearings will begin by mid-June. An arbitrator will issue an award after the hearings are complete, with the matter potentially heading to court or resulting in a strike if the unions aren’t happy.

Ordinarily, public sector workers make up a third of South Africa’s expenditure. But with the coronavirus lockdown and income reduction, Pretoria seems unwilling to incur more debt.

If not handled carefully to appease the workers, the ruling African National Congress, (ANC) could lose its political dominance in the next local elections.

If no resolution is reached and the workers decide to resolve it an industrial action, it could erode all effort made by the government in the fight against the coronavirus.

The dispute started in February when the government affirmed that it could not fulfil its 2018 agreement on a three-year wage agreement.

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