Eskom testimony at Zondo Commission points to key issues for directors
Testimony at the Zondo Commission relating to the prepayment of R1.68 billion to Tegeta, a company owned by the Gupta family, provoked strong words from Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. Dr Simo Lushaba, Facilitator of Director Development Programmes at the Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA), says the whole incident illustrates how seriously directors should approach their duties.
“Justice Zondo suggested that the directors were negligent at best. If we take that line of thought to its logical conclusion, they could be at risk of being sued for damages in their personal capacities,” he says. “Directors need to accept that theirs is a very serious job and that the stakes are high. Their only protection against decisions that are proved to be wrong is that they did discharge their duty of care, and made decisions based on a thorough examination of the facts and in the best interests of the company.”
Dr Lushaba pinpoints the lessons for directors as follows:
Understand your primary duty as a director. When individuals accept a board appointment, they are assuming a duty of care towards the entity, not to whoever appointed them or themselves. Their actions and decisions have to be guided by the interests of the company and its stakeholders.
Apply your mind and ask the right questions. In this case, the trigger phrase was “proposed owners”, which should have prompted directors to question why money for a commodity was not being paid to the existing owners. “In any event, you don’t buy something from the owner of the store, you buy it from the store itself,” he comments. “The most basic question was never asked – who owns the coal and why aren’t we paying them?”
Dr Lushaba emphasises that one of the primary duties of a board member is to ask questions and that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Directors are under an obligation to apply their minds to whatever is before them and to adopt a stance one might call “professional scepticism”.
Be courageous in discharging your duty of care. The fact that no directors dissented when approving this prepayment to “proposed owners” indicates that the board dynamics were out of tune. Directors must have the courage not only to ask tough questions but to dissent when a decision they believe to be wrong is adopted—a good director is an independent thinker.
A board is a collection of individuals, not a group and, crucially, directors are held individually responsible for the board’s actions.
Understand the interplay between risk and opportunity. One of the then-directors attempted to portray the board’s action as an effort to secure the supply of a necessary raw material. However, what seemed to be an opportunity hid considerable risk. The same point could be made about risks. “One of a board’s key jobs is to understand the risks the organisation faces and protect it from them,” Dr Lushaba concludes. “Directors cannot just look at opportunities.”
The current health pandemic has highlighted the reality that if the healthcare services, in the rural Eastern Cape, are to meet the needs of communities, it cannot manage on government resources and funding alone.
This was the message from MEC Mlungisi Gerald Mvoko (MEC: Finance, Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism), who addressed officials and other parties, gathered to receive an official handover of much-needed health equipment, donated to the Andries Vosloo Hospital, a Provincial government-funded hospital for the Blue Crane Route Local Municipality area, in Somerset East, Eastern Cape.
Giving recognition to the funders, for the contributions to the community, and the dire need for help and assistance, the MEC also spoke of the devastation caused by fiscal cuts to the Eastern Cape of over R29 billion over the next 3 years, reiterating the importance of supplementary private sector support.
“Without the help of private companies, we cannot deliver the quality of service required in these trying times of the pandemic.”
MEC Mlungisi Gerald Mvoko said,
“The equipment and medical supplies, intended to cushion the blow of Covid-19 on this hospital, was donated by BioTherm Energy’s Golden Valley Energy Facility, in collaboration with Cookhouse Wind Farm.”
He added, “This is the only hospital in the area to service the needs of the community, and more specifically, the Covid-19 needs, which is why we need partners to come on board, as they are able to fill the void and complement us where we, the local Government, are lacking.”
Loretta Di Zio, Economic Development Director for Golden Valley Wind Energy Facility said, “This collaborative donation directly assists local government in delivering community health care, of which we are pleased to be part of, as we view this as an important indicator of our support for the needs of the community and ongoing partnership with our direct economic beneficiaries”
In addition to MEC Mvoko, the event was also attended by the Executive Mayor: Nontuthuzelo Marjorie Scott, Mayor of Blue Crane Route Municipality; the CEO of Andries Vosloo Hospital, and the Acting District Manager of Sarah Baartman District Department of Health, and other affected parties.
MEC Mvoko also gave recognition of the collaboration with Cookhouse Wind Farm and saw it as an important example that the Government of the Eastern Cape should take note of in collaborating with each other.
There can be no doubt that the Eastern Cape Province has been the hardest hit area in the country, with more fatalities and obvious desolation. To-date over 11 000 people have been lost, which is not only the highest rate in the country, but disproportional per capita.
Zeerust Solar joins the North West Province’s green power map
Zeerust Solar, situated in the North West Province, has commenced its commercial operations, having achieved full compliance on 1 January 2021. This 100% South African-owned PV project, joins Bokamoso and Waterloo Solar plants, putting the North West on the map as a player in the renewable energy sector, not only delivering additional power to the country’s national grid, but also benefiting the rural communities through impactful economic development programmes.
“Extensive economic development projects kicked off during our project’s construction period to provide Covid-19 relief, in addition to Enterprise Development training and accelerator programmes, skills development training and other welfare initiatives.”
Isaac Mmushi, CEO of Zeerust Solar
In partnership with the Ramotshere Moiloa Sub-District of the Department of Education, Zeerust Solar has also supported education. “The implemented programmes, including specific support for Stinkhoutboom Primary, have helped rural learners gain confidence to succeed despite the challenges they face. This is in addition to a Grade 12 excellence awards programme, aimed to stimulate and honour academic achievements of Matriculants, in schools across the Sub-District,” said Dr BKM Molokoe, Sub-District Manager.
The focus of Zeerust Solar’s Economic Development programme is to empower and strengthen local communities in and around the Zeerust area, namely Ikageleng, Henryville, Olienhout Park, Shalimar Park, Welbedacht (Lehurutshe Town) and Groot Marico, as well as extending to 40 villages located within the Ramotshere Moiloa Local Municipal area.
The 75 MW Zeerust Solar is currently the largest solar PV power project in the Province, with 250 080 solar panels harnessing the intense North West sun. The solar plant began generating the much-needed green electricity estimated to reach 180GWh each year, which is enough to satisfy the needs of around 84 000 average South African households.
The project, which commenced construction in January 2019, is constructed on a 179-hectare project site and is connected to Eskom’s Kameeldoorn switching station, which feeds the generated power into the country’s national grid.
Zeerust Solar’s socio-economic development projects are focused on education, youth development, health, food security and welfare. The programmes have been chosen following research and engagement to ensure that they are well informed and will strengthen the beneficiary communities. Additionally, a percentage of the revenue generated each year will be committed to implementing Enterprise Development initiatives, to build resilience and accelerate the growth and success of entrepreneurial businesses, ultimately stimulating the local economic growth and creating opportunities for the economic participation of previously disadvantaged groups.
The focus is on small and micro enterprises, designed to enhance growth. To deliver on this objective, the establishment of a local resource centre, for use by local SMMEs and communities at large, will support this drive to support development, whilst the provision of accredited skills training will be provided to start-up businesses.
Zeerust Solar is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.
De Wildt Solar grows North West Province’s green power map
De Wildt Solar, situated within the Madibeng Local Municipality,close to the town of Brits, in the North West Province, has announced its Commercial Operations on 23 January 2021, having achieved Facility completion.
This 50MW PV project is the fourth utility-scale plant that has come online, in the North West, in under five months, helping to make this Province a serious player in the renewable energy sector. All four projects are 100% South African-owned and don’t only deliver much-needed power to the country’s national grid, but also provide benefits to the local rural communities through impactful economic development programmes.
“Resident of Brits, Mmakau, Mothotlung, Lethlabile, Ga-Rankuwa and surrounding areas within a 50km radius of the project will be the direct beneficiaries of the Economic Development projects over the next 20-year operations period. These projects will include training and accelerator programmes, skills development training and other welfare initiatives,” Nomzamo Landingwe, Chief Community Operations Officer for De Wildt Solar.
One of De Wildt Solar’s Socio-Economic Development programmes included the installation of a waterless ablution facility, for the Rutanang HIV Care Centre.
Rutanang HIV Care Centre is situated in the area of Mmakau, close to De Wildt Solar. This community health centre provides much needed support and services to hundreds of community members, including primary school children.
This NGO assists the community with HIV testing and counselling, education around chronic diseases and also assists the local clinic with handing out of Chronic Medication in the community. The waterless ablution facilities from Enviro Loo were installed to replace the use of old drop toilets, which are generally unhygienic and sometimes unsafe.
The focus of De Wildt Solar’s Economic Development programme is to empower and strengthen local beneficiary communities with a focus on education, as well as youth development, health, food security and welfare. The programmes have been chosen following research and engagement to ensure that they are well informed and will strengthen the beneficiary communities.
Additionally, a percentage of the revenue generated each year will be committed to implementing Enterprise Development initiatives. The first beneficiary, a brick-making facility called Moagi Women Development Primary Cooperative, in the Mmakau community, received support during the project’s construction phase.
A shaded working area was constructed for the co-op, to create a resting space for the women who work in the tough outdoor weather conditions. This shaded working area has also created a space for the co-op workers to set-up their machinery, which was donated by other donors.
The overarching focus of the programme is on small and micro enterprises, designed to enhance growth. To deliver on this objective, the establishment of a local resource centre, for use by local SMMEs and communities at large, will support this drive to aid development, whilst the provision of accredited skills training will be provided to start-up businesses.
The 50MW De Wildt Solar project comprises 169 140 solar modules that draw from the intense North West sun, producing enough power to satisfy the needs of around 84 000 average South African households. The solar plant is expected to feed 123 GWh per year of much-needed green electricity into the country’s national power grid, via Eskom’s Zolograph switching station. It is part of the government’s renewable energy independent power producer procurement programme (REIPPPP), which launched a decade ago and has successfully procured over 6.4GW of independent clean power.
De Wildt Solar is owned by African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM, a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments) through its IDEAS Fund, Reatile Solar Power (RF) (Pty) Ltd, Phakwe Solar (RF) (Pty) Ltd, AREP (African Rainbow Energy and Power) and Cicada Community Trust.
Coca-Cola’s RAIN set to replenish 15-billion litres of water over the next decade
With the effects of climate change including prolonged droughts, extreme weather and higher temperatures already being felt in many regions of South Africa, the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN) is helping to ensure billions of litres of water is given back to communities and replenished in nature for the next ten years.
Funded by The Coca-Cola Foundation, RAIN funds five major projects in South Africa to help restore priority catchment areas by removing thirsty, invasive alien plants, while creating valuable employment opportunities for women, youth and families by supporting water-related projects.
“These important water catchment areas feed our communities, towns and cities, yet thirsty alien invasive plants are consuming millions of litres of this precious resource unnecessarily from these areas each year,” says Beatriz R. Perez, Chair and President at The Coca-Cola Foundation.
“As part of our broader water stewardship programme, RAIN is helping to rehabilitate thousands of hectares of land and replenish water while economically empowering families.”
Beatriz R. Perez, Chair and President at The Coca-Cola Foundation
Most of these strategic water sources are located in remote areas, with limited economic or skills development opportunities. In addition to the environmental benefits these projects bring, they also focus on creating jobs, upskilling individuals, and providing support and training for sustainable economic opportunities. Collectively, these projects created 389 jobs in South Africa’s rural, priority catchment areas.
The five projects are spread across South Africa and focus on involving local communities, while addressing water security on a larger scale. Implementing partners provide development expertise and additional resources required to implement the projects sustainably.
The five implementing projects include the following:
Wemmershoek Dam, serving The Greater Cape Town area: Working with The Nature Conservancy, this project cleared over 2,500 hectares on the upper slopes of the Wemmershoek Dam catchment, creating 202 jobs, specifically empowering 62 women and youth.
uMzimvubu Watershed Restoration, Matatiele, serving East London in the Eastern Cape: Working with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa , this project cleared 115 hectares of invasive alien plants and created 60 jobs, empowering 32 women and 39 youth. Additionally, this project protected 5 natural springs, improving the community’s access to spring water. Working with local traditional authorities, livestock management was improved and grazing rotations were established, economically empowering 437 people through grazing association memberships and access to cattle auctions.
Wolseley Wetlands Restoration, serving Wolseley and the Greater Cape Town area: Partnering with The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa , this project cleared invasive alien plant species from a critical biodiverse wetlands area in the Upper Breede River Valley in this important agricultural region. The project cleared 470 hectares and created 94 jobs, empowering 42 women and 39 youth.
Algoa Water Fund, Diep River, Eastern Cape serving Nelson Mandela Bay: Working with implementing parter Living Lands, this project cleared thirsty invasive alien plant species from the Impofu Dam, a key upstream catchment area for the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. Additionally, the team worked with local landowners to create a cohesive and collaborative long-term catchment management plan for the area. This project cleared over 260 hectares of invasive alien plants and created 21 jobs in an extreme rural area with high rates of unemployment.
Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo, serving Kutama, Limpopo Valley and Musina: Working with the Endangered Wildlife Trust, this project cleared 32 hectares and created 12 jobs, empowering five women and youth. To complement their ecological work, the team trained 701 local school children on hygiene and water conservation. In addition, the project team also worked with local landowners on the proclamation of the western Soutpansberg Nature Reserve to protect 4 000 hectares under improved conservation management with the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment, and Tourism’s Biodiversity Stewardship Programme.
A further US$500 000 from The Coca-Cola Foundation will be invested for an additional 12 months for three of these projects – The Greater Cape Town Water Fund in Atlantis, Matatiele in the Eastern Cape and the Soutpansberg Mountains of Limpopo.
Across Africa, The Replenish Africa Initiative is on track to positively impact more than 6 million people through a diverse range of water-based initiatives by the end of 2020. Over the past decade, RAIN has positively impacted at least 250 000 women and youth and returned 18.5bn litres to communities and nature through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programmes as well as watershed protection.
As climate change disrupts the water system, affecting drinking water supplies, sanitation, food and energy production, The Coca-Cola Foundation and its local implementing partners are collaborating to facilitate strategic investments in South Africa’s key watersheds. These efforts will pay dividends with the optimisation of the country’s water supply into the future.
“As Coca-Cola, we believe that the most effective work happens when there is collaboration across the public and private sectors for the benefit of the local communities,” concludes Perez.
The Coca-Cola Foundation The Coca-Cola Foundation is the global philanthropic arm of The Coca-Cola Company. Since its inception in 1984, TCCF has awarded more than $900 million in grants to support sustainable community initiatives around the world. More information about TCCF can be found here. About the Replenish Africa Initiative (RAIN)
In response to the severe water challenges faced by nearly 300 million Africans living without access to clean water, Coca-Cola introduced RAIN in 2009. RAIN is Coca-Cola’s contribution to helping Africa achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on clean water and sanitation access. To date, RAIN has reached more than 2.8 million people with improved water access, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) across 41 countries. By the end of 2020, RAIN aims to measurably improve the lives of at least six (6) million people in Africa through sustainable WASH interventions.
The Nature Conservancy The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) South Africa For nearly 60 years, WWF has been protecting the future of nature. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in over 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.
Living Lands Living Lands is a not-for-profit organization for conserving and restoring living landscapes. A living landscape consists of a variety of healthy ecosystems and land uses, and is home to ecological, agricultural, and social systems, which are managed so as to function sustainably. This ensures that natural and cultural resources are available for future generations and that the system is resilient for adaptation to climate change.
The Endangered Wildlife Trust The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) has worked tirelessly for over 45 years to save wildlife and habitats, with our vision being a world in which both humans and wildlife prosper in harmony with nature. It is a beacon of hope for Africa’s wildlife, landscapes and communities, the EWT is protecting forever, together.
African Rainbow Energy and Power acquires stake in SOLA Group
As South Africa transitions its energy usage to cleaner sources, there is a dire need for new energy generation solutions, collaboration, technology, and investment in renewable energy. A critical component of this will be to address the challenges of energy security and job creation in the country.
Understanding this tremendous challenge and opportunity in investing in the renewables sector, African Rainbow Energy and Power (AREP) has expanded its investment in this sector with the acquisition of a strategic stake in the SOLA Group. The companies joined forces at the end of 2020, with AREP acquiring a 40% stake and becoming the largest individual shareholder in the group. The deal also includes a significant investment into the group to fund further expansion.
“The transaction with SOLA allows us to benefit from the utilisation of modern technology to provide affordable electricity, as well as benefit from their expertise in solar photovoltaics (PV). This also supports our strategic focus on delivering clean energy for the commercial and industrial sectors,” said Brian Dames, CEO of AREP.
“AREP and SOLA share a vision of using the latest, cleanest technology available to deliver excellent climate and business returns – both for our clients and shareholders,” added Dames.
The SOLA Group has been awarded 245MW REIPPPP projects, 78MW commercial solar PV and 7MWh storage projects, respectively. Having started with only four employees in 2008, SOLA now employs over 70 people on a permanent basis, with additional employment of between 30 and 100 staff during the construction of projects.
“Our company is greatly strengthened through this partnership,” said Dom Wills, CEO of the SOLA Group. “There is very good strategic fit between SOLA and AREP, and the investment comes at the perfect time for a 100% South African-owned private utility to step up and play a meaningful role in tackling our electricity challenges.”
Powering economic growth
The transaction comes at a time where the lack of energy security and price uncertainty are limiting economic growth. Renewable energy, and particularly solar PV, has seen huge gains in efficiency, cost effectiveness and speed of deployment – ultimately providing sustainable solutions to help bolster the country’s energy supply.
Many large energy users are opting to procure power privately. Solar PV has the ability to make extra power available faster than other options, including coal and nuclear.
“South Africans need the cheapest power available from a variety of competitive sources, which can happen through government or private energy procurement. SOLA’s strategy and service offering accommodates both models,” adds Wills.
Power in power
The transaction will also see two AREP Directors joining SOLA’s board. “We are excited to tap into the wealth of experience that AREP bring to our company. For our young company, this is as valuable as the financial investment will be,” Wills explains.
SOLA recently announced a landmark deal with Amazon, in the first ever solar PV wheeling project in South Africa. The group will provide 10MW of clean solar power to the global company from a dedicated solar PV facility.
H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana confirmed for Mining Indaba Virtual
London: Investing in African Mining Indaba (Mining Indaba), part of Hyve Group Plc is honoured to announce that His Excellency, Mokgweetsi Masisi, President of Botswana has confirmed to deliver his presidential keynote address at the upcoming Mining Indaba Virtual.