Tuesday, January 5, 2010
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Amy Witherden.
Public hearings into Eskom's application for a 35% a year hike in its tariffs for the three-year period from April 1, 2010, to March 31, 2013, will kick off in Mpumalanga province on January 11, before moving to South Africa's other eight provinces, culminating on January 21 at hearings scheduled for Gauteng province.
Hitherto, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa had confined its hearings process to the Gauteng province. But the regulator decided to reconfigure its 2010 process into a travelling road show, owing to the level of public interest, and general outcry, shown after Eskom made its initial application on September 30, 2009.
At that point, the power utility submitted an application for increases of 45% a year under the second multiyear price determination period. However, it subsequently submitted a revised, and lower, application on November 30, 2009, of 35% a year. Nevertheless, the new application is likely to face stiff opposition from civil society groups and political parties.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gave no indication yesterday of any resumption of peace talks with Israel, despite optimism of progress voiced by officials on both sides.
Abbas met Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at Sharm el-Sheikh yesterday, but did not make any comment at a news conference about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's proposal for an Egyptian-hosted summit with Abbas.
Israel, Egypt and the US want Abbas to resume negotiations that were broken off a year ago over the Gaza war, but he refuses to negotiate as long as Israel allows construction of any kind in Jewish West Bank settlements. Abbas said that the Palestinian authorities' stance has not changed.
However, there have been signs that progress is being made towards renewing the negotiations. An aide to Abbas said last week that the region would "see important political activity in the next two weeks", while Israel's ambassador to Washington Michael Oren has said that Mubarak has a key role to play in resuming talks.
Guinea's junta leader Captain Moussa Dadis Camara has not been seen in public since he was evacuated to Morocco for hospital treatment after a failed December 3 assassination bid.
The junta's failure to explain Camara's continued absence is prompting questions over the future leadership of the fragile West African State. The junta denies repeated speculation that Camara's head wounds mean that he cannot talk or make decisions. Defence Minister and interim leader Sekouba Konate visited Camara in hospital last week but made no clear statement on his health. Konate has so far held off the threat of an army countercoup.
The doubts over the country's future leadership are unnerving potential investors, and some independent analysts are advising caution in signing any contracts in the current state of flux.
Also making headlines:
Mpumalanga province matric results are to be withheld owing to examination irregularities.
Zambia's Central Bank says that the country's 2010 gross domestic product is likely to reach over 7%.
Christian Democratic Party leader Reverend Theunis Botha describes President Jacob Zuma's traditional wedding yesterday as a "giant step back into the dark ages".
And, Kenyan stocks are expected to rebound in 2010, although politics ahead of the 2012 elections will remain a major concern.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.