Connect with us

Current Affairs

False Dawn For New Nuclear In Africa

mm

Published

on

It was David and Goliath. With sling shot in hand, two tiny human rights groups, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA) and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), stood in the way of the Goliath that is the deal to build nuclear that could cost more than a R1 trillion ($73 billion).

It was a court battle that raged for a year and a half. On April 26, the ELA and SAFCEI lawyers stood face-to-face with government counsel in the Western Cape High Court, Cape Town. The ELA and SAFCEI disputed the costly procurement process, saying it was illegal and nontransparent.

On this day, Goliath crumpled and activists danced and sang in victory on the sidewalk outside the court. The celebration was blessed by a downpour in this drought-ridden city.

Judge Lee Bozalek declared the South African government’s nuclear deal to be unlawful and unconstitutional. Most important was the scrapping of secret intergovernmental agreements with Russia, the United States and South Korea, which the activists argued was the right of the public to know.

“Victory for justice and the rule of law and the people of South Africa,” says Makoma Lekalakala, ELA branch coordinator.

Other key decisions made by government were found to be illegal, including its decision to hand over procurement of nuclear to Eskom, South Africa’s state power utility, rather than the National Energy Regulator of South Africa.

“All the information that people have been requiring on affordability etc. must come into the public realm. We need to know exactly what is going on with the deal and it needs to happen in a transparent and open process as the government has repeatedly said it would do, but keep not doing,” says Adrian Pole, lawyer for SAFCEI and ELA.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

It means back to the drawing board for nuclear energy in South Africa. From now on any nuclear proposals will need to be passed in Parliament and opened up to the public, which could take years.

“It’s been a long hard struggle. We are only two small organizations but this is really a victory for democracy. It means the people of South Africa can now participate in their future. There is no more nuclear deal, there is no more Russian agreement. Parliament has to step up. If the president wants to push any more deals it has to go through Parliament properly and any idea we might go nuclear is off the table,” says Liz McDaid, SAFCEI spokesperson.

McDaid has more reason to celebrate than most. She was there from day one, when the human rights groups announced they would take down the deal in court from a small room in a backstreet office with a handful of journalists in Newtown, Johannesburg.

Another organization standing against the deal is the Organization Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). Ted Blom, OUTA’s Energy Portfolio Director, believes the expense alone could have crippled the country.

“We are tired of government’s approach that runs roughshod over the need for meaningful public engagement and due process. The pro-nuclear lobbyists and government officials arrogantly ignore their need to be accountable and to provide detailed explanations to the public on why we need new nuclear plants, or what the true costs of these will be,” adds Wayne Duvenage, OUTA Chairperson.

Studies showed the nuclear deal to be unaffordable, despite what government believes, argues David Fig, a Political Economist and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Cape Town. He notes that the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) developed models showing that new nuclear is likely to be much more expensive than coal or renewable energy.

“The price ticket for nuclear – which some estimates put at more than R1 trillion – doesn’t take into account the costs of operation, fuel, insurance, emergency planning or the regulation or decontamination at the end of the life of the reactors,” he writes in The Conversation.

The nuclear deal, overseen by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma, is also muddied by allegations of corruption, according to Fig.

“A more likely reason for Zuma’s zeal is the involvement of the Gupta family with whom he has close ties. The family’s web of interests around the nuclear deal is complex. What is known is that the Gupta family controls South Africa’s only dedicated uranium mine. The family has developed close relationships with key individuals at Eskom,” says Fig.

On the other side of the argument, there is a claim the ruling is an overstatement. Kelvin Kemm, Chairperson of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), called for caution when interpreting it. The nuclear physicist argues that the court ruled on an administrative process, not on the wisdom of nuclear power.

“A false impression has been created that this judgment is anti-nuclear. It is not and comment to that effect is premature and regrettable,” says Kemm.

“One positive aspect of this ruling is that it presents the opportunity for the facts and truth to be fully aired and debated so that rational people can think and decide on realities not hearsay. The anti-nuke lobby has had the platform to themselves, not least because the nuclear industry has been quiet. This will change. Necsa and the nuclear industry intend to step up efforts to put the facts before the court of public opinion and to present a balanced and evidence-based case for nuclear energy as the right energy option for South Africa.”

“The nuclear industry in South Africa operates to the highest global business and ethical standards and applies world best practice to planning and operational procedures. To suggest that those working within it adhere to anything less is at best inaccurate and a great disservice to a highly professional body of experts.”

Government says it will look over the judgment before it decides whether to appeal.

The battle over nuclear is far from over, but the victors are likely to redouble their campaign after they have dried off from their dance in the rain.

Current Affairs

South Africa aims to finalize long-term energy plan next month: minister

Published

on

By

South Africa is aiming to finalize a long-term plan for the country’s energy mix next month, and once that is done it will launch another round of renewable energy deals, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

“We are aiming for February,” Radebe told Reuters, when asked when the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be completed. “Straight away after that we will launch more renewable energy contracts,” he added. -Reuters

-Alexander Winning

Continue Reading

Current Affairs

The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

Published

on

By

Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

Continue Reading

Current Affairs

5 Questions You Should Never Ask During A Job Interview

mm

Published

on

By

So, you think you’re acing your job interview.


Your interviewer seems to like you. You like your job interviewer. The camaraderie couldn’t be better.

Then comes the proverbial: “So, what questions do you have for me?”

Whether you’re interviewing for a job at Google or joining your local small business, the questions that you ask your interviewer matter. It’s your opportunity to showcase your talents, knowledge, and judgment.

Here are 5 questions that you should never ask during a job interview (and three more that you should).

1. “So, how much will I get paid?”

This seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason, interviewees still think the question is fair play.

That said, it is a fair question. After all, you need to know how much you’ll be paid before you take the job. While that’s true, the interview is not the time to discuss salary.

If you receive a job offer, you can discuss salary at that time.

2. “How much vacation time will I get?”

Again, your vacation and personal time might be an important part of your calculus when deciding to take a job offer.

However, asking how much vacation time you’ll get demonstrates you’re focused more on time off than working.

Like salary, your vacation and other benefits should be reflected in the job offer. You can ask all the questions related to salary and benefits at that time. You can also schedule a follow-up session with the human resources department for a benefits deep-dive.

3. “How quickly can I get promoted?”

Climbing the ladder of your potentially new organization is admirable.

However, don’t assume during the interview that you have the job. It’s important to understand options for movement – both upward and lateral – within the organization. If you plan to work at this organization, it’s essential to understand your career trajectory.

You don’t want to come off as entitled. This question may convey to the interviewer that you think you already have the job (when you don’t).

4. “Why did the company fire so many people last month?”

It’s never a good sign to read about layoffs.

This is especially true when you may be joining an organization after a big headcount reduction.

It’s a fair question, and you should understand the details. However, the job interview is the wrong time.

When you receive your job offer, you can have a frank conversation with your manager about the layoffs, the rationale, whether additional layoffs are expected and other related information to fortify your understanding.

Before accepting a job, make sure to understand if the headcount reduction is expected to be ongoing or if it was a one-time occurrence.

5. “So, who do you consider your competition?”

Instead of asking your interviewer about the competition, spend the time asking questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and also show that you’ve done research prior to your interview.

Before the interview, you should have conducted due diligence on the competitive landscape.

That includes understanding key competitors, relative strengths and weaknesses, the supply chain, key opportunities and threats, barriers to entry and other pertinent market dynamics.

You’re better off weaving this information into the interview, rather than asking during the question period.

3 Questions That You Can Ask During An Interview

Here are three potential questions that you could ask during your job interview:

1. “What are the best attributes of the company’s culture?”

  • Show your interest in company culture.
  • Understand the key values that set this company apart.
  • Learn more about the company’s mission and value proposition.

2. “How much is collaboration across departments encouraged?”

  • Determine whether collaboration is promoted internally.
  • Learn more about ways in which collaboration helps create value for employees and customers.
  • See if the interviewer can share concrete examples to further your understanding.

3. “What would you like the person that you hire to accomplish over the next 6-12 months?”

  • Learn about your interviewer’s goals for the position.
  • Understand expectations.
  • This will give you insights because the question is specific to the role and shows your ability to think longer-term.
  • -Zack Friedman

Continue Reading

Trending