SAA cancels routes as business rescue bites

By Selene Brophy for Traveller24

South African Airways (SAA) has consolidated its domestic and international flights schedule due to low demand, as the process of business rescue looks to conserve funds.

So while these flight routes have not been cancelled outright, flights with too few bums on seats are being re-accommodated.

SAA has confirmed the following domestic and international flights have been cancelled between the airline’s main hub Oliver Tambo International Airport Johannesburg (JNB) and Cape Town (CPT), as well as between Johannesburg (JNB) and Durban’s King Shaka (DUR) airports.

Mango has confirmed it is re-accommodating affected passengers on certain routes operated by both airlines to minimise disruption.

Domestic flights cancelled include routes between Johannesburg and Cape Town and Johannesburg and Durban. Certain flights on the Johannesburg – Munich, Germany route have also been cancelled.

SAA says it will be reviewing further possible flight schedule amendments over the coming days.

Affected passengers seeking a refund are being advised to contact the airline or their travel agent to make alternative arrangements.

News24 Journalist Jenna Vester, who was at Cape Town International on Tuesday morning, reports that “no obvious disruptions for SAA were immediately apparent”.

The onus is on SAA to accommodate passengers affected by these recently announced flight cancellations due to low demand. However, if passengers elect to cancel any future, operating SAA flights it should be noted that they won’t automatically receive a refund, according to industry expert Natalia Rosa.

Added to this specific cancellation fees will apply. The usual credit card insurance and reversal of purchase, for services or goods not delivered should however apply in the instance of flight cancellation.

SAA has advised it will not be able to assist with disruptions at the airport due to the strike.

Domestic operators to contact to make urgent alternative flight arrangements include: Mango, Airlink, British Airways and Kulula.

SAA has had a torrid 2020 so far, with the company being forced to sell some of its airplanes – and now even some profitable routes – to become more liquid.

Loadshedding costs City Power R60m

By Loyiso Sidimba for IOL

Loadshedding has cost Johannesburg’s electricity utility City Power almost R60-million in the past four months.

City Power announced on Thursday the financial impact experienced between October 16 last year and January 5, 2020 due to the intermittent loadshedding.

According to City Power, it lost R43.6m in potential profit, another R14m due to equipment failure and R1.2m it paid in overtime.

“City Power’s losses were felt mostly in three potential areas, which are staff overtime, as we are forced to avail technicians and operators after normal working hours to ensure restorations are done after load shedding,” the utility said in a statement.

Due to its aging infrastructure City Power has seen an increase in areas taking long to restore due to a surge of currents and explosions.
City Power receives its electricity supply from Eskom and is obliged to help the national utility to save a certain amount of electricity in order to avoid a total shutdown of the system.

It has warned that another effect of load shedding could be accelerating the ageing of its infrastructure as its system was never meant to be switched on and off at quick intervals and as a result took a serious knock during loadshedding.

The impact was still felt even long after loadshedding was temporarily suspended, according to City Power.
City Power also suffered losses as its equipment either failed during restorations, transformers or mini-substations exploded during insurgents of current.

The utility lost the potential profit it would have made if it was selling electricity to its customers during load shedding.

“These loses do not include billions of rands lost by business’s lack of activity across the City of Johannesburg during loadshedding,” City Power said.

Its chief executive Lerato Setshedi said the utility was considering load limiting through the smart meters, ripple relays and increasing generating capacity at the Kelvin power station to cushion customers against the impact of load shedding and plan accordingly to maximise on other opportunities.

“Plans are already underway to engage Eskom in this regard on some of these alternatives available for us,” said Setshedi.

SA’s average annual salary increase

Source: MyBroadband

P-E Corporate Services has released its 2019/2020 Salary Trends report, which shows the average salary increase in South Africa over the last year was 6.2%.

The P-E Corporate Services Salary Trends report is based on over 500 benchmarked positions across all industries.

The data is gathered from over 800 organisations employing in excess of 1.5-million staff, representing over 10% of South Africa’s economically-active population.

The report also provides market data for different levels of staff in South Africa, from lower-level income to middle/line management.

The report stated that the average salary increase was 6.2%, down from 6.4% the previous year.

While there has been a downward trend in annual salary increases in South Africa, inflation has also decreased during the period.

When adjusted for inflation, the average salary increases in South Africa have improved over the past five years.

The 2019/2020 Salary Trends report further revealed that construction staff received the lowest average increase at 5.8%.

Employees in the information technology sector also saw a consistent decline in salary increases over the past five years – down from 7.2% in 2015 to 6.5% last year.

Employees at state-owned enterprises, however, received the highest average salary increase at 7.1%. This was significantly higher than most private companies.

 

Massmart may cut 1 440 jobs

Source: EWN

South Africa’s Massmart Holdings could cut up to 1 440 jobs under a plan to close some stores, the retailer said on Monday as it struggles to grow sales in a tough economy.

Massmart, majority owned by US retail giant Walmart, swung to its first half-year trading loss in two decades last August, as low growth, high unemployment and a rising cost of living hurt South Africans’ spending power.

The retailer said in a statement it had started consultations with unions and other stakeholders around the closure of up to 34 stores, following a review that identified a number of outlets that were underperforming.

“A total of 34 Dion-Wired and Masscash stores and approximately 1,440 employees are potentially affected by this process,” it said.

Dion-Wired is Massmart’s electronics and appliances subsidiary, while Masscash is its wholesale division including cash and carry, food and cosmetics outlets.

Massmart shares, which sunk to a 13-year low last year after the retailer issued a profit warning, were up 2.4%.

A number of Massmart’s rivals, such as Shoprite, are also struggling in the difficult market conditions, and both retailers have also had to battle currency weakness elsewhere in Africa, especially Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Local parents compare BTS stationery prices

Two local parents have compared eight well-known South African retailers to find the most affordable stationery.

The parents sent their findings to the Parent24 website.

In the first table, reader Keith bases his information on promotional BTS leaflets and retailer websites.

In the second table, reader Jacky compared leading retailers, with the green indicating the cheapest option. Asterisks illustrate where prices were not available at the time of publishing.

Prepare for Stage 8, says Eskom

By Mia Lindeque for EWN

Several municipalities have not yet communicated their plan with Eskom should the power company implement stage eight load shedding.

Last month, the utility implemented stage 6 rolling blackouts, which caught residents, businesses and municipalities off guard.

The state-owned entity has since held meetings with municipalities to encourage them to update their emergency plans to make provision for even darker days.

Eskom’s Dikatso Mothae said while the risk of stage eight load shedding was low, municipalities must be prepared.

“In terms of planning purposes, we have to make sure that those schedules are available. We have engaged municipalities, asking that they do the same.”

Shoprite fined R1m for reckless lending

By Edward West for IOL

Shoprite on Monday confirmed it had accepted the judgment by the National Credit Regulator and had processed the payment of the R1-million fine imposed on one of its subsidiaries, Shoprite Investments Limited, for extending credit to some of its customers too easily.

This was after the court in December upheld a National Credit Tribunal (NCT) ruling that the supermarket chain had granted credit recklessly. The High Court in Pretoria had dismissed Shoprite’s appeal, with costs.

“This matter relates to credit agreements concluded in June 2013 and June 2014 with nine consumers from among thousands. In all these cases the credit extended was settled in full by the customers concerned,” the group said.

The NCT said in a statement that Shoprite had, in these cases, disregarded consumers’ pre-existing credit payment obligations, contrary to the provisions of the National Credit Act.

Shoprite had “adjusted” credit bureau information, to enable credit to be granted where the information in the credit bureau report indicated that consumers could not afford the proposed new debt.

Shoprite also disregarded or adjusted consumers’ pre-existing and future financial commitments in order to create affordability for the proposed new debt.

In dismissing Shoprite’s appeal, the High Court noted that the “most astonishing” aspect of Shoprite’s approach to affordability assessments was the fact that many consumers “still had negative affordability figures”, even after Shoprite had carried out its “adjustments” to affordability calculations, yet Shoprite nevertheless proceeded to grant credit to these consumers.

The High Court also noted that the consumers affected by Shoprite’s conduct were mostly pensioners and individuals with low average income.

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) initially found that Shoprite was likely grading credit recklessly to some consumers during a research exercise In September 2014, said NCR CEO Nomsa Motshegare.

The NCR then initiated an investigation into Shoprite’s affordability assessment and credit-granting practices.

In September 2017, the NCT, following a referral from the NCR, ruled that Shoprite had on a number of occasions, failed to conduct proper affordability assessments prior to granting credit to consumers, and thus had granted credit recklessly. It further ordered Shoprite to pay a R1 million fine.

In December 2019, a full bench of three judges unanimously dismissed Shoprite’s appeal against the NCT ruling, with costs.

‘Real’ matric pass rate closer to 40%

By Andrea Chothia for The South African

The DA has claimed that the matric pass rate is incorrect after the announcement of the 2019 results by Basic Education Minister, Angie Motshekga.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called the Minister of Basic Education, Angie Motshekga’s bluff saying that her announcement of 81.3% for the 2019 matric pass rate is incorrect and the “real” pass rate is in fact 38.9%.

In the statement, the DA congratulated each learner who passed the NSC examination, however had this to say:

“Whilst Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga and the Department of Education are celebrating an all-time high matric pass rate of 81.3%, the Democratic Alliance can reveal that the real pass rate is in fact 38.9%.”

Why a pass rate of 38.9%?
DA Minister of Basic Education, Nomsa Marchesi explained that in 2017, a total of 1 052 080 learners were enrolled in grade 10, yet only 409 906 learners eventually passed matric last year.

“This means only 38.9% of grade 10 learners actually wrote and passed matric,” said Marchesi.

“This is for the most part, due to an extraordinarily high drop-out rate, which means that hundreds of thousands of learners are denied the chance to write matric, let alone pass it,” she added.

Dismally failing system
Marchesi said that this is an indication of a dismally failing system and not a functional and successful one.

“The DA-led Western Cape is the province with the lowest drop-out rate (33.4%) and therefore the highest real pass rate, standing at 54.8%,” said Marchesi.

According to the Department’s calculation and in their opinion, disregarding the drop-out rate, the Free State is the top-performing province with a pass rate of 88.4%.

“The truth, however, is that this province’s real pass rate only stands at 38.4%.”

The ‘real’ national pass rate for 2018 was 37.6%. The ‘real’ pass rate of 2019 is, therefore, an improvement of a mere 1.3%,” the statement explained.

DBE punts national pass rate to shift focus
The DA claimed that for years the DBE has punted the national pass rate because it shifts the focus from their “perpetual failures as an ANC government.”

“The slow poison of drop-out rates between grades 10 and 12 is eating away at the future of the youth of this country,” the statement added.

The statement said that since 2015, which saw the highest number of pupils to write their matric exam, there has been a steady decline each year. It went on to add that another concern is the shocking pass rate from June results of the Multi Examination Opportunity (MEO) – only 7.1% passed.

“Nevertheless, however dismal this percentage is, it is used to inflate the pass rate and when phased out this year, the high drop-out rates will inevitably increase. Only then will we see the real performance of the Department,” said Marchesi.

“If we carry on this trajectory, more than half of all learners who start Grade 1 this year, will never see the inside of an NSC-exam room,” she added.

DStv incorrectly bills customers

Source: MyBroadband

Multiple DStv subscribers have reported issues with their monthly bills, contacting MyBroadband and taking to social media to voice their frustration.

A DStv subscriber who contacted MyBroadband stated that his debit order for his monthly subscription is meant to be R939.

Last month, however, he was billed R2,607. He said he contacted MultiChoice about the incorrect deduction, who promised to address the issue and refund him.

However, his latest bill was R1,748 for the month – which was again too high.

The reader then mailed MyBroadband to share his story, and stated that he has not received a resolution from MultiChoice.

Online complaints

Many users have also complained online about the DStv billing issues, and expressed anger at the matter not being resolved.

Hellopeter, Twitter, and Facebook host scores of complaints – examples of which are below.

Although my package type hasn’t changed for 20 years, suddenly my amount due is four times the normal debit order amount.

I called the call centre and an agent advised it would be resolved, and guess what it has not. Now when I speak with a supervisor suddenly I have multiple accounts and it will be escalated again.

Another complaint stated:

I’ve been with them since December 2018, and have had almost monthly problems with my bill. But December 2019 was the worst. On 24/10/2019, my account balance was R389 and then on 25/11/2019 it had jumped to R1,800.

I’m not getting any proper explanation as to how they got to that amount in that space of time.

MultiChoice fixing issue

MultiChoice told MyBroadband it recently consolidated all services on a customer’s account for easier billing.

“Customers now also have the flexibility of being able to add services or upgrade their package during the month, and only pay for those changes on their next payment date,” it said.

“We are continuously working on sorting out any customer issues, including billing. We apologise to all customers inconvenienced and vow to speedily resolve any problems they are experiencing.”

“It must be noted that most of the billing problems have been resolved successfully,” said MultiChoice.

Source: Lowvelder

According to the ChatBack website, a few easy steps on WhatsApp are all it takes to renew your car licence.

Here is how to renew your car licence in five easy steps:

Step one
There are three options to get started:

  • Scan the QR code on the website
  • SMS “Renew” to 44155
  • Add ChatBack to your contacts and WhatsApp them on 066-202-6685 to begin

Step two
Submit your car registration number. You will need your ID book to complete your renewal.

Step three
Get a quote and pay via the PayFast system which is secure, fast and simple.

Step four
Tell them which address you would like your documents to be delivered to.
Attach a copy or photo of your ID document
Attach proof of residence

Step five
Check the status of your renewal by sending “status” to the ChatBack WhatsApp number and they will inform you on the status of your renewal.

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