ZA Confidential Podcast: Cloof Pinotage 2018

By John Fraser

The wine for today’s tasting is the gutsy 2018 Cloof Pinotage, a robust red from Darling.

Business Day editor Lukanyo Mnyanda, Auto icon Jeff Osborne, IT troubleshooter Malcolm MacDonald and Economist Mike Schussler participated, drank…..and disagreed.

Author and wine buff Michael Olivier introduced the wine.

The team also had a useful chat about the SA government’s hostility to the wine and booze industry.

Click below to listen in:

Michael Oliver’s new book is unmissable and has just been published:

An excellent choice for Christmas

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ZA Confidential podcast wine tasting. Muratie’s Mr May Grenache Noir 2019

A mixed response to this Cape wine. Still too young?

By John Fraser

The soon-to-be-pissed podcasters are back, tasting a robust red from the Cape.

Mr Michael Olivier introduces the Mr May, a 2019 Grenache Noir from Muratie.

Guest tasters are Auto expert Jeff Osborne, Economist Mike Schussler, BusinessDay editor Lukanyo Mnyanda and IT superstar Malcolm MacDonald.

There was also a robust chat about how to recruit new wine drinkers, and what to do about the SA government’s hostility to the local wine industry.

Click below to find out what all the fuss was about:

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ZA Confidential Wine Tasting: De Wetshof Riesling 2017

A Cape stunner

By John Fraser

The purring podcasters are back, this time tasting a fine Cape white wine, the 2017 De Wetshof Riesling.

Guest tasters are economist Mike Schussler, auto expert Jeff Osborne, Business Day Editor Lukanyo Mnyanda and IT superstar Malcolm Macdonald.

Author, wine writer and good bloke Michael Olivier introduced the wine to the thirsty panel, who gave it many a slurp, and a unanimous thumbs up.

We also chatted about what makes a distinctive South African wine, homing in on Pinotage.

Please take a listen, by sending your well-trained mouse to click below:

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Southern Africa’s first carbon registry will open the door to reward SMMEs for going green

Marc Tison

By John Fraser

For the first time, Southern Africa will have a green toolbox to offer small firms extra rewards for cutting pollution

The initiative – which forms part of a move to establish the region’s first Carbon Register – is being showcased to delegates at the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.

“We are on the cusp of opening access to a regional solution for Carbon Markets, which will allow all Southern African SMMEs access to extra rewards for cutting their carbon footprint,” said Marc Tison, Senior Vice President of SEEDX10.

SEEDX10 is tapping into an already established global Carbon Market solution through a global partnership, to enable the Southern African Carbon Register to operate seamlessly across the region without any need for additional regulatory approvals.

A Carbon Register is a mechanism that rewards businesses and organisations for creating carbon credits – these have a value and, through the Register, are tradeable around the world.

The credits are awarded for green projects and initiatives which reduce emissions and can be sold to willing buyers to offset their own carbon footprint.

The buyers of carbon credits are large emitters of carbon like Eskom and large corporates, and worldwide demand is expected to spiral as countries scramble to make the carbon savings that are being pledged at COP26, by making the penalties for emissions higher and higher – using mechanisms such as carbon taxes.

“This new Carbon Register will enable SMMEs in Southern Africa and its neighbours to trade voluntary carbon credits – both within their own territory, between territories and globally, in compliance with all sections of the Paris Agreement,” said Tison.

“The aim is to create a new source of carbon credits from the Southern Africa region as global demand for these shoots up. Without access to a Carbon Register, SMMEs cannot participate in the global Carbon Market. This will unlock a new, exciting, and alternative form of funding for SMMEs to assist them to build and scale their businesses.”

With offices already established in the USA, SEEDX10 is launching a Carbon Register for Southern Africa – with a unique offering.

“Our global location is key as it provides us with easier access to global capital markets and new trading markets for our clients who have products developed in the region that have global export potential,” explained Tison.

“Small firms cannot at present easily benefit financially from their carbon-slashing initiatives.

“We offer the chance of aggregating the achievements of a cluster of SMMEs to give them the combined critical mass to enter – and to directly financially benefit – from the carbon trading environment.

“Meanwhile, we believe we are launching a unique offering to SMMEs – we will be providing financial incentives to SMMEs who register their green projects through a link-up with Global Impact Holdings (GIH), an established and credible venture-capital provider.”

GIH is a fast-growing venture capital player in SA, with a focus on supporting small businesses and making a positive impact on the economy.

“A cluster of small firms – or a larger operator – in Southern Africa could undertake a carbon-cutting programme and sell the benefits of cutting emissions – represented by these carbon credits – to another player anywhere in the world that is unable, or finds it too costly, to reduce their own pollution,” explained GIH Executive Chairman Chris Hart.

“It sounds complicated, but this ground-breaking Carbon Register is an exciting and innovative way for Southern Africa to develop cleaner and greener firms and factories and to be rewarded handsomely for doing so.

“If we can bring together – and mobilise on a significant scale – groups of SMMEs that are undertaking carbon-cutting initiatives, they could become significant suppliers of carbon credits to the local and global market and help to achieve the global warming reduction target of 2 degrees set by the Paris Agreement at COP25.

“The carbon savings can be made by creating greener factories, reducing their carbon footprint in the design of the factories and offices they are building.”

Attempts to date to establish a voluntary Carbon Register in South Africa have failed to take off, but the new initiative will reduce red tape obstacles.

“We have secured an exclusive licence to operate this Carbon Register in Southern Africa – to register and issue carbon credits, based on global issuance standards, to a global carbon exchange,” said Tison.

“By fast-tracking this benefit, we can avoid all the regulatory hurdles which will delay anyone who is starting from scratch.

“The Carbon Registry business, with internet presence already established at, will be incorporated in Botswana, where SADC’s head office is. We will be providing each country with its own secure Carbon Register so each country’s SMMEs can register their businesses and their green projects. Meanwhile, governments will be able to trade carbon credits globally and with one another.

“We plan to launch and open the Carbon Register by mid-2022 for the entire region, on the back of a $10m initial private capital raise.”

Hart explained that this initiative means that Southern Africa will become the first region in the world to provide financial incentives for small businesses and projects to pursue the benefits of creating carbon credits.

“A real issue for SMMEs is to unlock funding, but carbon credits can create funding for SMMEs. The firms can create these credits and get income,” he explained.

“GIH intends to co-fund every credit, providing an alternative mechanism for funding – incentivising SMMEs to sign-up.

“Internationally, if you can get the SMME market running on this, it will make a significant contribution.

“No single country in the world is incentivising – rather than penalising – firms to sign up, but we will facilitate a grant to incentivise them, by bringing in private equity.

“The investors will get a stake in the business. This is bolstered by donor funding to provide the capacity for our own business to be able to provide a sign-up incentive for SMMEs.”

The South African market is currently starved of carbon credits, and the Carbon Register will play an important part in developing and growing it.

“We will be making a presentation at a session at COP26 to present the Southern Africa Carbon Register initiative,” said Tison.

“This should propel us forward so we can offer Southern African businesses – both large and small – the chance to become respected players in the green economy while being incentivised and rewarded for their efforts.”

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Wine tasting podcast: Groote Post Seasalter SB 2021

A darling Darling wine

By John Fraser

The tasters have returned. For our latest ZA Confidential podcast, we headed to delightful Darling for an unusual white, an exciting Sauvignon Blanc. The Groote Post Seasalter SB 2021 was uncorked or unscrewed or hacked into by Michael Olivier.

The tasters were top economist Mike Schussler, Business Day editor Lukanyo Mnyanda, auto expert Jeff Osborne and IT whizzkid Malcolm Macdonald.

Click below to join the fun……

The panel also took a look at Michael Oliver’s new book and discussed whether or not there is a distinctive national cuisine in SA.

An excellent choice for Christmas, New Year, Easter and Winnie Mandela Day (it’s coming, folks…..)

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Wine tasting podcast: the classy Spioenkop Riesling.

By John Fraser

The tasting troubadours are back, with another Cape classic – the classy, elegant, noble, fragrant 2017 Spioenkop Riesling.

Michael Olivier introduces the wine to Malcolm MacDonald, Jeremy Sampson and Jeff Osborne .

Then John Fraser leads a debate on how we should react when restaurants flout Covid protocols.

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Ford’s plans to accelerate auto exports from SA threatened by rail, land and power constraints

Politicians enthusiastically enjoying their recent visit to the Ford factory (Pic from the dtic)

By John Fraser

A discussion between auto executives and a political delegation in Pretoria this week has revealed the serious obstacles that lie in the path of US auto giant Ford’s hopes to ramp up its vehicle exports from its Silverton assembly complex in Pretoria East.

Port bottlenecks at Durban mean that plans are underway to see whether a high-capacity rail link can instead be provided for Ford’s vehicle exports to and through Port Elizabeth.

Meanwhile, electricity capacity needs to be boosted to enable the expansion of the neighbouring Tshwane Auto Special Economic Zone (TASEZ), which is due to take place fairly soon.

A third worry is securing enough land for expanding the SEZ, with the meeting being told that land is a “quite serious” constraint.

The consultation/site visit on Tuesday involved Deputy Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) minister Fikile Majola and Gauteng MEC Parks Tau.

A dtic official explained that the department has approved funding for the TASEZ of R3.1bn, with R2.6bn disbursed to date.

Ford’s Ockert Berry said the company is projecting a rise in assembly, heading for up to 200 000 vehicles a year, with many for export.

Export volumes will increase from 2015’s levels by 184%. 

He warned that Durban is congested, so Ford is looking to PE as well.

He said the flow would reach 32 trains a day if they go through PE, needing 1270 additional wagons.

However, this is not finalised yet.

A TASEZ official said that work on the SEZ project has passed the 50% mark, but more land will be needed if there is to be much more expansion. The City of Tshwane would need to appropriate it or buy it.

All construction of the current phase of the SEZ will be completed by the end of March.

He said the TASEZ has received R3.15 bn from dtic and is asking for an additional R256m.

Dept Minister Majola, who mumbled through his remarks and was frequently inaudible, said he hopes that President Ramaphosa will make a visit to the Ford plant and the SEZ.

“We are an advance team,” he muttered into his mask.

“Some SEZs were designated years ago, and nothing is happening. Here we have a success story. It has been a very important learning curve in the construction of SEZs.”

MEC Tau, who took off his mask and was thus more audible, confirmed concerns about getting vehicles from inland Gauteng to the coast.

“We need to look at capacity to get cars to the port, and we are dependent on rail. Transnet seem to be making progress, but I have not heard of a contingency plan,” he warned  

“You ramp up production on the basis of what you are able to move, so this issue of maximising potential to export needs attention.

“We may have the elevate the rail corridor initiative to the national cabinet – to look at the role Treasury and the DTIC will need to play. It is a critical contributor to production capacity.”

Energy supply will also be a constraint to expansion, and the meeting was told that officials have spoken on this to the CEO of Eskom.  

“We must look at alternatives. We are awaiting an Eskom update,” said one speaker.

The dtic did send out a media release later. It confirms the interest in expanding exports through Port Elizabeth.

Here is a link to it (enjoy!):

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New Podcast on how the SA government has clobbered the wine industry, with a special tasting of a Glen Carlou chardonnay

An excellent white at a great price

By John Fraser

The ZA Confidential podcast is back, purring over a fine SA white and growling at the government.

The wine being slurped is the Glen Carlou 2020 Petite Chardonnay, and the tasters are Malcolm MacDonald, Jeff Osborne and Jeremy Sampson. Overseeing it all is the font of all booze Michael Olivier.

Recorded just before the latest (tiny) easing of SA lockdown restrictions, the panel frets over the harm which has been done to the wine and hospitality sectors.

Click below to join in the fun:

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ZA Confidential wine tasting podcast: Landskroon Cape Vintage 2019

A Port by any other name tastes as sweet

By John Fraser

The tasting team is back, with a really exceptional SA Port – the Landskroon Cape Vintage 2019.

Michael Olivier uncorked it for guest tasters Malcolm MacDonald, Jeremy Sampson and Jeff Osborne.

There is also a pained panel discussion of how the SA government has caved in to diktats from the EU bureaucrats about the naming of some of our long-cherished fortified wines, which will forever be Ports to patriots like me.

You can access the podcast recording below, and you really, really should.

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It’s time to slam the door on SA’s nuclear ambitions

Nuclear health warnings

By John Fraser

You might trust your kid with a pack of cards or a tub of Lego. Maybe it is not as wise to give a toddler a chemistry set or an air rifle.

Any power plant is dangerous. A nuclear one is capable of causing a catastrophe.

The recent explosion of a generator at Eskom Medupi power station’s unit 4 – just days after the plant’s construction had been completed – shows how our national power utility is plagued by incompetence and risk.

An initial estimate for putting things right was up to R2bn – over two years – but when it comes to Eskom estimates it is often wise to add a zero to any cost prediction.

If the idiots at Eskom cannot safely work with a conventional power generator, heaven help us if they get their hands on more nuclear plants – as our unenergetic energy minister Gwede Mantashe seems to want.

The existing SA nuclear plant at Koeberg, which is frighteningly close to Cape Town, has been running reasonably safely for many years. But do we really want to play Russian roulette by following Gwede’s ambitions to preserve a nuclear build programme with his chums in Moscow.

It was widely thought that our discredited former President Jacob Zuma was courting the Russians in the hope of a new nuclear deal which might have lined the pockets of a few elite ANC comrades.

Indeed, the Energy portfolio has been a can of worms for some time now and it is worrying, astonishing and bizarre that Comrade Gwede was not shuffled into obscurity when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his recent underwhelming Cabinet reshuffle.

Surely every South African who has experienced the unreliability, soaring costs and dodgy performance of Eskom must share my view that it is time for us to pull the plug on nuclear.  If your kids at Medupi blow themselves up with a conventional generator, you don’t give them a bag of dynamite and set them loose in a nuclear plant  

We know what can go wrong from the catastrophes at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, yet Gwede the unsteady wants more nuclear toys for Eskom to play with. What the Fuk-ushima! 

The current CEO of Eskom André de Ruyter is an impressive chap, and clearly an improvement on what came before. But the Medupi blast happened on his watch. Are we 100% confident that he will be able to ensure that his team of clowns will be able to save a future nuclear power plant from meltdown.

The generator blast was a wake-up call to us all.

Let us ban all future thoughts of nuclear expansion in SA, for as long as Eskom remains such a national disgrace. And a danger to us all.

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