Bruce’s List: A daily guide to informed reads.
Gosh, there is so much going on, and going wrong, it can sometimes be hard to know where to start. I reckon Moody’s, the ratings agency deciding to check out the quality of corporate governance at some state-owned companies is pretty serious. Normally, Eskom, Sanral, the IDC and the DBSA would get the same ratings as the country, but the revelation last week that Andrew Canter at Futuregrowth was pulling the plug on new investments in these parastatals has woken up the market to the possibility that some rather nasty stuff is going on way behind Jacob Zuma’s broad back. Canter was quickly shut down and forced by parent company Old Mutual to apologise for merely thinking that perhaps all might not be well with governance at, say, Eskom. Pass the sickbag Alice. Whoever it was at Old Mutual who called Canter to back off should be fired.
The fact is, Moody’s would find a troubling proposition at Eskom the moment it walked in the door. A board desperately light on experience in the industry, and a main board director of one of Eskom’s clients, Oakbay (the Guptas’ holding company), sitting on the Eskom board as well. How lovely. This bloke gets to vote on Eskom decisions that affect his main employer directly and indirectly.
I wonder who is going to call the head of Moody’s and tell him to back off now? The answer? No-one. Eskom could well be downgraded to further below the sovereign. Part of its strategy is to outrun ratings and ranking like the ones Moody’s produces, to reduce bond issues and increasingly to borrow directly from institutions. But there’s only so far that will run. The Brics will want to see some return (or at least actual work) on and with the money they have already loaned to Eskom. So, Moody’s will just have to be dealt with. Here’s the Business Day front page lead this morning.
And here is Transnet threatening to sue Futuregrowth for daring to challenge, or even discuss, corporate governance at Transnet. What a joke, So, Transnet contracts have never gone the way of Transnet directors? Presumably for a suit against Futuregrowth to have any credibility, Transnet will have to sue Moody’s as well. And, as the queue of institutions and agencies wanting to know more about who is benefiting from the capital they invest in these state-owned fiefdoms, Transnet and Eskom and the rest can sue the whole bloody world!
I just love this. Public protector Thuli Madonsela, with just a few weeks left of her term, is going to issue a report on the Guptas and state capture. It won’t be complete but it will, I have no doubt, ask all the right questions and make, as she has always done, some “findings”. Now remember these findings, as Zuma found out to his cost, are not suggestions or proposals. They are rulings. In law, the public protector has the ranking of a judge president, so whatever she “finds” in the Gupta report will have to land with the Hawks or the NPA, both of which, we know, are absolutely useless and in the president’s pocket. And just to prove how useless the Hawks and the NPA are, they were both in parliament yesterday trying to brief the public accounts committee on how the fight against corruption was going. As it turned out, they didn’t know.
And just to keep you up to date with other stuff, do you have any idea what has been going on in Lesotho? Me neither. But this is a really good piece of reporting from the amaBhungane investigative team that, for the first time, helped me understand the Lesotho story to the point where I might even be able to have an opinion about it.