THE MOST basic law of banking is to ensure that loans are backed by collateral. By attempting to defy that reality and pursuing a business model premised on unsecured loans, the meltdown of African Bank Investments Limited (Abil) is not surprising.

Apartheid had nothing to do with the fact that other banks “ignored” low-income borrowers, as Business Report (“Investors abandon Abil with no hope”, August 8) claims. What other banks did was to adhere to the fundamentals of banking which is why they have survived and their clients, unlike those of Abil, are grateful.

By exploiting low-income borrowers with expensive credit, which is avarice of the worst kind, Abil has reaped what it has sown. Good riddance!



Nuclear emphasis is morally bad – SAFCEI

The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) shares our government and Eskom’s commitment to service the energy needs of the country, in particular those of the poor. We therefore find the growing emphasis on and commitment towards nuclear energy incomprehensible on economic and moral grounds.

Following Eskom’s revelations to Parliament at the end of July, SAFCEI believes that, financially, we cannot afford nuclear energy and calls on the cabinet to abolish the nuclear focus and expand its renewable energy programme.

According to Eskom, 60 percent of our power stations are older than the recommended design age of 30 years, resulting in increased breakdowns and need for maintenance. Life extensions and environmental retrofits will require between R50 billion and R260bn. Eskom is looking to claw back additional revenue through more electricity tariff increases. Yet poor communities struggle to afford electricity right now.

According to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, we will find additional finances to build new nuclear energy plants. Given the cost of nuclear was mooted as R1 trillion, who will provide the money?

Areva, probably the largest nuclear builder in the world, filed losses for the third year in a row, of e500m (R7.1bn) in 2013, e100m in 2012 and e2.5 billion in 2011.

As people of faith, we express our deep concern that public policies are not in line with the best options for preserving our natural environment, saving energy and alleviating poverty. SAFCEI believes there is an ethical imperative to expand renewable energy, which is cheaper to build, has zero fuel costs, and can provide sustainable, affordable energy for the people of South Africa.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said she was hoping to appoint a chief executive for Eskom in the next few weeks – if government is serious about addressing the crisis, it needs to direct the utility to abandon 19th-century thinking and catch up with the 21st century.

We call on the minister to appoint someone who can consider the long-term energy needs of the country. Appointing a renewable energy expert as a chief executive would be a good first step.

Liz McDaid

SAFCEI energy and climate change programme co-ordinator

Time to give women farmers some support

Wadea Jappie of Philippi sells a few dozen eggs from her house to family and friends. Over time the demand grew beyond expectation. From 100 chickens in 2003, she expanded to 3 000 layers by the end of 2011, going from 80 eggs to 4 000 eggs daily.

Jappie has since expanded into planting dhania (coriander) and employs a number of permanent workers and supplies local brands with carrots, cabbages, radishes, and cauliflower.

She and her family receive assistance from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s Marketing Matters programme, helping to improve her record-keeping and administration. It is no wonder she won the award for Female Farmer of the Year for Informal Markets (2006), and a few years later became the Emerging Farmer of the Year for the Western Cape.

Farmworkers and their family members are often isolated from the mainstream social interaction and do not have regular access to life skills training. The Agriculture Department of the Western Cape has a dedicated farmworker programme that aims to improve the quality of life of farmworkers by facilitating the provision of social awareness campaigns, substance abuse prevention and skills training opportunities for farmworkers, which include women living in rural farming communities.

We need more targeted interventions to address gender inequality in our agricultural economy. We can start by improving avenues through which women have access to budgetary resources and credit.

We need to continue to create an enabling environment where women like Jappie, when given opportunity and support, are able to become valuable contributors not only to their families but to their communities.

Beverley Schäfer MPP

DA Western Cape Spokeswoman on Agriculture and Economic Development

Cape Town