Eswatini Daily News
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Non-resolution of social issues remains a dark cloud – RES MD

By Sifiso Sibandze

Royal Eswatini Sugar Corporation (RES) Managing Director, Nick Jackson is troubled by the ongoing social unrest in the Kingdom which continues to pose a serious threat to business.

In his statement in the most recent Annual Integrated Report, 2022, Jackson said the non-resolution of social issues remains a dark cloud. “I do not foresee an end to the social unrest in the immediate future, and the risk of damage to cane and property persists,” Jackson said.

In June 2021, the social unrest halted production for several days and culminated in the arson of 1 350 hectares of cane and resulting in an estimated loss of E15.2 million profit after tax.

Over and above the unrest, Jackson noted that the financial year 2021/2022 was a tough year for RES, characterised by low yields due to the drought in the previous season, followed by substantial rainfall and a cyclone in the latter half of the year. Added to the mix were the persistent Covid-19 pandemic and pests that affected the cane.

“It is not all doom and gloom, however. I expect the general market price of sugar to be buoyant over the next few years and a weaker Lilangeni will benefit us,” said Jackson.

However, he was quick to mention that the growing number of natural disasters such as ­floods and droughts experienced across the globe have highlighted that climate change is probably one of the most critical global challenges that will have a long-term and lasting impact on businesses and humankind.

In our environment, high rainfall, strong winds that resulted in cane lodging, and above-normal cloud cover that negatively affected radiation, were the order of the day during the financial year.

“RES also embarked on numerous initiatives to ensure we remain globally competitive. Projects include investigating new products and markets, growth projects, exploring energy efficiency and digital transformation in response to the many challenges we are facing,” he said.

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