Friday, 28 September 2018
If ever there was a perfect example of South Africa requiring a burning platform before taking decisive action on the economy, it’s encapsulated in Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba’s eventual climbdown on some of the more damaging elements of the destructive visa regime he implemented on his first sojourn at that department.
 
It has taken Gigaba three years to implement just some changes to the visa regime which, as tourism and business lobby groups have pointed out from the start, are damaging to the economy.
 
The amendments, if anything, serve to muddy the waters even further when it comes to visa requirements.
 
The new measures – which are touted as enabling regular business travellers to get extended visas, reducing requirements on citizens from selected countries to get access to SA, and finally the dropping of the ludicrous demand that the parents of foreign children carry additional documentation in addition to their passports to get access to the country - will require the retraining of legions of civil servants who are barely attuned to the last set of maddening rules.
 
It’s impossible to quantify exactly how much damage has been done to tourism over the past three years as government messaging around visa requirements varied between the murky to the destructive.
 
Some 13,000 families are reported to have been turned away from boarding flights to South Africa because they didn’t have the appropriate documentation demanded by South Africa’s Home Affairs department. It’s unclear how many more would simply have made alternative travel choices rather than be lumbered with the inconvenience of restrictive rules.
 
The effort taken to visit South Africa has seen the country significantly underperform in a booming global industry, which is currently growing north of 5% a year. Grant Thornton puts growth in tourism numbers to South Africa at half that.
 
It’s a massive wasted opportunity.
President Cyril Ramaphosa flagged tourism as one of the critical elements of his stimulus plan for the country. There is a direct correlation between an increase in visitor numbers and jobs created in the industry. The tourism industry calculates that one new job is created for every nine additional tourists to the country.
 
South Africa’s tourism numbers are blurred by the inability of Home Affairs to distinguish between migrant workers who repatriate a large portion of their earnings, and those whose spend goes directly on tourism and domestic consumption. Greater clarity is needed in defining the difference between genuine tourism, business travel and those who travel across borders for work.
 
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa, while unimpressed with the visa changes, is appealing for their speedy and efficient implementation to ease the burden on travellers this season. The reality is that foreign tourists going to long-haul destinations like South Africa plan significantly in advance and the changes are unlikely to have any real impact on the current tourist season. There is an immediate effect of bad regulation and a lag in repairing the damage it has caused.
 
Home Affairs' belligerence on domestic travellers requiring permission to travel out of the country by non-travelling parents and to carry unabridged birth certificates in addition to passports, remains a ridiculous bureaucratic burden for South Africans looking to travel abroad. The decision to force parents to grant permission for every trip was based on fake data of child trafficking from South Africa and remains a serious impediment to travelling families.
 
There is progress in other areas.
Visitors from China and India will no longer have to travel in person across the vast expanses of their respective countries to apply for visas in person, but will be allowed to use intermediaries. The long overdue introduction of biometric movement control systems at the country’s busiest airports should go some way to reduce congestion on arrival at South African ports of entry. Speed and implementation are of the essence.
 
Ramaphosa’s planned stimulus package announced on Friday showed that government was coming to terms with the fact that “business as usual” was no longer working. He promised greater clarity not only on tourism, but mining and land reform too.
 
Ratings agency Fitch, which already has a sub-investment grade rating on South African debt, has expressed reservations about the significance of the measures unveiled by the president last week amidst concerns that Moody’s, the only major ratings agency which retains an investment grade rating on SA, is considering the soundness of its position.
 
‘Petrified capital’
In his address to the UN in New York this week, the president used the opportunity to quell concerns about policy and the impact of land reform on property rights. The movement on visas, while positive, is hardly the radical overhaul needed to announce South Africa is open for business.
 
The president has tasked a group of veteran business leaders including former Standard Bank CEO Jacko Maree and the former finance minister and now Old Mutual chairperson, Trevor Manuel, with raising $100bn in foreign direct investment over five years.
 
Ramaphosa will be hoping that by talking up opportunities for reforms, he will encourage South African CEOs to loosen the purse strings on the so-called “lazy capital” locked into domestic balance sheets. Perhaps we should use the term “petrified capital” which like fossilised wood has turned to stone is immovable and stuck in time.
 
Our messaging around SA being open for business needs to change quickly if we are to grasp the nettle on an economic rebound.
 
Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award winning financial journalist and broadcaster.
Published in Opinion & Analysis
The world’s tenth largest roof solar system debuted at the Mall of Africa in Gauteng on Thursday morning.
 
It is also the world’s largest mixed-use integrated solar power-diesel hybrid solution, Attacq, the mall’s owner, said in a statement. 
 
The 4,755kWp installation covers most of the centre’s roof space, an area of approximately 45,000m² or 4.5ha.
 
The 7,800MWh energy generated annually will be used to power the Mall’s daily operations.
 
Attacq said the solar power will alleviate pressure on the national power grid.
 
Michael Clampett, Head of Retail Asset Management at Attacq, said the solar/diesel system will save 8,034 tonnes of CO2 annually. The average household produced 80 tonnes CO2 annually.
 
The solar system also created 50 temporary jobs, and two permanent jobs.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Engineering

A Liberian court has issued arrest warrants for more than 30 former Central Bank officials in connection with 104 million dollars that went missing on the way to the bank, according to a court document released on Friday.

Former bank Governor Milton Weeks and Charles Sirleaf, the son of the west African nation’s former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, were among those ordered arrested.

Weeks has said he had nothing to do with the missing cash and was cooperating with investigators. The media has not been able to reach Sirleaf for comment.

 

Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA

Published in Bank & Finance

Twenty-eight years after independence, wealth in Namibia is still skewed along racial lines laid down in the colonial period. The level of inequality is one of the highest in the world, according to the World Bank.

Land distribution plays a big part in keeping this pattern of inequality in place, and the country is holding its Second National Land Conference in October to discuss reform. But many Namibians are unhappy with this approach – and new forms of inequality are emerging too. This calls for a more radical approach to distribute not only land, but wealth more evenly.

The October conference will focus on the fact that 48% of the land is privately owned (freehold), 35% is communal land vested in the state and administered by customary authorities, and the rest (17%) is state land link to (Namibia Statistical Agency, 2018), including national parks and restricted areas.

Over 70% of the Namibian population make their living from communal land, but fewer than 5000 individuals - out of a population of just over 2.5 million- own freehold farmland. The pattern of land distribution and ownership reflects class inequality and perpetuates racial inequalities.

This inequality is a direct consequence of land dispossession during the colonial and later apartheid eras and its division into the three categories.

Since independence in 1990, the land reform programme has focused on two ways of correcting historical wrongs. The National Resettlement Programme allows the government to buy freehold land to resettle landless Namibians. It has followed the “willing seller, willing buyer” principle. The Affirmative Action Loan Scheme allows formerly disadvantaged people to get subsidised loans from the Agricultural Bank of Namibia to buy land.

There is general discontent with the success of the programme and calls are growing for the land reform programme to be reviewed and for a new direction.

Policy failure

Since 1990, only 3 million hectares of land have been acquired through the National Resettlement Programme and 6.4 million hectares through the Affirmative Action Loan Scheme and private commercial banks. About 70% of the freehold agricultural land is still owned by white people. The previously disadvantaged (black and coloured people) own only 16%.

There’s a scramble among the previously disadvantaged for what little freehold land has been acquired by the government for resettlement. A new elite, often with close ties to government and international investors - rather than the most disadvantaged - tend to benefit.

As for communal lands, increasing demand and a variety of new uses of the land are posing a challenge to customary rights and systems. Emerging informal land markets in populated areas threaten people’s security of tenure and their user rights. What Namibia needs in these areas is a plan for thorough agrarian reform.

The land reform discussions don’t address the way land is being turned into capital, or who profits from it. Very few of the commercial farms are profitable agriculturally, and the most lucrative farm lands are now the ones with mining, tourism, trophy hunting, conservation or real estate potential. Many landowners have long since withdrawn the capital from their land and put it into these more profitable business.

Redistributive justice

To bring about redistributive justice, Namibia needs to analyse where the profits go that are gained through the capitalisation of land that was stolen in colonial times.

Urban land, much of it still owned by the old elite, is where real profits are made today. As in many other African countries, the profits made in Namibia by international conglomerates or the small Namibian elite no longer come directly from land ownership. They come from owning the capital to invest, from having the know-how and networks to link up with global markets, or from owning urban land paid for by selling private farm land illegally acquired during colonial and apartheid times. A national and international elite has withdrawn its capital from the land, while the majority of the people never had a chance to accumulate land or capital.

The shortcomings of the current land reforms suggest that voluntary, market-based transactions of land might not be a suitable measure to redistribute land, not to speak of wealth and power. The “policy” of national reconciliation has delivered one-sided benefits. The politics of national reconciliation are used to justify the status quo - an avoidance strategy to address the structural problems in Namibia. A more radical approach must be considered to redistribute land and capital. Only then will formerly disadvantaged people become equal co-owners of Namibia’s land and wealth.The Conversation

 

Luregn Lenggenhager, Researcher at the Centre for African Studies, University of Basel and Romie Vonkie Nghitevelekwa, Sociology Lecturer, University of Namibia

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Even the toughest critics of Angola’s government say that in just more than a year, President Joao Lourenco has accomplished more to stop corruption than any previous Angolan administration.

Lourenco took power last September after the retirement of longtime president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, whose cronies and family members are alleged to have controlled every important company and source of wealth in the country.

But in the year since the transition, Lourenco has swept away an impressive number of allegedly corrupt top officials who, under dos Santos, were considered untouchable. Most notably, the ex-president’s son Filomeno, who ran the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, was arrested this week on allegations of money-laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.

Journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques, who was arrested and put on trial for his corruption exposés during the dos Santos era, says the new president deserves praise.

“I would give Lourenco an eight out of 10, simply because he inherited a country where corruption was so ingrained, so institutionalized, that it became the institution itself,” he told VOA. “The government itself was corruption. I think he’s done that with - and deserves great credit for - what he’s done in terms of also letting the judiciary have the power to indict and arrest some of these most notorious, corrupt officials.”

And the purge has been rewarded, says Alex Vines, who heads the Africa Program for research group Chatham House. The nation’s biggest investors, international oil and gas companies, have decided not to pull out of the resource-rich nation. But, he says, more needs to be done to rebuild the country.

“This is a transition process still, it will progress in fits and starts, but I think we are beginning to see that these reform efforts aren’t just about the consolidation of power from dos Santos to Lourenco, but is beginning to become a bit more equitable,” he said.

Lourenco, he notes, is a shrewd politician, having risen to prominence within the ruling People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola in 1984. He now has to gird his party for its next challenge, Vines says.

“Mr. Lourenco, I think, has bought himself a couple of years of credit with the reforms that are going on,” he said. “The honeymoon period is over. But he will be severely tested, I think, in 2020, with the local elections, the first eve in Angola’s history, and the MPLA is worried that in certain districts in Angola, it might do poorly. And so, these reforms are really all about the MPLA and about renewal. And that is really what this is all about, I think.”

But Marques says for the party to pull ahead, it needs to improve the economy and ensure millions of unemployed Angolans can find jobs.

“He continues to have a very, an extremely, incompetent economic team,” Marques said. “And these measures will not yield great results in terms of changes in the public life if his government is not competent enough to turn around the economic situation, create jobs for the economy and economic growth.”

 

- voanews

Published in Economy

A 49-year-old German woman was trampled to death by an elephant in a popular game reserve in northern Zimbabwe as she tried to photograph it, a wildlife official said Thursday.

The attack happened on Wednesday at the Mana Pools game reserve after the woman apparently left the protection of the vehicle she had been travelling in.

“The information we have is that the tourists encountered a herd of elephants when they were entering the park and they started taking pictures,” said Tinashe Farawo, spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority. 

“We do not know what irritated the animals which resulted in the woman being attacked.

“She passed on last night (Wednesday) from injuries.”

The woman was not named by officials.

Attacks by elephants are common in Zimbabwe which has a population of around 84 000 pachyderms.

Last year a trained elephant trampled a tour guide in Victoria Falls, a tourist resort in the country’s west. Another local man was also killed in a separate incident last year after he had tried to drive elephants into the open to take pictures.

 

Source: The Zimbabwe Mailhe Zimbabwe Mail

Published in Travel & Tourism
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