In spite of the peace initiative, a number of travel agents told one of our correspondents that Nigerians were not buying tickets to South Africa, except for special reasons.

I haven’t sold tickets to Johannesburg for two weeks – Agent

“I have not booked a single ticket to Johannesburg in the last two weeks,” a travel agent, who did not want to be named revealed.

“Nobody is going there at the moment. It is as if there is a total boycott except it is extremely important. Since the problem between Nigeria and South Africa began, the only people travelling are those that had booked their flights long before now and students that need to return to school and have no choice but to resume,” the agent said.

Another Lagos-based agent said the situation had degenerated to the point that special travel packages that were put together for tourists to the country had either been cancelled or diverted to some other destinations as people were no longer interested.

Nigerian tourists changing destinations from SA to Dubai

According to the agent, Nigerian tourists are changing their vacation destinations to Dubai, Mauritius and other places.

“There are people with pending tickets that have requested change of airline or destination. Even people scheduled to travel; some have said they no longer want to travel to South Africa,” he said.

Findings show that South African Airways, which operates daily flights between Lagos and Johannesburg, has been affected.

South African Airways enjoys a near monopoly on the route being the only airline that offers direct flights from Lagos to Johannesburg; other airlines on that route such as Kenyan Airway and Rwandair have to get to Nairobi and Kigali respectively, before taking off to Johannesburg. The airline, when contacted, declined to comment on the issue.

I left SA when attacks became frequent – Mother of two

Meanwhile, a woman who was among those evacuated on Wednesday shared her experience, saying that she decided to leave South Africa when the attacks became frequent.

The single mother of two, Ololade Atere, from Oyo State, said her nail studio was destroyed in the recent xenophobic attacks.

Atere said, “My experience was bad. I was into fixing of nails and one day I got a call that my shop had been destroyed. I decided to come home because the violence became too much and I couldn’t keep running with my two kids.

“I lived in South Africa for five years, but I have no plans of going back. I am tired of the violence. I have to be safe. I am home now. I have to find a job or business.

“I left Nigeria when I was pregnant. The intention was to have my baby, have some travel experience and return. I wanted to come back after I had my first baby but people convinced me to stay. But now, I have had enough.”

S’Africa said my children were its citizens – Mother

Atere said she was supposed to be among the first batch of Nigerians to return, but was stopped at the airport.

“They said I couldn’t travel with my kids because I gave birth to them in South Africa and they are citizens,” she said.

She added that she was made to swear an affidavit before she was allowed to bring the children with her to Nigeria.

‘I left my child in S’Africa’

Another returnee, who identified himself as Uchenbi, told the News Agency of Nigeria that South Africans harboured hostility towards Nigerians.

He stated, “South Africans are angry at Nigerians for no reason and would blame them for whatever reason they deem fit.”

Uchenbi, who was in South Africa for 12 years before he returned to Nigeria on Wednesday, said he left his child in South Africa, while she was sleeping.

The man, who is married to a South African, said his wife would have suffered, if he had been killed in South Africa.

S’African police didn’t probe my husband killing – Woman

Another returnee, Blessing Chioma, accused the South African police of inaction when her husband was killed in 2012.

Chioma said, ”I’m coming from South Africa, Johannesburg; I was married to a Nigerian, but South Africans killed him during the xenophobic attacks. I reported the case to the police, they know about it; they look for the guys, but you won’t know them because they come in groups, so nothing was done; the case is closed,” she said.

”Since then I’ve been coping with the children, but I returned them to Nigeria because I was no more meeting up in training them. So they’re here now in Nigeria; I came back to take care of them, but we came with nothing because they burnt our shops.”

 

Source: Nigerian Eye

South Africa's main opposition parthy The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that almost 70% of PRASA controlled train stations do not have CCTV cameras.

A response to a DA Parliamentary Question has revealed that of the 585 train stations under PRASA’s control, only 181 stations have at least one CCTV camera. This means that only 30.9% of stations in the country have at least one CCTV cameras.

In the Western Cape, where rail safety has been particularly out of hand, only 42 out of 122 stations in the province have CCTV cameras. This means only 34.4% of the province’s stations have at least one CCTV camera.

These are alarming figures considering the fact that crime is on the increase. In 2018 alone, an estimated 495 people lost their lives while making use of our trains and 2079 were injured. Clearly the ANC government cannot be trusted to keep commuters safe.

To make matters worse, around 26.8% of all the cameras installed nationally are not working.

How can we have effective policing at train stations when most stations do not have cameras, and those that do are not guaranteed to have operational ones?

PRASA’s old, outdated and stoic infrastructure places many commuters across the country under constant threat of being attacked by criminals, due to the state of lawlessness and lack of law enforcement at PRASA stations.

The table below shows a total of installed CCTV cameras at PRASA managed railway stations per region:

The DA is of the view that policing and train services should be handed over to competent provinces such as the Western Cape, as the national government is incapable and clearly unwilling to keep our people safe.

Unlike the ANC, the DA has a rail plan that will create a safe and well-managed railway system which put commuters first and will ensure job security. The plan is based on four aspects:

Stabilising and modernising the current rail system;
Merging Transnet and PRASA under the Department of Transport;
Ceding control of Metrorail services to Metros; and,
Diversifying Ownership.

Poor railway infrastructure and mismanagement makes it hard for South Africans to reliably depend on trains to deliver them to their destinations safely and on time.

South Africa's economic growth is unlikely to reach the treasury's target of 1.5% in 2019 because conditions have changed and the country is facing increasing headwinds, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said on Friday.

This week ratings agency Moody's, the last of the top three credit firms to rate South Africa’s debt at investment level, said it had lowered its growth forecast to 0.7% from 1%.

The central bank sees gross domestic product at 0.6% this year. Both have cited slow economic reforms as the key drag on economic activity, and massive bailouts to state-owned companies, including 59 billion rand ($4.05 billion) to power firm Eskom.

This has limited the government's scope for stimulus and raised debt while the resultant uncertainty has kept investment subdued.

"The assumptions underlying the forecasts have clearly changed ... the actual deficit now is probably much higher," Mboweni told a banking conference in Johannesburg.

He said that increasing calls for the treasury to bail out state firms was putting pressure on growth and spending.

"We must re-focus our economy on agriculture …but we also have to continue to support Eskom, because without electricity there is no growth," Mboweni said.

A Reuters poll of economists this week forecast South African economic growth at 0.7% this year, up from 0.6% in the previous forecast. Second quarter growth bounced back 3.1% after a revised contraction of 3.1% in the first quarter.

($1 = 14.5521 rand)

 

- Reuters

The latest xenophobic attacks in South Africa have ignited the long-standing tensions between the country and Nigeria. These are captured in the retaliatory attacks on South African businesses in Nigeria and the diplomatic outrage by Nigerian authorities.

Nigeria also boycotted the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Cape Town. More critical was the temporary closure of South African missions in Abuja and Lagos and Nigeria’s decision to recall its ambassador.

But in the larger scheme of things, xenophobia is a distraction from the leadership role that Nigeria and South Africa should play on the continent on fundamental issues of immigration and economic integration.

A constant irritant

Accurate figures are hard to get. But Statistics South Africa put the number of Nigerian migrants at about 30,000 in 2016, far below Zimbabweans and Mozambicans.

Xenophobia has remained a constant irritant in Nigeria-South Africa relations since the major attacks on African migrants in poor neighbourhoods in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg in 2008 and 2015. But, contrary to popular perception, xenophobic attacks do not disproportionately target Nigerians. Nigerians often exaggerate the effect of violence on their citizens. That is probably because Nigeria has a better organised, savvy, and loud diaspora constituency in South Africa.

Unfortunately, the loudness of the Nigerian diaspora transforms victimhood into foreign policy, generating the reactions that have been witnessed recently. It also plays into the naïve narrative of the “liberation dividend”. This entails Nigerians seeking to be treated uniquely because of their contribution to the struggle for majority rule in South Africa. There were no such expectations from the other countries that supported South Africa’s liberation struggle.

This narrative has taken on an equally economic tinge. South African companies are heavily invested in Nigeria. So, they often become targets of Nigerian ire in times of xenophobia.

The accurate picture is that xenophobia affects all African migrants. These are mostly migrants from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and, increasingly Ethiopians, Kenyans and Somalis. Nigerians are affected. But they’re not on top of the list.

The Nigerian responses are understandable in light of the frequency of these attacks. But, it is important to probe the drivers of xenophobia to understand it more deeply.

What drives xenophobia?

First, some studies reveal that the intrusion of foreign migrants into vulnerable communities beset by joblessness and despair inevitability produces a tinderbox that sparks violence .

Migrants are easy targets. That’s because they are seen as being better off by the locals. They therefore become targets of people who feel their circumstances have not been addressed by government. It is no surprise that xenophobic attacks have typically occurred in poor neighbourhoods that have been affected by service delivery protests since the mid-2000s.

Second, xenophobia thrives on ineffective policing in South Africa. Barely two days after the Johannesburg attacks started, the national police spokesman admitted that the police were running out of resources to manage the violence. This prompted the Premier of Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, to threaten to also deploy the army if the violence continued.

Examples of the police’s inability to maintain order and respond to threats to property and livelihoods are legion. This, in part, forces people to take the law into their own hands.


Read more: How South Africa can turn the rising tide against vigilantism


But the police are sometimes complicit in stoking anti-foreign sentiments. The July 2019 raids on foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg in apparent efforts to stamp out illicit goods added to the current climate of xenophobia. When some business owners retaliated against the police, some local leaders appropriated the language of “threats on South Africa’s sovereignty” to justify the police response.

Reforms are urgently needed to create a competent, less corrupt, better-resourced, and civic-minded police service.

Xenophobia is also an outcome of a rickety migration and border control regime. Efficient border controls are one of the hallmarks of sovereignty and the first line of defence against xenophobia. Broken borders breed criminality. These include human and drug trafficking. Human and drug trafficking feature prominently in the discourse on xenophobia in South Africa.

How, then, does xenophobia distract South Africa and Nigeria from what should be their leadership on core African issues?

Overreaction

The weighty issues of creating a humane and just society for South Africans and migrants alike will ultimately be led by the South African government. Outsiders can make some diplomatic noises and occasionally boycott South Africa. But these actions are unlikely to drive vital change.

In fact, the overreactions by Nigeria and other African countries simply undercut the South African constituencies that have a crucial stake in wide-ranging reforms that address the multiplicity of problems around xenophobia.

In the previous instances of xenophobic violence, Nigeria urged the African Union (AU) to force South Africa to take action. But such unhelpful statements only inflame passions and prevent civil diplomatic discourse.

Instead, the best policy would be for Nigeria to engage South Africa through their existing binational commission. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is scheduled to visit South Africa next month.

Taking the lead

Rather than the perennial relapse into shouting matches and hardening of rhetoric, it is essential for Pretoria and Abuja to take decisive leadership at the continental level. The two nations must articulate immigration policies.

The newly-inaugurated AU Free Movement of Persons Protocol will not be implemented if South Africa and Nigeria do not join hands to make it a reality. More ominously, migration to South Africa as the premier African economy will only get worse in the coming years. This, as Europe and the United States tighten their borders against African migrants.

Also, without the leadership of its two major economies, Africa is not going to make any traction on the new treaty establishing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Ironically, the WEF meeting in Cape Town addressed ways to boost intra-African trade. Nigeria should not have boycotted it because of xenophobia.The Conversation

 

Gilbert M. Khadiagala, Jan Smuts Professor of International Relations and Director of the African Centre for the Study of the United States (ACSUS), University of the Witwatersrand

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

It started with a scary WhatsApp message. “Somalis are kidnapping children in schools,” the message said.

Worried parents rushed to schools to save their children from what was thought to be ongoing retaliatory attacks by foreigners, The Star, a South African newspaper, reported.

But this was not true. There were no retaliatory attacks and there were no Somalis kidnapping children.

At the end of it all, four students in a primary school in Thokoza, Ekurhuleni, in Gauteng, South Africa, were nursing injuries after a stampede at their school.

This was the most recent episode of anxiety and anti-foreigner sentiments in South Africa, in the same week that seven people were confirmed dead in xenophobic attacks that are now slowly mutating into wanton looting of shops, including a car dealership outlet owned by a Nigerian that was burnt with 50 cars inside, according to media reports.

More than 189 people have been arrested, after which most of Johannesburg remains calm.

However, shops in affected areas are still closed for fear of repeat attacks.

LOOTING

Between 1994 and 2018, there were 529 xenophobic attacks in South Africa, resulting in 309 deaths, according to Xenowatch, a xenophobia monitoring tool developed by the University of Witwatersrand.

“These recent attacks seem to be well-organised, and not sporadic. The ones we are facing now are different from the ones in the townships, which we could attribute to high crime and high unemployment rates.

"These ones are well-organised, moving in minibuses, saying they are following the calls of some leaders that we (foreigners) are not law-abiding citizens,” Amir Sheikh of the African Diaspora Forum told journalists at Jeppestown.

South African police minister Bheki Cele visited Jeppestown following the looting of foreign-owned shops and killing of five foreigners. Speaking in isiZulu, the minister called for peace, promising another meeting with the locals today.

But for the angry Jeppestown residents, that promise just wasn’t good enough. In fact, it fuelled even more violence just after the minister left, with media reports saying sporadic looting went on into the night.

INEQUALITY

The statement – about the lack of jobs and its connection to foreigners – has been the common thread in the latest attacks that also rocked Rosettenville, Germiston, Tembisa, Turffontein, Boksburg, Malvern, Marabastad and Alexandria in Johannesburg.

South Africa, the Rainbow nation that became a democracy in 1994 after the fall of an oppressive apartheid regime, is ranked as the most unequal nation on earth, according to data from the World Bank.

More than half or in absolute numbers, 30.3 million, people live in poverty, earning less than $67.28 USD, in the current exchange rate, while a quarter of the population (13.8 million people) are experiencing food poverty.

In terms of races, the situation is even worse. While a white person in South Africa earns an average $828.40 per month, a black person goes home with three times less, an average of $229.30.

An Asian or Indian, according to the National Income Dynamics Study from 2008 to 2015, earns an average $807.10 and $327.86respectively.

UNEMPLOYMENT

The richest 10 per cent of the South African population held around 71 per cent of net wealth in 2015, while the bottom 60 per cent held just seven per cent.

With a youth unemployment rate of 54.7 per cent, and a general unemployment rate of 27 per cent, analysts say the situation for the continent’s second biggest economy, now growing at just 0.8 per cent, can only get worse.

“Xenophobia is a manifestation of South Africa’s real and enduring problems: inequality, insecurity, and institutional incapacity. Perhaps more importantly, it reveals a political class willing to adopt or endorse the language of street-level gangsters.

"It shows that our two main parties, ANC and DA, are out of ideas and seeking to deflect blame rather than deliver,” Prof Loren Landau of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand told the Daily Maverick.

The Africa National Congress (ANC) is the ruling party, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) is the main opposition party, with 230 and 84 MPs, respectively.

FOREIGN NATIONALS

Xenophobia in South Africa, since the first wave in 2008, has turned to be a layered, multifaceted phenomenon, with no clear trigger; but with politicians making increasingly nationalistic statements and the rising inequality coupled with the unemployment being said to be the biggest contributing factors.

The number of foreigners in South Africa has been on a steady increase from 958,188 in 1996, 1.03 million in 2001 to 2.2 million in 2011, according to the censuses taken during those periods.

According to the Stats SA, there are four million foreigners living in South Africa now.

Between 2011 and 2016, South Africa has deported 400,000 foreigners, with nationals from Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Lesotho making up 88 per cent of the deportations.

“With blood, we will defend our business. We will defend our property. We will defend our dignity and integrity. We are not here courtesy of South Africans. When South Africa needed assistance of Africa (during apartheid), they were all assisted,” Mr Sheikh, a Kenyan, told foreigners in Jeppestown after the attacks on Tuesday.

FALSE FIGURES

While not all foreigners are documented and hence not part of the statistics, politicians and public officials in South Africa have been accused of tinkering with this number for their selfish gains, making a bad situation even worse.

Last year, for example, national police commissioner Khehla Sitole said that there were 11 million immigrants in the country, a claim that was disputed heavily by fact-checkers and statisticians.

And it is not just the number of foreigners that has been the victim of exaggeration.

In 2017, in a clip that has resurfaced this week online, former police deputy minister Bongani Mkongi made the oft-quoted false statement that Hillbrow, in downtown Johannesburg, had 80 per cent of its population as foreigners.

Even President Cyril Ramaphosa has also been accused of making nationalistic statements.

“Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas and sets up business without licences and permits. We are going to bring this to an end. And those who are operating illegally, wherever they come from, must now know,” President Ramaphosa said during the May 2019 election campaigns.

INSTIGATORS

In the same campaigns, Democratic Alliance made immigration a main agenda, promising to “keep illegal immigrants out of the country”; including deploying the military to the borders.

“Governance in South Africa, particularly at the local and community level, facilitates the occurrence of xenophobic violence by providing instigators with an opportunity structure to act. This facilitation happens by direct involvement of local leaders, or by lowering the perpetrators’ costs for their violent actions,” Dr Jean Pierre Misago of the African Centre for Migration and Society at the University of the Witwatersrand wrote in the Daily Maverick.

According to Prof Landau, while South Africa has a plan to address prejudices, including xenophobia, it does not get to the crux of the matter, including references to discrimination against foreigners in terms of access to education, housing and medical services.

“The action plan (against prejudices in South Africa) similarly fails to condemn the local, provincial, and national politicians who regularly blame foreigners for their own failures to deliver services as well as economic and physical security,” Prof Landau said.

Mr Lang’at is a KAS Scholar at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Credit: Daily Nation Kenya

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the state-owned utility that supplies about 95% of South Africa’s power, rejected proposals by National Treasury that it sell some plants to reduce its debt mountain, a lawmaker said.

Eskom has turned to the government for bailouts to remain solvent as it confronts massive cost overruns at two partially completed coal-fired plants -- Medupi and Kusile -- and its other aging plants struggle to produce enough power to meet demand. The sale of the generating facilities could raise 450 billion rand ($29 billion), Treasury said in a policy paper published on Aug. 27. That’s 10 billion rand more than the utility owes.

“We have posed a question to Eskom on the sale of Kusile,” Mkhuleko Hlengwa, the chairman of parliament’s public accounts committee, told reporters in Johannesburg on Thursday after the panel visited the two plants. “The responses that we have received is that they don’t believe, on the basis of the work that they have done, that the sale of Kusile or any of their assets would be the way to go.”

Kusile is expected to be completed by 2023 at a cost of 161 billion rand, and Medupi next year or in 2021 at a cost of 146 billion rand. When the projects were first announced in 2007, it was projected that Medupi would be finished in 2012 and Kusile two years later and the combined cost would be about 150 billion rand.

“The project from inception was not conceptualized properly,” Hlengwa said. “It is evident that corruption has taken place. There’s no running away from that if you look at the cost escalations, the contract management.”

 

- Bloomberg

Travellers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand will from Thursday no longer require a visa to visit South Africa for holidays, conferencing or business meetings.

Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement during his budget speech on Thursday. These countries are four of seven Motsoaledi said would be granted visa-free status.

Motsoaledi said the department would implement visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba, and Sao Tome and Principe after negotiations with these countries had been concluded. He said the department was scheduled to complete these negotiations by the end of this month and the implementation would follow soon thereafter.

"We took this decision (to waive visa requirements) unilaterally but we are engaging these countries to see how they can relax entry requirements for our citizens. I am glad to say that Qatar has already waived visa requirements for South Africans and this will enable our people to attend Qatar's Fifa World Cup 2022 easier," Motsoaledi said.

He said the department was continuously reviewing its operations to contribute toward growing the economy, facilitating the creation of jobs and securing the country's borders.

"Home affairs has an important contribution to make in growing tourism and by extension growing the economy and creating jobs. We are constantly reviewing our operations to ensure that we relax entry requirements without compromising our responsibility towards the safety and security of our citizens," Motsoaledi said.

The country had already waived the visa requirement for 82 of the 193 countries who were members of the UN. Eighteen of the countries enjoying a visa-free status in South Africa were on the continent with all Southern African Development Community countries enjoying this status, except for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Motsoaledi said those countries enjoying the visa-free status were among the nations accounting for the majority of international tourists to SA from the continent, Europe and the Americas.

 

Credit: TimesLIVE

British authorities said on Wednesday South Africa's Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd has agreed to pay the National Health Service (NHS) 8 million pounds to resolve concerns related to overpayment for a treatment.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the settlement follows an investigation into arrangements Aspen made with rival pharmaceutical firms in 2016, to keep them out of the market for the supply of Fludrocortisone 0.1 mg tablets.

The prescription-only treatment is paid for by the NHS in the UK, and the state-run health service had to pay higher prices for it because of Aspen's arrangements, the CMA said.

Fludrocortisone is mainly used to treat Addison's disease, in which the body's adrenal glands fail to produce sufficient hormones.

Britain's competition regulator said Aspen could also have to pay an additional 2.1 million pounds in fines as part of a wider package, if the investigation concludes that the company broke the law.

The regulator said it was also looking at two other companies that were involved in dealings with Aspen.

In a separate statement on Wednesday, Aspen said it would dispose its right to ambient Fludrocortisone in the UK to an independent third party, and would reintroduce cold storage versions of the treatment into the country.

 

When Cyril Ramaphosa succeeded Jacob Zuma as South Africa’s president, he promised a “new dawn” after nine years of misrule that hobbled the economy.

Eighteen months later, hopes have dissipated that the former labor union leader can orchestrate a turnaround. The economy shrank the most in a decade in the first quarter of this year; 38% of the workforce can’t find jobs or have given up looking; and massive bailouts for the debt-stricken state power utility are draining the country’s coffers, putting South Africa at risk of losing its sole investment-grade credit rating.

Ramaphosa himself, a respected 66-year-old lawyer who led the negotiations that brought an end to white-minority rule in 1994, is stuck in a political quagmire. While he won control of the ruling African National Congress by a razor-thin margin in late 2017, members of an ANC faction loosely allied to Zuma remain entrenched in senior positions in the party and the state, undermining Ramaphosa’s authority and limiting his scope to tackle rampant graft and nepotism.

The president has axed several cabinet ministers with tainted reputations, replaced the chief prosecutor and head of the national tax agency, and revamped the boards and management of troubled state companies. His efforts to sweep the government clean helped steer the ANC to its sixth consecutive win in May elections. But his detractors in the party have continued to push back against his anticorruption crusade, which has eroded investor confidence. They’ve demanded changes to the central bank’s inflation-targeting mandate and advocated land seizures to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating to apartheid and colonial rule, when members of the black majority were largely deprived of the right to own property.

“A more forceful leader could have adopted a blitzkrieg strategy straight after the election victory and probably been victorious. But Cyril Ramaphosa is not such a leader,” says Robert Schrire, a politics professor at the University of Cape Town. By moving cautiously, the president may have ensured the stability of his government, but at the expense of his ability to effect change, Schrire says. “The opportunity has passed.”

relates to The Walls Are Closing In on Cyril Ramaphosa

The president’s political challenges extend beyond the ANC. Powerful labor unions that played a key role in bringing Ramaphosa to power appear intent on derailing efforts to turn around state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. They’ve rejected cuts to its bloated workforce and plans to break it into three operating units that would be easier to manage. The president has also been locked in legal battles with the nation’s antigraft ombudsman, who accuses him of failing to disclose a campaign donation.

Despondency over the stalemate is evident in the financial markets. The rand, which jumped to a three-year high after the ANC forced Zuma to quit and replaced him with Ramaphosa, has reversed all of its gains. Meanwhile, government bond yields have spiked over the past month as the cost of a three-year bailout for Eskom ballooned by $4 billion, to $8.6 billion. “The additional support to ease the company’s financial pressures would be credit negative for South Africa because it would be an additional drain on fiscal resources,” Moody’s Investors Service, the only major rating company that doesn’t classify the nation’s debt as junk, wrote in a July 24 report. “The lack of a strategy to return Eskom to a more stable financial situation that would reduce the need for government support exacerbates the problem.”

Morgan Stanley analyst Andrea Masia sees the budget deficit widening, to about 6.4% of gross domestic product in the current fiscal year and 6.6% in 2020-21, from 4.2% in the year ended March 2019, mainly because of the extra money being poured into the utility. Eskom lost a record $1.4 billion in the 12 months through March. The February budget projected a gap of 4.5% and 4.3% for the two years, respectively, though the country’s growth prospects have deteriorated since then.

The government has made mistakes and failed to implement coherent policies, Ramaphosa concedes, while unchecked graft has impaired its ability to fix the country’s problems. Zuma is standing trial for allegedly taking bribes from arms dealers almost two decades ago, but no other high-profile individuals have been indicted—despite a judicial panel having unearthed evidence that staggering amounts of money were looted from the state during Zuma’s administration.

Ramaphosa’s plans to boost the annual economic growth rate to 5% and halve the unemployment rate include luring $100 billion in investment and getting private companies to partner with the government to build infrastructure. He’s targeting a top 50 position in the World Bank’s ease of doing business ranking within three years by reducing red tape and other hindrances to commerce. South Africa currently ranks 82nd out of 190 nations.

Adversaries in the ANC, including the party’s secretary-general, Ace Magashule, appear bent on scuppering Ramaphosa’s initiatives. They insist that priority should be given to securing the black majority a bigger share of the nation’s wealth by redistributing land and changing the central bank’s mandate so it plays a more proactive role in fostering growth and creating jobs. This they call “radical economic transformation”—a mantra popularized by Zuma. —With Nkululeko Ncana

BOTTOM LINE - Ramaphosa’s tenuous hold on the ruling party is making it difficult for him to eliminate graft and turn around the flagging South African economy.

 

Source: Bloomberg

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is standing his ground in a deepening campaign funding scandal that threatens to scar his reputation and undermine his drive to tackle rampant graft, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.

Busisiwe Mkhwebane, the nation’s anti-graft ombudsman, said Ramaphosa misled lawmakers about a donation to his 2017 campaign to win control of the ruling party and instructed parliament to censure him for violating the constitution and the executive ethics code. While Ramaphosa said he was kept at arm’s length from his campaign fund-raising, Cape Town-based website News24 reported that it obtained verified copies of leaked emails from his camp disproving his assertion.

“This is smoke and mirrors,” Khusela Diko, Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, said in an interview with Johannesburg-based broadcaster eNCA on Monday. “The president hasn’t committed any crime. None of those donations are coming from anybody whom, from the best of our knowledge, would have obtained that money illegally.”

Mkhwebane initiated an investigation into the president at the request of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, which questioned whether a 500,000 rand ($33,500) payment his campaign received from Gavin Watson, the chief executive officer of services company Bosasa, was above board. Testimony given to a judicial panel has implicated the company in paying bribes to senior government officials to win contracts.

Ramaphosa said he inadvertently failed to disclose the payment to lawmakers and rectified his mistake as soon as possible. He’s challenging Mkhwebane’s findings that he intentionally misled parliament and filed an urgent interdict to postpone any censure until the case is heard. A date for both hearings has yet to be set.

More than 120 people donated money to Ramaphosa’s campaign on the understanding that they should expect nothing in return, according to Diko.

“We stand by our statements that the president was not privy to the day-to-day running of the campaign,” and didn’t know about Watson’s donation, she said. “Yes, there were times where guidance may have been sought from him.”

 

Credit - Bloomberg

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