| Africatime
Friday 24 March 2017
(Bloomberg 03/09/17)
One of the African National Congress’s signature programs, a welfare system for the poorest third of South Africa’s people, is in chaos. The monthly stipends are distributed to more than 17 million people by Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc., whose contract is due to expire on March 31, and a new one is being concluded against the advice of the Treasury and in possible violation of a court order. Amid the turmoil, the head of the social welfare department has quit, the welfare agency’s chief executive went on sick leave and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini has faced calls to resign. Any halt to the more than 140 billion rand ($10.6 billion) a year program, which has underpinned support for the...
(The Guardian Nigeria 03/09/17)
A newly inaugurated trade group, United Labour Congress (ULC) has said plans are underway to hold talks with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) over the recent attacks of Nigerian in that country. The union expressed concern over the ongoing xenophobic attacks against foreigners in South Africa, calling on the Federal Government to immediately evacuate Nigerians to prevent further killings. Nigerians and other Africans have been subjected to huge losses – physically, financially and mentally, following the resumption of attacks on foreigners, in a move that has attracted global criticism, as the South African Government is unable to check the escalation of the onslaught. Meanwhile the Chairman, Nigeria South Africa Chamber of Commerce, Foluso Phillips said the National...
(Xinhuanet 03/09/17)
A critical mass of trained and well equipped community health workforce is key to easing the rising burden of infectious and noncommunicable diseases in Africa, experts said on Wednesday at a continental forum taking place in Nairobi. The experts, policymakers and campaigners who attended Africa Health Agenda International Conference agreed that optimal engagement of community health workers is key to revolutionize response to diseases ravaging the continent. Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu in his opening remarks said that investments in training for community health workers will have multiplier impact on Africa's socioeconomic development. "We require highly skilled and motivated cadre of community health workforce to deal with a high diseases burden in disadvantaged settings in this continent. These...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
South Africa has formally revoked its controversial decision to leave the International Criminal Court following last month's High Court ruling that such a move would be unconstitutional. Notice of Pretoria's decision to end the withdrawal process was posted on the UN's treaty website this week, although it does not necessarily spell the end of its bid to leave the Hague-based court. South Africa had in October announced it would withdraw from the UN court which was set up to try the world's worst crimes following a dispute sparked by its refusal to arrest visiting Sudan President Omar al-Bashir. The ICC had issued an arrest warrant for Bashir over alleged war crimes, but South African authorities refused to detain him, saying...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
South African environmental activists declared a major victory Wednesday after winning the country's first climate change case and forcing the government to reassess the impact of a coal power plant. The group, Earthlife Africa, successfully challenged a government decision to confirm construction of a proposed coal-fired power station, arguing that the proper climate change impact assessment had not been carried out. Environment minister Edna Molewa accepted that the impact of the proposed Thabametsi power plant had not been "comprehensively assessed or considered" -- but granted environmental approval anyway, according to the ruling seen by AFP.
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
A gang of armed thieves brazenly stole cash from Johannesburg international airport on Tuesday, according to a police source and local media. A police source at O.R. Tambo Airport told AFP that the heist occurred around 7pm (1700 GMT) when the robbers, masquerading as police, drove into a restricted zone and headed straight to cash-laden containers unloaded from a cargo plane. "They told the security that they were carrying out an investigation and the security (guards) opened the boom gate for them," said the source. Local media said the haul was foreign currency valued at more than 20 million rand ($1.5 million). The company that operates the airport, South Africa's largest, confirmed in a statement that an armed robbery had...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/08/17)
South African authorities have been asked to appear at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on April 7 over the failure to arrest Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir during a visit two years ago, a senior official said on Wednesday. Ayesha Johaar, the acting chief state law adviser, said Pretoria was asked to appear at the Hague-based court for failing to comply with a cooperation request from the tribunal, contrary to the provisions of the treaty establishing the court and which came into force in 2002. "It concerns an order of non-compliance by South Africa as a member state of the ICC and Sudan's president," she said. Pretoria announced its intention to leave the ICC in 2015 after the tribunal criticized...
(Times Live 03/08/17)
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says the four pillars of society each have a role to build the South African economy. "We must forge a new social compact between the state‚ business and workers‚" he said at the Topco Media Top 500 Companies Awards in Johannesburg on Tuesday night. "Holders of capital must accept some taxation on wealth‚ to fund worthy investments such as affordable‚ quality education for all. "Government must demonstrate productivity‚ value for money and limit corruption to justify taxation. "The management class must moderate salaries and pay workers a decent wage. "Workers must increase productivity to justify significantly higher wages‚ and pursue representation on boards and profit-sharing to further incentivize high productivity." Much of Gigaba's prepared speech‚...
(The New York Times 03/08/17)
South Africa has revoked its decision to withdraw from the International Criminal Court, citing in a letter submitted to the United Nations a recent court ruling that declared the withdrawal “unconstitutional and invalid.” It was not clear, however, if the statement on Tuesday meant that South Africa had permanently abandoned intentions of leaving the international court, or if it was seeking another way to do so. Two other African nations, Burundi and Gambia, also announced plans to leave the international court, despite intense international pressure to stay. Supporters of the court fear that such withdrawals — especially by South Africa, one of the court’s staunchest early supporters — would lead to to an African exodus from the tribunal. The government...
(Bloomberg 03/08/17)
South Africa’s top court ordered the government and the nation’s welfare agency to explain how a crisis that’s threatening welfare-grant payments to more than 17 million people came about and what’s been done to fix the problem. In 2012, the state contracted Net1 UEPS Technologies Inc. to distribute the grants for five years. Two years later, the Constitutional Court ruled that its appointment was illegal. The company continued making the payments after the welfare agency failed to appoint a replacement. It’s now set to get a new contract in an apparent contravention of the court order and against the advice of the Treasury and central bank. In papers filed Wednesday, the court asked who at the welfare agency decided it...
(Bloomberg 03/08/17)
Continued political instability that hurt investor confidence and saw South Africa’s economy expand at the slowest rate since 2009 last year could threaten a recovery in 2017, economists said. Gross domestic product expanded 0.3 percent last year, the statistics office said in a report released on Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. That’s less than the National Treasury’s forecast of 0.5 percent and the slowest rate since a recession in 2009. Policy uncertainty caused by political turmoil, including the now-dropped fraud charges against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, hampered attempts to implement reforms aimed at boosting output in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. Slow economic growth is one of the key risks to the nation’s investment-grade credit assessment highlighted by companies such as S&P...
(AFP (eng) 03/08/17)
Lawyers and human rights campaigners launched an initiative for African whistleblowers in Senegal on Tuesday, aimed at providing a secure means of exposing wrongdoing on the continent. African nations such as Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Guinea-Bissau regularly appear at the very bottom of rankings such as Transparency International's Corruption Index, while none make it into the top 30. The Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) will provide guidance from legal experts, secure submission of information and a hotline for potential informants, according to its founders. The initiative is the brainchild of Spanish superstar lawyer Baltasar Garzon -- who has defended Julian Assange of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks -- along with French lawyer William Bourdon, who worked on...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
South Africa's economy grew by just 0.3 percent last year, official data showed Tuesday, as the country struggles with political infighting, high unemployment and weak mining and agriculture data. More than 20 years after the end of apartheid, about 35 percent of the labour force is unemployed or has given up looking for work, and South Africa remains beset by inequality. The 0.3 growth in 2016 was a slowdown on 1.3 percent recorded in 2015. "The main contributors to increased economic activity in 2016 were finance, real estate and business services," Stats SA said its report. It added that the contribution to overall GDP made by mining, quarrying, agriculture, forestry
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
A South African court Tuesday issued an order banning radical political leader Julius Malema from calling on supporters to seize land, as he faces two charges for ordering illegal occupations. The High Court in the capital Pretoria ruled that Malema, head of the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, could face arrest if found guilty of contravening the order. The ruling followed an application by an Afrikaner lobby group, AfriForum, which voiced concern over Malema's calls for seizure of white-owned land by blacks. Malema was not in court to hear the order. The firebrand leader of the leftist EFF is facing two charges related to encouraging party supporters to illegally occupy agricultural land. In November 2016, during one of his...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
South Africa's Phelophepa train draws a crowd wherever it goes. The sound of the lumbering 19-car clinic-on-rails signals the arrival of badly needed free healthcare for thousands of South Africans as it tours the country. "When you arrive, people are always ready, there will be kids performing," said train manager Anna Mokwena, a nurse. At a stop this week in Pienaarsrivier, a town in South Africa's impoverished Limpopo province, dozens of elderly patients alongside women clutching children flocked to take advantage of the service. "We are so happy. I got two pairs of spectacles and now I'm going to see the doctor for a checkup," said 60-year-old Janette Rakgetse from nearby Hammanskraal. "I've saved a lot of money. We arrived...
(Xinhuanet 03/07/17)
South Africa's economy shrank by 0.3 percent quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2016, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said on Tuesday. This was mainly due to a fall in mining and manufacturing production, Stats SA said. The poor performance in the mining and manufacturing production pulled South African economic growth into negative territory, Stats SA said while releasing the preliminary figures of gross domestic product (GDP). The mining industry's 11.5 percent drop in production was the main contributor to the economy's slowdown, brought about by a fall in production of coal, gold and other metal ores, such as platinum and iron ore, said Stats SA. Adding to the slowdown was manufacturing, contracting by 3.1 percent in the same quarter...
(Reuters (Eng) 03/07/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma on Monday nominated Mandisa Maya to become the first woman president of the Supreme Court of Appeal, the nation's highest court on non-constitutional matters. Maya is currently deputy president of the court, which made world headlines in December 2015 when it upgraded the verdict on Paralympic "Blade Runner" Oscar Pistorius to murder from manslaughter for shooting his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. Maya, if approved, will replace Lex Mpati, who is retiring. Her appointment will have to be confirmed by the Judicial Service Commission, a 23-member body that includes the chief justice, minister of justice and lawmakers. (Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Mark Trevelyan)
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
A jury in Warsaw on Monday named South African writer and anti-apartheid activist Breyten Breytenbach as the recipient of the 2017 Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award, named after the anti-communist Polish poet and philosopher. "I'm pleased that this year the jury has chosen a poet who combines great talent with the attitude of an uncompromising man who sides with the oppressed," said Katarzyna Herbert, the widow of the poet who died in 1998, as she announced the winner. Born in Cape Town in 1939, Breytenbach left South Africa for Paris in the early 1960s after becoming an opponent of apartheid. He married in France but since his wife was of Vietnamese descent, he was unable to return to South Africa...
(AFP (eng) 03/07/17)
South Africa will gamble on the fitness of speedster Morne Morkel when the first Test against New Zealand begins in Dunedin on Wednesday. With cool, blustery conditions expected and a green hue to the wicket, New Zealand would not confirm their likely line-up Tuesday, leaving open the option of playing a second spin bowler. But South African captain Faf du Plessis felt that one spinner and Morkel slotting in as the third seamer behind Vern Philander and Kagiso Rabada would give his side the best balance. The 1.96 metre (6ft 5in) Morkel, with 242 Test wickets, has been out of international action since early last year with a back injury which he aggravated again during a tour match in Australia...
(AFP (eng) 03/06/17)
A South African cabinet minister vowed Sunday that welfare grants to 17 million beneficiaries would continue to be paid despite confusion over a new payment process. South Africa pays out around 140 billion rand ($10.7 billion) a year in grants to vulnerable people including pensioners, unemployed mothers and the disabled. The payment had for years been outsourced to a private company Cash Paymaster Services (CPS), whose contract expires at the end of March. Fears have mounted in recent days that the government might fail to pay the monthly grants from April after it failed to announce alternative arrangements. But Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini told reporters in Pretoria on Sunday, "No-one will go unpaid. We are sure about that." "We...

Pages