Friday 23 June 2017
(Los Angeles Times 05/24/17)
Day Zero” in Cape Town — the day that the water taps slow to a muddy dribble, then a drip and run dry — is around three months away. The city, one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations, nestled on the country’s southern coast beneath Table Mountain, faces a severe water crisis as reservoirs sank to an effective 10.5% of their capacity after five years of drought. The actual level of Cape Town’s dams averaged around 20%, but the last 10% of the dams is not usable because of poor quality or because the water can’t be accessed, according to city authorities. The level in the biggest reservoir, which provides half the city’s water, reached 14.5%, or an effective 4.5%...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/24/17)
When U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders of the world's seven major industrialized nations gather in Sicily on Friday, they will enjoy a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea, but won't get any glimpse of boats full of migrants. A common sight off Sicily in recent years, the authorities have banned all migrant landings on the island during the Group of Seven Summit for security reasons, telling rescue vessels that pick them up at sea to take them to the mainland during the two-day meeting. Out of sight does not mean out of mind. Italy chose to host the summit in Taormina, on the cliffs of eastern Sicily, to concentrate minds on Europe's migrant crisis and to seek ways...
(Bloomberg 05/23/17)
The top leadership of South Africa’s African National Congress will discuss removing President Jacob Zuma from his post at a meeting this weekend, according to two senior party officials who will be in attendance, with the country in the grips of its biggest political crisis in a decade. The ruling ANC’s national executive committee is due to discuss a motion of no confidence in Zuma that has been filed by opposition parties in parliament. Some members of the panel will also raise the possibility of removing Zuma as the nation’s president at the May 26-28 meeting, according to the party officials, who sit on the decision-making body and asked not to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly...
(Bloomberg 05/23/17)
South African ministers met with S&P Global Ratings on Monday after discussions with Moody’s Investors Service last week as the nation seeks to avoid another downgrade. Africa’s most-industrialized economy was reduced to junk by both S&P and Fitch Ratings Ltd. last month due to concern over policy continuity and political instability. The moves came after President Jacob Zuma removed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, replacing him with a minister with little financial experience. The changes to the cabinet would “weaken standards of governance and public finances,” Fitch said at the time. Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi were present to meet with S&P on Monday, Treasury spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said by phone. They were joined by Rob...
(NPR 05/23/17)
A South African professional hunter died Friday after being crushed by an elephant after the animal was fatally shot on a game reserve in Zimbabwe. 51-year-old Theunis Botha was leading a hunting group when they stumbled upon a breeding herd of elephants at the Good Luck Farm near Hwange National Park, Zimparks spokesman Simukai Nyasha tells The Telegraph. Botha focused on three female elephants charging the group but was caught unaware by a fourth coming at him from the side, according to the South African news site News24. That elephant was lifting him with her trunk when a member of his group shot the animal. The elephant then collapsed on Botha, crushing him. Botha ran Theunis Botha Game Hounds Safaris...
(Bloomberg 05/23/17)
South Africa’s National Treasury has discovered about 12,000 dead people in its register of companies that do business with the state. This is among the outcomes of a clean-up of the information system that the Treasury’s procurement office undertook as the government battles to rein in spending, said Schalk Human, the unit’s acting head. It has also identified about 14,000 state employees who are listed as directors of companies that have been awarded state contracts in violation of regulations. “We will report on them even if we drag those 14,000 to court by their hair and lock them up,” Human said in an interview this month in Pretoria, the capital. Fighting graft and achieving savings have become even more necessary...
(Xinhuanet 05/23/17)
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday called for the establishment of an independent judicial commission to thoroughly investigate all allegations of "state capture." "Only through such a commission will we be able to establish the extent to which the institutions of our state have been used to improperly - and illegally - enrich a few individuals and families," Ramaphosa said while giving a lecture in the platinum-mining hub of Rustenburg, North West Province. He was referring to the Gupta saga in which the wealthy Indian Gupta family allegedly exerts undue influence on President Jacob Zuma in the appointments of cabinet ministers and CEOs of state-owned enterprises. Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied the allegations. Last year, South...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/23/17)
South African petrochemical group Sasol said on Tuesday it had enough oil reserves to meet market requirements following an explosion at its 108,000 barrel per day Natref refinery on Monday. The blast at the country's only inland refinery, a venture between Sasol and a South African unit of France's Total, injured 11 people and forced the shutdown of operations close to the site of the explosion. Sasol spokesman Alex Anderson said operations at the refinery continued and that reserves would be used to meet market demands. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing Mfuneko Toyana; Editing by Ed Stoddard)
(Reuters (Eng) 05/23/17)
South Africa's top manufacturing union NUMSA said late Monday that 600 workers out of 1,500 at General Motors SA (GM.N) will lose their jobs by July after a decision last week by the car maker to sell its local operations. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said in a statement that GM had confirmed the numbers and issued lay-off notices as required by law. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard)
(BBC News Africa 05/23/17)
South Africa's Western Cape province has declared a drought disaster as it faces its worst water shortage in 113 years. Provincial leader Helen Zille said water will be harvested by drilling boreholes to serve key points like hospitals in Cape Town. The alert will last for three months but could be extended if the crisis persists, she said in a statement. Southern African nations are reeling from a two-year drought. The UN estimates that over 40 million people have been affected by the drought that was caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon. "The disaster declaration will accelerate... the province's strategy to ensure that taps do not run dry," Ms Zille said. She also announced plans to use a mobile...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/23/17)
Fossils from Greece and Bulgaria of an ape-like creature that lived 7.2 million years ago may fundamentally alter the understanding of human origins, casting doubt on the view that the evolutionary lineage that led to people arose in Africa. Scientists said on Monday the creature, known as Graecopithecus freybergi and known only from a lower jawbone and an isolated tooth, may be the oldest-known member of the human lineage that began after an evolutionary split from the line that led to chimpanzees, our closest cousins. The jawbone, which included teeth, was unearthed in 1944 in Athens. The premolar was found in south-central Bulgaria in 2009. The researchers examined them using sophisticated new techniques including CT scans and established their age...
(AFP (eng) 05/22/17)
South Africa risks becoming a "mafia state", Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa warned Sunday, calling for a corruption probe at the top as he stepped up criticism of President Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa is one of the main candidates to succeed Zuma as head of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) ahead of general elections expected in 2019. For some months he has been making attacks on the president, implicated in a series of corruption scandals, notably after a controversial reshuffle at the end of March which ousted respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan. "If the ANC is to recover its leadership role in society, then it is absolutely imperative that we act with urgency and purpose and make sure that we never...
(Bloomberg 05/22/17)
South Africa, the continent’s biggest corn grower, will probably increase its forecast for a bumper crop of the staple grain for a third time this year as yields continue to beat expectations. Growers may reap 14.65 million metric tons of corn this year, according to the median estimate of three analysts and traders surveyed by Bloomberg. That compares with the 14.54 million tons forecast on April 25 by the government’s Crop Estimates Committee and would be the country’s second-largest harvest on record, only just trailing 1981’s 14.66 million tons. The committee will update its forecast on May 26. South Africa’s corn harvest is seen rebounding sharply from last season’s nine-year low, after rainfall increased following the worst drought since records...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
A blast on Monday at South Africa's Natref oil refinery injured 11 people and forced the shutdown of operations close to the 108,000 barrel per day facility but production at the main refinery continued, Sasol said. Sasol reported on its website that the explosion happened at about 0545 GMT at the country's only inland refinery, a venture between the petrochemicals group Sasol and a South African unit of France's Total. "Operating units in the vicinity of the hydrogen compressors have been shut down," Sasol spokesman Alex Anderson said in an emailed statement, adding...
(AFP (eng) 05/22/17)
Angolan soldiers recruited by South Africa's apartheid government to fight against their homeland now live in squalor, forgotten and unwanted. Without healthcare, jobs or basic services, some 3,000 Angolan-born men call home the town of Pomfret in a far-flung northern corner of South Africa on the edge of the Kalahari Desert. Dilapidated buildings crumble by the side of the town's sun-baked main road, water and power are cut off, and the asbestos factory that once sustained the region was abandoned long ago. Former soldier Jose Lourenco, 69, a black Angolan, pointed to yellowing photos of "32 Battalion" -- his elite and much-feared South African unit -- in action in Angola against communist government forces. "We didn't fear anyone, we were...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, seen as a top contender to lead the ruling ANC into 2019 general elections, said on Sunday that the country must not become a "mafia state" as he admitted his party had become associated with corruption. Ramaphosa's comments were among the strongest he has made on governance as the race heats up to replace President Jacob Zuma, whose administration has been hit by scandals and missteps, prompting street protests and calls for him to resign or be removed. In televised remarks at an event in the platinum mining town of Rustenburg organized by the South African Communist Party (SACP), Ramaphosa responded to a warning this week from the influential South African Council of Churches...
(Reuters (Eng) 05/22/17)
Countries in sub-Saharan Africa need to get their budgets in order, diversify their economies and look after their poorest people. If they do that, there is no reason why the region cannot have the strong growth needed to meet the aspirations of a young and growing population. That, at least, is the three-pillared prescription from the International Monetary Fund as expressed by one of its top Africa researchers, Celine Allard, in an official IMF blog post and podcast. Allard co-authored the Fund's regional economic outlook, released earlier this month. It found that sub-Saharan economic growth hit only 1.4 percent last year, the lowest level in two decades and well off the 5-6 percent rates normally reached. It was also well...
(AFP (eng) 05/21/17)
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Pretoria on Saturday, angered by a rise in violence against women and children in South Africa, including killings and sex attacks. Answering the call by a group calling itself "#Not In My Name" the protesters, most of them men, marched through the streets of the South African capital behind a woman symbolically dressed head to toe in white. "The time to take collective responsibility for our shameful action is now," said Kholofelo Masha, on of the protest organisers, who described himself as "a loving dad, brother and uncle". South African men have remained quiet on the issue for too long, he added: "You hear a lady screaming next door, you decide to...
(The Guardian 05/20/17)
Report questions why taxpayers should finance the project, which would have an export edge over Australia’s coal ports. An Australian government agency is considering a multi-million dollar loan to a South African coal mine that would be in direct competition with the Adani Carmichael coal mine. The Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (Efic) is considering the loan to develop the Boikarabelo coal project in Limpopo Province, South Africa. The Boikarabelo mine has approval to extract 32m tonnes a year of raw coal, making it of similar size to some proposals in Australia’s Galilee Basin. With Efic’s help, the project could lead to the development of one
(Reuters (Eng) 05/20/17)
South African President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday that a spate of violent attacks against women and children represented a national "crisis" as he visited the family of a three-year old girl who was raped and killed. South Africa has one of the world's highest rates of violent crime but a string of grisly murders of women and children has sparked widespread outrage, with Zuma's visit underscoring the growing political significance of the issue. "We as the citizens of this country must say enough is enough," Zuma said in televised remarks after visiting the family of toddler Courtney Pieters, who went missing from her Cape Town home on May 4. Her body was found over a week later buried in...

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