A round-up of the weekend’s news from South Africa.
SA’S GROWTH FORECASTS TO BE ‘REVISITED’
South Africa's deputy Reserve Bank governor has told an investor seminar that the country’s growth forecasts will likely need to be revisited. “Growth forecasts will most likely need to be revisited," Daniel Mminele told the JP Morgan seminar in Tokyo, attributing the move to the impact of widespread labour unrest in the country. Mminele said that growth was expected to average 2.1% for the 2008-12 period, significantly lower than the 4.8% that South Africa averaged over the previous five years. "As for the recent actions by rating agencies, these were obviously unfortunate and disappointing developments," Mminele said. "It has to be acknowledged, however, that some of the challenges they are pointing out ... are known to us and are in fact valid."
SA’S ECONOMIC PLANS ‘REALISTIC AND ACHIEVABLE’
South Africa’s spending plans are “realistic and achievable”, says the Treasury in response to ratings agency Standard & Poor after it dropped the country’s credit rating by one notch to BBB with a negative outlook. S&P said it expected South Africa’s “underlying social tensions to increase government spending pressure and reduce its fiscal flexibility” and that the negative outlook “reflects our view that the medium-term political, economic and fiscal ramifications of SA's social tensions could deteriorate beyond our current expectations”. But Treasury said the country’s "young democracy has seen several elections within the ruling party and government. None of these have impacted policy and budgeting in the manner that S&P suggests”, it said in a statement.
STUN GRENADES, RUBBER BULLETS AND ARRESTS
More than 70 miners have been arrested after a sit-in at a police station saw police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets at protestors who refused to move. Over 600 miners, from the nearby Gold Fields mine, arrived at Westonaria police station to demand the release of 13 miners who had been arrested earlier. When they refused to disperse, police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades that saw protestors break windows and damage property in response. Police arrested 72 miners. In a separate incident, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters hurling petrol bombs after a march on Anglo American Platinum mine in Rustenburg turned violent late on Friday.
TWO KILLED IN HOUT BAY BOAT TRAGEDY
Two people were killed when a charter boat capsized off the coast of Hout Bay near Cape Town. One was a British tourist, Peter Phillip Hyett, aged 64, and the other was a member of the crew, John Roberts, whose body was found 21 metres below the surface on Sunday morning. The twin-hulled catamaran, Miroshga, capsized near Duiker Island, three kilometres from the Hout Bay harbour. The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) said about 34 people were rescued and taken to its sea rescue station before being taken to hospitals in the area. The SA Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) has deployed a tugboat to recover the charter boat and begin an investigation into the cause of the accident.
NATIONALISATION CAUSES JITTERS, SAYS SHABANGU
South Africa’s mineral resources minister has warned government that repeated calls for the nationalisation of mines are impacting on investor confidence in the country. City Press reports that Susan Shabangu has been on a mission around the world to try and restore faith in the embattled sector following the Marikana massacre and on-going violent unrest. She told the newspaper investors were “jittery” over the prospect of nationalisation. “We are confident that when we come out of Mangaung we will be able to put this matter aside and it will bring and instil much more investor confidence,” she said. She said violent strikes were of concern as they weren’t a “once off” but are “spiralling in the mining industry."
TOURISM NUMBERS UP IN SOUTH AFRICA
Tourism grew by 10.5% in the first six months of this year, says South Africa’s tourism minister. Marthinus van Schalkwyk said despite the global recession, marketing efforts had paid off, as had “a carefully formulated tourism growth strategy”. Van Schalkwyk said good returns were being realised in markets that identified as sources of strong tourism potential for South Africa. These included China, India and Brazil. A total of 60,272 Chinese visitors came to South Africa in the first half of 2012, which represented a massive 68.4% increase. South Africa recorded 21.1% growth in arrivals from India for the first six months of this year, and a phenomenal 68.4% growth in arrivals from Brazil.
KNIVES OUT FOR PUBLIC PROTECTOR
Parliament is preparing to investigate the Public Protector after high-level ANC politicians accused her of being biased against the party. The Sunday Times reported that Blade Nzimande and chief whip Mathole Motshekga were among the politicians furious over a series of rulings that embarrassed government. Madonsela’s deputy, Mamiki Shai, claims she changed findings on a report into the DA-led Midvaal Municipality, and withheld the release of the report until after last year’s municipal elections. Mandonsela denies the claims, saying the accusation was “baseless and misleading”. She had, in fact, ensured a more thorough investigation had been undertaken. Sapa reports Madonsela spoke to Parliament in July, asking it to investigate, as anonymous letters were destabilising her office.
FOURTH ARREST IN MBOMBELA STADIUM CORRUPTION CASE
A warrant of arrest for a fourth man involved in alleged corruption in the building of the Mbombela stadium has been issued. African Eye News Service reports that a warrant has been issued against controversial former Mbombela municipal manager Jacob Dladla. Three other men – soccer boss Bobby Motaung, Herbert Theledi and Chris Grib – were arrested in August and are out on bail. Dladla was municipal manager when Lefika Emerging Equity, Motaung’s company, won the consultants contract for the building of the R1.2 billion stadium. All four are expected to appear in the Nelspruit magistrate’s court on Monday. DM
Photo: Minister Susan Shabangu (REUTERS)