A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
RAND PLUMMETS AFTER ZUMA SPEECH ON ECONOMY
President Jacob Zuma tried to play down the effect of labour unrest on the economy on Thursday but managed to trigger a nearly 3% plunge in the rand against the dollar instead. In a hastily convened news conference two days after weaker-than-expected economic data, Zuma tried to calm fears that last year’s violent industrial action in the mining sector would be repeated. “It is only in undemocratic countries that there are no strikes,” said Zuma, who faces a general election in less than a year. “I don’t think we should take strikes as a problem.” The rand, which has lost more than 10 percent this month on fears for the wider economy, breached the psychologically key 10.0 level against the dollar after the speech. Data on Tuesday showed growth had slowed to 0.9% in the first quarter of this year from 2.1 % in the last three months of 2012.
DA: ZUMA LOST OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS ECONOMIC CHALLENGES
President Jacob Zuma lost an opportunity to take the country into his confidence and speak decisively about South Africa’s economic challenges, DA parliamentary leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, says. Mazibuko was responding to Zuma’s briefing on the economy and mining sector. She said Zuma should have “clear plans and measurable deliverables on how his government will boost growth and job creation”. Mazibuko said parliament could “no longer sit back and wait for decisive action from government” as more South Africans entered the ranks of the unemployed each year. “They need the reassurance that their elected representatives are doing everything possible to address this,” she said, listing initiatives on how government could address the economic challenges.
GLENCORE XSTRATA MINES AT A STANDSTILLDUE TO ILLEGAL STRIKES
Glencore Xstrata says three of its chrome mines in South Africa are at a standstill after up to 1,500 workers embarked on an illegal strike this week. The dispute, at the mines near Steelpoort in Limpopo, adds to long-running friction in the mining industry that has caused production to slow, raised concerns about Africa’s largest economy and sent the rand to new four-year lows. “The strike started on Tuesday and all three mines are not in operation,” said Glencore Xstrata chrome spokesman Christopher Tsatsawane. “We have dismissed 200 employees at Helena mine after they failed to return to work after three ultimatums.” He said more employees could be dismissed. Final ultimatums were yet to be issued to strikers at its Magareng and Thorncliffe mines.
KHAYELITSHA ENTREPRENEUR MAKES FORBES’ LIST
A young entrepreneur in Khayelitsha near Cape Town has made Forbes Magazine’s list of Africa’s 30 best young entrepreneurs under the age of 30. Sizwe Nzima, a graduate of the Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development, uses bicycles to deliver chronic medication to people.
His company, Iyeza Express, has four men who cycle around Khayelitsha, collecting and delivering medication. Nzima started with just his grandparents as clients, but now has over 250 people on his database. He told the Argus newspaper, “Some old people really feel that they are taken care of, considering their critical health problems”. Forbes called his business an “innovative enterprise”.
BAE FAXES IMPLICATE POLITICIANS, OFFICIALS IN ARMS DEAL
A fax sent by former BAE managing director for Africa and Asia, Allan MacDonald, reveals that the arms company made the shortlist to supply South Africa with Hawk and Gripen fighter jets as a result of having a “friend” in government, named as the late minister, Stella Sigcau. An investigation by the Sunday Times showed Sigcau’s daughter, Portia, was bankrolled by BAE while studying in London. MacDonald said, “One friend who has, and remains, absolutely critical to our ultimate success for both Hawk and Gripen is Minister Stella Sigcau”. The faxes also name late defence minister Joe Modise, and his advisor, Fana Hlongwana, who is alleged to have received R150 million from BAE. The newspaper said the faxes are believed to be in possession of the Seriti commission investigating the arms deal.
SOMALIS FLEE PE’S BOOYSEN PARK AFTER LOOTING, ARSON
Somalis operating shops in Port Elizabeth’s Booysen Park have fled the area after all their shops were burned and looted. The violence started three days ago when residents tried to rid the area of gangs and drug dealers, but when they were unable to do so, turned on the Somalians. Residents blame the police for protecting gangsters and have petrol-bombed police vehicles. Police spokeswoman Brigadier Marinda Mills told News 24 the area didn’t have a history of xenophobic violence. “We do not know if protesters are unhappy about the police or gangsters or Somali shop-owners,” she said. In a different area of the city, a Somali shopkeeper was stoned to death, while another was stabbed and wounded. Mills said the motive for the killing was unknown.
MTHETHWA PROMISES REVIEW OF NATIONAL KEY POINTS ACT
The controversial National Key Points Act will be reviewed to bring it in line with the Constitution, says Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. In his budget vote speech to parliament, Mthethwa said he had requested his legal team to look at the bill to“begin the process of refining it and introducing it in parliament”. Mthethwa was referring to a bill drafted in 2007 but which had not made it to parliament.
An advisory committee to audit and evaluate “the desirability of all national key points” had been appointed, and would include outside legal counsel, Mthethwa said. The National Key Points Act was passed in 1980, while PW Botha was prime minister, and criminalises the release of security information relating to key points.
DANNY GLOVER SUPPORTS POPCRU STRIKE IN JHB
US actor Danny Glover has given an unscheduled performance at a Popcru protest in Johannesburg, Sapa reported. Members of the police union had gathered at Mary Fitzgerald Square to protest designed to ensure government honours an agreement to change the salary grades of administrative staff. Bob King, president of United Automobile Workers’ Union of America (UAW), accompanied Glover. “I’m here on behalf of all the workers in Mississippi. We are all supporting each other, we must stand together. Amandla!” Glover said. King and Glover were invited by the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa). DM
Photo: Danny Glover (REUTERS)
"The soul is known by its acts" ~ Thomas Aquinas