A round-up of the day’s news from South Africa.
TREASURY SLASHES SA’S GROWTH FORECASTS
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has slashed South Africa’s growth expectations for this year to 2.1% from the 2.7% forecast in February. Pretoria also cut growth forecasts for the next two years and now expects 3% expansion in 2014 and 3.2% in 2015. “Labour disputes, electricity shortages and other supply-side disruptions have weighed down business and consumer confidence, and lowered demand for goods and services,” the Treasury said in its medium-term budget. “Effective resolution of these problems will boost confidence and economic performance.” An economic recovery over the next three years could increase employment by 1.7% a year, below what is necessary to reduce joblessness, which remains stubbornly high at around a quarter of the labour force.
GORDHAN CAPS GOVT WASTEFUL EXPENDITURE
Credit cards for public servants will no longer be allowed, says finance minister Pravin Gordhan. The minister, during his medium term budget policy statement, announced a raft of cost-saving measures for government with the aim of reducing wasteful expenditure. Gordhan said the measures – which include restrictions on air travel, car hire (limited to B class cars), accommodation, catering, entertainment and conference budgets – will result in billions of rands of savings. He said the cost of cars for ministers would be standardised, and would have to cost the equivalent of a BMW530 series (around R700,000). He also said government would consider bulk purchasing when buying cars for ministers. Overseas trips will be capped to reduce travel costs, as will the number of delegates. Officials will no longer be allowed to travel first class.
ZUMA’S SPOKESMAN APOLOGISES FOR PRESIDENT’S MALAWI COMMENT
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj has apologised, sort of, for President Jacob Zuma’s comments on Africans and Malawi. He told Power FM radio station he had received “numerous” calls from angry Malawians. “Let me apologise for that and withdraw it,” he said. Eyewitness News carried a sound clip from Zuma’s speech at Wits University that clearly relayed his comment, “We can’t think like Africans, in Africa, generally. We are in Johannesburg, this is Johannesburg. It’s not some national road in Malawi.” Maharaj said media had distorted the president’s words. A spokesman in Malawi’s foreign affairs ministry told Independent Foreign Service Zuma’s comment was “not a diplomatic thing to say”. Quent Kalichero said the majority of Malawians were insulted and believed it was “not a good thing for a president to say”.
CAPE TOWN GIRL FOUND WITH THROAT SLIT
A teenage girl from Kensington has been found with her throat slit in the garage of a house close to her home. Keshia Kortje, who was believed to have been pregnant, left her parent’s home with a male friend on Monday evening, the Argus reported. Her body was found after a neighbour reported a dog’s crying to the SPCA. Inspectors found the dog tied up by its tail, and Kortje’s body in the garage. Her murder comes shortly after another Cape Town teenager, Lee Adams, was beheaded in a derelict primary school.
SARS: COMMENTS BY HIGH PROFILE FIGURES ‘UNFORTUNATE’
South African Revenue Service spokesman Adrian Lackay says it is “unfortunate” that suspended Cosatu secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi discussed his tax affairs on Twitter, Sapa reported. Vavi had responded to tweets in which his followers warned him that opposing e-tolling would lead to being targeted by Sars. Lackay said Sars administers tax and custom laws “with fairness, in a transparent and even-handed manner without any external influence”. He said was “unfortunate that high profile public figures in this country use social media platforms to try and conjure up conspiracies about their tax positions”.
MIDDLE CLASS IS NOW MAINLY BLACK, STUDY SHOWS
A two-year interdisciplinary study by researchers from the economics and political science departments at Stellenbosch University has found the income gap between race groups is the lowest it has ever been. South African society is “slowly becoming more equitable,” says Prof Hennie Kotzé, research fellow at the Centre for International and Comparative Politics. Prof Servaas van der Berg said the study showed that after almost 20 years of democracy it was “no longer true that South Africa’s middle class is mainly white. Black South Africans now represent the largest share of the middle class.” But researchers warned that “notions of identity may adjust more slowly to these new realities and consequently, racial integration and social cohesion may emerge with a substantial lag”.
‘NO ACTION’ ON VEAREY’S DAGGA T-SHIRT
Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a dagga emblem is not against the law – even when it’s worn by a police officer. Mitchells Plain cluster commander Major-General Jeremy Vearey wore a ‘Rastafarian’ T-shirt at a public rally in June that outraged DA MPL Mark Wiley. He asked Western Cape police commissioner Lieutenant-General Arno Lamoer to discipline Vearey. But, the Argus reported, Lamoer said, “there is no action police can take”. Lamoer said police had studied the SAPS disciplinary regulations and found there was none that Vearey had transgressed. Earlier Vearey said his sons gave him the T-shirt for Father’s Day.
JUSTICE DEPT WILL ‘VIGOROUSLY’ ARGUE FOR DEWANI’S EXTRADITION
South Africa’s justice department says it will continue to “vigorously” argue for the extradition of Shrien Dewani to South Africa to face trial over the murder of his wife, Anni, who was killed while they were on honeymoon in Cape Town. Spokesman Mthunzi Mhaga told Sapa the granting of leave to appeal to Dewani by three high court judges in the UK was not a final order against his extradition.
“In all, the matter will still be argued on whether he is extraditable before three judges of the high court,” said spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga. He said the department believed Dewani should be sent to South Africa to face charges, and that it would “patiently await this legal process to unfold”. DM
Photo: Pravin Gordhan. (REUTERS)
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