Daily Archives: June 1, 2017

Fitch affirms SA’s long-term foreign, local debt ratings

Pretoria – Rating agency Fitch has affirmed South Africa’s long-term foreign and local currency debt ratings of ‘BB+’ with a stable outlook, an outcome that demonstrates that South Africans must continue to act in unison in order to return the country to investment grade status, National Treasury said on Thursday.

Government notes the decision of Fitch and expresses gratitude to all the stakeholders who participated in the meetings with the rating agency and ensured that the country is not downgraded further, Treasury said in a statement.

The rating agency said despite the country’s credit strengths of deep local capital markets, favourable government debt structure and a track record of fairly prudent fiscal and monetary policy, South Africa’s ratings continue to be weighed down by low potential economic growth. It also cited sizable contingent liabilities and deteriorating governance of State-owned companies as issues that weigh down ratings.

According to the rating agency, the March 2017 Cabinet reshuffle that triggered the downgrade of South Africa’s ratings is likely to undermine governance of State-owned companies (SOCs), weaken fiscal consolidation and reduce private sector investment as a result of weaker business confidence.

The rating agency is also of the view that while efforts to improve the SOC governance framework will continue, implementation decisions, for example, on appointments of senior SOC management will hamper these efforts and could lead to weaker financial positions of SOCs and higher contingent liabilities for the government.

On Thursday, government emphasised that fiscal consolidation remains firmly on track and that government’s efforts remain focused on improving the growth trajectory and policy perceptions.

This comes as Minister Malusi Gigaba is currently re-engaging the private sector to make sure that the joint work of government, business, labour and the civil society continues and that the pledges made thus far are fulfilled.

The leadership in government and the ruling party are firmly committed in improving business and investor confidence in South Africa. As Fitch has rightly mentioned, rhetoric of ‘radical socioeconomic transformation’ does not imply a fundamental policy shift.

Government said its main focus is to address the long-standing goal of inclusive growth.

Fast-tracking the implementation of the structural reforms on growth and addressing the financial and governance issues of some of the SOCs are priorities in the short term.

This outcome demonstrates that South Africans must continue to act in unison especially during difficult times and work even harder to make sure that the country reclaims its investment grade status, said National Treasury.

It said more work lies ahead and as such, the National Development Plan (NDP), as the overarching policy of government, will continue to drive the decisions aimed at achieving inclusive growth and eradicating socio-economic challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Source: South African Government News Agency

FOUR MEN SENTENCED BY CAPE TOWN COURT TO TOTAL OF 127 YEARS FOR RUNNING ILLEGAL ABALONE SYNDICATE

CAPE TOWN, Four men have been sentenced to a combined 127 years in prison by the Khayelitsha Regional Court in Cape Town for running an illegal abalone syndicate, according to the the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).

Hawks spokesperson Captain Lloyd Ramovha said here Wednesday that the men was arrested after the Hawks pounced on the group’s illegal operations at their Vredenburg and Table View premises in a search and seizure operation in July 2010.

“A total of 98,981 units of abalone valued at approximately 20 million Rand (about 1.55 million US dollars at current exchange rates) and various equipment were seized. Further investigations culminated in two containers being shipped back from China,” Ramovha said.

He added that the four men were sentenced on Tuesday after being found guilty on charges relating to exporting of abalone; processing of abalone; possession of abalone; fraud and money laundering.

“It is what is believed to be record sentence as far as abalone is concerned; accused Abri Felipe Bucchianeri was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment of which he will effectively serve 23 years. Cecil George Kruger sentenced to 38 years imprisonment of which he will effectively serve 18 years,” Ramovha said.

“Sean Kruger was sentenced to 38 years imprisonment of which he will effectively serve 23 years. Busonbenkosi Matera was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment of which he will effectively serve 10 years. The company that was used to export the abalone, Virdon Trading CC, received a 400,000 Rand fine.”

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

LIVING CONDITIONS IN SOUTH AFRICA IMPROVE, HOUSEHOLD SURVEY SHOWS

PRETORIA, Living conditions in South Africa have improved over the years, according to the 2016 General Household Survey which shows that more households now have access to improved sanitation, piped water, electricity, health and education.

According to the report released by Statistics South Africa here Wednesday, the percentage of individuals benefiting from social grants has consistently increased from 12.7 per centin 2003 to 29.9 per cent in 2016. The percentage of households whose members received at least one grant increased from 29.9 per cent to 44.8 per cent in 2016.

More than one-third of individuals in Eastern Cape Province (40.8 per cent), Limpopo (37.6%), Northern Cape (37.1%) and KwaZulu-Natal (36.0%) were grant beneficiaries, compared with 16.9% in Gauteng and 22.0% in Western Cape Province.

More than one-third of black African individuals (32.9%) received a social grant, compared with 27.2% of coloured individuals, 11.5% of Indian/Asian individuals and 6.2% of the white population, the report found.

The report also found that between 2002 and 2016, the percentage of households which experienced hunger decreased from 23.8% to 11.8%, while the percentage of individuals who experienced hunger decreased from 29.3% to 13.4%.

About 13.5% of South Africans households were living in RDP or State-subsidised dwellings, up from 5% in 2002. Some residents have, however, raised concerns about the quality of subsidised houses, with 10.7% saying that the walls were weak or very weak, while 10.4% regarded the dwellings’ roofs as weak or very weak, reported Statistician-General Pali Lehohla.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

President Jacob Zuma: Response to 2017/18 Presidency budget vote debate

Address by President Jacob Zuma in Response to the debate on the Presidency Budget Vote, National Assembly, Cape Town, 1 June 2017

Honourable Speaker,

Deputy President,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Honourable Members,

Thank you for the opportunity to respond to the 2017 Presidency Budget Vote 1 debate.

I wish to thank all Honourable Members for the contributions to the debate.

Today is International Children’s Day.

On this day we reflect on what is being done and what else we should do to protect, mould and provide space for our children to grow into successful adults and citizens of the Republic.

From 1994, as we were reminded by the Deputy Chief Whip, the democratic government has concentrated on making life better for our children, especially those from poor households. We started then with the provision of free health care for children from birth to six years.

There is a host of other services provided for children in the country, from social grants to welfare services, free basic education to those who cannot pay, free meals at school and subsidised early childhood development centres for almost a million children.

We celebrate these achievements of our country today, while also noting the work we must still do to improve the lives of children in informal settlements and rural areas of our country. We remain fully aware of our responsibilities in this regard, as a caring government.

In fact, South Africans in general live a better life now as outlined by many Honourable Members in their speeches yesterday. They now live longer due to improved medical care. There is improved and expanded access to basic and higher education. There is expanded access to water, electricity, housing and many other basic services.

We adopted the National Development Plan (NDP) in 2012 as the socio-economic development blueprint to provide a road map for further work that we need to do as we build a better South Africa.

Honourable Shenge, the NDP is definitely being implemented by all government departments.

As outlined by Minister Radebe, the goals and targets of the NDP have been integrated into government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework for the electoral period 2014 to 2019. Each government department has a programme of action that is derived from the NDP.

We need to improve the manner in which we communicate the implementation of the programme of action and ensure that our communication clearly links the programmes to the NDP more explicitly.

Honourable Shenge you also sought clarity on radical socio-economic transformation.

This approach is a decision of the 53th national conference of the ANC which took place in Mangaung in 2012. We met under the theme, Unity in Action towards Socio-Economic Freedom.

A key resolution of that conference was that the second phase in our transition from Apartheid colonialism to a National Democratic Society would be characterised by more radical policies and decisive action to effect socio-economic and continued democratic transformation.

We put practical meaning to this programme this year in the January 8 statement of the ANC with a direct call for radical socio-economic transformation in general and broadly, and an added emphasis on radical economic transformation.

We identified economic growth, accelerated radical socio-economic transformation, land reform and redistribution, the funding of higher education, fighting crime and corruption as well as building the capacity of the state as the key priorities of the ANC in the current year, which automatically makes them key priorities of government.

The ANC NEC lekgotla in January emerged with a definition of radical socio-economic transformation. The ANC said it refers to a fundamental change in the structure, systems, institutions and patterns of ownership and control of the economy in favour of all South Africans, especially the poor, the majority of whom are African and female”.

This is the definition that was provided in the State of the Nation Address in February.

Let me emphasise that while economic emancipation is an imperative, our approach is much broader and seeks socio-economic transformation, covering both the social and economic aspects. The economic component of our programme has gained popularity in the public domain, and is now known as RET.

Honourable Maynier, your favourite government programme, the Nine Point Plan, encompasses the levers that the government is using to ignite growth and the sectors in which we believe we can achieve meaningful economic transformation.

These areas include energy, manufacturing, transport, telecommunications, water, tourism, the ocean economy, SMME development, mining, agriculture and the Industrial Policy Action Plan.

Therefore, the Nine Point Plan is our instrument that we are using to achieve radical socio-economic transformation.

Honourable Fubbs indeed there can be no sustainability in any economy if the majority is excluded. As stated in the State of the Nation Address, only 10% of the top 100 on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange are owned by black South Africans, directly-achieved principally, through the black empowerment codes, according to the National Empowerment Fund.

With regards to management, the 17th Employment Equity Report released last month, once again pointed to the painfully slow pace of Transformation in the South African Labour Market.

Sixty eight point five (68,5) percent of the top management positions are occupied by the White group. Africans are at 14,4%; Indians 8,9%; Coloureds 4,9% and Foreign Nationals 3,4%.

Fifty eight (58) percent of the positions in senior management are occupied by the White group; Africans 22,1%; Indian 10,6%; Coloured 7,7% and foreign nationals 1,4%.

Njengohulumeni sifuna ukuphathwa komnotho kuguquke ngokushesha okukhulu. Kuyasikhathaza ukuthi umnotho usahleli ezandleni zabamhlophe namanje.

Sithi ngaloluhlelo lokuguqulwa komnotho ngendlela ejulile nesheshayo, akunikezwe abantu abamnyama amathuba okuba nezimboni nabo futhi babe namabhizinisi amakhulu.

Sifuna banikezwe izikhundla ezinkulu ezimbonini baphathe kubonakale ukuthi inkululeko ifikile ezweni. Akuyekwe ukubacwasa ngebala ezimbonini abamnyama.

Kufanele bahlonishwe kubonakale ukuthi ibona abaningi ezweni, kufanele babe baningi nasezikhundleni kanye nokuba ngosozimboni.

Sifuna nosomabhizinisi abancane emalokishini nasezindaweni zasemakhaya bathole ukuxhaswa uhulumeni. Iminyango kahulumeni isithunyiwe ihhovisi likaMongameli ukuba yenze konke lokhu kwenzeke ukuze ziguquke izimpilo zabantu.

Honourable Khubisa and Honourable Swart we agree with you that there should be an inquiry into the said state capture by the business community.

Honourable Mafu and Honourable Memezi outlined accurately the work of the Presidency in leading and coordinating government work, and in galvanising society towards a common goal of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society.

The Izimbizo and Presidential Siyahlola programmes, which are also supported by Honourable Galo, are indeed important instruments as they enable us to meet our people regularly and obtain feedback on the work of government.

The focus currently is the fight against crime given the urgency and suffering of communities.

We will soon visit Lusikisiki village in the Eastern Cape where people live in fear of a vicious criminal gang called Amavondwe who terrorise the community.

I visited the communities of kwa-Mhlabuyalingana in KZN, Soshanguve in Tshwane as well as Elsie’s River and Nyanga here in Cape Town who are affected by crime. There are others too that we have not yet reached.

The police can deal with crime and arrest perpetrators. However, society itself must play a role in fighting this wanton criminality and in preventing these crimes. We cannot make this a responsibility of the police alone.

The serious crimes include violence against women which Honourable Members have strongly condemned.

Honourable Shabangu made a call to action to Members of Parliament to actively fight gender based violence in their constituencies. Indeed we all have a role to play in fighting this horrible crime.

Honourable Motau, South Africa is not on the road to being a failed state.

You need to free yourself from your party’s propaganda and honestly track the progress that South Africa is making. You will feel proud to have been a leader during this period in our democratic transition.

Honourable Galo you raise a concern that the Presidency may be fashioning itself as a mini-regulator of other departments.

The Presidency provides strategic leadership and coordination of the work of government, and it also supervises and monitors the work of departments. Therefore, if it sounds like a regulator, it would be correct.

Honourable Godi we have noted your concerns about the need to improve the work of the Anti-Corruption Inter-Ministerial Committee and law enforcement agencies.

We also take seriously your concerns about the financial management challenges in government departments. We will continue to monitor these shortcomings at the level of Cabinet to find solutions.

A key aspect is to ensure that officials managing public finances are qualified and experienced, and also to ensure adequate internal controls.

Honourable Speaker,

I am delighted that the Democratic Alliance MPs have been reading speeches of President Oliver Reginald Tambo lately.

This means that our OR Tambo centenary campaign is effective. The forebears of the DA regarded OR Tambo as a terrorist and a danger to South Africa.

We therefore trust that the sudden discovery and embracing of OR Tambo is not opportunism aimed at diluting his legacy or distorting it to support what he did not stand for, which is the protection of the privileges of a few.

We have seen this happening with President Nelson Mandela where the Opposition has created its own Mandela who was never the founding commander of Umkhonto Wesizwe, and definitely not the Mandela who warned the public about the DA in 2002.

Compatriots

We begin Youth Month today in which the whole country will honour and celebrate our young people who are the leaders of the future. We will honour the contribution of our youth to the attainment of freedom, and also reflect on what else we must do to prepare a better future for them, working with them.

Tomorrow I will be meeting with leaders of various youth formations in the Presidential Youth Working Group. I reported yesterday on the good work done by this working group, which is coordinated by a committee of Deputy Ministers led by the Deputy Minister in the Presidency Honourable Manamela.

We will be celebrating the achievements of our young people.

The Deputy President showcased some of the talented young people who are excelling in various fields after hard work.

I join the Deputy President in appealing to the private sector to adopt our Training and Vocational Education Colleges, and also to absorb our graduates from these colleges and universities for internships and learnerships.

Fellow South Africans,

Honourable Manamela’s exposition yesterday was a strong call for the DA to break free from colonialism and from developing and implementing policies that seek to maintain the colonial and apartheid set up in a liberated non-racial South Africa.

Such actions delay the socio-economic transformation of our country. They also derail the advance towards true national reconciliation in our beautiful country.

Honourable Members,

Let me join the Deputy President in wishing our Muslim compatriots well during the holy month of Ramadan.

They are part of the diverse and multicultural society that makes South Africa vibrant and unique.

Madam Speaker,

We pride ourselves of the fact that media freedom is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic.

South Africa is thus the perfect venue for the 69th World News Media Congress that will take place in Durban next week, from the 7-9th of June.

South Africa looks forward to hosting the publishers, editors and other practitioners from all over the world to our shores. We wish them all of the best with their deliberations on how to take the global fourth estate forward.

Allow me Honourable Speaker, to take this opportunity to thank Parliament for the successful departmental Budget Vote debates that have now been concluded with Vote 1, The Presidency.

Work will now continue towards the goal of building a better South Africa and a better life for our people.

Let me wish all our children a happy International Children’s Day.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

World Ignores Displaced Africans, Aid Agency Protests

DAKAR, SENEGAL � The world pays the least attention to humanitarian crises when they force Africans from their homes, dashing hopes of peace, hindering reconstruction and increasing the risk of radicalization, an aid agency said Thursday.

Central African Republic topped the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) annual list of neglected displacement crises.

It was followed by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, the Palestinian territories, Ukraine, Myanmar and Somalia.

“The fact that most of these people do not turn up at our doorsteps gives us no right to close our eyes to their suffering, and does not remove our responsibility to assist,” NRC Secretary General Jan Egeland said in a statement. “Economic support to alleviate humanitarian crises must be given based on needs, and not … geopolitical interests.”

Limited political will to achieve peace, scant media attention and a lack of aid funding mean crises are likely to worsen and trigger even more displacement, the NRC said.

Chronic conflict involving militias in countries such as Central African Republic and Congo could drive more and more people into armed groups, said Richard Skretteberg of the NRC.

“When you combine limited state presence in much of these countries, mass displacement, and a lack of protection and aid for civilians, this creates a fertile breeding ground for radicalization,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Rebuilding and working towards peace are difficult when so many people are displaced,” the NRC senior adviser added.

1 million people displaced

One in five Central Africans � about a million people � is displaced, and at least 100,000 were newly uprooted last month in some of the worst violence between the mainly Muslim Seleka rebels and Christian militias since conflict began in 2013.

Spreading ethnic violence in Congo has forced more than 1.5 million people to flee their homes within the country this year � more than triple the number uprooted within Syria and five times the number within Iraq, according to the NRC.

The United Nations has received just a fifth of the $812.5 million sought in the humanitarian appeal for Congo this year,and 25 percent of the $400 million requested for Central African Republic, the U.N.’s Financial Tracking Service shows.

Africa’s arid Sahel belt, which stretches from Senegal to Eritrea and lies south of the Sahara desert, topped the NRC’s index last year, followed by Yemen and Libya.

Source: Voice of America