Category Archives: South Africa

SA: Ramaphosa on farm murders

12.10.2020 South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa urged not to use murders of white farmers to inflame racial tensions by falsely equating them with ethnic cleansing, a week after a farm killing stoked violent protests.

The killing of Brendin Horner, a white farm manager, in Free State province at the start of this month, triggered riots in the town of Senekal. White demonstrators stormed a police station where two Black suspects were being held. Some fired shots and set fire to a police car. farm murders not ethnic cleansing

“What happened in Senekal shows just how easily the tinderbox of race hatred can be ignited,” Ramaphosa said in his weekly message to the country. “We must resist any attempts to use crime on farms to mobilise communities along racial lines.”

Murders of farmers and members of their families, including young children, the vast majority of which are white from European ancestors, are an explosive issue in South Africa, where some white minority activist groups promote the idea that they are victims of a ‘white genocide’ that aims to force landowners to flee.

Farm attacks were discussed by parliament last month. Rural safety analysts at some agricultural organisations had noted a new momentum from government level to combat the problem, but the level of distrust runs deep towards government as well as towards populist political parties who still occasionally employ the apartheid-era chant of “kill the farmer, kill the boer”.

There has long been speculation on the racial nature of these attacks and it has been the subject of a number of studies, which have concluded that robbery is the primary motive.

Many farmers conduct trade on their farms, selling livestock, chickens or vegetables, handling large amounts of cash, which has been a demonstrable motive in some previous farm murders.

Robbers on farms also demand firearms, because farmers are often heavily armed, as well as cell phones and computer equipment.

Last month Tommie Esterhuyse, AgriSA’s chair of the rural safety commission, reiterated in a radio interview that they did not consider farm attacks to be racially targeted killings. He referred to Free State statistics showing 40 to 45% of farm attacks included farm workers (mostly black) as well as black commercial farmers and emerging farmers.

It has been estimated that an average of 58 people are every day killed in South Africa, of whom an unusually large number are women and children.

South Africa slide to failed state

South Africa faces a precipitous economic and political collapse by 2030 unless it changes its economic model and implements growth-friendly policies, according to Eunomix Business & Economics Ltd. (Image above: courtesy UN photo).

Using a range of measures, the Johannesburg-based political and economic risk consultancy forecasts the country will rank near the bottom of a table of more than 180 countries in terms of security, similar to Nigeria and Ukraine, and have prosperity akin to Bangladesh or Cote d’Ivoire. This negative change means a significant decline from its current position, though it should fare better on governance and welfare measures.

“Bar a meaningful change of trajectory, South Africa will be a failed state by 2030,” Eunomix said in a report.

The consultancy blames a structure created during the White-minority apartheid era that was designed to exclude the Black majority, creating one of the world’s most unequal societies.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, the ruling African National Congress perpetuated that situation by rejecting job-intensive growth policies and instead raising wages and subsidizing the poor through welfare, Eunomix said.

While less than a quarter of the population is in work, South Africa’s wage bill as a percentage of gross domestic product significantly exceeds that of countries such as India, Thailand and the Philippines.

Eunomix’s recommendation for South Africa’s government is to adopt a “dual-track” strategy of developing and maintaining high levels of social support and paying for it by adopting an aggressive special economic zone policy, which boosts growth and employment, albeit at lower wages.

The ANC’s strategy is “a dichotomy born of apartheid, resistance and crystallized by ideological puritanism and entrenched interests,” the consultancy said. “The country should not choose between imagined opposites. It should adopt a dual-track approach that reconciles them.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa is “very clear” about the need for inclusive growth that addresses inequality, unemployment and poverty, his spokesman Tyrone Seale said.

“Government, business, labor and communities are currently working on an economic recovery plan,” he said. “As South Africa we are clear about our plan to reboot the economy and the need to involve all South Africans.”

Former President Jacob Zuma ushered in a decade of low growth when he focused on increasing the role of the state, instead of supporting a private-sector led recovery after the global economic crisis of 2008, Eunomix said. Prolonged policy uncertainty in areas ranging from mining to telecommunications compounded the slowdown.

The economic impact of recurrent power cuts, rising unemployment and the loss of the last investment-grade rating on South Africa’s debt have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus outbreak.

“The pandemic is the last nail in the coffin of strategic fiasco,” Eunomix said. “The economy is unsustainably narrow and shallow. It rests on a small and declining working population burdened by very high debt and taxes.”

Namibia hippo flock dying trapped in mud

Dozens of hippopotamuses are stuck in mud in a shrinking pool in a game reserve in Namibia, and are at high risk of dying of dehydratation and hunger, the Daily News online publication reported on September 5. The animals should stay in water or mud to protect themselves form sun and heat only daytime, but they need to swim in water during reproduction and childbirth, and they have to they emerge at dusk to graze on grasses. The flock stuck in the mud has no more water to drink and is not able to get out for graizng neither.

The pool, in the Wuparo Conservancy about 900 km northeast of the capital Windhoek, was dependent on flows from a nearby river but a prolonged drought has dried up the source, the newspaper said, quoting the manager of the nearby Livingstone wildlife camp.

Several hippopotamuses have been stuck for months in the pool. More than 40 are believed to be there now, the manager said.

Hippopotamuses, or commonly named hippos, are large, mostly herbivorous, semi-aquatic mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. Nowadays hippo is the third-largest type of land mammal that inhabits rivers and lakes.

However these impressive animals, which are now only found in Africa and Asia, once upon a time roamed also in Europe.

The scientists discovered their remains in Greece in Pinios river valley, attributing to the Upper Pleistocene era, which began 180,000 years ago and includes a vast swath of human history, ending just 10,000 years ago, when humans had begun to form settlements.

White farmers welcome back to Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe “white farmers” whose land was seized under Robert Mugabe rule can apply to claim it back or they will be offered land elsewhere if restitution proves impractical, the government announced on August 31.

Last month, Zimbabwe agreed to pay $3.5 billion in compensation to local white farmers whose land was forcibly expropriated by the government to resettle Black families, moving a step closer to resolving one the most controversial policies from Robert Mugabe legacy.

Under Zimbabwean laws passed during a short period of opposition government but ignored by Mugabe, foreign white farmers protected by treaties between their governments and Zimbabwe should be compensated for both land and other assets.

In that regard, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube and Lands and Agriculture Minister Anxious Masuka said in a joint statement that these farmers should apply for their land return.

In practice, in some instances the government would “revoke the offer letters of resettled (Black) farmers currently occupying those pieces of land and offer them alternative land elsewhere,” the ministers said.

However the transfer of the Black beneficiaries from the land could become difficult politically and practically.

“Where the situation presently obtaining on the ground makes it impractical to restore land in this category to its former owners, government will offer the former farm owners alternative land elsewhere as restitution where such land is available,” the statement said.

The ministers said other white farmers whose land had been earmarked for acquisition by the government but were still present on the properties, can apply to lease the land for 99 years.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has underlined the land reform could not be reversed but paying of compensation was key to mending ties with the West.

The programme still divides public opinion in Zimbabwe, where the number of white farmers has dropped to just over 200 from 4,500 when land reforms began 20 years ago, according to the predominantly white commercial farmers union.

The seizures of land that began four decades ago in an attempt to harmonise historical imbalances, later the expropriations were ratified by the government, which said they were needed to adjust to modernity the colonial heritage. As a result of this policy the florising agriculture that exported tobacco and roses and grew most of the food for the nation collapsed. Periodic food shortages ensued, the risk of famine has become real, and inflation became the world’s highest. The manufacturing industry was decimated. Robert Mugabe started his mandate as President of one of Africa’s richest countries, which under his leaderhip it became one of its poorest.

At present the World Food Programme (WFP) is urgently seeking to intensify the international support to prevent millions of Zimbabweans plunging deeper into hunger. 

According to the WFP, the number of food-insecure people is expected to surge by almost 50%, manning to 8.6 million Zimbabweans by the end of 2020. 

That figure represents around 60% of the population, the agency said in a statement, highlighting drought, economic recession and the COVID-19  pandemic as the main reasons of the crisis.

Galloping hyperinflation has signified that few families can now afford even basic food, WFP said, with the price of maize, the staple cereal, more than doubling in June.

Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, said that many Zimbabwean families were suffering “the ravages of acute hunger”, before appealing to the international community to help prevent “a potential humanitarian catastrophe.”

Botswana dimond trade plunges

Botswana’s rough diamond exports plunged 68% in the second quarter of the year, data published by the central bank showed on August 7, as the COVID-19 pandemic affected demand, and trade.

In a bid to curb the spread of the virus, Botswana closed its borders in March following the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, preventing the international buyers from travelling to centres such as Mumbai, Antwerp and China who traditionally arrive to Gaborone ten times a year to buy diamonds.

Exports of diamonds from Debswana, a joint venture between Botswana and diamond mining giant De Beers, a unit of Anglo American, stood at $293 million in the second quarter of 2020, from $916 million in the preceding period.

Namibia: no alcohol consumption in bars

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to President Hage Geingob announcement.
Subsequenly he imposed limits on public gatherings, deacreasing to 100 from 250 amid surging cases, the President announced.

People will also not be allowed to consume alcohol at bars and taverns. They will only be permitted to drink beverges at home.

Geingob relaxed rules for international tourists, who will no longer be subjected to a mandatory 14-day quarantine on arrival but will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test conducted 72 hours before arrival.

They will, however, be required to remain at their initial destination in the country for seven days. A test will be conducted during this period and tourists can proceed with their holiday if the result is negative.

In a televised speech on Friday July 31, Geingob said there is also a decision to suspend schools from August 4 for 28 days came after considering the risks associated with the spread of the virus.

The measures also affect early childhood development, pre-primary, primary and the first two grades of high school, while Namibian schools will be suspended for the second time in four months next week.

Namibia has 2,129 confirmed cases and 10 deaths with the country’s rate of daily new cases now the fourth highest on the continent following South Africa, Eswatini and Gabon, according to Geingob.

South Africa: 58 murders daily

The number of homicides rose by 1.4% to 21,325 in the 12 months through March — an average of 58 a day — the police service said in its annual crime-statistics report.

The murder rate of 36 per 100,000 people was little changed from the previous year and compares with an international average of seven per 100,000. The number of rapes, sexual offenses and car hi-jackings also increased, but property-related crime declined.

“We are not where we want to be,” Police Minister Bheki Cele said at a briefing in Pretoria, the capital. “However we are pleased with the improvements in most stubborn crime categories.”

Violent crime is fueled by widespread alcohol and drug abuse, and perpetrators often know their victims, the police data show. A lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the virus should have a positive impact on the current year’s statistics, with preliminary data showing it helped curtail homicides and other crimes.

De Beers diamond mining to cut jobs

Diamond mining company De Beers is likely to have to cut jobs, its chief executive said on Thursday July 30, as it outlined strategy for an overhaul of its business after the coronavirus pandemic crisis hit demand for jewellery.

De Beers earlier reported plunging earnings in the first half of 2020 as a drop in rough diamond sales and prices hurt margins.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were just $2 million in the period, down from $518 million in the first half of last year.

De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver told media official consultations with workers will begin on August 11. The business overhaul “is likely to lead to some job losses, but I can’t tell you at this point what that number will be”, he continued.

Cleaver said the process would last for three months and involve a review of the entire spectrum of activities from mining to rough sales, retail and the corporate centre, but exclude joint venture businesses in Botswana and Namibia where the miner employs 20,000 people.

Harare in lockdown amid public discontent

Zimbabwe’s two main cities – Harare and Bulawayo – have been in lockdown since July 31, Friday, patrolled by the secuiry forces in an attempt of government to prevent protests called by activists over corruption and rapidly degrading economic situation, causing unprecedented hardships.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s critics blame his government the return to the authoritarian methods of late Robert Mugabe, banning demonstrations, and abducting and arresting opponents.

Mnangagwa has responded that the protests constitute an attempt of “insurrection” by the opposition.

The leading ZANU-PF party this week branded the U.S. ambassador in Harare a “thug,” accusing him of funding protests.

In central Harare, the capital, banks, supermarkets, and businesses were shut as police and soldiers patrolled the streets.

A journalist in Bulawayo, the other main city, described a similar situation there, with some police patrolling on horseback. Businesses also stayed shut in Harare’s townships, including Mbare – an epicenter of protests in the past.

Public indignation is rising over an economic crisis marked by inflation running above 700%, shortages of foreign currency and public hospitals crippled by strikes and a lack of medicine.

More than a dozen activists sought by the police for promoting Friday’s protests were in hiding.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change spokeswoman Fadzayi Mahere and Zimbabwean novelist Tsitsi Dangarembga separately said on social media they had been detained for protesting in their neighbourhood. Mahere posted a video of police advancing towards her and telling her to stop recording them. She later could not be reached for comment.

“The security situation in the country is calm and peaceful” police spokesman Paul Nyathi said.

«The Constitution of #Zimbabwe guarantees the right to peaceful protests; a right that @efie41209591, @advocatemahere and others exercised today. They should be released from police custody. #EU4HumanRights» reads the Tweet issued by EU delegation in Zimbabwe, calling for immediate release of Tsitsi Dangarembga,the award-winning novelist, and Fadzayi Mahere, the Consitutional lawyer.

Image above: social media

EU expresses concerns about Zimbabwe arrests

«Recent developments in Zimbabwe are deeply worrying. The work of human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society organisations is essential to support reforms that stand the test of time. Upholding constitutional rights is a principle which cannot be compromised» the European Union top diplomat Josep Borrell wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

A court ruled on July 24 that a journalist charged with inciting violence was a danger to the public and extended his detention until August, while the United Nations and the European Union expressed concern that authorities could be violating the fundamental freedoms.

Hopewell Chin’ono (pictured) and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume were arrested on July 20 on allegations of promoting planned protests against corruption in government on July 31, which police insisted degraded to violence.

Both arrested, who deny the charges, face up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

Chin’ono’s lawyer Doug Coltart said a Harare magistrate had ruled that the journalist “is a danger to the public because he has not yet completed his mission of inciting people to demonstrate on 31 July.”

Chin’ono, who has gained a following on social media by being critical of the government’s handling of the economy and corruption, told reporters as he was being taken to prison cells: “Journalism has been criminalised. The struggle against corruption should continue. People should not stop, they should carry on with it.”

He will be kept in prison until the next court hearing on August, Coltart said he would appeal the ruling extending his detention until that hearing.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a statement it was concerned by allegations that Zimbabwean authorities may be using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

“Merely calling for a peaceful protest or participating in a peaceful protest are an exercise of recognised human rights,” it said.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa imposed an overnight curfew and tighter restrictions on movement from July 22 to combat rising coronavirus infections. But activists say the measures are meant to stop the July 31 protests.

Image above: Hopewell Chin’ono Facebook page

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