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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Cape Town chaos as violent protests continue in
many parts of the city over poor service delivery

by D. Morris CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Chaos reigned in Cape Town as violent protests over poor service delivery continued in many parts of the city on Friday.

Police said they have detained dozens of people suspected of involvement in acts of violence since protests erupted on Thursday.

In the township of Lwandle alone, 20 protesters were arrested following an alleged land invasion.

During the protests, some people attempted to invade land belonging to the City of Cape Town, the city said in a statement.

The protests came as the country is preparing to hold its sixth general election on May 8 after the end of apartheid in 1994.

Protesters apparently took advantage of the election to outpour their grievances in relation to various issues ranging from high water bills, lack of electricity, poor sanitation and the slow pace of land reform.

A number of townships were under complete lock-down as roads leading to them were blocked.

Violent protests have led to the disruption of many schools across the city, said Debbie Schafer, member of the executive council (MEC) in the Western Cape provincial government.

Eight more schools were closed on Friday following the closure of 21 on Thursday, Schafer said.

At many other schools there has been low attendance.

In some cases, learners who attend schools in other areas were unable to get out of their communities to their schools, according to Schafer.

Education is essential, and teaching and learning time should not be interrupted by people for their own agendas, he said.

"People have the right to protest peacefully but the violent nature of these recent actions is both concerning and unacceptable," Schafer said.

He urged the South African Police Service to act swiftly and decisively to restore order in affected communities so that teaching and learning can resume as soon as possible.

"It is high time that people destroying the opportunities of others are held accountable for their thuggish behavior," Schafer said.

The City of Cape Town said the protests were putting the lives of the public at risk and negatively affecting the city’s ability to deliver services.

In some communities, rubbish disposal and health facilities have been affected, and the rail service was also disrupted because of the protests, according to the city.

"The violence, destruction of infrastructure, risk to public safety and the closure of major routes which in turn impacts the economy, can not be condoned," said JP Smith, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security.

Alan Winde, MEC for community safety in the Western Cape, said the protests were politically motivated and police should act swiftly to arrest the ringleaders.
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UPDATES:

International Monetary Fund lowers growth forecast for South Africa

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday lowered its forcast for South Africa’s economic growth in 2019, from 1.4 percent to 1.2

percent, citing policy and political uncertainty.

In its world economic outlook, the IMF said South Africa should prioritize eliminating wasteful expenditure on state-owned enterprises and reduce public wage bill.

"The projected recovery reflects modestly reduced but continued policy uncertainty in the South African economy after the May 2019 elections," the IMF said. "Structural reforms,

particularly to product and labor markets, would foster an environment conducive to expanding private investment, job creation, and productivity growth."

It said structural bottlenecks will continue to weigh on investment and productivity, and that metal export prices are expected to remain subdued.

The IMF also called on South Africa to exercise fiscal consolidation to stabilize government debt.

It also cut its forecast for South Africa’s economic growth in 2020, from 1.7 percent to 1.5 percent.

In February, the South African Reserve Bank lowered its 2019 gross domestic product growth forecast, from 1.7 percent to 1.3 percent.

The central bank’s forecasts for the country’s 2020 and 2021 GDP growth are 1.8 percent and 2 percent respectively.
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South Africa Revenue Services wage dispute not
fully resolved as one union continues strike

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African Revenue Services (SARS) industrial action entered a third working day on Monday despite the revenue collection unit

tabling a new offer to unions during Sunday night wage negotiations.

The ongoing wage dispute began on Thursday when thousands of members affiliated to the National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Public Servants

Association rejected a 7.5 percent offer and demanded an 11 percent increase across board.

Speaking to Xinhua on Monday, Nehawu’s spokesman Khaya Xaba said the union is still consulting with its members regarding SARS’s latest 8 percent offer.

"Our members are still striking as we are still in consultation with them about the new offer. We will let you know on Tuesday whether they accept it or not," Xaba said.

The Public Servants Association representative Tahir Maepa said their union signed the latest wage offer late on Monday after it was accepted by their members. "All our members

will be back at work tomorrow as we got a mandate to sign," he said.

While Nehawu has 4,993 members at SARS, the Public Servants Association has more than 5,000 members.

Maepa told Xinhua that while their members would be receiving an 8 percent increase in the first year, the increases for the next two years would be based on the CPI.

"SARS wanted to take away workers’ performance bonuses and we are happy to say that our members will continue receiving these bonuses," he added.
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South African ANC confident of winning upcoming elections: official

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Ace Magashule voiced confidence on Saturday that his party would win the upcoming elections.

Magashule was speaking as he kicked off a two-day campaign in Cape Town, Western Cape Province, which is administered by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

Of the nine provinces in the country, the Western Cape is the only province that is not run by the ANC.

The ANC, he said, can make inroads into places under the DA administration after the elections.

South Africa will hold general elections on May 8 to elect a new National Assembly and provincial legislatures in each province. The elections, the sixth since the end of apartheid in 1994, will determine who will become the next president.

Addressing people’s concern over housing and electricity, Magashule said the ANC is in a better position to solve these problems.

Magashule brushed aside corruption allegations against him, saying he was focusing on elections.

There were people who were trying to distract the ANC and deviate its attention and focus on the elections, he said.

Allegations against him and other ANC leaders won’t have any impact on the governing party, Magashule said.

Magashule has been embroiled in corruption scandals, exposed by a newly published book Gangster State which centers around Magashule’s alleged involvement in years of corruption while he was Free State premier.

Magashule has denied any wrongdoing during his time as Free State premier and vowed to take legal action against the book author.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Africa: Mass protests hit major cities over poor service delivery

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Widespread protests over poor service delivery broke out in three South African major cities on Thursday, prompting police to fire rubber bullets and tear gas in some areas.

The protests came as the country prepares for its sixth general election on May 8 after the end of apartheid in 1994.

Organizers said they want to take advantage of the election to let people pour out their grievances.

In Cape Town, several streets were blocked by protesters who called for better service, particularly in impoverished townships.

The city’s biggest black township of Khayelitsha was like a battle field where tires were burned and roads blocked, with the sky darkened by black smoke.

Residents in Khayelitsha complained about what they say inaccurate water billing and disconnections over disputed amounts owed.

Hundreds of commuters were stranded as service at the Cape Town Civic Center station was suspended over security concerns.

The protests affected public service, including health facilities; some were shut down until further notice.

A police man, who demanded anonymity, told Xinhua that he was stoned while trying to maintain order.

Protests in some areas turned violent, with no sign of abating, he said, adding that police had to call in reinforcements.

He said protesters want better service, but their action made public service worse.

Police said they had intelligence on the protests where criminal elements crept in.

In a statement, the City of Cape Town condemned the violent protests as "politically instigated."

"There has been a dramatic increase in the number of protests in the last six weeks, resulting in damaged infrastructure, service delivery disruptions and massive inconvenience to residents," the statement said.

During the protests, some people attempted to invade land belonging to the city, according to the statement.

In Johannesburg and Pretoria, similar protests also took place.

In Johannesburg’s black township of Alexandra where protests had continued for more than a week, human waste has been piling all over the streets.

The organizers of Shutdown Alexandra movement called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to visit the township and address their concerns.

The cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg and Pretoria are run by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), which claims that the current protests are fueled by the African National Congress (ANC).

On Thursday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called for an urgent meeting with National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole to establish what plans are in place to put an end to the worsening anarchy, and restore law and order in the communities.
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South African former President refuting claims about the
former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s hidden money

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Former South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday refuted claims that he was keeping millions of dollars belonging to late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Zuma said the fake news puts his life at risk because he would end up in jail and face U.S. sanctions if the allegations over Gaddafi’s millions proved to be true.

The Sunday Times newspaper reported last week there was evidence suggesting that Zuma had previously hidden Gaddafi’s millions of dollars in the former’s homestead in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The report claimed that the money was moved secretly earlier this year to the Kingdom of Swaziland, now known as Eswatini.

Swazi King Mswati III confirmed the existence of the money to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last week during a meeting at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg, the report said.

In a statement distributed by his foundation, Zuma said he would take legal action against the Sunday Times.

Zuma accused the newspaper of doing what others from foreign countries do who want to put his life at risk by spreading these reports.

The report prompted the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to urge Ramaphosa to help recover Gaddafi’s hidden fortune estimated at 420 million rand (about 30 million U.S. dollars).

The missing money reportedly is of keen interest to several parties, including the U.S. authorities.

There are possible violations of sanctions associated with the money, as well as the contravention of foreign exchange controls.

South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu has also denied the allegation that Gaddafi’s missing money was once hidden in South Africa.

She labelled the claims "ghost stories."

"This is very much like a ghost story.

"If you believe in a ghost you will see a ghost, but you will never be able to touch it.

"This is a story that has been circulating for many, many years," Sisulu said.

"There is no money in Swaziland.

"There is no money that we’re aware of.

"And I speak honestly as a Minister of International Relations and Cooperation," she said.

However, the minister said her department would probe the allegations.
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South African lawmakers condemn disruption of "Gangster State" book launch

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Parliament on Wednesday condemned "in the strongest terms" the disruption of the "Gangster State" book which claims to expose corruption involving African National Congress (ANC) Secretary General Ace Magashule.

The disruption amounted to "repulsive acts of criminality and flagrant attack on the key principles of our Constitutional democracy," Parliament said.

A group of protesters, some wearing ANC T-shirts, were tearing copies of Pieter-Louis Myburgh’s "Gangster State" as it was launched in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

The ANC has distanced itself from the incident and Magashule himself said the disruption was not done in his name.

In a statement, Magashule described Tuesday’s disruption as a reflection of political intolerance which goes against freedom of expression.

The controversial book centers around Magashule’s alleged involvement in years of corruption while he was Free State premier.

A strong and clear message must be sent by the criminal justice system that activities like those perpetrated at the book launch have no place in South Africa’s democracy, particularly as the nation marks the 25th anniversary since the end of apartheid, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

"Ours is a democracy founded on supremacy of the Constitution, its Bill of Rights and the rule of law," Mothapo said.

The Constitution’s Bill of Rights guarantees everyone the right to freedom of expression, which includes freedom to receive and impart information or ideas, he said.

While protests are part of a robust and lively democracy, they must at all times be conducted within the bounds of legality, said Mothapo.

"Those who are aggrieved by the contents of the book have recourse provided by our legislative instruments, instead of attacking the legitimate actions of the writers, publishers and book stores to bring matters that may well be uncomfortable to light," he said.

The damage wreaked by the book launch disruption and the open threats to burn the book, is disturbing, even tragic, especially at this time when South Africa is less than a month away from the sixth general election after the end of apartheid, Mothapo said.

"We are, nevertheless, heartened by the overwhelming consensus from most South Africans that we must defend our democracy against such shameless criminality," he added.
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South Africa postpones ratifying ILO’s employment policy

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Department of Labor said on Wednesday it has put on hold the signing of an employment policy designed by the International Labor Organization (ILO).

South Africa opts for developing its national employment policy before ratifying the ILO’s Employment Policy Convention 122, the department said.

The department said the decision was based on an agreement among social partners of the South African National Economic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC).

The council is in favor of developing the country’s national labor policy first, department spokesperson Teboho Thejane said.

The NEDLAC is the vehicle by which the government, labor, business and community organizations cooperate through problem-solving and negotiation on economic, labor and development issues facing the country, including the high unemployment which currently stands at more than 27 percent.

Convention 122 requires national employment policy to be positioned as a major goal within the national agenda.

It calls upon ratifying member states to promote and engage in genuine tripartite consultations among the government, labor and business on employment policies.

Upon ratification, South Africa would be called upon to report regularly on the effect given to its provisions and be required to provide detailed statistical information, disaggregated by age and sex, on the labor market and on employment trends in the country.

South Africa has conducted a gap analysis which was aimed at assessing the country to evaluate the efforts needed in order to be in compliance with the IOL convention.

The gap analysis found that South Africa’s current legislation such as Employment Services Act of 2014, and policy frameworks such as the New Growth Path of 2011 and the National Development Plan of 2012 are consistent with the provision of Convention 122, said Thejane.

The convention has been signed by 113 countries, 24 of which in Africa.

ILO’s employment instrument specialist Anna Torriente said Convention 122 is flexible in that it allows the country to analyze its own situation, identify gaps and implement its own labor market policy measures to deal with employment.
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South Africa welcomes confiscation of rhino horns by Hong Kong customs officials

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa on Tuesday welcomed the recent confiscation of rhino horns valued at an estimated 29 million rand (about two million U.S. dollars) by Hong Kong customs officials.

The interception of the rhino horns came amid intensified efforts to combat rising rhino poaching, the South African Ministry of Environmental Affairs (MEA) said.

The 82.5-kg rhino horns, which had allegedly been smuggled from South Africa in a shipment marked as vehicle parts, were destined for Malaysia when they were intercepted by the Hong Kong customs authorities at the Hong Kong International Airport, following a tip-off, according to the ministry.

The rhino horns were discovered when the shipment was X-rayed.

Hong Kong customs officials indicated that this was the single largest haul of endangered species products in five years. No arrests have been made.

It remains a concern that these consignments were not detected and seized before they left South Africa, MEA spokesperson Albi Modise said in a statement.

A review of the measures in place to make such detections is urgently required in order to continue to adapt to the shifts in the modus operandi of the syndicates involved in this transnational crime, said Modise.

Modise said her ministry is in contact with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation in Hong Kong so that DNA samples of the horns can be brought to South Africa to determine whether they are linked to any ongoing, or unsolved, poaching investigations.

South Africa, home to more than 85 percent of the world’s rhino population, bears the brunt of rhino poaching.

Between 2013 and 2017, more than 1,000 rhinos were killed each year, according to official figures.

             

 

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