South Africa politics

The undisputed headline grabber at the end of South Africa’s monetary policy committee meeting on Thursday was the surprise announcement that Gill Marcus would not be seeking to renew her five-year term as central bank governor when it expires on November.

There is little doubt she will be missed by the financial community and all eyes will be on the appointment of her successor, with the hope that the South African Reserve Bank’s credibility and integrity are maintained. Read more

After much speculation and hours of waiting Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, finally announced his new cabinet on Sunday evening with a raft of changes and a few surprises.

Some ministries were merged – for example, the National Planning Commission, previously led by the retiring Trevor Manuel, was joined with the Performance Monitoring and Evaluation ministry. New ones were born, including telecommunications and a separate communications ministry (watch for that to be dubbed the propaganda ministry by the South African press). Read more

With South Africa’s May 7 election done and dusted and the African National Congress set to extend its 20-year dominance of the political landscape, all eyes are now on President Jacob Zuma’s appointments to his next cabinet.

All should be revealed a day or two after Zuma’s inauguration on Saturday, at the start of a second term at the helm of Africa’s most developed economy. Read more

When South Africa’s GDP growth numbers for the first quarter are announced at the end of the month, the destructive impact of the country’s longest-running mining strike on the national economy is set to become emphatically clear, analysts said.

Capital Economics, a London-based research firm, predicted on Thursday that South Africa’s first quarter GDP grew at only 0.2 per cent, down from 3.8 per cent in Q4 (see chart). The forecast is based on a proprietary GDP tracker, which aggregates data on retail sales, manufacturing and mining output to create a proxy for GDP. South Africa announces GDP on May 27th. Read more

The convincing nature of the African National Congress’ (ANC) victory in South Africa’s general election is likely to ease pressure for difficult yet necessary reforms to the country’s economy and labour markets, analysts said on Friday.

With 98 per cent of the vote counted, the ANC had garnered 62 per cent, while the Democratic Alliance took 22 per cent and a new radical party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), took 6 per cent. Read more

The African National Congress, like other political parties, has a penchant for numbers.

With South Africans preparing to vote tomorrow in the fifth general election since the dawn of democracy 20 years ago, the ruling party’s manifesto is full of them.

Since 1994 – the most historic of all South African numbers – 3.3m houses have been built; 7m households have been added to the electricity grid; nearly 5,000 (white) farms have been transferred to black farmers; 5m more people are working and GDP has grown to more than R3.5tn, the manifesto tells us. Read more

Trent Barcroft (photo), an American who is CEO for Fiat Chrysler in South Africa, was shot in the stomach in February last year as three attackers robbed him and his wife of their cell phones, jewelry and a handbag outside Johannesburg. He survived and is determined to continue building his company’s business in a country that he was first posted to in the late 1990s.

He talks here about the experience of being shot, his recovery and the lack of police response – as well as his commercial aims – in a country where 62 per cent of business people say they or their immediate families have been affected by crime. Read more

While the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is widely expected to triumph at South Africa’s election on May 7, the attention of investors may be focused more intently on the showing of an extremist workers party that advocates the nationalisation of mines and banks, land expropriation and hiking the minimum wage sharply higher.

Analysts said that in spite of the ANC’s reputation for corruption, incompetence and nepotism, the party of President Jacob Zuma may still win around 60 per cent of the vote, down from the 66 per cent won in 2009. Read more

South Africa’s current account deficit narrowed in the fourth quarter of last year to 5.1 per cent of GDP from 6.4 per cent in the third quarter. But the good news was tempered by the fact that the improvement came primarily from a slump in imports rather than an export recovery.

The current account deficit – along with the country’s budget deficit – is seen as a key forward indicator of South Africa’s vulnerability to further weakness in its currency, the rand, which has depreciated by around 19 per cent to R10.88 against the US dollar over the last year (see chart). Read more

By Kevin Lings of Stanlib

Nelson Mandela has had an unprecedented calming and positive influence on South Africa’s political, economic and social environment for almost 25 years. His life-long quest for peace and reconciliation disarmed even the staunchest opponent, allowing diverse groups of people to work together in a way that seemed unimaginable prior to the ending of apartheid. It is time for the political, business and labour leadership of South Africa to honour his legacy and move this country forward to the benefit of all. Read more

South Africa’s ruling ANC party have won every election for almost 20 years. But mounting criticism of the government along with a handful of new political parties are threatening the ANC’s dominance. Andrew England reports from a competitive campaign trail

Picture: BBC News

By Adam Green of This is Africa

Is the ANC’s dominance of South African politics waning? Unhappy miners, poor service delivery and the arrival at the polls of the ‘born free’ generation (those born after 1993) have led to predictions of a decline of ANC at next year’s election. In one report this week, analysts from Nomura said the party’s share of the 2014 vote could drop to 56 per cent from 66 per cent in 2009.

Not if you listen to the new leader of the ANC Youth League, Mzwandile Masina (pictured). He believes those courting the mining vote may be wasting their time. Read more

It’s been a rocky start to the week for South Africa, with the hunt for an urgent solution to its mining chaos going nowhere. On Tuesday Jacob Zuma, the president, once again called for a peaceful resolution to the troubles rocking the sector after Monday’s fatal shooting of a union leader. He had made similar calls last week, as the sector’s troubles contributed to GDP growth at a fresh low of 0.9 per cent in the first quarter and the rand tumbled dramatically to record lows – its fall exacerbated, critics said, by Zuma’s failure to actRead more

“What’s The Economist?” asks Trevor Manuel with a smile when questioned about the newspaper’s recent criticism of South Africa’s Black Economic Empowerment programme (BEE). The article claimed BEE was enriching a tiny black minority, but failing to engineer the broad socio-economic transformation that it intended.

Manuel, South Africa’s planning minister, is no blind follower of ANC policy – recently attracting criticism after chiding his colleagues for blaming South Africa’s woes on apartheid. But he argues that employment equity is a “constitutional imperative”, and criticises the “malignant compliance and foot-dragging” of some companies in the past. Read more

It’s been a messy fight with violent protests and hostile exchanges between the parties. Monday’s announcement of a farmworkers wage hike may cool some temperatures for now, but the battle is far from over.

Labour minister Mildred Oliphant said the new minimum wage level will increase to R105 per day, up from the current R69. Some workers welcomed the news, but made it clear they still want to put up a fight for their initial demand of R150 per day. Read more

It’s been a tricky few days for South Africa’s electricity public utility Eskom. Strikes, controversy over political breakfasts, allegations of spying on unions and others, anger over price hikes: it’s a lot to contend with.

At Eskom’s Medupi site in Limpopo, strike action has halted construction of the R91bn ($10bn) coal-fired power plant. It was hoped work could resume on Thursday (Jan 24), but talks have yet to produce an agreement. Read more

When Cyril Ramaphosa was elected deputy president of the governing African National Congress last month his re-emergence into the top echelons of South Africa’s politics was widely welcomed.

Yet as Ramaphosa has settled into his new job, the old rifts between public and private sectors have rapidly resurfaced, laced with bellicose language. Have we enetered a new period of ANC/corporate mistrust? Read more

Jacob Zuma, South Africa’s president, is known for his jovial demeanour. At African National Congress events, you can count on him to open and close his appearances by leading a boisterous round of singing, accompanied by hip-swinging dancing that belies his 70 years. When he’s delivering a speech, he’ll often break into a chuckle – even at his own expense as he can sometimes labour his way through prepared statements. Read more

ZAR per USD 1 month to Dec 18 2012South African president Jacob Zuma was re-elected as ANC party leader on Tuesday, meaning he will almost certainly win a second term in the 2014 elections. The markets reacted positively to the news, with the rand strengthening 0.8 per cent to the dollar, at around 8.56.

But given that the rand has rallied in recent weeks, how significant is Zuma’s reappointment for the South African currency? Read more

African National Congress (ANC) delegates, December 2012The tricky beast of nationalisation is on the agenda at the ANC’s Mangaung conference, where party members are meeting to elect leaders and discuss key decisions on critical policies.

A rejection of outright nationalisation has been set out, but analysts say that the looming alternative of higher taxation is a bitter a pill to swallow for investors and the country’s struggling mining industry. Read more