SA has been named the best safari experience in Africa by the Safari Awards Africa 2019.
SA won the award as it came out tops in 10 of the 18 categories of the awards in May.
The award is a differentiator for SA Tourism.
“The importance of this award is that it sets us apart from all the other safari destinations as we have the unique advantage of being able to showcase our world-class ocean safaris with our incredible land safari offerings,” SA Tourism global trade head Bradley Brouwer said.
“Being awarded this prestigious accolade is a true honour.” Henry Hallward, of Miranda Travel Group and non-executive director of travelexpo360.com, an online platform for the travel industry which sponsors the awards, said: “SA is in competition with every other destination, not only in Africa, but in the world, so this award sets it apart.”
The awards are endorsed by the Safari Guild, a travel buyer organisation run by travel professional members.
It boasts 6,500 buyers into Africa, generating some US$3.5bn (R50.3bn) a year.
“The award is a massive endorsement for SA as it tells agents that the Safari Guild is saying they love the South African product and that the country is a great destination,” Hallward said.
One of the award’s 16 international judges Pulse African managing director Sandy Wood, has been in the tourism and safari industry for more than 27 years. She has been judging the awards for 11 years.
“The winners are all world-class operations and that’s why they win. They also demonstrate consistent excellence over time,” Wood said.
Entries are judged over the period of a week after agents and clients nominate and rate them online. Only experiences with a rating over a set number become visible to the judges for them to judge.
“Not all agents and buyers can come to events such as Africa’s Travel Indaba. This platform does not compete with such events, but coexists with them,” Hallward said.
The African National Congress (ANC) will govern South Africa for another five years. But this sixth victory of the democratic era since 1994 was hard-won.
For the first time in a national election its share of the vote dropped beneath 60%. This suggests both a normalisation of South Africa’s electoral landscape and an increasingly competitive multi-party democracy.
On arrival at the national results centre in Pretoria on Thursday, with around 60% of the votes counted, the party’s chair Gwede Mantashe expressed his anxiety to me about the outcome: “We need 60%”, he said.
I responded by saying that the evidence suggested the ANC was heading for 57% or 58% and that this represented an upturn of their fortunes after the dramatic dip to 54% in the 2016 local government election. It was, I said, therefore a very good result. He appeared to accept my logic. Mantashe is a supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa and is currently the minister of mineral resources.
The pivotal issue for Election 2019 was whether the outcome would give Ramaphosa more political space within the ANC to drive his reform programme forward. Since he ousted Jacob Zuma from power in February 2018, having won a very tight race to succeed Zuma as leader of the ANC at its five-yearly national elective conference the previous December, Ramaphosa has begun to execute a complicated turnaround strategy.
But the job is half done. So far he’s appointed several commissions of inquiry to expose the rot of what he called “nine lost years”. This paved the way for the appointment of competent, honest men and women to lead key state institutions such as the SA Revenue Service and the National Prosecuting Authority that had succumbed to the Zuma-enabled project of “state capture”.
Yet the Zuma faction within the ANC has not been vanquished and so Ramaphosa has had to drive with at least one eye on the rear-view mirror. His own party has been a drag factor. Would Election 2019 deliver a sufficiently big victory for Ramaphosa to shake them off?
The optimal outcome
Some have argued that were the ANC to win 60% or more in this election, it would have given the party a blank cheque for further larceny. But a below par score beneath 56% would have weakened Ramaphosa and provided ammunition for his opponents within the party to attack him and undermine reform plans. These include the much-needed unblundling of the state-owned power utility, Eskom, which represents a major risk factor for South Africa’s sluggish economy and its beleaguered public fiscus.
A 57% or 58% outcome for the ANC could arguably represent an ideal outcome for the country. The people would have reprimanded the party for its reprehensible conduct over the last decade and, as many of its leaders were conceding yesterday, its failures to deliver good public services. At the same time it would give Ramaphosa the opportunity to claim a victory and, thereby, the fresh mandate he needs.
This indeed appears to have been the outcome.
More popular than his party for the first time since Nelson Mandela in 1994, and more trusted than the leaders of the opposition, Ramaphosa can claim to have saved the ANC’s bacon.
How the opposition fared
Election 2019 was also a referendum on South Africa’s appetite for the sort of populist politics that has prospered around the world in recent years. The local version is Julius Malema and his militant Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The exponential growth that the party promised on its campaign trail has proved elusive. The six million young (18-29) people who chose not to register to vote certainly represent a potential untapped market for Malema, to build on the 1.5m or so who voted for the EFF this week. But for the time being South Africa has rejected a populist alternative in favour of more of the devil it knows.
The biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), had a very poor election. It lost votes from its right flank to the Freedom Front Plus – an Afrikaans party – and failed to gain them from the middle ground. As a result, overall it has stagnated. Its share of the vote overall may even drop – despite the fact that the conditions for challenging the ANC were so conducive.
Questions will inevitably be asked of the DA’s leader, Mmusi Maimane. Was he tough enough to cope with the existential ambivalence that undermined its ability to define a clear value proposition to the electorate?
The DA had hoped to add to its progress in the local elections in 2016 when, with the help of the EFF, it drove the ANC out of city hall government in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Both fall within the Gauteng province, South Africa’s economic hub. In the national poll the DA appears to have failed to prove its case in the region where the ANC looks set to hang onto its majority – albeit by its fingernails.
The ANC’s domination has been in decline since 2009. In four successive national and local government elections since Zuma entered office that year, the ANC’s share of the vote has fallen.
The party’s leaders know it, but find it hard to accept. As Mantashe moved on from my conversation he turned back for a second:
But we would still like 60% – it’s an ego thing.
The ANC’s ego may not have been stroked by South Africa’s electorate on this occasion. On the contrary, it has fired a shot across the bows of Nelson Mandela’s party. A quarter century after Mandela became South Africa’s first black, democratically elected President, the ANC’s hold on power has weakened. Now it must continue to cleanse the body politic of the contamination of the Zuma years.
Ramaphosa will need to use the victory to turn the reform platform he has built over the past year into a springboard for economic growth and job creation. Both are urgently needed.
Otherwise, the lesson of Election 2019 is clear: next time the electorate will say enough is enough and turn away from the ANC.
The Senate on Thursday rejected a bill proposing the establishment of Maritime University of Nigeria, Lokoja in Kogi.
The rejection followed presentation of the bill by the sponsor, Sen. Isaac Alfa (PDP-Kogi).
The bill, which was listed for second reading, was rejected by the lawmakers through voice vote.
While making their contributions, the lawmakers had advised the sponsor of the bill to withdraw it following several reasons including the need for more work to be done.
Alfa however, refused to withdraw the bill, saying he had done a lot of work on it.
He urged the lawmakers not to attach geographical location and other sentiments to the bill.
Sen Barau Jibrin (Kano North) noted that there was a new federal university in Lokoja while suggesting that the proposed maritime university should be sited in another riverine community of the same state.
Sen. Olusola Adeyeye (APC-Osun), said there was no need for the university, adding that universities across the country were poorly funded.
“You create universities and get under funding. I will continue to oppose every new university until old ones are funded.
“Let the universities in the maritime areas create maritime faculties. We should not embark on 419 for our children until old ones are funded,” Adeyeye said.
Sen. Biodun Olujimi (PDP-Ekiti), said the sponsor of the bill should withdraw it for more work.
In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, put it to a voice vote and the nays had it.