In President Cyril Ramaphosa's statement on the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan for South Africa, he highlighted the visa changes approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.
 
One of the key economic reforms mentioned in the president's speech was the country's visa regime, focusing on the amendments that will be made to regulations on travel of minors to South Africa, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa, an e-visas pilot that will be implemented, and visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners that will also be revised.
 
"These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive. Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa," says Ramaphosa.
 
The full details of the visa reforms and waivers have yet to be made available but will be officially gazetted in October - ahead of the busy December holiday period.
 
Expected visa changes:
Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism - Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom - which reiterate the visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.
 
The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed. 
 
There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this week.
 
This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit. 
 
While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country. 
 
South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with "Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission."
 
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
 
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.
 
 
News24
The US has not granted South Africa an exemption on its increased steel and aluminium tariffs, this after the department of trade and industry (DTI) made representations to the US government.
 
The DTI issued a statement expressing its disappointment on the matter on Monday, following a teleconference between Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies and US Ambassador CJ Mahoney.
 
US President Donald Trump however signed proclamations granting a select number of countries exemptions until June 1, Bloomberg reported. These countries include the European Union, Mexico, South Korea, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Canada.
 
The US is imposing a 10% ad valorem tariff on imports for aluminium products and 25% ad valorem tariff on imports for steel.
 
Davies had made two written submissions to the US and the SA Ambassador to the US Mninwa Mahlangu also engaged with the White House National Security Council Staff, State Department, the Office of the US Trade Representative and Commerce Department on the matter. Davies also had teleconferences with Mahoney and other US trade officials on March 22 and again on April 30 – when SA learnt its fate.
 
Similarly SA’s steel exports in 2017 only accounted for 0.98% of total US steel imports. However the exports represent 5% of SA’s production and this equates to 7 500 jobs in the steel supply chain, the department said. “SA will be disproportionately affected both in terms of jobs and productive capacity,” the department reiterated in its arguments to the US government.
 
The department also argued that SA is also grappling with the steel glut and has control measures in place to avoid transshipment of steel from third countries.
 
SA also offered to restrict its exports to a quota based on the 2017 exports level, but this was not enough to convince the US.
 
Collateral damage
 
The department also pointed out that some of the exempted countries are the “biggest” exporters of steel and aluminium to the US. 
 
According to the department the exempted countries accounted for 58% of steel imports and 49% of aluminium imports to the US in 2017.
 
“South Africa is therefore not a cause of any national security concerns in the US nor a threat to US industry interests and is not the cause of the global steel glut.
 
“Instead, South Africa finds itself as collateral damage in the trade war of key global economies. South Africa is concerned by the unfairness of the measures and that it is one of the countries that are singled out as a contributor to US national security concerns when its exports of aluminium and steel products are not that significant,” the DTI said.
 
The department raised concerns about the impact this decision will have on the competitiveness of SA steel and aluminium products in the US. The department believes it is likely to displace SA products out of the US market in favour of the exempted countries.
 
“South Africa is also concerned that the measures are implemented in a way that contravenes some of the key WTO (World Trade Organisation) principles.”
 
The department said it remains open to engage with US authorities to find a “mutually acceptable” outcome and encouraged domestic exporters to continue to engage with US buyers.
 
 
Fin24
Theresa May will lead an ambitious trip to Africa this week on her first visit to the continent as Prime Minister.
 
She’ll be the first British Prime Minister to visit Sub-Saharan Africa since 2013, and the first to go to Kenya for over 30 years.
 
This visit comes at a time of enormous change across Africa with a unique opportunity, as the UK moves towards Brexit, for a truly Global Britain to invest in and work alongside African nations, with mutual benefits.
 
The Prime Minister’s central message will be focused on a renewed partnership between the UK and Africa, which will seek to maximise shared opportunities and tackle common challenges in a continent that is growing at a rapid pace – from the Sahara to South Africa.
 
She will use a speech on the opening day of the visit in Cape Town to set out how we can build this partnership side by side with Africa, particularly by bringing the transformative power of private sector trade and investment from the UK to a continent that is home to 16% of the world’s people but just 3% of FDI and 3% of global goods trade.
 
As Africa seeks to meet the needs of its growing population the visit will also emphasise that it is in the world’s interest to help secure African stability, jobs and growth because conflict, poor work prospects and economic instability will continue to encourage migration and dangerous journeys to Europe.
 
Because nations cannot prosper without security, the Prime Minister will also use the visit to announce further support to tackle instability across the region.
 
Prime Minister Theresa May said:
 
Africa stands right on the cusp of playing a transformative role in the global economy, and as longstanding partners this trip is a unique opportunity at a unique time for the UK to set out our ambition to work even closer together.
 
A more prosperous, growing and trading Africa is in all of our interests and its incredible potential will only be realised through a concerted partnership between governments, global institutions and business.
 
As we prepare to leave the European Union, now is the time for the UK to deepen and strengthen its global partnerships. This week I am looking forward to discussing how we can do that alongside Africa to help deliver important investment and jobs as well as continue to work together to maintain stability and security.
 
 
I am proud to be leading this ambitious trip to Africa and to become the first UK Prime Minister in over 30 years to visit Kenya.
 
The Prime Minister will be joined by a business delegation made up of 29 representatives from UK business – half of which are SMEs – from across all regions of the UK and its devolved administrations. The delegation shows the breadth and depth of British expertise in technology, infrastructure, and financial and professional services.
 
Delegates include:
 
the London Stock Exchange
Cardiff-based cooling technology firm Sure Chill
solar tech provider Northumbria Energy from North Tyneside
London-based start-up Farm.ink who have created a knowledge-sharing mobile platform for farmers
Northern Irish agri-tech leader Devenish Nutrition
the world-renowned Scotch Whisky Association and Midlands manufacturing giant JCB
Also travelling are Trade Minister George Hollingbery and Minister for Africa Harriett Baldwin. Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns will join the visit in South Africa to support the Welsh companies in the business delegation, while the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman is also accompanying the Prime Minister.
 
The Prime Minister will begin her trip in Cape Town in South Africa where she’ll see President Cyril Ramaphosa and meet young people and business leaders.
 
While in South Africa the Prime Minister will present the Mendi bell to President Ramaphosa in a ceremony at Cape Town’s presidential office the Tuynhuys – over a century after it was lost in a shipwreck.
 
Over 600 troops, the majority black South Africans, died when the Mendi tragically sank in the English Channel in 1917, on their way to join the Allied forces on the Western Front. It was the worst maritime disaster in South Africa’s history, and the Mendi has become a symbol of the country’s First World War remembrance.
 
In Nigeria the Prime Minister will meet President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja and spend time in Lagos meeting victims of modern slavery – a cause Theresa May has worked passionately to tackle.
 
In Nairobi she will meet President Uhuru Kenyatta and see British soldiers training troops from Kenya and other African countries in the techniques needed to identify and destroy improvised explosive devices before they go to fight Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
 
She will also commit to helping support the next generation of energetic, ambitious young Kenyans as they seek to build a more prosperous country in the years ahead.
 
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
South Africa’s Upper House of Parliament, the National Council of Provinces (NCP), on Tuesday approved the controversial National Minimum Wage (NMW) Bill which will be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for assent.
 
The Parliament said the NCP approved the bill without amendment.
 
The bill, which Minister of Labour Mildred Oliphant introduced in November 2017, aims to provide for a NMW and the establishment of a commission with clear functions and composition for implementation, Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
 
The National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) had earlier approved the bill and referred it to the NCP. Once signed by Ramaphosa, the bill will become law.
 
The bill sets 3,500 rand (about 243 U.S. dollars) per month or 20 rand (about 1.4 dollars) per hour for over six million working people in the country.
 
Trade unions have lambasted the NMW as “slavery wage,” saying the working class cannot make both ends meet with the meagre NMW.
 
In May, massive protests against the bill took place across the country.
 
Trade unions have threatened to stage more protests if the NMW wage is not raised to a living wage.
 
The government says setting the NMW was informed by research and robust analysis of various scenarios and their possible ramifications, not by some idealistic desires.
 
All social partners have worked hard for nearly three years to reach agreement on the NMW to improve the conditions of millions of poor families, according to the government.
 
Ramaphosa has pledged to increase the NMW over time in a way that meaningfully reduces poverty and inequality.
 
Source: PMNEWSNIGERIA
South Africa’s trade surplus widened more than expected to 12 billion rand ($915 million) as exports in precious, base metal and vehicle parts jumped, easing pressure on the economy and lifting the currency.
 
The South African Revenue Service said in Johannesburg that exports rose by 7.1 per cent on a month-on-month basis to 110 billion rand in June, while imports dipped 0.9 per cent to 98 billion rand.
 
Commodities led the rise in exports with sales of precious metals up 38 per cent and base metals rising 13 per cent in the month. Sales of vehicles equipment also went up 8 per cent.
 
Analysts said the large surplus was a sign the current account was narrowing, which would lessen the impact of any reversal of portfolio flows.
 
“This is the fourth month in row of surpluses so it will definitely reduce the current account deficit in the second quarter,” said senior economist at Nedbank Isaac Matshego.
 
“But remember, the current account is structural so we really do need those portfolio flows to keep coming in,” Matshego added.
 
The rand responded to the news of the widening surplus by rising slightly on the data, trading at $1 =13.1350 at 1300 GMT, about 0.2 per cent firmer.
 
The rand has rallied in the past month to become one of the top performing emerging market currencies, due mainly to positive turn in sentiment, but analysts warn it remains at risk to offshore events, particularly the ongoing trade tiff between the United States and China.
 
Africa’s most industrialised country ran a large current account deficit of 4.8 per cent of GDP in the first quarter.
 
 
Source: News24
China would invest 14.7 billion dollars in South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday after talks between the two countries, news that sent the rand one percent firmer.
 
Speaking at the same event, Chinese President Xi Jinping said the world’s second-biggest economy would take active measures to expand imports from South Africa to support development in Africa’s most industrialised economy.
 
Xi arrived South Africa on Monday night for a State visit ahead of the much anticipated 10th BRICS Summit in Sandton.
 
This is Xi’s third visit to South Africa, having visited the country for the 2013 BRICS Summit, and the 2015 Forum on China-Africa Co-operation. Xi made State visits to Senegal and Rwanda before arriving in South Africa.
 
The two presidents engaged in bilateral talks and evaluated progress achieved by the two countries on the Strategic Programme with specific reference to the six priority areas identified in 2015.
 
Those areas include the Alignment of industries to accelerate South Africa’s industrialisation process; Enhancement of co-operation in Special Economic Zones; Enhancement of marine co-operation; Infrastructure development; Human resources co-operation; as well as Financial co-operation.
 
China has been South Africa’s largest trading partner for nine years in a row, and South Africa is China’s largest trading partner in Africa.
 
Two-way trade has reached a historic 39billion dollars, 20 times the volume of that at the onset of official diplomatic relations. Direct Chinese investment in the South African economy has also grown eight fold, reaching 10 billion dollars.
 
While there is a trade imbalance between China and South Africa, both countries have implemented mechanisms to address these discrepancies.
 
 
Source: PMnewsNigeria

South Africa’s governing party, the African National Congress (ANC), has a new president – Cyril Ramaphosa. But who is he?

Ramaphosa cuts a fitting figure to take over government, stabilise the economy, and secure the constitutional architecture that he helped create at the end of apartheid. But to expect more would be expecting too much. He is unlikely to veer far from the traditional economic path chosen by the ANC.

There are some important features we can draw on to make some conjectures about the man.

The early days

Ramaphosa was born in Johannesburg, the industrial heartland of South Africa, on November 17, 1952. The second of three children, his father was a policeman. He grew up in Soweto where he attended primary and high school. He later went to Mphaphuli High School in Sibasa, Limpopo, were he was elected head of the Student Christian Movement soon after his arrival, attesting to his Christian beliefs.

He studied law at the then University of the North (Turfloop), where he became active in the South African Students Organisation, which was aligned to black consciousness ideology espoused by Steve Biko. He became active in the University Student Christian Movement, which was steeped in the liberation black theology of the black consciousness movement.

After graduating with a degree in law, Ramaphosa continued his political activism through the Black People’s Convention, for which he was jailed for six months. He went on to serve articles and joined the Council of Trade Unions of South Africa which was to form the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) with Ramaphosa as its first secretary general. He helped built the NUM into the largest trade union in the country, serving as its secretary general for just over 10 years.

Business and politics

His prominence and public stature grew even more when he was elected secretary general of the ANC in 1991. He went on to play a key role during South Africa’s transition, becoming one of the key architects of the country’s constitutional democracy.

Under the auspices of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (Codesa), he became the ANC’s lead negotiator during negotiations on a post-apartheid arrangement. Following this, he led the ANC team in drawing up a new constitution for the country. It is now considered one of the most progressive constitutions in the world.

In 1994 Ramaphosa lost the contest to become President Nelson Mandela’s deputy. Having Thabo Mbeki appointed instead was a blow, but persuaded by Mandela, Ramaphosa went into business.

For the next two decades Ramaphosa put his energies into building a large investment holding company Shanduka with interests in sectors ranging from mining to fast foods. The success of the group confirmed his reputation as a skilled dealmaker and negotiator.

During this 20-year period in business, Ramaphosa established deep links in the private sector in South Africa.

This set him at odds with sections of the ANC which believe that the post-apartheid arrangements delivered political power, but not economic freedom. These voices have become louder under President Jacob Zuma’s presidency with calls for radical economic transformation and action to tackle white monopoly capital.

Ramaphosa will have his work cut out for him as he tries to accommodate these demands by driving a more inclusive social compact in the country while simultaneously trying to manage rampant corruption in the private and public sectors.

Road to presidency

Even during his years in business Ramaphosa remained close to the ANC, serving as a member of the national disciplinary committee.

But he made his major comeback onto the political scene at the ANC’s 2012 elective conference in Mangaung, Bloemfontein where he was elected deputy president of the ANC, and later of the country.

Two years prior to this Ramaphosa became deputy chairman of the state-run National Planning Commission. He presided over its diagnostic report, which set out the problems facing the country in clear terms. A plan was drawn up to provide answers to the challenges identified in report. Known as the National Development Plan, it was tabled as a blue print for the type of society South Africa could become.

The plan showed Ramaphosa’s strengths as an architect of social compacts. Since its tabling the plan has been left to gather dust. But it remains a point of reference, and serves as a counterpoint to calls for radical economic transformation.

Ramaphosa is likely to emphasise stability – in government and the ANC. Given his history he is likely to want to stabilise the economy rather than to pursue radical interventions.

Ramaphosa has a personal interest to secure a stabilising social compact akin to the one he negotiated in 1994 given developments that have left the country economically and socially weaker. These have included allegations that parts of the state have been taken over by corrupt civil servants and some private sector interests, high levels of unemployment and increasingly fractious public debates.

Not surprisingly during his campaign trail he moulded his image on the sanctity of the rule of law and on the dictum that social stability hinges on respect of the rule of law.

The big question mark over Ramaphosa is how effective he will be. Although he’s been the deputy president of the ANC and of the country for five years, some believe that his influence has been minimal and that he has not been able to imprint his leadership on the party – or the country.

Will he be able to impose his will on those he now leads? Ramaphosa will be presiding over officials who have big personalities and have enjoyed long periods of political power. They are used to leading, not following.

 

Thapelo Tselapedi, Politics lecturer, Rhodes University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Rumours that President Jacob Zuma has instructed the South African National Defence Force to draw up plans for implementing a state of emergency may or may not be true. Nonetheless they are evidence of South Africa’s febrile political atmosphere.

But any assumption that the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new leader of the African National Congress (ANC), after winning the race against Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, will place South Africa on an even keel are misplaced. Indeed, the drama may only be beginning.

It’s useful to look back to 2007 when President Thabo Mbeki unwisely ran for a third term as ANC leader. His unpopularity among large segments of the party provided the platform for his defeat by Zuma at Polokwane. Within a few months the National Executive Committee of the ANC latched onto an excuse to ask Mbeki to stand down as president of the country before the end of his term of office. Being committed to the traditions of party loyalty he complied, resigning as president some eight months before the Constitution required him to do so.

The question this raises is whether South Africa should now expect a repeat performance following the election of a new leader of the ANC. Will this lead to a party instruction to Zuma to stand down as president of the country? And if it does, will he do what Mbeki did and meekly resign?

There’s a big difference between the two scenarios: Mbeki had no reason to fear the consequences of leaving office. Zuma, on the other hand, has numerous reasons to cling to power. This is what makes him, and the immediate future, dangerous for South Africa, and suggests the country faces instability.

Why Zuma won’t go

It is not out of the question that Zuma may say to himself, and to South Africa, that he is not going anywhere. He is losing court case after court case, and judicial decisions are increasingly narrowing his legal capacity to block official and independent investigations into the extent of state capture by business interests close to him.

With every passing day, the prospects of his finding himself in the dock, facing 783 charges, including of corruption and racketeering, also increase.

Zuma will have every constitutional right to defy an ANC instruction to stand down as state president until his term expires following the next general election in 2019, and the new parliament’s election of a new president. In terms of the South African Constitution, his term of office will be brought to an early end only if parliament passes a vote of no confidence in his presidency, or votes that, for one reason or another, he is unfit for office.

But today’s ANC is so divided that it cannot be assumed that a majority of ANC MPs would back a motion of no confidence, even following the election of Ramaphosa as the party’s new leader.

In other words, there is a very real prospect that South Africa will see itself ruled for at least another 18 months or so by what is termed “two centres of power”, with the authority and the legitimacy of the party (formally backing Ramaphosa) vying against that of the state (headed by Zuma).

Throwing caution to the wind

As if that is not a sufficient condition for political instability, we may expect that Zuma will continue to use his executive power to erect defences against his future prosecution. He will reckon to leave office only with guarantees of immunity. Until he gets them, Zuma will defy all blandishments to go. And if he does not get what he wants, he may throw caution to the wind and go for broke.

Hence, perhaps, the possibility that he is prepared to invoke a state of emergency.

The grounds for Zuma imposing a state of emergency would be specious, summoned up to defend his interests and those backing him. They would be likely to infer foreign interference in affairs of state, alongside suggestions that white monopoly capital, whites as a whole as well as nefarious others were conspiring to prevent much needed radical economic transformation. Present constitutional arrangements would be declared counter-revolutionary and those defending them doing so only to protect their material interests.

After a matter of time, such justifications would probably be declared unconstitutional by the judiciary. It is then that there would be a confrontation between raw power and the Constitution. If such a situation should arise, we cannot be sure which would be the winner.

South Africa’s army

It is remarkable how little the searchlight that has focused on state capture has rested on the Defence Force. Much attention has been given to how the executive has effectively co-opted the intelligence and prosecutorial service, as well has how the top ranks of the police have been selected for political rather than operational reasons.

It seems to have been assumed that South Africa’s military is simply sitting in the background, observing political events from afar. But is it? Where would its loyalties lie in the event of a major constitutional crisis?

The danger of the present situation is that South Africa might be about to find out.

Were the military to throw its weight behind Zuma the country would be in no-man’s land. Of course, there would be a massive popular reaction, with the further danger that the president himself would summon his popular cohorts to “defend the revolution”.

And South Africans should not assume that Zuma would be politically isolated. Those who backed Dlamini-Zuma did so to defend their present positions and capacity to use office for personal gain. If they were to rise up, the army would then be elevated to the status of defender of civil order.

What is certain is that in such a wholly uncertain situation the economy would spiral downwards quickly. Capital would take flight at a faster rate than ever before, employment would collapse even further, poverty would become even further entrenched.

Reasons to be hopeful

Is all this too extreme a scenario? Hopefully yes. There are numerous good reasons why such a fate will be averted.

Zuma’s control over the ANC is waning, as is his control over various state institutions, notably the National Prosecuting Authority. And the country has a checks and balances in place: there is a vigorous civil society, the judiciary has proved the Constitution’s main defence and trade unions and business remain influential.

Even so, it remains the case that what transpires now that the ANC’s national conference is over will determine the fate and future of our democracy. South Africa is approaching rough waters, and a Jacob Zuma facing an inglorious and humiliating end to his presidency will be a Jacob Zuma at his most dangerous.

 

Roger Southall, Professor of Sociology, University of the Witwatersrand

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa saw his lead over Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma narrow in the race for the presidency of the ruling African National Congress as the party’s branch nomination process drew toward a close.

Ramaphosa has secured decisive endorsements from the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape, while Dlamini-Zuma was backed by an overwhelming majority in the North West and Free State, and won by a slim margin in Mpumalanga. The deputy president so far has 904 branches to 708 for Dlamini-Zuma, the former head of the African Union Commission.

The contest has divided the 105-year-old ANC like never before, with court challenges, allegations of rigging and outbreaks of violence marring the process of deciding who will attend and vote at the conference. The election has also paralyzed several government departments as officials delay decisions until they learn who the new leaders will be. The winner of the election at the conference to be held on Dec. 16-20 will be the party’s candidate in 2019, when Jacob Zuma is due to end his second term as President.

The remaining three provinces are due to announce their nominations over the next four days. Ramaphosa is likely to be endorsed by Limpopo and Gauteng, while Dlamini-Zuma has strong support in her home province of KwaZulu-Natal, which has the most ANC members.

Extra Delegates

Ninety percent of voting delegates will come from the branches, and the rest from the ANC’s leadership structures and leagues representing the youth, women and military veterans. While the branch nomination tallies are the best available indicator of who’s likely to win, they aren’t conclusive because some bigger branches are entitled to more than one delegate and there’s no guarantee members will vote as instructed.

Mpumalanga, which will send the second-most delegates to the elective conference and announced its tallies on Friday, is keeping its options open about who it will back, with almost half of its branches declining to name their candidate yet. It’s unclear how delegates from those branches will vote should no consensus be reached on who should succeed Zuma, meaning they could be a swing vote at the conference.

Dlamini-Zuma won the backing of the North West province as expected on Friday, with 291 branches endorsing her to 45 for Ramaphosa. The region is one of the provinces in a rural bloc known as the Premier League that has helped Zuma, her ex-husband, thwart challenges sparked by multiple scandals that prompted calls from within the party for him to resign.

Most investors favor Ramaphosa, 65, a lawyer, former labor union leader and one of the wealthiest black South Africans, who has pledged to revive the ailing economy, reduce a 28 percent unemployment rate and combat corruption if elected. Zuma’s preferred successor is Dlamini-Zuma, 68, who has echoed his call for “radical economic transformation” to place more of the country’s wealth in the hands of the black majority.

 

Bloomberg

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