South Africans are not happy. According to the recent Bloomberg’s Misery Index, South Africa is the second-most miserable country on earth. Venezuela tops the list of emerging countries.

This isn’t too surprising considering that the country is embroiled in multifaceted crises. It also has among the highest unemployment and inequality levels in the world.

Unfortunately, recent credit rating agency downgrades as well as the fact that the country is in recession mean that these horrid conditions are unlikely to reverse soon.

Consequently, the poor in South Africa have little chance of improving their lives. They will therefore be even more reliant on the provision of state services. They will also increasingly be on the receiving end of the two extractive systems that are deeply embedded in country’s socio-political and economic systems.

The first is the patronage and state capture machinery as recently documented in a report by leading academics. The effect of this corruption is that the capital allocated for service delivery is wasted, the private sector is crowded out, and the monopolising positions of dysfunctional state owned enterprises distort the economy.

The second is where state capture merges with patronage politics at local government level. This is accomplished by managing and staffing municipalities with unqualified party loyalists – or close associates – who disseminate services inefficiently from a shrinking pool of capital, while further extracting rents through a sub-layer of corruption.

The effect is that the poor must pay an additional tax in the form of bribes for access to mispriced and inefficient state services. In addition, as the looting via state capture and municipal corruption intensifies, service provision and delivery declines. This means that the poor are then subject to bribe inflation to gain access to shrinking capacity. Violent service delivery protests inevitably escalate.

Demographics and education

South Africa’s five year average economic growth rate declined from 4.8% over the 2004-2008 period to 1.9% over the 2009-2013 period. Between 2014 and 2016 it averaged 1.1%. At the same time irregular, wasteful, and unauthorised expenditure ballooned. It’s therefore not surprising that the number of violent protests increased from an average of 21 a year between 2004 and 2008 to 164 a year between 2014 and 2016.

Unfortunately, South Africa’s demographics and education statistics don’t suggest that this trend is likely to reverse soon.

South Africa’s youth statistics are depressing. Young people between the ages of 15 to 35 comprise 55% of the country’s 36 million working age population. Of the 19.7 million youths, only 6.2 million are employed while 3.6 million are unemployed but still actively looking for work, and 1.53 million have stopped looking for work. The remaining 8.4 million are at school, tertiary education, or are homemakers.

Youth unemployment is 36.9%. This is nearly double the unemployment rate among adults. Among black youth, 40% are unemployed compared to 11% of white youth.

Taking the level of education into consideration, 2011 data show that the unemployment rate for 25 to 35 year olds who had less than a matric was 47%, compared to 33% for those that had a matric, and 20% for those with a diploma or post-school certificate. But if one looks at the younger group of 20 to 24 year-olds, 16% are in school, 12% are in post-schooling education, 21% are employed, and 51% are unemployed and not in any education or training.

Considering that the percentage of black professional, managerial and technical workers in the 25 to 35 age bracket dropped by 2% over the past 20 years (meaning that this generation is less skilled than their parents), the statistics in the 20 to 24 age bracket indicates that this trend is likely to worsen.

Worryingly, studies show that countries, such as South Africa, that have a youth bulge and poor education attainment are likely to suffer from political instability. This is because if the demographic transition occurs in a stagnant economy with a high level of corruption then the low opportunity costs increase the likelihood of political violence by poorly educated young men.

Fixing systemic failures

South Africa’s current crisis is a systemic failure extending across national and local government. Although it’s possible that the political cost of corruption is now reaching unacceptable levels, reversing the effects of state decay on the poor will take short-run and long-run interventions.

Short-run measures will need to include holding public officials to account, reforming state owned enterprises and reversing the numerous institutional weaknesses at all levels of government.

But public and private stakeholders will also need to formulate long-run policies that will improve the quality and through-put of the country’s junior and secondary education systems, and entrench youth employment incentive schemes. In addition, skills training will need to be reformed and reinvigorated, and the technical vocational educational system will need to be reconstructed.

If South Africa is to recover, then the country’s badly frayed socio-economic fabric will need to be restitched, not just patched.

Sean Gossel, Senior Lecturer, UCT Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

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

Breath-taking sunsets, an incredible amount of beautiful and diverse wildlife, unspoilt and rugged scenery! These are just a few words to describe South Africa. If you are craving adventure, diversity and excitement, then this ultimate list of the top 100 things to do in South Africa is for you!

1. The Kruger National Park (Hazyview)

The Kruger National Park is definitely number one on my list of the best things to do in South Africa. Boasting an immense amount of wildlife, you will be able to see all of the big 5; Lions,Leopard, Buffalo, Elephant and Rhino. You can enjoy amazing safaris in the park, and will be able to see all these majestic wild animals in their natural habitat. You will be able to enjoy half day or full day game drives with an experienced guide.

2. Table Mountain (Cape Town)

This massive and gorgeous mountain with views to die for over Cape Town, is a must see in South Africa! You can either take a short 2 hour hike up Table Mountain or enjoy a cable car ride up to the top. The views from the top are magnificent!

3. Robben Island (Cape Town)

One of the most notorious things South Africa has been known for is the injustice of Apartheid. A very historical and informative tour is that of Robben Island. It is 6.9 km out out of the beautiful Bloubergstrand. The island had been used for the imprisonment of criminals. You will be able to go on tours of the foreboding prisons. Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 years and eventually became a true inspiration for all South Africans and people around the world.

4. Cape Winelands (Cape Town)

Fancy a glass of luxurious Merlot? Crisp Sauvignon Blanc or flirty Rose’? The Cape Winelands is a beautiful place to tour. There are many vineyards to choose from. All offering wine tasting as well as delicious meals that can be paired with the wines. You can choose to either dine in an authentic wine cellar or outside in the vineyards with exquisite views over the mountains.

5. Whale Watching (Plettenberg Bay)

Get up close and personal with these magnificent mammals. You will be able to see Southern Right Whales and Humpback Whales during the winter months in South Africa. South African winters are during June-August and the winters are generally not too cold; be sure to pack in an umbrella or raincoat, as winter months at the coast are rainy. If you would like to have close encounters with dolphins then the summer months are perfect for viewing dolphins in South Africa. This is really an exciting adventure, with exquisite scenery!

6. Knysna Elephant Sanctuary (Knysna)

What could be more exciting than riding on an Elephant!? These ginormous animals are a delight to see. The Knysna Elephant Sanctuary is a beautiful place where elephants are rehabilitated. You will be able to feed them, touch them and even ride on them. There is also a very informative speech about Elephants just before the tour. This is a great experience for anyone and everyone but especially for families with children. The Elephant sanctuary is just 15 minutes from Knysna and is open from 8:30 am (summer) 9:00 am (winter) to 16:00 all year round. These gentle giants are a must see.

7. Bloukraans Bungee (Tsitsikamma)

Are you an adrenaline junkie? Do you love the feeling of freefalling, having the wind rush past you, as if you were flying? Then this is for you. The Bloukraans Bungee is the highest bungee bridge in the whole world! The bridge is 216 meters high! That is definitely something that will get your blood pumping!

8. Shark Cage Diving (Hermanus)

Diving into the deep dark depths of the ocean can be terrifying but facing 100s of razor sharp teeth could be almost unbearable! Shark cage diving off the coast of the Eastern Cape is not for the faint of heart! But this is truly an incredible experience! Come up close and personal with these amazing creatures and see them like you have never seen them before! The tour is about 3-4 hours and you will have great new insights about this remarkable animal. Even though shark cave diving can seem a scary experience, you will in safe hands. This is not an opportunity to be missed.

9.Cango Caves (Oudtshoorn)

Located in an exquisite backdrop, this remarkable cave system is only 29 km from the beautiful and quaint town of Oudtshoorn. You will be amazed with the millions of year old stalactites and stalagmites that decorate the cave. The Cango Cave tour is about 2 hours long and the guides are very experienced and knowledgeable. You have 2 options; You could either enjoy the easy laid back tour of the caves or, for the more adventurous, the adventure tour of the caves. The adventure tour will take you into tiny dark tunnels, and intricate cave systems; Note that the adventure tour is not for pregnant women or people who suffer from claustrophobia. But if you would love to see something humbling and spectacular this tour is a must! Concerts have even been held in the caves before because of the acoustics. A real treat!

10. The Blue Train (Pretoria/ Cape Town)

A breathtaking and luxurious way to see the South African countryside. The Blue Train is a luxurious 5 star hotel that will whisk you away through the gorgeous and diverse South African countryside.You will travel from Pretoria to Cape Town; This is a 27 hour trip but there will be some stops along the way in beautiful little towns of Southern Africa.

What kind of financial system is sure to collapse if the central bank cares about people’s well-being?

The recommendation by South Africa’s Public Protector that the Reserve Bank’s mandate change, says much about Busisiwe Mkhwebane, none of it flattering. It says just as much about mainstream economic debate - and none of that is flattering either.

Mkhwebane recommended that the central bank’s constitutional mandate, which makes protecting the currency its primary goal, be changed to one which requires it to “promote balanced and sustainable economic growth while ensuring that the socio-economic well-being of the citizens are protected”. She also said the constitution should require the bank “to achieve meaningful socio-economic transformation”.

This triggered a wave of protests, as well as an announcement from the South African Reserve Bank that it would take the matter to court. The Reserve Bank had no option. The constitutional court has ruled that the Public Protector’s findings are binding unless they are challenged in court. Her recommendation wildly exceeded what she is allowed to do by the constitution – or democratic good sense - and the Reserve Bank could not allow it to stand.

Democratic constitutions are changed by large majorities of the people or their elected representatives – not by individuals. By making a binding recommendation that the constitution be changed, Mkhwebane signalled that she either doesn’t understand – or does not care – for democracy.

Her report is also very useful to a faction of the governing party which wants to deflect charges of state capture by claiming that white monopoly capital already controls the state. There are real questions about the fitness for office of a Public Protector whose report seems more interested in protecting connected politicians and business people than with taking the people’s will seriously.

But the reaction did not stop at insisting that Mkhwebane has no business telling the people what the constitution should say. Much of it objected not only to her saying what the Reserve Bank’s mandate should be, but to anyone at all doing that.

An important debate

The prize for the wildest reaction went to the commentator who declared that Mkhwebane’s ideas on the Bank’s mandate were inspired by someone who denied that the Nazi genocide happened. Others stopped short of tarring constitutional change with the same brush as mass murder but were united in claiming that to suggest that the Reserve Bank’s mandate be broadened is “economically illiterate” and deeply damaging.

Absa, who was the subject of a separate finding by the public protector on the issue of a controversial bailout, asked a court to rule that her proposed change posed a “serious risk to the financial system”. For its part the rating agency Standard & Poor’s, happy as ever to police the boundaries of economic correctness, warned that any interference with the Reserve Bank’s independence could trigger new downgrades.

To insist that anyone who proposes changing the Reserve Bank’s mandate is economically damaging and stupid is as contemptuous of democracy and dangerous to the economy as Mkhwebane’s excess. It is undemocratic because it seeks to close down policy debate by declaring that only one view of the Reserve Bank’s mandate can ensure a healthy economy. It is dangerous because it blocks the search for economic remedies by seeking to bully even those who propose only mild changes to what the country now has.

The idea that the Reserve Bank should have a broader mandate is neither radical nor dangerous. The most famous central bank, the US Federal Reserve, has a broader mandate. Its dual mandate requires it to seek maximum employment as well as price stability.

The Australian equivalent’s mandate includes “maintenance of full employment and economic prosperity and welfare of the people”. The European Central Bank, famed for its love of austerity, has a mandate to seek “sustainable growth”.

And the the Bank of England’s website says that, subject to its goal of price stability, it aims to support the government’s economic objectives.

In South Africa, not only has the view that the central bank’s mandate is too restrictive been repeated periodically but it may well have been implemented for a while. In 2010, then finance minister Pravin Gordhan wrote to then Reserve Bank governor, Gill Marcus, proposing a mandate which included growth and employment. Marcus reacted positively, which suggests that the bank acted on Gordhan’s letter. The financial system survived.

The US, European and Australian financial systems have also not collapsed. Their mandates have not triggered a downgrade and no one has accused these societies of economic illiteracy.

So either double standards are being applied or we are being told that restrictive central bank mandates are essential only if countries are in particular parts of the world (such as Africa) and governed by particular types of people (Africans).

And why does a change in the Bank’s mandate undermine its independence? A central bank loses its independence if politicians (or anyone else) can tell it what to do, not if its mandate changes.

For all its flaws, the Public Protector’s proposal would retain the Reserve Bank’s independence, leaving it to the bank to decide what promotes the “well-being” of the people or “transformation”.

Closing down debate is common

None of this means that the Reserve Bank’s mandate must change. Or that central bank independence must go. But it does mean that no one should be discouraged from debating the issue, as people routinely do in other democracies and market economies. What, besides that prejudice which we prettify by the term Afropessimism, explains the insistence that we may not debate what is freely discussed in most other places?

Closing down debate in this way is common in South Africa. It also lies behind complaints of policy uncertainty which does not mean, as it does elsewhere, that government keeps changing its mind and sending mixed messages – the macro-economic framework has been stable for more than two decades. It means, rather, that some people – who some others may take seriously – raise policy ideas the economic mainstream does not like.

This demand that people can say anything they like about economic policy as long as the mainstream likes it too offers a misleading view of the economy. It says that there is nothing wrong with it except political interference and that it will flourish if politicians simply leave alone what is done now.

The contrary evidence is offered by mainstream organisations such as the International Monetary Fund and the South African Reserve Bank itself which have shown that the current economic rut is a product of problems in the private economy as well as what government does.

The ConversationThis means that the economy must change. This, in turn, requires new ideas. They will not emerge unless everything is up for debate and ideas are not silenced because they trigger the fears and prejudices of a few.

Steven Friedman, Professor of Political Studies, University of Johannesburg

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

The Cross Border Operation between RSA and Botswana at Gemsbok Port of Entry is focusing on prevalent crime incidents such as stock theft, smuggling of goods and drugs between RSA and Botswana. Patrols, stop and searches are continuing along the border.

A 30-year-old man, a Botswana citizen was arrested at Meerhof farm near Gemsbok Border Post on 16 June 2017 for alleged theft of 14 Dorper sheep worth R19 200 in May 2017. He will appear before court on 19 June 2017 and might be linked to other stock theft cases reportedly committed in the same areas.

A 39-year-old man who was arrested on 15 June 2017 during the operation for possession of dagga worth R2000 and will appear in the Ritfontein Magistrates’ Court on 19 June 2017. Police investigations are continuing.

Major General Mnguni, Deputy Provincial Commissioner responsible for Policing addressing a joined parade of Botswana police officials and SAPS officials at Gemsbok Port of Entry.

 

- South Africa Today

South Africa's anti-graft watchdog on Tuesday defended her recommendation that the central bank's mandate of maintaining currency and price stability be changed, saying the bank should act in the interests of empowering ordinary citizens.

In an interview with 702 Talk Radio Busisiwe Mkhwebane also said that the central bank's mandate was focussed on a "few commercial interests."

"The Reserve Bank should be acting in the interests of empowering South Africans," Mkhwebane said. "The way it is (now), it is only focussing on very few commercial interests."

Mkhwebane made the proposal to change the bank's mandate at a news conference on Monday where she delivered her findings on an apartheid-era bailout of a bank that was subsequently bought by Absa, now a unit of Barclays Africa Group.

In her statement on Monday Mkhwebane specifically said the phrase "to protect the value of the currency" should be removed from the constitution. The rand weakened as much as 1.6 percent on Monday after Mkhwebane recommendations, but on early Tuesday it had recovered some ground, trading 0.2 percent firmer at 12.9500 per dollar, a touch off the three-week lows of the previous session.

"The proposals add more noise to the South African political saga, which is being offset to a large degree by a favourable top down emerging markets backdrop and improving domestic fundamentals," Head of Emerging Markets Strategy at Societe Generale Jason Daw said in a note.

 

South African regulators unveiled a new mining charter to force companies to give more ownership to black shareholders, sparking a selloff across the industry.

Anglo American Plc and Sibanye Gold Ltd. shares tumbled after the Department of Mineral Resources introduced requirements that local companies must ensure 30 percent of their shareholders are black, up from a previous level of 26 percent. Several of South Africa’s biggest mining companies may have to sell new stakes, raising the risk of dilution for existing owners.

The new rules “could pull the rug right from under the industry’s feet,” said Andy Pfaff, chief investment officer of Vanguard Derivatives, a South Africa-based broker. “It’s certainly not going to help with attracting foreign investment into South Africa.”

The mining industry has become a major target of reform in South Africa, where highly paid, mainly white male executives oversee hundreds of thousands of mostly black workers laboring in some of the world’s deepest and most dangerous operations. The government’s updated rules for so-called black economic empowerment seek to reverse the imbalances.

Court Battle

The Chamber of Mines, which represents mining companies in South Africa, will seek to stop the mining charter in court, which may delay the regulation. The group says the rules are unfair and will hurt investment.

Mining stocks pared losses later in the trading day as analysts speculated the charter faces a drawn out court battle. Sibanye closed down 3.5 percent and Anglo American declined 6 percent. The African National Congress’s economic transformation committee is planning to discuss the charter with Mines Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

“Given the fact that the mining industry has shed about 60,000 jobs in the last five years, we don’t want legislation that will add to that bloodbath,” ANC party spokesman Zizi Kodwa said by phone.

Most mining companies reached the 26 percent level under previous versions of the charter but many of the black investors have since sold out. The new rules, which require 30 percent ownership in 12 months regardless of prior deals, will mean companies will have to meet the requirements all over again.

The charter will also require companies to pay 1 percent of annual revenue to communities and new prospecting rights will require black control, Zwane said. “The new charter is significantly worse for the mining industry than the original draft,” Peter Leon, the Africa co-chair at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, said by phone on Thursday. “It’s poorly considered and raises serious questions about the government’s commitment to the protection of property rights.”

The industry is confident of its prospects in challenging the charter in court, said Steve Phiri, the chief executive officer of platinum producer Royal Bafokeng Platinum Ltd. The new rules will deter investors and serve as a “nail in the coffin” of the local mining industry, he told reporters at a Johannesburg briefing hosted by the Chamber of Mines.

Highest Court

“There are a lot of constitutional issues,” he said. “I would not rule out the possibility of this matter being decided by the highest court in the land,” Phiri said.

Glencore Plc, Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., South32 Ltd. and Kumba Iron Ore Ltd., which is majority owned by Anglo American, would need to sell the biggest stakes if the new charter fails to give credit for previous deals, Avior Capital Markets (Pty) Ltd. said June 1. AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Sibanye, the country’s two biggest gold miners, may also be affected by the new rules.

The charter also introduced new procurement rules, including that 80 percent of mining-services spending go to black-owned companies, as well as management and board representation. At least 50 percent of the executive directors and 60 percent of senior management must be black, with black women making up half of each target.

“The timeline is very aggressive” for the changes, said Pfaff. “It may even be in the interest of miners and to the benefit of society in the long run, but in the short-term, they’re going to get hit.”

 

- Bloomberg

South Africa’s latest unemployment figures make for sombre reading. While official unemployment is now 27.7 percent, the most affected group are young people under the age of 35 with a staggering 38.6 percent of youth unable to find work.

Interestingly, according to the 2016 Seed Academy Startup Survey results only four percent of entrepreneurs started a business because they were unable to find a job and well over 80 percent had more than one year Donna Rachelsonof work experience before doing so, revealing that few South Africans venture into entrepreneurship as their first professional career move.

Donna Rachelson, Group CEO Seed Engine, says the country needs to do more to encourage and nurture young entrepreneurs. “High unemployment among the youth is an urgent concern which requires solid, innovative solutions. There’s absolutely more that can be done to guide young people in identifying business opportunities while also creating avenues for aspiring entrepreneurs to gain valuable real-world work experience to equip them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to begin their own entrepreneurial journey.”

Seed Academy believes that the youth of South Africa have the power, drive, energy, creativity and innovation to change the statistics and pursue entrepreneurship as an alternative to formal employment. While taking the brave step to becoming an entrepreneur can be daunting, each young entrepreneur can make a difference, create employment, and blaze the trail for a brighter and more prosperous South Africa. The youth of South Africa can make it happen!

Make the leap to entrepreneurship – some advice for newbies:

• Develop financial discipline early on – develop financial models that are realistic and reflect planned business growth, this will help ensure your business is funding ready when you need it.
• Build your network - you need to build a support system early on - not only with other entrepreneurs but mentors, family, friends and organisations that offer support to entrepreneurs.
• Invest in fundamentals early on e.g. registering your business; a professional email address (don’t use Gmail and consider engaging a graphic designer to come up with a professional logo and business cards) Potential clients and investors will feel more comfortable if you are ‘established’ - you need to give an impression of professionalism and stability early on.
• Celebrate small successes. Every small milestone should be seen as a step in the right direction. Learn from these successes and how the steps taken can be incorporated into your company systems and processes.
• Be kind to yourself! Entrepreneurship is not easy - don’t expect everything to be perfect first time around. Remember that even the most successful entrepreneurs fail sometimes. The trick is to learn from failures, engage with mentors and work on a plan of action to get it right the next time.
• Most importantly - never stop learning and innovating! If you don’t know something, make an effort to find out everything you can about it, talk to people in the know, seek out expert guidance, and follow the work of advice of entrepreneurs you admire.
• Build a team – don’t do it on your own. Collaborate with like-minded and passionate individuals who understand your goals and share your vision. Surrounding yourself with positive people who can share their knowledge and skills with you is invaluable to any entrepreneur who wants to go the distance.
• Be passionate – accept that failure can be part of your journey but that passion for what you do is the cornerstone of every success. Sincere passion and dedication will always be noticed and remembered.
• Do your research – take the time to fully understand your market, its challenges and opportunities. Get to know every aspect of your chosen industry and identify corporates who have Enterprise Development (ED) programmes that you can get involved in to take your business to the next level.

 

- Donna Rachelson, Group CEO Seed Engine

South Africa has halted poultry imports from Zimbabwe after a recent outbreak of highly contagious avian influenza at a farm in the neighbouring country, the government said.

The Department of Agriculture said although South Africa imports "very little" poultry products from Zimbabwe, it had "suspended all trade in live poultry, meat and table eggs" from its northern neighbour and had stepped up surveillance. "We have heightened inspections of all consignments, including all private and public vehicles at all our ports of entry, especially in and out of Zimbabwe," said the department in a statement.

Zimbabwean authorities at the weekend said they had placed a privately-owned farm under quarantine after the outbreak killed 7 000 birds.

Another 140 000 birds were culled to prevent the spread from the farm situated on the outskirts of Harare. Zimbabwe identified the strain as H5N8, a highly pathogenic and lethal virus to poultry. South African poultry producers fear that more than 140 million chickens would be at risk if the virus spreads across the border.

Mozambique and Botswana imposed poultry import bans early this week.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Botswana government said the "import of domesticated and wild birds, their products ... and poultry feed from Zimbabwe is banned with immediate effect" and cancelled all poultry import permits.

Mozambique announced the ban on Monday, according to local media.

 

- AFP

South Africa’s top manufacturing union NUMSA said that 600 workers out of 1,500 at General Motors SA will lose their jobs by July after a decision last week by the car maker to sell its local operations.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) said in a statement that GM had confirmed the numbers and issued lay-off notices as required by law. 

American automotive giant General Motors had last week announced that it is withdrawing from the South African market. As a result, production and sales of Chevrolet models will cease and Isuzu will take control of the firm’s Port Elizabeth operations.

 

- Reuters

The Zimbabwean government says it will lift a ban on some imported products from South Africa, a year after it was first imposed.

The ban triggered angry demonstrations, some of them violent, by cross-border traders. Industry Minister Mike Bimha says the ban, imposed last June, had achieved its purpose. State media is reporting that the minister told a meeting of government officials and industry leaders the ban had cut the import bill and boosted local industry.

But he also said Zimbabwean producers were now facing threats of retaliation from some trading partners, including South Africa and Zambia. The ban on things like body lotion, potato crisps and building materials was opposed by many who survive on importing goods for resale.

In a statement, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation welcomed the lifting of the ban, saying vendors had suffered heavily under it.

 

Credit: EWN

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