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Another ANC candidate murdered in run-up to local elections

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- A candidate for South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) running for Walmer Township councillor in Port Elizabeth has been murdered, police have said.

Nceba Dywili was gunned down in a hail of bullets on Tuesday night, police spokesperson Mncedi Mbombo said.

Dywili, 40, was shot and killed by two unknown gunmen while he was dropping a lady at her house, Mbombo said.

The motive for his killing remained unkown, said Mbombo.

Dywili was the latest victim of political violence in relation with the elections.

A number of politicians have been killed in the run-up to the elections, scheduled for August 3.

Most of the killings took place in KwaZulu-Natal Province, a stronghold of the ANC.

The South African government has voiced grave concern over the killings of South Africans who have been nominated by their parties as candidates for the elections.

"Government calls on all parties particularly in KwaZulu-Natal to ensure that the killings come to a stop and to cooperate with the political and law enforcement structures in place in the province and who are already hard at work to root out this evil," said Des Van Rooyen, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.

The government calls on all political parties and independent candidates to uphold the Electoral Code of Conduct, Van Rooyen said.

The government has pledged that it will continue to ensure that the local government elections environment is free, fair and peaceful.


South Africa ruling ANC warns employers against barring employees from voting

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Wednesday warned employers against barring employees from voting in the August 3 local government elections.

The ANC urges employers to make arrangements to enable workers to vote on August 3, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

"While we note that some businesses will continue to regard this day as a trading day, the ANC appeals to employers to consider the needs of workers who are registered to vote in their respective voting districts, which may be a distance from their place of work.

"We call on these employers to plan in advance to enable workers to visit polling stations and cast their ballots,"said Kodwa.

In considering their options, employers are urged to also consider the real challenges of availability of public transport on a public holiday, as well as the voting hours - which are from 07:00 to 19:00, he said.

"A failure to do this, in reality, amounts to disenfranchisement from active citizenry and undermines our collective commitment to credible, free, fair and peaceful elections," Kodwa noted.

The ANC once again encourages all South Africans to come out in their numbers to cast their votes on the election day, he said.

"We must continue to give effect to our demand encapsulated in the Freedom Charter that ‘The People Shall Govern,’" Kodwa said.

"We have achieved much together and our challenges can be overcome by standing together.

"The ability to further improve the lives of all our people lies in your hands," he added.

The ANC said earlier that it is confident of winning a decisive victory in the local government elections.

The party said it will win all municipalities that it currently governs as well as winning new municipalities where the opposition parties control.

The elections come as the government under the ANC is facing a series of challenges, including the Nkandla scandal in which President Jacob Zuma is accused of abusing public funds in security upgrades at his private home and the "state capture" by the Indian Gupta family which allegedly keeps close ties with Zuma and the ANC.

The ANC is facing the most fierce competition from the opposition parties since the end of apartheid in 1994.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) have vowed to take over major municipalities like Johannesburg, Pretoria and Nelson Mandela Bay municipality from the ANC.

New project to assure South Africa of stable electricity supply

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Wednesday launched a new power project which will assure South Africa of stable electricity supply.

"Today, as South Africans, we stand tall and proud as we register further progress in our quest for energy security," Zuma said at the launch ceremony marking the opening of the Ingula Power Station Unit 4 in Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

The unit is a pumped storage scheme and a new national project in electricity utility Eskom’s power fleet.

At a cost of 3.5 billion U.S. dollar, the construction of Ingula Power Station started in 2005.

The Ingula Units 1, 2 and 3 were synchronized ahead of schedule, with Unit 3 on March 3, 2016, Unit 2 on May 21, and Unit 1 on June 16.

On completion, the power station will feed more than 1,300 megawatts to South Africa’s power system.

This will bring electricity to nearly 500,000 homes.

"This time last year, the country was faced by serious energy shortages.

"Our people were frustrated by load shedding and the future looked bleak," Zuma said, referring to constant blackouts that hit the country in 2015.

"We set out to change the situation, and we are making tremendous progress," Zuma said.

The project ensures the security of electricity supply, helps diversify the energy mix and accelerate universal access to electricity for households, he said.

"It also continues to inspire investor confidence, which will ultimately result in a more prosperous economic and social well-being for all citizens," Zuma said.

Eskom has been forging ahead to ensure improved maintenance and also to fast-track the building of infrastructure that will give South Africa much-needed energy security, said the president.

By 2021, Eskom’s new build program will add close to 9,000 megawatts of new capacity to power South Africa’s economic growth and development, according to Zuma.

"Access to electricity improves the quality of life of our people.

"We will never rest until all our people have access to water and electricity, no matter how long it takes," Zuma pledged.

South African rand remains volatile despite recent gains

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South Africa rand remains volatile despite its recent appreciation against major currencies, South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Deputy Governor Daniel Mminele said on Wednesday.

He said his country was keeping an eye on the global sentiments, the US’s Fed policy expectations and the local pressures, particularly the impending ratings downgrade in the last quarter.

The deputy governor noted that a possible downgrade would exert pressure on the local currency.

The SARB is battling to curtail the stubborn inflation which has been hovering above its targeted band of three to six percent.

"Some of the favourable factors that contributed to the decision to keep interest rates unchanged will be sustained and the bank would not hesitate to act when deemed appropriate," Mminele told reporters in Johannesburg.

According to the SARB, consumer inflation would return to targeted band only in the third quarter of 2017.

Mminele noted that the rand had been supported by the improvements in commodity prices and the unexpectedly large trade surplus recorded in May.

He said the main risks to the inflation outlook were the weaker rand, with average wage increases outpacing both inflation and productivity gains, elevated food price inflation, and potentially higher oil prices, if global demand recovers.

On the economic front, Mminele said he was concerned about the sluggish economic growth in the country.

The SA’s economy contacted by 1.2 percent in the first quarter of 2016, and is expected to grow less than 0.8 percent in the second, third and fourth quarters. The Bank sees zero economic growth in 2016.

Despite the slow growth, Mminele said a technical recession (two consecutive quarters of economic contraction) was unlikely because of positive economic data thus far for the second quarter, in particular in mining and manufacturing.

Netbank economist Busisiwe Radebe told Xinhua on Wednesday that despite positive production data in May, general conditions were expected to remain subdued in 2016.

She believes that manufacturing production was likely to be hard hit by low commodity prices that were unlikely to "reverse convincingly" in the next few months.

Another economist echoed her sentiments. "The manufacturing sector remains fragile, and in this environment, we hope to see as many jobs retained in the short term as possible," First National Bank senior industry analyst Jason Muscat said.

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange closes up on two consecutive sessions

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- After a stumble at lunchtime, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) managed to recoup and climbed with the top 40 index edging up 0.18 percent at the close of session on Wednesday.

The financial index was 0.09 percent up while the resources index had gained 1.04 percent.

In the resources sector on the JSE, BHP Billiton was 1.82 percent higher on R181.27, while Anglo American climbed 4.19 percent to R426.29

Kumba was the star performer gaining 6.23 percent to R132.03 after the company announced on Tuesday an earnings growth of 20 percent in the first half of the year.

Bucking the trend, SABMiller was 2.63 percent lower on R811.14 and the share price is now almost 10 percent lower over the past 30 days, as it seems the proposed take-over of the group by Anheuser Busch ABInBev is sailing into troubled waters at a stage when almost all the regulatory approvals for the deals have been dealt with.

British American Tobacco traded 1.55 percent lower on R887.64 and MTN lost 2.41 percent to R144.05.

The SA rand was at R14.2984 to the dollar from R14.3638 at the previous close.

The JSE closes higher with positive gains in financial and industrial stocks

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Johannesburg Stock Exchange HE (JSE) closes up, taking its lead from positive sentiment on global markets and buoyed by financial and industrial stocks.

The all-share index was up 0.54 percent to 53, 292.52 points by close of session, the best level since June 23 when the UK voted to leave the EU, an outcome that shook global markets.

The blue-chip to 40 Index climbed 0.56 percent, while Resources lost 0.87 percent, financial index climbed 1.08 percent.

At the market close, gold was trading at USD1319.04 per an ounce.

The rand was changing hands at R14.37 to the USD.

The all share lost an estimated R700bn in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote before subsequently recovering in line with other markets.

Diversified miners led the rally despite the relatively strong dollar that exerted pressure on commodity prices.

Anglo American tumbled 1.66 percent to R138.52 and BHP Billiton tumbled 1.17 percent to R172.47.

Standard bank was up 1.21 percent to R138.55, with Barclays Africa gaining 1.14 percent percent to R15.00.

Amongst today’s gainers was PPC Limited which rose 6.58 percent to trade at R8.10 per share after 837 deals sold 4,761,141 shares. While Arcelormittal SALtd climbed up 4.81 percent to trade at R8.50.

Resource stocks were amongst the losers as Anglogold Ashanti Ltd lost 4.95 percent to trade down to R288.90 per share following 1,465,964 shares changing hands in 4774 deals.

Gold Fields Ltd slipped 4.75 percent to trade at R79.80



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