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South Africans observe Black Monday
in protest against farm murders

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Hundreds of people gathered in Cape Town on Monday to observe Black Monday, an event dedicated to farmers who have fallen victim to rampant crime.

Wearing black clothes, protesters began to converge at Cape Town Stadium under blazing sun in the morning. As more people arrived, the Helen Suzman Boulevard became gridlocked.

Many motorbikes, cars and even tractors joined the protesters, with a police helicopter hovered overhead.

The participants kneeled on the ground to pray for the murdered farmers and held each other’s hands in solidarity.

“Enough is enough,” the protesters chanted.

Black Monday was launched in Cape Town by a group called “Enough is Enough” after the murder of 47-year-old farmer Joubert Conradie on his farm in Klapmuts near Cape Town last Tuesday.

Joubert’s widow, Marlene Conradie, came to Cape Town to take part in the protest.

“I don’t want another family to go through this,” she told reporters, saying she was overwhelmed by the support from the protesters.

Organizer Daniel Briers said the event is designed to forge unity among South Africans.

“This is not the end,” he said. “This is only the beginning.”

One protester, who only gave his first name, Lousef, said police are not doing enough to protect the farmers.

Food security is at risk as more and more South African farmers are killed, he said.

“South Africans must awaken to the rising farm murders,” Lousef said. “Crime is not only a threat to farmers but also to every South African.”

In addition to Cape Town, Black Monday was also observed in other cities, including Johannesburg, Pretoria and Port Elizabeth, where protesters barricaded highways with tractors and cars.

Police Minister Fikile Mbalula called for a non-violent and lawful protest for those taking part in the action.

Mbalula warned that police will not tolerate lawlessness and that “any person who engages in conduct outside the perimeters of the law will face the consequences of their actions.”

As the nationwide protests went on, a 73-year-old man was hacked to death on a farm in Vryheid, northern KwaZulu-Natal, police said.

This further highlights the seriousness of farm murders in South Africa, which has one of the highest crime rates in the world.

Since the beginning of 2017, over 340 farm attacks have been committed in the country, and at least 70 people have been murdered, according to lobby group AgriForum.

The world’s average murder rate is 6.2 per 100,000 people per year, while that of South Africa is 34.1 per 100,000, the group said.

The ratio at which commercial farmers in South Africa are being killed has been calculated at an extreme of 156 per 100,000 per year, AgriForum said.



South African ruling party condemns “racist behavior” by certain Black Monday protesters

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Monday condemned “the despicable and racist behavior” by some who took part in the so-called Black Monday protest against farm murders.

The party pointed to racial characterization of crime and the stoking of racial hatred by some elements in the campaign.

This came after thousands of people, dressed in black, took to streets across the country to observe Black Monday in protest against farm murders.

Some protesters hoisted apartheid South Africa’s flag, although organizers discouraged them from doing so.

This was indicative of an unrelenting yearning for apartheid fascism and white supremacy and made a mockery of the national reconciliation project, continuing to entrench obstacles to the creation a non-racial society in South Africa, the ANC said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

Black Monday was launched in Cape Town by a group called “Enough is Enough” after the murder of 47-year-old farmer Joubert Conradie on his farm in Klapmuts near Cape Town last Tuesday.

Protesters vented their disappointment at police who are criticized for taking a laissez-faire attitude toward rising farm murders.

The ANC said the National Development Plan, a blueprint for South Africa’s future development, enjoins the government to work with all societal partners to create a South Africa where “all people living in South Africa feel safe, have no fear of crime, are properly served by the police and courts.”

“This national imperative aspires to safety for all South Africans and not only a certain racial group or sector,” said the ANC. “The myopic call for the protection of farmers, referring in particular to white farm owners, points to an ill-conceived sense of special entitlement, gives a biased racial character to crime, brutality and violence which affects all South Africans and ignores and undermines the deaths of farm workers and other persons on farms.”

South Africa is littered with tragic reports of inhumane practices by some farmers against their workers and brutal killings of black people on farms, the ANC said.

The ANC called on the farming community to appreciate the importance of all lives, not just white lives.

“It was during the apartheid era, which some today clearly still long for, where government sought to protect only the privileged white minority at the expense of the suffering black majority,” the party said.

The ANC-led government remains committed to dealing decisively with the scourge of crime, with comprehensive strategies being developed and implemented, ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

“The ANC invites the proponents of Black Monday to join, rather than alienate, the majority of South Africans in the fight against all forms of crime against all people in our country,” Kodwa said.

Also on Monday, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said the murder rate in South Africa has reached levels never before experienced and every person in the country knows the feeling of fearing for their life and the lives of their loved ones.

The DA urged Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula to urgently reinstate the specialized units that succeeded in targeting specific issues such as rural safety, drug and gang-related crimes but were shut down with no effective alternative to replace them.

South Africa is among the countries that have the highest murder rate in the world, particularly farm murders.

Since the beginning of 2017, at least 341 farm attacks have been committed in the country, during which at least 70 people have been murdered, according to lobby group AgriForum.

The world average murder rate is 6.2 per 100,000 people per year while the South African murder ratio is 34.1 per 100,000 per year, the group said.

The ratio at which commercial farmers in South Africa are being killed has been calculated at an extreme 156 per 100,000 per year, AgriForum said.


Moody’s expresses skepticism over South Africamid-term budget

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Rating agency Moody’s on Monday expressed strong skepticism on South Africa Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS), describing it as “a marked credit-negative departure from earlier fiscal consolidation efforts.”

South Africa, currently on negative outlook, is expected to be downgraded to junk status by the ratings agency at its next review on November 24.

“In our view, at this level, the cost of debt servicing is crowding out pro-growth expenditures while raising mandatory recurrent spending,” Zuzana Brixiova, Moody’s vice-president, senior analyst and lead sovereign analyst for South Africa, said in the note.

“The absence of fiscal consolidation, both in terms of containing the fiscal deficits and reducing mandatory recurrent spending, is credit negative, undermining debt sustainability and eliminating room for deploying fiscal stimulus in the event of a negative economic shock,” the note added.

The South Africa’s rand traded R14.10 to the U.S. dollar in reaction to the report. The local unit rand lost a further 0.6 percent to R14.32 to the dollar on Friday.

Moody’s is likely to cut South Africa’ rating to Ba1, which equates to BB+, placing it at the same level as ratings by Fitch and S&P Global Ratings.

Fitch and S&P rate South African foreign currency debt in sub-investment. However, only Fitch has the country’s local currency debt in junk. Moody’s rates both the foreign and local currency debt a notch above speculative grade.

“Moreover, the lack of fiscal consolidation in the budget is also a setback to already feeble business confidence and growth. The lack of fiscal prudence indicated by the budget will undermine growth in an economy in a recession since first-quarter 2017 with weak economic activity, according to recent high-frequency indicators,” Brixiova said.

The medium-term budget is the first budget in the past few years, that did not commit to fiscal consolidation, a clear indication it would look to downgrade South Africa’s rating, according to her.

Brixiova was also concerned with the South Africa government’s guarantees to state-owned enterprises.

“In our view, unless the government presents a credible fiscal consolidation plan in the February 2018 budget, debt sustainability is at risk,” she said.

Many experts have the opinion that the finance minister’s “candid” MTBPS statement last week did very little to instill and boost investor confidence or stave off a credit rating in November.

However, the Reserve Bank deputy Governor Daniel Mminele said on Monday that South Africa’s economy is on a recovery path despite low confidence levels.

“It (confidence) also remains vulnerable to the risk of further sovereign credit rating downgrades,” Mminele said during an address at the Economist Corporate Network Event on Monday.


AU Commission chief on two-day visit to
South Africa, CFTA among discussion topics

ADDIS ABABA, (Xinhua) -- The Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, on Monday started a two-day official visit to South Africa, to discuss on issues including the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

The Chairperson is expected to meet and hold talks with President Jacob Zuma, as well as the Minister for International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and other senior government officials, according to a statement from the pan-African bloc Monday.

Discussions will focus on efforts to address some of the conflict and crisis situations on the continent, as well as on economic integration and development and projects including among others, continental free trade area, single air market, and the Pan-African University Institute for Space Sciences.

Progress on the implementation of the AU institutional reforms as agreed during the Addis Ababa Summit of January 2017 will also feature in the consultations with the South African authorities, said the statement.

The chairperson is also expected to meet with the heads of some of the South Africa-based AU institutions: the Pan-African Parliament, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency, the African Peer Review Mechanism, the African Commission of Nuclear Energy, the Pan-African University Institute for Space Sciences, the African Risk Capacity, the AU Foundation and the Pan-African Women’s Organizations. 



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