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South Africa stimulus package is unlikely
to boost growth significantly, says Fitch

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic stimulus package is unlikely to boost the country’s sluggish economy growth significantly, international ratings agency Fitch said on Tuesday.

Several of the measures relate to existing proposals and others will take time to finalize and to have an impact, the ratings agency said in a report.

“The plan does include measures that could support growth, but many relate to long-standing policy ideas that have been slow to implement,” Fitch said in the report.

“For example, the approval of the revised Mining Charter was widely anticipated, but its likely impact remains unclear. The decision not to proceed with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill had already been announced and replacement legislation will take time to draft. Radio spectrum auctions have also been delayed,” said Fitch.

On Friday, South African president also announced an infrastructure fund, but the ratings agency said the fund was silent on how it would be operated.

“This could be modestly positive for growth as the measures targeted could have a greater multiplier effect, as could greater public-private infrastructure investment. But it is not clear how the planned infrastructure fund would operate and whether it will increase contingent liabilities to the government,” said Fitch.

Fitch expects growth of 0.7 percent this year, lower than the 1.3 percent estimated by the South African Treasury.

After a number of meetings with public and private sector role-players in June, Fitch affirmed the country’s BB+ rating with a stable outlook. 



South Africa introduces measures to make travel into country easy

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday announced measures to ease movement of people into the country to stimulate economic growth.

Gigaba made the announcement on Tuesday in Pretoria at a press briefing. This follows the announcement by President Cyril Ramaphosa last week that South Africa would change the visa regime to make it easier for tourists to visit the country to reignite economic growth.

“We are simplifying visa requirements for countries such as China and India. This will make provision for taking biometrics on arrival in South Africa, allowing visa applications via courier services. This should be in place next month, October 2018,” said Gigaba.

Gigaba pointed out that tourists create and sustain jobs in the country, and migrants bring critical skills like investors, doctors and researchers.

He said, “Easing movement in this manner will help in attracting larger numbers of tourists, business people and families. In order to further ease movement of travelers, for purposes of tourism, business meetings and academic exchange, we have implemented long term multiple entry visas for frequent travelers.”

A three-year multiple entry visa for frequent trusted travelers to South Africa is being granted.

There is also a ten-year long term multiple entry visa for business people and academics from Africa. South Africa is also in the process of easing travel restrictions for people from Nigeria, Kenya and Uganda among others.

The country is also trying to guard against the risk of few travelers who come to the country to commit organized crimes and terrorism, said Gigaba.

He said, “It is a challenge inherent in immigration management to detect, prevent and act against these risks without unduly inconveniencing law-abiding travelers.”

The home affairs minister said foreign students who graduate in the country with critical skills categories are offered an opportunity to apply for permanent residence or critical skills visa. The skill list will be implemented in April 2019.

South Africa is also putting measures to ease travel for visitors from BRICS countries.

Gigaba said, “Business people from BRICS countries who require visas (China and India) are issued a 10-year multiple entry visa, within five days of application. They do not need to apply in person and can use courier services. This arrangement is meant to attract business people and prospective investors.”

South Africa receives more than 10 million visitors annually.


Thousands rally in Cape Town against rising crime and high unemployment

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Thousands went to the streets here in the South African capital on Tuesday morning to voice their anger over rising crime and high unemployment.

Protests took place in several communities hit hard by crimes and unemployment.

The mass rally was largely peaceful, except at one location where protesters scuffled with police and prompted a police crackdown.

Police officers fired teargas. Witnesses said that rubber bullets were also used, causing injuries to several protesters.

The city’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety JP Smith confirmed police use of teargas and rubber bullets at one location.

The city said the various gatherings in the city were illegal as organizers did not submit an application beforehand as required by the law.

The protests were organized by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), which represents millions of workers and is also a coalition partner with the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The planned “shutdown” of Cape Town by protesters had a limited impact and police had the whole situation under control, said Smith.

The city has deployed a large contingent of law enforcement officers to prevent the situation from running out of control, the city’s traffic service spokesperson Maxine Bezuidenhout said.

Unemployment hovers above the 27 percent mark in South Africa. The country is also among the countries with the highest murder rate in the world, with 57 murders reported every day, according to statistics released by Police Minister Bheki Cele earlier this month.

Releasing his annual report on crime statistics in Parliament on Sept. 11, Cele said 20,336 people were murdered in South Africa in the period from April 1, 2017 to April 31, 2018, up 6.9 percent from the 19,016 murders for the previous period.

Among other crimes, robbery of cash-in-transit vans also saw a sharp increase in the period surveyed, up by 86 counts, from 152 to 238, with most robberies happening on the roads and in business areas, and 40 in shops and malls. In most instances, security guards’ weapons were taken from them.

Rape has increased by 0.5 percent, or by seven more people per day, meaning that 109 people are raped every day in South Africa.

Residential burglaries have decreased by 7.5 percent, with some 625 homes burgled every day in South Africa, the minister said.


South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to outline
his land reform policy before U.N. General Assembly


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