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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

South Africa pupils 'Xuéhuì shuō zhēn de hěn hǎo de zhōngwén'

South African pupils 'learn to speak really good Chinese' | Coastweek

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African students perform 'Peking Opera' at the Chinese Language Teaching Gala Night in Pretoria. Upcoming September 17 was introduced to be celebrated or marked annually as 'South African Chinese Language Day', according to the Chinese ambassador to South Africa Lin Songtian. XINHUA PHOTOS - CHEN CHENG

**The headline in translation reads: South African pupils 'learn to speak really good Chinese'

Financial Experts still pessimistic over South
African economic and employment problems

by Zodidi Mhlana JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- With almost 1 million jobs that have been lost in the South African economy since 2019, the bloodbath would continue until the end of the year, according to experts and unions.

Concerns about the stagnant economic growth and employment crisis come after Statistics SA’s report revealed a rise in unemployment which increased to 29 percent during the second quarter of this year, meaning 6.7 million people are unemployed.
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Somadoda Fikeni of the University of South Africa told Xinhua on Thursday that an "urgent solution" was required to solve the crisis.

"This simply means we are in a deep crisis. The country should treat this as a matter of urgency," he said.

With most young people being impacted, Fikeni said this could be disastrous.

"Young people have the energy to be good.

"They can also be destructive," he added.

This sentiment was shared by Sizwe Pamla of the largest labor federation Cosatu.

"This is a recipe for disaster. Countries with less than the unemployment rate of South Africa have had revolutions," Pamla told Xinhua.

After taking over from Jacob Zuma last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa held an investment and jobs summit in an effort to tackle the problems, but it’s clear these have not yielded positive results.

 

.South African Saab JAS 39 Gripen jet aircraft | Coastweek

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African Saab JAS 39 Gripen jet aircraft flying in the sky during the recent inauguration ceremony of newly-elected President Cyril Ramaphosa in Loftus Versfeld stadium in Pretoria. President Ramaphosa said he is committed to tackling serious challenges the country faced. Saab JAS 39 Gripen is a multirole fighter aircraft manufactured by  Swedish aerospace. XINHUA PHOTO - CHEN CHENG

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Fikeni said a radical change was required to revive the economy.

"I doubt such deep structural challenges in nature can be resolved by meetings of stakeholders.

"We need radical interventions," he said, adding more attention must be paid to emerging businesses.

"In an economy that is concentrated in few hands, you’ll never get the growth of small and medium businesses.

"We need to emphasize and encourage internal investment," Fikeni added.

Statistics SA report showed that over 21,000 jobs lost in the second quarter of this year were in the finance sector.

The country’s largest union in the finance industry Sasbo said more retrenchments are looming.

"Right now, we have received notices from four banks about retrenchments for the next six months.

"We are expecting more job losses," Sasbo’s Secretary General Modime Joe Kokeka told Xinhua.

A total of 36,000 in the mining sector were lost in the second quarter of this year and Cosatu’s Pamla said the industry would continue losing jobs.

With the state having high debt levels, Pamla said if nothing changes, the country might be forced to borrow from other institutions.

"The latest statistics bear reflect the jobs bloodbath that we have seen in the mining and banking sectors," Pamla said.

"We have seen no plan from the government to save the mining industry which is hell-bent on replacing workers with machines or simply just retrenching because of the crisis of profits," Pamla said.
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UPDATES:

South African ruling party stands behind president over election donation scandal

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) on Tuesday threw its weight behind President Cyril Ramaphosa embroiled in an election funding scandal.

The party said in a statement that it was not aware of any acts of illegality on the part of a campaign conducted by any leader of the ANC, including Ramaphosa.

The ANC was responding to leaked emails revealing some of the donors whom the managers of Ramaphosa’s election campaign had allegedly approached for election funding.

The emails were published by local news outlet News24 last week.

These emails support a report released in July by Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane who accuses the president of violating the Executive Ethics Code.

The report claims that Ramaphosa received a controversial donation worth 500,000 rand (about 34,000 U.S. dollars) to the president’s election campaign fund.

The donation was reportedly made by Bosasa company, also known as African Global Operations, to Ramaphosa’s campaign team in 2017 to fund his ANC presidential campaign.

Ramaphosa was deputy president then.

Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa deliberately misled Parliament in November last year when he said in the House that he did not know the details of the donation his campaign office received.

Mkhwebane insists that the president did know where the donation came as he personally attended fund-raising dinners.

"The leaks are nothing but a calculated manoeuvre to defocus and detract from the immediate task of socio-economic issues and dealing with the challenges of our economy," the ANC said.

This is an attempt to undermine public confidence in Ramaphosa whose leadership has been defined by moral and ethical conduct, the party said.

Earlier Ramaphosa said he had decided to seek an urgent judicial review of the Public Protector’s report, its findings and remedial action.

Given the gravity of this matter - and appreciating the effect that these findings have on the standing and credibility of both the President and the Public Protector - it is essential that the courts be given an opportunity to review the report, Ramaphosa said.

The ANC welcomes actions taken by Ramaphosa who has acted openly and transparently by providing a detailed account to the Public Protector on these matters, ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe said.

In discharging his leadership responsibilities, Ramaphosa has always placed his reliance on the counsel he gets from his party, the ANC, Mabe said.
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Local envoys from Cuba, Iran, Palestine, and Venezuela condemn
'United States bullying and sanctions' at South African symposium

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- Envoys from Cuba, Iran, Palestine, and Venezuela on Tuesday slammed the United States for its "bullying, intimidation, economic blockade and sanctions," which they said hurt international trade and undermine world peace.

They made the condemnation at an international solidarity symposium in Johannesburg.

Cuban ambassador to South Africa Rodolfo Benitez Verson said countries facing U.S. economic sanctions should unite, noting that his country has made progress despite the U.S. blockade.

Iranian ambassador Mohsen Movahhedi Ghomi said Washington is addicted to sanctions and unilateral economic blockades.

He called on the world to resist the U.S. "from bullying countries into submission," stressing that multilateralism is the only solution to global conflicts.

Alvin Botes, South Africa’s deputy minister of international relations and cooperation, urged the U.S. to respect the United Nations and its decisions.

"Any member of the UN, the primary multilateral organization, must be subservient to it," he said.

"Unilateralism undermines territorial independence and democratic outcomes."

Representatives from South Africa’s Young Communist League, Congress of Trade Unions, and the South African Communist Party also spoke at the symposium, urging solidarity against U.S. blockades.
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South Africa’s Parliament calls for new strategy to curb gender-based violence

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s Parliament on Monday urged police to urgently revise its strategies to deal with growing gender-based violence.

As South Africa was commemorating Women’s Month, Parliament is aware that the rights of women and children continue to be undermined as a result of acts of violence perpetrated against them, Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Police said.

One case in point is the shortage of rape kits, also known as a sexual assault kit, at various police stations countrywide, Committee Chairperson Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

A rape kit is a package of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of sexual assault.

The SAPS should urgently deal with this matter and ensure the availability of these rape kits at all police stations, Joemat-Pettersson said.

Joemat-Pettersson also urged the SAPS to ensure that police stations are at all times ready to deal with acts of violence against women and children.

She stressed the need for a collaborative and multi-dimensional approach if the country is to successfully end the scourge of gender-based violence.

This includes measures to reduce alcohol and substance abuse across the country, measures to grow the economy and decrease unemployment and poverty, as well as a societal commitment to monitor abuses against women in their communities, said the chairperson.

"Of high priority must be strengthening strategies to deal with the scourge of gender-based violence and establishing an environment conducive for women and children to report these cases at police stations," Joemat-Pettersson said.

She called for SAPS management to ensure that there are adequately trained female SAPS members to deal with gender-based violence victims and be able to take samples with the rape kits.

But above all, training modules for trainee police officers must include a component of gender-based violence, she said.

Parliament will intensify its monitoring of the implementation of the Domestic Violence Act and the Sexual Offences Act by checking the support and assistance victims receive at all police stations, according to Joemat-Pettersson.

The South African government dedicates August as Women’s Month to raise awareness of women’s plight, particularly persistent gender-based violence which "has reached worrying proportions."

According to a report issued by Statistics South Africa last year, 70,813 South African women experienced sexual offences in 2016/2017, as compared to 31,665 in 2015/2016, a more than 100-percent increase.

A SAPS crime statistics 2018 report also showed that the country saw an increase of 11 percent in femicide cases in the past two years.
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Possible strike threatens South Africa with more power cuts

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- Widespread concerns mounted on Monday over a possible strike at electricity utility Eskom which could plunge South Africa into darkness again later this year.

Eskom managers have reportedly threatened to implement more load shedding if their demand for a salary hike was not met.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday added its voice to the call on all the parties involved to resolve the salary dispute in a responsible manner and avoid plunging the economy and the utility into even further distress.

According to local news outlet TimesLIVE, a group of Eskom senior managers is taking the power utility to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) after not receiving salary increases and incentive bonuses last year.

The group of between 180 and 200 managers earn up to 3 million rand (about 200,000 U.S. dollars) per person annually. They want a 4.7-percent increase, which breaks up to 141,000 rand (about 9,500 dollars) each.

As a state-run parastatal that provides about 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa, Eskom is facing a deepening financial crisis, with 20.7 billion rand (about 1.4 billion dollars) in losses in the past financial year.

Last month, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni announced a bailout of 59 billion rand (about 4 billion dollars) to allow Eskom to formulate a recovery plan for another 12 to 18 months.

The DA said ordinary South Africans will now be expected to pay up yet again as Eskom’s senior managers are requesting higher salaries and bonuses.

"Senior management should be an example when it comes to austerity measures by reviewing salaries instead of holding the country and the economy to ransom because they have not been given a salary increase," the party said.

Crippled by poor management and corruption, Eskom has been blamed for electricity insufficiency that has gripped the country for the past decade, particularly for the past three years when constant power blackouts were implemented, seriously impeding economic development and affecting people’s lives.

"Eskom’s financial trajectory is not sustainable," DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone said.

"South Africa cannot afford a recurrence of load shedding, as we stare down the slow collapse of the entity."

This will have irreparable consequences for the country’s already ailing economy and ordinary citizens, Mazzone said.

In order to reduce the cost of electricity and bring about much-needed competition, the DA has introduced the Cheaper Energy Bill as an alternative plan to save and stabilize Eskom to secure South Africa’s power supply.

Under the bill, Eskom will be broken into two separate entities, a generation entity, which is privatized, and a transmission/ distribution entity.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

South Africa unemployment rate increases to 29 per cent

JOHANNESBURG (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s unemployment rate has risen to 29 percent in the second quarter of 2019, increasing by 1.4 percentage points from the first quarter of this year, said Statistics South Africa on Tuesday.

Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke said this marked the highest level of joblessness recorded in the country since the Quarterly Labour Force Survey was introduced in 2008.

Meanwhile, the expanded unemployment rate, which includes discouraged job seekers, stands at 38.5 percent after it went up by 0.5 percentage point.

"The number of unemployed persons increased by 455,000 to 6.7 million in second quarter compared to the first quarter," Maluleke said.

The Eastern Cape recorded the highest number of joblessness with 35.4 percent, while the North West has the higher levels of expanded unemployment at 46.6 percent.

Job losses were recorded in transport sector, where 42,000 jobs were lost, the mining sector saw a decline of 36,000 and the finance industry lost over 21,000 jobs. Maluleke said 49,000 jobs losses were recorded in private households.

Sectors that added jobs in the economy include trade, construction and manufacturing.

that this increase in unemployment must be come as a shock.

"The economy was in the down turn in the first quarter, we should not be surprised.

"We also saw lay-offs in the first quarter," said Jannie Rossouw, Head of School of Economic and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand.

He said the minimum wage which came into effect in January might have contributed to this.

The minimum wage compels employers to pay lowest paid employees a minimum of R3,500 a month.

Rossouw said President Cyril Ramaphosa must show "clear leadership on the economy" and focus on revitalizing the stagnant growth.

He also said that currently the country’s population growth was higher than that of the GDP.

"That can’t work, you need to grow the GDP first."
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South African government urged to tighten labour law to address job crisis

CAPE TOWN government (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s largest trade union federation urged the government on Saturday to tighten the labor law to address a worsening job crisis.

Tightening the labor law could make it harder for employers to retrench workers, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) said.

COSATU, a coalition partner of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), stressed the urgency to review section 189 of the Labor Relations Act (LRA) as the country’s unemployment rate kept rising.

The section in question regulates the conditions and processes for retrenchments by employers.

This section has been under fire for making it easy and cheap for employers to retrench workers.

COSATU also called for a moratorium on retrenchments in the country until the economic crisis is over.

"It must be very difficult and very expensive for any employer to rush to section 189 as and when they want to lay off workers,"

COSATU first deputy president Mike Shingange said.

The federation made the appeal after Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) announced on Tuesday that unemployment rate in the country increased by 1.4 percentage points from 27.6 percent to 29 percent in the second quarter of this year, compared with the previous quarter.

This means that 232,000 more people are unemployed from the first quarter of 2019 to the second quarter of 2019.

The number of unemployed persons increased by 455,000 to 6.7 million in the second quarter, Stats SA said in its Quarterly Labor Force Survey.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Wednesday that the latest unemployment numbers are a wake-up call to the country which is in a "deep and serious crisis."

According to COSATU, the South African National Econoic Development and Labor Council (NEDLAC) has started discussing the review of section 189 of the LRA.

COSATU forms part of the NEDLAC which is the vehicle by which the government, labor, business and community organizations seek to cooperate, through problem-solving and negotiation, on economic, labor and development issues and related challenges facing the country.

While working on achieving the goals set at the Jobs Summit last year, the NEDLAC partners must also work on section 189 of the LRA, COSATU said.

The summit delivered a landmark Framework Agreement consisting of high-impact actions to drive job creation, job retention and economic growth.

The agreement is an enabler for the creation of an estimated 275,000 jobs annually.
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South Africa to build digital hubs to boost innovation and entrepreneurship

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South Africa government will establish ten digital hubs across the country to bridge the digital divide among township residents and equip the youths with skills and knowledge to prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution, said a senior government official on Friday.

The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Nomalungelo Gina on Friday said the digital hubs would be built inside the state-owned industrial parks.

They will focus on creating a central meeting point for technology, innovation and creative businesses in the areas surrounding the industrial parks.

She stated that these will assist start-up accelerator programs, business incubators and training programs.

"The digital hubs seek to provide young people with skills and access to e-learning opportunities, basic business development support and business intelligence in order to encourage them to pursue entrepreneurship," said Gina.

She said the government would like to prioritize the creation of digital hubs as part of its efforts to skill the country’s youth and reduce youth unemployment.
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Debate re-emerges on nationalization of South Africa central bank

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- A debate re-emerged on Wednesday on the nationalization of South Africa’s central bank after the ruling African National Congress (ANC) threatened to put the bank "in the hands of the people of South Africa."

The ANC’s attempt to nationalize the central bank, known as the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), must be stopped, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said.

The DA made the statement after ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte confirmed on Tuesday that her party will continue to pursue the nationalization of the bank.

Duarte made the remarks after the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) concluded its policy meeting in Pretoria.

Duarte described the nationalization of the SARB as an "issue of sovereignty," saying the mandate of the bank will continue to be a matter that will, from time to time, be consulted with the government.

The DA rejects the proposed nationalization of the SARB, which "is a bad idea that should be resisted by all South Africans, and which we will fight against in Parliament," DA Shadow Minister of Finance Geordin Hill-Lewis said.

Nationalization would allow the ANC to ramp up the political pressure on the Reserve Bank, with the aim of exerting influence over monetary policy and importantly, over commercial bank licensing and regulation, Hill-Lewis said.

Unlike most central banks in the world, the SARB has been privately owned since it was established in 1921, but its shareholders have no control over monetary policy, financial stability policy or banking regulations.

Its current mandate is to protect the value of the currency in the interest of balanced economic growth and development.

Although the independence of the SARB is enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution, the bank has been criticized for failing to help boost the economy and create jobs, resulting in calls to change the bank’s mandate.

The debate on the SARB has been on and off these years.

In 2018, the ANC, which would like to see the government owning 100 percent of the bank’s shares instead of the current arrangement where the shares were held by a number of private shareholders, tabled a motion in Parliament to nationalize the central bank, but it later withdrew the motion due to strong opposition.

The SARB insists that changing the ownership structure of the bank could raise the level of risk and uncertainty for the country in both the financial and economic policy sense.

Although President Cyril Ramaphosa affirmed earlier this month that the bank’s independence must be maintained, some senior officials within the ANC, including ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule and Duarte have openly advocated the nationalization of the bank.

The ANC’s policy confusion over the SARB highlights the divisions within the ANC and further complicates Ramaphosa’s plan to turn around South Africa’s struggling economy.

"There is not a single positive outcome from this proposed nationalization, and the ANC has made no argument as to why this is necessary or desirable," Hill-Lewis said.

The fact is that it is neither necessary nor desirable, and it will lead to more investment flight and more job losses, he added.
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Highest murder rate recorded in South Africa
gang-ridden areas despite army deployment

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The murder rate in South Africa’s gang-ridden areas continued to rise over the weekend despite the deployment of troops, authorities said on Monday.

A total of 46 people were murdered over the weekend, with 21 shootings, 20 stabbings and five murders by other causes in Cape Town and other areas in the Western Cape Province where gangs have been spiralling out of control, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said in his latest update on crime statistics since the deployment of troops on July 18.

There were also several reports of shootings, in which residents were injured over the weekend.

Among those shot and injured were two children aged six and 16, according to Winde.

During last weekend, a Ukrainian tourist was stabbed to death while hiking on Table Mountain, a tourist attraction in Cape Town, Winde said.

All these happened despited intensified anti-gang operations by police, with the assistance of the deployed troops, Winde said.

The South African National Defense Force (SANDF) deployed the troops after police failed to stem gang-violence.

The deployment will last three months and can be extended depending on the situation.

It is still too early to record the real impact of the deployment of troops in the communities affected by gangs, Winde said.

While the deployed troops have three months to stabilize the situation, "we call on the South African Police Service (SAPS) to make maximum use of the additional resources provided by the SANDF," said Winde.

"We cannot expect the SANDF to solve this crisis.

"They are a temporary tool at our disposal.

"What we really need is a fully resourced, functioning police service, and in order to do this, we need effective, committed police management," the premier said.

Winde reiterated his call on Police Minister Bheki Cele to ensure proper allocation of police resources in the Western Cape.

Confronted by rising crimes, the Western Cape province’s police force is dramatically under-resourced compared to other provinces run by the ruling African National Congress (ANC), according to Winde.

The Western Cape, the only province run by an opposition party, has requested more police officers but to no avail.

While one officer must protect 375 people on average nationally, in the Western Cape, the ratio is 1:509.

The opposition Democratic Alliance, which administers the Western Cape, accuses the ruling African National Congress (ANC) of turning a blind eye to rising crimes in the province in a bid to weaken the DA’s control.
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South Africa HIV prevalence estimated at 13.5 percent of population

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The estimated overall HIV prevalence rate is approximately 13.5 percent among the South African population, according to figures released on Monday.

South Africa’s total number of people living with HIV stands at approximately 7.97 million in 2019, a sharp increase from an estimated 4.25 million in 2002, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) said in its latest population estimate.

This indicates that South Africa has the biggest and most high-profile HIV epidemic in the world, accounting for a third of all new HIV infections in southern Africa.

In 2018, South Africa’s registered total number of people living with HIV stood at 7.52 million, making up 13.1 percent of the total population of 57.7 million then.

For adults aged between 15 and 49 years, an estimated 19.07 percent of the population is HIV positive in mid-year 2019, Stats SA said.

The agency also said South Africa’s mid-year population is estimated to have increased to 58.78 million in 2019.

Life expectancy at birth for 2019 is estimated at 61.5 years for males and 67.7 years for females.

The infant mortality rate for 2019 is estimated at 22.1 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the agency.

           

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