JOHANNEBSURG, June 23 (Reuters) – South African unions and
the state power utility Eskom were locked in negotiations on
Wednesday over a new pay deal for workers who have threatened to
strike during the ongoing World Cup.
Unions are demanding a 15 percent salary increase, more than
triple the country’s inflation rate, while Eskom has offered an
8 percent raise and an increase in some allowances.
JOHANNEBSURG, June 21 (Reuters) – Workers at South Africa’s
power utility Eskom are threatening a strike during the World
Cup that could cut power for the sports spectacle and cripple
mining and manufacturing in the continent’s largest economy.
Unions could strike as early as this week. They are
demanding a 15 percent salary increase, more than triple the
country’s inflation rate, while Eskom has offered an 8 percent
raise and a once-off, 1 percent payment as a housing allowance.
JOHANNESBURG, June 14 (Reuters) – Up to 16,000 workers at
South Africa’s power utility Eskom could go on strike by
Thursday if their demands for an 18 percent wage hike are not
met, a union spokesman said on Monday.
A strike during the first World Cup on the African continent
could affect power supply during the soccer spectacle.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Unions representing more than a million South African state workers on Thursday threatened to strike during the World Cup, but the government said there was no need to panic.
The state employees are the latest workers to threaten industrial action that could disrupt the world’s largest sporting event staged for the first time on African soil, embarrassing President Jacob Zuma and his government. Officials played down the latest threat.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African police caught another Argentine soccer hooligan trying to sneak into country on Wednesday, bringing to 11 the number of known Argentine agitators on a no-entry blacklist to be deported.
The man was refused entry after arriving on a flight from Sao Paulo, just two days before the start of the first World Cup finals on the African continent.
JOHANNESBURG, June 9 (Reuters) – South African police caught
another Argentine soccer hooligan trying to sneak into country
on Wednesday, bringing to 11 the number of known Argentine
agitators on a no-entry blacklist to be deported.
The man was refused entry after arriving on a flight from
Sao Paulo, just two days before the start of the first World Cup
finals on the African continent.
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Destitute African migrants in South Africa’s shanty towns fear they will be the target of attacks when the World Cup ends and locals make good on their threats to force them out of the country.
The World Cup, which has spread warm feelings of unity across the continent, will likely mark a respite in the sporadic attacks on the millions of Africans who have flooded into South Africa looking for work in mines and homes in the region’s most prosperous country, experts have said.
JOHANNESBURG, May 26 (Reuters) – The not-so-private life of President Jacob Zuma, a war in South Africa’s ruling party and policy vagueness are raising questions over his leadership a year into office and stirring a barely hidden succession battle.
While the World Cup may prove a welcome distraction next month, politicking could undermine economic policy stability and make it even harder to address the growing grievances of restive black townships 16 years after the end of apartheid.
There is no suggestion yet that Zuma will not serve out his full term until 2013, but his chances of a second have certainly diminished just over two years away from the leadership contest in the ruling African National Congress (ANC).
The battle within the ruling alliance involves the Communist Party and labour federation COSATU, which supported Zuma for the presidency but are disappointed at his failure to change economic policies to give greater benefit to the poor.
Although Zuma has appointed left-wingers to cabinet, overall policy is little different from under his pro-business predecessor, Thabo Mbeki — a fact not lost on markets.
The rand <ZAR=D3> weakened after Zuma became ANC leader in 2007, with investors fearing a radical policy shift, but the currency strengthened after he took office until the eurozone crisis drove money from riskier assets globally.
Although there was no big policy change, investors are still unsure how Zuma can meet promises of better lives for the poor given very modest growth since South Africa emerged from its first recession in 17 years in the third quarter of last year.
"Investors would rather see a much deeper reform of the expenditure and reprioritising, combined with greater competitiveness reform, but a path of tax hikes and greater spending may well be the least worst option," said Peter Attard Montalto, emerging market economist at Nomura International.
It is the affable Zuma’s private life, however, that has most shaken those nearest the president.
In January, he defended his fifth marriage as normal for a practicing Zulu polygamist but then had to deal with revelations he had a 20th child out of wedlock with a friend’s daughter.
Zuma’s camp was caught unawares as South Africans of all races criticised his actions. It also undermined the government’s safe sex campaign to tackle one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rates.
"He is not good for the ANC’s image. Many in the party realise that they have backed the wrong horse," said one senior ANC official, a former ardent supporter who said he was now becoming frustrated with the president’s lack of direction.
The party that liberated South Africa from decades of white minority rule elects a new leader in 2012, and Communist Party chief Blade Nzimande — now higher education minister — and COSATU head Zwelinzima Vavi appear to be lining up for a bid.
Other candidates for the ANC leadership — and by implication the next South African president — could include Tokyo Sexwale, a billionaire businessman who is now housing minister in Zuma’s cabinet.
With the most money, Sexwale is in the best position to put up a formidable campaign but he lacks the crucial support from the ANC’s left leaning allies.
"Zuma is likely to try and fight for another term and may well be forced to give up more in terms of policy to the left in order to do so," Attard Montalto said.
Zuma can no longer count on the unconditional support of ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, recently critical of Zuma and fined by the party this month after inflammatory and racially tinged comments. He leads a bloc of 600,000 card carrying members who are often seen as kingmakers in party elections.
But despite having a bad year, political analysts said Zuma’s support base among the millions of poor and the ANC’s top brass should not be underestimated.
"He will go through for a second term," said Mohau Pheko of consulting company Four Rivers. "The party is so divided now that he has become the only uniting force. Backing another candidate could only further destabilise the ANC."
Whatever the outcome of the tussle for control, it can only divert attention from the economic policy challenges.
A quarter of South Africans are unemployed, the gap between rich and poor is one of the world’s widest. Last year, over one million jobs were lost in mining and manufacturing. More job cuts are forecast for 2010.
The month-long World Cup, which starts on June 11, will provide only a limited boost. Visitor estimates have been cut from 450,000 to 300,000, due to the global financial crisis.
Projections are for an immediate 13 billion rand ($1.65 billion) cash injection into the local economy, and much larger long-terms gains from improved infrastructure, but many South Africans wonder whether the 40 billion rand cost was worth it.
Almost daily demonstrations in shanty towns to demand better homes, schools and clinics highlight the disaffection.
"When I look at the new stadiums, it makes me angry," said Buhle Ndima, 28, an unemployed mother-of-two from Soweto, a Johannesburg township. "Why couldn’t the government build houses for us instead of fancy stadiums for foreigners?" (Editing by Marius Bosch, Matthew Tostevin and Philippa Fletcher)
JOHANNESBURG, May 22 (Reuters) – Madagascar’s ex-president Marc Ravalomanana said an interview on Saturday he had nothing to do with a military rebellion earlier this week in his homeland and remained committed to power-sharing talks.
President Andry Rajoelina has accused Ravalomanana of backing Thursday’s mutiny by a military police faction, saying he had thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars at military chiefs in an attempt to destabilise Madagascar. [ID:nLDE64K0YV]
"I … deny any involvement in the clashes in Madagascar," Ravalomanana told Reuters by telephone from Pretoria in South Africa where he is in exile.
"I have nothing to do with the military leaders that are behind this and it is not in my interest to finance violent action in the army," he said.
But Ravalomanana said he remained committed to power-sharing talks and hoped a second round of negotiations in Pretoria would take place soon. "I am ready to work and support the people of Madagascar, if they need me," he said.
Rajoelina, who toppled Ravalomanana in a coup on the world’s fourth largest island last year to become Africa’s youngest leader, has said any further discussions with his bitter rival would be destined to fail.
A statement issued by Rajoelina’s office on Thursday accused Ravalomanana of having transferred 500 million ariary (about $250,000) to certain sympathetic military leaders behind the attempted uprising that left two dead.
"The objective was to create tensions within the armed forces, especially among the top brass," the statement said.
A senior military police officer said the leader of the rebellion, Colonel Raymond Andrianjafy, was in detention after security forces on Thursday stormed a military camp following gun battles with the dissident troops.
"During the course of our investigation, the name of a politician has been cited as having supplied Colonel Raymond Andrianjafy with the necessary means," regional military police commander Colonel Richard Ravalomanana told Reuters in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo.
"The name of a close ally of the former president (Ravalomanana) has also been mentioned," Ravalomanana said.
Some analysts say the former disc jockey’s crackdown on dissenters and his failure to restore political order have deepened rifts within the armed forces, opening the doors to manipulation by senior politicians.
Rajoelina has pledged to hold a referendum on constitutional reform in August and a presidential election in November to end the almost 18-month political crisis in Madagascar, which is also the world’s No. 1 vanilla producer. (Additional reporting by Alain Iloniaina in Antananarivo; editing by Richard Lough and Mark Heinrich)
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert, one of South Africa’s most prominent white opponents of apartheid who initiated talks between Afrikaner businessmen and the then-banned ANC in 1987, died on Friday.
Tributes poured in from across South Africa’s political spectrum, with President Jacob Zuma calling him a “true patriot.”