Self-testing kits and vending machine drugs are helping South Africa’s battle against HIV

SOUTH AFRICA ( - SELF-TESTING KITS and vending machines distributing prescription drugs are two ways that HIV treatment is being automated to reduce stigma in South Africa, home of the world’s biggest HIV epidemic. With 7.1 million people living with HIV in the country, removing human intervention is helping experts target hard-to-reach groups like young men who are often reluctant to queue in public clinics. Students, porters and labourers have flocked to a new HIV self-testing stand outside a supermarket in Hillbrow, a gritty district of central Johannesburg. The project was started in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe in 2015 and expanded last year to include South Africa, which has an 18.9% HIV rate among adults. A small team of young and stylishly-dressed “peer educators” convince men aged between 18 and 30 to take the tests, which – in a breakthrough for South Africa - are self-administered. “It’s targeted at young men and if we have a group of young men around, we pull more people in,” said Lynne Wilkinson, an expert at the University of the Witwatersrand Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, which oversees the project. From May, the scheme will be extended to several of Johannesburg’s bustling minibus taxi ranks which carry hundreds of thousands of commuters every day. After passers-by complete a simple form, they are handed a pack to take into one of a row of unassuming portable pop-up tents to ensure

The fake news campaign that tried to divide South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA (DANIEL VAN BOOM) - June 19, 2017, a news site in South Africa runs a story. It's no normal story. "National Treasury Sold to Johann Rupert," reads the headline. In a majority black country, Rupert, a white business magnate worth an estimated $7 billion, is the second richest man. There was no evidence to support the explosive headline, but the story wasn't retracted or corrected. It wasn't designed to inform, it was designed to mislead. It was fake news. The story was posted on WMC Leaks, one of many fake news sites making up an online network of misinformation. Behind the network: a trio of Indian businessmen known as the Guptas. The Guptas are infamous in South Africa. Ajay, Atul and Rajesh "Tony" Gupta aren't your regular family of businessmen. With close ties to former president Jacob Zuma and constant whispers of politicians in their control, the Guptas were increasingly at odds with a hostile public who saw them as the face of corruption in South Africa. In a move reminiscent of Russian operatives looking to disrupt the US during the presidential election and the UK during the Brexit referendum, the Guptas in 2016 decided to use the power of the internet, and social media in particular. What ensued was a scandal that became part of the increasingly global issue of fake news. The phrase may be synonymous with the US' 2016 election, but fake news has caused concern in countries around the world. Many in Italy feared it would inform the c

South Africa Corruption Inc

Last month, South African President Jacob Zuma was forced from office by his own party, the African National Congress, when almost a decade's worth of corruption, bribery and racketeering allegations finally became too great to ignore. It is possible that within weeks he could appear in court to face charges relating to at least one of the many financial intrigues from his years in power. His most infamous former associates, the billionaire Gupta brothers, are now fugitives from justice amid claims that during the Zuma years they systemically looted state assets on a truly astonishing scale - principally by using their friendship with the then president to influence political appointments and win lucrative government contracts. They are believed to have fled the country and taken refuge in Dubai, where they own property. But the former president and his state-capturing confreres are not the only ones under scrutiny in South Africa these days. We've been to examine the role allegedly played by major international companies in scandals so toxic and far-reaching, they look set to haunt the country for years to come. SOURCE: Al Jazeera

What is waiting for South Africa when ‘Ramaphoria’ is over?

South Africa ( - Following the major political changes at the start of 2018, a new word has entered the South African vocabulary – ‘Ramaphoria’. According to Wayne McCurrie, fund manager at Ashburton Investments, the word describes the ‘warm fuzzy feeling’ that permeates the fabric of the new “New South Africa”. “It is really amazing how (effectively) changing one person can make such a difference. The future looks much brighter,” he said. However, McCurrie says that, in addition to giving the South African public the ‘warm and fuzzies’, there are also other tangible economic reasons why South Africa is in a better place compared to a couple of months ago. He outlined the following reasons behind Ramaphoria and the global context that currently prevails. Global backdrop McCurrie said that it was sometimes to South Africa’s advantage to be a relatively small country in the bigger scheme of things. “The Global Financial Crisis a decade back almost brought the world’s economy to a grinding halt,” he said. “We only really experienced the crisis as an ‘observer’ and were shielded to a large extent from the fallout. “Make no mistake, if the world’s economy had collapsed (and this was a real possibility without decisive action), South Africa would have been sucked in,” he said. Fortunately the big central banks released massive amounts of liquidity into the system in the form of Quantitative Easi

South Africa land protest turns violent; 30 arrested

JOHANNESBURG (The Associated Press) - South African police have arrested about 30 people after violent protests in which demonstrators tried to occupy state-owned land and set a police station on fire. Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at rioters who looted shops, vandalized buildings and threw stones at vehicles in the coastal town of Hermanus on Monday. Local media outlet eNCA says protesters occupying vacant land demanded that the municipality supply them with water and electricity. The unrest follows recent statements by President Cyril Ramaphosa that land transfers must be managed through dialogue and that there will be "no smash and grab" seizures.

South Africa police say may issue Zuma summons this week

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African police could this week issue former president Jacob Zuma with a court summons relating to corruption charges over a years-old $2.5 billion arms deal, a spokesman for the Hawks investigative crime unit said on Sunday. The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) last week said it would seek to prosecute Zuma on 16 charges, including fraud, racketeering, corruption and money laundering. Zuma could not be reached for comment on Sunday. He has repeatedly denied the allegations. A court appearance would be a dramatic development on a continent where former presidents rarely face their accusers in court. “We are of the view everything will be finalised soon. Hopefully this week,” Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi told Reuters. News24, citing sources close to the case, reported that Zuma would be summoned to appear in the Durban High Court on April 6. Mulaudzi declined to comment. Zuma, who was forced to resign by his ruling African National Congress last month, was at the center of a 1990s deal to buy European military kit that has cast a shadow over politics in South Africa for years. Zuma was deputy president at the time of the arms deal. Schabir Shaikh, his former financial adviser, was found guilty and jailed in 2005 for trying to solicit bribes for Zuma from a French arms company. The 16 counts were filed against Zuma but then dropped by the NPA shortly before he successfully ran for president in 2009. Since his el

Smartphone sales soar in SA

Smartphone unit sales in South Africa climbed by around 21% in 2017, even as South Africans reduced their spending in most categories of the consumer technology market, according to point of sale data from market research firm, GfK South Africa. Storage, media streaming device, and speaker retail sales also saw healthy growth last year, while tablet computer, desktop computer and mobile computer sales experienced sharp declines. GfK South Africa’s data shows that smartphone sales in South Africa climbed from around 10 million in 2016 to over 12 million in 2017. Even though much of this growth was driven by adoption of entry-level smartphones from second-tier brands, the value of the smartphone market showed an increase of 22%. Sales of basic mobile phones dropped 11% in 2017, as users continued to migrate to smartphones. “Electronics, telecommunications and information technology retail experienced a difficult year in 2017 as consumers tightened their belts in response to economic difficulties in South Africa,” said Nikolay Dolgov, GM of Point of Sales Tracking at GfK South Africa. “However, the smartphone market continued to show strong growth as more South Africans sought to get connected to the Internet and as smartphone prices continued to fall.” Quarterly sales of mobile devices reached record levels in the fourth quarter of 2017, largely driven by Black Friday retail specials in November and robust sales during the December festive season.

SA is Setting the Standard for Water Wise Tourism

South Africa (nationalgeographic) - Something extraordinary is happening in South Africa. The warm, dry climate that has shaped this beautiful country into such a popular tourist destination also makes water a particularly precious resource. Driven by the global problem of climate change, South Africa is positively changing its relationship with water and encouraging everyone to become more water wise. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in South Africa’s vibrant tourist sector. Creativity and innovation abound as sustainable water wise tourism becomes the new normal and visitors are encouraged to become part of the solution by embracing what locals do—respecting water. How they are doing this makes for some truly remarkable stories.
The cuisine of the Western Cape is world famous, and some of its restaurants have adapted themselves to water wise tourism with remarkable flair. Leading the way is celebrated chef Luke Dale Roberts who has introduced innovative water-saving techniques in his award-winning restaurants. Floors are mopped with water harvested from air-conditioning units, and diners are asked if they mind using the same cutlery throughout the meal—they almost always agree. Each dish is served on a disposable card fitted into a picture frame, an artistic touch that saves washing 5,000 plates a week. Even the menus have been given a waterless twist. In fac

SA and the fable of the missing Guptas

South Africa (An ambitious family arrived from a distant land, wormed its way into the heart of a young democracy, became unimaginably rich and influential, stood accused of trying to hijack the state itself, and then, overnight, vanished into thin air, leaving those who had fallen under the family's spell - and those who had warned against it from the start - to wonder how anyone could have got away with so much, for so long. Today, South Africans - by turns stunned, humiliated, and vindicated - are still trying to digest the impact of the Guptas, and to assess what harm they have done to the country's institutions, politicians, and democracy. "I think the damage can be reversed," said the political analyst Prince Mashele - but only if the authorities here move fast, and aggressively, against those who allegedly conspired with the Indian-born family. "Society must see people going to jail. Once you do that, you're sending a message that if you do what… the Guptas did, there will be consequences." 'Untouchable' It was last month that the South African police's elite Hawks unit shocked the nation by arriving at the Guptas' lavish compound in Johannesburg before dawn, looking to make arrests. For years the family had seemed untouchable, repeatedly implicated in corruption by state officials, email leaks, and senior politicians, but apparentl
Artış Grafiği

GDP Growth Surprises In South Africa

  • South Africa's real GDP growth rate surprised on the upside, accelerating to a 3.1% quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR) during the fourth quarter of 2017.
  • Overall real GDP growth averaged 1.3% in 2017. Revised GDP numbers produced by the South Africa Statistical Service, StatsSA, now also show that South Africa avoided a recession during 2017.
  • For 2018, IHS Markit expects real GDP growth to average 1.6%, with the risk tilted towards an upward growth surprise amid favorable policy adjustments, including a 50 basis point interest rate cut this year.
  • The South African economy will also benefit from positive business and consumer sentiment following the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as the new leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and his subsequent inauguration as the president of the country. However, concrete business friendly economic policies will now be required to spur investment further along.
  • We do not expect a downgrade of South Africa's local currency debt rating during March 2018 but the risk of a downgrade later in the year remains significant.

South Africa's real GDP growth rate accelerated at a 3.1% quarter-on-quarter SAAR during the fourth quarter of 2017, higher than the market consensus of 1.8% SAAR. This contributed to headline GDP growth of 1.3% in 2017 from 0.6% in 2016. Revised GDP numbers for the previous three quarters of 2017 pr