South Africa gangs block highway with burning lorries

SOUTH AFRICA (bbc.com) - The fight-back against Chad poachers. A private, non-profit organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa, has been credited with helping to turn around the fortunes of Zakouma National Park in Chad.

The BBC Travel Show’s Michelle Jana Chan finds out more: The lorry blockade on a major South African route between its two largest cities of Johannesburg and Durban seems to have been caused by anger

Protests grip South Africa as introduction of minimum income dubbed ‘poverty wage’ is delayed

  • Nationwide protests hit South Africa this week over a proposed minimum wage.
  • President Cyril Ramaphosa has pushed a minimum income of R20 ($1.62) per hour — a figure that compromises on what businesses and workers have put forward.
  • "The president recognizes that the national minimum wage is not a living wage, but we need to start somewhere," Ramaphosa's spokeswoman Khusela Diko said.
  • South Africa is one of the most unequal societies in the world.
Disagreement over a proposed minimum wage in South Africa has led to mass protests and reassurances from the presidency this week. President Cyril Ramaphosa met with officials from the labor ministry on Thurday, following protests the previous day that mobilized workers across the country including in the cities of Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. Ramaphosa has been pushing a minimum wage of R20 ($1.62) per hour, a policy that was scheduled to be implemented on May 1 though the draft legislation was since delayed in parliament. The initiative dates back to Ramaphosa's days as deputy president under former South African leader Jacob Zuma. The minimum wage is intended to alleviate inequality and stabilize labor. But, the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the group behind the strike, described it as a "poverty wage on which no-one should be expected to live" in a press release Sunday. The minimum wage "legitimizes the unequal apartheid wage structure,

South Africa president to meet labour ministry after minimum wage protests

SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Thursday meet officials from the labour ministry to discuss the planned introduction of a national minimum wage, a day after nationwide protests over the policy which he has championed. Several thousand union members marched in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and other cities on Wednesday to voice their opposition to the 20 rand ($1.6) an hour minimum wage, which they have called “starvation wages”. Ramaphosa sees the minimum pay, which was meant to be introduced on May 1 but has been delayed, as an important first step to tackle labour instability and wage inequality.

The president recognises that the national minimum wage is not a living wage, but we need to start somewhere.

He has staked his reputation on revamping a stuttering economy and rooting out corruption associated with Jacob Zuma, whom he replaced as president in February. Ramaphosa’s spokeswoman, Khusela Diko, said his meeting with the labour ministry on Thursday was not a response to Wednesday’s protests but was part of regular updates he had been receiving on the minimum wage. Protesters on Wednesday called for the proposed hourly wage to be scrapped and replaced with a “living wage” of 12,500 rand ($1,000) a month. That wage would be more than three times higher than the 20 rand an hour minimum wage in monthly t

Why South Africa may soon have a 16 age restriction for WhatsApp

SOUTH AFRICA (businesstech.co.za) - WhatsApp – alongside a number of other major social media companies – recently announced changes to its Terms of Service and Privacy Policies. This was done as the European Union is currently updating its privacy laws (known as the General Data Protection Regulation -or GDPR) to require greater transparency on how people’s information is used online. As part of the changes, WhatsApp has updated its age restrictions for using the service: If you live in a country in the European Region, you must be at least 16 years old to use WhatsApp. If you live in any other country except those in the European Region, you must be at least 13 years old to use WhatsApp. This means that the current age restriction for WhatApp in South Africa remains 13 years of age, with anyone younger requiring a parent or guardian to agree on their behalf. However, this may change soon, according to Verlie Oosthuizen, head of Social Media Law at Shepstone Wylie. Speaking to BusinessTech, Oosthuizen said that one of the key components of South Africa’s incoming Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) is aligning South Africa’s privacy laws with international standards. “The Information Regulator has indicated that it will be working closely with other data protection regulators and is likely to follow the lead of the EU and UK,” Oosthuizen said. “The POPIA is very similar to the EU legislative instruments – although the GDPR

How two South African women stopped Zuma and Putin’s $76 billion Russian nuclear deal

SOUTH AFRICA (qz.com) - It made no sense that a country like South Africa, with year-round sunshine, would abandon its renewable energy options to focus on nuclear power instead. But a nuclear energy deal between South Africa and Russia has been at the center of much of South Africa’s political uncertainty as well as corruption allegations under former president Jacob Zuma, who resigned in February. The deal, which would have cost South Africa $76 billion to build a Russian-run nuclear energy plant, would have gone ahead if it weren’t for two women. For their work, Makoma Lekalakala, 52, and Liz McDaid, 55, were among those honored with the Goldman Environmental Prize in San Francisco on Apr. 23. In 2014, Lekalakala received a tip from environmental activists in Russia that the South African government had signed a secret deal with the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom to build a massive new power plant. As the head of a volunteer-driven organization called Earth Life, Lekalakala began to stage small protests around Johannesburg and outside the office of the national power supplier Eskom, but needed to create more awareness about the deal. She contacted Liz McDaid, an old friend and a veteran anti-nuclear activist in Cape Town. Every Wednesday morning, McDaid and a handful of protestors from the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute stood outside parliament to raise awareness about the deal, which would have put the state furt

South African activists awarded Goldman Environmental Prize for fight against nuclear power deal

Liz McDaid and Makoma Lekalakala have been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for their role in stopping a controversial nuclear deal between South Africa and Russia. Now they are urging other women to step up and fight against injustice. "I think it's like when you come up against bullies, at a certain point, you actually say enough is enough," Ms McDaid said. "It's within the grasp of ordinary people. Let the politicians keep shouting, but let's get on and make a difference." The fight of their lives The two women, both aged in their fifties, one white and one black, took on the South African Government in 2014. Together they led a campaign to stop a multi-billion-dollar deal with Russia, to build a series of nuclear power stations in South Africa. The agreement had not passed through the normal checks, balances and scrutiny of parliament. South Arica had also signed deals with the United States and South Korea. Ms Lekalakala believed the project was unsafe, unnecessary and unaffordable. "This deal was literally going to bankrupt the country," she said. "For us, challenging the abuse of power and protecting our constitutional right, this is fundamental." Their organisations — Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith Communities Environmental Institute — teamed up with other groups, including environmental lawyers, to take on the government. Ms McDaid said she was confident she and Ms Lekalakla, along with their

South Africa to Appeal Ruling on Black Ownership of Mines

SOUTH AFRICA (bloomberg.com) - South Africa has sought leave to appeal a court judgment earlier this month over a crucial black-ownership principle in the country’s Mining Charter, the nation’s mining lobby said. The Chamber of Mines has been notified that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe and the Department of Mineral Resources filed the application, it said in a statement Monday. The High Court in Pretoria on April 4 ruled that the first two versions of the country’s charter didn’t require producers to top up black-shareholding levels in perpetuity if they previously met the minimum 26 percent requirement. “The chamber is currently reviewing the specified grounds of appeal, although the DMR’s appeal appears to center on the majority judges obiter dictum comments about the legality of the 2010 charter and the enforceability of the charters,” the lobby group said. The development is another volley in a longstanding legal battle to clarify the charter rules. The case was revived last year by the chamber, which sought a declaratory order on the so-called “once empowered, always empowered” principle. The group has argued that companies can reach the black-ownership requirements by counting previous sales to black investors, even if those investors later sold their shares to whites or foreigners. The Department of Mineral Resources didn’t immediately return an email and call seeking comment. Mineral Reserves South Africa has the world

South African Government Ramping Up Efforts To Get More Land Into Black Ownership

SOUTH AFRICA (npr.org) - Nearly a quarter century after the end of apartheid, whites still own most of the land in the country, and a new political party thinks it should be appropriated without compensation. The government of South Africa is ramping up efforts to get more land into black ownership. A controversial plan under consideration would seize property from owners without paying them and redistribute it. Land reform has been a key issue since the end of white minority rule 24 years ago, but blacks still largely don't hold land. Peter Granitz reports from Pretoria. PETER GRANITZ, BYLINE: Twenty-five-year-old John Ratema is a college graduate armed with an education in finance, but he's unemployed. Joblessness in South Africa is high, and he's had no luck finding anything in his field. So now he says he's contemplating a future in farming. JOHN RATEMA: Because I grew up in a place where we used to do gardens and so for - to - for living. The spinach, tomatoes - and tried just to sell them. GRANITZ: The catch - he doesn't own any land. The garden plot of his youth was in far northern South Africa. He moved here to central Pretoria for school and stayed hoping to find work. On this Sunday morning, Ratema is registering to vote. He supports the left-wing political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, because of its calls to expropriate land without compensation. RATEMA: We just want the land that is owned by the white people to give it back to the governmen

South Africa: Ramaphosa leaves Commonwealth summit to deal with protests

SOUTH AFRICA (REUTERS) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his attendance at the Commonwealth summit in London to deal with violent protests at home. Clashes have taken place in North West province where protesters are demanding jobs, housing and an end to corruption. Shops have been looted, roads barricaded and vehicles set alight. President Ramaphosa, who took office in February, has sought to encourage investment in South Africa during his visit to the UK. Protests in South Africa's North West province erupted on Wednesday as demonstrators demanded the resignation of provincial Premier Supra Mahumapelo - a member of Mr Ramaphosa's governing African National Congress (ANC). Mr Ramaphosa is scheduled to hold meetings with ANC leaders in the provincial capital Mahikeng on Friday, his office said. "To pay attention to the situation in the North West, the president has decided to cut short his participation in the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London where he is leading a government delegation," a statement said. Mahikeng has been at the centre of the latest disturbances - dubbed "service delivery protests" - and streets were reported to be deserted on Thursday after bouts of looting and clashes with police. Mr Ramaphosa has called for calm and ordered police to exercise restraint. South African media said officers used tear gas to disperse protesters who had set light to a bus, stoned vehicles and blocked roads with bu

South Africa’s new president is lifting investor sentiment: Central bank chief

SOUTH AFRICA (cnbc.com) - Momentum in South Africa's economy has followed political change 'There is positive investor sentiment in South Africa': SARB Governor South Africa's investor appeal is experiencing a robust recovery under the two-month old government of President Cyril Ramaphosa, the country's Reserve Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago said on Thursday. Since Ramaphosa took power, both business and consumer confidence have improved, Kganyago told CNBC's Joumanna Bercetche at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington. The positive momentum is also reflected in financial markets. "We saw bond yields decline, the currency strengthen so there is positive investor sentiment in South Africa and that, of course, lays a basis for a cyclical recovery," Kganyago said. Ramaphosa, the successor to embattled former leader Jacob Zuma, is widely regarded as a pro-business politician committed to fighting graft and boosting foreign investment. Once a top performing emerging market, the economy took a hit under Zuma, who was criticized for heavy government interference in business affairs. Also encouraging was the government's tabling of a budget, which is setting a path for fiscal consolidation, and the fact that Moody's revised its credit outlook to stable from negative last month, Kganyago continued. Ramaphosa this week announced a drive to attract more than $100 billion in foreign investments — a target that Kganyago