South Africa is winning the war on want in some areas, but failing badly in terms of child and maternal health and in the abolition of poverty, a new government report shows.
The annual South African Development Indicators report was posted on a government website yesterday. It uses data from a variety of sources to assess whether the country has moved backwards or forwards on a host of indicators ranging from the economy, health and education to ssocial cohesion and democratic involvement.
“In many spheres there are improvements generally,” Trevor Manuel, the minister of national planning, said in an introduction.
“In some cases though the improvements are not as much as we would have liked (and) others show a negative trend,” he said.
Manuel singled out child mortality – currently 44.7 deaths per 1000 live births – and the growing number of women who die in childbirth.
He said the global economic crisis, which had pulled economic growth down from a high of 5.6% in 2006 had caused some of the disappointing results.
“It will take some time before employment, growth and investment rises to pre-crises levels especially as global economy remains weak and fraught with risk,” he said.
The 84-page report focuses on the living conditions and attitudes and shows some recovery from troughs associated with the recession.
But while the poor have been assisted by grants, the report concedes: “The severity of poverty has not been dented. This could signal that the poverty reduction policies and the social security net is failing the poorest.”
“Fewer people are feeling South Africa is heading in the right direction, even the hype of the FIFA world cup was not able to bring back people’s optimism to the height of 1994,” the report says.
Noting that the number of people of voting age who turn out for elections had fallen from 86% in 1994 to a low of 58% in 2004 and 66% last year, the report says “creeping apathy” could signal a lack of real choices or just growing political maturity.
Citing police figures, the report says crime is on the declined, but adds: “However the fact that almost a quarter of all South African adults
in all three polling periods have experienced some crime is not acceptable.”
Sanlam chief economist Jac Laubscher puts the New Growth Path framework released by President Jacob Zuma’s government a week ago alongside the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa, AsgiSA, and finds its mostly been around a while.
If Thabo Mbeki’s government could not crack the constraints, what’s different now?
Ebrahim Patel, the minister of economic development, says the difference is a new team in the Union Buildings and a more dire global and local economic situation.
Here is Laubscher’s analysis:
The government is proposing an income freeze for everyone earning over R550 000 a year in salaries and bonuses and a cap at current inflation on increases for everyone earning more than R20 000 a month, Ebrahim Patel, the minister of economic development told MPs.
The government tabled its new growth path in parliament today, defining a framework for discussions with business and labour on strategies to raise annual economic growth to at least 7% of GDP.
Part of the plan is for a social accord between business, government and labour on price and wage restraint.
“There is more space at the top end of the labour market for sacrifices,” Patel said.
The document proposes that only those earning less than R20 000 a month should get increases above the inflation rate and then by only a few percentage points.
Patel confirmed that the government’s target would be to create five million new jobs in the next 10 years and said most of them would have to come from the private sector.
Three cabinet ministers were rolled out today to present South Africa’s “new growth path“, but after about 70 minutes of briefings, reporters were left wondering what it was all about.
The sectors mirror those identified for job-creating potential in all previous growth plans, the inability of government departments to work together was highlighted as it has been for at least 12 years and there was yet another promise to work with business and labour to agree on a strategy.
The SA Communist Party was quick to agree to talk and laid out its minimum demands: price control, reduced executive earnings and action to close the vast wage gap.
The Democratic Alliance wondered why the cabinet had rushed to brief when there clearly was no agreement after 18 months in government on where to take economic policy.
Here is the cabinet statement with separate notes from the DA and the SACP.
The Department of Defence has been rapped over the knuckles by the auditor-general for paying soldiers more than R800-million in salary hikes, incentive bonuses and housing allowances without going through the proper channels.
According to the Defence Department’s overdue annual report, which was tabled in parliament today, the department received another qualified audit mainly as a result of problems it had experienced in maintaining a proper register of all its assets.
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Here are Defence Secretary Mpumi Mpofu’s opening remarks to a news conference in Cape Town:
South Africa’s 119 nursing colleges are running at 110 % of their capacity, but with less than half the optimal number of staff, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi has told parliament.
In written replies to questions put by Democratic Alliance health spokesman Mike Waters, Motsoaledi said the state’s nursing colleges and schools should have 4 479 staff, but actually have only 2 033, which is 45.5 % of the optimal level.
But while they have the capacity to train 19 575 nurses at any one time, the colleges actually have 21 462 students enrolled.
Motsoaledi conceded that only 19 schools and colleges had been inspected since 1998 to make sure the meet the state’s requirements and the most recent inspections were in 2004.
“That figure really is disgusting. It makes my blood boil,” Waters said.
Check how your province rates in this detailed breakdown:
President Jacob Zuma sought to reassert his authority in the ANC at the party’s national general council in Durban.
He set the agenda with an opening address that was heavy on discipline and he reaffirmed that stance in his closing address.
Here are the two speeches that largely defined the meeting:
The ANC’s national general council adopted scores of resolutions at its national general council in Durban.
Some require further investigation before they are submitted to the party’s next policy conference in 2012. Others will simply propose measures to be considered by that conference.
The final decisions on all these matters will be taken at the next national conference later in 2012, when President Zuma and the national executive committee of the ANC will be up for replacement or reelection.
Here are the consolidated decisions of the NGC on issues including nationalisation:
The National General Council of the ANC has instructed parliament to mount a broad review of South Africa’s print media, including self regulation, transformation and ownership.
Some leaders are urging media to let the process run its course, saying there is no intention to set up a media appeals tribunal as proposed by President Jacob Zuma in his answers to parliamentary questions recently.
Others say the tribunal is a done deal and it is only the modalities that have to be decided.
Here is the text of the resolution adopted by the NGC in Durban.
By AMUKELANI CHAUKE and CHARLES MOLELE
Trade union federation Cosatu has blamed the ANC for 16 years of “failed” economic policies, and has demanded an overhaul of the South African economy.
Launching Cosatu’s alternative economic policy in Johannesburg, general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said the labour federation would push for it to be considered at the ANC’s national general council next week.
He said: “Policies implemented since 1994 have not improved the lives of our people or yielded development. Instead, we have more unemployment, more poverty and more inequality.”
Vavi also called for:
The creation of a state-owned bank to cater for poor working-class South Africans;
The nationalisation of critical sectors like mining, metal and petrochemicals and the creation of a state company to oversee nationalisation;
A progressive tax system, with an introduction of a tax category for the “super-rich” and a solidarity tax that aims to cap the growth of earnings of the top 10% and to accelerate the earnings of the bottom 10%;
Strengthening of the rand against the US dollar and the abolition of inflation targeting; and
The creation of full-time jobs through the government’s Expanded Public Works’ Programme and a ban on labour broking.
Vavi said Cosatu would submit the document to the minister of economic development, Ebrahim Patel, in the hope that he would include it in his final growth path document.
“It is going to be our Koran and Bible and nobody will burn it,” Vavi said.
“We are not necessarily calling for the ‘wholesale or blanket’ nationalisation of all mines in SA. We don’t think that is a realistic proposal. It must be a strategic intervention by the state – not to own the entire construction industry, for example, that cannot be practical.
“We do want a state that can play a more direct role in all the areas we think are strategic on the economy.”
Vavi dismissed concerns that nationalisation would drive away foreign investors: “If everything we do had to be approved by investors then we would be stuck in the current situation for 100 years more.
“In Botswana there is a partnership by the state and the mining industry, a company from South Africa called De Beers which is in 50-50 partnership with the government, and that has not scared investment from Botswana.”
Econometrix chief economist Dr Azar Jamine said that Cosatu’s document addressed the inequalities faced by of the working class, but he was concerned by the “prescription” of relying on the state to “intervene and control everything”.
Jamine said the government did not have the capacity to run a new state-owned entity to oversee nationalised sectors.
He said the proposal for a state-owned bank had merit because banks were reluctant to lend money to the poor because of pay-back risks.
Jamine said Cosatu’s insistence that the government drop inflation targeting might address job losses and create jobs, but “it would just cause the inflation to go up, causing the same working class to suffer even more”.
Analyst Daniel Silke said Cosatu’s proposal on alternative economic policies had enough weight to be considered for discussion at the ANC’s national general council.
“All alliance partners are [in] competition against each other to present alternative economic proposals at next week’s NGC,” Silke said.
The ANC is expected to discuss persistently high unemployment and ways of dealing with the strength of the rand.
Senior ANC official Enoch Godongwana said that the party would review its economic policy.
“I know a number of people have raised the [tax on capital flows] issue . Our view is that we’ve got to look at the multiplicity of variables [to tackle the rand] in the economy.”
“It’s all very well to say we’ve got to reduce interest rates . It’s not an easy question.”