South Africa – Economy in Recession

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As most economic sectors contract many point finger of blame at corruption within the ruling party. 

According to data from Statistics South Africa, the country as slipped into recession for the first time in eight years, largely due to weak manufacturing and trade sectors. In the first three months of 2017 the economy contracted by 0.7%.

The trade, accommodation and catering sectors were the worst performing, contracting by around 5.9%, while manufacturing contracted by 3.7%. The value of the South African Rand (R) also dropped by around 1%.

Standard Chartered Bank’s Chief Africa Economist Razia Khan said the data showed weakness where it was not expected; the country had been predicted to have relatively high growth rates. Nonetheless, Joe de Beer, Deputy Director General of Statistics South Africa, said, “We can now pronounce that the economy is in recession.”

South Africa’s economy showed marginal positive growth for 2016, although it then contracted in the fourth quarter. The only sectors to have made a positive contribution to output growth in the country have been mining and agriculture, reported the Conversation Africa.

“The slowdown in first quarter was due to much worse results from usually stable consumer-facing sectors that had been the key drivers of growth in recent years,” Capital Economics Africa economist John Ashbourne said.

Political instability, high unemployment and credit ratings downgrades have hit business and consumer confidence, while government bonds have also weakened.

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President Jacob Zuma – CC 2011.

Pressure on President Jacob Zuma, including from within his African National Congress (ANC) party, has risen since a controversial cabinet reshuffle in March that led to downgrades of South Africa to ‘junk’ status by ratings agencies S&P Global Ratings and Fitch.

“Our economy is now in tatters as a direct result of an ANC government which is corrupt to the core and has no plan for our economy,” Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) said, reported the Premium Times.

The concern is that South Africa needs strong economic growth to help reduce unemployment levels, which currently stand at more than 27%.

In a statement, the Government of South Africa said that the current growth rate, if sustained, will lead to a further decline in GDP per capita, risking the sustainability of our fiscal framework and undermining the delivery of social services.

The government added that the Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba would be seeking a meeting with business leaders to discuss ways of working together to achieve inclusive economic growth.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

SOUTH AFRICA: Credit Downgrades Deepen Turmoil
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 3, Pp. 21637B–21639B

SOUTH AFRICA: Anti-Immigrant Protests
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21596A–21598C

SOUTH AFRICA: Growth Falls
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 2, Pp. 21605B–21606A

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East Africa – Pest Outbreak Threatens Crops

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There are serious concerns over the new armyworm outbreak, which has already ruined large areas of cultivation.

On February 14th international leaders held talks in Harare, Zimbabwe, to tackle the armyworm outbreak, which has spread across several African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ghana.

There have been more recent reports suggesting that Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia may also be seeing outbreaks. The species of ‘fall armyworm’ originates from the Americas and United Nations (UN) FAO coordinator for South Africa, David Phiri, said, “farmers do not know really how to treat it.”

The caterpillars eat maize, wheat, millet and rice, key food sources in southern and eastern Africa. The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) recently said that it is spreading rapidly and needs an urgent response.

The armyworm name is misleading as the pest is actually a caterpillar, and should not be confused with the African armyworm, which is known in the region. This species originates from the Americas, although no-one is sure how it made it to Africa. It is thought that it could have arrived on a commercial flight or in imported food.

According to the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), it has taken only eight weeks for the pest to spread to six southern African countries. The caterpillar stage does the damage but “it’s the adult moth that migrates long distances and that’s how it’s managed to get round Africa,” said Professor Ken Wilson, an armyworm expert.

“These army worms attack the maize leaves, the flower and even bore into the stalk. And because they dig into the stem of the plant, it is difficult to notice them. It is only on close inspection that you realise almost the entire plant has been destroyed” said Chimenya Phiri, Malawian farmer, reported BBC News on February 14th.


Armyworm – www.phys.org

South Africa’s agriculture ministry said little was known about how the armyworms arrived or what their long-term effects would be; “It may become a migratory pest similarly to the African armyworm and may migrate in large numbers from one area to another, causing great damage,” reported UK-based the Guardian.

“If it is a small level of the worms, it’s easy to control, using pesticides. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to control it, so they will have to use different methods – including sometimes burning the crops,” said Phiri.

Zimbabwe’s Deputy Agriculture Minister Davis Marapira said that the pest had been detected in all of the country’s 10 provinces.

The FAO, which is hosting the Harare meeting, said armyworm outbreaks combined with current locust problems “could be catastrophic” as southern Africa has yet to recover from droughts caused by the El Nino climate phenomenon.

Zambia reported that almost 90,000 hectares of maize have been affected. In Malawi, some 17,000 hectares have so far been affected. In Namibia approximately 50,000 hectares of maize and millet has been damaged, and in Zimbabwe up to 130,000 hectares could be affected.

The FAO said it had initiated the process of procuring pheromone insect lure traps, which are used for capturing armyworm and monitoring their spread.

(© AFP 14/2 2017; PANA, Lusaka 16/2)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

RWANDA: Food Security Fears
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 1, Pp. 21568A–21568C

Drought and Hunger
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 54, Issue. 1, Pp. 21563A–21563C

Africa’s Pulse – Agriculture Could Be The Key
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 53, Issue. 9, Pp. 21424A–21424B.

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South Africa – Miners Pursue Class Action

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Former and current gold miners are given the go-ahead to pursue class action for health damages.

The legal action is likely to be taken against numerous mining companies according to the Johannesburg high court who made the ruling on May 13th; if it goes ahead it is likely to be the largest class action suit in South African history.

The miners claim that they contracted silicosis, an incurable lung disease, from working in the mines; the defendants include Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Sibanye Gold and African Rainbow Minerals.

Silicosis is a disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust in gold bearing rocks and can lead to breathing complications and tuberculosis, reported BBC News Online.

In a separate case in South Africa earlier this year, about 4,400 silicosis victims and their families won a US$32m settlement from Anglo American and AngloGold Ashanti.

Gold mining has played a central role in South Africa’s history, however Gold’s contribution to GDP has declined in recent years to around 1.7% of GDP in 2013, according to Statistics South Africa. During the apartheid era insufficient labour health and labour practices contributed to the spread of work-related diseases.

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Gold Mine S.Africa C.1890-1923 – CC

The stories of the miners were revealed during the court proceedings; Bongani Nkala who was leading the suit said that “blasting underground created a lot of dust and much of it remained in the workplace, even after the walls were sprayed with water…I was never provided with any respiratory equipment, ” reported AFP.

Another miner, Bangumzi Bennet Balakazi, started in the mines aged 21 in 1974 and worked until 1999, he now has both tuberculosis and silicosis. He said, “my daily routine started at 3.00am in the morning, when we are woken by a siren…soon after the blasting had finished, miners returned to the blasted area almost immediately…the white miners only returned to the blast area after most of the dust had settled.”

Now after the court ruling, around 500,000 current and former miners are open to sue around 30 companies for damages, in a case that dates back many decades. Former miner Vuyani Bwadube, said, “today’s judgement is most welcome… the companies do not have time for us. Even today they don’t care,” he said.

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The judge ruled that mining work dating back to 1965 was covered under the ruling and that the families of dead workers could join the suit. Some of the health studies found that levels of silicosis in South African gold mines at 22-36%, some of the highest rates in the world.

The mining companies issued a statement saying they were studying the court’s decision. One company, Gold Fields had called the case a “generic attack” on the mining industry and Harmony Gold claimed that class action would be “unimaginably cumbersome, costly, time consuming and thus inconvenient.”

The companies may seek an out-of-court settlement and have said they are interested in setting up a “legacy fund” to distribute money. According to independent journalists network GroundUp, the mining companies implicated are appealing the court judgement, although lawyers for the mineworkers stated, “we think this is an attempt to frustrate and delay.”

(AFP 13/5 2016; BBC News Online 13/5)

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

South Africa – Pay–out To Sick Ex-Miners
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp. 21222A

SOUTH AFRICA: ‘Distracting’Political Noise
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.3, Pp.21206A–21206C

Southern Africa – Fighting TB Among Miners
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.2, Pp.21186C

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Africa – ‘Panama Papers’

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As global reverberations are felt following unprecedented leaks, some of the most pressing concerns are in Africa.

A number of high profile African leaders and businessmen have been named in the recent ‘Panama Papers‘ leak involving the Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca, detailing the global scale of tax avoidance and evasion; top officials from at least 15 African countries have been named.

The leaks have added to the calls, made in an African Union (AU) and UN Economic Commission for Africa report in 2015 that African money kept in foreign banks should be repatriated to the continent. At a conference in 2015, former South African President Thabo Mbeki said that Africa was loosing US$50 billion through illicit cash flows, more than double the Official Development Assistance (ODA) the continent receives, although a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) put the amount higher at $150bn, reported Deutschewelle.

The information released in the leaks strongly correlates with findings of the report and confirms the existence of a network of offshore accounts and investment vehicles, driving tax avoidance and evasion. According to a report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa, it is an undeniable fact that these illicit financial flows deserve our full attention continentally and globally.

“There are illicit funds from Africa in European banks. We started discussions with the European Union (EU) some years ago to bring back these funds. We find it morally and economically good for the banks to send the funds back,” said the African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

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In July 2015, at the UN Financing for Development conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, African nations led the G77 bloc of developing countries who offered to forego international aid if western countries closed tax loopholes and shut down tax havens, reported the Daily Maverick.

The leaks are not entirely new revelations as many in Africa have been pushing for the global tax system to be overhauled, pointing to the billions that is lost from the continent each year. However it is the scale of the networks of financial secrecy, essentially set up to be unaccountable, that is becoming clear, and the intricate and murky connections between world leaders and businessmen.

Journalists have yet to make their way through but a tiny fraction of the 11-million documents and the high profile and politically connected nature of the African individuals implicated, seems to indicate that more are yet to come.

The leak was obtained from Mossack Fonesca by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung who worked in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and around 106 worldwide news organisations. Mossack Fonseca is a leading creator of shell companies, corporate entities that are used to hide asset ownership. The leaked internal files contain information on 214,488 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories.

A full breakdown of findings from the ICIJ are available here.

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African Public Officials Implicated – ICIJ

Country Level Findings

Botswana

The President of the Court of Appeals, Justice Ian Kirby, has been named in the leaked files, being said to hold shares in up to five offshore companies mainly in the UK, although he has insisted that all of these are legal. Much of Botswana’s wealth comes from diamond mining, and has been noted to have checks and balances in place to avoid illicit flows of wealth. However, commentators said that it was a worrying sign that many wealthy people in Botswana were considering to invest offshore, reported Deutschewelle.

DR Congo

A leading financial institution with close connections to the gold mining industry, Rawbank, has been implicated in the leaks, which show that the Rawji family, the shareholders of the bank, make extensive use of tax havens and shell companies, maintaining a web of offshore structures such as Khazana Holdings and Hurricane Investments in the British Virgin Islands, Pix Business and Trading Mamu Investments in Panama, and many more. Each of the entities are connected to many other shell companies, which lead to a complex and illusory network of financial connections. There have been concerns that with Dubai’s rise as a gold buyer, a destination for around 70% of DR Congo’s gold, coupled with its financial secrecy, illicit financial flows are growing, reported the Daily Vox.

Jaynet Desiree Kabila Kyungu – twin sister of President Joseph Kabila – considered one of the most influential people in the country, owns a media company together with a Congolese businessman, who were both co-heads of an offshore company in the South Pacific, said to have shares in mobile telecoms operators in DR Congo, reported Deutschewelle.

Egypt

The son of the overthrown President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was named; Pan World Investments INC, owned by his son Alaa Mubarak, was managed by Credit Suisse in the British Virgin Islands. After the toppling of Mubarak authorities asked Mossack Fonseca to freeze Pan World’s assets, although it is claimed that this was never fully implemented, reported Aswat Masriya.

Ghana

Ghana’s former President John Agyekum Kufour ‘s eldest son, John Addo Kufour, allegedly controlled a bank account in Panama worth US$75,000. They appointed Mossack Fonseca, to manage the fund, reported Deutschewelle.

Guinea

Mamadie Toure, widow of Guinea’s late president, Lansana Conte, was allegedly granted the power of attorney to Matinda Partners and Co Ltd, a British Virgin Islands company, in November 2006. Authorities in the US claimed that Toure received $5.3 million to help a mining company win a mining concession from President Conte just before he died in 2008, reported Deutschewelle.

Kenya

The company which recently bought a controlling stake in the Raila Odinga’s molasses plant in Kisumu – Energem Resources Inc – has been linked to many dubious diamond mining companies in West and Southern Africa and tax havens in the British Virgin Islands.

Kalpana Rawal, Kenya’s Deputy Chief Justice was implicated in several business deals linked to two companies based in British Virgin Islands. The documents revealed Rawal’s involvement in real estate in the UK through offshore companies. Kenya’s constitution bars public servants from owning a bank account outside the country, reported Deutschewelle.

Separately, a Danish national, who has previously been accused of land grabbing in Kajiado Country, has been accused of running Avon Developments Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Daily Nation.

Namibia

The leaks have revealed details about the Sicilian Mafia’s business network between Italians and Namibian businessman Zacky Nujoma, the youngest son of founding President Sam Nujoma. According to reports even though much of the criminal syndicate is imprisoned, the empire – with connections to Namibia, Italy and South Africa – has used financial secrecy companies in the British Virgin Islands, reported the Namibian.

Nigeria

Former Delta State governor, James Ibori, who has already been implicated for embezzling up to $75m in London property, has been named in the leak, leading to concerns that the true amount involved could be much higher.

Senate Bukola Saraki, said to be the third most powerful person in the country, has been named as failing to declare offshore assets in his wife’s name.

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and his half-brother Sayyu Dantata, have also been linked to Mossack Fonseca’s shell companies. The two are said to have repeatedly bought and sold shares in 13 companies, mainly in the Seychelles, reported Deutschewelle.

Theophilus Danjuma, a retired army general and former defence minister, is one of Nigeria’s richest people, due to ownership of one of Nigeria’s most lucrative oil blocs. The leaks exposed another of his companies – Eastcoast Investments Inc – which he incorporated in Nassau, in the Bahamas, reported the Premium Times.

South Africa

President Jacob Zuma’s nephew Clive Khulubuse has been mentioned in the leaks, as being authorised to represent the offshore company Caprikat Limited, which purchased oil blocks in the DR Congo. According to reports the leak showed that he did not directly benefit from the deal which “deepens the mystery as to what he was doing there. The question arises why would they use him and what benefits would he have gained from that?” Sam Sole, from the investigative team at South African newspaper the Mail & Guardian said.

Zimbabwe

The opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has called for an investigation after the Panama Papers brought to light links between two wealthy Zimbabwean business men, and the Zimbabwean regime. Billy Rautenbach and John Bredenkamp were named as engaging in widespread tax avoidance and externalising huge sums of money outside the country. PDP spokesman Jacob Mafume said “Bredenkamp is an arms dealer and mining tycoon while Rautenbach is the owner of GreenFuels and is involved in diamond mining”, both well known funders of the ZANU-PF ruling regime.

“As a result of the controversial links between Rautenbach and Zanu PF, major shareholders in fuel retail companies such as Sakunda and Redan have been elbowed out of business as the Zanu PF cartel has moved in to create a total monopoly in the fuel sector and thus keep consumers hostage to high fuel prices…What concerns us at the PDP is that the Panama Papers are being released when Mugabe in February said over $15 billion of proceeds from diamond mining remained unaccounted for,” Mafume added, reported New Zimbabwe.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

KENYA: Graft-Tainted Ministers Sacked (Free to Access)
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.11, Pp.21059B–21060B

Transparency International: “Endemic Corruption” Plagues Most of Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20627B–20627C

TANZANIA: Illicit Outflows Report
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20413C–20414B

NIGERIA: Illicit Oil Proceeds Laundered
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.50, Issue.9, Pp.20119A–20120C

AFRICA: Illicit Financial Flows
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.49, Issue.2, Pp.19449C–19450C

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Africa – Agricultural Policies Harm the Poorest

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Research suggests that small-holder farmers are often negatively impacted by agricultural modernisation policies.

According to research by University of East Anglia (UEA) scholars Dr Neil Dawson, Dr Adrian Martin and Professor Thomas Sikor, published in the World Development Journal, ‘green revolution policies’ promoted by the organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are adversely impacting the poorest.

As much as 90% of the population in Africa are smallholder farmers and are reliant on some form of agriculture; new agricultural innovation poses possible benefits but also great risk.

According to the research, only a minority of wealthy people have been able to keep up agricultural modernisation, as poorer farmers are not able to afford to risk of taking out credit to purchase expensive seeds and fertilisers. Instead, due to pressure from the government, farmers often choose to sell their land.

Specifically the study examined Rwandan agricultural policies and changes to rural inhabitants in eight villages in the west of the country. In this area, high population density and modernising agricultural policies have forced farmers to adopt single crops, in comparison to as many as 60 different types cultivated previously.

Policies in Rwanda posit that agriculture should be focused on specialisation and land management in an efficient and uniform manner, said Dr Dawson, cited by UK-based the Guardian. One farmer commented that ““We have no ability to oppose decisions made by the government. They tell us to plant crops in the wrong season. They’ll say, ‘Grow beans now’ and everyone here knows it’s the wrong time to grow them.”

“The result we saw was that the long-standing knowledge of soils, ecological gradients and associated social as well as economic interactions have, in a flash, been replaced with rules and administrative boundaries”, said Dr Dawson.

“Similar results are emerging from other experiments in Africa. Agricultural development certainly has the potential to help these people, but instead these policies appear to be exacerbating landlessness and inequality for poorer rural inhabitants,” he continued.

The authors of the study recommended green revolution policies be subject to much broader and more rigorous impact assessments, and that poverty mitigating efforts should be incorporated, such as encouraging land access for the poorest and supporting traditional practices in a “gradual and voluntary modernisation”.

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Uganda: CC- 2011

Agriculture is of crucial importance to the well-being and economic stability of many African countries; Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari recently stated that agriculture is the country’s only hope for an economic resurgence, as profits from oil exports continue to decline, reported Ventures Africa.

In South Africa, agriculture is in a precarious position due to an ongoing drought, which has seen five out of nine regions declared disaster zones. Mpumalanga, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State and North West provinces have been declared disaster zones. Cattle, sheep and goat farmers have been urged to cut the sizes of their herds, as land has been scorched and the maize harvest is expected to fall by 25%. Food prices are also expected to rise by 20% or more in 2016, reported the Africa Report.

On February 17-18th development leaders, African heads of state and other representatives gathered for the 39th Session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

President of Italy Sergio Mattarella said, as has been witnessed in South Africa, one of the greatest threats to food production is climate change. He highlighted the IFAD Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme – which now assists farmers in developing countries around the world adapt to changing climatic conditions.

Investing in smallholder agriculture helps to stabilise communities and countries and reduce conflict. “You achieve the means to feed families, support forms of social organisation, preserve land and biodiversity, fight against climate change, create jobs and prosperity, contribute to stable and just societies and, most importantly, eradicate the root causes that push more people to emigrate, ” Mattarella said in an IFAD Press Release.

The African Transformation Forum (ATF), which is to take place on March 14-15th, in Kigali, Rwanda, is to see wide-ranging discussions on the possibilities of agriculture as the basis for economic transformation across the country.

However with the polarised debates around agricultural modernisation, the evident impacts of climate change, and resurgence of an economic emphasis on agriculture, it is crucial to consider carefully the role of agricultural policies and practices in creating greater inequalities and deepening poverty among the poorest and most agriculture-dependant populations.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Southern Africa’s Food Crisis – from Bad to Worse
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue. 12, Pp.21097B–21097C

ETHIOPIA: Drought Aid
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.12, Pp.21094C–21095B

Food Security
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.10, Pp.21025A–21025C

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South Africa – ANC decide to leave the ICC

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The government decides to withdraw from the ICC, with concerns this could set a continent-wide precedent.

According to a ministerial representative for the South African government, they are planning to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC), amongst growing external pressure as authorities ignored a court order to arrest Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir earlier in June.

Al-Bashir who is wanted by the ICC for crimes against humanity and genocide charges in Darfur, was allowed to leave South Africa after an African Union (AU) Summit, despite a ruling by a South African court to detain him. President Jacob Zuma, according to al-Jazeera, chose loyalty to a fellow AU member rather than his commitments to the ICC.

The decision prompted wide ranging international criticism; the Economist went as far to say that “Nelson Mandela’s legacy has been soiled”. Also internally human rights organisations, executive leaders and judicial members were involved in heated debates.

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Omar al-Bashir (CC)

If South Africa leaves, it will be the first country to leave the ICC, amidst a current context of numerous accusations of an anti-African bias, from a number of leaders on the continent; particularly as the only people to be successfully tried at the court have been Africans.

When South Africa first joined the ICC in 1998, the apartheid era was just coming to an end, and they had hoped that the rest of the world would follow. Even today only 123 countries have ratified the Rome Statute, which aims to prosecute those responsible for the worst international crimes, with notable absentees including the United States (US), Russia and China.

A Deputy Minister in the South African Presidency, part of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) congress, said that the ICC has “lost its direction”, accusing powerful nations of trampling on human rights and pursuing “selfish interests”, reported UK-based the Guardian.

If the decision ends up a reality then it will embody some of the fundamental problems with international jurisprudence, particularly that the ICC is powerless to enforce its authority on its own member states.

The decision taken by South Africa is particularly poignant as it sends a signal from what is perceived by many to be one of the most advanced democracies on the continent, setting a precedent for other countries to follow suit. Earlier in 2013 a group of African states, angry at charges levelled against Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, called for a continent-wide withdrawal from the ICC.

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On the other hand, ICC supporters have claimed that such narratives are using ‘pan-Africanism’ as a cover from international scrutiny and human rights law, arguing that the ICC is in fact a hugely valuable tool for “rampant legal impunity”, reported al-Jazeera.

Others have noted that the apparently disproportionate targeting of Africans by the court is explained, in part, by statistical probability. Africa accounts for 34 of the court’s member states, as well as a large percentage of the violent conflicts that produces charges pursued by the court.

Ventures Africa comment that it is important to note that in the eight African countries of which the ICC has operated, the governments of Cote D’Ivoire, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), Mali and Uganda have all requested that the ICC probe crimes on their soil. Only Libya and Sudan have had their cases referred by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

However the decision would still need to be ratified by both the upper and lower houses of parliament as much of the ICC regulation has been incorporated into domestic legal procedures, reported BBC News; although the ANC does have a large majority in parliament.

Minister for International Relations Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said that the government is taking the idea seriously, adding that the matter is on the agenda for the next meeting of ICC members at The Hague in November.

In regards to alternatives, RFI report that there have been murmurs of a transfer of authority for such international cases, in Africa, to the African Court of Justice and Human Rights, although current proposals have excluded charges brought against heads of state, as is currently in place with the ICC. Additionally the ongoing trial of Chadian ex President Hissène Habré, by a Senegalese court, has signalled wider financing issues, as the trial was delayed for many years due to a lack of funds.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

South Africa-Sudan-ICC
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.7, Pp.20695B

South Africa-Sudan-ICC: Arrest Row
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.6, Pp.20623B–20624C

Sudan: Damning HRW Report
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.2, Pp.20473C–20474C

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South Africa – Drive for Offshore Resources

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South Africa’s mineral heavy economy turns to the ocean in search of new economic opportunities, to the dismay of local communities

Coal recently overtook gold as the leading contributor to South African GDP;  in 2014 coal stood at South African Rand (R) 101.05bn (US$8.319bn), platinum group metals and iron ore at R58.7bn ($4.81bn) and gold at R46.8bn ($3.83bn). Xavier Prévost, Senior Coal Analyst at XMP Consulting, said “coal (is the most important commodity for the future of South Africa’s economy) because it is our source of energy. Without it the whole country will be paralysed”.

As part of the National Development Plan South Africa is planning to turn to its 3m sq km of oceans as a source of economic return, to create an estimated 1m jobs and R177bn worth of economic product. The plan focuses on a number of key areas; offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine transport and manufacture, and marine protection services, largely looking for large-scale industrial investment from the private sector, reported the Mail & Guardian Africa.

This new drive towards offshore resources is being catalysed by Operation Phakisa, which is heavily steered by the Government Mineral Resources Department and PetroSA, the national oil producer, who will be involved in granting mining and exploration licenses. With the recent expansion of the South African marine area from 370km to 650km from the shore, the government is now fast tracking 30 deep-water exploration wells, although to date from 300 wells drilled no significant reserves have been found.

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Offshore Drillship Deep Ocean Ascension off Cape Town. CC 2010

Phakisa, from the Sesotho word meaning “hurry up”, has been hailed to “fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues”. However for the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), which represents 100 communities through 70 organisation, the operation is just a “a fast tracking of the killings of our people and continued environmental destruction as it puts profit before the people”, reported South African community journalism network Groundup.

As a result of global shortages and rising national demand the focus on more ‘unconventional mining’ is increasing; in a recent National Biodiversity Assessment, the South African National Biodiversity Institute said that this type of mining is increasingly necessary and applications are growing. Ventures that carry particular risks include the awarding of three prospecting permits for offshore phosphate licenses, which uses machines to break up the ocean floor. A valuable insight into the developments and environmental hazards from offshore mining activities can be in this Greenpeace Technical Report.

The main opponents to proposed offshore resources extraction are the hundreds of thousands of local fishing communities that rely on the South African waters as their primary livelihood, whose main concern is the threat to fishing stocks from pollution, disasters, increased traffic and other environmental disturbances. Commentators, critical of Operation Phakisa, have in the light of the often violent and destructive nature of the mining industry,  instead advocated Operation Bhekisisa – Sesotho for look closely.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Gold: South Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.2, Pp.20756C-20757A

South Africa: Shrinking Economy
Economic, Financial & Technical
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20403A-20404c

South Africa: Platinum Strike Rumbles On
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.2, Pp.20309A-20310A

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