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Polity - News this week

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Polity - News this week

1st April 2010

By: Bradley Dubbelman

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South Africa

CAPE TOWN - Labour brokers are behind the exploitation of workers, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), says. "More and more employers are getting round the labour laws by replacing permanent, secure and at least relatively well-paid jobs by temporary, insecure and generally low-paid jobs, where workers' rights are flouted and the labour laws sidelined," Vavi says in a speech to the Confederation of Associations in the Private Employment Sector, in Boksburg. Vavi adds that this is leading to a sharp decline in the quality of employment and the superexploitation of workers. "Labour brokers, in our view, are one of the main driving forces behind this process, which is why our members have given us a clear mandate to campaign for an end to the practice." Vavi says that unemployment currently stands at 24,5%, "though, by the expanded definition that includes workers who have given up looking for work, it is at a staggering 34,4%". He says that, according to a recent study by the University of Cape Town, 58% of African households live in poverty. However, Vavi says that even the ranks of the employed contained a large and growing number of "working poor".

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Africa & the world

KHARTOUM - The US hopes that this month's Presidential election in Sudan will set the stage for a "civil divorce, not a civil war" over moves by the oil-rich south to secede, the Obama administration's special envoy says. Scott Gration acknowledges problems with preparations for the vote but says that it should still take place on time so that democratic structures are put in place to deal with the looming issue of the status of Southern Sudan, which will be decided by a referendum next January. He adds that the US is prepared for any eventual secession vote and is working to resolve contentious issues in the hope of avoiding a reprise of the two-decade civil war that ended five years ago. "I don't see that the north has to reinvade the south and start the war again," Gration says. "If we can resolve these issues, I think there is a fairly good chance that . . . the south can have a civil divorce, not a civil war." Sudan's north-south civil war claimed two-million lives and drove more than four-million from their homes, destabilising much of East Africa.

KAMPALA - Africa should seek an economic unity that transcends borders laid down in the colonial era, President Jacob Zuma says. Addressing the Ugandan Parliament during his State visit to the East African nation, he says that common markets are far more effective at bringing countries together than common declarations. "As we seek unity at political level as Africans, we must acknowledge that lasting unity must necessarily involve the economic integration of our continent," he adds. Africa's economic development is constrained by the borders that colonialism imposed on it. "We have to overcome lines drawn on a map: lines that reflect more the differences between the nations of nineteenth century Europe than between the peoples of today's Africa," Zuma says. "We must draw our own lines on the map. These should be lines that represent roads, railways, electricity lines, pipelines, fibre-optic cables." Africans should be able to invest in one another's economies and draw on one another's skills and expertise. The continent is rich in minerals, produce and people, yet it remains very poor. "It is only by uniting our peoples, by pooling our resources, and combining our efforts that we will overcome this devastating legacy."

ACCRA - Ghana expects oil to generate an average annual $800-million in revenues for State coffers from next year, the Finance Ministry says, of funds that will boost the Budget but still leave the country needing to borrow. The figures, in a website survey asking Ghanaians how the windfall should be used, underline the fact that proceeds from output at its Jubilee field, due to start late this year, will only transform the poor West African State if used carefully. Using a ten-year average price of oil at $65/bl, the Ministry predicts that annual government revenue from oil and gas will average $800-million between 2011 and 2029, rising from $490-million in 2011 to a $2-billion peak in 2017.

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