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Polity – News this Week

8th April 2010

By: Bradley Dubbelman


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South Africa


PRETORIA - The African National Congress Youth League's (ANCYL's) revival of the ‘shoot the boer' slogan may have played a role in the murder of Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging leader Eugene Terre'Blanche, the South African Institute for Race Relations (SAIRR) says. "Racial tensions in the country appear to have increased significantly in recent weeks. This appears to be chiefly as a result of incitement by the ruling ANC to ‘shoot and kill' the Afrikaner ethnic minority in the country," SAIIR deputy CEO Frans Cronje says. He adds that not all crime in the country can be categorised as nonpolitical and accuses the ruling party of heightening tensions as it seeks to dissimulate its failures by blaming social inequality on white
South Africans. "In an environment where law and order have largely collapsed, the consequences of incitement by political leaders to commit murder must be taken seriously." Cronje says that the ANC has failed to meet the expectations of the black majority and "increasingly appears to be seeking to shift the blame for its delivery failures onto the small white ethnic minority". Here parallels may be read to the behaviour of Zanu-PF, in Zimbabwe, when that party realised that its political future was in peril. The ANCYL's recent visit to Zanu-PF, which saw it endorse that party's ruinous policies, is pertinent here. "In such an environment, it is plausible to consider that the ANC's exhortations to violence may be a contributing factor to the killing of Mr Terre'Blanche."



JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's central bank governor, Gill Marcus, says that it is not yet time to raise interest rates to deal with the impact of high power price increases on inflation. "We're not there yet," she says when asked whether the central bank will be forced to raise interest rates after Eskom was given permission to raise its tariffs by a nominal 24,8% this year. The central bank cut the repo rate by 50 basis points to 6,5%, adding to cuts of 500 basis points since December 2008. Union and communist allies of the ruling African National Congress have been calling for deeper interest rate cuts. Marcus says that the central bank is facing pressure to cut but she will not be influenced by it. "Perhaps, there should be a recognition that pressure is something I'm used to. I've been used to it all my life. So I'm not going to buckle. The heat is always there - it's the nature of the job," she says. Marcus adds that the central bank's decision - which surprised the market that expected rates to be left steady - was not owing to pressure. "If the data had not enabled us to do it, we would not have done it. There was certainly no pressure in the sense of ‘this is what is expected of you to do and, therefore, you must do it'." The South African economy came out of its first recession in almost two decades in the third quarter and the pace of the recovery accelerated in the fourth quarter. Growth is expected at 2,3% this year, after a 1,8% decline in 2009. But consumer demand, which drove growth to an average 5% between 2003 and
2007, is expected to be weak.


Africa & the world


TUNIS - The African Development Bank (AfDB) plans to raise $5,5-billion by selling bonds this year to fund its lending for development projects, $2-billion less than in 2009, as the financial crisis abates. The bank will be very active in the markets this year, also looking to invest in six to ten private-equity funds in Africa, AfDB director Tim Turner says. "[The] 2009 borrowing responded to a spike in lending due to the financial crisis. With the crisis abating, the level of activity will return to more normal levels," he adds. The bank is pushing to sell US dollar- and euro-denominated debt with tenures of up to five years, instead of the two-to-three-year maturities sold last year amid the financial crisis, Turner says. "The capital market is still fairly constrained. The objective is to push the tenure out as long as possible . . . a lot depends on the pricing," he adds. Long-term lending represents about 80% of the AfDB's business, while 15% is in private-equity funds, he says. The AfDB is the biggest private-equity investor in Africa, and lends to infrastructure projects and banks. Research compiled by the World Bank-aligned Infrastructure Consortium for Africa last year showed sub-Saharan Africa needing to double infrastructure spending to $93-billion a year to upgrade roads, water and power networks. Poor and inadequate infrastructure has been a big hurdle to economic growth on the world's poorest continent.



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