JOHANNESBURG - A powerful, albeit beleaguered, section of South African business has teamed up with three of the country's biggest trade unions in a bid to force government to intervene to weaken the buoyant South African currency, which rose 30% against the US dollar in 2009 and has held on to many of those gains this year. The strength of the rand, which, together with Brazil's real and Australia's dollar, was among the world's top performing currencies last year, is perceived to be a barrier to industrial development and job creation in the manufacturing sector. Nine leading South African manufacturing enterprises, including JSE-listed companies ArcelorMittal South Africa, Altron, Bell and Hulamin, together comprising the so-called ‘Manufacturing Circle', have already signed a declaration calling for action to deal with South Africa's "overvalued and volatile currency" and more signatories are being sought. The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Federation of Unions of South Africa and the National Council of Trade Unions have also signed the ‘Statement of Declaration by Manufacturers and Trade Unions on industrial and economic policy interventions needed to create decent jobs'. Also a signatory to the document, which was unveiled at a joint media briefing in Johannesburg, is the National Association of Automotive Component and Allied Manufacturers. The PG group's Stewart Jennings says that competitive exchange rates had formed the foundation of all successful industrialisation efforts the world over. He adds that there is, thus, a need to deal with both the volatility and the strength of the South African unit, arguing that R9/$ would go a long way towards helping to revive the embattled domestic sector.
PRETORIA - Newly elected Gauteng African National Congress (ANC) chairperson Paul Mashatile has made it clear that the ANC is the only centre of power in the province. "Our position is that there is only one centre . . . the ANC," he says at the province's eleventh elective conference at the Tshwane Events Centre. Mashatile was pitted against Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane to lead the ANC in the province. He eclipsed Mokonyane with 513 votes to her 356. His comments come amid reports that his winning the position of chairperson in the province will render Mokonyane powerless in her position as Premier. "Government is not a centre - government is a place where people are deployed to do ANC work." He adds that the provincial leadership of the ruling party has to support government, "because it is our government". Government's responsibility is to implement the decisions and policies of the ANC. He warns that, if this does not happen, "there will be consequences". "Those deployed must report, they must account." Provincial secretary David Makhura, who also retained his position in the election, says it is no longer "business as usual" when it comes to ill discipline in the party and a lack of service delivery by government. " . . . it cannot be as if there's no impatience among our people. There are consequences for failure to deliver."
Africa & the world
NEW YORK - World governments have failed to meet a 2010 target to halt biodiversity loss and action must be taken to preserve the species and ecosystems upon which human life depends, a United Nations (UN) report says. In a move endorsed by the UN General Assembly, more than 190 countries committed in 2002 to achieve a significant reduction in the rate of biodiversity loss by 2010. But the report says: "There are multiple indications of continuing decline in biodiversity in all three of its main components - genes, species and ecosystems." UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon says: "The consequences of this collective failure, if it is not quickly corrected, will be severe for us all." Natural habitats in most parts of the world are shrinking and nearly a quarter of plant species are estimated to be threatened with extinction, says the ‘Global Biodiversity Outlook-3' report. The abundance of vertebrate species fell by nearly a third between 1970 and 2006, and crop and livestock genetic diversity is declining in farming. "Biodiversity underpins the functioning of the eco-systems on which we depend for food and fresh water . . . current trends are bringing us closer to a number of potential tipping points that would catastrophically reduce the capacity of ecosystems to provide these essential services," says Ban.