Wednesday, June 3, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Brindaveni Naidoo.
In his maiden State of the Nation address in Parliament, President Jacob Zuma said that the fight against poverty remains the cornerstone of the South African government's focus.
Creating decent work will be at the centre of economic policies and will influence investment attraction and job-creation initiatives. Government wants to create 500 000 new work opportunities by December this year.
With the impact of the global economic crisis affecting the South African economy, President Zuma says that his government will act to "minimise the impact of this downturn on those most vulnerable".
The economic downturn will affect the pace at which the country is able to address the social and economic challenges it faces, says Zuma, but it will not alter the direction of South Africa's development.
In regional news, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso says that he expects to sign an interim trade pact with the Southern African Development Community this week.
After meeting Botswana's President Seretse Khama in Brussels yesterday, Barroso said that he looks forward to Botswana's signature on the interim economic partnership agreement on June 4.
Khama confirmed the signing of the provisional EPA to liberalise trade between Brussels and a number of SADC nations, such as Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, estimated to be worth around €2-billion.
South Africa - the economic powerhouse of the 15-nation SADC - will not be part of the initial deal between the two trading partners, since Pretoria has its own coveted bilateral trade agreement with the European Union.
The interim agreement has had to be postponed at least three times in the last two months over South Africa's reluctance to agree on a regional deal with Brussels. EU officials said that Pretoria had put unnecessary pressure on its poorer neighbours to resist signing the pact.
In other news, South Africa has ranked 123 out of 144 countries on the Global Peace Index for 2009. This is a fall of fifteen places compared with the 2008 GPI.
South Africa obtained unfavourable scores for: the level of violent crime, the number of homicides, ease of access to weapons, level of organised internal conflict, perceptions of criminality, respect for human rights and likelihood of violent demonstrations.
In the African region, South Africa is ranked 21 out of 31 countries, behind Botswana, Malawi and Gabon, ranked top three, and ahead of Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia.
The GPI forms part of the Institute for Economics and Peace, a global think-tank on the relationship between economics, business and peace.
Also making headlines:
The International Criminal Court considers the issue of child soldiers in Darfur.
Activists say that US President Barack Obama, in his speech to the Muslim world tomorrow, cannot ignore human rights issues in Egypt.
Zambia's President Rupiah Banda says that he will not protect his allies over corruption charges.
And, China says that the International Monetary Fund is wrong to question its infrastructure-for-minerals deal with the Democratic Republic of Congo.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.