Thursday, June 4, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Shona Kohler.
The African National Congress's alliance partners believe that President Jacob Zuma's maiden State of the Nation address to Parliament yesterday hit the nail on the head. On the other hand, some opposition parties assert that it signals a shift to a socialist agenda, while analysts call it disappointingly low on detail.
Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Athol Trollip said that the President's address was marked by a distinct ideological shift towards a socialist agenda. Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi agreed with this interpretation.
The South African Communist Party and the Congress of South African Trade Unions lauded Zuma's address, particularly for highlighting the fight against poverty and job creation as key priorities.
Wits University political analyst Susan Booysen called the speech "very low on detail ", while Judith February from the Institute for Democracy in South Africa said that it was a speech of "the collective". Centre for the Study of Democracy director Stephen Friedman said that Zuma's speech displayed little that would set his administration apart from former President Thabo Mbeki's reign.
In world news, US President Barack Obama is in Egypt today to repair US ties with the Muslim world in an address that will be crucial to his efforts to win the support of moderate Muslim countries.
Obama's choice of Cairo for his speech, underscores his focus on the Middle East, where he faces big foreign policy challenges.
The US President wants to build a coalition of Muslim governments that will back his efforts to revive stalled Middle East peace talks and help the US curb Iran's nuclear programme.
The address is part of a broader effort to rewrite US foreign policy that under George W Bush alienated allies and fuelled a wave of anti-Americanism in the Muslim world.
In other news, the European Union has expressed concern over the trend of foreign investors and countries acquiring large tracts of farmland in developing countries to guarantee their own food security.
Director-general for aid and development at the European Commission, Stefano Manservisi, said that there are fears the trend might pose a risk to developing countries if it is not carried out properly.
The poorest countries are selling their land from which they will not get any kind of food benefits, said Manservisi. Thirty years ago, the phenomenon known as "land grabbing" would have been a perfect example of "neo-colonialism".
A May report estimated that nearly 2,5-million hectares of farmland in five sub-Saharan African countries had been bought or leased since 2004.
Also making headlines:
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that Somali refugees are pouring into Kenya by the thousands.
Ethiopian rebels threaten foreign oil companies looking to exploit oil resources in the Ogaden region.
And, in his upcoming overseas trip, Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will seek to unblock negotiations with Western donors over support for his embattled country.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.