Monday, June 8, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Amy Witherden.
African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe has criticised the Congress of South African Trade Unions for weighing in on the ruling party's leadership succession. Whether ANC president Jacob Zuma will serve two terms was "none of Cosatu's business", said Mantashe.
On Thursday, Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi stated that Zuma will run for two terms as ANC president. Mantashe said on Sunday that Vavi and Cosatu had no basis to speak on the ANC's leadership succession.
Cosatu president S'dumo Dlamini says, however, that Vavi was not speaking about the ANC's succession but that of the State President. Alliance partners cannot be barred from talking about the issue of President Zuma staying in office for a second term, he said.
To add to the confusion, Zuma has meanwhile said that whether or not he serves a second term as ANC president will be left to his party to decide.
In regional news, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has launched a new customs union at a major African economic summit, hoping that it will boost investment and strengthen economic ties on the world's poorest continent.
But Zimbabwe, hit hard by years of hyperinflation, economic contraction and isolation, is unlikely to immediately benefit from the customs union.
Under the union, the 19 members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa will impose the same tariffs on goods from outside the region. Members will have up to 3 years to implement the new tariffs.
Hosting the summit at Victoria Falls, Mugabe urged African countries to end conflicts and boost development on the continent. He said that Comesa member States must put money into the Comesa Fund to help cut dependence on foreign assistance.
Back home, in Friday's Parliamentary debate on President Jacob Zuma's State of the Nation Address, South Africa's Minister in The Presidency responsible for Planning, Trevor Manuel, said that major risks loom "perilously large" despite some "green" and "brown" shoots of economic recovery.
Manuel acknowledged that there had been some indicators of stabilisation over recent weeks, but also listed several risks, including: high levels of indebtedness of households and the rising interest burden of governments; the negative effects of governments having to reduce their debt burdens; and the fact that employment might continue to fall for some time even after economic output recovers.
While inflation had reduced from its highs of 2008, oil prices and nominal wage pressures presented further risks, said Manuel.
He predicts that "somewhat better figures" will emerge in the latter part of the year, underpinned by sustained growth in public infrastructure, government consumption, better commodity prices, and the improving interest rate cycle.
Also making headlines:
Gauteng Agriculture MEC steps down over the Mercedes Benz outcry.
Analysts say that the presence of Sudan's President who is facing charges with the International Criminal Court is likely to overshadow the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa summit in Zimbabwe.
Guinea-Bissau politicians are killed in a "counter coup" operation.
And, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is told by the Dutch government that more aid depends on reforms.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.