Wednesday, May 27, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Amy Witherden.
The South African government will revise down its earlier growth forecast of 1,2% for 2009, but will only make this forecast known when it releases its Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in September or October this year. National Treasury DG Lesetja Kganyago warns that South Africa "will be doing very well" if it is able to record zero growth for the year.
Kganyago was speaking at a briefing following the release of South Africa's gross domestic product figures showing that the country is in its first recession in 17 years.
The National Treasury will not alter its stance on producing only two growth forecasts yearly, despite continually emphasising that economic circumstances have changed materially since February, when the initial growth forecast was made by the then Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel in his Budget address.
At the time of the Budget, the global economy was still expected to expand by 0,5%. That figure has been revised several times by the International Monetary Fund, which now expects a contraction of 1,3%.
The South African government has limited visibility of when the economy will recover, with much hinging on a recovery in the global economy and the responsiveness of the domestic economy to fiscal and monetary measures takeIn regional news, the Zimbabwean Red Cross says that the embattled country is on the brink of reaching 100 000 infections of cholera, a preventable disease that has already killed 4 283 people.
Zimbabwe's damaged water and sewage systems that triggered the recent outbreak in the southern African country remain neglected, and stand to cause another public health crisis.
In December, the World Health Organisation said that 60 000 people would be infected with the disease in its "worst-case scenario" for Zimbabwe's cholera outbreak.
That benchmark was quickly passed and aid groups have been working to distribute clean water, purification tablets and rehydration salts to help Zimbabweans fight off the disease that spreads through contaminated water and food.
Back home, the African National Congress said, after the release of data yesterday showing South Africa to be in recession, that the country has fared better than most during the global financial crisis.
ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte says that the annualised 6,4% decline in gross domestic product in the first quarter of 2009 shows that the South African economy is not immune from international developments.
South Africa needs to hold its economic course, she said, while taking steps to improve its economic position. A Cabinet lekgotla currently underway will develop practical plans to deal "decisively" with the financial crisis, including an expansion of investment in public infrastructure.
Duarte adds that the ANC-led government will ensure that development finance institutions have clear and "truly developmental" mandates.
Also making headlines:
The Democratic Alliance blames the ruling ANC for the recession in South Africa.
Parliament names the new members of the Judicial Service Commission.
Umkhonto weSizwe veterans will march on the offices of Western Cape Premier Helen Zille today, to demand an apology for undermining the President.
And, talks to resolve Madagascar's political crisis are postponed.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.