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Daily podcast - May 29, 2009


29th May 2009

By: Amy Witherden


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Friday, May 29, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Amy Witherden.
Making headlines:
South Africa's Central Bank cut its repo rate by 100 basis points yesterday, to help boost an economy now in its first recession in 17 years. The Bank has, however, warned against further reductions because of "sticky" inflation.
Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni said that the mood in the Monetary Policy Committee, was against further "significant" cuts in rates. "We've done all we can," he said.
The Central Bank has reduced the repo rate by 450 basis points since December last year, leaving it at its lowest level in nearly three years at 7,5%. Mboweni says that the actions taken by the MPC so far, and their impact going forward, may strengthen the case for a pause in inflation targeting.
The Central Bank will, however, come under pressure from business and trade unions to go further.

In other news, the African Union says that economic growth on the continent will slump to 2% in 2009 from 5,1% in 2008. The global economic crisis has caused aid contributions to fall and has slashed demand and prices for Africa's mainly agricultural exports. The AU says, however, that agriculture will prove Africa's best chance of pulling itself out of poverty.
A report published jointly by the AU and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, records that gross domestic product growth in Africa declined from 6% in 2007 to 5,1% in 2008 and is expected to be 2% in 2009, while inflation on the continent, excluding Zimbabwe, rose to 10,7% in 2008.
South Africa will be the worst affected in 2009, the report said, with its economy set to shrink by 1,2%.
The report called for more investment in the continent's agricultural industries. At the moment, Africa is importing $33-billion worth of food, as only 6% of African land is arable, compared to 40% in Asia.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation says that private investment to develop agriculture in poorer countries is urgently needed if the world is to double food output by 2050 and stamp out hunger.


In South African news, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, which has accused Western Cape Premier Helen Zille of insulting women and black people, says it is to meet her face to face on Monday.
However, Zille's office said the Premier's meeting was with the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and that Cosatu had merely been invited along.
Cosatu Western Cape secretary Tony Ehrenreich said that Cosatu intended to raise the issue of gender equity in Zille's Cabinet.
The trade union federation has appealed to the South African Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector and the Equality Court to declare that Zille's appointments violate the gender prescripts of the Constitution.
Ehrenreich said the federation would also raise the issue of the province's response to the global economic crisis.

Also making headlines:


The South African Presidency is accused of covering up a damning report on political violence in Zimbabwe.
The Democratic Alliance says that lending rates across the banking sector do not have to be equal but should be reconsidered owing to South Africa's economic situation.
Global development leaders meeting in Paris consider new measures to raise funds for poor nations.
And, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urges Egypt to respect human rights.

That's a roundup of news making headlines today.



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