Monday, June 22, 2009
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I'm Amy Witherden.
Southern African Development Community trade ministers met in Cape Town on Friday against the backdrop of continuing unhappiness and division over the best way to proceed with economic partnership agreement negotiations with the European Union.
Relations between the "SADC-EPA" group, comprising Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland, Mozambique, Angola and South Africa, could be a particular point of strain. This, owing to the fact that Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland and Mozambique moved ahead in early June to sign "interim EPAs" with the EU, notwithstanding South Africa's objections.
There could be specific tension between some of the Southern African Customs Union members, given South Africa's subsequent warning that it may be forced to strengthen customs controls within Sacu.
South Africa's Trade and Industry Minister, Dr Rob Davies, argued that South Africa objected to the EPAs because of a lack of guarantees, and has no intention of seeking to precipitate the dismantling of Sacu.
According to the United Nations Development Fund administrator, Helen Clark, Ethiopia and Cape Verde are the only African countries on target to meet the United Nations antipoverty goals because poor nations have not received the support promised by richer ones.
The UN Millennium Development Goals to reduce poverty were agreed at a UN summit in 2000 and set African and other poor countries targets to raise living standards by 2015.
Clark says that Africa has made the least progress in meeting those goals, and only $3-billion of the $25-billion that Group of Eight nations pledged for Africa by 2010 had so far reached the countries it was earmarked for.
Clark adds that agriculture still represents the continent's best hope to pull itself out of poverty.
The UN contributes about 21% of the world's roughly $100-billion annual development aid.
Back home, the public service coordinating bargaining council says that the occupation specific dispensation, which is at the root of strike threats from public service workers, is "complicated" to negotiate.
The council's vice-chairperson of labour says that talks on implementing the OSD between the government and labour need a lot of work. He conceded, however, that it should have been put into place a long time ago.
As doctors renew their strike threats, the PSCBC gave an assurance that agreements on the OSD - a revised salary structure applicable to the public service - would be signed by June 30.
Government and labour have been in negotiations with various sector councils on the implementation of the OSD since 2007.
Also making headlines:
South Africa's Health Ministry says that there is no need to panic over swine flu.
Southern African Development Community leaders meet in an effort to resolve the crisis in Madagascar.
And, Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is jeered for his "come home" plea to Zimbabwean exiles in Britain.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.