Daily Archives: June 7, 2017

Snowfall to hit Western Cape

Pretoria � Western Cape residents should brace themselves for snowfall following the strong winds and heavy rains that have gripped the province.

According to the South Africa Weather Services (SAWS) forecaster Puseletso Mofokeng, residents can expect snowfall later this afternoon until tomorrow morning, while the cold weather will continue throughout the week.

The SAWS and Western Cape officials have warned residents to keep any belongings exposed to the elements tied down for safe keeping.

The SAWS has branded the Wednesday front as one hell of a storm and warned residents to stay indoors wherever possible.

Due to severe weather, the Western Cape Education Department has taken a decision to close all schools in the province.

According to the department, all learner transport has also been suspended.

Provincial Disaster Management and the South African Weather Service briefed cabinet on the possible impact of the severe weather in the province.

City of Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille has urged Capetonians to remain calm and do all they can to keep safe.

We would like to assure residents that our Disaster Risk Management teams are on high alert and have been conducting various operations in preparation for the storm.

They have also been working with all stakeholders to ensure that we are prepared to provide relief and assistance to residents and to address infrastructure that could potentially be affected by the weather, De Lille said.

The City also urges residents that where possible, to use suitable containers to capture rainwater, which is perfect for flushing toilets.

According to the City, flushing toilets with rainwater could save nine litres or more per flush, depending on the type of toilet.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Minister Angie Motshekga tables Basic Education Dept Budget Vote at ...

The Minister of Basic Education, Mrs Angie Motshekga, will deliver the Basic Education Budget Vote to the National Council of Provinces.

Members of Provincial Legislatures (MPLs) from various provinces will thereafter engage in a debate focusing on education issues arising from provincial education departments.

Source: Government of South Africa

Experts: More African Girls Going to School, Yet Poorest Miss Out

DAKAR � More girls are completing secondary school across sub-Saharan Africa as attitudes change and state spending rises, but some of the most marginalized girls � like those married young or forced to work � are still missing out, education experts say.

The percentage of girls completing secondary school has risen in all regions of Africa since 2005, said a recent report by the African Development Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the U.N. Development Program.

Almost twice as many girls in East Africa and three times as many in Central Africa completed secondary education in 2014 as in 2005, according to the annual African Economic Outlook report, which was published at the end of last month.

Yet more must be done to support girls across the continent who are not in school if the world is to meet a U.N. global goal to ensure all children receive secondary schooling by 2030, experts say.

The deadline on universal education was agreed as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) � a global plan to end poverty and hunger, advance equality and protect the environment.

"Many of the most marginalized girls from the poorest households do not make the transition from primary to secondary, or ever set foot in a school at all," Paola Babos of the U.N. children's agency (UNICEF) told Reuters.

Attitudes toward education for girls are changing across Africa � as more and more parents see sending their daughters to school not only as a chance to improve their futures, but also to boost the family's fortunes, according to Plan International.

Yet issues such as child marriage and teenage pregnancy threaten progress in closing the education gender gap in sub-Saharan Africa, said Vernor Munoz, an education expert at Plan.

"We need to look beyond education to society � and tackle prejudices, stereotypes and harmful practices that prevent girls being in school," Munoz told Reuters.

While the gender education gap is closing on the continent, of 19 countries worldwide with fewer than 90 girls for every 100 boys in secondary school, two-thirds of them are in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the U.N. educational body UNESCO.

The world is set to miss by more than half a century the SDG on education due to under-funding, UNESCO said last September.

Yet African governments have scaled up spending on education in recent years, found the African Economic Outlook report.

The average percentage of state expenditure on education in sub-Saharan Africa between 2010 and 2014 was 16 percent, higher than the global average of 14 percent, the report showed.

Source: Voice of America

Minister Siyabonga Cwele welcomes two decisions taken by Cabinet ...

The Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Dr Siyabonga Cwele welcomes the two decisions taken by the Cabinet Meeting that was held on 24 May 2017 that assist the department to take forward its priorities.

These decisions are;

1. SAPO COO

Cabinet has concurred with the appointment of Ms Lindiwe Kwele as the Chief Operations Officer of the South African Post Office for a period of five years. The Minister has since written to the SAPO Board to permit them to finalise the appointment process.

The decision helps to strengthen the executive management team of the SA Post Office as it continues to implement its Strategic Turnaround Plan.

The Cabinet decision is the latest action in a series of decisions that demonstrates Government's commitment to turning around the SA Post Office operations. Government wants to position the SA Post Office as a competitive and modern postal services that plays a crucial role in contributing to rural development by facilitating financial inclusion and the digitisation of rural towns and villages.

2. National Radio Frequency Plan 2017

Cabinet endorsed the approved National Radio Frequency Plan 2017. The plan is aligned to the International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulation that are currently in force and take into account spectrum for exclusive use for security services. The Plan incorporates references to the SADC Frequency Allocation Plan and SADC Harmonised Guidelines. It is also aligned to the National Integrated ICT Policy that seeks to contribute in the transformation of the sector.

The Minister has written to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to inform the Authority of the approval. This paves the way for ICASA to publish the plan.

Source: Government of South Africa

SOUTH AFRICA’S GDP CONTRACTS TO -0.7% IN Q1

CAPE TOWN, The country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has contracted to -0.7% in the first quarter of 2017, Statistics South Africa said.

The GDP rate was down from 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Joe De Beer, the Deputy Director-General responsible for economic statistics, said the largest negative contributor was the trade, catering and accommodation sector, which decreased by 5.9% and contributed -0.8% to GDP growth.

For the first quarter, the headline GDP is estimated at a contraction of -0.7% - that is the quarter on quarter seasonally adjusted and annualised growth rate.

If you do a year on year comparison � first quarter of 2017 with the first quarter of 2016 � there is an unadjusted growth of 1%.

It is important to always view these growth rates in terms of a time series. So if you look at the last four years, you can see that we have had three other instances of negative economic growth prior to the last two quarters and going by the well-known definition of a recession, we can now announce that South Africa is into the recession with a negative growth in the first quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2017, he said.

While the manufacturing industry contracted by 3.7% and contributed -0.5 of a percentage point to GDP growth, only two sectors recorded an increase in economic production in � agriculture (22.2%) and contributing 0.4% to the overall GDP, and mining (12.8%), contributing 0.9% to GDP.

De Beer said the agriculture, forestry and fisheries industry rebounded in the first quarter of 2017 on the back of eight consecutive quarters of contraction.

The industry's increase of 22.2% in the quarter under review was mainly as a result of increases in the production of field crops and horticultural products.

On expenditure, De Beer said household final consumption expenditure decreased by 2.3% in the first quarter of 2017, contributing -1.4% to total economic growth.

He said the main negative contributors were food and non-alcoholic beverages, which fell by -3.4% and contributing -0.7 of a percentage point.

Clothing and footwear, meanwhile, also fell by -12.1%, contributing -0.7 of a percentage point, with the transport sector also contracting to -4.4% and contributing to 0.7 of a percentage point.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

UN Africa forum launches high-level migration panel to help create ...

Amid growing concern for the safety of migrants, particularly in Africa, as they undertake extreme risks in hopes of a better future or to escape violence and persecution, a high-level body established by the United Nations development arm in the continent has launched a process to help forge political consensus to address challenges and save lives.

Furthermore, border control measures and stringent policies also prevent Africa from realizing the benefits of migration, underscored Abdalla Hamdok, the Acting Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) at the launch of the High Level Panel on Migration in Africa.

Travel in Africa by Africans is curtailed by stringent visa requirements, excessive border controls and immigration restrictions, said Mr. Hamdok, noting that it not only increased costs, but multiplied the risks that migrants are forced to undertake.

Data shows that less than three per cent of Africa's population have migrated internationally and less than 12 per cent of the total migrant [population] in Europe are from Africa, he added.

On top of this, the issue of safe migration for the continent given that every year, thousands of migrants perish while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to reach mainland Europe.

Just last week, some forty young men and women died of thirst in the Sahara Desert, while trying to reach Europe, said President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who also chairs the High-Level Panel.

Maureen Achieng from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) also shared this view.

Migration from Africa towards other regions is taking place in a much lower level than one might think, she said.

The 14-member High-Level Panel was established in April last year by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) to push migration issues to the top of policy agenda by engaging major stakeholders and partners.

Over the next few months, it will hold consultations at the national, regional and global levels and propose recommendations on building and sustaining broad political consensus on the implementation of the international migration development agenda, while taking into account the particular challenges of countries in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The report will be submitted to the African Union Summit in July 2018.

Source: UN News Centre

Zimbabwe’s Leader Angers Some with Latest Overseas Trip

HARARE � Zimbabwe's president is angering some back home with his latest trip overseas, this time to a U.N. conference on oceans even though his country is a landlocked state.

The 93-year-old leader Robert Mugabe has been criticized as a "non-resident president" for globe-trotting while the economy crumbles. He has visited Dubai, China, Singapore, Mexico, Ethiopia, Swaziland, South Africa, Ghana, Mauritius and Mali this year alone.

Mugabe spoke about the threat of climate change during the U.N. meeting this week. South African broadcaster SABC reported that three aides helped him to the podium for a speech that was "at times stumbling."

Despite his advanced age, reports of ill health and visible signs of slowing down, Mugabe still maintains a busy travel schedule.

Zimbabwe's ministry of finance statistics says he spent $36 million on foreign travel in the first 10 months of 2016.

An opposition leader and former finance minister, Tendai Biti, has repeatedly claimed that during his time in government, Mugabe took at least $4 million for every trip to fund the presidential entourage.

"Self-evident that there must be a law restricting such travel by the president. He behaves like a five-year old," Biti tweeted on Monday when word of Mugabe's visit to the U.N. conference spread.

The president's spokesman has defended his travels, saying that "diplomacy does not come cheap."

Source: Voice of America