Saturday, September 22, 2018

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Economic Recovery Plan: Full Text of Speech
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09

JOHANNESBURG. – In the State of the Nation Address in February, we announced a range of measures that we would initiate to set the country on a new path of growth, employment and transformation.

Since then, we have taken decisive steps to rebuild investor confidence, end corruption and state capture, restore good governance at state owned enterprises and strengthen critical public institutions.

Yet, as is evident from the contraction of our economy in the first two quarters of the year, our economic difficulties are severe and will take an extraordinary effort – and some time – to overcome.

For several years our economy has not grown at the pace needed to create enough jobs or lift our people out of poverty.

Public finances have been constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development.

In recent months, the structural weaknesses in our economy have been made worse by global factors such as a rising oil price, weakening sentiment towards emerging markets and deteriorating trade relations between the US and other major economies.

This has negatively affected South Africans.

It is in response to these factors, many of which are outside our control, that we are announcing today, following its adoption by Cabinet, an economic stimulus and recovery plan.

The stimulus and recovery plan we are outlining consists of a range of measures, both financial and non-financial, that will be implemented immediately to firstly ignite economic activity, secondly restore investor confidence, thirdly prevent further job losses and create new jobs, and fourthly to address some urgent challenges that affect the conditions faced by vulnerable groups among our people.

The measures we are announcing give priority to those areas of economic activity that will have the greatest impact on youth, women and small businesses.

‘Four broad parts’

The stimulus and recovery plan has four broad parts:

Firstly, implementation of growth enhancing economic reforms.

Secondly, reprioritisation of public spending to support job creation.

Thirdly, the establishment of an Infrastructure Fund.

Fourthly, addressing urgent and pressing matters in education and health.

Fifthly, investing in municipal social infrastructure improvement.

It is generally agreed that in order for our economy to grow at a rate that will lead to job creation on a meaningful scale, we need to significantly increase levels of investment.

We are decisively and rapidly accelerating the implementation of key economic reforms that will unlock greater investment in important growth sectors.

These reforms include immediate changes approved by Cabinet to South Africa’s visa regime.

Within the next few months, amendments will be made to regulations on the travel of minors, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa will be reviewed, an e-visas pilot will be implemented, and the visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners will be revised.

These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive.

Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa.

The Mining Charter

It is imperative that South Africa restores investment and exploration levels in the mining sector as mining and mineral beneficiation activities have significant potential to drive long term growth, exports and job growth.

Following extensive consultation that involved industry players, communities, labour and government, Cabinet approved the revised Mining Charter.

This will revitalise the mining industry and provide certainty to investors while charting a sustainable path towards a transformed and inclusive industry.

Parliament will be requested in terms of its Rules not to proceed with the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act Amendment Bill, which has contributed to a lot of uncertainty in the sector.

Separate legislation for the regulation of the oil and gas industry will be drafted through the government’s legislative process.

To reduce the cost of doing business, to boost exports and to make South African industry more competitive, government has begun a review of various administered prices, starting with electricity, port and rail tariffs.

Data costs

Within the next few weeks, government will initiate the process for the allocation of high-demand radio spectrum to enable licensing.

This will unlock significant value in the telecommunications sector, increase competition, promote investment and reduce data costs.

Lower data costs will also provide relief for poor households and increase the overall competitiveness of the South African economy.

Other measures we will implement include expanding procurement from small business and cooperatives, as well as using trade measures – within WTO rules – to protect poultry and other sensitive sectors and a vigorous crackdown on illegal imports.

Reprioritisation of spending

The central element of the economic stimulus and recovery plan is the reprioritisation of spending towards activities that have the greatest impact on economic growth, domestic demand and job creation, with a particular emphasis on township and rural economies, women and youth.

Our government has limited fiscal space to increase spending or borrowing, it is imperative that we make sure that the resources that we do have are used to the greatest effect.

The reprioritisation of spending we are outlining as part of this stimulus and recovery plan will take place within the current fiscal framework and in line with the normal budgetary process.

Re-prioritised funding will be directed towards investments in agriculture and economic activity in townships and rural areas.

Agriculture has massive potential for job creation in the immediate and long term.

The interventions we have identified will include a package of support measures for black commercial farmers so as to, increase their entry into food value chains through access to infrastructure like abattoirs and feedlots.

Blended finance will be mobilised from the Land Bank, Industrial Development Corporation and commercial banks.

The Land Bank is currently concluding transactions that will create employment opportunities in the agricultural sector over the next three to five years.

A significant portion of the funding will go towards export-oriented crops that are highly labour intensive.

Government will finalise the signing of 30 years leases to enable farmers to mobilise funding for agricultural development.

As part of the work to develop agriculture and ensure effective land reform, I have appointed an advisory panel on land reform that will guide the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Land Reform chaired by Deputy President David Mabuza.

The 10-person panel is to advise government on the implementation of a fair and equitable land reform process that redresses the injustices of the past, increases agricultural output, promotes economic growth and protects food security.

Further details of the mandate and composition of the panel will be made available in a separate statement.

In the second instance, reprioritised funding will also be re-directed towards igniting economic activity in townships and rural areas.

We have prioritised the revitalisation of three regional and 26 township industrial parks as catalysts for broader economic and industrial development in townships and rural areas.

A township and rural entrepreneurship fund is being established to provide finance to either scale up existing projects or provide start-up capital for new projects.

In the third instance, we will also be re-directing resources towards addressing immediate challenges in health and education, which are critical to the health, well-being and productivity of our people.

Arising from the priorities identified at the meeting of the President’s Coordinating Council earlier this week, additional funds will be directed to addressing the dire state of sanitation facilities in many public schools, ensuring the completion of 1 100 sanitation projects in the current financial year.

To address some of the shortages in our hospitals, funding is being made available immediately to buy beds and linen, while the Minister of Health and the National Health Council will immediately fill 2 200 critical medical posts, including nurses and interns.

R50bn in reprioritised expenditure and new project level funding

In total, the plan will result in reprioritised expenditure and new project level funding of around R50 billion.

The Minister of Finance will provide more detail about the final amounts involved and the specific areas affected during the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement next month.

The stimulus and recovery plan prioritises infrastructure spending as a critical driver of economic activity.

Infrastructure expansion and maintenance has the potential to create jobs on a large scale, attract investment and lay a foundation for sustainable economic expansion.

With a view to unlocking the potential to create more jobs on a large scale we have decided to set up a South Africa Infrastructure Fund, which will fundamentally transform our approach to the roll-out, building and implementation of infrastructure projects.

The lessons we learnt in the 2010 World Cup infrastructure roll-out will stand us in good stead as we set out this fund.

The South Africa Infrastructure Fund will reduce the current fragmentation of infrastructure spend and ensure more efficient and effective use of resources.

The private sector will be invited to enter into meaningful partnerships with government in this fund.

R400bn for infrastructure fund

The contribution from the fiscus towards the Infrastructure Fund over the medium-term expenditure framework period would be in excess of R400 billion, which we will use to leverage additional resources from developmental finance institutions, multilateral development banks, and private lenders and investors.

To ensure these funds are used effectively and that projects are completed on time and on budget, we are establishing a dedicated Infrastructure Execution Team in the Presidency that has extensive project management and engineering expertise to assist with project design and oversee implementation.

The team will identify and quantify ‘shovel ready’ public sector projects, such as roads and dams, and engage the private sector to manage delivery.

The role of the PICC will be strengthened to ensure improved coordination across the three spheres.

As part of the reprioritisation of spending, additional infrastructure funding will be directed towards provincial and national roads, human settlements, water infrastructure, schools, student accommodation and public transport.

In support of the stimulus efforts, the IDC will be targeting to increase its approvals to R20bn over 12 months, an increase of 20 percent on the previous year.

This funding will target the productive sectors of the economy, including manufacturing, mining, industrial infrastructure and sectors in distress.

We also need short term municipal investments to address the challenges that our people face.

We have identified 57 priority pilot municipalities in order to unlock infrastructure spending in the short term.

This spending will cover, among other things, sewerage purification and reticulation, refuse sites, electricity reticulation and water reservoirs.

Cutting across all these measures are series of interventions to ensure that growth is labour intensive and that young people in particular are drawn into the labour market.

Some of these measures include the extension of the Employment Tax Incentive for a further 10 years, with a review after five years, greater support for public employment programmes, additional support for the clothing and textiles sector, and the use of funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund to support labour activation programmes.

Collaboration

Igniting economic activity requires partnership and collaboration.

It must be a national effort in which all of us work together to restore our economy to growth in the immediate term and prepare the ground for sustainable, inclusive growth into our future.

We have held consultations with leaders from business and labour on this plan.

We are encouraged by the support they have pledged for the measures outlined and many have undertaken to provide resources and expertise to ensure its success.

We continue to draw on the guidance and support of bodies like the National Planning Commission, which will soon release its own guidance on focal areas to stimulate the economy, and Government will continue to coordinate its work with formations like the CEO Initiative.

We are certain that the measures we have outlined here will complement the deliberations at the forthcoming Jobs Summit.

We are certain that these interventions will help to put the economy on a far firmer footing as current investors and potential investors convene in Johannesburg for the Investment Conference at the end of October.

As South Africans, we have confronted challenges far greater than this before.

By working together, we managed to end a seemingly intractable conflict and set our country on the path to a peaceful transition to democracy.

Now, we have it within us to come together once more and forge a new path of growth, jobs and transformation.

We are confident that the four elements of our economic stimulus and recovery package will play a decisive role in reversing the recent contraction of the South African economy.

Together, we are taking bold and concrete measures to ensure a clear and sustained improvement in the lives of all South Africans.

– Fin24
Angola Drops Graft Charges Against Ex-army Chief
 22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09 

LUANDA. – Angolan prosecutors dropped corruption charges against a former army chief of staff who was sacked in April by President Joao Lourenco as he moved to shake up his predecessor’s administration.

The charges against Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda were dropped late on Wednesday because of a lack of evidence “proving criminal conduct”, according to the Supreme Court.

Eight other accused, including a spokesperson for the ruling party, four Thai nationals, a Canadian and an Eritrean were placed under house arrest in connection to a $50bn fraud.

Their trials are expected to begin before the end of the month.

In April President Lourenco removed Sachipengo Nunda who had been implicated in the scandal by prosecutors a month before.

Since coming to power in September 2017, President Lourenco has fought against corruption while also removing figures associated with the regime of his predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

During his 38-year rule, dos Santos secured the unquestioning loyalty of his security chiefs including the head of the army.

Other prominent dos Santos-era scalps claimed by President Lourenco include his predecessor’s son, Jose Filomeno, who is accused of attempting to steal $1.5bn during his time at the helm of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund.

President Lourenco also removed dos Santos’ daughter from the helm of the state oil company Sonangol and she is now facing probes for alleged corruption.

– AFP
DR Congo Political Heavyweights Excluded From Presidential Election 
Moise Katumbi

KINSHASA. – Election officials in Democratic Republic of Congo on Wednesday released an official list of candidates for December’s presidential election, formally excluding two heavyweight opposition figures.

“Now we have finished with the candidacy stage, we are in the home stretch for the December 23 elections,” said electoral commission chief Corneille Nangaa as he unveiled the list.

More than two dozen people registered their bid with the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI), a much-contested panel tasked with overseeing the ballot in one of the Africa’s biggest and most unstable nations.

It gave the green light to opposition figures Felix Tshisekedi and Vital Kamerhe, as well as to Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, a hardline former interior minister backed by President Joseph Kabila.

But the list also confirmed the exclusion of former warlord Jean-Pierre Bemba and regional baron Moise Katumbi a move that raised howls of protest from their powerful blocs of supporters.

Bemba has lashed what he calls a “parody of an election.”

He accused President Kabila whom critics characterise as corrupt and manipulative of pulling strings “to ensure that the government’s candidate does not have a serious challenger.”

The DRC, previously known as Zaire, has never had a peaceful transition of power since it gained independence from Belgium in 1960.

Most of its citizens are deeply poor despite the DRC’s wealth of gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, uranium and oil. Bloody conflicts trouble the vast country’s east and centre.

Kabila, 47, has been in power since 2001. His second and final term in office ended nearly two years ago, but he kept in power thanks to a caretaker clause in the constitution.

Months of feverish speculation about Kabila’s plans, marked by protests that were bloodily repressed, ended in August when he threw his weight behind Shadary.

Around 500 people gathered in Kinshasa’s Roman Catholic cathedral late Wednesday for a mass to commemorate “martyrs” who died in anti-Kabila protests in 2016.

Voting day on December 23 will take place for the presidency, legislature and provincial bodies, throwing down a huge logistical and technical challenge to CENI in a country where infrastructure is poor.

The big challenge for the fragmented opposition is to unite behind a credible candidate after the loss of the people-pulling power of Bemba and Katumbi.

It will stage a rally in Kinshasa on September 29 on the heels of talks in Brussels and a meeting in Johannesburg with South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) party.

In the absence of a single champion, boycotting the election, citing for example security concerns over electronic voting machines, may loom as an opposition strategy, say analysts.

Last week, Tshisekedi, Kamerhe, Bemba and Katumbi joined with two fellow opposition leaders to warn CENI and Kabila’s government to ensure fair elections or else “be held responsible for the chaos and consequences.”

Bemba, 55, a former rebel and ex-vice president, declared his candidacy when he made a triumphant return home from Belgium after the International Criminal Court in The Hague acquitted him of war crimes charges.

But he was excluded by CENI, in a decision upheld by the Constitutional Court, on the grounds that the ICC had convicted him separately on charges of tampering with witnesses at his war-crimes trial.

That conviction and a one-year sentence were upheld by the ICC on Monday along with a 300,000-euro ($350,000) fine. Bemba’s lawyer, Melinda Taylor, said in an email to AFP on Wednesday that he would file an appeal.

Katumbi, 53, a former Kabila ally and ex-governor of the mineral-rich province of Katanga, says he was blocked at the Zambian border to prevent him from returning to the country to file his candidacy.

He has lived in exile since 2016.

– AFP
‘Adhere to Basic Hygiene Principles to Fight Cholera’
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09
Zimbabwe Herald

Paidamoyo Chipunza: THE INTERVIEW

Zimbabwe declared a cholera outbreak in Harare after it was first reported on September 6 in Glen View and Budiriro, the epicentre of the disease which has since claimed 33 lives and affected nearly 8 000 people. Swift response by the Government and the private sector has helped to contain the outbreak, dousing fears of a repeat of the 2008 cholera outbreak which killed more than 4 000 people. Here, our Senior Health Reporter, Paidamoyo Chipunza (PC) speaks to newly-appointed Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo (OM) on the outbreak.

PC: What is the source of the current cholera outbreak and how has this source been addressed?

OM: In this particular case, the problem arose as a result of blocked sewers, which were reported for at least two months, but took long to be repaired and now we have ended up with the whole Glen View and Budiriro area being affected. Garbage was also not being collected on a regular basis and there were erratic water supplies, leaving residents with no option but to resort to boreholes and shallow wells for drinking water. There has also been a lot of food vending in the area, which has contributed to spreading of cholera bacteria.

PC: To what extent has the outbreak spread to other parts of the country?

OM: It is quite clear that we have an epicentre, the area from which most of these cases are arising and this is the Glen View-Budiriro area. There are people who came from outside Harare and were visiting either Glen View or Budiriro. These are the people who got sick when they returned to their homes outside Harare. So in reality, the area of concern is Harare, particularly Glen View and Budiriro area.

PC : What strategies have you so far put in place to contain the outbreak and how effective have these strategies been?

OM: The President declared cholera an outbreak on September 12 and since then, my team throughout the country has been activated to be able to respond very fast to this emergency situation. An appeal of about $64 million has also been launched to assist with resources required in containing the outbreak. So our plan has been activated and everybody is 100 percent ready to go, in all the municipalities, in all the Government institutions. We have put a system in place which is highly responsive to the needs on the ground. We have put a high alert on cholera so that we can contain it appropriately and as a result, we have begun to see a decline in the number of cases. Numbers are coming down because of stop gap interventions that we’ve put in place. As of yesterday (Thursday) the death toll was at 33 with 7 919 cases since September 6. New cases recorded were 475 against more than a 1 000 cases which were being recorded in recent days. So, cases have come down to appreciable levels.

PC: What is the significance of declaring a situation such as a disease outbreak a state of disaster?

OM: Declaring cholera a state of disaster enables everyone in Government and those supporting us from partners and other stakeholders to focus on stopping the spread of this outbreak. We have seen that the possibility of this outbreak spreading to other parts of the country is high and that more people are likely to be affected. The declaration will also help us to put extraordinary measures to stop the spread of cholera in Harare and Zimbabwe such as banning food vending in the streets of Harare and use of other Government apparatus to control the outbreak.

PC: We have also heard that one of the challenges hindering effective control of the current outbreak is resistance to available antibiotics. How prevalent is this strain of drug-resistant cholera and typhoid?

OM: The sensitivity tests done to vibrio cholera have shown that it is resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, but let me emphasise that the mainstream or gold standard for cholera treatment is not antibiotics but fluids replacement that is lost through vomiting and diarrhoea.

PC: How far has Government gone in introducing both a cholera and typhoid vaccine?

OM: One of the measures to be employed to stop typhoid and cholera outbreaks in Harare is to institute a cholera vaccine which is available through WHO. This vaccine is easily administered through the mouth as drops and is effective is stopping cholera spread in hot spots. The process was started long before this outbreak and now that we have a crisis it’s the best time to deploy it. A typhoid vaccine is already approved for Harare typhoid hotspots and this could be deployed as soon as possible before year end, again with support from WHO and GAVI as well as other partners.

PC: But cholera and typhoid are medieval diseases, what are the long-term plans of preventing recurrence of these diseases?

OM: Let me reiterate that all the measures that have so far been employed are only stop gap measures. The definitive measures here are to correct, repair the dilapidated water and reticulation infrastructure, and provide safe and adequate water for the residents in all the towns and in all the rural settlements in our country. We need water, we need proper infrastructure, we need health settings for our people. We have therefore requested as Ministry of Health and Child Care, that we find the absolute solution, identify the absolute cause of the problem and fix it otherwise we will continue having cases of cholera and typhoid arising. The response which has so far come from the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing, the Mayor for Harare and other mayors throughout the country has been encouraging. They all want to ensure that the water and sanitation systems are upgraded to the correct level so that we forget about these mediaeval diseases occurring again. Prevention, prevention, prevention is essential in a situation of this nature; stop gap measures are what we are doing which has seen a reduction in a number of cases arising at our treatment centres and we appreciate that. However, we need long lasting solutions. Boreholes are stop gap measures, availability of containers of water are stop gap measures, what we need is the absolute solutions, long term solutions, availability of clean water on a daily basis. We also want to make sure that Lake Chivero, which is a source of water for Harare and Darwendale, are cleaned. We do not want them to end up as sewer ponds. There has to be proper solid waste management. We are urging local authorities to put in place systems where all the waste would be used to produce energy, rather than just leave it so that we can have a cleaner city at the end of the day.

Vendors should not sell food which is contaminated. It is simple, if you eat food that is contaminated you get sick and we have a typical example that happened at Tichagarika. The lady who was selling her food had three of her clients dying because of cholera. So we cannot run away from the fact that if you eat from the vendors who are selling contaminated food, you will get sick and we also want to say cholera does not only affect those who eat contaminated food, but those who sell it as well.

So, illegal vending has to be put under control. It’s painful but necessary in order for our population to continue living.

I have also implored the Ministry of Local Government to take a re-look at their public toilets, most of which are now an eyesore. You can’t even use them. It’s a health time bomb, and we cannot allow that to continue. We want these corrections to be made now, not tomorrow. We feel as the Ministry of Health that these toilets are also becoming a source of diseases.

I want to challenge officials from our local authorities to use those toilets. If they can’t use them then it means they cannot be used. That is the measurement of quality. If you can’t use it yourself how then do you expect other people to use them?

PC: Your parting words to the people of Zimbabwe against that backdrop?

OM: In order for us to ensure that we are doing the right things in terms of hygiene, it has to start with every individual. Every Zimbabwean must make sure that they adhere to basic hygiene practices. Let’s ensure that we look after where we live, remove and reduce the amount of garbage around our homes and at the end of the day we want to make sure that Zimbabwe is clean again and this is only possible through concerted efforts by all of us. Like they say, cleanliness is next to godliness, Zimbabwe shall be clean again. We do not want anyone to get sick from cholera or typhoid.
Vendors, Cops in a Battle of Wits
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09

Vendors get down to business at a designated vending site near the Coca-Cola bottling plant along Seke Road

Leroy Dzenga and Rumbidzai Ngwenya
Zimbabwe Herald

The move by the police and Harare City Council to remove street vendors in a bid to contain the cholera outbreak which has claimed 32 lives and affected some 3 000 other people has elicited mixed reactions.

While the anti-cholera campaign has stirred controversy with vendors castigating city authorities for depriving them of their livelihoods, shop owners and other people say it has brought relief and temporary sanity in the city.

For years, Harare, dubbed the “Sunshine City”, had lost its shine as street vendors sold their wares everywhere without any order, causing chaos to the city.

Congestion and uncontrolled vending became the norm in the city, with vendors selling their wares on the doorsteps of shops and other offices.

Several campaigns in the past had failed to end the chaos, as vendors fled from the streets during the day and later in the day, by the night, they would flood the streets again.

Shop owners in the capital have hailed the campaign for bringing temporary relief to them.

They say vendors were inconveniencing them and their customers.

Says Elliot Sanyamahwe, who runs a cellphone and electrical appliances shop along Leopold Takawira Street: “We hope vendors don’t come back to dominate the streets again.

“This clean-up campaign should make a difference for us and our clients. As shop owners, we have been sabotaged for a long time by unregistered vendors. Imagine someone selling the same products as mine just on my doorsteps and at a cheaper price.

“It’s grossly unfair and I support the police and council for removing these vendors.”

Shop owners say they are losing business to street vendors who don’t pay rates, licence fees and tax.

“We are facing stiff competition from these vendors who do not bear any costs such as rentals, licence fees, tax and labour,” Sanyamahwe says.

“For years, our businesses have been affected negatively and we are happy they are removed from our doorsteps.”

Another clothing shop owner welcomed the removal of street vendors saying it has now improved the ease of doing business in the CBD.

“Our streets are clear and the goods that we display can now easily be seen by customers,” says the shop owner, declining to give his name for fear of victimisation.

“Before vendors were removed, they blocked our customers from entering the shop making it difficult to do good business.

“Whenever you tried to reason with them they would become very aggressive. They behaved like they owned the streets. They harassed us and we were powerless to control them.

“Honestly, they should be moved to designated points away from our doorsteps.”

Most business owners breathed a sigh of relief when vendors were cleared from the streets.

People could easily move around the city without being blocked or harassed by vendors.

Many say they were now afraid of moving around the streets, with the affluent preferring to do their shopping at malls outside the city.

Even though the anti-cholera campaign has brought some measure of relief for the shop owners, many doubt that the campaign will be sustained.

The cat-and-mouse battles between the street vendors and the police are still far from over.

During the night, street vendors still return to their selling spots disrupting traffic and the free movement of people.

Street vendors argue that they still have livelihoods to protect.

With high unemployment, they say, vending is their only means of survival.

“Vendors are still coming back, usually at night,” says a shop owner. “Every morning we find heaps of rotten vegetables on our doorsteps. It’s irritating and they don’t have the decency to clean up.

“We are forced to clean and scrub the pavement every day. Imagine all the health risks.”

Business owners and the council would want to see vendors out of the CBD but the so-called designated vending spaces being offered as alternatives are far from being conducive for vendors.

Street vendors are still defiant and vow to flock back to the street to protect their livelihoods.

Many have suffered heavy  losses after their wares were confiscated.

The few who have continued to take chances and sell their wares during the day have devised new survival strategies.

“We do not bring a lot of stock to the streets, just a few units. It saves us from losses in the event that the police or council officials come,” says Norman Chaza, a vendor who plies his trade in downtown Harare.

He says the anti-cholera campaign has been too harsh on vendors.

He argues that there is little consideration of their plight for survival in the harsh economic environment.

Police confiscate wares from vendors in the latest blitz on illegal vending on Harare’s streets

“The city centre is where the money is. Those council people who are giving directives are speaking from their offices and have not experienced the pain of not knowing where your next meal will come from,” Chaza says.

“It’s inhuman. We also want to survive. We are not stealing from anyone but we are selling our goods just to eke out a living.”

Others have questioned the indiscriminate manner in which the authorities have been targeting vendors.

“They (city council) said vendors should leave the streets so they could deal with the current cholera outbreak. However, we have seen them confiscate second-hand clothes, what does that have to do with cholera?” says a vendor who only identified herself as Sharon.

“We feel some are taking advantage to steal from us, we are just trying to eke out a living.”

Sharon said they now sell their clothes from bags. This allows for easy take-off when they see police trucks or council officials approaching.

Although the numbers have fallen since the blitz started, there is visible vendor activity in Harare at night.

Street vendors complain that the designated vending sites being offered as alternatives are far from their clients who are in the city.

They say there is no business at the vending site near the Coca-Cola plant along Seke Road.

The vending site has just one toilet facility, which is inadequate for the scores of vendors who ply their trade in the city centre.

Water at the vending site is drawn from the toilet through a hosepipe.

Vendors are still resisting to move to this facility.

They want the council to build sheds and tar the parking lot around the site before they can consider moving there.

Only a handful of vendors have moved to the site.

“This place was supposed to be well serviced and stands marked before we could move in for business,” says a vendor.

“They are supposed to register and give us numbers so that when we come here everything is organised.

“We are fighting each other here, there  are many people and the place is small but every vendor wants a spot.”

Vendors are unhappy about the new location, which they say still lacks basic sanitary facilities.

“We don’t have a problem in making this our new operating area but as you can see there is no business here,” says one vendor.

“We will starve if we don’t go back and sell our goods in town. Business is in town and here there is nothing.”

Another vendor says: “They said we were contributing to the spread of cholera in the CBD and what about here, what is here that is decent? There is no water and there is no toilet facility. How are we going to stop cholera when we don’t have basic water and toilets?”

Harare’s CBD is slowly clearing up as the joint operation between city of Harare and law enforcement agents is proving to be effective during the day.

But night time tells a different story.

The whole clean-up campaign, it seems, is a battle for survival on one hand, while on the other it’s a battle to bring sanity and order to the Sunshine City.

It remains to be seen how the council and law enforcement agents will sustain the campaign over time.

If the campaign is not sustained, street vendors will flood Harare’s streets again, putting everything into a merry-go-round.

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EDITORIAL COMMENT: Ball in Kirsty Coventry’s Court
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09 
Zimbabwe Herald

Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister Kirsty Coventry shakes hands with President Mnangagwa who is flanked by Vice Presidents Kembo Mohadi and Constantino Chiwenga at State House in Harare.

PRESIDENT Mnangagwa’s decision to appoint the country’s most decorated Olympian, Kirsty Coventry, as the new Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation Minister has received widespread support as a masterstroke.

The 35-year-old is a celebrated achiever who defied the odds in her sport as a swimmer, and took on the world to become one of the greatest swimmers of all time as she conquered the Olympics and the World Championships while also setting a number of world records.

After retirement from the sport, she moved into the boardrooms where she has distinguished herself as a very capable leader, first as a representative of the world’s elite athletes and as a member of the Evaluation Commission for the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games to be held in Africa in 2022.

The Evaluation Commission’s members will be responsible for assisting and guiding the selection process to elect the African host of the 2022 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

On that elite panel, announced by IOC president Thomas Bach, Coventry rubs shoulders with some of the most prominent figures in world sport, including IOC vice-president Ugur Erdener, who is from Turkey; Beatrice Allen of The Gambia; Chile’s Neven Ilic; Gunila Lindberg of Sweden; China’s Li Lingwei; Lydia Nsekera of Burundi and Papua New Guinea’s Auvita Rapilla.

It’s a measure of Coventry’s pedigree that she has been receiving such high-level appointments in world sport and it’s refreshing that President Mnangagwa decided it was time that this country tapped, and benefited, from the wealth of wisdom which this iconic athlete has gathered over the years.

Of course, while we welcome and celebrate Coventry’s appointment to serve in our Government, we are not blind to the reality of the challenges which she will have to confront, and the hurdles she will have to clear, for her assignment in this key portfolio to be a success story.

We have a lot of challenges in our sport, given that we have generally punched below our weight, and success stories – which are critical in nation building in brightening the mood of our citizens – have been few and far between.

The big constituencies – football and cricket – could have done better in terms of delivering success stories for this country and only this year we all saw the disappointment that enveloped this nation when the Chevrons self-destructed against minnows United Arab Emirates and failed to qualify for next year’s ICC Cricket World Cup.

We believe that Coventry should set the tempo, using her vast experience gained in the corridors of international organisations like the IOC, to ensure that a conducive environment is created so that such massive setbacks should never be part of our national teams in the future.

Of course, we are charmed by the way the Zimbabwe Cricket authorities found a way to come up with a package that won the backing of the ICC and ensured financial support, critical for the existence of the game and the watering of its development programmes, would continue to be pumped into the sport.

But, beyond all that, what the country desperately wants is a cricket national team that justifies its place as one of the elite Test- playing nations in the world, which wins matches and, which doesn’t only qualify but do very well at international tournaments, like the World Cup.

The days of boardroom battles between players and administrators, which ends up robbing the team of some of its finest talents because of protests over pay and related things, should be a thing of the past in the new dispensation.

Football is our main sport and it has to lead the way, in terms of good performances, on the international stage and those who are in charge of this sporting discipline should know that they carry a massive national responsibility to deliver all the time.

A way has to be found to deal with the massive debt, which has been crippling the game’s operations, and ensuring that very little is being spent in development.

Without investment in the critical areas of development, our football will not be able to produce the next generation of stars to replace the likes of Khama Billiat, Knowledge Musona and Costa Nhamoinesu when the time comes for them to wave goodbye to their service to their motherland.

That is why we believe it is crucial that Coventry and our football leaders find each other so that the issue of the debt, estimated to be over $7 million, is dealt with once and for all and the game gets the freedom it badly requires to function without this crippling overhead.

Coventry will also have to ensure that the so-called minority sports, which have given this country more medals on the international scene than football and cricket, are given as much attention as possible and those who are running them are not just doing so, as a pastime, but to deliver a dividend which this nation can be proud of.

It’s not going to be an easy journey for Coventry but, then, she has never had it easy and, again and again, she has defied the odds.
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2018 . . . Articulating Zimbabwe’s Unique Selling Points
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09 
 
UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY 2018 . . . Articulating Zim’s unique selling points
President Mnangagwa is greeted by Zimbabwe Embassy staff and other officials on arrival in New York for the 73rd Ordinary Session of the UN General Assembly

Nobleman Runyanga
Correspondent
Zimbabwe Herald

For the first time in 37 years Zimbabwe is represented at the ongoing United Nations General Assembly summit by a new leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who represents a refreshingly different political and economic trajectory.

For President Mnangagwa and Zimbabwe this is not only a moment of global pride. It is an opportune moment to present to the world its new vision, how it intends to get there and the role of fellow global community members therein.

When former president Robert Mugabe addressed the UNGA on September 26, 2017, the country’s indigenisation law, the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act, which reserved the some sectors for local people and forced foreign investors to cede 51 percent of any ventures to the same, was still firmly in place.

This time around President Mnangagwa is set to address the General Assembly at a time that he and his Government have extensively walked the “Zimbabwe is open for business” talk by doing away with the anti-investor legislation except for the platinum and diamond mining sectors.

Unlike the previous regime, which paid lip service to investment drive but frustrated them at home through legislation and restrictive environment, President Mnangagwa is set to address the world at a time that he has made commendable strides to harmonise his investment drive with a matching conducive investment environment on the ground.

President Mnangagwa is addressing the General Assembly after romping to electoral victory and setting up a Cabinet which has been commended by both friend and foe at home and abroad.

He has put together a Cabinet which is balanced in terms of gender representation, age and technocrats such as the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube who has both the requisite qualifications and a wealth of experience in the finance industry.

The President tore away from the tradition of the previous administration which listened more to itself than the people or other key stakeholders such as the international community. He has described himself as a listening president, which he has lived up to so far.

Faced with a cholera outbreak which has so far seen 32 people losing their lives, President Mnangagwa has directed that the Treasury puts on hold Government’s plans to purchase motor vehicles for legislators and Cabinet ministers to the tune of US$21 million and directed that the resources be channelled towards containing the cholera menace and putting in place mechanisms and infrastructure to ensure that the it does not recur.

The gesture received praise from most Zimbabweans who indicated that unlike Mugabe, President Mnangagwa values the people and prioritises their welfare.

President Mnangagwa has realised that Zimbabwe’s socio-economic recovery depends largely on getting all things economic right.

This is the reason why even during the campaign season leading up to his election on July 30, he prioritised economic turnaround. His campaign rallies were preceded by economic activities such as the tour of ongoing infrastructure projects, manufacturing plants or officially opening major projects such power plants.

He has declared that his administration would be more about economics than politics and he has so far demonstrated this at every available opportunity.

As President Mnangagwa and his entourage hold series of meetings in New York with representatives of various companies and countries, they are leveraging the moment to sell Zimbabwe’s unique climate and tourist resorts and tourism potential.

They are letting the world in on the country’s vast mineral wealth which is in excess of 60 different minerals that include ones on global demand such as lithium, diamonds and platinum.

The team is explaining that Zimbabwe has an educated population, three million of who are driving vital economic sectors of numerous countries both on the continent and abroad.

The team is explaining that post-Mugabe, the country has moved from the old bureaucratic culture and adopted a modern and professional work ethic in line with global best practices.

As President Mnangagwa takes to the podium next week he carries the hopes of Zimbabweans at home and abroad. He carries the story of a new administration, a new culture and a new country altogether. He bears the story of a new Zimbabwe which the whole world has been waiting for since he came into office in November last year when Mugabe resigned.

It is indeed a new opportunity for Zimbabwe to be heard threw a new administration.
No Rest for ED in the Big Apple
22 SEP, 2018 - 00:09 
Mabasa Sasa in NEW YORK
Zimbabwe Herald

President Mnangagwa is on a mission to turn Zimbabwe into a middle-income economy in 12 short years. And the frenetic pace at which he is working in New York this week reflects how tight that timeline is.

President Mnangagwa arrived here on Thursday for the 73rd Ordinary Session of the General Assembly accompanied by a lean team that mirrors his approach to Government: there is just one minister with him (Professor Mthuli Ncube – Finance and Economic Development), then central bank governor (Dr John Mangudya) and a few senior State officials.

While the core business remains the UN General Assembly, being in the capital of global finance is too good an opportunity to pass up to lay the groundwork needed to make Zimbabwe a middle-income economy by 2030.

New York, as Frank Sinatra famously sang, is “a city that never sleeps”. Neither is President Mnangagwa.

Friday morning saw him conduct two interviews with international broadcasters; first with CNN and then with Bloomberg TV.

The choices were not coincidental. CNN speaks to America’s political classes, while Bloomberg has the ear of international capital.

Soon after that, President Mnangagwa and his “Zimbabwe is open for business” drive were at the centre of the Zimbabwe Investor Forum here; all of this happening as Prof Ncube and Dr Mangudya made vital connections at Wall Street, including at the New York Stock Exchange.

Before the General Assembly begins and ends its annual debate – where Zimbabwe’s leader will give his maiden address – President Mnangagwa will have had closed-door engagements with fellow movers and shakers, a meeting with Heidi Kuhn of Roots of Peace, dialogue with representatives of the Zimbabwean Diaspora here and those working for the UN, an interface facilitated by Kazkommerts Bank, and a face-to-face with Carmel Global Capital’s Dr Zienzi Dillon, among others.

President Mnangagwa is also scheduled to meet UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, and Belgium’s Prime Minister, Charles Michel.

He is also scheduled to address the High-Level Meeting on the Fight Against Tuberculosis, in addition to lending his weight to agendas being steered by his Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu (High-Level Roundtable Event on Ending Child Marriages), and the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit.

At the latter summit, President Mnangagwa is expected to deliver a statement as part of the international community’s push to establish a “Mandela Decade of Peace”.

There are several other engagements, all of them important inasfar as they also serve to advance President Mnangagwa’s Vision 2030, reintegrate Zimbabwe into the global family of nations, and promote social and human rights.

Friday, September 21, 2018

IMF Offers to Help Zimbabwe Clear Arrears
21 SEP, 2018 - 00:09 

President Mnangagwa with outgoing British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing -(Picture by Tawanda Mudimu)

Hebert Zharare and Martin Kadzere
Zimbabwe Herald

THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) yesterday said it was ready to help Zimbabwe craft a debt clearance strategy anchored on fundamental economic reforms. This comes after outgoing British Ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing made similar remarks on Tuesday that London was prepared to support an interim staff-monitored programme for Zimbabwe to quickly clear its obligations to international lenders and start accessing new funding.

Since 1999, Zimbabwe has been unable to access foreign funding, critical for infrastructure development, after it defaulted on payments.

The US sanctions law, the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA), also precluded multilateral institutions with dealings with the US from extending lines of credit to Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is in arrears of nearly $1,8 billion to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

“The IMF stands ready to help (Zimbabwe) design a reform programme that can help facilitate clearance of external arrears to international development banks and bilateral official creditors . . . that would open the way for fresh financing from international community.

“Supporting reforms will require a comprehensive stabilisation and structural programme from the (Zimbabwe) authorities and financial support from the international community to provide space for these reforms.

“We see that the new administration of President Mnangagwa has expressed commitment to strong economic reforms,” reads a statement by the IMF spokesperson.

Speaking to journalists on Tuesday, Ambassador Lang said her country was prepared to help Zimbabwe “start a serious dialogue” around the clearance of the arrears.

She said this after meeting Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube in Harare.

“We are here to give that support to try and encourage a process back to an IMF programme, perhaps through an interim staff monitoring programme as soon as possible,” she said.

Prof Ncube said President Mnangagwa was still deciding whether to follow the Highly Indebted Poor Country route or a commercial deal to clear the arrears.

Britain said it was excited to see Harare achieve middle income economy status by 2030 and is keen to assist in implementation of socio-economic and political reforms.

“We will be going to Bali (Indonesia) for the World Bank meetings and again, further conversation around the arrears clearance issue of which, again, I thank (the) UK for being a key partner in moving that process along.

“So I wanted to thank Ambassador Laing for being a wonderful supporter for Zimbabwe,’’ said Prof Ncube.

Ambassador Laing said the reforms were central to achieving the envisaged ‘Vision 2030’, under which Government wants to ensure all active citizens access “decent jobs” and a per capita income approaching $5 000.

UK plans to support Zimbabwe when at this year’s annual IMF and World Bank Group meetings scheduled for Bali Nusa Dua, Indonesia.

There, Zimbabwe is expected to meet its creditors and present a strategy on its arrears clearance.

The annual meetings are scheduled for October 12 to 14.

Prof Ncube, believes ‘Vision 2030’ is “absolutely” achievable if “we all put our hands on deck”.
ECONOMISTS CAUTIOUSLY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT RAMAPHOSA’S RECOVERY PLAN
The plan includes a revised Mining Charter, changes to visas, a R400 billion infrastructure fund and other measures to boost growth.

Ray White
Eyewitness News

JOHANNESBURG - The announcement of the economic stimulus and recovery plan has been met with cautious optimism.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced measures to kickstart the economy after the country entered a recession in the second quarter.

The plan includes a revised Mining Charter, changes to visas, a R400 billion infrastructure fund and other measures to boost growth.

Economist Thabi Leoka says the move to boost infrastructure will help growth.

But she says there has to be accountability when implementing the plan.

“I also worry that there is no dashboard where we can track successes, failures and timelines.”

On the other hand, Standard Bank's Goolam Ballim says leadership has been replaced in key sectors and the plan will help boost growth.

“I think the real fruits of the interventions will begin to materialise later this year and even more substantially in 2019.”

Ramaphosa says the plan is also aimed at improving investor confidence and increasing employment while the cost of doing business will also be decreased.

ADMIN COSTS CUT

Ramaphosa says government has already started a review of administrative costs in order to reduce the cost of doing business in South Africa and to lure international investment to the country.

He hopes these initiatives will restore investment and exploration levels in the mining sector.

The president says government will reduce the cost of doing business in order to boost exports and make local industry more competitive.

“Government has begun a review of various administrative prices starting with electricity, ports and rave tariffs.”

He says government has held consultations with business and labour leaders.

“We’re encouraged by the support they have pledged for the measures outlined and many have undertaken to provide resources and expertise to ensure that we succeed in what we’re doing.”

Ramaphosa is confident the package will reverse the recent contraction in the economy.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)
EU Looks to Egypt, Africa for Help with Migrant Challenge
2018-09-21 06:02

Austria urged its European Union partners Thursday to enter talks with Egypt to help stem the flow of migrants entering Europe from Africa, amid deep divisions over how to manage the challenge.

Kurz, whose country currently holds the EU's rotating presidency, and EU Council President Donald Tusk visited Cairo over the weekend for talks with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, a top army general who took office in 2014. Both men have praised him for stopping people from leaving its coast bound for Europe.

"Egypt has proven that it can be efficient," Kurz told reporters at an EU summit in Salzburg, Austria. "Since 2016, it has prevented ships sailing from Egypt to Europe or, when they have sailed, it has taken them back."

Kurz said Egypt is "now prepared possibly to deepen cooperation with us in talks. We should use that." He also said EU leaders support the idea of entering into talks with other North African countries as well.

In dealing with the migrants crisis of the past few years, the EU has been creative, willing to part with billions to secure deals around the Mediterranean with leaders with autocratic leanings.

The bloc lauds the deal it struck with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for slowing migrant arrivals to a trickle over the last two years, in exchange for up to $7 billion in aid for Syrian refugees there and other incentives.

Italy alone paid billions to former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to stop African people from leaving his country's shores. Thousands were transported from Libya's coast to its southern border.

Beyond keeping tight control over Egypt's coastline, Sissi could have important influence with the military and militias in lawless, neighboring Libya; a main departure point for migrants trying to enter Europe through Italy. Already, Tusk is lobbying to hold an EU-Arab League summit in Cairo in February.

The call comes after a summer in which Italy's anti-migrant government closed its ports to NGO ships, and even its own coast guard, carrying people rescued at sea. Hundreds of migrants spent unnecessary days at sea or aboard boats while EU countries bickered over who should take them.

Looking for help from Sissi is a new sign of the EU's determination to outsource the migrant challenge, even though arrival numbers are barely a trickle compared to 2015, when well over a million people entered Europe, mostly fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq.

EU countries are studying plans to create "disembarkation platforms" in northern African countries, where people rescued at sea could be dropped off for screening. No African country has expressed interest in hosting one so far.

The EU's inability to balance responsibility for the migrants and share the burden of hosting them has been a vote-winner for far-right parties across the 28-nation bloc.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini warned that Africa is not keen at the moment.

'How much is the price of an immigrant'

"If we take the approach of: 'we don't take them, you take them,' that doesn't fly," she said. "But this doesn't mean that North African countries would not be ready to cooperate with us, and with the UN, to have a reasonable, sustainable solution."

French President Emmanuel Macron, who supports talks with North Africa, believes countries like Italy, Greece and Spain must take responsibility for migrant arrivals, but he also underlines the importance of European solidarity.

"There are rules and they have to be respected. We have to protect our citizens but we must do it while respecting our values. Also, responsibilities cannot be upheld if there is no solidarity," he said.

Macron and the leaders of Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands repeated a similar joint line on the balance between responsibilities and solidarity after talks earlier this month. However, they appeared to suggest that solidarity is best expressed by giving European money to partners who need help. No leader offered to share the refugee burden.

One idea raised in Salzburg has been for countries to pay money to Italy or Greece to take care of migrants themselves.

Asked how much a migrant was worth, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said, in an indignant tone: "We are not at the market. We are speaking about humans. We are not speaking about carpets or goods."

He said that if Europe starts "to ask: 'how much is the price of an immigrant?' it's a shame for all of us."
Land Reforms in Liberia Allow Foreigners to Own Property
Africa News

Liberia’s President George Weah, who took office in January, has signed a land reform law that gives local communities greater rights over “customary land” and lets foreigners and charities own property.

First drafted in 2014, the Land Right Act has nonetheless been criticized by some who say it weakens the rights of Liberians who live in rural areas, notably women.

The question of customary land

Previously, the government could grant private companies long-term leases on non-titled lands that cover most of the west African country settled by former slaves from the United States and Caribbean.

Land and labour are intertwined; one cannot be without the other. If you have land and there is no labour, you have a problem because land is an asset.

“Land and labour are intertwined; one cannot be without the other. If you have land and there is no labour, you have a problem because land is an asset,” Weah commented as he signed the act late Wednesday.

Local communities can now claim ownership of customary land based on oral testimonies of community members, maps, signed agreements between neighboring communities and other documents.

A nationwide survey is to be carried out within two years to confirm which are customary lands and which are privately held.

Up to 10 percent of the former is now to be allocated as public land available for lease to private companies.

Foreigners can now own land

The law allows foreigners, missionaries, educational and charitable organisations to own land as long as it is used for the purpose given at the time of purchase.

Previously, the Liberian constitution provides that only “people of colour” can become Liberian and only Liberians can own property.

Weah, in January described these clauses as ‘unnecessary, racist and inappropriate for the 21st century’, pledging to push for all races to apply for Liberian citizenship and for foreigners to be allowed to own property.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, was established by freed slaves from the United States and declared independent in 1847.

More land reforms

In addition, farmers who occupy unclaimed land for 15 years will become its legal owner.

Land issues have fueled deadly conflict in Liberia, pitting urban elites against rural populations, often women, who practice subsistence farming on non-titled croplands.

A civil war that claimed 250,000 lives between 1989 and 2003 was in large part caused by disputes over land and natural resources.

“With this act, our parents will have the opportunity of claiming what belongs to them,” Liberian national Terrence Gibson told AFP.

Safeguards were needed to prevent the validation of tribal certificates and other pre-existing property documents from being used for “bad faith transactions,” the Women Land Rights taskforce said in a statement released in March.

AFP¨
Chinese Loans to Africa Are Market-driven: China Development Bank
By Chen Qingqing and Li Xuanmin
Global Times
2018/9/20 22:13:41

Workers stand along a prototype rail line, to be constructed by China Railway Construction Corporation, during the groundbreaking for the construction of Lagos-Ibadan rail line project in Nigeria in March 2017. Photo: VCG

The nation's major policy bank has rebutted claims that China's loans to Africa are causing a debt crisis, and it said every loan it has granted was market-driven and in line with international standards.

The China Development Bank (CDB) has so far extended more than $50 billion in funding to nearly 500 projects in 43 African countries, Liu Yong, chief economist of the CDB, told a press briefing on Thursday.

"In addition to conventional loans, the CDB also runs the China-Africa Development Fund, under which we have so far committed $4.6 billion in loans to more than 90 projects," he said.

China pledged to extend $60 billion of financing to Africa during the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Of that new amount, CDB is in charge of a $10-billion-special fund for development financing, Liu noted. "The fund will be run in line with commercial and international principles, with full consideration of project profitability and potential risks," he said.

It's crucial to commercialize projects in Africa, because with more equity investment, local companies will strive to ensure projects yield returns for stakeholders, Li Zhibiao, a senior research fellow with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Chinese financial institutions mostly support State-backed infrastructure projects, and it's hard to forecast their profitability," he said. Li added that China's policy banks should back more small and medium-sized enterprises investing in sectors such as furniture and steel, which support local economic growth.

In response to concerns that China's continued lending to Africa may entrap the continent in a debt crisis, CDB representatives noted that every loan granted is market-driven and lending strictly follows rigorous standards, Jin Tao, director general of CDB's Global Cooperation Department, told the briefing.

"We've come up with effective methods in Africa-related projects, which include analysis of the socioeconomic situation of targeted countries and project feasibility," he said.

As of the end of June, the bank's overall nonperforming loan ratio was 0.67 percent, the 53rd consecutive quarter in which it was below 1 percent, Jin noted.

As one of eight major initiatives linked to China-Africa collaboration, China will support African countries in expanding financing channels and optimizing their debt structures, according to a statement by the Ministry of Commerce on Wednesday.

Chinese financial institutions are encouraged to open outlets in Africa or set up joint ventures with their African counterparts, the statement noted. China is also willing to expand the use of local currencies in investment and sign currency swaps with African countries.

On September 5, the CDB - in partnership with 16 African financial institutions - set up a cooperation alliance. This was a major outcome of the FOCAC, Liu said during the briefing. 

"We also signed loan agreements with the Bank of Egypt, National Bank of Egypt and African Export-Import Bank to put the $10-billion special fund for development financing into use," he said.

The CDB has also signed a lending agreement of 7 billion yuan ($1.02 billion) with the People's Bank of China, the central bank, to boost the yuan's use as a reserve currency for African countries.

Cooperating with local banks in Africa will reduce the risk of debt defaults, Li noted.

"The internationalization process of the yuan has been slow in Africa, with only small-scale currency swap deals with some countries in the continent," he said, noting that many Africans are even not familiar with the yuan.
Trade Conflict Backfiring on US Workers As Overseas Investors Start to Look Elsewhere
By Hu Weijia
Global Times
2018/9/20 22:23:40

The founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, Jack Ma Yun, has abandoned a promise to create 1 million jobs in the US. His move is just the beginning of bigger-than-estimated job losses in the US triggered by the ongoing trade tensions between China and the US.

In a recent interview with the Xinhua News Agency, Ma said his initial commitment to create employment in the US was made on the premise of a friendly China-US partnership. That premise no longer exists, so "our promise cannot be fulfilled," Ma said.

The warning came several hours after the US suddenly escalated the trade dispute by announcing it would impose a 10 percent tariff on September 24 on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The US economy added 213,000 jobs in June as the unemployment rate remained at a low level, but the escalating trade conflict may dim the long-term picture for US employment. Ma's comments reminded US economists that they may have underestimated the negative effect of the China-US trade conflict on the American job market.

During the past four decades, China has gone from being a low-wage supplier to a center of many global value chains. As the trade conflict intensifies, retaliatory tariffs imposed by China have made some US exports less competitive in the Chinese market, thus weakening the US' position in the global value chain. The matter may have a long-lasting negative impact on US exports and export-oriented jobs.

Further, China is witnessing a boom in outbound investment, but much of that money may go to other markets than the US, instead of being used to stimulate US jobs. Ma's comments have drawn lots of attention amid the escalating trade conflict, but Alibaba will not be the only Chinese enterprise to lose interest in US investment. Such decisions will have a direct influence on the US job market in the foreseeable future.

The trade conflict has already made the US lose the chance of adding 1 million jobs but it seems that's only the beginning. It's possible that the trade dispute will become an ongoing conflict with a long-term negative impact on the US economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn
US Hysterical in Blocking Sci-tech Exchanges
Global Times
2018/9/20 22:38:40

The US actions targeting China's Thousand Talents Plan have caused great anxiety among Chinese scientists in the US. Washington is quickly expanding restrictions on China-US scientific, technological and talent exchanges. It was reported that the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston might have begun to dismiss Chinese scholars on the list of the Thousand Talents Plan. Texas Tech University recently circulated a letter alerting staff who already are participating in relationships with Chinese, Iranian or Russian talent programs, including the Thousand Talents plan, to disclose their relationships to relevant authorities of the university.

Administrators of some US scientific research institutions and universities have joined US political elites in blocking scientific and technological exchanges with China. Reports were also circulating that visa restrictions will be imposed on Chinese students studying in certain areas. It seems blocking various channels for China to study US scientific technologies has become a public campaign.

This runs counter to the development of science and morality. A country should protect intellectual property, but science belongs to all human beings. Academic exchanges are indispensable to the development of science and the flow of talent is a natural result. Whoever violates intellectual property during the process should be condemned and punished, but blocking academic exchanges is anti-scientific and hysterical.

No one in the world has the right to monopolize talent. Any country or institution can only attract talent through preferential policies. With the largest number of talented people flowing in, the US has been the biggest beneficiary of talent exchanges, but it reacted fiercely against talent returning to China. This is unprecedented.

From the perspective of Sino-US talent exchange, it is hard to say that the US is in an unfavorable situation. When a large number of top students from China's top universities enter the US, they are semi-finished products. After their advanced studies there, they can then make contributions to the progress of US scientific research. Only a part return to China, while some are only doing part-time jobs in China.

Some elites in the US believe that China has stolen US experience for its own modernization, infringing  so-called US intellectual property rights. Washington is extremely puffed up with pride politically and culturally. It is also severely misunderstanding the history of human development.

If all Chinese students stop going to the US, would US universities be happy? Chinese students have brought them huge amounts of income, promoted the US status of being the center of global higher education and enriched the intellectual resources of American society. The prosperity of US universities is inseparable from Chinese students.

It is proved that the areas where the US is on guard against China have become a stage for China's successful independent innovation. From atom bombs through satellites to supercomputers, China made them all. The US has never been open to China when it comes to sensitive technologies.

The US is anxious about its temporary gains and losses. One minute it wants Sino-US exchanges, but the next it worries China is taking advantage. Its relevant policies are bound to change all the time. Its latest decision is like the trade war. Washington's purpose is to drag Beijing down, but it will mostly hurt itself.

It is hoped that the individual rights of Chinese scientists and engineers in the US will not be harmed during the process. In particular, it is hoped there won't be any case of injustice.
Asia Crisis Lessons Relevant for Today’s Challenges
Global Times
2018/9/20 19:58:40

The Asian financial crisis, which swept through the region two decades ago, had many consequences - currency devaluations, high inflation rates, bursting bubbles and economic downturns. As one of the leading figures behind China's economic affairs at that time, then premier Zhu Rongji adopted appropriate macro-control policies and proactive responses to protect the Chinese financial sector and economy from the crisis' impact.

The crisis still has relevance in terms of correctly understanding the economic situation, dealing with new crises and most importantly, promoting reforms during turmoil.

The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s had serious consequences for many countries, with currency instability, rising inflation and capital outflows jointly causing a major economic downturn. The crisis had several major causes.

The first was an unhealthy economic structure in these countries, which invested heavily in the real estate sector but did not have their own core industries. The second was foreign debt, much of which was short-term. The third was corruption, with loans to large, well-connected groups damaging many banks.

At that time, China faced overheated real estate investment, enterprises with low efficiency, increased bad debts and other similar problems. In regard to overheated property investment, policymakers took immediate measures to curb such spending. By rectifying the real estate sector, cracking down on speculation and cleaning up bubbles, China reduced property investment significantly. Despite the costs, China prevented such problems from deteriorating during the crisis.

As regards currency depreciation triggered by the Asian financial crisis, it was necessary to make good use of foreign exchange reserves to maintain the yuan's stability. While China knew that a yuan devaluation could help boost exports, it would only be by a slight margin, and a depreciation would bring more harm than good as it might trigger fears about the Chinese economy. In 1998, China's foreign exchange reserves stood at $140 billion, second only to Japan's $200 billion.

As for the financial risks that caused the crisis, China decided to promote financial reforms to prevent and resolve its financial risks. At the same time, China learned from international experience, and it established financial asset management companies to dispose of non-performing assets and resolve risks for commercial banks.

Moreover, China knew that the rule of law was a must in the process of strengthening financial laws, improving the credit system and ensuring the sound operation and development of the financial sector.

China also adopted a prudent monetary policy to better serve financial reform and economic development. A prudent monetary policy should not be aggressive, because an aggressive monetary policy will generate excess liquidity, which will do nothing but impede financial reform.

As to how finance should support the real economy, it is important to follow the economic and financial laws. Banks should have the right to make decisions and take responsibility for their own operating results. While banks can be encouraged to improve their services for local economic development, they should not be forced to lend.

In regard to financial openness and supervision, the development scale of financial institutions must be compatible with financial supervisory capabilities. The openness of a country's financial market should be consistent with its actual situation. Ignoring such objective realities will lead to failure and irreversible losses.

The successful policy measures taken by China in response to the Asian financial crisis provide lessons in promoting and developing reforms in the economy and financial system.

The policymakers of the period, and their views and measures, helped China resolve financial risks. By deepening reform and opening-up at a crucial time two decades ago, China overcame its difficulties and further developed its economy.

Even amid today's widening emerging market crisis, the appreciation of the US dollar, capital outflows and the intensifying trade war with the US, the lessons of the crisis still warrant reflection and study. They can show how China should further push forward with its financial system reform and maintain the sound, sustainable development of its economy.

The article was compiled based on a report by Beijing-based private strategic think tank Anbound. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn
South Korea Visit Plan Shows Kim Ready to Admit Development Gap
By Zhang Yun
Global Times
2018/9/20 19:43:40

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un jointly signed a joint declaration on the second day of Moon's visit to North Korea. They held a joint press conference that revealed several unprecedented commitments from Pyongyang. The most significant one is Kim's promise to visit Seoul this year. This would be the first time a top North Korean leader will visit South Korea. This has three historic implications.

First, the decision reflects Kim's courage and determination to allow North Korean people to see the development gap between the North and South. The possible effect on the North Korean public of getting to know the economic gap has been a long-standing concern for the North Korean leader. With full video coverage of Kim's Seoul visit, North Koreans will witness directly the stunning prosperity of South Korea. In other words, North Korean leadership is ready to recognize the lag in development and will embark on the path to reform and opening-up.

It was reported that Kim apologized to Moon for the less than adequate hospitality due to resource constraints in comparison with developed countries. The public acknowledgement of backwardness is seen as a significant signal to North Korean people that it is time to change the country's focus from military build-up to economic development.

Second, Kim's visit to Seoul would definitely lead to further specific measures compared with this summit. The Pyongyang joint declaration includes an agreement by North Korea to permanently dismantle its Dongchang-ri missile engine test site and a promise to shut down the Yongbyon nuclear facility depending on corresponding measures by the US. The promise to permanently shut the missile engine test site was made without a US promise, which signals North Korea's intent of showing that inter-Korean dynamics would have their own life.

This gesture not only provided Moon strong support for his domestic audience, but also created a favorable atmosphere for Kim's upcoming visit to South Korea. At their meeting, Kim praised Moon for his efforts at facilitating the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore, which highlighted the South Korean president's role as an inevitable mediator.

This political message is helpful for Moon as he has been grilled by conservative skeptics for the slow progress on denuclearization after the Singapore summit. The Moon government is arguing that the lack of progress is a clear evidence of the necessity of a change in approach, which means that denuclearization and lifting sanctions must go hand-in-hand.

Third, Kim's promise to visit South Korea is lending an incentive and opportunity for US President Donald Trump to hold a second US-North Korea summit. Like President Moon, Trump has been criticized by hawkish skeptics as naïve man for holding a meeting with Kim in Singapore without conditions. They attacked Trump for being purportedly cheated by North Korea as nothing has changed after the talks. Kim understands it well and has worked hard to provide justification for Trump to hold a second summit.

After the Singapore summit, North Korea has shown several good gestures, including the demolition of one nuclear test site and dismantling of a missile launch facility. The return of the remains of US soldiers from the Korean War (1950-53) and the release of American citizens were interpreted by Trump as unilateral compromises made by North Korea to silent his domestic critics. The Kim-Moon summit in Pyongyang was hailed by Trump immediately, which could be a convincing prelude for his second meeting with Kim.

In the past decades, the central question on the Korean Peninsula issue has been whether North Korea is inclined to reforms. But now the focus would be more on how the US and President Trump could grasp this historic opportunity to make change happen earlier and smoother by skillfully navigating US domestic politics.

The author is associate professor of National Niigata University Japan and senior fellow, Institute of Advanced Area Studies and Global Governance, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Joint Statements on September Pyongyang Joint Declaration
Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, together with south Korean President Moon Jae In, made joint statements on the September Pyongyang Joint Declaration on September 19.

Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un made the statement first.

He said that he signed the historic declaration together with President Moon Jae In with a rich harvest in the implementation of the Panmunjom Declaration.

He referred the serious discussion made on the issues of further accelerating the progress of north-south relations so as to give steady continuity to a new era of national reconciliation and peace and prosperity.

He noted that they discussed the practical measures to comprehensively develop the inter-Korean ties on the principle of national independence, signed a military agreement and committed themselves to striving to make the Korean peninsula a land of peace free from nuclear weapons and threat.

He said that they also discussed the detailed ways to reenergize visits, contacts, many-sided dialogue and cooperation and diverse exchanges between people of all social standings so as to make the current toward national reconciliation and reunification flow steadily in the 3 000-ri land of the north and south of Korea.

The declaration reflects the mind of the nation full of new hope, the spirit of the fellow countrymen burning their hearts with the strong will to reunify the country and the dream of all of us which will come true before long, he said.

Saying he promised President Moon Jae In that he would visit Seoul, he expressed his determination to always take the lead in the sacred journey toward peace and prosperity hand in hand with him.

President Moon Jae In made the statement next.

He said that the south and the north agreed on clearing the Korean peninsula of all dangers that may lead to a war and on operating the "south-north joint military committee" so as to constantly discuss of issues concerning the implementation of the agreed points.

He noted that both sides committed themselves to closely discussing and cooperating with the international community for the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

A huge historic events have been taking place in and around the Korean peninsula since the announcement of the historic Panmunjom Declaration, he said, emphasizing that both sides agreed to further expand exchanges and cooperation and take practical steps for the balanced development of the nation's economy.

Noting that Chairman Kim Jong Un readily accepted his request for a Seoul visit, he expressed his conviction that his Seoul visit would mark a turning point in inter-Korean ties.

Today, Chairman Kim Jong Un clearly indicated the way for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and complied with the desire of all the fellow countrymen and the world to be free from nuclear weapons, nuclear threat and war, he said, stressing that he pays deep respects for Kim Jong Un's definite decision and practice.

Affirming that inter-Korean relations will make steady progress, he expressed his joy over the fact that the seeds of peace and prosperity were sown on the Korean peninsula last spring and the fruits of peace and prosperity are being borne in Pyongyang this autumn.

Compiled from KCNA