MARIKANA, FARMS AND FORESTRY by Terry Bell

MARIKANA, FARMS AND FORESTRY

There are none so blind as those that will not see. It is a saying popularised more
than 300 years ago and it has had marked resonance following the bloody events at
Marikana and the more recent upheavals among the fruit and wine farms of the
Western Cape.

Because, in most cases, it must take a concerted effort by employers and managers
not to be aware of the general conditions faced by their employees. Especially when
surveys and reports of these conditions are readily available.

However, courtesy of the geography bequeathed to us by apartheid, most employers
live in areas far removed from the township and squatter camp reality of their
workers. The twain rarely — if ever — meet.

The same does not, generally, apply to farms where a legacy of master-slave-servant
relations persists to varying degrees. It is also apparently feasible for employers,
living in relatively close proximity to their employees to be ignorant of the needs,
desires and economic circumstances of those employees.

But reports and surveys by reputable individuals and groups should at least alert even
the most insular boss to the fact that all may not be well on the employee front. Even
where reports may be missed, there are reminders such as the recent unrest on mines
and farms that signal that all may not be well. These events do, sometimes, lift the
blinkers from a few eyes.

When this happens, as in the recent case of a wealthy Western Cape furniture
manufacturer who last month granted substantial wage increases to his workers and
introduced a more collective method of working, it is rightly hailed. But such
developments are an exception, although there are also other examples of good,
established, labour practice.

However, these cases, such as Solms Delta in the Western Cape where two farm
owners and their workforces together — and successfully — farm three properties,
are few and far between. The number of farms that can lay claim to good labour
practices are clearly outnumbered by the bad and, on the fringes of this number, are
the decidedly ugly.

In fact, and despite government claims to the contrary, conditions for many workers
on the land are today worse than they were under apartheid. This applies particularly
in the forestry sector where generations of families have often lived in single “bush
villages” remote from towns and most amenities.

Conditions have worsened in the past decade as outsourcing of labour became
widespread. Today, among the 17 large forestry operations in South Africa, 82 per ent of the workforce of 36 025 are employed “on contract”, supplied by labour
brokers. A further 5 per cent — 1 843 workers — are employed on fixed term
contracts by the companies. Only 4 774 have permanent jobs and the benefits that go
with this.

The steady deterioration of living conditions for many forestry workers has been
highlighted in reports by specialists who conduct regular certifications for the
international Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). Such certifications, to show that
basic standards are adhered to, are required by a number of importing countries. FSC
certification also provides a useful public relations tool for companies.

However, FSC membership is voluntary and there are companies that do not seek
certification and where conditions, across the board, may be problematic to say the
least. Where companies obey the letter of the law, even when conditions are worse
than in earlier years, certification is still possible.

But forestry social assessment specialists such as Jeanette Clarke continue to
highlight actual conditions in reports for government departments and the FSC as
well as more widely. In recent months, Clarke, who has worked in the field for the
past 15 years, has produced a series of articles for the trade magazine, SA Forestry.

In these she has detailed the often dire conditions faced by many workers in the
country’s forests as well as noting improvements where they exist.

Although there probably never was a time when life for forest workers was
particularly good, some reports over the years indicte that the work for many was a
job of choice; today, it is more often a job of last resort. In a special report in a
leading financial magazine in 1997, for example, the five major private growers at
that time had invested R239.6 million in housing infrastructure, and a further R63
million annually in running costs.

But Clarke noted recently that the “condition of forestry villages, the standard of
services and provision of amenities, has been steadily declining since (1997)”.

Meals, she wrote, were previously served from kitchens in villages, but were phased
out. She explains that this followed requests by the workers, backed by unions, that
extra payment rather than food be supplied.

What is left unsaid is the almost certain reason for this demand: debt and the loan
sharks. Even at the best of times, living from hand to mouth, workers often find
themselves in desperate need of extra cash, be it for school fees, a funeral or some
other, unexpected, expense. The only resort they have is to the mashonisas, the
informal moneylenders who are sometimes the very labour brokers who employ and
hire them out.

According to a 2005 report by Clarke and a collaborator, clinics that had once
provided primary and secondary health care to forest workers, were also phased out, ot only because outsourced companies could not afford the maintain them, but
because of new government regulations. Whereas companies could previously apply
for a single license to cover all their operations, it is now necessary for every person
dispensing medicines to have a license.

Along with the clinics, the once quite ubiquitous creches were also closed down by
outsourced contractors who took over forest villages. Housing stock within many of
these villages also deteriorated steadily, often making for worse conditions than a
previous generation of workers experienced.

Although Clarke did not say it, the headline placed over her SA Forestry article last
month, “Spectre of Marikana looms over forestry” has a worryingly predictive ring to
it.

Terry Bell

Blog: terrybellwrites.wordpress.com

———————————————-

http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/labour/2012/11/23/mass-mining-retrenchments-on-the-cards-in-2013–chamber-of-mines

Mass mining retrenchments on the cards in 2013 — Chamber of Mines

BY PAUL VECCHIATTO, 23 NOVEMBER 2012, 15:08 | 0 COMMENTS
 
   
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Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Picture: BUSINESS DAY

THE mining industry will retrench thousands of miners, possibly at least 10,000 or more, in the first quarter of next year, says Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Friday, Mr Sibiya described the mining industry as being between a rock and a hard place.

“One the one hand we have a lot of pressure about wages and employment, and on the other, shareholders who need a reasonable return,” he said.

According to the Chamber of Mines, the South African mining industry gives employment to 500,000 people directly and another 500,000 indirectly.

Mr Sibiya singled out the platinum, gold and chrome mines as the ones most likely to shed workers.

“More than half of the platinum mines are just breaking even, if not running at a loss due to poor demand and a lower platinum price.

“The gold sector has to mine deeper and deeper and this is going to incur more costs, especially for electricity to pay for the hoisting of men and material. The chrome sector is also facing lower demand and prices,” he said.

The coal-mining sector, Mr Sibiya said, was stable for the time being.

Mr Sibiya said the a rescue plan was needed particularly for marginal gold mines that were being forced to mine deeper, up to 5km.

Mr Sibiya described the Marikana massacre on August 16 as a shameful event for the mining sector, but said that the workers themselves were not angels.

“We had 10 people who were murdered before that day … and then another eight killed after,” he said.

He bemoaned the fact that the mining industry appeared to be a target of strife for many social forces, including unions and politics, and that more should be done to protect the sector as “it was the crown jewel, or the goose that lays the golden egg of the country”.

He said other countries protected the industries that gave them a competitive advantage, adding: “South Africa has lost its competitive advantage in the mining sector.”

http://www.iol.co.za/business/business-news/thousands-of-miners-face-retrenchment-1.1429752#.ULCh7eMSVlQ

‘Thousands of miners face retrenchment’

November 23 2012 at 04:27pm 

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Jobless1

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The mining industry will retrench thousands‚ possibly at least 10‚000 or more miners in the first quarter of next year‚ says Chamber of Mines CEO Bheki Sibiya.

Addressing the Cape Town Press Club on Friday‚ Sibiya described the mining industry as literally being between a rock and a hard place.

“On the one hand we have a lot of pressure about wages and employment‚ and on the other‚ shareholders who need a reasonable return‚” he said.

According to the Chamber of Mines, the SA mining industry gives employment to 500‚000 people directly and another 500‚000 indirectly.

Sibiya singled out the platinum‚ gold and chrome mines as the ones that were most likely to shed workers.

“More than half of the platinum mines are just breaking even‚ if not running at a loss due to poor demand and a lower platinum price.

“The gold sector has to mine deeper and deeper and this is going to incur more costs especially for electricity to pay for the hoisting of men and material. The chrome sector is also facing lower demand and prices‚” he said.

The coal-mining sector‚ Sibiya said‚ was stable for the time being.

Sibiya said the a rescue plan was needed particularly for marginal gold mines that were being forced to mine deeper‚ up to 5 kilometres.

Sibiya described the Marikane massacre on August 16‚ as a shameful event for the mining sector‚ but that the workers themselves were not angels.

“We had 10 people who were murdered before that day…and then another eight killed after‚” he said.

Sibiya bemoaned that the mining industry appeared to be a target of strife for many social forces including unions and politics and that more should be done to protect the sector as “…it was the crown jewels‚ or the goose that lays the golden egg of the country”.

He said other countries protected the industries that gave them a competitive advantage.

“SA has lost its competitive advantage in the mining sector‚” Sibiya said. – I-Net Bridge

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http://www.iol.co.za/business/opinion/columnists/sa-s-labour-upheavals-a-mere-sideshow-1.1421017#.ULCiWuMSVlQ

SA’s labour upheavals a mere sideshow

November 11 2012 at 06:51pm 

Comment on this story


In a world wracked by ongoing economic crises, what is the role of trade unions? And if they focus solely on “bread-and-butter issues”, are they, as National Union of Mineworkers spokesman Lesiba Seshoka says, doomed to fail because “broader policies are shaped at a political level”.

What, in fact, is meant by “a political level”? And are not bread-and-butter issues – generally defined as wages and conditions – political to the core?

These questions came to the fore again in South Africa in the aftermath of Marikana. But they are also being asked around the world as unions become embroiled in increasingly fractious relations with employers, governments and, all too often, their own members.

In the process, sight is lost of the fact that trade unions emerged as a reaction to the economic system and not as an alternative; that the defensive organisations of the sellers of labour gain their greatest power through uniting workers as workers, irrespective of their differences. Only when there is a general threat to their wellbeing – to their “bread and butter” – do most organised workers rally in a manner that can sometimes spill over into radical political change or revolution.

But such radical change can be reactionary or progressive: it can become repressive and authoritarian or extend democratic control and human rights. Right now, the world seems to be on the cusp of moving one way or the other.

Observing the scene from London, it is evident that there is growing anger across Europe about high levels of unemployment, especially among men and women under the age of 25, and to the fact that real incomes for the majority of workers, globally, are declining. Bread, let alone butter, is under general threat.

In several countries, there is also considerable anger and disillusionment at trade union leaders who are seen – rightly or wrongly – to enjoy too cosy a relationship with employers or political parties in or out of power. Such tensions have become acute amid exploding petrol bombs in Athens and the brutal police repression of protests in Madrid, and are exacerbated by various forces on the political margins that are clamouring to fill developing political vacuums.

Given this background, and looked at from the perspective of Europe, the current industrial upheavals in South Africa are merely a sideshow in an often confusing carnival of revolt against the harsh consequences of a system in crisis. Opposition to austerity is a common theme.

Yet austerity, along with assurances that the pain is necessary in order to achieve the ultimate gain, seems a universal theme among those in power. As a result, the centre in many countries, in the form of the unions and their sometimes erstwhile political allies, is looking decidedly shaky.

The same applies in South Africa, where the centre – epitomised by the ANC-led alliance – seems to be holding up rather better than its counterparts in countries such as Greece or Spain. But everywhere the established order seems under pressure.

Even in Britain, still basking in the afterglow of a successfully staged Olympiad, there are now signs of subterranean rumblings. How strong these are – and how angry – should become clear as more anti-austerity protests get under way.

Britain’s Trade Union Congress (TUC) organised well attended protest marches in London, Glasgow and Belfast on October 20. The turnouts, especially in London, revealed the strength of popular feeling about growing unemployment and the declining spending power of wages as well as probable disillusionment with protest marches. The estimated 150 000 who turned out in London on October 20 was a far cry from the near 1 million who last year marched against the war in Afghanistan.

In fact, it is not since the massive anti-poll tax march in 1990 that such protests have done much more than highlight levels of disgruntlement. That massive march swamped central London. Police could not contain this surge of humanity, scuffles broke out – and escalated into a full-scale riot that signalled the end of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative (Tory) government.

The next few years, therefore, seem to promise considerable turmoil in what is still a major export market for South Africa. The sideshow south of the Limpopo therefore looks likely to be in for some even tougher times.

——————————–

http://www.bdlive.co.za/national/politics/2012/11/23/vavi-takes-aim-at-absolutely-no-consequences-anc

Vavi takes aim at ‘Absolutely No Consequences’ ANC

BY NATASHA MARRIAN, 23 NOVEMBER 2012, 12:02 | 6 COMMENTS
 
   
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Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR
Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi. Picture: TYRONE ARTHUR

THE African National Congress (ANC) must move away from being a party that stands for “Absolutely No Consequences” and regain its identity, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Friday.

“Whether it’s about flights, about textbooks, about corruption … absolutely no consequences,” Mr Vavi told the Daily Maverick Gathering at the Victory Theatre in Johannesburg. “Unless we can change from that, our country is going to be eaten by dogs.”

Adopting the critical tone he has avoided using for some time, Mr Vavi warned that unless the ANC returned to the values it had held to in the past, it would become a “basket case” amid “another failed revolution”.

He said newspapers brimmed with allegations of corruption week after week. Cosatu recently called for the public protector to probe a number of flights taken by former defence minister Lindiwe Sisulu.

Although many good policies had been adopted by the ANC government, Mr Vavi said it was slow in implementing them due to “maladministration” and corruption.

When budgets were announced, he said, many smiled, believing: “Here is yet another opportunity to feed because now it’s our time to eat.”

Those who raised the alarm about the situation then faced “difficulties”.

Mr Vavi said South Africa had to listen to its farm workers and its poor, instead of “ramming unpopular decisions” such as e-tolling and home demolitions in Lenasia “down the throat of people”.

He urged ANC delegates at the party’s December national conference in Mangaung to move away from a preoccupation with leadership elections and focus on policies to address the crises of unemployment, inequality and poverty.

He described the dire inequalities in the country as a “normality” for citizens.

“We wish ANC delegates will be preoccupied with answering the central question: what is to be done?” he said.

Mr Vavi again highlighted the similarities between Brazil and South Africa, and said South Africa could learn from the policies implemented in that country to address inequality and poverty.

Gauteng ANC chairman Paul Mashatile — who leads a province pushing for the removal of President Jacob Zuma in December — said the ruling party would focus on renewal at its Mangaung conference.

“Yes, the campaign for change is going on…. It is not limited to looking at issues of leadership but also a complete overhaul of the organisation (the ANC) itself,” he said.

In an address to the same event on Friday, Mr Mashatile also alluded to negative aspects of the ANC’s drive to reach a million members, a goal it reached in January this year. During its hurried recruitment process, political education appeared to have fallen by the wayside, he said.

“Our preoccupation is not going to be on getting more numbers but on ensuring that those getting into the party are credible people,” he said.

“The ANC is not a place for self-enrichment.” (sic!)

————————————–

http://www.wsws.org/articles/2012/nov2012/safr-n05.shtml

Unions collude in repression as South Africa’s strike wave ebbs

By Chris Marsden 
5 November 2012

The South African Police Service is waging a brutal campaign of intimidation facilitated by the suffocation of strikes in the mining sector by the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

The police and COSATU are working in tandem as agents of the mining companies and the African National Congress (ANC)-led government. Most of the 80,000-100,000 miners involved in strike action in recent weeks have been driven back to work by threats of mass sackings and a sellout organised by COSATU and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM). Those defying the drive back to work have faced sackings, beatings, arrests and murder.

On Tuesday, at least 2,000 miners at Anglo American Platinum (Amplats), who are continuing a strike that previously involved 12,000, were fired on with rubber bullets and teargas by police. The police arrested 13 strikers. The numbers involved in the strike are difficult to judge, especially given that Amplats said on Thursday it did not yet have sufficient staff to resume operations.

On Wednesday, mine security guards working for Canadian-owned Forbes Coal shot and killed two striking coal miners in KwaZulu-Natal, asserting that this was in response to an attempt to storm the mine’s armoury. But even official police accounts note that the miners had been chased into a nearby shantytown before being fired on by the guards.

A mine belonging to Gold Fields remains shut after 8,500 workers were fired for striking. Xstrata has also sacked 400 workers involved in a strike that halted production at its Kroondal chrome mine, the bulk of the pit’s 619 workers.

A sit-in by 300 workers over bonus payments at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng and TauTona mines, west of Johannesburg, was abandoned after negotiations.

In a highly incendiary move, Lonmin has given unions notice of a major programme of job cuts next year, with a spokesman stating, “We haven’t decided how many employees will be impacted.”

The platinum mining company owns Marikana, where the police killed 34 miners and injured dozens more on August 16 during a bitter six-week strike. It has been the scene of vicious police repression in the strike’s aftermath, against the background of the official Farlam Commission into the killings.

In the aftermath of the massacre, 270 striking miners were initially charged with the murder of their colleagues by police using apartheid-era “common purpose” legislation. They had been tortured and beaten by police, and asked to identify the strike’s leaders.

Public outcry forced the withdrawal of the charges, but arrests continue on grounds just as spurious. Of nine recent arrests, the bulk involves leaders of the unofficial strike committee formed against the NUM’s collusion with management and murderous attacks on its own members that reportedly left two dead. The arrests have again targeted those giving evidence before the Farlam inquiry, which has become something of an identity parade for the police to choose their next victim.

 

The miners’ representative, Advocate Dali Mpofu, told the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that six men arrested by the police in the last weeks were tortured while in custody. Four of the men—Zamikhaya Ndude, Sithembele Sohadi, Loyiso Mtsheketshe and Anele Xole—were arrested by scores of armed police while leaving the inquiry and travelling back home (see “Strike leaders arrested following testimony before Marikana massacre inquiry”).

“One person said he was beaten up until he soiled himself. Another lost the hearing in his right ear, and another had visible scarring, “Mpofu said.

Xolani Nzuza has been charged, without any evidence whatsoever, with the murder of Daluvuyo Bongo, the local secretary of the NUM.

Mpofu denounced what he called a “reign of terror amongst potential witnesses”.

Despite an order for their release from custody “without delay” by a magistrate last Friday, the four were immediately rearrested on the instructions of either the national director of public prosecutions or the provincial director.

Mpofu said, “I cannot now, with a straight face, say to other people in Nkaneng or the surrounding areas: ‘Oh don’t worry, I’ve organised a combie for you. You can come to the commission next week.’ Because they’ll say: ‘Are you out of your mind? Must I go there and make myself cannon fodder for arrest like so-and-so and so-and-so?’ ”

Again without evidence, Zenzile Nyenye and Siyakhele Kwazile have also been charged with Bongo’s murder.

David Bruce of the Daily Maverick interviewed “Bhele” Tholakele Dlunga, a leader of the strike committee, about his treatment by police when he was arrested at 5:30 a.m. on October 25 by five plainclothes officers. They used a black plastic bag to suffocate him while they beat him, before charging him with possession of an unlicensed firearm they had only just found. He was held for six days and repeatedly tortured while being asked the whereabouts of others involved in the Marikana strike.

Zonke, arrested the same day, had been beaten and suffocated to the point where he lost control of his bowels. All charges have been dropped against him, but the 26-year-old was described by Bruce as “a husk of the energetic, bright young man of two weeks before.”

The cover-up at the Farlam Commission could hardly be more naked.

The police claim that the only police film of August 16 is that of Lt.-Col. Cornelius Botha, 41 minutes of footage taken from a helicopter showing nothing of significance. It shows police vehicles and people running in single file, apparently taken after the massacre had taken place.

It was only after repeated questioning that Botha “remembered” that “Two stun grenades were shot from the chopper I was in”, contradicting his assertion that he had arrived too late to see what had happened.

Asked how many helicopters were in the air, he said there were four.

In a related development, last week saw the arrest for murder of Angy Peter, an activist who has spent years exposing police abuses in Khayelitsha township outside Cape Town and who was to be a key witness before a commission looking into such abuses. She recently saved the petty thief and police informer she is accused of murdering, Rowan du Preez, from an angry mob.

At the moment, the miners have been led into an impasse. The breakaway Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has no perspective on which to challenge the conspiracy between the NUM, COSATU, the police, the employers and the ANC. For its part, the Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM), affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International and playing a significant role in the strike committees, is urging workers to reclaim “COSATU’s class and political independence”, secure its departure from the tripartite government and establish “a single trade union centre with a socialist programme.”

It has even urged a “joint trade union and strike committee-led investigation into the Marikana massacre.”

Nothing could be more dangerous than to spread such illusions. Not only did the NUM and COSATU support the police massacre at Marikana, but it was they who called for it to be carried out. The class interests represented by COSATU are those of the bourgeoisie, not in an indirect sense, but because they are capitalists themselves and share in the exploitation of the working class through innumerable Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) schemes.

Former NUM leader Cyril Ramaphosa is President Jacob Zuma’s running mate in his re-election campaign and is backed by his former union. A series of e-mails released to the Farlam inquiry prove that he played a key role in organising the massacre (see “South Africa’s unions use mass sackings and murder to suppress miners”).

Ramaphosa, who is worth 3 billion rand (US$365 million), owns a 9 percent share in Marikana, but even that is far from the whole picture. A report by Arthur McKay in the October 28 edition of Zimbabwe’s The Standard alleges that Ramaphosa pockets 100 rand out of the monthly 500 rand wage of every contract worker employed by Lonmin—worth about US$18 million a year.

He was paid US$304 million in cash by the company in 2010 “in a deal backed ultimately by Xstrata”, McKay writes.

Ramaphosa bought a 50.03 percent stake of Lonmin’s BEE partner, Incwala Resources, in 2010, but Lonmin put up the US$304 million he needed to do so―realised through a share issue in which Xstrata was the key subscriber. A further US$51 million in credit has been extended to Ramaphosa since then and he is paid US$50 million to provide Lonmin’s welfare and training services―a total of US$400 million since 2010.

Zuma and the ANC believe that the support of the COSATU union bureaucracy and their other coalition partners, the South African Communist Party, means they can still sit firmly in the saddle. Zuma’s public comments on Marikana have been dismissive and arrogant.

He described Marikana to journalists last week as “a mishap”. Speaking to the official opening of the National House of Traditional Leaders in Parliament, Zuma said people should not be pushed by Marikana into thinking that South Africa was returning to an apartheid-like system. He said the Farlam Commission was in the process of discovering the truth about what happened at Marikana. Unlike the “huge cover-up during apartheid times…one incident cannot mean our system is a system that is killing people”, Zuma said.

He continued with a demand that “violence and intimidation must come to an end in those areas where strikes are still continuing,” referring to the miners and not the police and denouncing a resort to “chaos and anarchy”.

In reality, Zuma is sitting on a political and social powder keg. A rise in unemployment to over 25.5 percent was coupled with the release of South Africa’s census figures last week showing that black households still earn six times less than white households, 18 years after the end of apartheid. This significantly underestimates the income gap, given that black households are much larger than white. Estimates are that one miner’s wage sustains 10 people in an extended family. The rate of youth unemployment is 33.7 percent for those aged 25-29 and 27.4 percent for those aged 30-34. Mining accounts for 50 percent of foreign exchange earnings and was the second biggest contributor to job losses last quarter.

Zuma used a meeting of religious groups urging post-apartheid “peace and reconciliation” as yet another occasion to denounce strikes and protests against poverty, declaring, “When workers are on strike, they are very angry, they burn things, they destroy properties. When communities are protesting they actually destroy what they are protesting about that should be delivered to them. That’s an anger that’s abnormal.”

He is currently embroiled in a scandal over his spending US$28 million of public funds upgrading his rural homestead in KwaZulu-Natal province, one of four residences he owns. Improvements reportedly include a helipad, fencing, bulletproof glass, two AstroTurf soccer fields and elevators serving underground bunkers and the main house. Tens of millions more have been spent on roads in the area.

Addressing a rally on Friday organised by the South African Unemployed Workers Union, he demanded that people stop calling the ANC corrupt.

“People are saying this but it is untrue,” he said. (sic!)

———————-

A critical turning point for policy and economics

BY EVAN PICKWORTH, NOVEMBER 23 2012, 14:48 | 1 COMMENT(S)
 
   
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Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

In this article

SOUTH Africa’s Pravin Gordhan is ranked 15th out of 19 Group of 20 finance ministers by the Financial Times. The survey has been published for the past seven years, but this is the first time the G-20 has been included.

As South Africa approaches a critical turning point when policy and economics cross swords in Mangaung in December, the survey is a timely reminder of how dire the situation has become and how much work lies ahead.

It is no surprise that South Africa ranks below Turkey — we were once on a par — and Mexico. In fact, we are by the far the worst member of the Brics economic grouping: Russia is number two (behind first-placed Saudi Arabia), China is third and India 10th.

The survey, conducted among seven leading overseas economists, is important as it reflects how much foreigners’ perception of South Africa has sunk. We are now in a bottom-of-the-pile club with France, Japan, Italy and the UK, despite having no Europe-style crisis of our own or multidecade deflation.

Indeed, this poor outcome has nothing to do with Gordhan himself, who, as a finance minister, holds his own with the best. It is rather a reflection of how difficult it has become to manage the myriad challenges South Africa faces: a moribund mining industry beset by strikes, abysmal education, rampant corruption and a political fight getting increasingly nasty, making it hard to make coherent policy decisions or to get the economy and jobs going. The finance minister is paddling against a strong current in a very flimsy craft.

South Africa’s Brics partners — Brazil, Russia, China and India — are probably worried about what they let themselves in for.

A new study reveals South Africa is the least compelling investment destination among these. Furthermore, only 6% of chief financial officers see South Africa as a focus for general expansion, according to the BDO Ambition Survey: Global Opportunities 2012, conducted among 1,050 chief financial officers of mid-size businesses in 14 countries across North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Africa.

For the third year running, China had topped the BDO Global Market Opportunity Index as the world’s number-one destination where chief financial officers feel the most comfortable investing. After China come the US, Brazil, India, Germany, Russia and the UK. South Africa is ranked as the 15th most popular market for entry or increased investment.

There’s that dreaded number 15 again — it is poor and at the bottom of the class. It’s a pity the African National Congress cannot wake up to this fact and be less defensive about its track record.

@ http://www.bdlive.co.za/blogs/finance/2012/11/23/a-critical-turning-point-for-policy-and-economics

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About selcoolie

see: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/pdp/profile/A3SF2PCBUWC4UO?ie=UTF8&ref_=sv_w_h__4 briefly: Born in Cape Town, South Africa; moved to Sweden in1969 and completed studies in 1983, then moved to Norway and then to S.A. in 1993 - back to Norway in 2005, and been there ever since! E-mail: selimgool@yahoo.com Web Page: zcommunications/zspace/selcool In My Own Words: ¨ South African born ex-academic now retired, exiled and beyond redemption? Interests South African political economy and history; International Socialism and Marxist/Anarchist thought; anti-militarism and ecological questions My draft autobiography (ALL the "closet secrets" in the open! @ http://southafrica.indymedia.org/uploads/2006/02/an_odyssey___from_cape_town2.pdf Aslo view: http://www.amazon.com/gp/pdp/profile/A2ZHOZT2GTDHU1

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