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African Press Review 13 December 2017


Unemployment rises again in South Africa. The ANC struggles to put its house in order on the eve of the election of a new president. Robert Mugabe leaves Zimbabwe for the first time since he was toppled by the military last month. And the South Sudanese rebel group led by Riek Machar has been invited to attend peace talks to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia later this month.

The latest official figures show that the South African economy lost a further 31,000 formal-sector jobs during the quarter which came to end in September. But those lucky enough to have jobs earned more, according to the Johannesburg-based financial paper BusinessDay.

The construction and transport sectors were the only ones to add jobs during the third quarter.

The total salaries paid in the September quarter showed a 3.3-percent growth compared to the second quarter and a 6.0-percent growth on the third quarter of 2016.

Of South Africa's population of 57 million, less than 9.5 million have formal jobs.

And it's that fact which makes another BusinessDay report surprising.

According to data from the South African Revenue Service, tax revenue has doubled in the past 10 years, with personal income tax the biggest contributor since the 2008 financial crisis.

In the recent medium-term budget policy statement, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba estimated the tax revenue deficit to be over three billion euros in 2017-18. That's the highest deficit since the 2009 recession.

ANC riven by internal strife on eve of election

With only three days to go until the ANC’s national elective conference, the South African ruling party is still putting out legal fires around the country.

According to BusinessDay, the two court cases that are likely to have the biggest effect on the conference are the Free State delegate dispute, set to be heard tomorrow, and the judgment on the legality of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial executive committee, which is yet to be handed down.

ANC members in the Free State are moving to bar 409 delegates, mainly Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma backers, from attending the conference, while in KwaZulu Natal the judgment could see the 27 delegates from the provincial executive committee barred from the conference. In both cases, it is claimed that the branch meetings to elect delegates were held illegally.

Closely fought two-horse race

The East African says the ANC race will be a closely fought contest between current Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, a former trade union leader and one of South Africa’s richest people, and Jacob Zuma’s preferred candidate, his ex-wife Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, a former minister and chairwoman of the African Union Commission.

Whoever wins the party’s top job is likely become the next president of South Africa after the national elections in 2019.

Mugabe leaves Zimbabwe for Asia

Zimbabwe's former president Robert Mugabe flew to Singapore on Monday night, leaving the country for the first time since he was toppled by the military last month.

The 93-year-old, who ruled the country for 37 years, was forced to resign on 21 November after he was put under house arrest by the army.

According to the privately owned NewsDay newspaper, Mugabe was going for a routine medical check-up in Singapore before flying to Malaysia where his daughter is expecting her second child.

He was accompanied by his wife Grace Mugabe and some unnamed government officials.

Machar rebels invited to South Sudan talks

The South Sudanese rebel group led by Riek Machar has been invited to attend peace talks to be held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia later this month.

This is the top story in this morning's Sudan Tribune.

The invitation, signed by Ethiopian Prime Minister Haile Mariam Dessalegn, says the key items on the agenda will be the restoration of a permanent ceasefire, full and inclusive implementation of the peace agreement and the establishment of an election timetable at the end of the transitional period.

Salva Kiir declares a state of emergency

As the death toll from inter-communal clashes in South Sudan rises to 170, President Salva Kiir has declared a state of emergency in three areas and ordered the immediate disarmament of civilians.

Kiir has ordered his military chiefs to mobilise sufficient forces and equipment to enforce a state of emergency for up to three months.

He also authorised them to use force if armed civilians did not lay down their weapons peacefully.

At least 170 people have been killed in recent clashes between armed youths from two Dinka sub-clans.