3 July 2008Despite a global economic slowdown resulting largely from rising food and fuel prices, South Africa’s economy is resilient enough to deal with the unfolding economic climate.“We have a much stronger economy today then we did 10 years ago and increasingly we are showing resilience to global economic dips,” Trade and Industry Minister Mandisi Mpahlwa said in Johannesburg this week.“We do not believe our economy has reached a cul-de-sac.”He added that investment was increasingly was playing a greater role in the economic growth of South Africa.Speaking from the headquarters of Business Unity South Africa (Busa), Mpahlwa said South Africa was recently identified by a professor at the London School of Economics as one of four key emerging economies in the world, placing it alongside China, India and Brazil.Regionally significant and diverseSince the 1990s, South Africa has emerged as one of the most important developing economies within the global economy.“We might not have the size of China, India and Brazil, but we are regionally significant with a diverse and growing economy,” Mpahlwa said. “We need to make sure that we remain in the stream of fast-growing economies despite the challenging global economic environment.”To ensure diversification of exports, South Africa is currently in discussions with China to find ways in which to increase the market penetration of value-added goods into the Chinese economy.He added that South Africa was in the process of trying to change from being a majority exporter of raw materials to a supplier of value-added goods on a greater scale.Shifting trade patternsMpahlwa said that trade patterns were shifting at the moment, noting that Africa-Asia trade was starting to surpass Africa-European trade. “The trade balance is shifting more toward Asia, with an increase in trade between developing countries,” he said.Among the challenges facing the South African economy were insufficient energy to meet rising demand, a shortage of skills, and the need to increase productivity and boost infrastructure development.He pointed out that while the short-term solution was to import skills, this practice was not sustainable in the longer term and skills had to be developed locally.“The issue of insufficient energy, skills shortages, and infrastructure challenges is not unique to South Africa but is a global problem,” Mpahlwa added.Current account deficitSouth Africa’s widening account deficit came as a result of South African manufacturers already running at capacity and therefore not being able to deal with increased demand ahead of the massive infrastructure drive for the 2010 Fifa World Cup.South Africa was therefore forced to import goods to cover the local output shortage, Mpahlwa said, adding that local manufacturers needed to reinvest in capacity in order to meet the growing demand in the country.Another factor greatly affecting the current account deficit was the current record prices for crude oil.In the prevailing economic slowdown, it was imperative that South Africa did not lose focus of what it had set out to achieve. “Now is the time to commit ourselves to more vigorously pursue these objectives,” he said.Taking down barriersMpahlwa said the government’s response to the tightening economic conditions was to speed up industrial development, continue promoting small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs), and further strengthen the state’s capacity to unlock the country’s economic potential.He added that regional integration within the Southern African Development Community also needed greater impetus, as all countries within the bloc needed to take advantage of the almost free trade environment that existed in order to maximise regional trade.Source: BuaNews
14 August 2015South African anti-apartheid veteran Ahmed Kathrada revealed that he would like to live on Robben Island, where he was imprisoned with Nelson Mandela and others during apartheid. His revelation came at a talk about his coffee table book, Triumph of the Human Spirit, hosted in Lenasia, Johannesburg, yesterday.The book is a collection of emotional memories of Kathrada’s return to the island. He frequently escorts celebrities, presidents and ordinary individuals on their visits to the former prison.After 300 visits to Robben Island, he said it had become routine. But the first and second visits were difficult.“My first visit on Robben Island, after I was released. it was quite a traumatic experience, because a year after our release we were used to space. Flats, houses, halls,” he told daily newspaper, The Citizen.“And when we [were] confined in this little cell of which I spent 18 of my 26 years [imprisoned], that was difficult to believe how I spent 18 years of my life in that little cell.”Kathrada spent 26 years in prison, 18 of which were on Robben Island. Now, the struggle stalwart would like to make the island his home.“We are currently in negotiations with various authorities to try and get the house on the island, specifically for him to receive his guests on the island and [as a place] where he can spend a little bit of time and reflect on the past,” explained Zaakirah Vadi of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation to Eye Witness News.ImprisonmentIn 1963, Kathrada was arrested in Rivonia and charged with sabotage and attempting to overthrow the government by violent means. He, along with other struggle veterans, Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Andrew Mlangeni, Billy Nair, Elias Motsoaledi, Raymond Mhlaba and Dennis Goldberg, were sentenced to life imprisonment in 1964.He was incarcerated with his colleagues on the island for 18 years, before he was moved to Pollsmoor Maximum Prison in 1982. Soon after his release in October 1989, the African National Congress (ANC) was unbanned.SAinfo reporter
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