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APEMO launches 2021 LGE manifesto in Durban
13 October 2021, 6:27 PM

Another splinter faction from the National Freedom Party (NFP), launched its manifesto in Durban earlier today.  The newly formed African People’s Movement  (APEMO) hopes to do well in the upcoming municipal elections.

APEMO, one of the several NFP breakaway parties, is contesting wards in six provinces, including KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.  It will be fielding 500 candidates.

Some of the APEMO leaders include former NFP Deputy President Alec Kekana, who is now the treasurer-general of the new party.

While, APEMO President  Vikizitha Mlotshwa is the former chairperson of the NFP in KwaZulu-Natal.

The party is calling for an audit of state-owned land.

Mlotshwa says business people should be able to lease state-owned land at municipal level to boost local economies.

“The land audit to be conducted in the state land, not Ingonyama Trust because the land in the Ingonyama Trust there is something that is going on in terms of distribution with regards to land audit. We want to achieve that each resident must be given title deeds, those land must be given to people so that they will be able to rent so municipality won’t survive on grants from the department. Therefore giving land to the people, definitely if somebody has been given land he or she will contribute towards the municipality.”

Mlotshwa says councillors who move out of the community they were elected to serve, will be forced to resign.

“The APEMO stance is simply if you are voted in Ward 2 you must remain for the duration of five years in Ward 2. Should you move to reside somewhere else you will be compelled to resign before you move. We cannot tolerate such a thing because the community voted you to that particular ward not somewhere else. ”

Mlotshwa says his party will ensure the communities they serve have a voice.

“APEMO is committed to serving the needs of all our people. We as servant leaders emphasise the use of openness, transparency and persuasion rather than control or imposing our own decisions on the community. We need not do that comrade.”

APEMO, like other new political parties, says it will be working hard to gain the trust of voters.

Holding elected leaders accountable: Dr Paul Kariuki
13 October 2021, 5:15 PM

As SABC News gauges service delivery ahead of the local government elections, many voices of discontent have been found and frustration in some areas and thumbs up in others.

However, service delivery protests are a clear indication that the electorate wants to be heard over basic services. At the heart of these elections is the delivery of basic services.

The United Nations Development Programme has partnered with the IEC through the U Count initiative, to encourage as many voters as possible to go cast their ballots, to ensure that the elections are legitimate, and to improve confidence in electoral democracy

But how should society hold the elected leaders accountable?

Dr Paul Kariuki, Director of the Durban-based Democracy Development Programme, gives more insight:


Nigeria’s COVID-19 economic plan has delivered disappointing results: Here’s why
13 October 2021, 4:48 PM

Over a year ago, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari launched an economic plan designed to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Nigeria has recorded 207,618 cases of infection and 2,745 deaths as of October 11, 2021. The economic effects were devastating. Economic growth turned negative in 2020, unemployment and poverty rates increased, and companies went out of business.

Dubbed “Bouncing Back: Nigeria Economic Sustainability Plan”, Buhari’s COVID-19 plan focused on food security, job creation (especially for young people and women), renewable energy, support for small and medium-size enterprises, manufacturing, infrastructure and social investment.

Cash transfers through N-Power, MarketMoni, TraderMoni and other initiatives were cornerstones of the plan.

Now it is time to assess whether the economy has bounced back or is on track to do so.

Prior to the pandemic, the Nigerian economy grew at 2.2% in 2019. It contracted by 1.8% in 2020. It rebounded in 2021 with a growth rate of 2.5%. But the rebound was less than expected, considering that sub-Saharan African countries grew at an average rate of 3.4%.

It is unclear whether Nigeria’s growth resurgence is attributable to the economic sustainability plan or to the increase in the oil price. The price increased from US$41 a barrel in December 2019 to US$67 in December 2020.

Oil is a major driver of growth in Nigeria, accounting for about 65% of government revenue and over 90% of foreign exchange earnings. In 2010, when the oil price reached a record high of $110, Nigeria’s economic growth was 11.3%.

Nigeria could raise its economic growth by three-fourths of a percent if it improved its low-quality infrastructure.

Political instability also hinders growth.

Read more:
Nigeria at 61: A giant with challenging crises amid opportunities

## Agriculture and food

The economic sustainability plan prioritised agricultural development and food security. Early indications suggest that this goal is not being accomplished.

Under the plan, the government intended to cultivate between 20,000 and 100,000 hectares of new farmland in each of the country’s 36 states. This should have enabled the growth of agriculture value added to hold steady at the 2019 level of 2.4%. But it grew by only 2.2% in 2020.

Other African countries had higher rates of agricultural development than Nigeria by the end of 2020. Examples are South Africa (13.1%), Senegal (8.2%), Ghana (7.4%) Angola (6.9%) and Gabon (5.2%).

Given Nigeria’s annual population growth rate of about 2.6%, it means that food supply lagged demand in 2020. This explains the rising food prices. The composite food index rose by 21% in July 2021.

In his Independence Day speech on 1 October 2021, President Buhari blamed hoarders for Nigeria’s food inflation. Yet hoarding typically occurs when demand exceeds supply, and when sellers expect prices to continue to rise.

The antidote to hoarding is a massive increase in agricultural production, which the economic sustainability plan has so far not achieved.

Small business

Many of the initiatives under the plan were designed to prevent businesses, especially small and medium scale enterprises, from failing.

The pause in the repayment of loans granted by the Central Bank of Nigeria to the recipients of its intervention programmes was extended by a year. The interest rate on the bank’s loans was cut from 9% to 5%. And the bank created a loan facility of 50 billion naira or US$122 million for affected households and small and medium enterprises.

Yet these businesses have continued to struggle for survival. Of the 3,000 enterprises surveyed by the United Nations Development Programme and the National Bureau of Statistics, 80% said they reduced production in 2020. One in three said they knew of at least one business that had closed permanently. About 60% of the firms had endured an unexpected increase in “operational costs”.

In addition to supporting smaller businesses, the Central Bank of Nigeria established a 1 trillion naira (US$2.4 billion) facility in April 2020 for supporting manufacturing. Of this amount, 300 billion naira (US$732 million) had been disbursed as of March 2021.

This intervention may have given an impetus to foreign direct investment, which rose slightly from $2.3 billion in 2019 to $2.4 billion in 2020. This could have been through the provision of loans to foreign manufacturers to establish subsidiaries in Nigeria. And it would have been a positive signal to foreign investors.

COVID-19 interventions increased Nigeria’s manufacturing value added as a percentage of GDP only marginally, from 11.5% of GDP in 2019 to 12.6% in 2020.

Shallow economic rebound

The International Monetary Fund expects Nigeria’s economic growth to be flat at about 2.3% for the next two years. By contrast, it is estimated that sub-Saharan African countries will grow at an average of 4% during the same period.

This implies that the Nigerian economy is not on track to rebound at a scale needed to significantly reduce the high unemployment and poverty rates.

A report by the United Nations Development Programme and the National Bureau of Statistics shows the unemployment rate in Nigeria increased from 27% in the second quarter of 2020 to 33% in the fourth quarter of the same year. Youth unemployment was 42.5% as of July 2021. The report found that 20% of the workers in the enterprises surveyed lost their jobs in 2020.

The World Bank estimates that 11 million Nigerians will be pushed into poverty by 2022, in addition to the 100 million (out of 200 million people in the country) who are already classified as poor.

The Nigerian economy would have to grow at between 8% and 10% a year for at least 10 years before the current poverty rate of 40% could be halved. On the current trends, this is very unlikely to happen.

Poor economic outlook

With flat economic growth and rising inflation of about 17%, Nigeria risks running into what economists refer to as “stagflation”. Stagflation is a lethal combination of high unemployment and inflation rates. Rising food prices and steep depreciation of the Nigerian currency are the main causes of inflation in Nigeria.

An attempt to rein in inflation by raising interest rates would worsen economic growth and increase unemployment. Conversely, a strategy of promoting economic growth by reducing interest rates could push up inflation.

All indications are that Buhari’s COVID-19 plan has not stemmed the worsening unemployment and poverty in Nigeria and has resulted in only marginal improvements in economic growth, manufacturing and foreign direct investment.

The plan was not bold and big enough. There should have been massive investment in agro-processing industries, which would have created jobs for millions of unemployed Nigerian youths.

For instance, of the 2.3 trillion naira ($5.6 billion) that the government planned to spend on the economic sustainability plan, only 500 billion naira ($1.2 billion), or one-fifth, was spent as of May 2021.

The plan should have focused more on reviving the textile and footwear industries in the country. These industries are labour-intensive, and employed thousands of Nigerians in the 1970s and 1980s.

Transferring cash to a few Nigerians, supporting some small and medium scale enterprises, and saving 2 million jobs as claimed by the government are inadequate for uplifting the lives of millions of Nigerians who continue to endure prolonged unemployment and extreme poverty.The Conversation

Stephen Onyeiwu, Andrew Wells Robertson Professor of Economics, Allegheny College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

DA going all out to regain power in Oudtshoorn Municipality in Little Karoo
13 October 2021, 4:35 PM

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is going all out to reclaim its spot at the helm in the Oudtshoorn Municipality in the Little Karoo. The party was removed from power by opposition parties in September.

The DA’s coalition partner, the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA), joined the African National Congress (ANC) and removed the DA mayor and speaker after a motion of no confidence.

The municipality has faced a lot of issues in the past, including being put under administration, bankruptcy, and allegations of corruption and maladministration.

With just weeks to go before the local government elections, the ANC and ICOSA in Oudtshoorn staged a council coup. With only two seats, ICOSA is considered a small party but packs a big punch in this region. They also co-govern the neighbouring Kannaland municipality with the ANC and have several seats in councils in the Garden Route. ICOSA Western Cape leader, Dawid Kamfer, says they want to take care of the people.

“Before the elections, three, four months before, we ask them to listen, what do you want? They gave us ten points, we took all the points, we put it together and say that is what the community wants. And then after the elections, when we are successful and I know we will in the 2021 elections, we’ll do what the people tell us to do.”

Oudtshoorn’s former DA Mayor, Chris Macpherson, says the ANC and ICOSA’s victory will be short-lived.

“The illegal actions that we’ve experienced the last few weeks performed by the ANC and their cohorts by ignoring judges’ decisions and taking illegal actions will definitely have an impact on 1 November when voters cast their ballot. I believe that the people are tired of sitting with a government that ignores these illegal actions and the way in which they perform.”

Oudtshoorn, like other Little Karoo towns, is one of the poorest rural areas in the Western Cape. With mostly farmland, other job prospects are scarce.

Residents, such as Adam Beyers, say they’ve grown tired of empty promises from politicians.

“We don’t have a better party. I said I’m not going to vote until it’s better here in the future. We need to get better parties that will take over that will deliver and look after us.”

Twenty minutes away from Oudtshoorn lies the dusty village of Dysellsdorp.

People here believe they’ve been forgotten by the Oudtshoorn Municipality for much too long. After 30 years, the first batch of RDP houses are being built. A resident, John Titus, says the councillors don’t care about them.

“They took the houses that were supposed to be built here 10 years ago to De Rust. The councillors here, we put them here in the positions, and whenever they are there they forget about their people. That’s what’s happening here.”

But a community leader and the head of a local NGO believes that changes are coming. For 30 years Leon Campher has been assisting residents and farmworkers. He says he has now thrown his hat into the political ring, as a candidate for the Advieskantoor.

“I did a lot of things while not being a councillor. Actually, I did more than a councillor.  Dysselsdorp has got two wards while there’s 13 wards in Oudtshoorn. From these 13 wards, it seems that  Dysselsdorp belongs to one of the farmers because so little services come this side that you can believe that this place belongs to someone else. Because if you got a budget for 13 wards, why the budget does not come out to wards 9 and 10? That’s why I’m going there just to get what belongs to this community of  Dysselsdorp.

The ANC leadership in Oudtshoorn will have to work hard this election to regain voter confidence.

The last time they headed the council outright was in the 2011 local government elections. Since then, they’ve also lost several wards in by-elections.

Steenhuisen leads anti-corruption picket in Nelson Mandela Bay

Meanwhile,  DA leader John Steenhuisen is leading an anti-corruption picket in Nelson Mandela Bay.

The picket follows the Public Protector’s report, implicating Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane, Public Works MEC Babalo Madikizela, and the provincial ANC in funds siphoned from the Mbizana local municipality, now called Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Municipality. The funds were meant for the memorial service of political stalwart  Madikizela-Mandela in 2018.

OPINION: AUKUS is short for “Australia playing with China Fire”
13 October 2021, 2:33 PM

When powerful regimes wish to sidestep the tag of being labelled practitioners of unilateralism in a globalised world, they are often quick to put together disguised forms of the same concept, using a different title.

In geopolitical literature, there are many examples of the much-maligned unilateralism that invariably gets camouflaged as something else. The one example that easily comes to mind is the 2003 invasion of Iraq when the US bluntly undermined the authority of the UN and cobbled together what became known as the “Coalition of the willing” that was masterminded by then US President George W Bush and his UK counterpart, Tony Blair.

Very few countries signed up to that dodgy military offensive to depose – and later kill – Iraq’s leader Saddam Hussein. In Africa, only one country is known to have signed up to the Coalition of willing, and that was Uganda. Reports at the time indicated that the East African country under the decades-old rule of one man – Yoweri Museveni – had been promised HIV/Aids medicine in return for enlisting to what was clearly a US-led unilateral invasion of a sovereign state under the guise of searching and destroying the so-called weapons of mass destruction. Such weapons were never found at the end of the shock and awe streak of bombardment of the once-stable Gulf state.

But Bush and Blair quit office without a single apology for misleading the world. Instead, they harped on and on about a “good job” they did of ridding the world of Saddam Hussein. Both leaders insisted that “the world is a better place without Saddam”.

Recent developments in the Indo-Pacific region reminded me of the above episode. The US, UK and Australia announced that they have formed a trilateral security partnership called AUKUS. A Global Times editorial described AUKUS as a version of a “small NATO”.

The emergence of AUKUS took many NATO member-states by surprise. But France was particularly incensed. AUKUS meant food out of the mouth of France, literally speaking. The French had earlier entered into a bilateral agreement with Australia to build them a billion-dollar submarine. Canberra walked away from the agreement without any iota of decency to engage with the French about the change in plans. And, out of the blue, the US President Joe Biden announced that his country stood to benefit from executing the same submarine plan for the Australians to the tune of a whopping A$90 billion.

French Foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian could not hide his public outrage, describing the deal as “a stab in the back”. French President Emmanuel Macron protested the development by recalling his envoys from both Canberra and Washington. It was only after a telephone talk with President Biden that the French ambassador to Washington was returned to his post.

But the hullabaloo around AUKUS is not purely about economics. The US is set to share its nuclear submarine technology with Australia. The latest developments are viewed in geopolitics as the American plan to create as many blocs as possible to counter China’s rise, particularly militarily, not only in the region but also in the world.

Through AUKUS, the US is hoping to lure other countries in the Indo-Pacific region to its corner against the threats – perceived or real – that is posed by a powerful China.

International relations observers believe that this strategy would not succeed. Almost all countries in the region have strong economic ties with China. And, in the light of growing mistrust in the US foreign policy since the Trump administration era, many countries no longer trust Washington, whose major focus is “Making America Great Again”, or post-Trump, “America First” policy.

As a result, there is hardly any nation in the Indo-Pacific region that is prepared to rely on US military support and trigger a war with China. Besides, Beijing’s foreign policy that is premised on Multilateralism is a constant theme of Chinese President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party of China. President Xi reiterated the same stance during his recent address to the UN General Assembly. So China is clear that it seeks confrontation with no one, and that negotiations are a key component of Beijing’s foreign policy.

Worth noting is that within a couple of years the US has developed two questionable alliances in the Indo-Pacific region. Although AUKUS is the latest, the first was Quad. The latter consisted of the US, Japan, India and Australia. In the wake of AUKUS, it seems that the Quad is moribund. International relations analysts believe that drawing India into the Quad was primarily more about keeping New Delhi preoccupied with China so as to keep Washington focussed on other global challenges. The US has exhibited the propensity to pursue a strategy of roping in almost every willing country into a regional and global anti-China united front.

Since the end of the Cold War when the former Soviet Union officially collapsed at the turn of the 1990’s, the US has enjoyed the status of being the world’s only remaining superpower. The quiet emergence of China as a superpower sends shockwaves in the US. But instead of embracing the developmental advantages that has seen the rapid rise of China in the 21st century – marked by a successful war on hunger and poverty – Washington appears determined to counter competition, sometimes by means that are at odds with international law.

But the bigger conundrum for the US is the trust deficit. France’s anger at the manner in which AUKUS was formed and the snatching of a submarine deal from their claws added to the mistrust that the European Union and NATO have of the US. The recent unilateral decision to withdraw from Afghanistan left many traditional allies of the US rethinking the way-forward.

In its desire to undermine China’s epic rise, the US is prepared to formulate multiple alliances that really serve as a distraction, if not irritation – or both. To provide Australia with a nuclear submarine technology clearly undermines the nuclear non-proliferation system from which the West have benefitted the most.

And if the US and Britain succeed in helping Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines,  the trend will no doubt open the doors for every country in the world to acquire same. This will mean the global legalisation of the export and import of such technologies. The advent of a free-for-all. And this cannot be good for global peace and security. The US should urgently revise its foreign policy stance towards China and pursue diplomacy instead of under-handed methods that are aimed at undermining the legitimate development of China.

Bilateral relations between China and Australia have always been cordial. But AUKUS is turning them frosty. To align Australia with Washington in the US-China strategic brinkmanship, Australia is noticeably playing a very dangerous game that could boomerang on Canberra. Australia should not become an anti-China spearhead. That would be unwise. The last thing the country needs is to be an object of Beijing’s countermeasures. There can only be one winner.



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