Africa Briefs

07 March 2019 | Economics

Uptick in SA economy ahead of elections

South Africa's economy grew by 1.4% in the fourth quarter of 2018, the statistics authority said Tuesday, easing pressure on the ruling ANC ahead of crucial elections.

According to StatsSA, gross domestic product (GDP) was up 1.4% in the fourth quarter compared with the same period in 2017, bolstering overall economic growth to 0.8% in 2018 over 2017.

The finance, real estate and business services industries led the growth. Agriculture, mining and construction industries, key economic sectors of the mineral-rich country, recorded negative growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2018.

The overall positive performance of the fourth quarter is a sharp contrast from the first two quarters of 2018, when the country slipped into recession.

The economy generated R4.87 trillion in 2018, with the fourth-quarter growth contributing R1.26 trillion of that amount. – Nampa/Reuters

Zim allows mines, others to import own fuel

Zimbabwe on Tuesday allowed mining companies and other businesses to import their own fuel following shortages that have gripped the economy in the last six months due to a severe US dollar crunch, a cabinet minister said.

The world's top two platinum producers Anglo American Platinum and Impala Platinum Holdings are some of the big mining companies operating in Zimbabwe, which will be able to buy their own fuel.

Zimbabwe's central bank provides between US$80 and US$100 million a month in scarce US dollars to fuel companies to import the commodity. By allowing companies to buy their own fuel, the government expects to ease pressure on demand for US dollars.

Long queues that resurfaced last week after a brief lull continued on Tuesday and Mutsvangwa said the government had been forced to take 8 million litres of diesel from the country's strategic reserve to supply the market.

Despite previous promises by the central bank and energy minister to end the fuel shortages, Zimbabwean motorists have got used to queuing for hours for the scarce resource. – Nampa/Reuters

Sibanye unrest: Police called in

Growing unrest at Sibanye-Stillwater's South African gold operations has left nine people dead since workers downed tools in November, prompting the country's mines minister to call on the police to step in and protect the local community.

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe has requested the assistance of the minister of police to "restore and safeguard the safety and security of the community" in Carletonville in the west of Johannesburg, the mines ministry said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has been on strike at Sibanye's bullion operations since mid-November and plans to extend the strike to its platinum mines as well as all other mines where the AMCU has members.

Sibanye-Stillwater said last month it could cut nearly 6 000 jobs at its gold mining operations, where AMCU has been on strike since mid-November over a wage dispute.

Firms including AngloGold Ashanti, Harmony Gold, Anglo American Platinum who received a strike notice are awaiting a labour court ruling which will decide if mineworkers' can embark on an industry-wide strike. – Nampa/Reuters

Hundreds stranded in Nairobi airport strike

Hundreds of travellers were stranded at Nairobi's international airport yesterday as riot police were deployed and teargas fired to disperse striking workers.

With flights grounded since midnight, passengers were advised yesterday morning not to come to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport - East Africa's busiest according to the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) - until further notice.

Inside the terminals, strikers faced off with police who fired teargas as they moved in to arrest union officials they accused of inciting workers.

Passengers waiting for flights, some for hours, were asked to leave the airport, and gathered in parking and waiting areas outside the building.

The workers, who had not announced their labour action beforehand, are angry about the planned takeover of the airport, operated by the state-run KAA, by national carrier Kenya Airways. – Nampa/AFP

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