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South Africa Elections: Cyril Ramaphosa and what the future of business holds3 minutes read

A major bone of contention for Ramaphosa once he returns as president is reform in education.

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South Africa Elections: Cyril Ramaphosa and what the future of business holds
President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at a public meeting. RODGER BOSCH / AFP

Another landmark election for the continent, is underway in Africa’s second biggest economy, South Africa. South Africans have voted in a general and parliamentary election. As one of Africa’s leading economies, the elections will have ramifications for the rest of the continent.

South Africans trooped to the polls on Wednesday and the tallying continues. A new president will be announced on Saturday, but with early results, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) remains the dominant political party in the country and its candidate, Cyril Ramaphosa has a lot of issues to contend with if he’s returned elected.

From corruption scandals, growing urban crime, call for free education, economic instability, to perceptions that the party has lost touch with ordinary citizens, he’s got a lot on his plate but many expect him to bring his business prowess to play.

As the fifth and incumbent President, Ramaphosa, previously an anti-apartheid activist, trade union leader and partly communist, is a businessman. He previously held notable ownership in companies such as McDonald’s South Africa, chair of the board for telecoms giant, MTN and member of the board for Lonmin, one of the biggest mining companies in the Southern African nation.

Despite his credentials as an important proponent of his country’s peaceful transition to democracy, he has been widely criticised for the conduct of his business interests, but never indicted for illegal activity in any of these controversies, one of which, is his employment on the board of Lonmin’s Marikana mine and his active stance in the 2012 Marikana massacre at Lonmin premises, which led to about 30 workers’ death.

His business dealings with Glencore and allegations of benefitting illegally from coal deals with Eskom have also been called to question.

While dealing with these allegations, he has been notable for spearheading trade relations on behalf of his country, the likes of Singapore and Vietnam where they agreed on expanding trade and furthering education.

The Bilateral trade with Singapore has grown significantly, to R23.5 billion in 2015.

However, a major bone of contention for Ramaphosa once he returns as president is reform in education.

Education reform has been a priority in South Africa since the establishment of the Government of National Unity in 1994 and has played a key role in redressing the injustices of Apartheid.

Impressive progress has been made in education legislation, policy development, curriculum reform and the implementation of new ways of delivering education, but many challenges remain in many areas, such as student outcomes, labour market relevance, and funding.

Another issue, made more widely known by the student protest #FeesMustFall movement, is access to tertiary education for previously disadvantaged students.

Ramaphosa inherited a decision made by former President Jacob Zuma to grant more students access to free education, but it remains to be seen what his own stance will be on the matter and how he, along with national treasury, will provide support to the education department to make this feasible.

Last December, the government, in its 2018/2019 budget review, planned to implement fee-free higher education in a phased approach.

It planned to:

• Raise an additional R36 billion in tax revenue through an increase in the VAT rate, limited personal income tax bracket adjustments and other measures
• Reduce the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement baseline expenditure by R26 billion
• Allocate R12.4 billion for fee-free higher education and training.
• Set aside an additional R5 billion for the contingency reserve
• Provisionally allocate R6 billion for drought management and public infrastructure.

The national treasury reported that baseline spending reductions and tax measures feed through to the outer years of the framework, while allocations to higher education increase sharply.

Funding is a big issue if he intends to continue on this path but analysts are hopeful that Ramaphosa will bring his business to the table for inflow of investments for economic development.

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Heavy rains threaten Uganda’s coffee crop quality

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Uganda’s coffee crop quality could see a decline in the coming months as heavy rains across the country have reduced the amount of sunshine necessary for bean drying.

Uganda is Africa’s largest exporter of coffee followed by Ethiopia and grows mostly robusta variety.

The country has been pounded by unusually heavy rains that started in August resulting in deaths, displacement and extensive damage to roads and other infrastructure.

Western Uganda, including the foothills of the Rwenzori mountains , some of the biggest coffee growing areas, has received some of the most intense rains.

Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA), the state-run regulator, forecasts Uganda’s bean exports will climb 16 percent to 5.1 million 60-kg (132-pound) bags in the current crop year ending September.

The country’s coffee output has surged in recent years, the fruition of a government programme that has been distributing free seedlings to farmers to expand acreage and replace aging trees.

Authorities say their target is to help boost annual production to 20 million bags by 2025.

The beans have traditionally been Uganda’s biggest commodity export but were recently overtaken by gold which now annually earns the country over $1 billion.

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Business rescue team rule out mid-June return for SAA flights

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South African Airways business rescue practitioners have rejected an “unvetted” statement released by the state-owned airline indicating plans to resume domestic flights from mid-June.

The national carrier had on Tuesday, announced that its planes will be back in the skies between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

But Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana, the business rescue administrators, say the airline had breached communications protocol by issuing a statement which “created an unfair expectation on our relevant stakeholders, including SAA’s customers, as well as employees who are on unpaid absence as a result of the travel ban which led to the halting of the company’s operations, compounding its financial distress.”

SAA’s media statement had gone out without the approval of the practitioners as demanded by the business rescue procedure.

With the government of South Africa announcing that the country will enter into lockdown alert level 3 from June 1, domestic air travel will be permitted but only for business purposes.

The business rescue practitioners said SAA planes will remain grounded until a better understanding of what the level 3 regulations entail.

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Tanzania, France sign water supply loan agreement

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Tanzania has signed a loan agreement with France to finance water supply projects that will benefit about 770,000 people in the country’s Morogoro municipality.

The French government will extend the loan worth about $76 million to Tanzania through its French Development Agency (AFD), according to Dotto James, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning who signed the agreement on behalf of Tanzania.

“Upon completion, the water supply in the Morogoro municipality will increase from the current 37,000 cubic meters a day to 108,000 cubic meters a day,” James told a press conference following a signing ceremony in Morogoro.

AFD Country Representative for Tanzania, Stephanie Mouen says the project will improve the well-being of the people in the municipality and it will also improve the environment.

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