Tag Archives: South Africa

South Africa – social and economic factors behind xenophobic attacks


South Africa’s xenophobia problem: dispelling the myths

While not all migrants are law abiding, the stereotyped image of West African criminal kingpins corrupting society – once a staple of the media – is factually incorrect. According to a 2014 report by the National Institute for Crime Prevention and the Reintegration of Offenders, foreign nationals make up just four percent of the total sentenced population.

“We are not dealing with hard facts, we’re dealing with perceptions,” David Cote, at Lawyers for Human Rights, told IRIN.

Is the violence spontaneous or directed?

Historically it has been a bit of both, according to Cote. At the local ward level, foreigners are easy scapegoats for the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s service delivery failures – and are the victims of violence in nearly every protest against the government’s performance. “Local businesses are also trying to rid themselves of competition” from foreign-owned informal “spaza” shops, and are accused of stoking the attacks, said Cote.

Local authorities have adopted “a ‘protectionist’ position, which leads to various regulatory and policing responses that seek to disadvantage, if not entirely eliminate, migrant entrepreneurship,” according to SAMP researchers Jonathan Crush and Sujata Ramachandran.

There is a widespread perception that migrant-owned spaza shops somehow disadvantage South Africans, and the ANC has tapped into the resentment that newly-arrived foreigners seem able to set-up shops and make money. Speaking in a climate of mounting tension in January, Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said migrant entrepreneurs must share their trade secrets.

The way forward

Violence against migrants and their property is a constant threat, with the worst eruption in 2008 when 70 people died. But as the latest unrest has spread, many South Africans have rallied to support their foreign-born neighbours and, shocked and dismayed, have condemned the attacks.

President Zuma and his ministers’ belated move to reassure migrants and contain the violence has lacked a similar ring of sincerity and urgency. Past initiatives to roll back xenophobia have lapsed – undermined by official denials of the existence of the problem, the violence explained as simple criminality.

“The country’s leadership – from the highest level to the local level – must speak in a unified voice to dispel the myths about foreign nationals,” wrote Tamukomoyo. “The state’s intelligence agencies must direct their efforts to better understanding the dynamics behind the violent attacks, to better predict where they may occur and to what extent they are organised.”
According to Cote, unlike in the past where perpetrators of violence have often escaped justice, “I hope the question of impunity is addressed this time around, that prosecutions take place and people are sentenced appropriately.”

South Africa -Mozambican authorvreminds Zuma of Mozambiques sacrifices for SA struggle


Mozambican author Mia Couto has written an open letter to Jacob Zuma concerning the current xenophobic violence in South Africa.

Couto received the prestigious 2014 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, becoming the first Mozambican author to be honoured with the title, and was recently announced as a finalist for the 2015 Man Booker International Prize.

A River Called TimeThe Tuner of SilencesUnder the FrangipaniVoices Made NightSleepwalking Land

Paul Fauvet, the editor of the Mozambique News Agency, shared a translation of Couto’s open letter in apublic post on Facebook.

Read the letter:

Open Letter from the Chairperson of the “Fernando Leite Couto Foundation”, Mia Couto

To: His Excellency President Jacob Zuma

We remember you in Maputo, in the 1980s, from that time you spent as a political refugee in Mozambique. Often our paths crossed on Julius Nyerere Avenue and we would greet each other with the casual friendliness of neighbours. Often I imagined the fears that you must have felt, as a person persecuted by the apartheid regime. I imagined the nightmares you must have experienced at night when you thought of the ambushes plotted against you and against your comrades in the struggle. But I don’t remember ever seeing you with a bodyguard. In fact it was we Mozambicans who acted as your bodyguards. For years we gave you more than a refuge. We offered you a house and we gave you security at the cost of our security. You cannot possibly have forgotten this generosity.

We haven’t forgotten it. Perhaps more than any other neighbouring country, Mozambique paid a high price for the support we gave to the liberation of South Africa. The fragile Mozambican economy was wrecked. Our territory was invaded and bombed. Mozambicans died in defence of their brothers on the other side of the border. For us, Mr President, there was no border, there was no nationality. We were all brothers in the same cause, and when apartheid fell, our festivities were the same, on either side of the border.

For centuries Mozambican migrants, miners and peasants, worked in neighbouring South Africa under conditions that were not far short of slavery. These workers helped build the South African economy. There is no wealth in your country that does not carry the contribution of those who today are coming under attack.

For all these reasons, it is not possible to imagine what is going on in your country. It is not possible to imagine that these same South African brothers have chosen us as a target for hatred and persecution. It is not possible that Mozambicans are persecuted in the streets of South Africa with the same cruelty that the apartheid police persecuted freedom fighters, inside and outside the country. The nightmare we are living is more serious than that visited upon you when you were politically persecuted. For you were the victim of a choice, of an ideal that you had embraced. But those who are persecuted in your country today are guilty merely of having a different nationality. Their only crime is that they are Mozambicans. Their only offence is that they are not South Africans.

Mr President, the xenophobia expressed today in South Africa is not merely a barbaric and cowardly attack against “the others”. It is also aggression against South Africa itself. It is an attack against the “Rainbow Nation” which South Africans proudly proclaimed a decade or more ago. Some South Africans are staining the name of their motherland. They are attacking the feelings of gratitude and solidarity between nations and peoples. It is sad that your country today is in the news across the world for such inhuman reasons.

Certainly measures are being taken. But they are proving inadequate, and above all they have come late. The rulers of South Africa can argue everything except that they were taken by surprise. History was allowed to repeat itself. Voices were heard spreading hatred with impunity. That is why we are joining our indignation to that of our fellow Mozambicans and urging you: put an immediate end to this situation, which is a fire that can spread across the entire region, with feelings of revenge being created beyond South Africa’s borders. Tough, immediate and total measures are needed which may include the mobilization of the armed forces. For, at the end of the day, it is South Africa itself which is under attack.

Mr President, you know, better than we do, that police actions can contain this crime but, in the current context, other preventive measures must be taken. So that these criminal events are never again repeated.

For this, it is necessary to take measures on another scale, measures that work over the long term. Measures of civic education, and of exalting the recent past in which we were so close, are urgently needed. It is necessary to recreate the feelings of solidarity between our peoples and to rescue the memory of a time of shared struggles. As artists, as makers of culture and of social values, we are available so that, together with South African artists, we can face this new challenge, in unity with the countless expressions of revulsion born within South African society. We can still transform this pain and this shame into something which expresses the nobility and dignity of our peoples and our nations. As artists and writers, we want to declare our willingness to support a spirit of neighbourliness which is born, not from geography, but from a kinship of our common soul and shared history.

Maputo, 17 April 2015
Mia Couto

    South Africa –  fear grips foreign residents

    Al Jazeera

    Twelve people have been arrested, with anti-foreigner attacks in South Africa spreading to parts of Johannesburg’s commercial hub, according to South African police.

    Police fired rubber bullets into a crowd of South Africans in the city’s Jeppestown area on Friday.

    A crowd of South Africans carrying hammers and axes gathered near the city centre, chanting “Foreigners must leave.”

    The arrests, made overnight, came as groups of South Africans who had gathered in Jeppestown and Cleveland blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres and then ordered foreigners to leave the country, police said.

    South Africa – march against xenophobia


    South Africa’s Durban city rallies against xenophobia

    Thousands of people take part in the "peace march" against xenophobia in Durban, South Africa, on 16 April 2015
    Attacks on foreigners have spread across South Africa in recent weeks

    Up to 5,000 people have taken part in a rally against xenophobia in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban following attacks on foreigners.

    President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence, which have claimed at least five lives, as “shocking”, and called for calm to be restored.

    The Zulu king has been accused of fuelling the attacks. He denies this.

    Many jobless South Africans accuse foreigners of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.

    “No amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” President Zuma told parliament on Thursday.


    For the latest news, views and analysis see the BBC Africa Live page.

    BBC Africa Live page screen grab

    Beautiful sight’

    Protesters marched through Durban chanting “Down with xenophobia” and “A United Africa”, led by the city mayor and the premier of KwaZulu Natal province.

    Marcher Vanessa Govender told the BBC: “It’s just a mammoth show of support for all those foreigners who have fallen victim to the past two weeks of xenophobic violence.”

    Police officers advance to enter men's hostel after xenophobic violence in the area overnight forced foreign shop owners to close their shops for fear of attack in Actonville, Johannesburg on 16 April 2015
    Riot police tried to prevent further attacks on foreigners in eastern Johannesburg on Thursday

    As the march was held, anti-immigrant protesters clashed with police, but were reportedly dispersed by water cannon and pepper spray.

    The latest wave of violence against foreigners erupted in the Durban area before spreading to other parts of the country.

    In Johannesburg on Thursday, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at a crowd chanting anti-immigrant slogans after attacks on foreign-owned shops. Dozens of migrants sought refuge in a police station.

    Malawi has said it would evacuate its nationals from South Africa and Kenya says it is preparing to do the same. Mozambique has set up border camps to cope with the exodus of its citizens.

    Foreign nationals pack up their shops in the small village of Primrose, near Germiston about 15kms east of Johannesburg, on 16 April 2015
    Foreign nationals were seen closing up their shops near Johannesburg on Thursday
    Makeshift camp for foreigners outside Durban, 15 April 2015
    Some are seeking refuge from the violence in makeshift camps such as this one outside Durban

    Hate speech

    Many foreigners, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

    At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks that swept South Africa in 2008.

    The government-backed South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating complaints of hate speech made against Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.

    He was widely quoted as saying last month that foreigners should “go back to their countries”. However, he said that his comments had been distorted.


    Are you in Durban? What is your reaction to the march against xenophobia? Email haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your experience.

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    South Africa – more Zuma bad jokes about not criticising service delivery

    City Press

    Zuma calls for black business to make radical economic reforms

    President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Siyabulela Duda

    The black business community should stop lamenting about a lack of government services because only those from Nkandla have a right to do so, President Jacob Zuma has said.

    Addressing about 700 delegates at the Black Industrialists Indaba in Midrand this morning, Zuma said residents of Nkandla, his hometown, are the only ones who should be lamenting when government services are inefficient.

    Speaking in a tongue-in-cheek manner, Zuma urged delegates to come up with concrete recommendations on how the government can alter the skewed patterns of economic ownership in the country and avoid lamenting about what the government was not doing right.

    Zuma also joked that Nkandla residents have a right to lament because Parliament even stops making laws when you build a house there.

    “It [Indaba] must not be just another gathering. Contributions should not, by and large, be lamentations. You should not lament. At least we, somewhere in Nkandla, can lament. We are in a deep rural area. If you build a house people call it a mansion, because if you are a Nkandla man you are not supposed to build a house. If you build something different … [they will ask] where does he get the money?” said Zuma, eliciting laughter from the delegates.

    “If you build a house in Nkandla, then it becomes a subject of discussion; even Parliament stops making laws, they discuss Nkandla all the time,” said Zuma, later urging delegates to make the indaba a historical milestone in the creation of South Africa’s black industrialists.

    His comments come as Police Minister Nathi Nhleko was due to issue a report that was expected to clarify whether Zuma was liable for any portion of the R246 million spent by the government at his private Nkandla residence.

    Zuma said the government would tackle economic transformation in a radical manner because the current economic landscape was shaped by a radical apartheid system.

    The strength of the black industrialist programme, said Zuma, needed to take into consideration the participation of women, youth and people with disabilities.

    He criticised those who questioned his comments recently, when he said the country’s economy was in the hands of minority white South Africans with only 3% of companies on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange owned by black people, and asked why they would defend the “indefensible” regarding the skewed economic landscape.

    The outcome of the Black Industrialist Indaba is expected to inform the government’s economic transformation framework and Zuma said a mixed economy, where the state, private capital, cooperatives and other forms of social ownership complemented each other to eliminate poverty and foster economic growth.

    The Indaba, hosted by the department of trade and industry, will also identify 100 black-owned companies to help them get funding – as much as R1 billion – to become industrialists.

    Zuma said he was disheartened by the low levels of black ownership of the country’s industries, and singled out manufacturing as the least transformed sector of them all.

    Transformation policies that would be used by government should be more “radical” and designed to reverse South Africa’s apartheid past, said Zuma.

    “That’s why in our policies we have to be unique in order to deal with a unique past and a unique present. Let us talk about our own solutions so that we do not utilise solutions that are in fact not the solutions for our own conditions. Even those who experienced colonialism, theirs was direct colonialism. Ours was a colonialism of a special type; it therefore needs solutions of a special type” said Zuma.

    He said political liberation without economic liberation would never be enough in the South African context because many sectors of the economy were untransformed.

    Zuma said that when he fought against the apartheid state during the struggle he had understood that political liberation would be followed by economic liberation, but the latter was more elusive than first thought.

    “When we say radical transformation of the economy, it’s not just a slogan. It’s a reality because poverty and inequality was brought by radical deprivation of the means of the economy. It was very radical and we’ve got to be radical to reverse it because if we don’t do so you are going to remain where you are forever as if where you are happened as a result of the decree of God, but it is not so,” said Zuma.

    Africa and the world – rising but on the margins


    As pressure mounts for Africa to take greater responsibility for development, peace and security on the continent, the question of regional leadership becomes pressing. A recent African Futures paper explores the changing power capabilities of Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa (the so-called ‘Big Five’) over the next 25 years. These countries are all leaders in their respective regions and hold some of the greatest power potential in Africa.

    Collectively, they represent 60% of the African economy, 40% of Africa’s population and 58% of the continent’s military spending. This is expected to remain the same over the next 25 years. The future of these countries will provide a fairly straightforward answer to the often-evoked question of whether or not Africa is rising. Indeed if these states fall or fail, Africa will not be able to rise.

    The authors of the paper, published by the Institute for Security Studies and the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, use the International Futures forecasting system to forecast future power trajectories. In an increasingly flat world where institutions matter, states that don’t network will have little influence on issues of regional and global governance.

    The projections explored in the paper are based on a new index to measure national power, which includes diplomatic engagements in addition to traditional measures such as demographics, economics and technology.

    If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say

    Today, the combined power of Africa’s 55 countries accounts for close to 9% of global power. This is more than that of Japan, Russia or India, but less than the United States (US) or China, which represent about 18% and 13% of global power, respectively. By 2040, Africa’s total relative power is forecast to surpass that of the declining European Union (EU) and US – although only adding up to around 11% of global power. This is at odds with the world’s demographic evolution. By 2050, one in four people will be African. If the world were a democracy, Africans would certainly have a bigger say.

    In the next couple of decades, Africa is set to remain at the margins of global power. And this is an understatement, as Africa is clearly neither a country nor a union of states with any kind of supranational provisions. Even with significant advances in regional and continental integration, it is highly unlikely that Africa will speak with one voice in foreign policy matters, or be able to act in unison.

    Only Nigeria has the potential to become a player with global significance. But this would require far-reaching changes in its current domestic stability, governance capacity and political leadership, which is an unlikely scenario. All other African countries are expected to remain so-called ‘minor powers,’ which affects Africa’s influence in issues of global governance.

    For the Big Five, the data tells a story of two emerging powers and three whose potential is waning. The capabilities of Nigeria and Ethiopia are expected to grow considerably in the next 25 years. Those of Egypt, South Africa and Algeria, on the other hand, are forecast to remain stagnant or experience a slight decline.

    Nigeria’s economy, already the largest in Africa, is expected to represent almost 3% of the global economy by 2040. Its military spending is set to increase significantly over the next 25 years, ready to overtake Africa’s current military heavyweight, Algeria, in more or less 10 years. By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power capabilities.

    By 2040, Nigeria is forecast to account for nearly a fifth of Africa’s total power

    Ethiopia, the other rising power, is coming from a low base and the country will remain the poorest among the Big Five. Nevertheless, by 2040 it is expected to be the sixth largest African economy due to high average economic growth rates. Algeria, Egypt and South Africa are likely to grow below the African average growth rate of 6.3% per annum. The size of their populations will also stagnate – although this is due to higher general levels of development, which are associated with lower fertility rates.

    Among the Big Five, Egypt has traditionally dominated the category of global diplomatic engagement. This can be gauged according to the number of embassies abroad, the number of memberships to international organisations and the number of international treaties ratified by a country. Egypt’s strategic location, and its important role in both Arab and African nationalism, ensures that it is deeply connected internationally. Egypt is closely followed by South Africa, Nigeria and Algeria, while Ethiopia lags behind. Not surprisingly, South Africa made big strides after the end of apartheid in 1994 when the country reintegrated into the international community.

    The way the Big Five project power is not necessarily in line with their capabilities. After all, power is as much about potential as it is about concrete projection. Some countries are able to influence more international actors, institutions or regimes than would be expected based on their capabilities, while others don’t live up to their potential.

    It is questionable whether South Africa will continue punching above its weight

    This is the case for Nigeria, which has been punching below its weight despite a strong set of capabilities. High levels of internal instability and corruption along with a political economy of violence compromise the country’s prospects. There is also a lack of strategic vision in the foreign-policy domain, which has recently been aggravated by the growing threat of Boko Haram.

    Algeria’s role in Africa is also at odds with its relatively robust albeit declining capabilities. Faced with significant domestic and regional threats, Algeria remains focused on the need to maintain a large military capacity for internal purposes.

    Egypt punches above its weight internationally, but below its weight in the African context. The country is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the Arab Spring as well as spill-over effects of the conflict in neighbouring Libya. Domestic challenges seem to detract from projecting power outside of the country, with external priorities evolving around the conflict in the Middle East and efforts to contain terrorism.

    In contrast, both South Africa and Ethiopia have largely punched above their weight. Despite its limited capabilities, Ethiopia is Africa’s largest contributor to United Nations peacekeeping missions and plays an important role in peace and security matters in the Horn of Africa. Indeed, regional security is a domestic priority for Ethiopia.

    South Africa, for its part, has capitalised on the miracle of the transition to democracy; Nelson Mandela’s legacy; the international activism of his successor, Thabo Mbeki, as well as several years of healthy economic growth and a benign global environment. Yet it is questionable whether the current context of stagnant or even declining capabilities and a lack of credible leadership will allow South Africa to continue punching above its weight in the medium-term future.

    What seems certain is that the distribution of relative power in Africa will remain multipolar, with various countries fulfilling the role of regional leaders.

    Julia Schünemann, Senior Researcher and Project Leader, African Futures and Innovation Section, ISS Pretoria; Jakkie Cilliers, Executive Director, ISS; Jonathan D. Moyer, Associate Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures.

    Is it time to pull the plugs on the Southern African Customs Union


    Time to pull the plug on SACU?
    12 March 2015

    The formula that determines how the customs and excise revenues gathered in the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) are distributed among its members looks, to a layperson, dauntingly complex. But this formula has had an enormous impact on the economic and even political development of the five SACU member states; South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Swaziland.

    The impact has arguably been greatest on South Africa’s neighbours, the four smaller member states that are often referred to simply as the BLNS. But it has also had an impact on South Africa.

    SACU was founded in 1910, the year the Union of South Africa came into existence, and is the oldest surviving customs union in the world. Originally it distributed customs revenue from the common external trade tariffs in proportion to each country’s trade..

    This apparent generosity almost certainly masked a political intention to keep its neighbours dependent

    So, South Africa received nearly 99%. Surprisingly, South Africa’s apartheid government radically revised the revenue-sharing formula (RSF) in 1969 after Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland had become independent. This gave each of the BLS members first 142% and later 177% of their revenue dues, calculated on both external and intra-SACU imports, with South Africa receiving only what was left. But this apparent economic generosity from Pretoria almost certainly masked a political intention to keep its neighbours dependent and in its fold, as the rest of the world was increasingly turning against it.

    However, as Roman Grynberg and Masedi Motswapong of the Botswana Institute for Development Policy Analysis pointed out in their paper, SACU Revenue Sharing Formula: The History of An Equation, the 1969 formula became increasingly unviable for South Africa as it had been de-linked from the common revenue pool. This threatened to burden Pretoria with a commitment to pay out to the BLS states more than the total amount in the pool.

    The African National Congress government saw the dangers when it took office in 1994 and soon began negotiations with the BLNS states for a new formula. That was agreed in 2002 and implemented in 2004. But although the 2002 RSF eliminated the risk that the payouts to the BLNS might exceed the whole revenue pool, it actually increased the share of the pool accruing to the BLNS at the expense of South Africa – as Grynberg and Motswapong also observe.

    The new RSF was based on three separate components. The first divided the customs revenue pool proportional to each member state’s share of intra-SACU imports. Because of the growing imports of the BLNS states from the ever-mightier South Africa, this meant most of the common customs pool went to the BLNS. This proportion is increasing – but never to more than the entire pool.

    The second component of the RSF divided 85% of the pool of excise duties (the taxes on domestic production) in direct proportion to the share of the gross domestic product (GDP) of each of the SACU members. The remaining 15% of the excise duties became a development component, distributed in inverse proportion to the GDP per capita of each member. So the poorest members of SACU would receive a disproportionate share of this element of the excise.

    Over the years the BLNS countries have grown increasingly dependent on the SACU revenue. It now funds 50% of Swaziland’s entire government revenue, 44% of Lesotho’s, 35% of Namibia’s and 30% of Botswana’s. Because of its own growing fiscal constraints, Pretoria launched a review of the formula in 2010. But this review got bogged down over major disagreements and seems to have gone nowhere.

    In his budget speech this month, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene raised the issue again, calling for a ‘revised and improved revenue-sharing arrangement,’ and Parliament’s two finance committees examined it. National Treasury spokesperson Jabulani Sikhakhane told ISS Today that while efforts to reform the SACU formula are ongoing, ‘progress has unfortunately been arduously slow.’

    A total overhaul would make explicit that SACU is a disguised South African development project

    Budget documents show that in 2014-15, South Africa paid out some R51.7 billion to the BNLS countries out of a total estimated revenue pool of R80 billion, and was projected to pay out R51 billion again in 2015-16. Kyle Mandy, a PricewaterhouseCoopers technical tax expert, told Parliament’s two finance committees last week that South Africa was paying about R30 billion a year more than it would otherwise under the SACU RSF. He said South Africa contributed about 97% of the customs revenue pool and received only about 17% of it.

    The R51.7 billion payout to the BLNS this year represents about 5% of South Africa’s total of R979 billion in tax revenue, a substantial ‘subsidisation’ that was no longer affordable at a time of growing fiscal constraint, which had forced Nene to increase taxes, Mandy said.

    He noted that the SACU revenue had allowed all but Namibia of the BLNS countries to set their taxes below South Africa’s. ‘This means South Africa is subsidising the BLS countries to compete with South Africa for investment with their more attractive taxes,’ he said in an interview.

    ‘This is not sustainable for anyone. It locks the BLNS countries into dependency on South Africa. They have neglected their own fiscal systems. But the moment that the revenue fluctuates, [as Nene’s budget predicted it would in 2016-17, dropping to R36.5 million], it puts them in a difficult position. When South Africa sneezes, they catch flu.’

    But what to do about this? Some, like political analyst Mzukisi Qobo, have called for a total overhaul of the SACU agreement, which would make explicit that SACU is a disguised South African development project. The development aid would become transparent and could be tied to conditions such as democratic government.

    Pretoria’s decision had turned SACU into a ‘dead man walking’

    That is on the face of it an attractive solution, offering the opportunity of leveraging democracy in Swaziland, in particular, by placing a conditional foot on its lifeline of SACU revenues. But Grynberg warns that a sudden withdrawal of the vital direct budgetary support which SACU customs and excise revenues provides, could implode both Swaziland and Lesotho and provoke economic crises in Namibia and even Botswana.

    He also points out that the RSF is not plain charity by South Africa to its smaller neighbours. The formula has essentially just compensated them for the cost-raising and polarising effects of SACU – that the BLNS countries have generally had to pay more for imported goods over the years than they would have otherwise done because of import tariffs designed to protect South African industries; and because the duty-free trade within SACU has tended to attract investment to larger South Africa.

    Meanwhile, South Africa has benefitted from a ready market for its much larger manufacturing machine. Grynberg wrote in a more recent article for the Botswana journal, Mmegi, that the South African government was thinking of pulling out of SACU because it couldn’t get its way in the negotiations to revise the RSF; and because the 2005 Southern African Development Community Free Trade Agreement now gave it duty-free access to the BLNS countries without the need to pay the re-distributive SACU customs revenues.

    It was only President Jacob Zuma who was preventing this, because he didn’t want to go down in history ‘as the man who crippled the Namibian and Botswana economies and created two more “Zimbabwes” – i.e. Swaziland and Lesotho – right on the country’s border.’ Pretoria’s decision had turned SACU into a ‘dead man walking, just waiting for someone to pull the switch and end its life.’

    Grynberg strongly advised the BLNS to prevent this by accepting that the political reality that underpinned the RSF of SACU no longer existed. He says that it should be transformed into a purely development community without the formula, but with mutually agreed spending on development – mainly in the BLNS. He suggested, though, that this radical change would take at least 10 to 15 years to phase in.

    All very well. But isn’t that what SADC is supposed to be already? Which suggests that it might be time to take the 105-year-old dead man off life support.

    Peter Fabricius, Foreign Editor, Independent Newspapers, South Africa