Reduce Corruption! Increase Growth!

STELLENBOSCH- Eliminating corruption and wasteful expenditure will be the corner stone of South African economic development.

The Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, delivered the South African National Budget Speech of 2014-2015 to Parliament on 26 February. Gordhan highlighted the importance of spending reviews and performance evaluations in order to reduce corruption and increase employment and growth.

The chairperson of the Finance Committee of Parliament, Mr Thabadiawa Alfred Mufamadi says that “South Africa have moved from consumption to capital expenditure” and that “we are on the right to track in terms of economic development”.

The CEO of Nedbank, Mike Brown, says financial markets will respond positively to the budget. Brown says, “We confidently told the world that we have a plan for economic growth and development and that plan is the National Development Plan”.

During the next three years government will spend R8.7billion on the settlement of land restitution claims and R7 billion in support of subsistence and smallholder farmers.

However, the Pan African National Congress responded to the Budget Speech by saying the party is not happy with the amount of money that has been allocated to land reform and agricultural development.

Mr Gordhan emphasized the centrality of the public sector in creating jobs and that the government will merely play a supportive role.

The small to medium enterprises in South Africa will receive R6.5 billion in state support over the next three years. This is a comprehensive support package that will stimulate greater levels of economic activity and reduce unemployment.

South Africans will experience a personal income tax relief of R9.3 billion. Tax relief measures will also be put in place to support small enterprise development.

The Tax Director of Deliote, Izelle du Plessis, says that the budget is well balanced in terms of a tax perspective without “populist sentiments”. Du Plessis says that the postponement of tax on CO2 emissions will provide government time to make it more “user friendly”.

A tax expert, Dr Allan Moolman, stated that Gordhan placed a lot of weight on fiscal discipline. Moolman says it is clear that government is trying to ensure that wasteful expenditure is reduced and that money is spent more effectively. Moolan continued saying that the increase in government expenditure is a result of inflation.

In his speech Gorhan said, “It is time for a bold vision of our future, as set out in the National Development Plan. It is time for action and implementation. It is time to move South Africa forward to the next stage of our historic journey to more rapid growth, jobs and development — time to leave behind poverty, joblessness and inequality”.

South Africa Could Become Brightest Star In Radio Astronomy

STELLENBOSCH- According to one of the most celebrated astrophysicists in the world, South Africa could play a leading role in the development of radio astronomy.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, best known for her discovery of pulsars, gave a lecture at the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study on the evening of 19 February 2014. Burnell spoke of the birth, life and death of pulsars and the significance of the Square Kilometer Array project in South Africa.

Pulsars are pulsating radio stars that are born in the dark molecular clouds of our galaxy. These stars have a very short life span in astronomical terms. Their short life span is a result of their high energy output. Energy is released from the nuclear reactions that take place at the core of these stars.

According to Burnell, pulsars are “the astrophysical equivalent of a young man in a sports car, they are very bright, very flashy… but they don’t last very long”.

In 2012 the SKA Organization announced that the Square Kilometer Array project will be shared between South Africa and Australia. The SKA will be located in the Karoo and Western Australia.

These locations were chosen for their large empty areas and low population density. A low population density reduces the amount of radio interference from mobile phones that can “swamp the signals of distant galaxies,” Burnell explained.

SKA radio telescopes will be used to pick up radio signals from distant galaxies and pulsars. According to Burnell pulsars, also known as neutron stars, “spin like lighthouses and sweep radio booms in the sky”.

The Square Kilometer Array will play a vital role in the future of radio astronomy. When completed, the SKA will be nearly 50 times more powerful than any other radio telescope.

The SKA will enable scientists to see all the pulsars that point to the earth and pick up their radio signals. Greater knowledge of pulsars will allow scientists to test Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity with experiential relativity.

The optimal arrangement of the SKA radio dishes is a spiral pattern with the distance increasing between each radio dish. In future these satellites will reach parts of Ghana, Zimbabwe and Kenya, making Africa the leader in radio astronomy.

SKA will play a significant role in the development of South African science and technology. The final foundation for the MeerKAT telescope antenna in the Karoo was poured on 11 February 2014.

The South African Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, says the completion of the first antenna and ultimately the MeerKAT telescope will be fundamental to the success of the whole SKA project.

Youth Of Stellenbosch In Conflict Over DA’s New Economic Policy

STELLENBOSCH – The new economic policy of the Democratic Alliance has come under fire from Stellenbosch youth leaders a day after its launch.

The Democratic Alliance launched its new economic policy, The Plan for Growth and Jobs 2014, on Monday. Local youth leaders are in disagreement as to how the new policy will impact the economic development of Stellenbosch.

At the launch of The Plan for Growth and Jobs 2014 the leader of the Democratic Alliance, Helen Zille, lashed out the ANC and said the party has “given up” on creating jobs. Zille said the poor leadership of President Jacob Zuma has contributed to the 1.4million South Africans that have become unemployed since he took office.

The new economic policy of the Democratic Alliance aims to encourage economic growth and to increase opportunities for South Africans to take part in the economy. The new policy is also aimed at supporting small businesses, providing economic leadership and ensuring favorable trade agreements, specifically with neighboring countries.

Zille says that if the Plan for Growth and Jobs 2014 is implemented, it will create 6 million jobs and stimulate an annual economic growth rate of 8%.

The chairperson of the Democratic Alliance Student Organization of Stellenbosch University, Mynhardt Joe Kruger, believes the new economic policy of the DA will benefit all residents of Stellenbosch. Kruger says it is important for students to have a sense of employment security when they graduate; “unemployment should not be an option”.

Kruger says it is “extremely hard to believe that a town can only flourish on tourism” and that the Plan for Growth and Jobs 2014 will be able to address unemployment and “improve living conditions” of all Stellenbosch residents.

“The economic policy of the Democratic Alliance lacks tactical structure and meaning,” says a local ANC activist and former ANCYL leader of Stellenbosch, Tinkyiko Khoza. According to Khoza the creation of 6 million jobs will not mean much if people are not trained and educated to fill those positions.

Khoza says many residents of Stellenbosch are not educated and have not had any skills development training either. Khoza says the “economy cannot grow if the people do not grow with it”.

An executive member of SASCO Stellenbosch, Seth Motswaledi Jnr, says it is unrealistic for the Democratic Alliance to expect an annual 8% economic growth rate while the global economy is still recovering from a recession.

Motswaledi does not believe that The Plan for Growth and Jobs 2014 will do anything to address the inequality of Stellenbosch. He says the “white minority will keep on flourishing while the black majority will keep on perishing!”

Unrest In Kayamadi During Voter Registration Weekend

The Independent Electoral Commissions’ voting stations in Kayamandi, Stellenbosch, had to be temporarily closed on Saturday after IEC personnel were intimidated by residents.

The unrest started on Friday when residents of Ward 12 were allegedly encouraged by SCA Ward Councilors to march to the municipal offices and hand over a memorandum to the premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille. Protestors claim that SCA Councilors promised them that Zille would receive their memorandum and pay a visit to Kayamandi on Saturday. The memorandum contained housing and basic infrastructure demands.

The premier was scheduled to address students of Stellenbosch University on Friday. According to the premiers’ spokesperson, Zakhele Mbhele, no plans were made for Zille to meet with the residents of Kayamandi to discuss their concerns or to receive a memorandum.

The unrest continued on Saturday morning when protesters of Ward 12 disrupted the voter registration process at IEC voting stations. Faith Matebe, a resident of Kayamandi, says protesters “marched with traditional weapons and threw stones at IEC staff and those who wished to register.”

The police were called upon to contain the situation while voting stations in Wards 12, 14 and 15 had to be provisionally closed to ensure the safety of IEC staff and residents. Three people were allegedly arrested and no injuries were reported.

Residents of Ward 12 were hardest hit by the fire that swept through Kayamandi in 2013. Most residents of Ward 12 are still left without electricity and live in informal housing.

Protesters say they will not register to vote or vote if they are not provided with adequate housing and electricity and that they are “gatvol” of fruitless meetings with the Western Cape Department of Human Settlements.

A local ANC activist, Tandy Makisi, says “…the problem is that many people who took part in the protest are not aware that the IEC is not affiliated with any political party and that the IEC cannot help them.”

All IEC voting stations in Kayamandi were reopened on Sunday without any major disruptions; but many residents expressed their fears to register at the voting stations. A resident of Kayamandi, who wishes to remain anonymous, says many people in her area were too afraid to register at the IEC voting stations over the weekend. She says she “…hope[s] the IEC staff can attend to [them] at [their] homes to register before the election.”

Individuals who are not yet registered for the 2014 National and Provincial Elections that will take place on 7 May, have until the official proclamation of the election date to register. Eligible voters can take their green barcoded ID to their nearest IEC office to register.