With President Cyril Ramaphosa out of the country attending the G7 summit in Biarritz and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Japan there’s been political and economic tension in South Africa.Taxi drivers brought the heart of the administrative capital Pretoria to a standstill after they blamed foreign drug dealers for shooting dead one of their colleagues.The protests yet again descended into xenophobic attacks on foreign businesses.
Q: What sparked the conflict between the taxi drivers and the foreigners in Pretoria?
A: Locals claim the taxi drivers were confronting foreign drug dealers selling nyoapi – a particuarly dangerous form of crack cocaine- to local youths.The drug dealers – many of them believed to be Nigerian – struck back. One taxi driver was shot dead.The streets are quiet in the capital today but there is a heavy police presence
Q: How much damage was done and how has the South African government explained it?
A: Seventeen arrests were made after several foreign owned shops were torched and there was widespread looting. A task team has been set up to find the root cause of the violence.Police say they will control the criminal element that was the cause of the taxi drivers’ anger.
Q: It seems President Cyril Ramaphosa and his host at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development are singing off the same song sheet on the question of agriculture. Could this really provide the economic boost so badly required South Africa and the rest of the continent?
A: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says they will double Africa’s rice output by 2030 to 50 million tonnes a year. This will be using technology and innovation – the key to agriculture. He urges farmers to move from growing crops to eat to cultivating crops to sell. When agriculture grows more profitable the youth will find it an attractive career path. He’s convinced young people can transform agriculture.
This is music to the ears of Cyril Ramaphosa who is faced a faltering economy and massive youth unemployment.
His finance minister Tito Mbooweni in a strategy paper released yesterday says agriculture and tourism are two pillars on which South Africa can hang economic recovery.
The paper has raised the ire of the trade union arm of the ruling triple alliance.
COSATU is angry Mboweni did to consult them before issuing the strategy which they want him to withdraw.
The minister’s strategy does not mention expropriation of farmland without compensation which is a cornerstone of policy for the ruling ANC but which is credited with destroying the agricultural sector in Zimbabwe under ousted President Robert Mugabe.