29 Nov

Paralysis Grips South Africa Government With ANC Facing Election

An acrimonious battle for control of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has paralyzed several government departments, as ruling party leaders focus on electioneering and officials delay taking decisions until they learn who their new political masters will be.

The front-runners to replace Jacob Zuma as ANC leader next month are his deputy Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the former chairwoman of the African Union Commission and Zuma’s ex-wife. The victor will probably also succeed Zuma as president in 2019, or even earlier if the party decides to replace him before his second term ends. Ramaphosa has stressed the need to reignite growth and restore investor confidence, while Dlamini-Zuma has called for the nation’s wealth to be more equitably distributed.

These are some of the key issues that are likely to remain in abeyance until after the ANC’s Dec. 16-20 elective conference:

1. Resolving a standoff over black mine-ownership laws

The government and mining companies have been locked in dispute for months over a new Mining Charter, which seeks to compel companies to maintain a minimum 30 percent black shareholding. The industry argues that the previous threshold of 26 percent should be retained and sales of stakes to black investors who subsequently divested should be taken into account when assessing their compliance. Court hearings on the dispute are due to resume Feb. 19. Ramaphosa has called for the standoff to be amicably resolved.

2. Allocating new broadband spectrum to mobile-phone companies

While mobile phone companies have been clamoring for additional spectrum, the telecommunications minister sued the industry regulator last year to prevent it from holding a planned auction, arguing that the sale was premature and proper regulatory procedures weren’t followed. The case remains unsettled. Telecommunication laws are meanwhile being amended to give the government greater control over spectrum allocation.

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