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Opinion & Analysis (1026)

On 19 January President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Investment. This took some in the investment community by surprise, despite the President’s reference in his 2015 State of the Nation Address to the future establishment of a government clearing house for investment.
As a mining jurisdiction, South Africa’s score (relative global rank indexed out of a maximum of 100) on the Fraser Institute Investment Attractiveness Index has fallen from 56.1 in 2011/12 to 52.6 last year. The country ranked 64th out of 122 competitors, eclipsed by Tanzania, Namibia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire.
Sustainable development summits and climate change negotiations have slowly but steadily paved the way to the recognition of the inextricable linkages between water, energy and climate change.
The upcoming Forum on China Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) summit in South Africa, the sixth gathering since 2000 and only the second to be held at heads of state level, comes at a time of unprecedented Chinese activism across the globe.
In the context of a ‘normalising’ Chinese economy, that seeks to move from a manufacturing-centred economy to one driven by consumption and services, there are obviously concerns about the impact on Africa through a decrease in commodity exports (and income) to China. Yet such shifts also signal opportunity and perhaps changes in China’s approach towards the continent, to include ‘softer’ issues - like closer public interaction.
United States President Obama’s announcement earlier this month to Congress to partly suspend South Africa’s benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) is likely set the tone of the AGOA agreement going forward, following the extension of the initiative earlier this year.
It’s that time of the year again: the month that marks 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. Familiar terms again dominate the discourse: violence against women, gender-based violence, sexual violence, intimate partner violence and domestic violence.
Recent interviews of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMME) that SAIIA conducted in Botswana can provide pointers on the focus that donor support should take in order to promote the growth of this sector. This growth would see the eventual graduation of some SMMEs into big businesses, able to develop regional value chains that economists and policymakers covet for regional economic industrialisation and development.
Since independence, most African states have struggled to develop effective institutions that are responsive to the governance and development needs of their respective societies. This challenge is reflected not only in the prevalence of social and political strife in many African countries, but also in the poor socio-economic performance of the continent as a whole. The same could be said of the slow progress towards greater regional and continental integration, which, to a large extent is symptomatic of a weak institutional culture across the continent.
‘Change’ was the word de jour as citizens headed to the polls for the fifth multi-party elections in Tanzania on 25 October 2015. At first glance, Tanzania seems to be a country on a clear trajectory to prosperity – maintaining a GDP growth rate of around 7 percent. Despite this impressive macroeconomic growth, distribution of wealth has been inadequate and poverty levels remain high. So did these polls deliver anything different?
In February 2016, Uganda will go to the polls. It is only the country’s third election held since the constitutional restoration of multi-party democracy in 2005 and it is widely expected to be one of the most contentious. How might Uganda’s participation in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) contribute to better elections?
President Jacob Zuma’s visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo on 16 October 2015 came at a critical time in the bilateral relations of the two countries, with South Africa having made significant investments in the DRC’s political process since the late 1990s.
After relatively peaceful elections in Guinea-Conakry returned outgoing President Alpha Conde to power last week in the first round of voting, another West African country - Côte d'Ivoire - is heading to watershed presidential elections on 25 October 2015.
21 October 2015 started out as the day that business and economic analysts were expected to reflect closely on the state of the South African economy. Instead it ended up reminiscent of a scene that sci-fi aficionados could describe as stormtroopers defending the Galactic Empire against a small, unarmed rebel alliance. 
Creating universal health care – one of the targets under the newly ratified Sustainable Development Goals – will have different challenges for each country depending on their economic strength, relationships with donors, and their government’s investment into the health sector.
‘African unity’ has been one of the most consistent themes in African political thought. Since independence, the vision of a continental order stretching from Cape Town to Cairo and from Dakar to Dar es Salaam has been an entrancing one. Africa, rather than being a geographical descriptor, would be a geopolitical identity.
The city of Erenhot sits on the Mongolian border, five hours of desolate steppe tundra away from the nearest major Chinese city. In 1992, the town had a population of 8000, and was best known for its bizarre 80-foot archway of kissing sauropods, which bridges across a usually empty freeway.
Sorting out a trade dispute can be a tricky thing. Nations may want to advance their economic interests but are reluctant to upset relations with another country over a dispute with a private investor. Though there is the mechanism of state-to-state arbitration, it has divided opinions among scholars who have described it either as a dangerous development 'that threatens to infringe upon investors’ rights and to re-politicize investor-state disputes' or 'an important step towards a new third era of the investment treaty system in which the rights and claims of both investors and treaty parties are recognised and valued.'
Today, 5 October 2015, South African authorities are expected to submit their reasons for failing to arrest Sudanese President Al-Bashir when he attended the African Union Summit in June 2015. The furore that erupted has fuelled concerns about the place of human rights in South Africa’s foreign policy and highlights the importance for us to consider the nuances of the country’s foreign policy.
In December 2015, the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change (UNFCCC) will host the 21st annual Conference of Parties (COP 21) negotiations to achieve universal commitment towards an ambitious, legally binding agreement on climate change. Over two weeks, 196 countries will be deliberating in Paris on the investment each is willing to make towards a common climate agenda.
When the Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched its cross-border HIV/AIDS initiative in 2012, mobile clinics were set up at border posts across the region. Anyone living in these areas or travelling through could freely access the clinics for primary health care.
In 2011, at the height of piracy attacks along the Somali coastline and the Gulf of Aden, 237 separate attacks were reported. This figure has fallen drastically over the years, with only 12 attacks being reported in 2014. This decline has been attributed to the collective efforts of the international community to address Somali piracy.
Why is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), the continent’s most important governance assessment and promotion tool, in the doldrums?
South Africa is a country of contradictions. Depending on one's circles and political or moral convictions one always gets something fascinating. If it's not Nkandla, its Ramaphosa flying on a Gupta plane.
South Africa has seldom approached Heritage Day with a more fractured sense of what constitutes our heritage and what should be celebrated. Angry exchanges over the character of our universities, language policy, public memorials and so on have exposed the divides that run through our society and have even called into question whether we are one nation.
The next chapter of the global development agenda - the Sustainable Development Goals - will shift the global focus and debate around health systems.
That the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been in the grip of a systemic crisis since 2008 is well known. Notwithstanding relatively minor successes at the Bali Ministerial in December 2013, the WTO’s negotiating function remains effectively stalled. The Nairobi Ministerial, set to take place in December 2015, is not likely to yield systemic solutions, notably to break the Doha Round impasse.
Today, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) will convene for the 70th time since its inception in 1945, at the UN headquarters in New York. UNGA takes place every year and is one of the few times during which heads of state from all over the world attend to discuss matters of global import.
The sudden cancellation of an Extraordinary Summit on the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) raises serious concerns about the future of this important home-grown African governance and accountability tool. Nairobi was scheduled to host the APRM Forum of Heads of State and Government on 10-11 September 2015.
In the midst of a global commodity price bust and a rapid Chinese economic slowdown, South African mining companies are struggling to keep shafts operational. Exacerbating this difficulty is a generally strained relationship between mining firms and the government over mineral rights.