Ben van Dyk’s Blog

13 Desember 2008

Oorsig oor gebeure in Suid-Afrika 2008

Filed under: Suid-Afrika — by benvd @ 7:51 vm
Tags: , ,

The best of 2008

It has been a rollercoaster year in South Africa. It started off about as badly as it could when the lights literally went out at the beginning of the year and ‘load-shedding’ became a four letter word. Early 2008 was also filled with post-Polokwane political uncertainty and the nation was shocked by the wave of violence against foreign nationals that swept through the country in May. As if there wasn’t enough to worry about nationally, the global financial crisis is threatening the economies of the world.  2008 will long be remembered as a tough, challenging year.

But, as is often the case, South Africa has weathered these storms and emerged from these challenges, battered yet stronger. While it has been a year of turmoil and uncertainty, it has also be a year of progress and positive developments.

For our final newsletter of the year, we look back at some of the finest good news stories of 2008. (For the full story, click on the links provided.)

Politically, it has been a watershed year in South Africa. The once all-powerful ANC is facing its first real challenge since 1994. During the year, the ANC split and a new political force – the Congress of the People – emerged. At the same time, the Democratic Alliance re-launched and announced their plan to be in power by 2014. Political analysts agreed that far from being in a political crisis, the changes are a sign of South Africa’s growing political maturity. The changes have re-energised South African politics and the electorate and there are encouraging signs that the 2009 elections will be about policies and the future and not about allegiances of the past.

Economically, South Africa is still enjoying the longest period of economic upswing in our history, and this looks set to continue despite the global financial crisis. The South African economy is fairly well insulated against the global slowdown and should continue to grow as a result of an increase in Government spending. However, the next two years are going to be tough and we are going to have to vasbyt.

South Africa’s financial system is fundamentally sound, well capitalised and well regulated, according to the International Monetary Fund and our banks are considered by the World Economic Forum to be more sound than the Swiss banks (and the German, American and British banks)!

The majority of South Africans continue to benefit from the sustained economic growth the country has been experiencing since 1994. Nine million people have been lifted out of poverty since 1996 and official unemployment has decreased from 31.2 percent in March 2003 to 23 percent in September 2007, the lowest level recorded since 2001.

The number of South Africans who have joined the black middle class has increased by 50% to 9 million between 2001 and 2007 and the number of South African dollar-millionaires increased by almost 14% between 2006 and 2007.

Since 1996, the percentage of our citizens with access to electricity for lighting increased from 58% to 80%. Similarly, those with access to water has increased from 62% to 88% and sanitation from 52% to 73%.

The number of black property owners has increased by more than 60% over the past decade.

Preparations for the 2010 FIFA World Cup have progressed in 2008 and the tournament is providing South Africa with a timely economic boost. According to a survey by Grant Thornton, the World Cup is set to contribute R55 billion to the economy, while creating 415,000 new jobs.

During the year a number of landmark 2010 events took place: the 2010 security plan was announced, we were introduced to Zakumi, the Official Mascot for 2010, and Joburg hosted the draw for the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.

FIFA announced that tickets are to be sold for the 2010 World Cup from February 2009 via FIFA’s website, and that South Africans would be able to attend live games from as little as R140. The workers involved in the construction of the ten 2010 FIFA World Cup stadiums, as well as other ‘nation builders‘, will each be receiving two tickets to attend World Cup games.

For those that can’t get to the games, all the matches will screened on free-to-air television throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa.

One of the key legacies of the World Cup will be in infrastructure development, particularly in transport. South Africa is investing R170 billion in developing public transport for the 2010 World Cup and beyond.

R55 billion is being invested in Gauteng’s freeways and Johannesburg’s first Bus Rapid Transit station – the first of 150 – was opened in November. During the year, the City of Cape Town unveiled plans for a world-class integrated rapid transport system.

Electricity supply was a major issue at the beginning of the year. After a torrid few months of controlled power cuts, load shedding was suspended in May. Eskom is to accelerate the implementation of its capacity programmes and will invest R150 billion over the next five years in upgrading the country’s power supply infrastructure.

Other major public works announced in 2008 include: billions of rands to be spent in upgrading Joburg’s water supply infrastructure, R10 billion to be invested in our ports, and a billion rand has been pumped into Durban’s inner-city.

According to the most recent SAPS statistics, incidents of crime in South Africa have dropped in almost all of serious crime categories, continuing a trend that started in 2002. Then Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said the statistics indicated a steady decline in crime levels in South Africa, and acknowledged that crime levels remained unacceptably high, a sentiment shared by the new Minister.

The statistics also show that ‘social contact crime’, or crimes which usually occur between people who know each other, account for at least two thirds of all contact crime in the country.

During the year, a new high-powered initiative – Action for a Safe South Africa – was launched to actively address the causes behind crime in the country. Alongside such initiatives, community action through the Primedia Crime Line has led to 550 arrests and the seizure of stolen goods valued at more than R20 million.

It has been a landmark year in the fight against HIV/Aids. Without question, the most positive development was President Kgalema Motlanthe’s appointment of Barbara Hogan as the Minister of Health. The news was greeted by Aids activists with joy, with Hogan even being serenaded outside her flat. Hogan has vowed to “get things right” in providing HIV/Aids treatment, after years of missteps by her predecessor. The age of HIV/Aids denialism is thankfully, mercifully, at an end.

During the year, it was announced that South Africa’s Aids epidemic and HIV prevalence rate is stabilising. Even before Hogan’s appointment, South Africa was slowly shaking away its image as the world’s Aids pariah.

In June, the Cape Town High Court ruled that clinical trials of multivitamins in the treatment of HIV/Aids by controversial vitamin salesman Matthias Rath were unlawful, and banned them from continuing.

South Africans have been making their mark internationally in 2008.

The mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille won the World Mayor Award, and Jacob Zuma and Oscar Pistorius were named among Time Magazine’s Most Influential People for 2008.

Paralympic star Natalie du Toit made history by becoming the first amputee to qualify for the Olympic Games , Marlene Dumas became the world’s most expensive female artist and tech entrepreneur Elon Musk launched the first privately developed rocket to orbit the Earth.

Alex Harris and Sibusiso Vilane made history when they became the first team to walk unsupported and unassisted to the South Pole, South African surgeons carried out the world’s first organ transplants from one HIV-positive person to another and Lewis Gordon Pugh completed the first long distance swim in the North Pole, in order to draw attention to the effects of climate change.

Mining entrepreneur Bridgette Radebe won the international Business Person of the Year Award, architect Kevin Fellingham won House of the Year award, and telecommunications innovator Rael Lissoos was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year.

It was a big year for science and technology, with the unveiling of Africa’s first all-electric vehicle and a locally-produced Aids vaccine made medical history, becoming the first African vaccine to undergo human clinical trials in the United States. In a real David and Goliath story, Mark Shuttleworth’s Ubuntu computer operating system beat Windows Vista and Mac OS X at an international hacking contest.

South Africans have excelled in the arts. Flat Stanley, Goldfish and Just Jinger signing international record deals in 2008, a South African theatre production – The Magic Flute / Impempe Yomlingo – won the award for the 2008 Best Musical Revival at the prestigious Laurence Olivier Awards and Brent Stirton won a first prize in the 2007 World Press Photo Contest.

In education, the University of Cape Town was named as one of the Top 200 Universities in the world for the first time, an African Leadership Academy was opened in Johannesburg and four South African business schools were voted among the world’s best.

A report released in October said that South African schools are making notable strides in fostering racial harmony among their students.

Despite a disappointing performance at the Olympics, South Africans have excelled on the sports fields.

South Africa’s Paralympians made the country proud by finishing sixth in the final medals standings with 21 gold, three silver and six bronze medals.

The Springboks won in New Zealand for the first time in over a decade, thumped Australia in Johannesburg by 45 points and inflicted England’s worst ever defeat at Twickenham. They were also named 2008 Laureus World Team of the Year at the ‘Oscars of sport’. The Sevens Springboks won in Adelaide at the end of the 2007 World Series Sevens and have started the 2008 series with a bang, winning the first two tournaments in Dubai and George.

The Proteas test team went from strength to strength, beating New Zealand, the West Indies, Pakistan and Bangladesh, drawing a series in India and winning their first test series in England since 1965. Pace bowling sensation Dale Steyn won the Test Player of the Year award.

Bafana Bafana recovered from a poor Africa Cup of Nations performance to win their last four games, including a pulsating victory over African powerhouse Cameroon in November.

Trevor Immelman became South Africa’s second US Masters champion (after the legendary Gary Player), Roland Schoeman broke the 50 metres freestyle world record, Brian Mitchell became the first South African boxer to be elected to the elite International Hall of Fame, two South Africans won the pairs division of the gruelling Atlantic Rowing Race and we are home to the reigning world champions in downhill mountain-biking and motocross.

In tourism, Cape Town was named “Best World City” by the readers of a UK newspaper and as one of the world’s most iconic cities by National Geographic.

South Africa has been named as one of the developing world’s Ten Best Ethical Travel Destinations, was ranked second in a list of Top Ten World Travel Destinations by one of the United States’ most popular online travel guides and is the most popular destination among British gap year travelers.

South Africa the Good News launched our latest publication, Africa – The Good News, in November, as part of our continued commitment not only to our country, but our continent. We have always reported on the positive developments that are emerging from the African continent, and 2008 was no different: two thirds of African countries have improved in the field of governance over the past year, Festus Mogae, the former President of Botswana, was named the winner of the 2008 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, the continent has been described as providing ‘dazzling opportunities to make money‘ for foreign investors, and Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to experience its best period of sustained growth since independence, despite the global economic slowdown.

Oh, and the son of an African became the most powerful man on earth.

In other news, world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking visited South Africa in search of an African Einstein, Cape Town was named as one of world’s sustainability centres and claimed the third top spot on the first ever World Edition Monopoly board, South Africa’s first alternative energy initiative to produce electricity from wind power has been switched on, advertising agency DDB (SA) won a Grand Prix award at the Cannes Advertising Festival and SABMiller become the world’s biggest brewer.

2008 will be remembered as a tough year in South Africa and internationally. The tough times are expected to continue in 2009. However, as can be seen, we have had much to celebrate this year and we have exciting elections, interest rate reductions, the Confederations Cup and a British and Irish Lions rugby tour to look forward to next year.

We have enjoyed bringing you the stories of progress and positive developments in South Africa this year and we are grateful to FNB for making it possible. We hope that you have enjoyed our service. We wish you, our valued subscriber, a blessed festive season and we look forward to bringing you even more good news in 2009.

Steuart, Ian, Leanne, Lindy and Matthew

(Oorgeneem uit South Africa – The Good News newsletter, 12 Desember 2008)

1 Kommentaar »

  1. Wonderful web site:) i will come back!

    Kommentaar deur knokyaffisy — 21 Mei 2009 @ 4:02 vm |Antwoord

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