South African President Jacob Zuma will face renewed pressure to quit after partial election results showed his African National Congress losing outright control of the capital, Pretoria, and Johannesburg in its worst electoral showing since apartheid ended.
The ANC and the Democratic Alliance were running neck and neck in both towns, with about 86 percent of votes counted from Wednesday’s local government election. The ruling party conceded that it lost the southern Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, a key port and vehicle manufacturing hub.
“Whichever way you look at it, people are saying they are dissatisfied with either Zuma or the way the ANC is dealing with its leadership crisis,” said Abdul Waheed Patel, managing director of Cape Town-based Ethicore Political Consulting.
Calls for Zuma, 74, to resign have mounted since the nation’s top court ruled in March that he violated the constitution by refusing to repay taxpayer money spent on upgrading his private home. He may also have to face 783 charges of corruption, racketeering, fraud and money laundering, following a high court decision that prosecutors erred when they decided to drop a case against him just weeks before he became president in 2009.
Yet, Zuma’s allies in the ANC National Executive Committee and in the government may shield him for being replaced before his current presidential term ends in 2019.
“It’s not going to be a quick process,” said Patel. “I don’t think it’s going to be an automatic exit for Zuma just because the ANC has done so dismally. He still has some sway; I don’t think he becomes powerless.”
The ANC also has little appetite to oust another leader after the party’s removal of Thabo Mbeki in 2007 allowed Zuma to take over the leadership, Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura International Plc, said in an e-mailed response to questions.
“All sides have already agreed they cannot remove another president,” he said.
The rand gained 0.2 percent to 13.6812 per dollar at 9:50 a.m. in Johannesburg on Friday. It was the best performer of 24 emerging-market currencies monitored by Bloomberg on Thursday. The currency is still down about 40 percent against the dollar since Zuma took office on May 9, 2009.
Besides unhappiness with Zuma, the ANC has also come under criticism for failing to reduce a 27 percent unemployment rate, improve living standards and reignite an economy that the central bank projects will post zero percent growth this year. Communities staged 102 protests against a lack of decent housing, education and other services in the first seven months of the year, up from 89 in the same period last year, according to Municipal IQ, which monitors the municipalities.
“We can’t blame President Zuma,” ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said. “The party leadership will take collective responsibility.”
The ANC fell behind in Tshwane, the municipality that includes Pretoria, with 42.3 percent of the vote, narrowly behind the Democratic Alliance with 43.4 percent, partial tallies released by the Independent Electoral Commission show. In Johannesburg, the ruling party had 42 percent support compared with the DA’s 41.7 percent. The DA was well ahead in Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the city of Port Elizabeth, with 46.7 percent support, compared to the ANC’s 41.2 percent, and increased its majority in Cape Town.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, which advocates the nationalization of mines, banks and land, holds the balance of power in Pretoria and Johannesburg. Like the DA, it has said it is prepared to enter into coalitions with other opposition parties, but not the ANC.
With 13.1 million, or about 86 percent of the estimate of proportional representation votes cast nationally in the election counted as of 8:20 a.m. on Friday, the ANC had 54.7 percent of the total support, followed by the DA with 26.6 percent, according to the commission. The Economic Freedom Fighters stood at 8 percent. The ANC garnered 62.9 percent support in the 2011 municipal election. Including votes for ward councilors, the ANC had 54.3 percent overall support.
“We will not lie and say that we are not worried when we lose a metro like Nelson Mandela Bay,” the ANC’s chief whip in parliament, Jackson Mthembu, said in an interview in Pretoria. “We need to jack up our act.”
China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.
The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.
Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.
He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.
The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.
China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”
Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.
The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”
They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.
During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.
Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.
However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.
Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.
UAE Commits $30 Billion as COP28 Climate Talks Kick Off in Dubai
Nigeria Eyes BRICS Membership within Two Years as Foreign Minister Emphasizes Strategic Alignment
In a strategic move towards global economic collaboration, Nigeria is aspiring to join the BRICS group of nations within the next two years.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Tuggar, affirmed that Nigeria is open to aligning itself with groups that demonstrate good intentions, well-meaning goals, and clearly defined objectives.
Tuggar stated, “Nigeria has come of age to decide for itself who her partners should be and where they should be; being multiple aligned is in our best interest.”
He emphasized the need for Nigeria to be part of influential groups like BRICS and the G-20, citing criteria such as population and economy size that position Nigeria as a natural candidate.
BRICS, comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, stands as a formidable bloc of emerging market powers.
In a recent move to expand its influence, BRICS invited six additional nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt, Argentina, Ethiopia, and the United Arab Emirates, to join the group.
Nigeria, as Africa’s largest economy, has been absent from the BRICS alliance, prompting discussions on the potential economic and political advantages the bloc could offer the country.
Analysts have noted that BRICS membership could provide Nigeria with significant leverage on the global stage.
Vice President Kashim Shettima clarified that Nigeria did not apply for BRICS membership after the bloc’s announcement of new members in August.
Shettima emphasized the principled approach of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, highlighting a commitment to consensus building in decisions related to international partnerships.
As Nigeria eyes BRICS membership, the move is seen as a strategic step towards enhancing its global economic and diplomatic influence.
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