From Volume 36, Issue 48 of EIR Online, Published Dec. 11, 2009
Africa News Digest

Global Monetarist System Collapse Devastates South Africa

Dec. 1 (EIRNS)—South Africa's manufacturing output in September had contracted 11.4% year-on-year, in terms of volume, according to Stats SA, the government statistical agency. The August year-on-year figure was 15.2%.

Job losses are large and accelerating. The number of employed in the third quarter of 2009 had shrunk by 5.6% compared to the third quarter of 2008. The number employed in the third quarter of 2008 was 13.7 million; a year later, the number has shrunk by 770,000 to 12.9 million. Almost two-thirds of those losses occurred during the third quarter of 2009. In agriculture, 14.9% of all jobs were lost over the year.

Unemployment increased from 27.6% to 31.1%, according to EIR calculations. Among the poor in urban townships and squatter settlements, unemployment is very much higher. EIR calculations are higher than the official figures from Stats SA, because EIR recognized the Discouraged Work-Seekers category as part of the Labour Force, and then calculated the rate of unemployment as the combined Unemployed and Discouraged, as a percentage of the Labour Force. Even so, these are underestimates: Despite great economic distress, the Not Economically Active portion of the population aged 15-65 (defined as not interested in, or not capable of work) grew by 1.1 million over the year (total population growth was 371,000). A significant fraction of these actually belong in the Unemployed category.

Global Collapse Will Worsen HIV-Aids Crisis in South Africa

Dec. 1 (EIRNS)—South African President Jacob Zuma kicked off a national mobilization against HIV-AIDS today, World AIDS Day, by announcing, among other measures, the extension of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment to a much larger number of people. Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi reported in a speech Nov. 10 that, while South Africa has just 0.7% of the world's population, it has 17% of all HIV and AIDS cases, or 24 times the global average. According to one estimate, 5.7 million of South Africa's 49.3 million people are infected with HIV, an incidence of 11.6%, which is among the highest in the world. In the impoverished townships surrounding Johannesburg, Saturdays have been set aside for funerals.

In an address to the National Council of Provinces Oct. 29, Zuma had drawn attention to South Africa's alarmingly low and steadily declining population growth rate. "At this rate," he said, "there is a real danger that the number of deaths will soon overtake the number of births." Even more disturbing, he added, is the number of young women dying "in the prime of their life, in their child-bearing years." He blamed the deaths on HIV-AIDS.

Zuma said the situation was made worse by the high incidence of tuberculosis. There are 482,000 South Africans afflicted with TB, almost 1% of the population. "A staggering 73%" of those with TB are also HIV-positive, he said.

Pregnant women and persons infected with both HIV and tuberculosis will receive ARVs if their CD4 white blood cell count drops to 350 or less, and all HIV-infected children under one year of age will receive ARVs. Currently, ARVs are given only to those with a CD4 count of 200 or less.

South Africa's already low population growth rate fell drastically over the 2001-09 period. The 2001-02 rate of annual increase was 1.38%. Year by year, the rate dropped, reaching 1.07% for 2008-09, according to official statistics. The private South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) reported Nov. 19 that the decline was even steeper, from 1.5% annual increase to 0.8% over the same period. SAIRR does not make its methodology public. Fertility declined from 2.87 children per woman in 2001 to 2.38 in 2009, according to official statistics, a drop of 0.49.

The failure of the globalized monetarist system is having a devastating effect on the South African economy, with collapsing production, loss of employment, and a shrinking tax base. Poverty and disease can only be expected to get worse.

Queen's Commonwealth Swallows Rwanda, Mozambique

Nov. 30 (EIRNS)—"What was really notable at the just-concluded Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), was the admission of Rwanda," a City of London source told EIR today. "Rwanda and Mozambique, which joined about 15 years ago, were never part of the old British Empire, which was the ostensible basis for the Commonwealth when it was set up 60 years ago."

The Commonwealth, of which the Queen is the official head, is certainly seeking an expanded role in world affairs, the source said. The idea is to create another, smaller United Nations, but an organization in which you can try out policies in a "less heated" political atmosphere than the UN, the source said. This has its influence on many countries in Africa, and on India, where there are many influences of the British Raj still, and is not a member of the Permanent Five of the UN Security Council.

One reason that Rwanda and Mozambique were pulled in, the source said, is that they are on strategic raw materials transport routes from the Congo. Mozambique was a Portuguese colony, and Rwanda a German colony until World War I, when the Belgians took over. But now, since these countries lie on the route for transporting key minerals, they are most welcome in the New Commonwealth. One of the most important minerals being transported now is Congolese tantalum, or coltran, a mixture of two minerals which is essential for making capacitors for cell phones and laptops.

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