3 May 2012 While the government is stepping up measures to combat rhino poaching in South Africa, joint initiatives are called for if the war is to be won, says Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa. Speaking in Cape Town on Wednesday ahead of her department’s budget vote in Parliament, Molewa said South Africa had lost a total of 199 rhinos to poacher since the beginning of the year. “I would like to assure you that the department, our provinces and its public entities such as SANParks view this illegal killing of our national treasure in a very serious light, and will continue to prioritise our fight against this crime jointly with our security cluster ministers and their departments,” she said. Molewa said the government would continue to implement the initiatives set up last year, as well as introduce added measures to combat poaching. South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members, working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies, have been deployed to various borders, and a crime line has been established to improve cooperation with the public as well as to provide easier access for would-be informers.Cross-border conservation partnerships Molewa said the ongoing scourge underscored the importance of collaboration between southern African countries in the development of transfrontier conservation areas. “The resolution is not managing through fences, but to continue the southern African initiative of cross-boundary conservation partnerships,” she said. The minister added that South Africa was working with perceived transit or consumer countries in the People’s Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. According to the latest statistics from the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Kruger National Park is still the most targeted area, having lost a total of 119 rhinos from the beginning of this year. Targeted provinces include Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and KwaZulu-Natal, together accounting for 73 of the rhinos killed this year. A total of 122 arrests have so far been made, of which 108 were poachers, 10 receivers/couriers, and four couriers/buyers. Source: BuaNews
25 October 2012 The government is considering a bigger role for the private sector and the country’s development finance institutions in order to boost funding for South Africa’s infrastructure drive, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Gordhan’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, which he presented in the National Assembly in Cape Town on Thursday, reveals that the pace of public infrastructure spending has picked up over the past 12 months. Gordhan told Parliament that the Presidential Infrastructure Co-ordinating Commission (PICC) had reviewed the details of 18 strategic infrastructure programmes, which would add to the current R845-billion infrastructure build programmes already in progress.Build programmes to accelerate investment He said the build programmes would accelerate energy, transport, water and housing investment, open up mining and industrial opportunities and give greater impetus to building economic linkages across southern Africa. “Strategic infrastructure programmes represent large and long-term financial commitments,” he said, adding that the budget provided for part of the funding required, while state-owned enterprises were making substantial investments in their areas of responsibility. While the bulk of infrastructure spending was financed from the balance sheets of state-owned companies, the fiscus funded the provision of social infrastructure, delivered primarily through provinces and municipalities, he said.Private sector investment down in 2011 The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement noted, however, that growth in private sector investment had slowed over 2011, as South African businesses refrained from developing new projects in an environment of weaker business confidence. In contrast, gross fixed capital formation by the public sector grew at 10.9% during the first half of this year, with Eskom, Transnet and the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) accounting for 95% of all capital spending by state-owned enterprises. Government spending on water, sanitation and road infrastructure had also picked up, supporting a nascent recovery in South Africa’s construction sector. The National Treasury believes that as the economic environment improves, rising confidence should result in a gradual improvement in private sector gross fixed capital formation. It said that, with private businesses accounting for about 71% of economic activity and over 75% of jobs, it was crucial to create a buoyant private sector that worked in partnership with an effective government. Domestic growth is expected to remain modest next year and to increase over the next three years, but Gordhan added that faster growth was needed to create the jobs South Africa needs. Source: SANews.gov.za
Community kitchens that could feed lakhs of pilgrims on the way to cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir Himalayas would be monitored by CCTVs, officials said on Friday. The Amarnath Yatra would commence on July 1 and continue for 46 days till August 15. This time CCTVs would be installed at each langar (community kitchen) site along the Pathankote-Jammu-Baltal Highway as a security measure, they said. Officials said 105 langars for pilgrims will be available at 17 places in Jammu, 8 in Kathua, 10 in Udhampur and 28 in district Ramban. Halting points have been finalised in all the Highway districts including 6 in Kathua, 17 in Jammu, 26 in Udhampur and 22 in district Ramban from Kathua district (entry point in J&K) to Baltal in Ganderbal district. Mobile toilets have been made available at 17 different locations. Advisor to Governor K. Vijay Kumar on Thursday chaired a high-level meeting to review arrangements being put in place for the smooth conduct of the Amarnath Yatra. Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma gave a detailed presentation about arrangements being made for the smooth conduct of annual yatra to the cave shrine in South Kashmir. Facilities for the spot registration of pilgrims have been made at Jammu, Sangam, Sarasvati Dham, Vashnavi Dham, Ram Mandir, Purani Mandi. Adequate number of buses have been arranged to ferry pilgrims from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal, officials added. Similarly, arrangements for accommodation and shelter sheds would be available for pilgrims at all districts en route, officials said. The Advisor also reviewed the security arrangements and sought details from officers concerned about the scale of deployments along the twin routes of Phalgam and Baltal. The IG Traffic apprised the Advisor of the traffic management plan and condition of Highway from Udhampur to Banihal. Vulnerable points have been identified and executing agencies are at work.