President Zuma to undertake a working visit to Botswana for the 4th Session of the SA-Botswana Bi-National Commission

President Jacob Zuma will undertake a working visit to participate in and co-chair the 4th Session of the South Africa-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) to be held in Gaborone, Botswana on 17 November 2017.

The BNC will be preceded by a Senior Officials meeting on 14-15 November 2017 and the Ministerial meeting on 16 November 2017, respectively.

South Africa and Botswana meet annually at the level of the Heads of State within the framework of the BNC to review bilateral cooperation and discuss issues of common interest.

South Africa and Botswana enjoy cordial relations which are informed by cultural ties and geographical proximity. The two countries cooperate on a wide range of areas including, transport, trade and investment, health, education, environmental issues, water, science and technology, agriculture, justice, immigration, energy, finance, culture, security, sport, etc.

Regarding economic cooperation, South Africa remains one of Botswana’s major trading partners. Many South African companies operate in Botswana in various sectors.

President Zuma will be accompanied by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; Ms Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology; Dr Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry; Ms Nomvula Mokonyane, Minister of Water and Sanitation; and Ms Tokozile Xasa, Minister of Tourism.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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U.S. Embassy Trains Community Radio Journalists

On November 13, U.S. Ambassador to Malawi Virginia Palmer and Teresa Ndanga, Chairperson of the Media Institute of Southern Africa Malawi Chapter (MISA-Malawi), opened a four-day workshop in Lilongwe for 20 Malawian community radio journalists from across the country. The workshop, funded by the U.S. Embassy and led by American journalism trainer Daniel Brown, is designed to strengthen the capacity of community radio journalists to report effectively on the issues affecting their communities.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy in Malawi.

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Basic education committee welcomes declining trend in teenage pregnancies

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has welcomed the declining trend in teenage and learner pregnancies in South Africa.

Committee Chairperson Ms Nomalungelo Gina said: “We are excited that the trends are going down, but even so, we are still worried. One teenage pregnancy is one school pregnancy too many.”

The Committee today received a briefing from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the Department of Social Development and the Department of Health on prevention and management of learner pregnancy. The Committee heard that a study by the Human Sciences Research Council was release in 2012. This study pointed to a decline in teenage fertility rates over the past five decades. However, despite this decline, the study said unintended teenage pregnancies remain unacceptably high.

The Committee heard that 16% of women aged 15-19 in South Africa have begun childbearing, with the highest being in the Northern Cape and North West (20%) and the lowest in the Western Cape (8%), according to the South African Demographic and Health Survey of 2016. The DBE Annual School Survey data indicated that 15 504 pregnant learners are in school.

“This is a societal ill. We have heard about the key drivers of teenage pregnancy, which include gender-based violence, inter-generational and transactional relationships (the “blesser” phenomenon), low use of contraceptives, poverty, orphanhood and risky sexual behaviour. The community needs to stand together to fight this ill. The welfare and future of our young is at stake and we cannot leave them to fall into the poverty trap, which at times comes with teenage pregnancy,” said Ms Gina.

Ms Gina pointed to the importance of greater collaboration: the working and planning together of all departments involved in this matter. “We cannot work in silos. We need to work together to protect our youth.”

The Committee further welcomed the directive by the DBE that stringent vetting will occur for all people working with children. “This is a start and a good measure to look after the safety of our children,” said Ms Gina.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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IMF Executive Board Completes Seventh and Eighth ECF Reviews for Liberia and Approves US$20.7 Million Disbursement

  • Completion of the reviews enables the immediate disbursement of SDR 14.764 million (about US$20.7 million), bringing total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 111.664 million (about US$156.3 million).
  • Good progress has been made on structural reforms, and it would be important that this momentum is maintained beyond the expiration of the Fund-supported program.
  • Resolving the current political uncertainty in a timely manner consistent with the democratic process would be important to minimize the economic and social costs of delay.

The Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) today completed the seventh and eighth (final) reviews of Liberia’s economic performance under the program supported by the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement. Completion of these reviews enables the immediate disbursement of SDR 14.764 million (about US$20.7 million). This brings total disbursements under the arrangement to SDR 111.664 million (about US$ 156.7 million).

The Executive Board also approved the authorities’ request to waive the non-observance of performance criteria. The waivers pertain to the end-December 2016 floors on total revenue collection of the central government and ceiling on the present value of gross external borrowing by public sector, and to end-June 2017 floors on total revenue collection of the central government, net foreign exchange position of the Central Bank of Liberia, and the ceiling on the Central Bank of Liberia’s gross direct credit to the central government.

The ECF arrangement for Liberia was approved by the Board on November 19, 2012 (see Press Release No. 12/449) for SDR 51.68 million (about US$69.3 million or 40 percent of quota as of that date). In September 2014, as part of the response in the fight against Ebola, the Board approved an augmentation of access of SDR 32.3 million (about US$ 43.3 million or 25 percent of quota as of that date) under the ECF arrangement for Liberia.

Following the Board’s discussion on Liberia, Mr. Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair issued the following statement:

“Liberia’s economic recovery has suffered some delay due to the lingering effects of the Ebola epidemic, low global commodity prices, and the impact of the withdrawal of the United Nations peacekeeping mission. The resulting sharp decline in net foreign currency inflows has put pressure on the exchange rate and inflation, and led to a mixed program performance.

“The authorities responded to these shocks with an appropriate macroeconomic policy mix. Combined with exchange rate adjustment, a relatively tight fiscal and monetary policy stance prevented exchange rate overshooting and contained second round inflationary dynamics.

“Going forward, maintaining macroeconomic stability is critical. In fiscal policy, adherence to rules governing the release of contingent expenditure will be crucial to avoid unintended financing gaps, while protecting high-priority social spending. The monetary policy stance needs to remain tight in the face of inflationary and exchange rate pressures. Staying within the spending limits set in the central bank’s three-year financial plan will be essential to regaining adequate reserve cover.

“Recourse to external borrowing should remain restrained as the risk of debt distress is already elevated. New borrowing should be on concessional terms and, to the extent possible, replaced with enhanced utilization of already signed and ratified loans.

“The publication of the executive summary of the forensic audit report of the circumstances leading up to the closure of First International Bank Liberia Limited and a significant financial loss by the central bank was an important first step in ensuring transparency. The publication of an action plan to improve central bank governance and supervisory capacity is also welcome. Sustained efforts will be needed for successful implementation.

“Good progress has been made on structural reforms, and it would be important that this momentum is maintained beyond the expiration of the Fund-supported program. Resolving the current political uncertainty in a timely manner consistent with the democratic process would be important to minimize the economic and social costs of delay.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Executive Board Completes Seventh and Eighth ECF Reviews for Liberia and Approves US$20.7 Million Disbursement

      

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