Saturday 8 April 2017

How international news media portrayed South Africa's 60 000+ #ZumaMustFall March

A look at Google news fills the screen with South African accounts of the march, so I used a less known news research engine to figure out how the world portrayed the march. Anti-Zuma sentiment is widely noted, but I will let you read the articles yourself. What fascinated me most was the approach of the New York Times, who used almost the exact same headline as they did when Jacob Zuma fired former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene (replacing him with loyalist Des Van Rooyen), much as he now fired Pravin Gordhan, replacing him with loyalist Gigaba, who like Des Van Rooyen, doesn't know a thing about finance.

We already know why Fitch and Standard and Poor's downgraded South Africa: they believe South Africa is being reckless with its economy and finances. Particularly vexing to the ratings agencies are: radical socioeconomic transformation, promises of land grabs, reckless management of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), and government's promise to bail them out, slow economic growth, strangling labour regulations, and a cabinet reshuffle seemingly aimed at pursuing a left wing approach should the heavens fall. Much of what the South African government is able to do is based on its ability to borrow money. The Sovereign Credit Ratings agencies are a bit like a bar keeper saying you've had too much, or the credit bureau the bank checks before giving you finance. The two members of the trinity of ratings agencies think South Africa is a bad investment and a bad bet and a bad debtor. By giving us above speculative, above junk credit ratings in the past, they had for many years endorsed our economy. That is no longer the case: only Moody's has yet to downgrade us, and they have suggested it is coming. So, government will be less able to build infrastructure, service social grants, and maintain administration of the country. Your rands will buy you less, but your employers won't be able to give you a raise. Much of Africa can't woo investors, and relies on the International Monetary Fund for their needs, which fund likes to demand austerity in exchange for funding. It has clutches South Africa doesn't want to fall into, if it wants to pursue a pro-poor agenda, but those are the clutches we are headed to.

I will firstly note the headlines from 2017, with links thereto, and then I will note those from 2015. The 2015 quagmire ended when Pravin Gordhan was appointed as finance minister, and investors and creditors calmed down. His own firing seems less likely to have as passing an effect, because Zuma has stayed steadfast on his 2015 path, and fired dissidents instead of listening to them.

2017 articles:

'Thousands march in South Africa to demand Zuma resign' / Al Jazeera

'South African opposition, rights groups march against Zuma' / CNBC

'Anti-Zuma protests take place across South Africa' / BBC

'In South Africa, thousands from all races march against President Jacob Zuma, but unity remains elusive' / Los Angeles Times

'Thousands of anti-Zuma protesters march across South Africa' / Canadian Globe and Mail

'Skirmishes in Johannesburg as South Africans protest against Zuma' / Reuters

'Thousands March in South Africa to Demand Jacob Zuma’s Resignation' / NY Times (using near exact same title as 2015)

2015 articles:

Déjà vu? 'Thousands March in South Africa to Call for Jacob Zuma’s Resignation' 16 Dec 2015 NY Times #ZumaMustFall.

Déjà vu? '#ZumaMustFall: South Africans march against Jacob Zuma' 16 Dec 2015 BBC

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