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South Africa pledges to curb emissions by 42 percent by 2025. The World Cup draw is a smashing success. Zulu men kill a bull with their bare hands. President Zuma's approval rating reaches a record 58 percent. Moody's downgrades its credit rating for Johannesburg. A privately-owned airline SAA Airlink could be grounded after yet another crash landing. And Morgan Freeman gets raves reviews for his depiction of Mandela in Invictus (except his attempt at a South African accent).
Top News: As climate change talks began in Copenhagen, South Africa pledged to reduce its carbon emissions growth
The World Cup draw held in Cape Town was hailed as an overwhelming success and proof that South Africa is ready to host the soccer championship, which starts in June. With security tight, there were no major incidents, although a German photographer was arrested and later charged after he joked about having a bomb in his bag. Ticket applications surged after the draw. African teams ended up in disappointingly tough groups and will face an uphill battle to make it past the first round of the tournament. Fans of South African team Bafana Bafana are hoping for a miracle after it was grouped with France, Uruguay and Mexico.
Young Zulu men killed a bull with their bare hands at a harvest festival at the Zulu royal palace in Nongoma following a court ruling that the traditional practice could continue. Judge Nic van der Reyden dismissed an application by Animal Rights Africa that said killing a bull by smothering amounted to animal cruelty. Debate over the bull-killing ritual hit a nerve in South Africa’s diverse society.
Tensions grew between Zuma’s ANC party and the South African Communist Party that helped propel him to power, after ANC Youth League leader Julian Malema — who has called for the nationalization of South Africa’s mines — was booed at a SACP conference in Polokwane.
President Zuma received record approval ratings of 58 percent. According to TNS Research Surveys, 75 percent of blacks said they approved of Zuma’s leadership. Among whites, 22 percent said they approved, up from 4 percent a year ago.
At least 59 officials from South Africa’s Home Affairs department were suspended amid an investigation that they were fraudulently giving citizenship to foreigners, mainly from Pakistan. This year Britain began requiring visas from South African visitors, citing the security threat posed by the availability of fake documents in South Africa.
Money: Moody’s lowered its long-term credit rating of Johannesburg, a reaction to the city’s “deteriorating” liquidity and cash flow positions. Moody’s also pointed to the increase in service delivery complaints and higher expenditures. Meanwhile, Johannesburg city officials were criticized for wasting money by taking an expensive 10-day “study tour” on the public dime to cities in Russia, China, Vietnam and India. Also drawing flack was the 2009 Miss World pageant, which ended up costing the city twice as much as originally publicized by the time it wrapped up this week in Johannesburg.
Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele threatened to ground air carrier SAA Airlink after an Airlink plane landing in George overshot the runway and crashed through a fence before coming to a stop on a freeway. It was the fourth incident in four months for the privately-owned airline, which is a partner of South African Airways. The South African Civil Aviation Authority is investigating. If the airline is grounded, bookings for the holiday season and the World Cup would be affected.
President Zuma warned that South Africa may yet lose more jobs despite the country emerging from its first recession since the end of apartheid in the third quarter. South Africa’s current account gap narrowed to a four-year low in the third quarter on improved exports and lower imports because of the weak economy.
Elsewhere: The new Clint Eastwood film, Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela, opened in South Africa to generally favorable reviews, including praise for Freeman’s Mandela performance (minus a few digs at his accent). The film tells the true story of politics and rugby at the end of the apartheid era. But with the recent news that Oscar-winning actress Jennifer Hudson will play Winnie Madikizela-Mandela in an upcoming biopic, Hollywood has come under fire in South Africa. Local actors are angry that American stars are landing all the plum roles playing prominent South Africans on the silver screen.
South Africans mourned the Volkswagen Citi Golf as the last few vehicles rolled off the line at the plant in Uitenhage, Eastern Cape, and were auctioned off for charity. The bestselling Volkswagen South Africa car was also mourned by carjackers — the Citi Golf had topped car thieves’ “wanted” lists.