And So They Came

first_imgFrom lack of adequate space, the NPFL fighters who had been wounded in the fighting were moved from the annex and into another clinic set up to attend to the rebels. Upon recovery from their wounds, they were moved to a warehouse nearby where a group of fighters, about a hundred and fifty combatants, resided. There the fighters would talk and argue among themselves, cussed one another, and almost every day there were fights. Sometimes they would play checkers and at twilight prayer services were held. A slim, tall, bearded fighter named Bob Marley, his hair in dreadlocks, would preach to the others, reading from an old King James Bible that he had gotten from one of the Nigerian ECOMOG soldiers who guarded the building. During his daily rounds to inspect the injured fighters, Emeka would call on the child soldier who had been wounded in the arm by shrapnel. He had come to develop a fondness for the small boy, whom he felt couldn’t be to blame for the crimes he perpetrated. Perhaps that was, of course, why Emeka had tried to relate him to his own childhood and its innocence. But he was aware that this boy, who had learned to kill people, was no longer an innocent child. And because the survival of a child soldier depended on his ability to go to extremes so as to appear bold and fearless, Emeka knew that child soldiers were even feared much more than their elderly counterparts. The child soldiers he had, in fact, seen in the INPFL would kill first and then ask questions later. They often came with a zombie-like gaze to their eyes, and their voices were hoarse and lips and fingers stained by opium smoke.But during his visits to the clinic, the boy wouldn’t say a word to Emeka. Upon seeing him he would curse under his breath or throw the bedclothes over his head. When Emeka felt for his pulse or asked how he felt, he would look at him sullenly, his red eyes full of loathing. Perhaps the boy had been taught to hate ECOMOG. Emeka could only wonder at the level of animosity that emanated from him. Whatever it was, Emeka would visit as often as he could. On finding the boy asleep, he would sit for a few minutes on a chair next to the boy’s mattress, reading without concentration Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. Sometimes he would bring a present for the small boy and would set it on a table at the head of the mattress. Yet the next day he would meet it just where he had left it the day previously. Neither saying a word to the small boy nor seeming to be surprised that he hadn’t touched the parcel, Emeka would sit patiently until he got ready to leave. These visits to the boy in the clinic had, of course, a singular object. Ever since Emeka had arrived as an ECOMOG soldier in Liberia, he had been curious about the psychological effect of the war on child soldiers. Often, he would wonder if a child soldier, shown compassion and given some kind of rehabilitation, would revert into the innocence of his childhood or continue as a hopeless case. And whenever he visited the small boy, Emeka would look for signs that might indicate the extent to which a child, turned into a hardcore killer, could be ruined. True, there were a few other boy-fighters living at the ECOMOG headquarters and Emeka could well have done his evaluation on a number of them. But for some reason, he felt drawn to this boy and thought he might be easier to speak with. The only obstacle was that he wouldn’t talk to Emeka.As for the small boy, he could feel nothing other than loathing towards the ECOMOG soldiers. Often, he would tell himself stories of getting hold of a few of their weapons. With the help of his colleagues who had been captured, he would kill as many peacekeeping soldiers as possible, and then he and his comrades would escape. ECOMOG were thieves, rapists and murderers. They had come to Liberia for no other reason than to plunder the country, rape the women and kill the men; at least that was what his NPFL commanders had told him. He had also heard that ECOMOG were cannibals and that they sold human organs, which could be used for ritualistic purposes, in clandestine markets in Nigeria. Some of the ECOMOG soldiers did, in fact, looked like cannibals. A few of them had those tribal scars that made you feel as though you were about to be eaten. But why hadn’t they killed him and his colleagues and eaten them ever since? What were they waiting for? Why had they brought him and the others to this clinic and were feeding and tending to them? Could it be that they wanted to take them alive to Nigeria and other parts of Africa before they were all killed and their organs sold? He had heard that heart-men, or people who sold human organs, extracted body parts from their victims only while they were alive and breathing. He wondered why the fighters with him in the ECOMOG headquarters, especially those who hadn’t been wounded in the fighting and lived in another building nearby, hadn’t yet done anything to escape from this place. Surely by now they could have stolen some weapons or tried to run away. Once, when a fight had broken out among them and a number of ECOMOG soldiers, lying on his mattress he had hoped it was a mutiny his colleagues had staged to oust the so-called ECOMOG peacekeepers. But a few days later, he had learned that the scuffle had actually been over food and cigarette rations. How unfortunate! Where was their sense of duty and patriotism as fighters of the National Patriotic Front of Liberia? Was it possible that they had sold their ideology for food and cigarettes? And here he was, lying ailing and helpless and could do nothing other than watch the so-called ECOMOG peacekeepers betray him and the others they had brought to this place.And when one of the ECOMOG soldiers actually began to visit him, he felt more rancor than perhaps words could make clear. True, he was one of the doctors. But what difference did it make? He had those scars on his face and looked no better than a man-eater. As for the presents he would bring him, only a fool would eat them because they were poisoned. He wished the ECOMOG soldier would just leave him alone and stop coming to the clinic altogether. If he wanted him, why couldn’t he just go ahead and eat him? Why torment him by coming to see him every day, as though he were trying to escape?And so one evening when Emeka called on the small boy, the child suddenly said to him:“Wuhtin you wan?”Emeka jumped and almost fell off the chair. Then he turned and looked at the boy. The child was lying on his back on the mattress, looking at him with two points of eyes that glowed like fire.Emeka smiled. “How are you?” The boy did not answer.“My name’s Emeka. I would like you to be my friend. Eh?” Emeka said.The boy remained silent. Emeka said, “Ah, I see you don’t want to talk to me.”“Da force if ah na wan talk to any ECOMOG soldier?” the boy said, barring his teeth. “An wuhtin you wan? You cam kill me?”“Of course not,” Emeka said. “ECOMOG is your friend and we came to Liberia only to bring peace, not to kill anybody.”The boy said nothing. In the clinic a few fighters, thin and emaciated, lay on their mattresses. Two others, a boy of about ten years of age and a young man who could have been around twenty-five, were sitting in wheelchairs, their faces haggard and eyes seeming to pop right out of the sockets. Many of those lying in their bedswere asleep. These were the ones who had been operated on or had had their legs and arms amputated. A child soldier with an adhesive tape running the whole length of his stomach looked so thin and sickly you could count his ribs almost as though he had no flesh. Emeka ripped open the pack of Cream Crackers, encased in a shiny orange plastic, which he had brought for the boy. He removed a section of the biscuit out of the pack, began to eat it, and handed over the package to the child. But the small boy only looked ominously at him. Emeka set the Crackers down on the table opposite. “What’s your name?” The boy didn’t answer. But already thoughts were beginning to crowd in his head. If the ECOMOG soldier had himself eaten the biscuit, he thought, surely then it hadn’t been poisoned. Could it be that the food he often brought did not have poison in it? His eyes like slits, the small boy looked suspiciously at Emeka. He was almost as thin and dried up as the other child soldier whose stomach had been operated on. He was lying on a small mattress with bedclothes and a pillow. He was dressed in an oversized white t-shirt and a pair of white shorts, pieces of clothing that Emeka and a few other ECOMOG soldiers had distributed among the fighters in the clinic. On the floor at the foot of his mattress was a yellow pair of shower slippers. Next to this stood a black polythene bucket which had a lid that shut tightly and was used as a sort of crude latrine. “Well, I think you don’t want to talk today. Eh?” Emeka said and, knowing that the small boy wouldn’t answer, got up from the chair and walked out of the clinic.The boy heaved a sigh of relieve. But soon he began to think about the ECOMOG soldier and how he had sat there talking quietly and had smiled as though he felt nothing towards him but sympathy. True, he had those scars on his face which made him looked like a cannibal. But when he had sat there and tried to make conversation he hadlooked anything except a man who could eat human beings. Could it be that ECOMOG were not as bad as his NPFL commanders had told him? Was it only that this ECOMOG soldier was different from the others? Or was he only trying to deceive him? But he had seen him eat the biscuit that he thought had been poisoned. The boy turned his head and looked at the pack of wafer on the table next to his mattress. For a while, he debated with himself whether to eat some of it or not, but then grabbed the pack of Crackers off the table. He removed a section of it and began to eat slowly. As he did so, he thought he felt an odd, strange taste in his mouth. He stopped chewing immediately and his heart contracted. But nothing happened; it had, of course, been only his imagination. He took out another section of the biscuit, then another one and soon he was eating it one after the other. Perhaps his NPFL commanders had been wrong about ECOMOG, he decided. Copyright © Saah Millimono 2016.To be cont’d.About the author: Saah Millimono is the author of Broken Dreams, which was awarded the Short Fiction Prize of the Sea Breeze Journal of Contemporary Liberian Writings. His first novel Boy Interrupted was awarded 2nd Place for the Kwani Manuscript Project, a one-off writing prize for African writers across the continent and in the Diaspora. He is currently at work on his second novel, which explores the root causes, some of which were not only the direct result of misrule but also the social disparities and perhaps even prejudices that existed both between the indigenous and Americo-Liberians, which triggered the Liberian Civil War. It is also the overlapping stories of three very different characters caught in the conflict and forced into situations that are as sweeping and heartrending as the war itself. He has written for the Daily Observer and the Guardian (UK).Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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Residents evacuated in Dawson Creek

first_imgRead on facebook that the folks who were driving the white car in this pic got out safely #ydq #thankgoodness pic.twitter.com/PUXhFrnggE— Judy Kucharuk (@judylaine) June 16, 2016- Advertisement -Smith says that a large number of homes near the area of Kin Park, which is now effectively a lake, are flooded, although he wasn’t able to provide an exact number due to the large area that is flooded. At last count, Smith says that 34 people have been evacuated from their homes due to the flood waters.Mayor Dawson Creek Dale Bumstead has posted the following updated on Facebook.Advertisement DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Heavy rains in the past several days have caused Dawson Creek to overflow its banks, effectively cutting the city in half.The 15th Street bridge in Dawson Creek was completely washed away by high stream flows in the creek. Fire Chief Gordon Smith says that the bridge washed away completely early this morning after being undermined by the torrent of water. Smith says that in addition to the 15th Street bridge, bridges that carry 8th, 10th, and 17th Streets over the creek are currently overtopped by both water and debris, rendering them impassable. Currently the only route across the creek is via the Dangerous Goods Route west of town, or via Rolla Road east of the airport. A couple of things to update. It appears as though the Dangerous goods route is the only available way to get around town from North to south. I am in city hall so getting this info right now 2nd or 3rd hand.Our drinking water is completely safe, we will immediately notify residents if that changes.The city transit system is not operating today and I have been told all of the schools are closed today.The big issue right now is public safety, we have evacuated approx 36residential households. Please be careful and do not go near the water.The dangerous route (I am told) will get you from south to north.We have fire fighting capacity located on the south side of town in the event of an emergency and have stablished with BC Ambulance the route around on DGR to get folks from the north side of town to the hospital.We will be making the decision later this morning about consideration for declaring a state of emergency.More to come. Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek - Facebook Photos from Dawson Creek – Facebooklast_img read more

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‘This Liverpool fan favourite is no longer good enough to play for the club!’

first_imgLucas Leiva is stifling Liverpool as an attacking force, according to talkSPORT’s Merseyside correspondent Graham Beecroft. The Reds were well beaten by rivals Manchester United on Saturday, with Brendan Rodgers’ side offering little going forward. Liverpool were without key midfielders Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho at Old Trafford and were dominated in the middle of the park. Lucas impressed in Liverpool’s goalless draw at Arsenal last month but Beecroft doesn’t think the Brazilian has the ability to hold down a place in the middle of midfield. “I’m not blaming him for the defeat, far from it,” he told the Weekend Sports Breakfast. “When a team goes out with a player like Lucas in the middle, I just think it has an effect on the others. “If I’m walking out on to the pitch I want to see match-winners in that team, not steady Eddys who won’t score a goal, don’t make tackles and give the ball away all too often.“There were too many players who didn’t seem to know what was going on. There didn’t seem like there was an overall plan or pattern and that’s a bit worrying for Liverpool supporters.”last_img read more

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HE’S BACK! ‘ROBOCOP’ RETURNS TO THE STREETS OF DONEGAL

first_imgHe built a reputation as one of the toughest cops in Co Donegal.Now former Garda Sgt Christy Galligan is back – as a private investigator.The well-known Carrigart man, who was on the beat for 29 years, has set up Gallic Private Investigations. Mr Galligan has said that the current force is faced with the problem of spending to much time in the office with paperwork instead of being out on the street.He said his new career will take him into the area of insurance fraud and litigation.He is currently the only employee of Gallic Private Investigations but says he hopes to take on some of his former Garda colleagues.   HE’S BACK! ‘ROBOCOP’ RETURNS TO THE STREETS OF DONEGAL was last modified: September 6th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Christy GalliganGallic Private Investigationslast_img read more

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EARAGAIL ARTS FESTIVAL PRESENTS THE FANTASTIC ‘IMAGINARIUM’

first_imgOne of the highlights of the Earagail Arts festival is Imaginarium, presented by landscape theatre company LUXe.It’s all-weather, post-modern, mixed-media, multi-spiritual, performance art.This processional spectacle involves walking over uneven ground at night and invites strangers to gather together to make an illuminated journey though the starry Imaginarium in search of celebration. Participants should dress for the weather and bring their lantern, water boots and refreshments to share – from wine to cake, tea, biscuits or whatever takes their fancy for a feast under the starry sky.Lantern making workshops will take place prior to the event in selected locations and places can be booked via the website www.eaf.ie.Car-sharing is encouraged as parking for this celebration is limited by ticket. Imaginarium takes place in Ards Forest Park, Creeslough, Co, Donegal on Saturday, 26th July.Gates open at 9pm with the show due to start before 10pm. Tickets cost €20 per car. For full details on the Earagail Arts programme visit www.eaf.ie. Earagail Arts Festival is funded by The Arts Council of Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and Donegal County Council.EARAGAIL ARTS FESTIVAL PRESENTS THE FANTASTIC ‘IMAGINARIUM’ was last modified: July 3rd, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:BusinessEntertainmentFeaturesnewslast_img read more

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MONAGHAN MANAGER O’ROURKE WARY OF DONEGAL THREAT

first_imgO’Rourke celebrates after winning the Ulster title last year which ended a 25 years drought for Monaghan, on Sunday they aim for two-in-a-row.Monaghan manager Malachy O’Rourke is wary of the threat Donegal pose to his side’s chances of retaining the Anglo Celt Cup.Donegal meet Monaghan on Sunday in a repeat of the 2013 Ulster Final decider, a game in which underdogs Monaghan upset the odds to stun Donegal and stopped their quest to win three Ulster titles in-a-row.Manager O’Rourke believes last season was a bit of an off-year for Jim McGuinness’s charges, and says their form so far this year would indicate they’re back operating at the level they were in 2011 and 2012. He feels his team will be up against it on Sunday, stating that they’re facing a team that has a serious pedigree.O’Rourke said, “People forget Donegal were All-Ireland champions two years ago, they’ve serious pedigree.“They won two Ulster titles in-a-row, lost to us last year, and are back in the decider again this year.They’re a serious team, and we face a serious test on Sunday for us but that’s why you play football. O’Rourke also believes Donegal are carrying a lot of hurt from last year, after the humiliation they received at the hands of Mayo in the All-Ireland quarter-final.“They’re carrying hurt from last year, without a doubt, they’re hurting.“They look hungry, and I was impressed with how they applied themselves against Derry, and also how they performed in the second-half against Antrim.“We’ll prepare as well as we can for Sunday and hope we can get a big performance from our players.    MONAGHAN MANAGER O’ROURKE WARY OF DONEGAL THREAT was last modified: July 14th, 2014 by Mark ForkerShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:donegalGAAMalachy O’RourkeMonaghannewsSportUlster Finallast_img read more

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TWO MEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH BALLYBOFEY BETTING SHOP ROBBERY

first_imgTwo men have been arrested in Strabane in connection with an armed robbery in Co Donegal on Friday night last.The two, both in their 20s, were detained in a major PSNI operation in the Co Tyrone town earlier today.A police spokesperson said: “There was a major PSNI police operation today in the Strabane area and it resulted in the arrest of two men in their twenties on suspicion of armed robbery in the Republic or Ireland on the night of Friday, 7 February.” The spokeSperson added: “Police are working closely with the An Garda Siochana.”In is believed the men are being questioned about the robbery on the The Betting Lounge in Ballybofey.At around 6.00pm on Friday, two masked men threatened a taxi driver with a suspected gun in the Glebe area of Strabane and forced him to drive them to the bookies.Despite being threatened to stay in his vehicle, the driver fled the scene to a nearby shop to raise the alarm. When they returned the raiders, who had taken the car keys with them, made their escape in the vehicle.It is not year clear if any any money was taken in the raid.It is understood the driver was unharmed by left badly shaken by the incident. TWO MEN ARRESTED IN CONNECTION WITH BALLYBOFEY BETTING SHOP ROBBERY was last modified: February 9th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Ballybofey arrestsPSNIstrabanelast_img read more

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DONEGAL COULD WAIT SIX YEARS FOR BROADBAND – PRINGLE

first_imgParts of Donegal may not receive high-speed broadband until 2021.In a reply to a question submitted to the Minister by Thomas Pringle TD, it was revealed that some parts of the county not get access to high-speed broadband for up to six years.‘Nearly 50% of the North West Region could be left without high speed broadband for another 6 years. There are 83,935 premises remaining in the North West Region including Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim, that will be targeted for state intervention. “But that won’t begin until late 2016 which will be drawn out over 3-5 years meaning some areas won’t see high speed broadband until 2021!’ explains Pringle.He added that this is a big problem for rural communities, small businesses and for job creation in rural areas.“So I am calling on the Minister to ensure that marginalised areas like Donegal are the first to benefit from the roll-out. Too often we have seen Donegal tagged out at the end of national roll-outs and this trend should be reversed with the Rural Broadband Scheme’ concludes Pringle.DONEGAL COULD WAIT SIX YEARS FOR BROADBAND – PRINGLE was last modified: June 18th, 2015 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:broadbandDeputy Thomas Pringledonegallast_img read more

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Oracle Park, Chase Center events put Mission Bay to test

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO — Concert-goers at the Chase Center may benefit from the San Francisco Giants’ recent struggles.Attendance at Oracle Park dropped to a nine-year low on Monday as the Giants announced that a paid crowd of 26,826 fans took in the team’s 6-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The number of fans who actually showed up and used their tickets was significantly lower.This may be good news for people planning to attend concerts at the newly-opened Chase Center this week. For the first …last_img

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Gauteng’s poverty-busting budget of growth

first_imgNomfundo Tshabalala, the head of department in the Gauteng provincial treasury, FNB economic analyst Alex Smith and Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe all believe that the budget highlights the fundamental economic strategy to facilitate the restructuring of the economy and prepare it for its next phase of development (Image: Melissa Jane Cook)• Lwazi StuurmanCommunications ManagerFirst National Bank (FNB)+27 87 312 5904lstuurman@fnb.co.zaMelissa Jane CookFiscal constraints, a challenging macro-economic environment and the large current account deficit were raised by business and government officials at a breakfast held to unpack the Gauteng provincial budget.The intimate event was hosted by First National Bank (FNB) at the Marion on Nicol on 7 March. Host Jeremy Maggs encouraged robust interaction between the captains of industry, stakeholders and other delegates. Gauteng is the economic powerhouse of the country, adding some weight to its budget, which was met with much approval from those at the breakfast.A focus of the budget was unemployment, and it took a confident stand that there would be six million job opportunities in the free market. The government would also pull its weight and work with small, medium and micro enterprises, rather than leave it all in the hands of the private sector. For example, R180 million was set aside for youth unemployment.Alleviating poverty was at the heart of the document, and Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said: “The highest concentration of poverty is in Gauteng, followed by the Western Cape. There is a correlation between urbanisation, migration and urban poverty… At the moment our cost of living is high, food and transport costs are high. But this budget will bolster confidence so that we can have healthy growth in the economy.”South Africa was experiencing fiscal constraints and the global economy itself was slowly recovering from recession. This duo had a negative impact on the economy, and the private sector would play a crucial role in mobilising jobs, he added.Manufacturing, infrastructure, educationAn important issue was infrastructure development, and R10.6 billion was earmarked in the budget for this sector. In addition, R3.4 billion was allocated to health care and education, with the emphasis on more schools, clinics and community health centres.Manufacturing was important in Gauteng, Nkomfe said, and there must be motivation for the province to become a manufacturing hub. “There are issues around reindustrialisation. We need to manufacture here. This will go a long way to entrepreneurial development,” he added.“The South African economy is rising, and we need to find ways to exploit these opportunities. We need to focus more on competition and make ourselves more competitive. We need to deal with industrial issues and labour unrest. There is the possibility of working together – the private sector and the government.”Nkomfe was introduced by Kgosi Ledimo, the chief executive of FNB provincial and local government, public sector. He said Nkomfe was “now in the position of managing one of the largest economies in South Africa”. “He is able to mobilise financial resources and ensure that infrastructure development in the province is taking place,” Ledimo told the assembled business people.To place the budget in context, it was reiterated that 2009 was characterised by challenges stemming from the uncertainty in and the rapid deterioration of the external economic landscape. With the global economic crunch that started in 2008, there was a sharp slowdown in South Africa’s economy, as there was in most countries.But this 2014/2015 provincial budget showed that South Africa had pulled itself out of the doldrums and was on its way to impressive growth and development. Over R86.9 billion had been set aside, which was expected to grow to R98.9 billion by 2016.Funding the budgetNkomfe said it would move Gauteng forward in a very positive way, and create great change. “A lot of money has been spent on roads, schools, hospitals etc, to provide a better life for Gauteng people.”He explained the three sources of the money used in the budget: the government got more than R950 billion from those who paid taxes; conditional grants; and own revenue through gambling tax and car licences and so on. The greater the province, the more money there was to go round. At about 12.7 million people, Gauteng had the largest population in South Africa, and therefore got the most money.Another criterion in deciding how much money was earmarked for provinces was the number of its school-going children. In this category, Gauteng was second to KwaZulu-Natal. In terms of how a province was using primary health care facilities, again Gauteng was second to KwaZulu-Natal. “We need to put more resources into better primary health care,” Nkomfe said.FNB economic analyst Alex Smith said that South Africa’s growth was driven by consumption and the large amount of imports. “There was a huge amount of money [coming] into South Africa during the recession in 2009 as people wanted good returns, but this was a volatile stimulus. It strengthened the rand and supported imports.“However, we consume and import too much. The trade deficit [has widened], especially with Marikana in 2012. We import approximately R200 billion worth more than we export and this is funded by foreign investment.”Current account deficitHe maintained that the country’s economic challenge lay in managing its large current account deficit. “The government has done well on reigning in its spending. The focus must move to investment and production. We need to become more competitive and export more, produce more, and focus on human capital development, the productivity of workers, a healthy worker is a productive worker.”In addition, South Africa needed to sort out labour unrest, Smith said, and focus on efficiency in terms of training and human capital, which must be of the highest standard. Entrepreneurs needed incubators so their businesses had longevity.“We need to support local industries with local procurement. The key message is that the government has done well in allocating funds, but how efficiently is the money being spent? We need to get maximum value for every rand we spend. We need to curb spending on imports and reduce inflation.”Another focus was the leveraging of technology. Innovation must be worked on at a government level, Smith said. Tourism was a massive source of revenue. “Last year, more money was spent on tourism than gold. We can and must do more to boost Gauteng’s reputation.”The breakfast was important as it gave stakeholders an opportunity to interact and put the private sector on display, Nkomfe said. “It is important for the private sector to see what further resources can be released. We need to maximise the over R80 billion that has been set aside. There are many people with projects on the go and there are many opportunities for the private sector to get involved and become a big partner.”DemocracyIt was a great time to celebrate 20 years of democracy, he added. “This time has given the government opportunity to lay strong foundations for the future and move South Africa forward. In order to address issues of unemployment, poverty and inequality we need to deal with the problem of consumption and how our wage bill is ballooning.”Nomfundo Tshabalala, the head of department in the Gauteng provincial treasury, concluded: “We need synergy between partnerships. This can be done with infrastructure development, issues of innovation and ensuring support of entrepreneurs and small, medium and micro enterprises.”The budget had highlighted the fundamental economic strategy to facilitate the restructuring of the economy and prepare it for its next phase of development. “We are all up to the challenge,” Nkomfe concurred.last_img read more

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