South African government plans to halve poverty and unemployment by 2014 appeared increasingly at risk on Tuesday as official statistics confirmed fears of a downturn in economic growth. Figures released by Statistics South Africa showed a drop in gross domestic product growth to 5,1% last year from 5,4% in 2006.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe may have dealt a fatal blow to Pretoria's "quiet diplomacy" by calling an election in the middle of mediation efforts by his South African counterpart, say analysts. President Mbeki was handed the poisoned chalice of mediating between Mugabe and the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change last April.
The leaders of emerging powerhouses South Africa, India and Brazil will meet in Pretoria this week to bolster trade and energy ties as well as flex their collective muscle on world affairs. All three countries see their alliance, known as Ibsa (India-Brazil-South Africa), as an opportunity to push the concerns of developing countries in the southern hemisphere.