Research into perceptions of South Africa in the rest of Africa found nation brand reputational strengths in culture, music, business sophistication, infrastructure and political management of democratic transitions. But South Africans were also perceived as imposing and aggressive. Petrus de Kock, research manager at Brand South Africa, said initial findings indicated personal interactions in business, social and government settings often left the impression among hosts in other African countries that South Africans were pushy. (Image: Media Club Reporter) • How much do you know about the ocean? • Disabled South Africans: know your rights – Infographic • Frank and honest: the Women On Sex web series • Enactus promotes entrepreneurship, innovation • Sandton goes car-free for a month Ray MaotaThere are mixed perceptions of South Africa in other African countries, according to South Africa Incorporated, or SA Inc, which aims to uncover unique insights to help Brand South Africa to understand the environment in which it operates.The project was created by Brand South Africa as part of its Africa Programme in order to uncover what local businesses face when they trade with and invest in peer countries on the rest of the continent, and when they travel to and live in other African countries.Results of the project were unpacked at research dialogue hosted by Brand South Africa and held at the Gordon Institute for Business Science in Illovo, northern Johannesburg, earlier in the week. The dialogue dissected South Africa’s brand on the continent and its various implications.SA Inc fieldwork was undertaken in 2014/15 in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, as well as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Russia in the 2015/16 cycle. One of the insights gained was that perceptions of South Africa and its people could hinder or advance the country’s business progress in the rest of Africa.For example, initial findings indicated personal interactions in business, social and government settings often left the impression among hosts in other African countries that South Africans were pushy, imposing and unwilling to listen to the authentic advice of locals and industry experts, said Petrus de Kock, research manager at Brand South Africa.The country’s National Development Plan, or Vision 2030, which sets out the vision for South Africa, posits expanded trade between South Africa and its peer African countries as a key long-term objective.SOUTH AFRICA AND ITS PEERSAccording to SA Inc, in Nigeria, from a reputational point of view, South Africa has a major influence on several fronts:With more than 150 companies active in the market, South Africa is highly visible and respected in many areas of national competency.South Africa’s democratic transition, institutional and infrastructural profile is appreciated and is often referenced as a key attractiveness feature.Nigerian respondents are keen to interact with and explore opportunities with South Africa for business and investment interactions and for cultural, music, tourism and related experiences.In Kenya, from a reputational point of view, South Africa has a major influence on two fronts:As a result of South Africa’s democratic transition, strong institutions; and,As a result of major interest in South Africa music and culture.FINDINGS ON SOUTH AFRICA’S FOOTPRINT IN KENYA AND NIGERIAUncovering outside perceptions of a nation is key to effectively marketing its brand, particularly for encouraging trade and investment. In July and August 2014, Brand South Africa researchers conducted fieldwork in Kenya and Nigeria to assess those countries’ views of South Africa and its people.It was found that Kenyans largely considered South Africans to be imposing and aggressive.“However, at the opposite end, the country and its people’s general openness is ascribed to an appealing culture and high-level accomplishments in several spheres,” De Kock said. “For example, our political transition and democratisation; the capabilities and range of sectors in the South African economy; South African technical, managerial, manufacturing, engineering, and a host of related practical capabilities – these all impact positively on perceptions of the nation brand.”In Kenya, there was a positive reception for South African products and services, mostly in the food sector, as they were competitively priced and of high quality. According to the SA Inc report, these perceptions stem from comments about how South African managers conduct themselves and treat Kenyans. This affects the reputation of South Africa and South African businesses in Kenya.On the other hand, South African companies’ perceptions of doing business in Kenya were characterised by wariness, a result of several failed attempts to invest in the nation.Perceptions of business and economic ties in Nigeria concluded that while South Africa had significant and diverse investments across a range of sectors in that country, Nigerian business people felt South Africa should be more open to investment from, and trade interaction with, Nigerian companies.CONCLUSIONSThe initial fieldwork findings indicate unique nation brand reputational strengths in areas such as culture, music, business sophistication, infrastructure and political management of democratic transitions.On the negative side, South Africans are perceived as imposing, aggressive, and unwilling to listen to local advice.“From a business perspective it implies that more attention needs to be paid to the manner in which South Africans interact with African peers, and how market entry strategies are designed by incorporating soft factors such as business culture,” De Kock said.From a political point of view, South Africa is seen as progressive, that it has strong institutions, and democratic credentials to underpin its Constitution. However, internal developmental challenges, xenophobia, and misplaced perceptions about African expatriates in South Africa is a cause for concern in Kenya and Nigeria.SOUTH AFRICA AND BRICSBrand South Africa shared a research report, The Ufa Declaration, and its implications for the BRICS brand.Most importantly, the report highlights the successes of BRICS in terms of implementing summit decisions, and the implications increased formalisation and institutionalisation has for the development of the organisation.This is an issue very few analysts have written about, especially in the context of how the development of the organisation is reflecting positively on the global governance capability of the five member states.
Share Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Leisa Boley Hellwarth, a dairy farmer and an attorney near CelinaA recent decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina is clear as mud. And that mud is likely considered “Waters of the US” and governed by the Clean Water Act (CWA).On Aug. 16, 2018, Federal Judge David C. Norton enjoined the suspension of the WOTUS (Waters of the US) Rule promulgated by the Obama Administration. The decision is problematic because it creates a patchwork of states where the WOTUS rule applies and others where it does not. WOTUS is now the law in 26 states, including Ohio. The other 25 are: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The District of Columbia and U.S. territories are also subject to WOTUS. In the 24 other states, the WOTUS remains blocked by two other federal courts pending their review on the substance of the law.The decision from South Carolina is based solely on procedure. The Court held that the Trump Administration did not follow appropriate notice and comment procedures as it implemented a two-year nationwide delay of the WOTUS rule — form over substance. Following correct procedure is an important consideration in our democracy and a separate issue from the substantive argument in favor of or opposed to WOTUS.WOTUS attempted to define the scope of the CWA, in essence by clarifying which wetlands and small waterways are protected under the Clean Water Act of 1972. If the area in question is considered “Waters of the US” then CWA permits for releasing pollutants are required or potential penalties of $52,414 per day apply. Farmers, industry groups and 30 states have challenged the WOTUS rule. Many dislike the over-reaching impact of the language. Other states, including California, New York, Vermont and Rhode Island, as well as environmental groups, support it.This is likely not the last word on the procedural issues. The National Association of Manufacturers has already indicated they plan to appeal the recent ruling. Other industry and agriculture groups are expected to appeal, as well.Earlier this year, on Jan. 22, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously held that challenges to the WOTUS Rule, like the one just decided by the district court in South Carolina, belong in federal district court. Both the Obama and Trump Administrations had pressed for functional rather than literal interpretations of the Clean Water Act, thereby enabling the appellate courts to claim jurisdiction. The Supreme Court found that while it may not be the most efficient use of federal resources, there was no question in the law about where challenges to the Clean Water Ruling belong. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the opinion and stated, “Congress has made clear that rules like the WOTUS Rule must be reviewed first in federal district courts.”The choice of court — district or appeals — is significant because it affects the resources needed to litigate the merits of challenges, sets the statute of limitations for filing lawsuits and helps determine whether actions can be challenged in subsequent civil or criminal proceedings. District courts are also more tilted toward overturning government actions, and the recent South Carolina decision is a prime example.Many legal analysts believe the WOTUS Rule is due to the 2006 Supreme Court Case, Rapanos v. United States. John Rapanos of Michigan challenged federal jurisdiction to regulate isolated wetlands under the Clean Water Act. Before the case made it to the Supreme Court, Rapanos served three years of probation and paid $5,000 in fines. His crime? He allegedly filled 22 acres of wetland that he owned with sand, in preparation for the construction of a mall without filing for a permit. He argued that the land was not a wetland and that he was not breaking the law, as the land in question was up to 20 miles from any navigable waterway.While five Supreme Court justices agreed to void rulings against the defendants (Rapanos had a business partner who was also charged), who were prosecuted for impacting a wetland incidental to commercial development, the court was split over further details, with the four more conservative justices arguing in a plurality opinion for a more restrictive reading of the term “navigable waters” than the four more liberal justices. Justice Anthony Kennedy did not fully join either position. Because no single opinion garnered a majority of the votes, it is unclear which opinion sets forth the controlling test for wetlands jurisdiction. The case was remanded to the lower court. Ultimately, Rapanos agreed to a nearly $1,000,000 civil penalty to the EPA without admitting to any wrongdoing. He also agreed to recreate approximately 100 acres of wetlands and buffer areas.Citing the confusion created by Rapanos, on June 29, 2015, the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA promulgated a new 75-page regulation attempting to clarify the scope of “Waters of the United States,” to take effect on Aug. 28, 2015. And that is when the trouble started. Lawsuits were filed with district courts in various parts of the country. When the Trump Administration took over, they sought to delay enforcement by rule suspension. That led to the lawsuit in South Carolina and the recent decision detailing the problems with their procedure.While there will likely more rulings on substance and appeals over procedure, the WOTUS Rule is now law in Ohio. Regarding the ongoing litigation, wise men say “he who slings mud generally loses ground” and, perhaps, triggers the WOTUS rule.
Shoots of peace are “sprouting” in Jammu and Kashmir and the government is now working to ensure that the people in the State can be uplifted with dignity, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti says.In an interview on Monday night, the 58-year-old Chief Minister welcomed recent attempts by the Centre and the ruling party to reach out to Kashmiris, starting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day speech where he asked countrymen to embrace Kashmiris. This was followed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s statement that the Centre is willing to hold talks with all stakeholders and then BJP leader Ram Madhav saying talks can be held with anyone. In his Mann ki Baat speech on Sunday, Mr. Modi praised a poor Kashmiri youth, Bilal Dar, for his attempt to clean up a lake.“These are welcome signs” in the Kashmir Valley where people are eagerly waiting for peace to return, Ms. Mufti said.“The shoots of peace have started sprouting. They have to be watered and fertilized, and I am sure that the fruits of peace will follow,” she said, speaking at her home. Ms. Mufti, who retains the Tourism portfolio, gets a report on tourist arrivals every evening, and the figures are grim — arrivals have now fallen to between 4,000 and 5,000 daily from a peak of 10,000 to 12,000. Most hotels and houseboats are vacant, taxi operators have virtually no business and shops are shut.The Chief Minister said it was wrong to project the entire 70 lakh population of the Valley as pro-militant when Intelligence figures show there are 200 to 300 home-grown militants.Sense of alienation“You talk about the 200 militants but don’t talk about the thousands of Kashmiris in the Indian Army,” Ms. Mufti said. However, she did not deny that there was a sense of alienation among Kashmiri youth, and even children as young as eight, because of the severe security crackdowns that follow stone-throwing incidents.However, the recent statements from the highest level are an opportunity to build peace and give Kashmiris back their dignity, Ms. Mufti said. “All that is required now is to hold their (people of Kashmir) fingers with dignity intact,” she said.The first woman Chief Minister of the sensitive border State said her government favoured holding talks with everyone as had been enshrined in the Agenda of Alliance between the PDP and the BJP.She indicated that she supported the peace talks strategy employed by the Vajpayee government in the early 2000s when Kashmiri separatist leaders were allowed to talk to Pakistan as part of peace-building efforts, while New Delhi and Islamabad were also simultaneously engaged.“There is a need to take the bull by its horns and finding a way out for bringing in a ‘permanent’ peace in the State,” Ms. Mufti said, adding that she was in regular contact with Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who she described as “very supportive”.She noted that Mr. Madhav, the BJP general secretary, had a clear understanding of Kashmir and had been extremely supportive of the alliance government. “I am sure together, we will be able to steer the State to new heights.” Ms. Mufti said Mr. Modi’s mention of Bilal Dar had sent a wave of pride among the youth of the Valley.