'Xenophobia not hurting rand'
By Troye Lund
Cape Town - Finance Minister Trevor Manuel says xenophobic attacks in Gauteng informal settlements that have grabbed local and international headlines over the past week are not likely to be the cause of movements in the rand.
While he underscored how the violent attacks showed that government leaders need to engage with communities on a much closer level, he said a more plausible explanation for the rand's movement was the volatility of the US dollar.
"A lot of it is, in fact, driven by high volatility of the dollar rather than a series of other currencies. So I don't get my knickers in a knot about this every time I hear these stories," said Manuel after the launch of a report on economic growth strategies, which was complied over the last two years by 19 economic experts from around the globe, including two Nobel laureates.
Offering possible reasons behind the violence, Manuel mentioned several factors which could leade to tensions if not managed properly. These included "the challenge of unemployed youth and the idleness it speaks to", migration from other countries as well as domestic migration from rural to urban areas.
Essentially, he says, it's about access to resources and perceptions and/or realities around that issue.
Linking his comment to questions about attacks on people deemed to be foreigners; Manuel said the main thing that he would take away from the findings of The Growth Report: Strategies for Substantial and Inclusive Development was that policy is not enough. Government needs to do far more than come up with good policy.
"It is about implementation. Implementation is about effectiveness of elected organs of people. It is about public servants doing what they are supposed to," said Manuel who added that it is not enough for a democracy to hold regular elections. To function, he says, leaders need to engage a lot more closely so they understand issues better.
"In the past few days we have seen visible and notable interaction (from government leaders). That kind of leadership is what the situation demands," said Manuel.
While the reason for volatility in the Rand may lie in international market movements, the recent unrest denigrates South Africa's international image as an investment destination. Unemployment and lack of implementation of government policy may be part of the underlying problem.
Getting your finances in order, even if it just means paying off your credit card, can help you weather stormy times. Other factors to consider may be changing your vehicle insurance or considering a personal loan to consolidate your debts.