Issue 145 | 28 November 2014
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During his visit in South Africa, President Abbas conducted bilateral discussions with President Zuma on issues of mutual interest and common concern, among others, bilateral relations between South Africa and Palestine, the Middle East Peace Process, as well as other multilateral issues.
President Jacob Zuma received President Mahmoud Abbas of the State of Palestine on a State Visit to South Africa on 26 November 2014.

Bilateral relations between Palestine and South Africa are facilitated through a Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) that was established in 1995. Progress in establishing bilateral cooperation agreements proceeded apace, resulting in the signing of nine bilateral cooperation agreements and during President Abbas’ State Visit, three agreements were signed, namely:

  • Agreement for the Establishment of a JCC
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Political Consultations
  • Agreement on Higher Education and Training.
South Africa supports international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian State, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
The Minister was speaking during the Wits University workshop on the implementation of the National Development Plan (NDP), which is the blueprint for where government wants to see the country in 2030.
South Africa needs to develop a broadly shared understanding of the concept of national interest, which the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, says should not be too "narrow in scope and overly economic in its focus".

"This is essential for the effective implementation of government's mandate, as well as to coordinate and forge a common understanding across all government departments, entities and institutions that engage in international relations and cooperation. We must therefore continue a wider dialogue on our national interest," she said on Tuesday.

If the country is to find its own voice in international affairs, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the opportunities offered by "ubuntu diplomacy" should be seized.

"The philosophy of ubuntu is the recognition of our interconnectedness and interdependence and it shapes our unique approach to international relations."

She said the philosophy of ubuntu had played a major role in the forging of a South African national consciousness in the process of democratic transformation and nation-building.

As the country continues to examine national interest, the Minister said the nation should not lose sight of how South Africa could use and leverage "soft power" in international relations.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the strategic assessment of the country's current and future diplomatic footprint across the world was an ongoing exercise.

She described the NDP as a living document with bold and far-reaching objectives, encompassing all the elements necessary to improve the lives of all people.

"As a living document, it is open to innovation and fresh perspectives that are intended to improve and sharpen it," she said. However, its baseline and fundamentals were non-negotiable and this non-negotiable was what was central to the NDP, which was "writing a new story for South Africa", the Minister said.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation's role in the implementation of the NDP is mentioned in Chapter Seven of the document, which, among other things, recommends the establishment of a high-level task team to investigate South Africa's foreign relations.

This includes studies on understanding, appreciating and explaining the notion of national interest and its role as a tool of diplomacy; understanding South Africa's place in the continent in the context of African geopolitics; clarifying South Africa's role in the world: and outlining South Africa's role in multilateral relations. – Source:
The two neighbouring countries committed to the strengthening of bilateral relations and multilateral cooperation.
President Jacob Zuma undertook a Working Visit to the Republic of Botswana on 20 November 2014.

The two delegations took advantage of the Second Session of the South Africa-Botswana Bi-National Commission (BNC) to review the state of cooperation between South Africa and Botswana. South Africa hosted the inaugural session of the BNC in November 2013.

South Africa and Botswana cooperate in a wide range of areas, including transport, trade and investment, health, education, environmental affairs, water, science and technology, agriculture, justice, immigration, energy, finance, culture, security, and sport, among others.
This initiative arises directly from the "Say No to Racism” in Football Campaign launched by international football governing body, FIFA, during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Berlin, Germany, and it also stems from FIFA's establishment in 2013 of the Anti-Racism Global Task Force.
President Jacob Zuma addressed the Global Watch Summit on Racism, which aims to eliminate racial intolerance and all other forms of discrimination in sport, on 21 November 2014 at Emperors Palace in Kempton Park.

The summit brought together all relevant sporting stakeholders from across the globe and was envisaged to develop a road map based on a basic set of principles to address racism and discrimination in sport. This road map will be a draft Global Charter to be finalised after the convening of national summits.
The newly launched Operation Phakisa 2 is expected to transform all public-sector clinics into Ideal Clinics, which will provide good quality care to all communities.
President Jacob Zuma recently launched Operation Phakisa 2: Scaling up Ideal Clinic Realisation and Maintenance Programme. Operation Phakisa is designed to fast-track the implementation of government’s priority programmes.

In July, the President launched the first phase of Operation Phakisa, which focuses on unlocking the economic potential of South Africa’s oceans.

Through Operation Phakisa 2, the public health sector seeks to improve the quality of care provided in 3 500 Primary Healthcare (PHC) facilities, which consist of government clinics and community health centres (CHCs). This work entails transforming the existing clinics and CHCs into Ideal Clinics, which will be proudly utilised by all South Africans, out of choice, due to the enhanced quality of services they will provide.

Operation Phakisa is an adaptation of the Big Fast Results Methodology that was first applied by the Malaysian Government in the delivery of its economic transformation programme. – Source:
Organised around the theme, “New Model of Partnership for the Strengthening of Sustainable Development and Integration”, the summit discussed, among other key issues, the matrix of the key projects, an implementation plan as well as a summit outcomes declaration.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa represented South Africa at the Second Africa-Turkey Summit of Heads of State and Government in Equatorial Guinea from 20 to 21 November 2014.

The summit was opened by the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Chairperson of the African Union (AU), President Mohamed Ould Abdel Azia of Mauritania, and the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

While Africa proposed a number of projects for consideration, the Africa-Turkey matrix projects are focused on the following areas:

  • peace and security looking into counter-terrorism and the training of national police forces
  • trade and investment focusing on capacity-building
  • culture, tourism and education
  • youth empowerment
  • technology transfer
  • rural economy and agriculture
  • infrastructure, energy, information and communications technology and transport.

Deputy President Ramaphosa also held several bilateral discussions on the margins of the summit.
The Bi-National Commission (BNC) consists of nine working committees that report to it and continue meeting between sessions under supervision of lead departments, among other things, implementing outcomes of earlier BNCs.
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, hosted and co-chaired together with the German Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Eighth Session of the South Africa-Germany BNC in Pretoria.

During the BNC, the ministers reflected on developments in Africa, Europe and the Middle East, where South Africa and Germany have common interests.

Speaking at the opening of the BNC, Minister Nkana-Mashabane said 2014 was a special year for both South Africa and Germany in that South Africa was celebrating 20 years of the fall of apartheid and Germany was celebrating 25 years of the fall of the Berlin Wall which, similar to South Africa, had created huge divisions in our societies.

“I am pleased to note that both our nations’ quests for unity have been realised, which is indeed a cause for celebration. The German Embassy’s 20/25 initiative and your support for the South African Embassy in Berlin’s own celebrations have reflected splendidly on the special relationship between our two nations and people.”
With an infrastructure funding gap of US$93 billion per annum, the establishment of a Global Infrastructure Hub (GIH) by the G20 countries may come as a boon for African countries.
The GIH, launched during the recent G20 Leaders’ Summit in Brisbane, Australia, will complement “ongoing efforts to reduce barriers to infrastructure development in most G20 countries”.

Speaking to journalists in Pretoria, South African Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, said the GIH would be open to all member countries as well as to non-G20 members. “It is intended to also attract private-sector financing, to complement efforts by the public sector. Further details on the operations of the hub will be finalised soon, and it will be ready to operate in the early parts of 2015,” he said.

The GIH initiative will complement a number of other initiatives in which South Africa is involved. These include the Infrastructure Consortium for Africa (ICA), a platform for brokering more financing for infrastructure projects and programmes in Africa, which was launched at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in 2005.

South Africa hosted the 10th annual meeting of the ICA in Cape Town from 25 to 27 November 2014 under the theme “Effective Project Preparation for Africa’s Infrastructure Development”. Membership of the ICA comprises the G8 countries, the World Bank Group, the African Development Bank Group, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, South Africa and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. – Source:
“Our vision is to ensure socio-economic transformation and growth of the biodiversity economy, while ensuring the entrance of the landholders and previously disadvantaged communities into the mainstream economy to restore their pride and dignity.”
The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Thomson, has recommitted South Africa to the development of the ocean and wildlife economies in South Africa.

The Deputy Minister delivered South Africa’s pledge to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Sixth World Parks Congress that took place from 12 to 19 November 2014 at the Sydney Olympic Park where heads of state, government officials, NGOs and members of civil society gathered to discuss the vital role of protected areas in conserving nature while contributing to socio-economic development.

The more than 6 000 delegates from 170 countries also discussed the value of protected areas in climate change resilience and conservation of iconic species.

“Our government’s commitment in terms of Vision 2024 is to create at least 60 000 new sustainable jobs in the wildlife industry, ensure that two million hectares of new conservation land is acquired and restored and that more than a million poverty-stricken people are supported.”

The Deputy Minister further promised: “South Africa, through the Presidential Lead Project, called Operation Phakisa promises to triple our ocean protection over the next 10 years through the creation of a network of marine protected areas within our Exclusive Economic Zone. This will indeed unlock the economic potential of our oceans while increasing our ability to cope with, and adapt to, the impacts of climate change as a developing continent”.
The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, participated in a stakeholder engagement in the Fezile Dabi District Municipality, Sasolburg, recently.

The stakeholder engagement took place within the context of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s outreach programme to create a platform of engagements on the country’s foreign policy objectives with local governments, academics, business community, media and civil society.
The International Cultural Evening featured performances by dancers and musicians from Asia, Africa, India, the Middle East, Russia, the Caribbean and Latin America before more than 300 people, including diplomats from around the world.
South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool received a top Club award on 19 November at an event that highlighted President Myron Belkind’s effort to make the organisation a hub of international activity.

Belkind took over as the Club’s leader in January, promising to pursue an international theme in programming during his tenure.

“Tonight, the National Press Club’s reputation is being expanded from a place where news happens to where culture happens,” said Belkind, who worked for four decades as an Associated Press reporter and bureau chief in Kuala Lumpur, New Delhi, London and Tokyo before returning to the United States of America(USA) in 2004.

Ambassador Rasool was given the NPC President's Award in recognition of the close relationship he forged between the Club and South Africa over his more than four years in Washington as the country’s ambassador. Rasool will complete his ambassador assignment in December.

He was instrumental in supporting the South Africa Night at the Club in 2012 that celebrated the life and legacy of former President Nelson Mandela, while the historic leader was still alive. He also ensured that current President Jacob Zuma appeared at the Club in August during his trip to Washington for the US-Africa Leaders Summit. Zuma’s speech occurred 20 years after Mandela himself visited the Club.

The Club is a bridge between cultures in a world capital, Ambassador Rasool said.

“I think that what this National Press Club is busy with is to connect people, to unite us, to speak to us in the language that is beyond the ordinary language that divides, that polarises, that creates all kinds of opposites within us,” Ambassador Rasool said.

He said his goal as ambassador was to bring to Washington the kind of generous and constructive spirit that Mandela embodied as he led his country’s journey from apartheid to freedom, democracy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

Mandela continues to be a role model for “soft power” in a world riven by conflict and extremism.

“I invite you to see him as a template for the future,” Rasool said. “We need a Nelson Mandela now more than ever before.”
Regional integration to create larger markets for accelerated and sustainable growth in Africa is a decisive step to overcome the colonial heritage of small fragmented African markets.
At its last meeting, Cabinet was updated on the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa-East African Community-Southern African Development Community (COMESA-EAC-SADC) Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) and also approved South Africa’s position on the TFTA.

The Tripartite initiative is a key African-led project aimed at promoting economies of scale, enabling competitiveness, diversification, fostering regional value-chains, intra-regional trade and investment, and cross-border infrastructure.

South Africa negotiates as part of the Southern African Customs Union that negotiates as one entity. The Tripartite countries have a combined gross domestic product of US$1,2 trillion and a combined population of approximately 626 million people, representing just over half the total African population and economy.
Over one million voters, or just about half of the nation's 2,3 million people, due to vote on 28 November.
In a first for Africa, Namibians cast their ballots electronically in the presidential and legislative polls on 28 November.

"I think it's a big achievement for Namibia and the African continent at large," Nontemba Tjipueja, chair of the Electoral Commission of Namibia told AFP. She said the voting machines, imported from India, would help improve accuracy, speed up counting, eliminate human interference and cut down on spoiled ballots.

"Results will come through the same day just after the closing of the polls," she said, adding that final results would be announced within 24 hours. In previous elections, results took up to five days to be released.

"There will not be spoiled or rejected votes this time around. Every vote will count," she said.

During the last vote in 2009, the electoral commission counted 12 000 spoiled ballots – equivalent to one seat in the national assembly. "It will be different this time around," she said. – Source: AFP
The Jasper plant, near Kimberly, is the largest on the continent and can produce 180 000 megawatt-hours of energy a year for South African residents, enough to power up 80 000 homes.
The new 96 megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar power project in South Africa's Northern Cape is now online and will help the country meet its critical electricity needs. The project was completed two months ahead of schedule and is fully operational, SolarReserve, the developer, announced on 11 November.

Jasper is located in a solar park near Kimberly that also includes the 75 MW Lesedi solar power project, which came online in May.

Also on the cards is the even-bigger 100 MW Redstone concentrated solar thermal power tower.

As part of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, a percentage of total project revenues from the Jasper project will be set aside for Enterprise Development and Socio-Economic Development for the benefit of the local communities.

"In addition to helping South Africa meet its critical electricity needs, the Jasper Project will bring long-lasting economic benefits to the region," said SolarReserve's CEO Kevin Smith. – Source: www.southafrica
The Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer (TOF-SIMS) is useful to researchers in the fields of pollution treatment, green chemistry, forensic sciences, biotechnology, energy and sustainable development.
State-of-the-art nanotechnology research equipment worth R17 million – the first such equipment in South Africa – was unveiled at Rhodes University recently by the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor.

The equipment is used by various departments at Rhodes University, as well as several other universities, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and Mintek. It also serves countries as far afield as Kuwait, Turkey and China.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, the Minister said the TOF-SIMS would make it much easier for South African researchers to quantify nanostructured material. Previously, they had to rely on overseas collaborators for such studies.

"The availability of the TOF-SIMS in the country will enhance the quality of research and training. The equipment will assist in advancing requirements to address the national skills shortage in many key areas of research," said the Minister.
South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria are moving toward digital evolution, according to the MasterCard Digital Index.
South Africa's digital economy is the most developed in Africa and one of the fastest-growing in the world, according to an index released recently.

Developed by the company and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, it tracks a country's movement toward digital evolution, gauges progress and assesses problems.

South Africa ranks 33 out of the 50 countries measured in digital readiness, defined by the markets' ability to support and encourage digital commerce and payments.

In Africa, the country ranks ahead of Egypt (48), Kenya (49), and Nigeria (50) and has also emerged as the fourth-fastest growing digital economy behind China, Malaysia, and Thailand. – Source: SAPA
The campaign is an initiative of the departments of arts and culture and sport and recreation.
About 25 000 people participated in the Unite4Mandela Sports and Cultural Day activities on 22 November 2014 in Pretoria. The mega event included 67 artists and comedians who entertained and united the nation in remembrance of the late former President Nelson Mandela.

They were joined on the day by a host of #Unite4Mandela ambassadors, including a number of Comrades winners like the legendary Bruce Fordyce, Ironman and 1991 Comrades winner Nick Bester, 2012 winner Ludwick Mamabolo and this year’s champion Bongmusa Mthembu.

There were dozens of other well-known sports stars from all codes, TV personalities, politicians, comedians and musicians, competing alongside their fellow South Africans for this worthy cause.

Speaking about the arts and culture programme, Arts and Culture Minister, Nathi Mthethwa, said: “The Department of Arts and Culture has been delegated with the special responsibility to lead and coordinate programmes on nation-building and social cohesion.

“We believe this event contributes to the significant initiative to uphold the legacy and promote the values of the late former President and international icon, Tat’ uNelson Mandela. As Arts and Culture, we are privileged to have a leadership role and appreciate our partnership with Sports and Recreation,” he said. – Source:
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