Issue 310 | 08 February 2018
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South Africa hosted the first meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous-Sherpas in Cape Town from 4 to 6 February.
The BRICS forum constitutes one of the cornerstones of South Africa’s foreign policy, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said on Monday, 5 February.

“Through our engagement in BRICS, we have worked not only to generate ideas, projects and programmes that are innovative and responsive to the realities that our countries and citizens face – we have equally focused our efforts on the practical implementation of our ambitions.

“We have done so in a way that has yielded tangible results,” said DIRCO Director-General Kgabo Mahoai.

DG Mahoai was speaking at the opening of the BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas, held in Cape Town from 4 to 6 February.

The main pillar of the country’s foreign policy was Africa, DG Mahoai said, stressing that South Africa had sought to carry the African Agenda into the BRICS engagements.

“We intend to further engender a meaningful and productive interaction between BRICS and our African partners, while attempting to contribute to the BRICS institution-building agenda, through the two proposals we have put forward, namely the establishment of a working group on peacekeeping and the virtual vaccine research platform,” said DG Mahoai.

The meeting, which brought together representatives from the five emerging economies, was the first on the calendar under the auspices of South Africa’s Chairship, which it assumed in January.

The meeting discussed the working arrangements for BRICS.

South Africa is scheduled to host the 10th BRICS Summit from 25 – 27 July at the Sandton Convention Centre, which will see the country building on the BRICS programme of development and prosperity for partner countries.

DG Mahoai said the meeting would discuss proposed new areas of cooperation, such as the establishment of a working group on peacekeeping, and a platform for collaboration with the BRICS vaccine innovation and development partners.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on Tuesday, 6 February 2018, delivered the closing remarks.

In her closing remarks, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane told the first meeting of BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas that the priorities identified by South Africa would help guide BRICS as it entered its second decade of existence.

“We believe that the identified priorities will lead to shared prosperity and inclusive growth and we are confident that your deliberations have charted a path towards the realisation of the BRICS developmental agenda in the second decade of BRICS cooperation”.

The hosting of the 10th BRICS Summit coincides with the centenary celebrations of democratic South Africa’s first President and international icon, Tata Nelson Mandela. President Mandela was a fierce supporter of the developmental agenda of the South, and it is significant that BRICS leaders will meet in South Africa in 2018. All the BRICS members individually and through other international forums such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the G77+China, played a major role in supporting the struggle for freedom in South Africa.
The Minister announced the launch of the official BRICS Summit website, This digital portal will be the first point of contact for the latest information on the summit for both domestic and international users. This will include, among others, information about BRICS, the member countries, the host country and province, logistics and side events.

South Africa became a member of the powerful bloc, consisting of Brazil, Russia, India and China, in 2011. As the only African country in the bloc, South Africa also represents the voice of the continent. South Africa hosted the Summit for the first time in 2013.

The 2018 Summit will be an important milestone for BRICS cooperation, as it represents a decade of BRICS cooperation at the highest diplomatic level. The summit will culminate in the adoption of the "Johannesburg Declaration", which will include BRICS’ commitments for the year ahead.

Meetings which are scheduled to precede the Johannesburg Summit include the Second BRICS Sherpa Meeting and a meeting of the BRICS Special Envoys for Middle East and North Africa, both in April 2018; the BRICS Think Tank Council Meeting in May 2018; and the meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations in June 2018. 

Latest information on #BRICS2018 can be accessed via the following media:
South Africa’s local produce is on show at the Fruit Logistical Trade Fair in Germany.
Having received financial support from the Department of Trade and Industry (dti), 25 local companies are showcasing their products and services at the fair in Berlin.

The Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davies, said the fair – from 7 to 9 February – would expose South African companies to available trade and investment opportunities in Germany. It will also be an excellent platform to promote existing and potential exporters to new customers from the different sectors from around the world.

”South Africa’s participation in the trade fair will have a positive impact in terms of increasing export sales from the South African fresh produce, particularly the fresh fruit sector. This is in alignment with the country’s industrialisation programme and the Integrated National Export Strategy,” said the Minister.

The companies received financial support through the dti’s Export Marketing and Investment Assistance Scheme. The objective of the scheme is to develop export markets for South African products and services and to recruit new foreign direct investment into the country.

The trade fair covers every sector of the international fruit and vegetable supply chain from production, distribution and marketing, through to the point of sale, including global players as well as small and medium-sized suppliers from all around the world.

Total exports attained by South African exhibitors who participated in the fair last year, amounted to over R1,5 billion.

Germany is South Africa’s major trading and investment partner within the European Union (EU).

In 2016, the country ranked as South Africa’s second-largest global export partner out of 224 countries and South Afrca’s largest export market in the EU.

– Source:
President Jacob Zuma has congratulated the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank (SARB), Lesetja Kganyago, for winning the Central Banking Governor of the Year 2018 Award.
The award celebrates the officials that have best managed to stimulate growth and stabilise their economy.

In announcing the award recently, Central Banking said: “Kganyago has defended and enhanced the SARB’s reputation as an independent and well-governed institution against all threats – despite a turbulent political and economic backdrop”.

“We congratulate Governor Kganyago for this award. This international recognition is one of many acknowledgements affirming the good work done by the institution,” said President Zuma.

Kganyago for his part said the award was an honour. However, he said the award didn’t belong to him, but to his colleagues at the SARB and South Africans who had entrusted the SARB with the primary task of defending them against inflation.

“South Africans have also deemed it proper that their defender should be free from interference, or influence, by politicians or business interests.

“It is against this background that we shall continue to protect the independence of the SARB and we shall do so by drawing strength from fellow South Africans whose long-term interest informs our actions,” said Kganyago.

Kganyago was also recently appointed as the new Chairperson of the International Monetary Fund’s International Monetary and Financial Committee.

– Source:
South Africa shares the top spot in the recently released Open Budget Index (OBI) Survey.
The OBI Survey assesses the availability of eight key budget documents in each of the 115 countries evaluated, and considers the comprehensiveness of data in these documents.

“South Africa’s efforts to deepen transparency in budget processes have been recognised internationally. In the 2017 OBI Survey, out of 115 countries, South Africa has been ranked first – a position shared with New Zealand,” said National Treasury on Wednesday, 30 January.

The survey also examines the extent of effective oversight provided by legislatures, the independent fiscal institutions and the supreme audit institutions, and the opportunities available to the public to participate in national budget processes.

In the 2017 OBI, South Africa achieved a score of 89 out of 100 in terms of transparency, an improvement from a score of 86 achieved in 2015.

The Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, applauded this achievement. He urged South Africans to be proud of this achievement, which entrenched its reputation as a global leader.

“This is evidenced by the expansive budget information that is published for public analysis and scrutiny,” he said.

South Africa has consistently been rated among the top three since it held the first position in the 2010 OBI. The rating of second in 2012 and third in 2015 coincided with a change in the OBI Survey scoring, which placed increased emphasis on budget participation.

– Source:
From 29 January to 2 February, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) hosted a global seminar on strengthening the fight against tax evasion.
The seminar was hosted jointly with the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes and the African Tax Administration Forum. It brought together global tax experts, predominantly from developing countries, to share insights and lessons on issues of beneficial ownership and exchange of information on tax matters. The seminar was part of a global effort to ensure that participating tax authorities had the tools needed to adequately tackle tax evasion.

Throughout the world, tax authorities are facing immense challenges to collect national revenues and ensuring that everyone pays their rightful taxes in the prevailing global economic climate. In such a globalised world, it has become increasingly important for tax authorities to collaborate by sharing information.

Tax evasion negatively impacts on the development agenda and fiscal space of virtually every country in the world, and the absence of crucial information about who ultimately owns and controls companies and other legal entities is a factor that enables tax evasion and money laundering, among others. In specific cases, this lack of information about ownership and control has enabled the illicit flow of funds from all countries, but particularly from the developing world.

South Africa has committed itself to the automatic exchange of tax information with revenue authorities of over 50 jurisdictions under the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Common Reporting Standard.

The Department of Home Affairs has extended the closing date for payments and submission of supporting documents and biometrics for the new Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) until 15 February 2018.

The cut-off date was initially 30 November 2017 and was extended to 31 January 2018 in the hope that all those who had applied online would have made the necessary payment and provided the required supporting documents and biometrics.

By 29 January 2018, a total of 176 605 applicants had completed the entire process, which includes honouring their appointments with VFS and submitting supporting documents and biometrics.

The extension to 15 February 2018 is only for submitting biometrics (fingerprints) and supporting documents at the 10 VFS offices listed below as well as for those who have submitted online applications by 30 November 2017 but did not pay the prescribed fee. New applications will not be accepted. By the end of September 2018, the department plans to have completed the whole project, including finalising adjudications and issuing all new permits.

Online applications for the new ZEP opened on 15 September 2017 for valid Zimbabwe Special Permit (ZSP) holders and closed on 30 November 2017. From 1 October 2017, applicants were allocated appointments so they could provide the required fingerprints and supporting documents at VFS offices. By the closing date of online applications, 30 November 2017, a total of 196 006 applications were received. No applications were accepted after the closing date.

The ZSP, which started in 2014 with 197 951 permits issued, expired on 31 December 2017. ZEP permit holders will be allowed to work, study or conduct business in South Africa. The ZEP permits are valid for a maximum period of four years, effective from 1 January 2018 and expiring on 31 December 2021, notwithstanding the date of issue. Exemption permits like the ZEP permits are not permanent or long-term. They only serve a specific purpose with a view ultimately to have people returning to their countries of origin, to build their lives anew.

Location/offices for payment and submission of ZEP supporting documents and biometrics:
  • Durban Musgrave Towers: Musgrave Shopping Mall, 5th Floor Musgrave
  • Cape Town: 2 Long Street, 7th Floor
  • Port Elizabeth: Office 7c, 1st Floor Moffet and Main, Corner 17th Ave & Main Road, Walmer
  • Johannesburg: Mount Royal Building Unit D, 657 James Crescent, Halfway House
  • Rustenberg: Cnr of Boom And Fatima Bayet streets
  • Kimberley: Unit 3 Building 2, Agri Office Park, N12 Kimberley
  • Polokwane: Thornhill Shopping Centre, Veldspaat and Munnik Avenue Bendor Park
  • Nelspruit: Office 5 F, Nedbank Building, 30 Brown Street
  • Bloemfontein: Suite 4, The Park, 14 Reid Street Westdene
  • George: Unit 5 Eagle View, Progress Street.
South Africa joined the global community in celebration of the annual World Wetlands Day on Friday, 2 February 2018, under the theme: “Wetlands for Sustainable Urban Future”.
World Wetlands Day is an annual event that commemorates the signing of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971 in the Iranian City of Ramsar. The annual celebration is aimed at, among others, raising awareness of the benefits and importance of wetlands as a natural resource.

The Deputy Minister of Environmental Affairs, Barbara Thomson, has encouraged South Africans to get involved in protection and conservation of wetlands in the country. “Wetlands are an important part of the ecosystem, as they provide a number of benefits, not only to the natural environment, but also to the people’s livelihoods. Such benefits include: reducing flooding, replenishing drinking water, filtering waste and providing urban green spaces. These benefits become more crucial as the number of people living in cities continues to increase,” says Deputy Minister Thomson.

In urban areas, wetlands act as crucial “green lungs” for the cities by improving water quality and serving as reservoirs, containing run-offs from roads, drains, roofs and storm water drains. It is recognised that wetlands in urban areas are also important for human-related value, particularly landscape amenity and recreational purposes, among others. However, for many years, urban wetlands have been regarded as wastelands, with their vital importance and functions not being fully understood.

Furthermore, the theme for 2018 is also strategically in line with the adopted Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6.3, which emphasises the need to “improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimising release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”, which are the most sources of pollution that threaten the sustainability of urban wetlands.

Given the strategic importance of wetlands, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) runs the Working for Wetlands Programme, which is implemented through the Government’s Expanded Public Works Programme methodology. The programme focuses on rehabilitation, restoration, maintenance and protection interventions to ensure healthy wetlands.

Through the DEA’s investment, the Working for Wetlands Programme has improved and secured the health of more than 80 000 hectares of wetland area, while providing 17 575 employment opportunities. Working for Wetlands has also provided 180 753 days of training in both vocational and life skills. Teams that form part of the programme are made up of a minimum of 60% women, 20% youth and 2% people with disabilities.
South African Airways (SAA) has announced that from 20 April 2018 it will operate only a single daily flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow.
This replaces the double daily service currently operating on the route.

While the airline is adjusting frequencies on the route to a single daily service, it will also introduce the new A330-300 on the London route from March 2018.

SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana, says the airline "decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline”.

"Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible."

“We have also decided to upgrade the service operating between Johannesburg and London Heathrow to the new Airbus A330-300 with effect from Sunday, 25 March 2018. This will afford customers a significantly improved on-board Business and Economy product, with state-of-the-art technology, increased comfort and capacity,” he adds.

At the end of August last year, SAA issued a statement saying the airline was set to introduce network changes on the domestic and regional segments of its route network.

This included a takeover from Mango of some of the struggling airline's domestic routes, as well as cutting flights on its Port Elizabeth and East London routes and cancelling flights on six of its regional destinations due to operational reasons, namely: Brazzaville via Pointe Noire in the Congo; Douala in Cameroon via Libreville in Gabon; Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo; Entebbe in Uganda; Luanda in Angola; and Cotonou in Benin via Libreville in Gabon.

However, the airline has not only been cutting or cancelling flight routes as it also increased its flight capacity to Mauritius in January 2018.

– Source:
With a history dating back over three centuries, South Africa's world-renowned wine industry has long been the domain of generations of just a few elite white families. But the emergence of a crop of new black players such as winemaker and owner of Aslina Wines, Ntsiki Biyela, is changing the makeup of the industry that is among the world's top 10 wine producers.
Biyela, 39, shot to fame in 2004 as South Africa's first black female winemaker, shattering stereotypes about black people's affinity for wine, and she now exports around the world.

After 13 years on the wine scene, Biyela believes that the capital-intensive industry is "big enough" for new entrants, but admits it is "not easy to crack".

"Apart from the financial aspect of it, the winemaking process demands dedication, from dealing with the vine-growers, buyers and the consumers," she said.

"You have to understand the whole value chain."

Her export-focused company, Aslina Wines, established three years ago, produces sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, chardonnay and a bordeaux blend sourced from around Stellenbosch, South Africa's mountain-rimmed wine region outside Cape Town.

"I produce the wine myself and oversee the process from the beginning to end," she told AFP.

In a wine-bottling facility in Stellenbosch, hundreds of Aslina wines snake through a conveyor belt, ready to be packaged and shipped to destinations as various as the United States, Germany, Ghana and Taiwan.

"I started my wine brand as a way of giving back to my community through mentorship in the wine industry," she said.

The wine is not yet available locally in South Africa, but plans are afoot to take it to many more global markets.

Biyela entered the industry after studying viticulture studies at Stellenbosch University, and worked as a resident winemaker at Stellekaya Winery, a family-owned producer.

Her cabernet sauvignon earned her South Africa's Woman Winemaker of the Year Award in 2009, affirming her place among the country's top vintners in a sector still dominated by white men.

But the accolade is not something that Biyela likes to trade on, stressing instead the need to continuously improve in a notoriously picky industry that relies on reputation and quality.

"When you get outside the country it's not about you, it is about the South African brand. You compete with other big winemaking countries," she added.

Aslina, named after Biyela's late grandmother, has grown from producing 2 400 bottles of wine three years ago to 12 000 units this year.
She wants to increase output to 18 000 bottles in 2018.

Growing up in Mahlabathini, a far-flung rural village north of the eastern KwaZulu-Natal, Biyela never dreamt of being a winemaker, and only tasted it for the first time at the age of 20.

"I really did not like the taste, I thought it was horrible," she said with an embarrassed grin.

As a teenager, she was set on studying chemical engineering, but that dream was dashed by lack of funds.

Her fortunes changed when she was awarded a scholarship to study Oenology and Viticulture at Stellenbosch University in 1999, plucking her out of the village to the winemaking heartland, over 1 600 kilometres  away from home.

Before the birth of Aslina, Biyela in 2012 partnered with American winemaker Helen Keplinger from Napa Valley, California.

– Source:
The Red Bull 3Style World Finals VIII is taking place in Krakow, Poland, from 5 to 11 February 2018 and Red Bull 3Style national final champion, Ryan the DJ, is representing South Africa at the gathering.
It is a week-long series of events and parties that will take over the city with the best in DJ culture from around the world, all culminating in the annual grand finale, which this time will be hosted in the Juliusz Slowacki Theatre.

24 DJs from across the globe all representing their respective nations compete against each other at what has become known as the Olympics of DJing.

The world finalists will be judged on their originality, skills, music selection and crowd response by a panel of diverse judges from across the DJ community namely:  DJ Jazzy Jeff, Skratch Bastid, Dj Craze, Nina Las Vegas and Dj Nu-Mark.

– Source:
A South African woman, Belinda Davids, has been bringing the house down around the world.
In December, Belinda’s incredible rendition of Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You earned her a standing ovation at the prestigious Showtime At The Apollo in New York. It’s the very same stage where Whitney herself recorded Greatest Love of All.

Belinda started earning money performing in clubs at the age of 40. She was signed to a few record labels but, she says, it “didn’t quite work out”. It was a setback for her … but because of her passion for singing and music, she just couldn’t give up.

Belinda beat out almost 15 000 other hopefuls to win the lead role in a tribute show by Showtime Australia, called The Greatest Love of All: The Whitney Houston Show. The show is currently in Australia and will be in the United Kingdom in April and South Africa in June!

According to the show’s website, it was an audience in Hong Kong that prompted the ultimate realisation of Belinda’s affinity with Houston – when they were “so astounded by her performance that they demanded she sing acapella to prove she wasn’t lip-syncing to a Houston track”.

In September 2017, Belinda won the BBC’s Even Better than the Real Thing TV music special.

Belinda acknowledges there are lots of sacrifices to her career, and her two boys (five and 21) come first. “They are my driving force,” says the single mom. She describes herself as a “world traveller and all-round fierce South African woman”.

– Source:
The South African flag was flying high at the world premiere of “Black Panther”.
On Monday night, 29 January, John Kani, Atandwa Kani and Connie Chiume joined the rest of the star-studded cast on the red carpet in Los Angeles.

John reprises his role as King T'Chaka, Atandwa will play the younger version of him and Chiume will play a mining elder.

In a red carpet interview with Variety the theatre legend told the publication how Black Panther represented Africans in a different light.

“I knew we would introduce a different African. The African that is a global figure, the African that cares and contributes to world peace."

The incredible collection of songs for the comic book movie features local artists Babes Wodumo, Sjava, Yugen Blakrok and Saudi.

– Source:
The South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) has named the South African team to represent the country at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia between 4 and 15 April.
Team South Africa athletes will do battle across 16 codes, including para-sports athletics, lawn bowls, swimming, table tennis and powerlifting.

Sporting codes with South African participation are the following: athletics, badminton, bowls, boxing, cycling (mountain bike, road, track), gymnastics, hockey, netball, rugby sevens, shooting, table tennis, triathlon, weightlifting and wrestling.

The men’s sevens rugby team will only be announced at the end of February.

Other team sports will see women’s rugby sevens, men’s and women’s hockey sides and the women’s netballers in action while there are also team disciplines in track cycling and triathlon.

"As SASCOC, we’re very excited to deliver this team for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games," SASCOC president Gideon Sam said via a press statement.

"Many hours of planning have gone into preparing this team.

“Two years out from the Tokyo Olympics, these Games are a great platform to see where our sportsmen and women, both established and developing, are on the world stage.

‘"You will see that it’s a great blend of experience and raw talent and I’m confident we’ll once again be right up there with the cream of Commonwealth countries and looking to improve on our seventh place on the medals table in Glasgow four years ago.

‘"I urge every athlete to go to Australia and be the very best athlete they can be and fly the rainbow nation’s flag high.”

Aquatics is the biggest code in terms of numbers with 28 (23 swimmers, three divers and two para-swimmers), while athletics and cycling both feature 18.

Two codes, para-table tennis and para-powerlifting, both have just one competitor.

Aquatics boasts the two youngest members of the team, in the form of Luan Grobbelaar and Dune Coetzee, both aged 15, while lawn bowler Princess Schreuder, at 67, is the oldest competitor in the team.

The team includes Rio Olympics gold medallist track athlete, Caster Semenya, silver medallist swimmers Cameron van der Burgh and Chad le Clos, field athletes Luvo Manyonga and Sunette Viljoen and bronze medallists Henri Schoeman (triathlon) and the men’s rugby sevens side.

Para-sport also features Rio Paralympics double gold medallist Charl du Toit and gold medallists, Hilton Langenhoven, Reinhardt Hamman and Dyan Buis.

– Source:
Olympic champions Fiji delivered their best performance in nearly two years as they beat the Blitzboks 24-17 in the final of the Hamilton leg of the World Sevens Series on Sunday, 4 February.
Victory meant that Fiji were the fourth different winners after four tournaments this season.

South Africa won in Dubai‚ New Zealand (NZ) in Cape Town and Australia in Sydney.

The Blitzboks though have been the most consistent side with three final appearances and after claiming another 19 log points for their runners-up finish in Hamilton‚ head the standings with 77 points.

They went into the weekend four points clear of NZ‚ but the Kiwis could only finish fourth on home soil and have slipped four points further behind South Africa with 69 points.

Fiji are up to third with 62 points and Australia fourth on 60.

With the halfway mark of the campaign approaching in Las Vegas in four weeks’ time‚ the overall 2017/18 champion‚ is almost certainly going to come from the top four.

The Blitzboks cruised past Scotland by 22-0 in the quarters and gained revenge on Australia after losing the previous week’s final in Sydney against the Wallabies‚ winning 24-5 to set up the clash with Fiji.

Injuries blighted the Blitzboks’ weekend as they lost Dylan Sage to concussion on day one‚ while Rosko Specman and Justin Geduld were injured before the final.

But in the final‚ despite running into a 19-5 lead thanks to first half tries from Kwagga Smith‚ Kyle Brown and Branco du Preez‚ Fiji came storming back with some brilliantly constructed scores.

Springbok Sevens coach‚ Neil Powell‚ was disappointed in the result of the final‚ but overall it was a good trip for the team and he is proud of their effort.

“That is sevens for you. We had an opportunity to score and did not‚ they countered and scored and then got the momentum.

"One or two moments like that and the game is gone‚” the coach explained.

“It was a very good and gutsy performance by the team. We fought until the last minute‚ I cannot ask for more."

The World Series standings:

  1. South Africa, 77
  2. New Zealand, 69
  3. Fiji, 62
  4. Australia, 60
  5. Argentina, 48
– Source:
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Editor: Delien Burger
Picture Editor: Yolande Snyman
Design and layout: René Marneweck


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