Issue 415 | 20 February 2020
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President Cyril Ramaphosa says fixing the fundamentals and deepening the reforms government has already made, should put the country on course to achieve inclusive growth.
The President said this when he delivered his State of the Nation Address during a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday evening, 13 February 2020.

He said this as the country’s economy remained constrained due to global pressures and domestic issues such as load shedding and high levels of unemployment.

“This State of the Nation Address is therefore about inclusive growth.

“It is about the critical actions we take this year to build a capable state and place our economy on the path to recovery. This year, we fix the fundamentals. We pursue critical areas of growth,” he said.

“As we fix the fundamentals, as we deepen the reforms we have made, we pursue critical areas of inclusive growth,” he said.

Social compacting to answer the country’s many challenges

The President said over the course of the last two years – since he first stood in the House to deliver a State of the Nation Address – government had worked to forge compacts among South Africans to answer the country’s many challenges.

Through the Jobs Summit, The Presidency brought labour, business, government and communities together to find solutions to the unemployment crisis.

The Presidency continues to meet stakeholders at the beginning of every month to remove blockages and drive interventions that will save and create jobs.

“We have brought business, labour and government together to craft master plans for those industries that have the greatest potential for growth.

“We have come together as different spheres of government, as different state entities, as business associations and community groups under a new district development model that is fundamentally changing our approach to local development.

“We have been building social compacts because it is through partnership and cooperation that we progress,” he said.
Removing impediments for investment

The President said government had been deliberate in rebuilding institutions and removing impediments to investment.

“We have acted decisively against state capture and fought back against corruption.

“We have steadily improved the reach of education, improved the quality of healthcare and tended to the basic needs of the poor,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said, however, that this had not been enough to free the economy from the grim inheritance of the past.
It has not been enough to spare the country from the debilitating effects of load shedding, nor from an unstable and subdued global economy.

The President said it called for the challenges to be confronted head-on. “Because we choose to confront our challenges, our immediate, vital and overarching task is to place our economy on a path of inclusive growth,” he said.

Shovel-ready projects to expand private investment

The President said the Infrastructure Fund implementation team had finalised the list of shovel-ready projects and had begun work to expand private investment into public infrastructure sectors with revenue streams.

These, he said, include areas such as student accommodation, social housing, independent water production, rail freight branch lines, embedded electricity generation, municipal bulk infrastructure and broadband roll-out.

“The team has a project pipeline with potential investments of over R700 billion over the next 10 years, including both government and non-government contributions.

“The cranes and yellow equipment that we have longed to see across the landscape of our country will once again soon be an everyday sight.”

He said the social housing programme to build rental housing for low-income families was at implementation stage, which could leverage as much as R9 billion of private investment in the construction of 37 000 rental apartments.

Tapping into the international market

South African businesswomen are set to benefit from a government platform that will assist in taking their ventures to global markets.

“We are introducing the SheTradesZA platform to assist women-owned businesses to participate in global value chains and markets,” President Ramaphosa said.

The President said over the next five years, the Industrial Development Corporation was targeting R10 billion of its own and partner funding for women-empowered businesses.

“The empowerment of women is critical to inclusive economic growth,” the President said.

In addition, government plans to designate 1 000 locally produced products that must be procured from small, medium, and micro enterprises in an effort to create a larger market for small businesses.

The President said the Procurement Bill would soon be presented to Parliament as part of an effort to empower black and emerging businesses and advance radical economic transformation.

“This year, we intensify our investment drive with the establishment of an integrated investment promotion and facilitation capability coordinated from The Presidency,” President Ramaphosa said.

Government will hold its third South Africa Investment Conference in November to review the implementation of previous commitments and to generate new investment into the economy.

“At the second South Africa Investment Conference last year, over 70 companies made investment commitments of R364 billion in industries as diverse as advanced manufacturing, agro-processing, infrastructure, mining, services, tourism and hospitality.

In the first two years of our ambitious investment drive, we have raised a total of R664 billion in investment commitments, which is more than half of our five-year target of R1.2 trillion,” he said.

The President said these investments were having a real impact.

“Already, projects with an investment value of R9 billion have been completed and 27 projects worth just over R250 billion are in implementation phase, with more coming on-stream this year,” he said.

The digital economy

Meanwhile, the President emphasised that the digital economy would increasingly become a driver of growth and a creator of employment.

“An important condition for the success of our digital economy is the availability of high-demand spectrum to expand broadband access and reliability,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa had undertaken to conclude the licensing of high-demand spectrum for industry via auction before the end of 2020.

"The licensing of high-demand spectrum is one of the critical components to facilitate deployment of digital infrastructure to ensure that all consumers and the business environment participate meaningfully in future Information and Communications Technology (ICT) opportunities towards the digital economy.

"The release of high-demand spectrum is an important step that gives effect to government’s policy objectives of ensuring broadband access for all, transformation of the ICT sector, reduction of costs to communicate (particularly data costs), promotion of competition in the ICT sector and stimulation of inclusive economic growth.

“Because of additional requirements, the licensing of the wireless open access network – or WOAN – is likely to be complete during the course of next year,” the President said.

He said the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution had made far-reaching recommendations that impact on nearly every aspect of the economy.

“The commission’s report provides us with the tools to ensure that we extract the greatest benefit of these revolutionary technological changes,” he said.

The commission was established to assist government in taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the digital industrial revolution.

– Source:
The African Continental Free Trade Area will level the playing field for African businesses, says President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will be an important step towards rebalancing global trade relations and levelling the playing field for African businesses. Through the AfCFTA, we want to reignite industrialisation, boost intra-African trade and benefit from the largest common market in the world,” said the President.

The President said this when he delivered the keynote address at the 2020 edition of the Ubuntu Awards, which were hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on 15 February 2020.

The continent’s new trading bloc, which is expected to come into operation in July 2020, enjoys the support of several African states and was adopted through an agreement.

The agreement will see member states removing tariffs from up to 90% of goods, and allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.

The President’s comments came as South Africa assumed the Chairship of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa earlier in the week.

Addressing ambassadors and captains of industry from various fields, the President said South Africa aimed to use the AU Chairship to promote integration, industrialisation, economic development, trade and investment.

“We will work to strengthen good governance in Africa. We will work to advance women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion, and intensify the continental struggle to end violence against women and children.”

“Through the AU Peace and Security Council, the AU Commission and the collective membership, we will focus our efforts on conflict resolution across the African continent,” he said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared a Special Official Funeral Category 2 in honour of Joseph Shabalala, the late founder of choral group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Shabalala passed away on 11 February 2020, following an extended illness at the age of 78 years.

The Special Official Funeral Category 2 entails ceremonial elements provided by the South African Police Service.

“President Ramaphosa has ordered that the National Flag be flown at half-mast at every flag station in the country until the evening of 22 February 2020. Regulations require that no other flags should be displayed when the National Flag is flown at half-mast,” said The Presidency.

The funeral will take place on Saturday, 22 February 2020.

Meanwhile, the President reiterated his condolences to the Shabalala family and members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo.

He conveyed his condolences to members of the arts and culture fraternities in South Africa as well as those abroad with whom the isicathamiya group had collaborated with for the better part of their six-decade career.

In 2008, this world-renowned and widely awarded choral group received the National Order of Ikhamanga for putting South African cultural life on the world map through contributing to the field of South African indigenous music.

– Source:
In his capacity as South Africa’s Special Envoy to South Sudan, Deputy President David Mabuza has lauded the decision by South Sudan President Salva Kiir to return the country to 10 states, plus three administrative areas.
Deputy President Mabuza lauded the decision as progressive and being in the best interest of peace and unity in South Sudan.

“This revolutionary decision by President Kiir sets the tone for the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity before or at the end of the current extended period, ending in a week’s time. This will ensure that the guns are silenced in South Sudan, as they move towards forming the transitional government.

“We further congratulate the people of South Sudan for the patience and resilience they have shown during this difficult period. Finally, we encourage all the parties to work together to build South Sudan towards her sustainable development and prosperity,” Deputy President Mabuza said.

The matter of states and their boundaries has been a matter of contention as one of the outstanding issues leading to the formation of the Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity.

The disagreement between the warring parties prompted the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to invite the Deputy President to facilitate a Consultative Meeting of the Parties to the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, seeking to bring the parties together and agree on the number of states during the pre-transitional period.

Deputy President Mabuza has recommitted to continue to support the process towards lasting peace and development in South Sudan.

He also called upon the special envoys to South Sudan, who have been working with him in facilitating the peace process, to continue their support to the Government and people of South Sudan.

– Source:
If you are looking for a 5-star hotel to book when you visit South Africa, these four chosen in Forbes Travel Guide Star Rating list may be your best bet. Cape Town and Johannesburg dominate the list.
Filip Boyen, CEO of Forbes Travel Guide, said it was their role at Forbes Travel Guide to establish their annual star ratings with independence and integrity, and champion those at the very top of their game.

“It’s a privilege for Forbes Travel Guide to honour such magnificent hotels, restaurants and spas from all corners of the globe. Each deserving recipient excels at enriching people’s lives through the power of exceptional service.”

Here are some SA hotels that made the 5-star cut.

Delaire Graff Estate, fondly known as the Jewel of the Cape Winelands, is located in Stellenbosch. The world-leading destination is famed for its wine, art and hospitality offerings.

The estate has six lodge offerings. Each lodge has a private sundeck with a heated plunge pool. Delaire also prides itself in fine dining and wine experiences. Their focus is to produce beautifully crafted food that reflects the best seasonal, ethically locally sourced ingredients.

Werner Wentzel, General Hospitality Manager of Delaire Graff Estate, said in a statement: "My team and I at Delaire Graff Lodges & Spa are immensely proud to be part of the luxury international Forbes Travel Guide family. Being awarded five stars in the inaugural year of South Africa’s inclusion makes for even more reason to celebrate."

While located in one of South Africa’s busiest cities, Four Seasons Hotel The Westcliff feels like a retreat. Located high up the Witswatersrand surrounded by lush greenery, the hotel is tastefully decorated with chic furniture and art.

The hotel prides itself on personalisation as each of its 250 embroidered accent bed pillows were hand-dyed and embroidered by local artisans.

One&Only Cape Town has built a reputation as being one of the city’s most mesmerising luxury hotels. The accommodation exudes sophistication, and the views of Table Mountain or Marina are bound to leave you spellbound.

The hotel also tempts with its dining and range of activities. Philippe Zuber, Kerzner International, Chief Operations Officer, said: “We are delighted to receive this global industry recognition for One&Only Resorts.

"One&Only is conceived as a hallmark of excellence, and we are proud to add Forbes Travel Guide Star-Ratings to our roster of awards to rank us among the best in the world."

Saxton Hotel, Villas and Spa, dubbed as being the "most exclusive private retreat” on its website, offers a sweeping feature staircase, chandeliers dangling from the ceiling, a piano and cigar lounge and a celebration of Africa through its decor.

Besides its spa facilities, the hotel has a vast number of dining experiences to cater for all types of travellers. In terms of suites, they offer luxury suites, presidential suites and the famous Nelson Mandela Platinum Suite.

– Source:
The Springboks have won the prestigious World Team of the Year Award at the 2020 Laureus Awards in Berlin with the academy stating that their "incredible Rugby World Cup triumph showed the unique power of sport to unite”.
The 2019 Rugby World Cup world champions were up against tough competition for the award, including Jurgen Klopp's Champions League-winning Liverpool side, the US women's football team who won the Women's World Cup, six-time Formula One world champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas, the first Canadian team to win the NBA Championship, the Toronto Raptors, and two-time FIBA World Cup winners, Spain's men's basketball team.

Another South African up for an award, former Paralympian swimmer Natalie du Toit, was nominated in the Laureus Sporting Moment 2000 – 2020, which was won by Sachin Tendulkar and the 2011 Indian Cricket World Cup winning team.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup winners South Africa won their second Laureus World Team of the Year Award. The memory of Siya Kolisi, South Africa’s historic first black Test rugby captain, lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy in Yokohama, was an iconic moment in sport and the audience in the Verti Halle in Berlin applauded the emotional moment when Kolisi led six of the team members on stage to receive the Laureus Statuette. The team’s victory united communities back in South Africa and was proof of sport’s ability to change the world.

– Source:
Ahead of Monday’s landmark 20th anniversary Laureus World Sports Awards in Berlin, South African rugby legend Bryan Habana has been inducted into the Laureus World Sports Academy.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest rugby players of all time, Habana was inspired to take up the sport when he saw Nelson Mandela and Francois Pienaar lifting the Rugby World Cup in 1995. Sitting in the stands at Ellis Park, he dared to dream and went on to become one of the most prolific try-scorers the game has ever seen.

He was the star of the 2007 Rugby World Cup, scoring eight tries to help his country become world champions, equalling Jonah Lomu’s single tournament record in the process. His efforts led to him being named 2007 IRB World Player of the Year. With 67 Test tries, Bryan is second in the all-time international try-scoring list. As well as becoming a World Champion, he has won the Tri-Nations, a British and Irish Lions Series and the European Champions Cup.

In 2009, Habana was announced as an Ambassador for Laureus Sport for Good and in the past decade, he has been a dedicated member of the Laureus family, taking time to visit programmes around the world, raising both awareness and funds to support the transformational work of these programmes. Bryan joins the 68 current members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Laureus Academy member Bryan Habana said: "Sport has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Whether being inspired by it, playing it or using it as a medium to give back. To be able to witness first hand both as a fan and as a player the power that sport has to bring about change, as big as I dreamt, I never in my wildest dreams imagined how much sport would impact my life.

“It is an incredible honour for me to become a Laureus Academy member, alongside sporting icons that are not only legends of the sporting world but have also brought so much joy to so many people across the globe, is something that I am extremely humbled by. The values which Laureus, its Academy and Ambassadors stand for, are values which I hold very dear to my heart. In my new role as an Academy member, I hope that I can continue making a difference, no matter how small, in children’s lives around the world.”

– Source:
John Dempster of Watering The Mind just finished the World's Toughest Row, the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge (TWAC).
John completed the 3,000 mile Atlantic crossing from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean in 63 days and 9 hours, 14 minutes.

The Proudly South African rower said it “feels good” to be back on land. He rowed in – wearing a Superman T-shirt – with a huge smile on his face which remained in place throughout the evening, as he was welcomed to Antigua by his waiting girlfriend, mom and dad.

John, who was the fourth solo rower to reach Antigua, said highlights included seeing an orca for three days, and watching a big albatross grab a fish out of the water.

He also loved all the sunrises and sunsets – over 60 of them each! He said it definitely took longer than he thought. (The first rowing team – not solo – to reach Antigua, arrived a month before on 13 January.)

Despite the long days and nights on the ocean alone, John said he can’t wait to do it again – next time with a friend who has promised to do it with him.

The Atlantic Challenge is known as the safest and most successful ocean rowing race on the planet. At least 30 teams set off from the Canary Islands.

The next race begins in December 2020

– Source:
“Thank you Mr President,

“Let me begin by thanking Special Envoy Geir Pedersen for his informative briefing on the political situation in Syria. I would also like to express South Africa’s full support for Special Envoy Pedersen and commend his efforts to unlock the current impasse.

“Mr President,

“On the reports of increased violence in northwest Syria

“While we recognise the right of the Syrian Arab Republic to restore its control over the whole of its territory, South Africa is concerned about the conflict in the northwest region of Syria, particular its impact on the humanitarian situation. We urge all parties to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Such a peaceful resolution requires a cessation of hostilities and a solution which upholds Syrian sovereignty and territorial integrity.

“In this regard, external support for armed groups must cease immediately, as we cannot allow external role-players to use this devastating conflict in Syria as a proxy for their own interests.

“On the deterioration of the humanitarian situation

"This increase in violence has a direct impact on the humanitarian situation in Syria, with thousands of civilians fleeing the hostilities to already overcrowded refugee and IDP camps. South Africa reiterates its call for all parties to adhere to their international law and international humanitarian law obligations, particularly with regard to the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure. In addition, we call on the relevant authorities to ensure safe, unimpeded and impartial delivery of humanitarian aid and assistance to all who require it. The severe winter conditions have given further impetus to the need to provide essential humanitarian aid, including winterisation and shelter packages. Civilians must also be assured access to humanitarian corridors.

“Mr President,

“On the political process

"The only sustainable solution is the attainment of a political solution, through an inclusive Syrian-led dialogue aimed at achieving a political solution that is reflective of the will of the Syrian people. In this regard, we welcome and encourage the active participation of women and religious groups in these peace talks, as all groups have unique perspectives to offer.

“South Africa has and continues to welcome the formation of the Constitutional Committee, as a representation of all Syrian people; the Government, the opposition and civil society, as well as the drafting committee, in carrying out their mandate to draft a new constitution for Syria.

“South Africa urges all members of the Constitutional Committee to make a concerted effort towards agreeing to an agenda for genuine discussions on the drafting of a constitution that would form an essential component of a sustainable solution to the conflict Syria.

“The work of the Constitutional Committee is but one aspect of the larger political process in Syria, as laid out in Council Resolution 2254, which must be fully implemented and respected by all parties. For it to be sustainable, the political process must be Syrian-owned and Syrian-led. External interference in this process is detrimental to its success.

“Mr President,

“On confidence building measures

“In order for these peace negotiations to make credible progress, the parties must have confidence in each other. In this regard, South Africa encourages all side to undertake trust and confidence building measures. These could include progress in the release of civilians detained, particularly vulnerable groups such as women, children, the elderly and those with disabilities. My delegation has noted the recent meeting of the working Group on detainees and missing persons in Geneva and look forward to its outcome and urge the working group to make every effort to achieve real progress in this matter.

“As part of these confidence building measures to promote progress, the easing of economic measures placed on Syria should be considered if there is progress on the political front.

“In conclusion, Mr President,

“South Africa is of the strong belief that the humanitarian and political situations in Syria are inter-linked, with credible progress in one area leading to credible progress in the other. We must do all we can to promote progress on both these tracks, in order to achieve a comprehensive and peaceful settlement to the conflict. The Syrian people deserve nothing less.

“I thank you.”
“Mr President,

“Thank you for facilitating today’s discussion as per the Russian Federation’s letter dated 13 April 2014.

“We thank the Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA) Rosemary DiCarlo; Ms Heidi Grau, Special Representative of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairperson-in-Office; and OSCE Special Monitoring Mission Chief Monitor Halit Cevik for their informative briefings.

“Five years have passed since the signing of the Minsk agreements. While there have recently been some encouraging developments such as the meetings of the Normandy Four, the full implementation of all the provisions of the agreements has yet to be realised. My delegation commends the OSCE for its efforts in Ukraine as it diligently executes its mandate in monitoring the implementation of the 2015 Minsk agreements, endorsed by this Council in Resolution 2202 (2015). The OSCE has also been successful in facilitating dialogue among all parties in seeking a resolution to the situation. In this regard, it is important that the OSCE’s Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine be allowed unhindered access to monitor and verify compliance with the Minsk agreements, in line with its mandate.

“Mr President,

“It remains necessary for all parties to fully implement all their respective commitments under the Minsk agreements. We must stress that the Minsk agreements, including the package of measures agreed under Minsk II, provide the most promising roadmap for peace in the long term.

“Mr President,

“It is clear from the briefings we have heard that there remains an urgent need for the immediate cessation of hostilities in eastern Ukraine. The continued violations of the ceasefire, increased tensions due to the presence of heavy weapons and their use, in violation of the Minsk agreements, are of serious concern.

“The ongoing tensions and conflict have negatively impacted the humanitarian situation on the ground. We call for the urgent de-escalation of tensions, to allow a situation that is conducive for the alleviation of the humanitarian crisis and delivery of aid to those most in need.

“We also encourage the parties to refrain from actions that could be viewed as provocative and exacerbating tensions. These place obstacles in the path of meaningful dialogue and may further impede a peaceful resolution to the situation, in line with the Minsk agreements.

“Mr President,

"Let me conclude by reiterating my country’s position on the need for compromise and dialogue. South Africa will continue to encourage the parties to strengthen all diplomatic efforts to produce a sustainable and peaceful solution. In this regard, we wish to reemphasise the importance of, and welcome the recent meetings of the Normandy Four countries – and the planned upcoming meetings. We encourage all efforts, including the increased role of the Normandy Four, in facilitating ongoing initiatives towards building trust in seeking a long-term, peaceful and sustainable solution to the situation in Ukraine.

‘I thank you.”
“Mr President,

“We thank the Special Envoy Martin Griffiths (VTC), USG Lowcock (OCHA) and Ambassador King as Chair of the Yemen Sanctions Committee for their briefings. South Africa continues to reiterate our support for the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Yemen, Mr Martin Griffiths, and for all his efforts to find a peaceful solution to the situation in Yemen. South Africa thanks the Panel of Experts for their comprehensive report covering 2019.

“My delegation would like to reiterate that a causal nexus exists between the political impasse, the dire humanitarian situation, and the security situation; as such our intervention focusses on these three elements.

“Mr President,

“On the political element, South Africa impresses upon the parties to commit to a political process that can only be achieved through dialogue. There has been no further implementation on the Riyadh Agreement. South Africa wishes to reiterate its call for the implementation of this vital agreement between the Yemeni Government and the Southern Transitional Council (STC) as well as the full implementation of the December 2018 Stockholm Agreement.

“On the humanitarian element, South Africa commends the work of the UNHCR in Yemen for the commencement of the air bridge medical evacuation between Sana’a and Amman. This agreement was done in collaboration with all of the parties to the conflict and highlights that progress can be made when the political will is strong. It is comforting to note that the WHO spokeswoman indicated that the organisation was covering the costs of the victims' medical treatment, transport and accommodation.

“However, equally of importance to note are the restrictions of humanitarian operations in the North, which continues to cause much frustration to deliver aid in a reliable fashion, furthermore, threatening to suspend aid altogether. We call on the parties to the conflict to allow free, regular and unimpeded passage of food and other humanitarian relief and not to take actions that would deprive civilians of their rights to food and health. In this regard, we remind the parties to the conflict that all necessary measures should be taken to respect the Geneva Conventions.

“Mr President,

“On the security element, South Africa is dismayed that after much political traction and relative calm, the recent escalation of fighting in Yemen has effectively reset the conflict resolution process. The number of fatalities continue to rise as the level of violence and conflict escalate in Nihm, Marib and Al Jawf. In this regard, South Africa calls on the parties to observe the ceasefire in Hodeidah and to contribute towards a nation-wide cessation of hostilities. A cessation of hostilities in Yemen, or even parts of Yemen, would greatly assist the negotiation process towards a political solution for Yemen.

“In conclusion, Mr President,

“This unprecedented humanitarian crisis necessitates an urgent commitment to a ceasefire and the pursuit of a negotiated, peaceful and inclusive solution to the crisis.

“We wish to reiterate that the only sustainable solution to this conflict is a Yemeni-led political settlement that is inclusive and fair and puts the interests and well-being of all the citizens of Yemen first.

“I, thank you.”
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