Issue 416 | 27 February 2020
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South Africa will this year host a summit to finalise the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement Protocol of Implementation, Cabinet has announced.
This comes after Cabinet congratulated President Cyril Ramaphosa on assuming the African Union (AU) Chairship on behalf of South Africa.

The President ascended to the post on 9 February during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Ethiopia.

South Africa was elected in February 2019 as the Incoming Chair of the AU. The union then agreed that the assumption of the rotational Chairship would take place on the occasion of the 33rd Ordinary Session.

In a statement, Cabinet said President Ramaphosa would use his role to advance peace and stability, good governance, gender equality and the empowerment of women to grow Africa’s economy.

“Later this year, the AfCFTA Agreement also comes into effect,” read the statement.

This agreement converges into a single market across 54 nations of about 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of over US$3 trillion.

South Africa, said Cabinet, would also work towards a stable and peaceful Africa under the theme: “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”.

Cabinet also welcomed the resuscitation of the African Diaspora Agenda, saying the size of the African Diaspora, and the skills and resources it contains, necessitate effective engagement mechanisms to harness this potential to advance the development of this continent.

Meanwhile, Cabinet during its meeting welcomed the outcomes of the Official Visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which strengthened existing relations between the two countries. Chancellor Merkel visited South Africa at the invitation of President Ramaphosa from 5 to 7 February 2020.

South Africa used the opportunity to share the many investment opportunities available in the country.

“This was done during a Business Forum comprising both South African leaders and the business delegation accompanying Chancellor Merkel. As one of the biggest investors in South Africa, Germany has over 600 companies in our country,” Cabinet said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa is proud of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), which is an enduring symbol of the country’s rainbow nation, that includes in its ranks both men and women from all race groups.
Speaking at this year’s Armed Forces Day event held in Polokwane in Limpopo on Friday, 21 February 2020, President Ramaphosa said South Africa looked to the SANDF to assist in meeting the country’s obligations with regard to supporting continental peace and security.

“As a continent, we have set milestones towards the attainment of a better and safer continent for all Africans, but our progress remains mixed. Conflict continues in several African countries, undermining our collective efforts to achieve peace and security.

“In our quest to silence the guns, we acknowledge the enduring challenges of armed conflict in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, in North Africa, in the Sahel, in the Horn of Africa and in the Great Lakes region.

“We count on the SANDF as an organ mandated by the African Union and the United Nations respectively to discharge the important responsibility of promoting peace,” President Ramaphosa said.

He commended the SANDF soldiers for staying true despite the many challenges they face.

“These men and women do remarkable work in safeguarding our borders and in assisting the South African Police Service with crime prevention. We commend them, knowing that the vast stretch of our border requires far more resources on the ground.

“As a nation, we owe a great debt of appreciation to our National Defence Force for being not just a fighting force, but a developmental force. Across our country, we have seen the SANDF render essential services through the deployment of health professionals at public health facilities that are in crisis,” President Ramaphosa said.

He said he was pleased that the programme for the 2020 Armed Forces Day included a military careers showcase for young people.

“I hope that young people who wish to develop themselves and grow South Africa will embrace these opportunities through which they will make an important contribution to the security and sustainability of our nation,” the President said.

Armed Forces Day

The Armed Forces Day seeks to expand public understanding of the role of the SANDF in the life of the nation and to demonstrate through live simulations of military action the capability of the Army, Navy, Air Force and South African Medical Health Service.

The activities took place at various locations around Polokwane from 14 to 19 February 2020 and included static displays of military equipment, a career village for prospective recruits, arena events, sports events, including sports clinics and a fun run.

The celebration of Armed Forces Day included a capabilities demonstration as well as a night shoot and a military parade.

Armed Forces Day is held annually on 21 February in commemoration of the sinking of the SS Mendi steamship on 21 February 1917, one of South African’s worst tragedies of the First World War (1914 –1918).

A total of 616 black South African troops died when the SS Mendi steamship sank on its way to France.

Other activities over the weekend saw a 5-km and 10-km fun walk and run on 15 February and an inter-faith service on Sunday, 16 February.

The weeklong programme featured career exhibitions where young people had the opportunity to explore various careers in the SANDF.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid tribute to music icon and Ladysmith Black Mambazo founder, Joseph Shabalala, describing him as a musical genius.
“He was one of South Africa’s most decorated artists, a musical genius, a prolific composer, a multi-talented singer, a nifty dancer and an accomplished choreographer,” President Ramaphosa said.

Delivering the eulogy at Shabalala’s funeral on Saturday, 22 February 2020, President Ramaphosa praised him for putting Zulu culture, his hometown of Ladysmith and South Africa on the world map.

“In the course of his successful career, he scaled the heights of stardom on stages and concert halls around the world. Leading a collective to consistent success over many years has been a phenomenal achievement.

“We can also achieve great success as individuals and as a country if we devote ourselves wholeheartedly to our talents, understanding that no success can ever come overnight, nor can it be done alone.”

The President said Shabalala championed pride in culture, language and indigenous music at a time when the country’s cultures were being degraded and denigrated by its oppressors.

“He rallied his team around his vision and like a span of oxen, they pulled together. He believed not in keeping one’s talent jealously to oneself, but in sharing it.”

He said Shabala remained humble throughout his career.

“Despite his success, he had his feet firmly on the ground; the ground right here in this community where he was born, and where he raised his family.

“He was a son of Ladysmith, and it is this community that can hold its head up high for having produced this maestro, this leader and this man of deep and abiding faith.”

– Source:
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Friday, 21 February 2020, hosted the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Portuguese Republic, Prof. Augusto Santos Silva, for bilateral consultations in Pretoria.
The visit was part of a series of high-level engagements between South Africa and Portugal and followed the meeting between President Cyril Ramaphosa and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa of Portugal in Maputo on 15 January 2020, where the two leaders attended the inauguration of the President of Mozambique, Felipe Nyusi.

South Africa and Portugal maintain a substantial, diverse and historic relationship. Strong bonds exist between the people of the two countries, aided in no small measure by the large number of South African nationals who are of Portuguese descent. South Africa values them as South Africans, and their family and cultural relationships contribute to fostering close people-to-people relations.

At an official level, relations are managed through bilateral consultations at the level of Deputy Minister. The previous one took place in Pretoria on 2 August 2019. At that time, ways in which cooperation in areas such as trade, investment, agriculture and agro-processing, oceans economy, education, arts and culture, science and technology, tourism and development assistance could be enhanced were discussed and specific follow-up actions identified. Some of these projects were among the issues that Ministers Pandor and Silva discussed during their deliberations.

The two countries also maintain a strong economic relationship. Bilateral trade reached R6.3 billion in 2019, a 4% increase on the year before, while the number of Portuguese tourists visiting South Africa reached 30 235 during the 12 months to the end of November 2019.
The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Alvin Botes, participated in the High-Level Segment of the 43rd Session of the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) from 24 to 26 February 2020.
The High-Level Segment afforded participants the opportunity to address the council on their national efforts to promote and protect human rights and international cooperation, including outlining their foreign policy approach to human rights.

Deputy Minister Botes’ participation at the High-Level Segment focussed on the following issues: outlining South Africa’s human rights priorities for 2020; giving an update on the Government’s recent efforts in ensuring the promotion, protection, fulfilment, enjoyment and  practical realisation of human rights; initiating the process of lobbying support for the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), in particular the convening of a one-day high-level plenary event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the DDPA on the margins of the High-Level Segment of the 76th Session of the General Assembly in 2021; and delivering messages on advancing gender equality, empowerment of women and combatting violence against women and girls.

South Africa also participated in two high-level panel discussions on human rights mainstreaming, whose theme was: “Thirty Years of Implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Challenges and Opportunities”; and the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women.

South Africa’s term as a member of the HRC ended December 2019 and the country is currently on a one-year mandatory break. South Africa intends to avail herself as a candidate for the period 2022 to 2024.

The 43rd Session of HRC took place against the background of South Africa having assumed the Chairship of the Africa Union.
South Africa, as a responsible global citizen, will not shrink from its responsibility to address the important tasks that lie ahead to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
“We have a common moral responsibility to future generations to honour our mutual commitments, and our differentiated responsibilities to fight the causes and consequences of climate change,” Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara, Creecy, said on Tuesday, 18 February 2020.

She was speaking during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in the National Assembly.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) will this year assist municipalities to implement their climate change response strategies, while the South African Weather Service will ramp up efforts to educate local communities so they can better understand climate change and respond appropriately.

Through the department’s environmental programmes, R1.9 billion is to be spent in 2020 to restore wetlands, estuaries and coastal dunes to better protect built infrastructure and human settlements from storms, floods and sea level rise.

South Africa will continue to lobby developed countries to provide for an adequate, reliable and predictable source of international funding for both mitigation and adaptation.

“We must all be clear that climate change and its associated consequences can only be addressed by the world’s nations working together,” Minister Creecy said.

She expressed concern about the withdrawal of the United States – one of the world’s biggest emitters – from the Paris Accord.

“It is essential that the nations of the world stand together in support of the Paris Agreement. We have a common moral responsibility to future generations to honour our mutual commitments and our differentiated responsibilities to fight the causes and consequences of climate change,” she said.

Minister Creecy welcomed the commitments made by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s during the SONA, to make a decisive shift in the country’s energy trajectory at a time when humankind faces the greatest threat to its sustainable future.

The President also promised that the Presidential Climate Change Commission would lead South Africa’s just transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable society, which would leave no one behind.

“To address these issues, the Climate Change Bill, which provides for effective management approaches to the impact of climate change will be tabled in the National Assembly this year, while the National Adaptation Strategy is to be finalised.

“This strategy will galvanise investment in preparedness, early warning capabilities and risk mitigation measures for society,” DEFF said.

– Source:
While there has been no case of Coronavirus reported in South Africa, people who develop symptoms of respiratory illness during or after travel to countries where the outbreak is known to be circulating, have been advised to seek early medical care.
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Monday, 24 February 2020, said it continued to monitor the rapidly evolving developments surrounding Coronavirus cases in several cities in China and other countries in South Asia, North America, Europe and Egypt.

Last week Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) confirmed a case of Coronavirus in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The NICD said its highly specialised team of experts, which is responsible for performing Coronavirus monitoring and testing for South Africa and a number of African countries, remained on alert for potential cases of the disease that may reach South Africa.

“Surveillance of the Coronavirus outbreak remains a key priority for South Africa, and we continue to intensify screening at all ports of entry, with a particular focus on our major airports of entry. Evidence continues to support this approach as the vast majority of cases are introduced into territories outside of China by air travellers,” the NICD said.

As of 21 February 2020, the NICD had tested 107 people for Coronavirus.

“The NICD can confirm that all results came back negative for SARS-CoV-2 and that South Africa has not had a case of COVID-19.”

The institute has advised people who develop symptoms of respiratory illness, including cough, fever and shortness of breath, either during or after travel to countries where Coronavirus is known to be circulating, to seek medical care early, and share information about travel history with their healthcare providers.

– Source:
More than 280 jobs have been created from Phase 2 of the Coega Development Corporation’s multi-user facility, currently being constructed at the Coega Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nelson Mandela Bay. This is in addition to the 8 016 construction jobs created last year.
According to the Coega Development Corporation (CDC) Marketing, Brand and Communication Unit Head, Dr Ayanda Vilakazi, the multi-user facility will provide a home for start-ups and small to medium size businesses that are looking for scale, and are steadfast in building successful businesses.

“Over the past year, the CDC has been approached by numerous companies that want to start operating from within the Coega SEZ due to its favourable location, incentives and modern infrastructure,” the CDC said in a statement on Monday, 24 February 2020.

The R60-million Phase 2 multi-user facility, located in Zone 3 of the Coega SEZ, is currently under construction. The facility is a replica model of Phase 1, which is now fully occupied. It seeks to provide affordable industrial space for many small-to-medium companies, especially entrepreneurs wishing to grow their business.

“Coega is constantly at the forefront of new development projects that facilitate economic growth and create new opportunities for small businesses, as well as create employment opportunities for communities.

“The Coega SEZ objectives are aligned with the country’s Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which outlines the country’s industrial development path and priority industries and value chains.

“IPAP highlights the importance of the country’s investment attraction efforts to primarily focus on those investments that will advance and enhance the country’s industrialisation agenda, and also create jobs,” the CDC said.

In line with the IPAP priorities, the main investment attraction drives of SEZs focus mainly on mineral beneficiation, advanced manufacturing, marine industries (the ocean economy) and agro-processing.

“This drive for growth and development has made Coega not only one of the most successful SEZs in the country and number one SEZ on the African continent, but an attractive and ideal investment destination for domestic and foreign investors.

“To this end, Statistics South Africa reported that the Coega SEZ investors had performed well when comparing 2015 and 2018. The results indicate a substantial increase in the number of operational investors over the past four years, recording an 8% average growth rate between 2015 and 2018,” the CDC said.

The total income of Coega SEZ tenants improved by 22% over the comparative period, indicating an increased contribution of tax returns from the tenants.

Coega SEZ tenants also improved greatly on the net Profit before Tax, recording R506 million in 2018. The number of jobs increased by 17.3% on average per year.

“Coega SEZ contributed to the economy of the region by creating decent jobs with an average salary of R222 000 [per annum], improving from R218 000 per employee in 2015.

“Coega has outperformed the East London SEZ on many key performance indicators and is assisting the other SEZs in the country … for the benefit of South Africa,” the CDC said.

– Source:
Tourism Minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has congratulated South Africa’s Culinary Olympics Team, which showed-off their skills at the 25th IKA Culinary Olympics.
“South Africa’s participation in this globally acclaimed culinary event has firmly placed the country on the culinary world stage, which should be celebrated by all South Africans.

“We congratulate them for a job well done and are proud of their achievements, as they showed-off their culinary abilities and highest level of dedication in this renowned competition, under the auspices of the SA Chefs Association (SACA),” said Minister Kubayi-Ngubane on Friday, 21 February 2020.

The team participated in the international culinary arts competition in Stuttgart, Germany.

The Springbok squad, as they are affectionately known, competed in two categories, namely the Chef’s Table and the Restaurant of Nations.

The Chef’s Table entailed seven different dishes for 12 people, while the Restaurant of Nations entailed a three-course menu for 110 people.

The team scooped three bronze medals after competing with 2 000 chefs from 70 countries.

National Youth Training Programme (NYTP)

The department was thrilled that one of its graduates in the NYCTP, Sifiso Chiziane, formed part of the 2020 culinary team.

“We partnered with the SACA in training the youth through the NYCTP. Chiziane is one of more than 2 400 youth from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have been given life-changing opportunities through the programme. I hope this serves as motivation to other young chefs in our sector,” said the Minister.

Chiziane is currently employed at the Johannesburg-based African Pride Restaurant in Melrose Arch, and works under the mentorship of Chef Adrian Vigus-Brown.

Over the past 40 years, SACA has scooped bronze, silver and gold medals for the country at the Culinary Olympics, placing South Africa firmly at the forefront of culinary global standards.

– Source:
While President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a plan to fight youth unemployment by allocating 1% of the National Budget to a new Youth Unemployment Initiative – the fact remains that South Africa needs to upskill its youth for a future-fit workforce.
The President says government will this year introduce Coding and Robotics in Grades R to 3, in 200 schools across the country to equip learners with the required skills for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The plan is to implement it fully by 2022. This is one of the steps taken by government to improve education in the country.

A coding project called TANKS – which originated at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth – is inspiring students across the country to learn Coding, without even using a single computer.

This is the beautiful simplicity of the game that uses puzzle pieces, a mobile app and image recognition to allow pupils from any background to learn Computer Coding.

And this year, Professor Jean Greyling from the NMU Department of Computing Sciences will once again be flying the flag high for South Africa as he heads to Paris in March to share the global stage at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Mobile Learning week, highlighting the success of TANKS.

It beat out 250 submissions from across the world to be the "only project invited to a plenary session at this annual flagship education conference of the United Nations".

“It’s great news. Last year, we also attended, presenting in a break-away session, but to share a plenary stage with global leaders in education is a huge platform for our project,” says Professor Greyling.

“What we have is an indigenous African solution and I strongly believe we have a contribution to make when it comes to the inclusion of disadvantaged communities.

“The fact that we bring coding concepts to learners without the need of computers nor the Internet, allows us to go to literally 1000’s more schools than other projects."

Furthermore, the project allows for learners to actually progress and learn independently from teachers. This opens further doors to schools who might have labs, but who do not have teachers equipped to teach coding and robotics.

Professor Greyling says while there were other projects from Africa, these were being driven by foreigners as far as he could tell. “The majority of solutions discussed were reliant on labs and / or high bandwidth – not the solutions for our context.”

The biggest impact so far he says has been the added credibility these UNESCO invitations brings to the project.

"Last year and this year’s invitation have directly resulted in new partners back home who now take us seriously and want to contribute through for example sponsorships or investments."

– Source:
Bloomberg has published a new ranking of some of the best burger restaurants around the world.
The ranking is based on the views of a number of Michelin-star chefs and other culinary elites who handpicked the restaurants based on their preferences.

The majority of the list is made up of restaurants in the United States and Europe with both casual restaurants such as In-N-Out and high-end establishments such as The Wolseley in London featuring.

One South African restaurant was named on the list – Buns Out Burgers –  which opened in September 2019 in Johannesburg.

Chosen by TV chef Lorna Maseko, Bloomberg noted that the new restaurant in suburban Linden was the first of actor and TV celebrity, Maps Maponyane.

Bloomberg said that the restaurant had attracted a lot of media attention and featured about a dozen burgers, including vegetarian and vegan options.

Buns Out Burgers also features a number of quirky names including ‘Is It Brie You’re Looking For?’

– Source:
Not many models can attest to sharing the ramp with the likes of Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid and Irina Shayk. But for 24-year-old Xia Narain, not only did she walk the ramp with these international models, she was handpicked out of 108 models to close the Burberry show held recently in London.
Still reeling from the experience, Narain described the moment to IOL as "unforgettable".

"I think closing the Burberry show was the best show I have ever done in my life".

Narain said she had initially travelled to London for London Fashion Week.

"While there, I got booked as an exclusive model for the Burberry show, which meant that I couldn't do any other shows besides Burberry."

She said that she was thrilled that out of 108 beautiful models from around the world, including celebrities, they chose her.

"I was even more excited to be the only South African girl that walked as a closing girl for such a big show."

She said as a young girl she would watch fashion shows with her dad and would admire the likes of Naomi Campbell and look at the opportunities modelling afforded them.

"Coming from a middle class family one could never imagine or dream of doing this, but it shows you that with dreams you can achieve anything.

Narain said she was extremely overwhelmed with the support and well-wishes from back home.

"It makes me so proud to be a South African."

– Source:
The International GS Trophy is a challenging motorbike adventure that takes enthusiasts across the globe to compete in gruelling challenges. This year, the challenge took place in New Zealand where South Africa won it!
More than 20 teams from all over the world met from 9 to 16 February 2020. Riding the BMW F 850 GS, the teams were able to tackle challenges across New Zealand’s diverse landscape.

The competition is held every two years, and South Africa has now held the title for three consecutive challenges. Team SA won the 2016, 2018 and 2020 titles. The 2016 win took place in Thailand, and the 2018 win took place in Mongolia.

The challenge win is based on a point system, and the team with the highest points win. South Africa took the trophy with a win of 394 points, beating runners up France by 12 points.

In an interview with the Ultimate Motorcycling Magazine, Brandon Grimsted, the pilot for Team South Africa, confirmed they were nervous when the day started but were thrilled by how it ended!

“With just a five points gap coming into this morning it was a scary start to the day, we were nervous, shaking even and over-thinking everything!

“So in the jerrycan test, we had a few problems but we got back up and carried on. For the final parcour, this was one of the scariest events I’ve ever taken part in. But it was awesome, we set a fast time with super clean riding, we felt we’d done all that we could. And it was enough! We’re super-happy to take the win and we know for the GS community at home this is cause for celebration. Our third win, it’s wonderful.”

– Source:
“We thank Under Secretary General Izumi Nakamitsu and the President of the NPT Review Conference, Gustavo Zlauvinen, for their briefings.

“As we look forward to the 50th anniversary of the entry-into-force of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), South Africa reaffirms its commitment to the NPT as the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime.

“It is undeniable that the NPT has played a critical role in the maintenance of international peace and security. The three broad objectives of the NPT, namely nuclear disarmament, nuclear non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are inextricably linked. Therefore, South Africa maintains its long-held view that nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation are mutually reinforcing processes: progress in respect of both is therefore essential to realise the object and purpose of the NPT.

“However, while non-proliferation measures have been strengthened, similar concrete progress has not yet been realised in the area of nuclear disarmament. We believe that efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons should be matched by a concurrent effort to eliminate all nuclear weapons, in a verifiable and irreversible manner.

“We likewise remain seriously concerned about the apparent lack of urgency and seriousness with which the solemn undertakings, particularly in respect of nuclear disarmament, continue to be approached. Still more concerning are attempts to negate or reinterpret the nuclear disarmament undertakings made since the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.

“This state of affairs places the NPT and its review process under increasing pressure. It falls far short of the commitments and obligations with respect to Article VI, and the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states at the 2000 NPT Review Conference to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals. The outcome of the 2010 NPT Review Conference constitutes the current nuclear disarmament benchmarks: reneging on these commitments is not an option. For this reason, it is our view that the success of the 2020 RevCon will largely depend on the extent to which these undertakings are being honoured.

“For South Africa, it is essential that the outcome for the forthcoming RevCon reaffirms the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon states. It is also especially important that while the RevCon outcome need not be elaborate, it should not roll back or reinterpret the agreements reached since the 1995 Review and Extension Conference.

“South Africa joins others in expressing its concerns about the current geopolitical tensions and the resulting impact on international peace and security. It is for this reason we believe that this current security climate allows no room for further procrastination to achieve concrete nuclear disarmament results. We therefore urge all parties involved to exercise the utmost flexibility to de-escalate tensions. For South Africa, humanitarian imperatives continue to underpin our search for a world without the threat posed by the possession, use and proliferation of nuclear weapons. These considerations are today a fundamental and global concern that should be at the core of our deliberations, actions and decisions on nuclear weapons.

“In conclusion, South Africa remains convinced that the strength, credibility and vitality of the NPT rest on the grand bargain across its three pillars, and that the success of Review Conferences going forward will be determined by the extent to which these undertakings are implemented. In this regard, we stand ready to play our part.

“I thank you.”
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