Issue 93 | 24 January 2014
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The World Economic Forum's (WEF) annual meeting in Davos provides an excellent platform to network and market South Africa to potential investors, President Jacob Zuma told a delegation of businesspeople ahead of their departure for Switzerland.

The 44th annual meeting of the WEF is taking place from 22 to 25 January under the theme, “The Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business”. The WEF is an independent international organisation committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. 



South Africa believes that democracy is an unassailable right of the Syrian people. The South African Government is thus committed to encouraging all parties involved in the current conflict in Syria to engage in a process of all-inclusive national dialogue, free of any form of violence, intimidation or outside interference aimed at government change, in order to satisfy the legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people.


The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, accepted an invitation from United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, to attend the High-Level International Meeting on the Conflict in Syria, in Montreux, Switzerland, on 22 January 2014.

The meeting formed part of the Geneva II Peace Conference. The meeting, chaired by the UN Secretary-General, brought selected states and international organisations together in an effort to assist the Syrian parties in ending the violence and achieving a comprehensive agreement for a political settlement, implementing fully the Geneva Communiqué, while preserving the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria.

The international meeting was followed by negotiations between the two Syrian parties, facilitated by the UN-League of Arab States Joint Special Representative for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, in Geneva on 24 January 2014.

South Africa is deeply disappointed by the fact that the Syrian conflict has been raging for nearly three years with devastating humanitarian consequences, in particular the violation of the rights of vulnerable groups such as women and children with accompanying wanton destruction of both property and resources.

The situation in Syria is evolving into one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent times with severe political and economic consequences for the entire region.


Government remains committed and continues to explore options that might result in the early and safe release of South African teacher Pierre Korkie, who is being held hostage in Yemen.
The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, recently visited Yemen to assist in negotiations for Korkie's release.

Korkie and his wife Yolande, who have been living in Yemen for four years, were captured in May last year in the Yemeni city of Taiz. Yolande was released last week without any ransom being paid, but the militants have demanded R32 million to release Korkie.


Briefing the media on his trip, Ebrahim said he held a range of meetings, including with the representatives of the Yemen Security Services, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Prime Minister and the President of Yemen.

"We used our engagements to seek advice and look into what Yemen and South Africa can do together to secure the security release."

Ebrahim, who also made a passionate plea to the kidnappers, which was broadcasted from Yemen’s television stations, said he had stressed the urgency of the case, in view of Korkie's deteriorating health.

"The Yemeni authorities, who have considerable experience in dealing with situations of this type, emphasised that the motive of the kidnapping was not political. It was confirmed that South Africans are not the only ones targeted and that it was a case of mistaken identity."

Foreigners are frequently kidnapped in Yemen by al-Qaida militants or tribesmen, who ask for ransoms for the release of their prisoners.

The kidnappers extended the deadline for the ransom money to be paid last week Friday, by 21 days.

The Deputy Minister said government's position was clear and it did not pay ransoms under any circumstances.

“This is not only a South African policy but the international norm of governments across the world ... we do not negotiate with the kidnappers, we work with the Government of that country."

Analysts have also warned that the paying of a ransom will portray the country as a soft target to hostage takers.

Despite no warning having been issued to South Africans travelling to Yemen, Ebrahim advised people to be careful when travelling in conflict areas and register with ROSA. – Source:




South Africa and Switzerland enjoy very fruitful science and technology cooperation, backed by high-level interactions at political level.


The Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, recently met the Swiss State Secretary for Education, Research and Innovation, Mauro Dell’Ambrogio, in Berne. The meeting was a follow-up to the meeting that was held in Pretoria in 2012.

The achievements of phase I of the Swiss-South African Joint Research Programme (SSAJRP) were noted during the discussions. The SSAJRP commenced in 2007 with equal resource contributions, supporting research projects in biotechnology and nanotechnology, biosciences and public health, and social sciences and humanities. To date, six MSc, 31 PhD, eight postdoctoral degrees and 16 joint research projects (with an output of 73 exchange visits) were supported. Furthermore, during this phase, 71 journal articles were published.

The two ministers acknowledged these positive developments and subsequently endorsed the start of the second phase of the SSAJRP, in which 25 projects were selected for support on the principle of equal resources being provided by both countries for the period 2013 to 2016.



“The Saldanha Bay IDZ Licencing Company has signed six lease agreements with international and South African oil and gas companies. These include firms specialising in oilfield services, oil rig operations, logistics operators, ship repair, engineering and market support.”

The recently launched Industrial Development Zone (IDZ) in Saldanha Bay, a harbour town situated on the south-western coast of South Africa, is already drawing investment interest.

In a recent statement, Alan Winde, the Western Cape’s Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, said the signing of several lease agreements and the upsurge of global oil and gas companies negotiating joint ventures with South African firms were an indication that the zone was off to a good start.

“In some of the most exciting developments, the Licencing Company is in talks with an international consortium to develop a rig module-building facility.

“We are also aware of a R200-million investment by a global oil servicing company which is set to create 300 jobs.”

He said several leading international companies were increasing their staff numbers in their South African companies. – Source:


Wines of South Africa’s (Wosa) new CEO, Siobhan Thompson, attributed the dramatic growth to a bumper harvest that allowed South Africa to fill the gap created by a poor European harvest as well as to penetrate new markets.
The South African wine industry topped its previous export record in 2013, with volumes sold reaching 525,7 million litres, a 26% increase on the previous high achieved in 2012, Wosa said in a statement recently.

Sales to the United Kingdom (UK), still the country's biggest export destination, accounting for just over one-fifth of total export volumes last year, rose 21% to 111,2 million litres.

Volumes to Germany, where South Africa is the biggest "New World" supplier, increased by 24% to 96,5 million litres, while exports to Russia were up 18% to 37,3 million litres.

"It is encouraging that strong gains were achieved in the UK and Germany, our two biggest markets, where packaged wines in particular showed very healthy growth," Thompson said. "Packaged wines to the UK were up 31% and to Germany by 17%. At the same time, exports also grew across an increasingly broad range of other markets." – Source: SA - the Good News



Gymnastics South Africa is aiming to use the African Championships to help spearhead a revival of the country's international fortunes, which peaked in 1998 at the Commonwealth Games when Simon Hutcheon won gold in the men's vault, Christian Brezeanu captured silver in the vault and on the floor, and Athol Myhill won bronze on the rings.

South Africa's leading gymnasts will take on the continent's best when the University of Pretoria hosts the 12th African Gymnastics Championships from 25 March to 4 April.

Both men and women will compete in the artistic competition, while the women will also contest the rhythmic disciplines. – Source:
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