Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa, 11 April 2006

Update on Minister Dlamini Zuma's condition

  • Minister Dlamini Zuma is still recuperating at a Pretoria Hospital.
  • She was only transferred from the intensive care unit to a normal ward yesterday.
  • Upon release, on a date still to be determined, she will be off for three weeks with Minister Skweyiya acting.
  • Minister appreciates the well wishes of the media and the public.

Condolences to governments of Djibouti and Ghana

  • We extend our condolences to the governments of Djibouti and Ghana following the boat tragedies in which many people have lost their lives

Condolences to the government of Kenya

  • We extend our condolences to the government and people of Kenya following the plane crash in which 2 assistant ministers and the Deputy leader of President Kibaki's party have been killed.

Deputy President's visit to Japan and Indonesia

  • South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will pay a working visit to Japan and Indonesia scheduled from Wednesday - Thursday, 19-20 April and Friday - Tuesday, 21-25 April 2006 respectively.
  • She will be supported by the Minister of Minerals and Energy and Deputy Ministers Pahad, Moleketi, Davis and Mabudafhasi.
  • The visit by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka to Japan and Indonesia comes within the context of South Africa's priority to strengthen North-South and South-South relations for increased market access, trade, investment, sharing of experiences on SMME development and support for our capacity building programmes.
  • In this regard, the visit is also aimed at popularising South Africa's Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative (AsgiSA) and Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Transfer (JIPSA) while investigating areas of co-operation and skills transfer between South Africa and Indonesia and Japan.
  • In addition, the visit to Indonesia comes a year after the historic Afro-Asia Conference that commemorated the Bandung Conference of 1955. At the 2005 Afro-Asia Conference, leaders of African and Asian countries committed themselves, through the New Africa-Asia Strategic Plan (NAASP), to consolidating economic relations between both continents that adequately reflected the strong socio-political links between Asia and Africa.
  • It is our view that we have not given enough attention to the NAASP when we consider that almost all the significant Asian leaders were present at the conference.
  • If we understand that Asia is the fastest growing continent and that China and India will be the new economic powerhouses by 2010, we should realise that relations with Asia should be our new priority.
  • The NAASP is based on economic and political ties as well as people-to-people contact.
  • The Afro-Asia Summit also endorsed NEPAD as Africa's socio-economic programme.
  • We do indeed believe that Asia represents exciting new opportunities for parastatals, the private sector, etc.
  • Many new programmes have been identified in terms of the NAASP.

Visit to Japan

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka will hold discussions with Prime Minister Koizumi during her visit to Japan. Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka is also scheduled to pay a courtesy call on Crown Prince Naruhito who is the eldest son of Emperor Akihito.

Discussions will focus primarily on how Japan can contribute to the successful implementation ASGISA and JIPSA.

The aim of the visit is also to consolidate and strengthen the existing cordial political relations between South Africa and Japan.

Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka will also hold discussions with the:

  • President of the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) Sadako Ogata with a view to popularising and seeking support for AsgiSA and JIPSA. Discussions are likely to focus on empowerment of South Africa's second economy, providing human resource development support to JIPSA and trilateral co-operation initiatives;
  • Chairperson of the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Osamu Watanabe during which discussions are likely to include increased market access between Japan and South Africa;
  • Governor of the Japan Bank for International Co-operation (JBIC) during which discussions will focus on the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance (EPSA) for Africa in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB);
  • Vice-Chairperson of Toyota and South African Honorary Consul to Japan Mr Nakagawa during which discussions are expected to focus on private sector involvement with the recapitalisation programme of Further Education and Training institutions in South Africa;
  • President of the House of Councillors Mrs Oogi who is also a member of the SA-Japan Parliamentary Friendship League. The League has played an important role in strengthening relations between the two countries. Discussions are expected to include the enhancement of Japan's relations with the Pan-African Parliament under the auspices of the Tokyo International Conference for African Development (TICAD);
  • President of the Sanko Steamship Company and Kenji Kanda, President of the Kanda Shipbuilding Company;
  • Business executives from Keidanren (Japanese Chamber of Commerce)

Japan's economic policy toward African development taken in its entirety is directed within the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process which was first held in 1993. TICAD has led to the implementation of projects aimed at increasing African human resource capacity, infrastructure development and investment.

Japan is also very keen to share the Asian experience with South Africa and indeed, considers South Africa a strategic partner in terms of its entry into Africa.

Japan considers South Africa a very important trading partner for two reasons; of the total sub-Saharan region's GDP South Africa's economy accounts for 40%, and South Africa is rich in natural resources, specifically gold, diamonds, platinum and white gold. Japan sees South Africa as the gateway to Africa and as such, opportunities in trade and investment are considerably expanded.

South Africa is a reliable source of raw materials and is seen as a market for manufactured goods.

In 2005, Japan was South Africa's third most important trade partner internationally, and for several years has been South Africa's most important trade partner in Asia. Japan is a large investor in South Africa despite the fact that the investment accounts for 0.3% of Japan's outward Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).

South Africa's main exports to Japan in 2005 were as follows: Platinum (35.4%), motor vehicle (23%), wood chips (10%), Aluminium (8%), Ferro Alloys (10s%), Manganese (4%) and Citrus (1.1%). South African imports from Japan consist mainly of machines, mechanical appliances, vehicles and measuring and photographic equipment. South Africa exported vehicles worth more than R 7billion to Japan in 2005.

It is estimated that almost all the minerals and more than half of South Africa's total exports are imported by no more that twenty Japanese companies, all of which have offices in South Africa, including JETRO and JICA. There are approximately sixty-three (63) Japanese companies operating in South Africa.

Visit to Indonesia

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka is expected to hold bilateral political and economic discussions with her Indonesian counterpart Vice President Jusuf Kalla in Jakarta, Indonesia on Monday, 24 April 2006.

Issues on the agenda are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • Co-operation between SADC and ASEAN;
  • Reflection on the New Africa-Asia Strategic Plan - developments since April 2005 and the way forward in the consolidation of economic relations between Africa and Asia;
  • Developments in Africa including the consolidation of institutions of the African Union and Asgi-SA and JIPSA;
  • Suggested areas of co-operation between both countries including mining, energy, telecommunications, infrastructure, SMMEs and tourism;
  • Global governance including World Trade Organisation discussions and the comprehensive reform of the United Nations; and
  • Other issues of mutual interest including the situation in the Middle East.

Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka is also expected to visit Solo in Central Java and Makassar in South Sulawesi.

Trade between South Africa and Indonesia has expanded fast (more than 300% since 1993) with the trade balance in favour of Indonesia. South Africa's main exports to Indonesia include pulp and waste paper, cotton, flat and rolled steel and iron ingots, while its main imports are vegetable oil, natural rubber, textiles, timber, paper, plastics, footwear, stone and plaster.

There is increasing investment by South African companies in the vast mineral reserves of Indonesia, that include nickel, copper, silver, gold. Gencor (Ingwe) is active, with Iscor, Anglo-American, and Plessey also showing interest. Murray & Roberts has an office in Jakarta and is hoping to obtain civil construction contracts in the infrastructure sector. In addition, Thebe Investment has signed an agreement with Indonesian-owned trading company PT. Prima Comexindo.

One of the biggest SA IT companies, M-Web, has a huge investment portfolio of USD16 billion in Indonesia.

The visits to Japan and Indonesia are indeed very important since this is the first time that a visit has had such key focus areas - ie. AsgiSA and JIPSA.

Visit to South Africa by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete

  • As you know, President Kikwete paid a working visit to South Africa last week. This was part of his visit to the SADC region.
  • During discussions with the President he outlined the importance of South Africa, not just bilaterally but in terms of the SADC region and the African agenda.
  • President Mbeki, on conclusion of the visit, highlighted that trade relations between South Africa and Tanzania should be enhanced. In this regard, it has been agreed that the Presidential Economic Commission would be given priority and will meet within the next two months.
  • The South African delegation was briefed widely in terms of Burundi with regard to the involvement of the Phaliphutu-FNL in the peace process and the withdrawal of Frodebo from the peace process and the impact of these developments.
  • We also had extensive discussions regarding the DRC - we have been informed that the Union for Democracy and Social Progress Party of Mr Etienne Tshisekedi has not registered to participate in the elections and that registration would not be re-opened. The consequences of this development must be further analysed. We do not believe that there will be much fallout from this.
  • We were also briefed in terms of the East Africa Summit held in Tanzania. Of significance was the decision that a common market protocol will be signed by December 2008 and would be functional by 2010. There will also be ministers specifically allocated to ensuring this process is fastracked. The question of whether Tanzania will continue to remain a member of SADC must be further considered by the Tanzanian government. As you know, a decision has been taken that concerted efforts would be made that countries not belong to too many sub-regional groupings.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, could you kindly elaborate on whether the decision by the Israeli government to not meet with parties who have held discussions with Hamas would interfere with President Mbeki's visit to the region?

Answer We have asked for clarification on this position. However, as you know, a similar decision was taken with the late President Arafat. If we held discussions with him, the Israeli government would not meet with us. We would have to visit another country and then return to meet with the Israeli government

However, we do believe, that if we are to assist in finding a solution to the situation in the region, we must interact with both parties.

Question Deputy Mnister, can you please clarify what the situation is regarding South African women being held in Mauritius?

Answer I am not fully aware of this situation, but if indeed South Africans are in distress around the world, it is the responsibility of our missions to seek consular access to the detainees.

Let me also say that for some time we have been increasingly concerned that South Africa is becoming a transit point and that South Africans are being effectively utilised as drug couriers. We have over 150 South Africans mainly in Thailand and Latin America serving sentences for drug trafficking. Officials in our missions seek regular consular access to the detainees and meet with their families.

According to reports, prisoners abroad are living in very dire conditions when compared to those in South Africa. We have ruled out the option of Prisoner Transfer Agreements.

We reiterate our call to South Africans: do not fall victim to the idea of making quick, easy money by being a drug courier.

The head of the South African Police Service is now also the head of Interpol and there is very good and growing co-operation among countries to eradicate this scourge.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, could we please have an update on the situation in Iran?

Answer I am happy to note that the US is unequivocally denying that there are advanced plans to commence airstrikes against Iran as alleged in widely disseminated articles in the United States.

The Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Mohamed ElBaradei is now in Iran - we urge the Iranians to co-operate fully with him.

We are firmly of the view that the IAEA is the only body through which the situation in Iran can be addressed. I am pleased to note that increasingly, other countries like the EU3, are calling for a diplomatic solution.

We do however, firmly reiterate that not action that would further inflame the situation be taken.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you kindly comment on preparations for elections in Côte d'Ivoire?

Answer We have had a massive request from the governments of Côte d'Ivoire and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to assist with preparations for elections. These have been relayed to the Independent Electoral Commission for consideration.

However, reports with regard to the situation in Côte d'Ivoire continue to be positive.

The question of the DDR process and the disarmament of the militias remains and we are hopeful that the new Prime Minister is able to deal with these outstanding issues effectively. After all, free and fair elections will not be possible without effective disarmament.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

11 April 2006

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