Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa, Tuesday, 23 May 2006

President Mbeki's visit to the United Kingdom

  • As you may be aware, President Mbeki will be arriving in London sometime this morning ahead of discussions with Prime Minister Tony Blair.
  • Minister Dlamini Zuma arrived in London yesterday. A large South African and British contingent will participate in the South Africa - United Kingdom Bilateral Commission.
  • The significance of these events is further amplified by British Prime Minister Tony Blair who has written:

In an important year for Africa this will be an important week, when the Global Business Coalition on AIDS, Chairperson Konare of the African Union, and President Mbeki, with seven of his Ministers, will be in London. We need to see progress, if the international community is to deliver on the promises it made to the people of Africa last year to help them overcome the problems which disfigure their continent and devastate the lives of millions.

There's no doubt that 2005 saw unprecedented agreement on a plan for Africa. Thanks in no small part to the weight of public opinion behind the Make Poverty History campaign and Live8, world leaders at Gleneagles signed up to doubling aid, to write off debts, to help train desperately-needed peacekeepers, to boost investment in health and education and to make AIDS drugs available to all.

Words, of course, are easy. Action is much harder. That is why we are working very hard to turn those words into action, so that 2005 will indeed be seen as the turning point, which millions across the world had hoped and worked for.

The international community has already cancelled the multilateral debts of 19 countries in Africa. Nearly $4 billion was committed in 2005 to replenish the Global Fund to fight AIDS, TB and malaria. Aid increased from US$79 billion in 2004 to over $100 billion in 2005, well on the way to the $129 billion target by 2010. We have also launched a new UN Emergency Fund to respond more quickly to natural and human disasters, like Darfur and the Pakistan earthquake, and ratified the UN convention on corruption.

We are doing our best to show the way. Britain has announced an £8.5 billion down payment over the next 10 years to fund plans throughout Africa to provide universal education for children. Along with other European countries and a generous grant from the Gates Foundation, we have launched the International Finance Facility for Immunisation, which will save five million children a year from death by 2015. The first bonds will be issued soon.

All these initiatives are already having a real impact on the lives of real people. Because of debt relief, healthcare in Zambia is now delivered free of charge.

But we can't sit back. This week we have a chance to move forward on a number of fronts.

Tomorrow, sees a major effort by business to help the world meets its pledge to make AIDS treatment available to all who need it by 2010. The meeting in London of the Global Business Coalition on AIDS brings together more than 200 global companies, including Standard Chartered, BP, Virgin, Unilever, Anglo-Amercian, MTV and Glaxo, to mobilise the international business community to help end the AIDS pandemic.

Frankly, we need the investment, cooperation and drive of business, working in partnership with governments, charities and aid agencies, to ensure each African country can prevent and treat AIDS. This is a call for action and funding.

For our part, we are working closely with UNAIDS and African governments on developing comprehensive national plans for achieving long term universal access to AIDS treatment. No good plan should go unfunded.

Also tomorrow, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is visiting Nigeria, where he will continue to press for long-term plans for education, just as he has done in earlier visits to Tanzania and Mozambique.

When I meet Alpha Konare, the Chair of the African Union, we will discuss how we make stick the critical Darfur peace agreement negotiated in Abuja just over a week ago. Hilary Benn, who spent almost a week in Abuja helping the negotiations, has worked very hard to ensure that Africa and the international community work closely together and up their efforts to avert this humanitarian tragedy. We need to use the peace agreement and the new UN Resolution to put pressure on the regime in Khartoum and the rebel groups to stop fighting and provide access to the UN as it takes over from the African Union later this year. In the meantime we need to do more to help beef up the AU's mission in Darfur. The Gleneagles commitment to establish the AU's 20,000 strong permanent peacekeeping force by the end of this year is a vital step towards a more effective African response to conflicts and crises like Darfur.

On Tuesday, the two day South Africa-UK forum begins in London when Margaret Beckett and Foreign Minister Zuma will lead two teams of Ministers in extensive talks on the wide range of issues where we work closely with South Africa. Fifteen Ministers will participate on our side. The breadth of these talks demonstrates that South Africa is a key partner both for our shared goals in Africa, but also on the big global issues.

At the end of the Forum, on Wednesday, I will meet President Mbeki. As always, we will have a lot to talk about. But I also want to concentrate on the Doha Trade Round, the one key element of our 2005 Africa agenda, where I am quite dissatisfied with the progress we are making. From recent conversations with President Bush, Chancellor Merkel and President Lula, I feel sure that the world's leaders want an ambitious deal, which will deliver real benefits for the poorest countries. I am determined to do what I can to turn this political commitment into real movement in these negotiations. We cannot afford to fail.

  • From this we see that Prime Minister Blair is also concentrating on ensuring that the London meeting takes forward all previous commitments on Africa - the Gleneagles Plan of Action, etc. In this regard, it is being increasingly realised that empty commitments cannot continue to be made without actions.
  • The Roundtable that will be held as part of the Bilateral Forum is also very exciting. It has been titled, "Africa 2005: Putting Our Promises into Practice," and will focus on achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring implementation of the commitments made in the report of the Commission for Africa and at Gleneagles in 2005. Discussions will also include the operationalisation of the African Union, the implementation of NEPAD and the promotion of peace and stability in Africa.
  • That the Roundtable will focus on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is very significant. This indicates a movement away from rhetoric and the focus on what has been achieved.
  • Discussions between Prime Minister Blair and President Mbeki will also focus on:
  • The forthcoming G-8 Summit;
  • Africa's developmental agenda and the implementation thereof;
  • The restructuring of the United Nations;
  • The Middle East Peace Plan; and
  • The Iranian nuclear issue.

Côte D'Ivoire

  • We have just returned from the 7th session of the Ministerial International Working Group (IWG) on Côte D'Ivoire in Abidjan on 19 May 2006.
  • The meeting received the 6th report of the Mediation Group. This report indicates that progress continues to be made.
  • The Group welcomed the launching of the pilot project of public hearings in seven locations in Abidjan, in the South and in the North of the country, as well as the arrangements currently being made by the Chiefs of Staff in order to start the pre-cantonment of combatants.
  • The IWG also expressed concern at the delays in the execution of many of the essential tasks scheduled in the road map and urged all Ivorian parties to continue to co-operate closely with the government with a view to ensuring the identification and DDR processes are extended to the entire territory immediately after the completion of the pilot project of public hearings and pre-cantonment of combatants.
  • We also met with the Minister of Defence and Chiefs of Staff of the Defence and Security Forces of Côte D'Ivoire (FDSCI) and the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN). These parties were urged to implement the commitments agreed to since time is fast running out.
  • The Group called for an extension, throughout the country, of the activities of the Independent Electoral Commission and the National Commission for the Supervision of Identification - both of which are essential bodies to ensure preparations for elections are carried out and that the October deadline for elections is met.
  • The Group also called for an end to violence and hate speech.
  • It is clear that the IWG recognises that progress has been made but that this must be accelerated.
  • The next meeting will take place on 23 June 2006.

Non-Aligned Movement Ministerial Meeting

  • The Ministerial Meeting of the CoB will primarily prepare for the NAM Summit to be hosted in Cuba in September 2006.
  • The Ministerial Meeting of the Co-ordinating Bureau in Putrajaya will primarily focus on preparations for the XIV Summit to be held in Havana, Cuba in September 2006.
  • Both the Ministerial meeting and the Summit have been entitled, "Towards a more dynamic and cohesive NAM: Challenges of the 21st Century."
  • There has been much debate about the relevance of the NAM in a post Cold War environment.
  • Let me reiterate: the NAM consists of 113 countries and was initially formed to focus on the interests of smaller countries that were being sidelined due to the power of larger countries.
  • The key issue now facing the NAM is: how does it respond to a fundamentally transformed global environment.
  • The NAM is currently faced with 3 principle challenges:
  • Poverty and underdevelopment - this impacts negatively on 1000s of people around the world. It is now commonly held that the benefits of globalisation are spread unevenly. The projections of growth in many developing countries refer only to those with vast natural resources. It is clear that many sub-Saharan countries will not meet the Millennium Development Goals.
  • Peace and Stability - this refers to conflicts in Africa and beyond. The deteriorating situation in the Middle East is now widely cited as one of the contributing factors to international insecurity. The NAM Committee on Palestine will meet on the fringes of the CoB and endevour to add their collective voice to finding a political solution to the ongoing instability in the region.

There is also growing concern regarding the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Let me reiterate, the NAM is fully committed to the total eradication of weapons of mass destruction. As a body we support the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.

We must also address the growing threat of terrorism.

We will in the context of the above discuss how the NAM can add its voice to the discussions in the United Nations on these matters.

  • Restructuring of the global exercise of economic and political power - let me begin by quoting the United Nations Secretary-General, "We will not enjoy development without security, we will not enjoy security without development and we will not enjoy either without respect for human rights.

We believe the NAM has a very important role to play in discussions regarding the restructuring of the United Nations and all its bodies including the Bretton Woods Institutions and the World Trade Organisation.

We must also strengthen multilateralism and move away from unilateral actions.

In this regard, the G-77 will also meeting during the NAM meeting.

Visit to China

I will, upon conclusion of the NAM CoB Meeting in Malaysia proceed to the People's Republic of China where he will visit Beijing and Shanghai.

The following issues are expected to be raised during bilateral political and economic discussions with Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Dai Bingguo on Wednesday, 31 May 2006:

  • A review of bilateral political and economic relations between China and South Africa, including the promotion of trade and investment between both countries;
  • The One-China policy;
  • The Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) preparations ahead of the Summit scheduled for later this year;
  • Assessment of the implementation of the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership a year after its adoption by African and Asian Heads of State and Government at the Summit in Indonesia and the synergies of this Partnership with NEPAD;
  • Security issues including non-proliferation, conflicts, terrorism, and the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes;
  • The comprehensive reform of the United Nations including the Security Council; and
  • Preparations for the Chinese Premier's visit to South Africa in June 2006.

While in China, Deputy Minister Pahad is also scheduled to hold discussions with:

  • Foreign Minister Li Ziaoxing;
  • Vice-Minister of African Affairs Lu Guozeng;
  • Director-General of the Department of Policy Planning at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Jiang Xiajuan;
  • Vice-Minister of the Research Office of the State Council, President of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and President of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations

Deputy Minister Pahad is also expected to meet with the Chairman of Shanghai Industrial Corporation (SIIC) which has been active in South Africa since the 1990s, prominent members of the South African business community in both Beijing and Shanghai and pay a courtesy call on the Mayor of Shanghai.

In addition, China's economic system is the third largest in the world. In 2004 China had the world's seventh largest gross domestic product (GDP).

The Chinese economy continued to grow robustly at 9.8% and 9.6% in the first and second quarter of 2004. Latest figures of the first two months of 2005 are showing that China's exports swelled to $95 billion an increase of 36% from a year earlier while imports to china grew by 8% to $84 billion, leaving a surplus of $11 billion. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce forecasting that 2005 surplus will be a lot bigger. China had a surplus of $32 billion in 2004. Much of the export growth has been in textiles and garments, shoes, electronic goods, computers and cellphones. In January 2005 China exported garments to the value of $9.5 billion.

Economic Bilateral Relations

South Africa is China's key trade partner in Africa accounting for 20,8% of the total volume of China-Africa trade. China has set up more than 80 companies in South Africa since 1998 while Chinese FDI to South Africa amounted (cumulatively) to about US$ 199.3 million, while South African FDI into China amounted to about US$ 700 million (excluding offshore investments from South African corporates such as SAB Miller and Anglo American.

South Africa's exports to China consist mainly of raw materials such as aluminium, nickel, manganese, zirconium, vanadium oxides, chromium ores, granite, platinum and gold.

China's exports to South Africa have included mainly manufactured products, such as footwear, textiles, plastic products, electrical appliances, tableware and kitchenware.

The complementary nature of the two economies provided the impetus for the growth of trade. At the same time, bilateral trade amounts to only a very small percentage of both China and South Africa's international trade profile, suggesting that there is still enormous potential for an increased exchange of goods and services.

According to 2004 statistics South Africa exports reached nearly R5.5 billion with China and imported more than R18 billion of manufactured goods from China.

Total China-Africa trade reached about $29.5 billion in 2004, an increase of 59% over 2003. Growth since 2001 has increased at an average of 31.2 percent a year.

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, could you kindly clarify the situation with regard to Zimbabwe - there seems to be some confusion following your briefing of last week ie. that a South Africa - United Nations Plan will be presented to President Mugabe that will address the economic and political decline in the country.

Answer
The South African government is not aware of any United Nations initiative that is linked to President Mugabe stepping down.

Let me say, there have been many unconfirmed reports that the United Nations Security General is considering a visit to Zimbabwe to discuss how the international community can assist the Zimbabweans to solve their economic and political challenges.

These reports have not been confirmed.

However the situation in Zimbabwe is growing increasingly serious with inflation being listed at 1000%. The increased rate of inflation together with the decreasing foreign direct investment cannot be sustained and is clearly having a negative effect on the people of Zimbabwe.

Let me also say, South Africa will support any initiative through which a solution can be found.

Question Deputy Minister, you have mentioned the blue-helmetting of the African Mission in Sudan and the Peace and Security Council yesterday voted to deploy troops to Somalia. Is this an indication that the will of the African leadership to take control and responsibility of their affairs is slipping?

Answer Let me say that any initiative with international support must be endorsed and supported by the African leadership.

Peacekeeping is a very expensive operation and we cannot always sustain such initiatives without the support of international partners.

We have always maintained that Africa will take ownership of its challenges and solutions in partnership with international partners. It must be a collaborative exercise.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, how do you see the situation in Iran evolving now that the EU3 has made its proposal. Are you still optimistic for a diplomatic solution?

Answer No country has ever proposed anything other than a diplomatic solution. We have encouraged a diplomatic solution through the IAEA.

Regarding the proposal by the EU3 - I am not in possession of all the details of this proposal.

The position of the NAM Troika, of which South Africa is part, has always supported and consistently reiterated Iran's right to have nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. There is much distrust between the various role players and it is important that confidence building measures be taken.

We do however continue to urge the Iranian authorities to co-operate with the IAEA authorities to resolve the two outstanding issues.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

23 May 2006

 

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