Notes following Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre Amphitheatre, Union Buildings, Tshwane, South Africa. Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Democratic Republic of Congo

  • The process of preparing for elections in the DRC is on track.
  • The South African Government will be deploying a 128-member National Observer Team to observe the DRC elections. The Observer Team would consist of people from civic organisations, parliamentarians, government officials and individuals who have previous observation experience. The observer team will be deployed to the DRC from 12 July - 21 August 2006.
  • SADC has also requested that 10 South Africans be nominated to the SADC team. This request is currently being processed.
  • As you already know, South Africa has been selected to print the ballot papers, for which the UNDP will bear the costs. The South African Government on the other hand will bear the costs for the purchase of the printing paper, storage of ballot papers in South Africa and the costs for the transportation of the ballot papers to fourteen (14) hubs in the DRC. An Agreement between the Government of the Republic of South Africa and UNDP has been signed in this regard.
  • A total of thirty-three (33) presidential candidates have registered for the elections. There are over nine thousand legislative candidates for the 500-member National Assembly. This has necessitated the printing of over two thousand tonnes of ballot papers.
  • The IEC had also requested 300 IT and logistics support personnel. Since the IEC did not have this capacity, President Mbeki appealed to the private sector for such assistance. The private sector has been very supportive in this regard and have eagerly responded. These personnel will be deployed to the DRC from 2 July - 21 August 2006.
  • The IEC has also printed a voter education booklet which has been approved by the DRC government. This booklet is currently being translated into 5 of their most commonly spoken languages.
  • The European Union has decided to deploy a German led EU Peacekeeping Force of 1400 troops to the DRC to bolster security during the elections. Only about 400-450 troops will apparently be based in the DRC while the rest will be based outside of the DRC, in one of the neighboring countries still to be identified, as a rapid deployment force should there be violence during the elections.
  • Since this is the first time that such elections will be held in the DRC in more than 40 years, the massive logistical and technical challenges should not be underestimated.
  • We are also anticipating that observers from all over the world, especially the EU and Africa will witness these elections. This will assist in proclaiming them free and fair which is what is required for the country to move forward.

Middle East

  • The continuing tensions in the Middle East is a matter of grave concern to us.
  • The recent attacks and the kidnapping of an Israeli soldier has created a situation of grave danger and concern.
  • The South African government has joined voices within and beyond Palestine calling on the kidnappers of the Israeli soldier to return him.
  • We are also calling for caution with regard to the situation in Gaza - it is imperative that the Gaza not be re-occupied by Israeli forces. There can be no justification for such acts.
  • We have sent a message to President Abbas and the Hamas led government expressing our support for their attempts to resolve the matter diplomatically.
  • We continue to continuously monitor the situation through our mission in Ramallah.

President Mbeki's visit to Mozambique

  • President Mbeki will co-chair the SA-Mozambique Economic Bilateral Forum in Maputo on Thursday, 29 June 2006.
  • He will be accompanied by:

  • Minister Mphalwa
  • Minister Radebe
  • Minister Erwin
  • Minister van Schalkwyk
  • Minister Sonjica, and
  • Myself.

  • This is a very important and unusual forum at Heads of State level since it focuses primarily on economic links between the two countries.
  • Issues on the agenda of these discussions are expected to include:

  • Migration - the implementation of visa abolition agreement, hours of operation of the Lebombo-Ressano-Garcia Port of Entry and the Giriyondo Port of Entry
  • Tourism and Environment - the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, new bilateral agreement on Fisheries and Marine and Coastal Management and the Lubombo Transfrontier and Resources Area
  • Minerals and Energy - the Cahora Bassa project, the northern Mozambique Power Development Initiatives, the supply of additional electricity to Maputo, the Pande and Temane Natural Gas Project
  • Transport and Communication
  • Agriculture
  • Finance - the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement
  • Trade and Industry - implementation of the MoU on Economic Co-operation and regional integration

  • We will off course do a fuller briefing next week.

President Mbeki's visit to the 7th Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government

  • President Mbeki will lead the South African delegation to the 7th Summit of African Union Heads of State and Government in Banjul, the Gambia from 1-2 July 2006.
  • As you know, Minister Dlamini Zuma is already there where she will attend the Ministerial discussions in preparation for the Summit.
  • The theme of the Summit is "Rationalisation of Regional Economic Communities and Regional Integration."
  • As you already know, South Africa gives a lot of attention to the African Union Summit since it is the major continental forum that is increasingly playing a greater role on the Continent.
  • Former President Konare, in his address to UNISA on Saturday said, "many important issues will be discussed under the theme 'Rationalisation of the Regional Economic Communities and Regional Integration', inter alia, the subject of the Union Government for Africa, how this could be achieved, within what time frames and what members must do to achieve greater integration, the structure of the African Union Commission and its relationships with the regional communities … Africa is at a crossroads …, if African countries are willing to take the bull by the horns, then Africa will not be the same after Banjul."
  • President Konare outlined the following as some of the key issues Heads of State will have to deal with:

    African leaders have strategic choices to make in confronting these challenges. Since the majority view is that collective action is the preferred option, what should be the model and the pace of Africa's integration. The answers to these questions must be found on an urgent basis, since time is running against us. We must accelerate the pace of the integration of the continent in order to be able to catch up with trends around the world. Africa cannot become a full-fledged member of the global community without having achieved its own monetary and economic integration.

    The AU considers regional integration as essential for the transformation and modernisation of the African economies in its Strategic Plan adopted in 2004.

    Unfortunately, the process of regional integration is not moving fast. This is because of the difficulties to co-ordinate and harmonise the requisite policies. These difficulties are exacerbated by the fact that some countries continue to be members of different regional economic communities (RECs). We must therefore address the issue of overlapping memberships and try to rationalise the eight communities presently recognised by the African Union.

    African leaders must take actions that aim at improving the co-ordination and harmonisation of sector policies in Africa and support the creation of networks that would facilitate the free movements of goods, services and persons. In the process of economic integration, the African Union also gives high priority to the development of regional and continental infrastructure projects."

    · Former President Konare went on to say, "I advocate for a model of integration that is based on the principle of subsidiary. The main idea here would be to identify some policy areas, which can be better co-ordinated and supervised by a continental Executive Body. This requires, in the short to medium term, the transformation of the current AU Commission into such an Executive Body. It would be necessary for Member States to agree to surrender or delegate some of their sovereignty in policy formulation and implementation to the AU Commission. The exact form can be debated at some point. If African leaders accept to transform the Commission into a Continental, Executive Body, that body will have the authority to issue regulations and directives for Member States in a number of policy areas."

Some of these areas would cover policies regarding:

  • Peace and security
  • Good governance
  • Social sectors of education and health
  • Agriculture and food security
  • Infrastructure and energy
  • The role of government in the process of promoting public-private sector partnership
  • International relations, including trade and investment

Africa must also put in place an institutional framework, including the establishment of pan-African financial institutions that will be needed for the implementation of policies in these areas.

  • It is clear that the Commissioner has begun to indicate what the expected outcomes from the Summit are.
  • In addition, Heads of State are expected to deliberate on:

  • Peace and Security Council on its activities and the state of Peace and Security in Africa including African continental peace and security architecture and the implementation thereof and status reports on conflict situations in Africa viz. Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sudan, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire and the Comoros;
  • Special Summit of the AU on HIV and Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria held in Abuja, Nigeria 2-4 May 2006;
  • Special Summit of the AU on Fertilisers in Abuja, Nigeria 9-13 June 2006;
  • Receive a report of the Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government on the Reform of the United Nations;
  • Receive a report from the Chairperson of NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee; and
  • Receive a report from the President of the Pan-African Parliament.

  • Regarding United Nations Reform, it is clear that this Summit must emerge with a clear position on whether to proceed with the Ezulwini Consensus and on how to proceed on the matter of the deadlock on the matter of the veto and Security Council reform.
  • Summit will also commemorate the 25th Anniversary of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights and witness the swearing in of the judges of the African court of Human and Peoples' Rights.

President Mbeki's visit to Guinea and Niger

  • President Mbeki will, on conclusion of the AU Summit, pay a Working Visit to Conakry, Guinea and State Visit to Niamey, Niger scheduled on Monday, 3 July and Tuesday-Wednesday 4-5 July 2006 respectively.
  • President Mbeki's visits to West Africa comes within the context of South Africa's priority to consolidate relations with all countries in Africa with a view to achieving the African developmental agenda.

  • President Mbeki is expected to hold bilateral political and economic discussions with his counterparts, Guinean President General Lansana Conte on Monday 3 July 2006 and President Mamadou Tjanda of Niger on Tuesday 4 July 2006 during which discussions are expected to focus on, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political and economic relations between both countries;
  • The outcomes of the African Union Summit held in Banjul, The Gambia 1-2 July 2006;
  • The consolidation of the African developmental agenda through the implementation of NEPAD;
  • African peace, security and conflict resolution including the forthcoming elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the recently concluded agreements in Burundi, preparations for elections in Côte d'Ivoire and the situation in Sudan; and
  • The promotion of South African investment in Guinea and Niger.

  • It is clear from the following that economic relations in the region are not being sufficiently exploited:

South Africa - Guinea Bilateral Relations

YearSouth African ExportsSouth African Imports
2005R236 millionR11 million
2004 R282 million R10 million
2003R333 million
R5 million

South Africa - Niger Bilateral Relations

YearSouth African ExportsSouth African Imports
2005 R36 million R1,7 million
2004 R30 million R402 000
2003R64 million
R3 million

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, Minister Nqakula yesterday indicated that a ceasefire agreement between the government of Burundi and the Paliphehutu-FNL will be signed by the end of the week. There are however reports emerging that the Paliphehutu-FNL yesterday walked out of talks and in addition, have indicated that they feel threatened by South Africa's mediation attempts.

Answer Firstly, I am hoping that Minister Nqakula gave you a sense of what the principles agreed to were and the two-week deadline for finalisation of a comprehensive ceasefire agreement.

I personally have not heard about the walkout - in any event, in talks of this nature, there are often breakaways where groups discuss issues in smaller numbers.

I am also not aware that the Paliphehutu-FNL feel threatened by South Africa's mediation attempts. As you are already familiar, South Africa is the facilitator of this process but works within the regional grouping consisting of Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda.

Let me take this opportunity to highlight that many agencies report in a manner that is attempting to scuttle the processes. For instance, a day before we were scheduled to travel to Dar-es-Salaam with the President, all South African media were reporting that the talks had failed.

Indeed, when we arrived in Dar-es-Salaam, we discovered that the processes had faltered but in no way had they failed. And while the talks did take longer than anticipated, an agreement was eventually reached.

Question Deputy Minister, as you have quoted extensively from President Konare's speech, what do you anticipate are his outcomes from the Summit?

Answer President Konare presented an overview of African challenges and what needs to be done to address these.

It is clear that he is expecting discussions on many of the issues mentioned and subsequently, outcomes and decisions.

He has also indicated it is clear that the structure of the AU Commission must be revised.

I hope that the Ministerial meeting will process many of these issues ahead of the Summit.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, could you please provide more information on the South Africa - Mozambique Economic Bilateral Commission?

Answer South Africa has these economic fora at Heads of State level between Mozambique, Namibia and Tanzania.

These are not ordinary bilateral fora but special Commissions supported by Economic Ministries. Heads of State meet for a day to assess progress in economic relations. We have found these to be very useful since they assist to identify blockages and remove bureaucracy often impeding growth in these areas.

This sitting will look at the following:

  • Migration - the implementation of visa abolition agreement, hours of operation of the Lebombo-Ressano-Garcia Port of Entry and the Giriyondo Port of Entry
  • Tourism and Environment - the Greater Limpopo Transfrontier Park, new bilateral agreement on Fisheries and Marine and Coastal Management and the Lubombo Transfrontier and Resources Area
  • Minerals and Energy - the Cahora Bassa project, the northern Mozambique Power Development Initiatives, the supply of additional electricity to Maputo, the Pande and Temane Natural Gas Project
  • Transport and Communication
  • Agriculture
  • Finance - the Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement
  • Trade and Industry - implementation of the MoU on Economic Co-operation and regional integration

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, who will head the South African observer team to the DRC?

Answer This matter has not yet been finalised. There will be a briefing of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the elections in the DRC tomorrow after Cabinet. We hope the matter will be finalised then.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what has been the outcome of the investigation into the alleged coup plotters in the DRC, either in Pretoria or Kinshasa?

Answer At this stage, the South Africans allegedly involved in this coup attempt are at home. We have however, received no reports confirming their involvement or alleged involvement in the coup attempt.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what will be done to address the security concerns raised by some diplomats in weekend media reports?

Answer I have heard that the diplomatic corp is preparing a petition to be handed over to the South African government and this is clearly a matter for concern.

We have also received reports that diplomats from all regions will be meeting to determine a way forward to this matter although no petition has yet been drafted.

The attacks against diplomats are viewed by the government within the context of the increase of crime in general and represents a challenge that must be addressed. The shoot-outs involving criminals and police officers on Sunday and again yesterday clearly illustrate this.

Given our past discussions, I feel that the diplomats may be looking for special government protection. While they all have engaged the services of private security companies, they may now be looking for government protection on a reciprocal basis - as some of our Embassies abroad have host government protection.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, we have received reports that President Mbeki was rebuffed by President al-Bashir in Sudan over the matter of the conversion of AMIS to a UN operation.

Answer President Mbeki went to the Sudan to, in general, review the progress and obstacles in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. There are only a few years left before the people of Sudan have to decide on whether to become of United Sudan and or split up into North and South.

There is a general agreement at the AMIS has done a good job in fulfilling its mandate, but given the logistics in the Sudan - the lack of infrastructure, hostile terrain, etc - it clear that the AMIS forces must be blue hatted. In this regard, we are pleased that the AU Peace and Security Council have taken a decision to this effect.

It is a requirement that unless there is a situation of genocide or great unrest, that the host country must agree to UN peacekeeping operations.

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, there are reports that the UN Secretary-General will hold discussions with President Mugabe on the fringes of the AU Summit. Will President Mbeki be part of this meeting?

Answer It can be assumed that the Secretary-General will hold discussions with President Mugabe since he is planning to visit Zimbabwe soon.

And considering the proximity of South Africa to Zimbabwe and the role we have been playing, it is likely that President Mbeki will be asked to part of any such discussions.

As President Mbeki said in London any initiative that can assist the people of Zimbabwe to find a solution to their current challenges will be welcomed.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Tshwane
0001

27 June 2006

 

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