Notes following Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad
Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town
Tuesday 20 November 2007
President Thabo Mbeki to lead South African Delegation to Chogm Meeting
Good afternoon and welcome. Let me start with the usual announcements. CHOGM
President Mbeki will leave to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Uganda. He will leave on Friday and the meeting will take place from Friday to Sunday. The theme this year is “Transforming Commonwealth Societies to achieve political, economic and human development.” Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe will be attending the Ministerial segment of the meeting. The Heads of State have got a very huge agenda. Let me just outline it:
- Global challenges including terrorism, conflict prevention and resolution;
- Commonwealth’s fundamental political values which includes democracy and democratic processes, good governance, separation of constitutional powers, etc.
- Economic liberalisation and global economic stability including debt relief, aid architecture, poverty eradication and the negotiations at the WTO;
- Developmental issues includingcapacity and institution building and this is a very important element of the Commonwealth’s work and then;
- Development through strategic partnerships: that’s how the Commonwealth interacts with other international multinational institutions;
- And significantly climate change following the United Nations latest report on climate change. This will be high on the agenda.
CHOGM will also appoint a new Secretary-General who will succeed the present Secretary General Rt. Hon. Donald McKinnon. And we would like to take this opportunity to thank him for the excellent work he has done as Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
As you are aware the People’s Forum which has over 1300 delegates meetings have already started and the Business Forum will also take place on the margins, both very important aspects of the Commonwealth trying to bring in the people and the private sector.
SA-ANGOLA JOINT COMMISSION
Minister Dlamini Zuma as you know has left for Luanda Angola where she will co-chair together with her Angolan counterpart, the Foreign Minister of Angola, the 2nd Session of the South Africa – Angola Joint Commission for Co-operation which will take place from today till tomorrow. During this meeting three agreements including an agreement on cooperation in the petroleum sector will be signed. The other agreements, an agreement on the promotion of tourism and a Declaration of Intent on the waiving of visas for ordinary passport holders will also be signed.
Minister Dlamini Zuma will be accompanied by Minister Buyelwa Sonjica of Minerals and Energy and Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba of Home Affairs and very many senior officials from various departments like the Departments of Health, Agriculture, Defence, Trade and Industry, Minerals and Energy, Social Development will all form part of the Joint Commission.
As you know this Commission for Co-operation was established in the year 2000. We give it tremendous importance because of the role Angola plays in SADC but also overall in Africa. Since peace has come to Angola, Angola is one of the countries with the greatest potential, not only through its oil and other mineral resources but generally the potential in Angola to make a major contribution to African development is understood. Angola plays a major role in the DRC. And therefore this Joint Commission will be an important opportunity to discuss how we cooperate further. You also know Angola is planning for elections in 2008 and this will be a good opportunity to get an understanding from the Angolan Government about their preparations and see how if any we can contribute to helping the elections taking place.
Increasing reports of violence in Darfur, there are more reports coming out of increasing tensions between the South and the North, the Government of National Unity that was formed after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement has still not been re-instituted. The South Ministers are still boycotting it and therefore it becomes very important to try to ensure that we get a solution to the Darfur problem which is impacting negatively on the broader Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. We have briefed you on several occasions about the deployment of UN-African hybrid operation. And once again the UN UnderSecretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations has again indicated that if they do not get the necessary pledges from countries especially on heavy equipment it will be very difficult to deploy the hybrid force as scheduled. And for us this is very difficult because you cant continuously raise the issue of increasing violence without taking the necessary steps to ensure that there is a sufficiently strong force to create the climate for violence to subside and end, and therefore create the climate for the political processes to unfold. And so we are concerned about the UnderSecretary-General’s view that there has not been enough commitment for ground transport unit, which includes 18 transport helicopters, air support and six helicopters for light tactical purposes. And we agree fully with him, and it tells a sad story on the commitment to Darfur, and he says, “Frankly I think there is an immense tragedy that has unfolded in Darfur and now its up to the countries that care about Darfur to really make a commitment that will make a difference”, and that he calls for concrete actions. We have on really many occasions stated the same that we cannot keep talking of a crisis in Darfur and keep talking of the violence that is increasing without ensuring that those that have the capacity do provide the capacity so that the hybrid force can be in place as scheduled.
Of-course there are still problems arising about the nature of the hybrid force. Thailand, as we said last week, has offered to provide an infantry battalion, Nepal is willing to contribute a force reserve and sector reserve unit and the Nordic countries of Sweden, Norway and Denmark have offered to send an engineering unit. There is clearly according to the UnderSecretary-General no agreement between the Sudanese Government and the AU and the UN of utilising these forces. As I said last week, the argument still is very strong that see what we can get from the African forces before we can look at other contributions. We would urge all sides, and that’s the three sides, the UN, the AU and the Sudanese Government, to really resolve that outstanding matter of the composition of the forces as soon as possible.
The UN has requested South Africa to contribute a battalion that’s 800 troops to UNIMED and Cabinet will be discussing this issue. Generally I think, as you heard Minister Lekota saying during the visit of President Bashir, South Africa in principle is committed to meeting the requirements of UNIMED in Darfur. The UN has also requested South Africa to make a contribution of helicopters and ground transportation for UNIMED. This is an issue that is being discussed by the Ministry of Defence. I’m sure Cabinet will discuss that soon and see what we can contribute because without that sort of contribution the force cannot be deployed. At the moment the UN is now discussing the proposals for a budget of 1.4 billion to cover the period between July 2007 and June 2008. And again we are calling on the more developed countries to make a contribution to this budget that has been worked out by the Secretary-General and his experts.
before the Human Rights Commission and now the Human Rights Council condemning human rights in China comes every four years. And we don’t know whether it’s a coincidence that the four intervals also happen to coincide with Presidential elections in the United States of America. And therefore we do ask the question, does this mean that China only violates, if they are accused of violating human rights, in intervals of four years? We don’t understand why it coincides with the elections in the USA.
For reasons of its unique history of the struggle for human rights and human dignity, the issue of human rights continues to occupy a major political space in South Africa’s foreign policy priorities.
Because of different approaches and influences differences will arise in the Human Rights Council, the GA and the SC:
South African human rights policy is based on the four pillars of respect for, promotion, protection and fulfilment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms;
Some countries never talk of the issue of fulfilment of human rights, i.e. practical enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms;
South Africa believes in the inextricability between economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights;
Some countries only emphasize civil and political rights and do not regard the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights as an instrument elaborating basic human rights. For these countries economic, social and cultural rights are not rights but merely basic needs of nations and peoples;
South Africa believes in the justifiability of economic, social and cultural rights;
Some countries believe that only civil and political rights are justifiable;
South Africa strongly believes that the enjoyment of civil and political rights is not possible if not accompanied by a corresponding commitment to and practical enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights. In the past 10 years, South Africa has been one of the leading countries in championing the cause for the realization of the right to development and that we believe is an element of human rights for all peoples anywhere. And that for us the fundamentals of South African human rights law is for the achievement of equality and human dignity through sustainable development, eradication of poverty and underdevelopment and the primacy of achieving the Millennium Development Goals;
Given this factor there is not sufficient understanding of how the Human Rights Council works and there’s always concentration only in one of the ten items and this is when some countries decide to bring up what is called country resolutions. And for a long time the Human Rights Commission and now the Human Rights Council gets bogged down into serious differences because of the perceptions of the countries of the south that countries of the north are selectively bringing countries onto the table and there is not sufficient discussion of what outcomes has to be of what issues are being brought into the Human Rights Council and increasingly being taken into the Security Council. And so we are arguing that if we look at all the ten separate items within the Human Rights Council you will see there are many other issues on human rights that all the countries that are committed to defending human rights and enhancing human rights are involved in South Africa’s track record can never be challenged on those issues. And so we’ve had some interesting experiences and we’ll mention in passing a few which keeps coming and keep being country positions being taken up by the more developed countries.
On China, it is our experience that the Chinese resolution on human rights before the Human Rights Commission and now the Human Rights Council condemning human rights in China comes every four years. And we don’t know whether it’s a coincidence that the four intervals also happen to coincide with Presidential elections in the United States of America. And therefore we do ask the question, does this mean that China only violates, if they are accused of violating human rights, in intervals of four years? We don’t understand why it coincides with the elections in the USA.
Another example that we’ve been experiencing relates to the EU resolution on violation of human rights in Iran for the last 20 consecutive years and this has been sponsored mainly by the European Union. And then suddenly it was discontinued without consultation or agreement with other members of the Commission. And they then decided at this stage that there should be a bilateral forum between Brussels and Teheran on this issue. It is only when these discussions between the EU and Teheran failed, that then Canada introduced a resolution on Iran. This resolution was not taken to the Commission in Geneva, but it was introduced to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York. And we’ve been consistently arguing that we should keep it where we must that is with the Human Rights Commission in Geneva and we cannot understand why it has been taken to the Third Committee of the General Assembly in New York.
I give these examples because this indicates the difficulties we have in dealing with such issues in the multilateral institutions. What has now happened, I tried to indicate its linked somewhat to the Durban Conference on Racism and now the Review Conference. There’s been concerted efforts in some sectors to demonize South Africa for its strong resistance to the double standards, selectivity and politicization of the approach of human rights which has now been taken in the entire UN system of human rights.
And so it is our view that the current trends to demonize South Africa’s human rights record emanate principally from our total rejection of an approach which protects some violators from the developed countries and only works to identity specific countries they identify to bring in what we call country resolutions within the Human Rights Council.
And so let me give an example:
ACCREDITATION OF GAY AND LESBIAN NGOS
Even our papers run many articles that South Africa opposed the accreditation of gay and lesbian NGOs to gain consultative UN status. Nobody checked with us and therefore were completely ignorant of the UN methods of work and Rules of Procedure. The issue that was brought to vote on the gay and lesbian NGOs getting consultative status was not on the accreditation but specifically on whether the correct procedures were followed. And it was on this technical vote that South Africa voted in the affirmative and indeed we were correct in voting in the affirmative on processes rather than the substance. And so therefore we did not vote to exclude gay and lesbian NGOs from accreditation. Our Constitution commits us to defend this position, we will always defend that position. But we are always clear that we must always follow correct procedures in order to achieve the objectives.
On Myanmar you’ve heard our position before that this issue was brought to the Security Council and we’ve argued that it came to us without any consultation and we’ve argued that it must go back to the Human Rights Council which is the right forum for handling this matter. As you know there’s been significant developments on Myanmar since the Security Council, what I can only call misunderstanding of South Africa’s position. The Human Rights Council convened a Special Session on Myanmar on 1 October 2007. The outcome of the Special Session was a consensus document which ensured that the Special Rapporteur of the HRC on the Situation in Myanmar was allowed entry into the country and as we know he’s been visiting Myanmar, visiting all the different forces in Myanmar. And I believe this is a correct approach, depoliticising the issue in that sense that it doesn’t look as if countries are bringing in what is called the interests of that particular moment and trying to force two resolutions. We can get consensus which can lead to results. And this is also proven by the Security Council statement on Myanmar which was made just a few days ago on 14 November which welcomed the positive development that have been taking place like the release of some detainees, the contacts between Minister Aung Kyi as liaison officer and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, and the decision to allow Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with key members of her National League for Democracy Party. The visit of Gambari to Myanmar has opened up space for some movement in this context. And indeed we are now able through the UN structures to raise the issues with the prisoners and those jailed and continuing protest and continue to argue for the democratisation process to be accelerated. The security also has called on the authorities in Myanmar to create conditions for dialogue and reconciliation, removing conditions for the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi and by ensuring that other prisoners are released and detainees are released.
Again the ASEAN group has been meeting and the ministers have adopted a resolution on human rights which the Heads of State are supposed to endorse which will again give us a framework to begin to see how we can intensify our efforts to get movement and solutions for Myanmar. So we were never opposed as we’ve been attacked for being against the democratisation process in Myanmar. We had argued that it must go to the right structures and since we’ve played a leading role within the right structures to get movement.
“RAPE” RESOLUTION IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Now let me deal with an issue that has been totally misunderstood or distorted and that’s the adoption of a resolution in the Third Committee of the General Assembly entitled “Elimination Rape and Other Forms of Sexual Violence in all their Forms and Manifestations, including in Conflict and Related Situations” that’s a compromise agreement that has come. The background to all of this, was that the draft resolution which was introduced by the United States of America (USA) and many countries saw it as having problems because it was condemning rape when perpetrated for political or military purposes only and asserted that rape was used as an instrument of State Policy in these situations. For many delegations they saw this as another attempt to politicise issue, in this case rape and also as a selective targeting of certain Countries. And it is within the Africa Group, that many countries took exception to the views expressed in the draft resolution. It was not South Africa leading this frontal attack as has been said.
Our view was essentially that the draft resolution created two categories of rape, that is rape by military and militia groups and rape by civilians. It was our view that a more comprehensive resolution was required on such an important issue of rape. South Africa, together with other Africa delegations requested the USA to amend its draft resolution to include the elimination of rape in all its forms and manifestations and not just where rape is perpetrated for political or military purposes. The African delegations were supported by Latin America and Asia who also called for a balanced text. So it was not a rejection of the resolution, it was an attempt to ensure that we have a balanced approach on this so we can get movement on this. And Angola on behalf of the Africa Group (Chair of the month) introduced amendments to the text that sought to balance the text by making certain that there was no politicization of rape. A number of other organisations also proposed changes to the text, such as the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), who sought protection from rape for women and girls living under foreign occupation.
And indeed we, the Africa Group, argued supported by Latin America and Asia that it is important for the General Assembly to send a strong and non-politicized message that rape is a brutal, despicable and violent act whether perpetrated by civilians, the military or armed groups and that the UN must avoid sending out a message that could be misunderstood as suggesting different categories of rape. We also wished to address the issue of assistance to victims of rape which was omitted from the USA text. Because it is our view that resolutions like these are passed and if they are very limited do not have the impact they should and after those resolutions are passed victims of rape are quickly forgotten and their ordeals after they’ve been raised in resolutions are completely ignored. And as I say we then with many other countries sought to change the initial US draft. And it is I think credit to the initial drafters that after lots of discussions, the African draft was then the basis on which a more substantive resolution on rape was adopted by the General Assembly. It was by consensus which meant following the correct position, the correct tactical approach. Having a more comprehensive approach to rape we were able to have comprehensive resolution which brought in every country in the world including the major developed countries. And so this resolution adopted by the Third Committee on 15 November 2007 we believe is correct because it condemns rape in all its forms and manifestations, including in situations of conflict. And now we’ve sent out a clear and unequivocal message that rape cannot be condoned under any circumstance rather than a narrow resolution which would allow for interpretations that would not enable us to deal with it in a holistic.
So it is our view that despite the rape furor in South Africa’s media largely picked up from what was said in the United States and the NGOs I referred to our positions were completely misunderstood. And since there’s been now a consensus resolution adopted by all the countries, we’ve had no explanation to our people about the position we took in trying to ensure that we get a better resolution on rape rather than what was seen by many country as a very narrow and politicised resolution on rape.
So it our feeling that on this and other matters it is in the interest of the media to seek, you don’t have to follow our explanation, rather than to follow what some representative of the USA government is purported to have said at any particular time, and what certain NGOs have been propagating through their websites. It is in the interest of us in ensuring that we do have a world system that respects human rights and deals effectively with violations of human rights. So seek clarification from Foreign Affairs, you don’t have to accept our views but at least in the end on position we’ve taken at least two issues have become such hot issues in South Africa, the Myanmar issue and the rape issue. I believe because South Africa was part of the group that wanted a better approach how we handle these issues, that we are far more advanced on these issues than we have been if we had taken the direction of having no input and just accepting what is proposed by some countries rather than trying to improve the resolutions. And this will be our case, South Africa will never accept a position that if its big countries that propose resolutions we must accept them as given. We will not be intransigent but we will discuss our own understanding of limitations to draft resolutions and get a comprehensive resolution that will address the victims rather than resolutions that go into records that satisfy I don’t know what. This is our appeal to the media, that on many of these issues its not useful to take what has just been fed, and in our view wrongly fed to the South African media and to the international media generally about many of these fundamental issues that we are confronting. And for your own credibility, be constructively critical of what you are now receiving from sectors that sometimes put it one-sidedly and don’t identify the totality of what we are trying to achieve in the United Nations and the Human Rights Council. Thank you
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: I must quite honestly say that I didn’t quite follow what it is you say was the motivation for these people who are demonising South Africa. And what it has to do with the racism conference.
Answer: well this is the problem. There is now a huge campaign against the 2001 Conference that was held in South Africa. You know that at that time, there was some NGOs by and large funded by many of the major countries who were supposedly taking an anti-Semitic position. The USA and Israeli delegations walked out, and since then there’s been a systematic campaign to challenge the 2001 conference and our positions. We’ve been referred to as the greatest bastions of anti-Semitism in the world since that conference. The same forces that are now opposing the processes are the ones that are leading the campaign denigrading South Africa’s position on human rights. It is very difficult to attack us simply on the basis of the Durban conference but if you attack us generally on the human rights issues you then create conditions for them to accept that we are also crazy in becoming strong supporters of the review process of the Durban Conference. So it links up in that sense. But they are not the only ones, if you look at what the South African media was reporting, it was absolutely wrong interpretations. The under-secretary of the USA for international affairs was purported to have said many things. Nobody looked at the full context of the speech. The impression was given that the South African representative to the UN opposed the resolution on rape. So it all is beginning to intertwine in what we call is a very complex terrain of struggle on human rights issues. Now, we are being attacked on human rights issues also as in not a foundation to attack us being strong proponents of the Durban review process and that’s the three NGOs I mentioned are leading that campaign.
Question: Are you saying that these three NGOs that you mentioned are not credible organisation? Are you saying that they are acting as a front for, dare I say, America and the West? What exactly are you saying?
Answer: Well I’m saying they are playing a very negative role. We are consulting with them on all the occasions of human rights issues on our constitution but they are refusing to accept that and they are still purporting to suggest that we as government ran the 2001 Conference on Racism in a way that has led to the greatest manifestation of anti-Semitism since Fascism. That’s the general tone in which they are working their websites. And I think in that sense they are playing a very dangerous game because that has never been our position. We’ve always tried to ensure that we handle conferences in a way that is balanced. So, yes in this particular aspect I think they got it absolutely wrong. And I think South African media are picking up a lot of that stuff. That is my view.
Question: You’ve also indicated earlier on, it’s a bit difficult to follow (inaudible)…
Answer: I’m saying our NGOs that were demonstrating at the 2001, all of them by and large are funded by western powers. I was trying to show that despite what government was trying to do the NGO by and large now that we are being attacked by and larger are funded by Western powers.
Question: Within the UN structure do you think the South and the North interpretation’s of Human Rights is so divergent?
Answer: I think myself as I tried to show in our experience in the human rights commission, was human rights commission could not progress much, because it become a polemical institution, some countries of the developed which means the North always in item of ten the countries position always came with certain country positions and inevitably the rest of the world who are not part of the developed countries will then unite against that resolution .On many counts. And I tried to indicate on why on the China resolution, how on the Iran resolution. we also have difficulties .At the same time we also had difficulties on the approach, why they bring things in on certain times into the human rights commission then, very selective and always been, countries of the South are responsible for human rights violations. Then if then that is the case countries of the South responsible for human rights violations, one can justify that it is not only countries of the South . Issues of Iraq never come to the agenda, issues of Afghanistan never come to the agenda, and issues of the Middle East never brought on to the agenda. So it is a selective approach and a way in which some of the countries in the human rights council approach this issues that led to the immobilisation of the Human rights council. The one item that deals with country specific, we thought the transformed Human Rights council now, will be a bit different, there will more consultation, between the developed and developing countries so that we avoid the perception that it is just selective bringing issues but it continues. The EU leads on many on many of the country resolutions the United State leads on some. I’ve given two examples on Iran and with China. So we would rather want a situation with the Human Rights Council where we work together because the basic values of human rights we do not challenge it’s our tactical approach of what we try to do in the various UN institutions to achieve what that we differ with some of the countries.
Question: For the record Minister, do you disagree with the statement by the Human Rights watch that South Africa votes consistently in solidarity with perpetrators of Human Rights abuses instead of victims, and would you say that it is a coincidence that it happens that way?
Answer: I strongly disagree because I said that they are only looking at the country resolutions and indeed do not acknowledge our arguments on why we voted on the Myanmar issue and I tried to indicate that since then we have made considerable progress. We are not there yet on the Myanmar issue. In terms of involving the Un Human Rights Council, we have now the special rapporteur Gambari he is there as a special envoy, certain movements have taken place within Myanmar. I think we still need to u p the international attention so that we can ensure we get further movement because clearly we must restore Myanmar to democracy. And therefore we’ve always insisted that we’ll fight for democracy in Myanmar. So this allegation that we’ve consistently voted on the wrong side is based on absolute, nobody has explained to us concretely what it is we’ve voted on that we’ve not tried to explain. And the rape issue is the latest, which I believe there was massive distortion on what had actually happened and sadly our papers followed suit with that understanding of the rape resolution. I am convinced that there is something happening that we are being denigrated to undermine our own position because we are quite consistent on these issue so as to ensure that they are not politicised so that we seek results. I do believe that there is some consistent efforts to denigrate our position. I have said this and am saying it again, when these things happen ask us to explain what we doing at the UN, within the Security Council and outside the Security Council to ensure that we do get what we have now achieved a UN resolution on rape which is far better than the original draft which was being proposed.
Question: A couple of questions if I may. The one is you mention that you thought that the rape resolution as proposed by the US was selectively aimed at certain countries, no countries were named in the resolution, I wonder if you could specify who you had in mind. The other thing is on Darfur, whether you could indicate if you see any progress being made with persuading Sudan for example to accept the joint Nordic Engineering unit and the other one that you mentioned, I know this came up last week, I believe that President Mbeki might have tried to persuade President Bashir to accept some of these things. I know you’ve put the emphasis on the helicopters and the APCs but there are other contributions that have been offered and have been rejected. Do you find this acceptable? And also on the rape resolution, I would just like to say by the way that at least from our point of view and from the point of view of most newspaper articles that I’ve seen in South Africa, we have sought the DFA view, we’ve sought the view of Dumisani Kumalo our ambassador to the UN, we’ve sought the view of Ronnie Mamoepa or whatever here. But in any case when it comes to that resolution Ambassador Kumalo himself said that at the Security Council, a couple of months ago there was a resolution that particularly condemned the use of rape as a political weapon which South Africa had supported. Now he offered that as a defence against the argument that we opposed this new resolution on principle. But what it also illustrates is that in certain circumstances under certain conditions we seem to support the idea that you can introduce a resolution which is specifically directed against rape use as a political weapon. Again South Africa seems to get itself into these kind of procedural debates about yes you say it in this assembly but you can’t say it in that assembly. And surely that is why the perception is being created internationally that we oppose these things because our position is based on very complex procedural issues when the issues themselves are much more emotional.
Answer: I don’t know about that. But I think the understanding and interpretation of the Durban Conference is absolutely wrong. It still continues now if you get into the web sites. There are massive campaigns depicting this as the worst anti-Semitic experience since Nazism. Now that is not totally not true in light of our own experience in what were trying to achieve with the Conference in the end. We cannot be held responsible for the actions of the few NGO`s. And that is why I said that those who fund those NGO`s must talk to those NGO`s. We didn’t mobilise those NGOs and we explained this to people. Now there is a Review Conference coming. We believe too many of the UN Conferences and it goes with the Millennium Development Goals and the Secretary-General last week, I briefed you on what he was saying. There is a major gap between commitments and implementation we believe on many Resolutions this is now becoming an experience. South Africa would be one of the many countries that would stand up and publicly state our position. South Africa be it in the Security Council, United Nations Human Rights Council where we are members and in all our bilateral interactions, we will consistently argue for a non selective politicized approach to dealing with human rights violations that we believe exists in many countries. We will be much happier if the developed countries were to come to the table putting some countries of the South but also bringing in violations of human rights in the developed countries. And then you will get a balance approach in dealing with an issue that we are all confronted with all the time. We are driven by our constitution, and we can not compromise on human rights. And so we will consistently stick to the defence and protection of human rights. We will argue against any attempts politicise it and take us into directions that will not help us to achieve results in solving the problem. I do not know why they are denigrating us. I do not know why they criticise us on our votes. Every time we explain why we voted it seems nobody believes our arguments. Peter called it procedural, its not procedural. It is a very political position we are taking in the Security Council whether it is in Kosovo we would be one of those countries which say if you impose solutions you create conditions for a massive civil war in a few years time. So rather continue the process of getting all parties to agree what the UN wants to achieve. So in Kosovo we would take different positions from some countries. And unfortunately we can not be in the Security Council and take the tactical decision of just shutting up. Once you are in there you have to outline what you believe to be your position, you might be wrong, and on many of these occasions we have not been proven wrong.
Answer: …(inaudible) because what appears procedural has a lot of political undertones. But I’ll back to that. No I think that in all the negotiations it was quite clear what was being referred to in that particular resolution was the identification of the Sudanese government in Darfur and that was clear in all the negotiations. So we would rather broaden that whole thing to deal with as I said in a holistic which I believe now the consensus resolution has got. So it was Sudan that it was directed to. On the question of the Hybrid force, I did say and its in the briefing that the undersecretary of the UN Gaynor has indicated that there are some countries that have made proposal but the Sudanese government , according to the undersecretary has certain problems with these countries and would rather want to be confident that African commitments do not meet those needs and the needs of the Nepal as a battalion and Scandinavian three countries is engineering. They have been arguing that the Egyptians have offered substantial force with a lot of equipment and why are we not accepting the commitment? These are matters that we hope will be resolved between the three, the AU, UN and the Sudanese government . As I said last week this is an issue that belongs to an agreement between the three and the quicker they resolve the composition in concrete terms and explain to us publicly why this is not acceptable and why this is acceptable, the better we will be able to help deal with it and get the force in as soon as possible. Our argument is yes, in eastern Europe rape was effectively used in Bosnia and elsewhere and it was totally not raised in that way. And we’ve said this is happening in Afghanistan, this is happening in Iraq, this is happening in many other countries . So we should rather move for the not distinguishing between a particular type of rape and a general rape. Because everybody will understand and we will continue to condemn rape in whatever form including where it is used as a political weapon. Sometimes resolutions must not be underestimated. When they come in particular way, you are abound by it in totality for many decades. So we are very careful with many other countries and I want to stress, the vast majority of African countries, the Asian countries, the Latin American countries indeed accept that the first draft was too narrow in attempting to deal with what is a very serious problem and this is why we are happy that after discussions there is now a consensus resolution. So it’s not one side or another side opposing each other ideologically, it’s just trying to ensure that whatever emerges as a UN resolution has taken into consideration the viewpoints of many other countries. And I believe this is what has happened.
Question: …(inaudible) I’m just trying to find out why you think Minister, why is South Africa, for what and purposes is South Africa being sort of denigrated? What do you think people hope to accomplish, is it to knock South Africa off its moral high ground? And you’ve also made much about the fact that South Africa has been sort of denigrated as being anti-Semitic, do you think that the powerful Jewish lobby within America is behind this?
Question: It’s on the Darfur hybrid force. I’m interested in how you envisage the Hybrid force coming together? It looks as though people are playing brinkmanship on this. Minister Lekota was saying that we will be holding back until we see what other countries are going to produce, which sounds like a good position. The developed countries which have far bigger resources than South Africa, so it seems a good position to hold back, see what others produce and see what South Africa can contribute at the end of that. But at the same time, with Sudan wanting African forces, the government might come to a position at some stage where it’s got to choose between committing our own personnel carriers and helicopters or putting pressure on developed countries to produce. At the end of that process which position would the government take?
Answer: I think you heard what Minister Lekota said that we can wait. I think we have a cabinet memo that we have to discuss. The United Nations has asked us to have a battalion which is 800. I think myself in principle we have agreed to producing a battalion for Darfur which will mean blue-hatting what we’ve already got with the UNAMIS forces, that’s the AU forces and increasing the numbers at the appropriate time when we can get more numbers. I don’t think there’s a problem with the personnel. On the request for equipment, this I think as Foreign Affairs we don’t have the capacity to determine whether Defence can provide what has been requested. My own view will be that if we can provide equipment we should provide equipment because we cannot keep saying this is such an important problem we must contribute to finding the solution, then if we can contribute we don’t contribute. So I think the Ministry of Defence will be reflecting my views and saying they are looking at what we can contribute in terms of equipment, and then we’ll determine exactly what we do contribute. We can’t wait for other forces but the reality is we are not such a major military power who has all the major equipment that is needed for such a hybrid force. This is a unique force, we’ve never had 25000 UN forces in a hybrid form AU and UN with an African command and by and large agreed by the Security Council should have an African composition. I just said its budget for one year is 1.4billion. Now that’s a huge undertaking and the type of equipment that they need has to come from the more bigger military powers clearly. Because my view, and I’m repeating it, we can’t continue to say there is a major crisis in Darfur and then we are slow in making the commitments with equipment. At the same time ofcourse the Secretary-General has raised that they are having problems in getting the composition of the force sorted out as well as some bureaucratic problems of how they can get the heavy equipment in. But my problem is, if you don’t have the commitment yet why are you worrying about what are the bureaucratic problems that are preventing the equipments. Get the equipments and then we’ll all put pressure to ensure that if there’s any bureaucratic problems we can overcome the problems. But they are talking of bureaucratic problems before even knowing what they got, they don’t have the equipment to put into the field. The key challenge is that the developed countries must move decisively to provide the equipment that is needed. And that’s only those with major military equipment and that includes Russia, it includes China, includes the USA and includes some of the EU countries.
Question: I don’t think you indicated in the very beginning, you said that President Mbeki is to leave to Uganda for the Commonwealth meeting, when is that?
Answer: He leaves on Thursday.
Question: He leaves on Thursday. Will he be attending the Dakar meeting…
Answer: No. He won’t attend the Dakar meeting.
Question: Any particular reason why?
Answer: I think his programme is becoming.. too many Heads of State are all going to the Commonwealth as well. So I think they are trying to re-schedule it.
Question: Just with regards, because it is a NEPAD meeting and there has been some friction between President Wade and President Mbeki with regards to the implementation of NEPAD. What do you think the implications will be then for NEPAD, is NEPAD still going to work?
Answer: Yes. NEPAD is a major problem. I think the differences, there is no friction. President Wade has felt that implementation has been too slow. And this meeting was called as a summit to discuss how we can accelerate implementation. But now with the commitments of many of the leaders to various other summits etcetera, it is our view that they must try to ensure that this is re-scheduled as soon as possible. If they continue with the meeting, then of course the President will ensure that some senior representation from South Africa will attend.
Answer: No. No. No. Definitely not. He was going, it was only scheduled until new pressures have emerged that he has indicated that he won’t go. But we will, I think you should check with his office specifically why he is not going to the Senegal one, because they are best able to indicate that. But it’s definitely not a snub.
Question: This one is on Zimbabwe. The president of the Chamber of Mines in Zimbabwe has expressed concern about the 51% holding of foreign companies, in particular a 25% free shareholding to government of Zimbabwe. Is South Africa concerned regarding the foreign investment confidence implications it might have?
Answer: Yes I saw it today in the papers. We hope that we can get better understanding of what this law is. It was talked about previously and we will now try to meet with our mining companies who are quite involved in Zimbabwe to get an understanding of how they are reading this particular law. And I hope that our Ministers of Finance and who are dealing in trade, who are dealing with the overall economic recovery programme of Zimbabwe will look at all these matters in the context of seeing what we can do or not do to help the economic situation. So we will try to get more information on what this is. We are hoping to meet our mining companies in the next few days. We’ve been in touch with them. But this was when this was still talked about but now its become definite that a law is going to be passed, so we will have to talk to our mining companies to get a sense from them what do they think the implications of this is. Obviously, previously they did suggest that any such law will effect their confidence in investments and further investments. We will have to talk to them again to see now that this is becoming law what do they propose our approach must be to the Zimbabwean government on this issue.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
20 November 2007