Notes following Briefing to Media by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Union Buildings, Pretoria, 05 February 2008

Good afternoon, let me start with the very recent developments of concern in the African continent.

CHAD

As you are aware over the weekend there was serious fighting between government forces and rebels in the capital, Ndjamena which has left many dead and wounded, at least 500.  Latest reports indicate that fighting started yesterday again with all the consequences that we had hoped we could avoid. 

The South African government welcomes the AU Summit’s condemnation of the attacks perpetrated by armed groups against the Chadian government and the demand that an immediate end be put to these attacks and the resulting bloodshed.  And our government also welcomes the announcements that the Summit has tasked the Republic of Congo President Dennis Sassou Nguesu and the Libyan leader Muamar Gaddafi to spearhead efforts aimed at finding a negotiated and peaceful solution to the current crisis.  We fully support the view that we will reject any unconstitutional change of regime in Chad and we will not recognise any unconstitutional change of government. 

As you know South Africa played an important role in ensuring that an emergency session of the Security Council was held and of course are part of the statement that strongly condemns these attacks and all attempts to destabilise by force and recalled its commitment to the sovereignty, unity, territorial integrity and political independence of Chad. 

What is significant is that the Security Council resolution urged all states within the region “to deepen their cooperation with a view to putting an end to activities of armed groups and the attempt to seize power by force and to provide support to the Chadian government if it seeks assistance.” 

This is important because as you know French troops have been in Chad for many years and have been reinforced over the last few days.  And clearly there is a feeling that the mandate of the Security Council allowed the French forces to act more decisively in the conflict situation.  The Security Council also reaffirmed the Council’s support for the UN mission to Chad and the neighbouring Central African Republic that was authorised by the Council last year. 

It also endorsed the work of the European Union force which has been deployed to Chad.  At this stage I must reflect my own view that it has taken too long for the European Union force to operationalise and indeed for the UN force for the Chad and Central African Republic which is quite clear tensions were growing and the delay now, Solana the EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner has just announced it will be delayed its deployment, I think it’s not a correct decision.  If they were on the ground, maybe we could have prevented this huge escalation of violence.

You are also aware that as part of an agreement between the South African government and the French authorities to evacuate South Africans from Chad five South Africans have already been evacuated early this morning and later today more South Africans are due to be evacuated.  The rest of the South Africans, which are not many, are not in any danger at the moment and when they seek evacuation we’ll arrange this with the French authorities. 

We are very concerned about developments in Chad because the fighting in Chad threatens regional peace and security as Chad borders Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Sudan and Niger.  And therefore any overspill of the Chad conflict will have wider regional repercussions, therefore we are very keen to bring about an end to the violence in Chad. 

We are also concerned that the Chadian foreign minister on a French broadcast on Monday said that the Chadian armed forces were prepared to cross the border into Sudan if it was necessary, and that there are growing fears of an all out war between Chad and Sudan.  The South African government’s view is that this is not in the interest of the Chad people or Sudanese people, and indeed of the region and Africa as a whole.  And we would caution any extension of the conflict by movement of Chad government forces into Sudan.  And we would urge that they allow the processes as initiated by the Security Council and the African Union to take its course.  We are also very concerned that the Chad events are threatening peacekeeping and the humanitarian efforts in Darfur and elsewhere.  It is already been estimated that there were 20 000 Chadians who had already moved to Cameroon and that the humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of refugees from Darfur is already being impacted on.

We must say that the underlying causes of the conflict in Chad cannot ignore the fact that Chad’s largely untapped oil reserves provide huge incentives for the conflict to be sustained.  And we do hope that commonsense will prevail and that those oil resources do not become yet another excuse for continuing the violence.

KENYA

South Africa continues to be deeply concerned about the violence in Kenya.  We believe that while the recent outbreak of violence was as a result of the disputed presidential elections, we must look at underlying causes, inter alia, the issue of land, unequal distribution of resources and economic opportunities.  And like in many other countries, land hunger is expressed through ethnicity or tribal groupings.  Unfortunately politicians do exploit ethnic loyalties in these circumstances.  Also the issue of devolutionist power is seen by many in Kenya to be the solution to the root causes that I’ve just referred to.  As you recall in the 2005 constitutional referendum the burning issue was the devolution of power.  Because many Kenyans believe that it is only in this way that it can deal with the issue of the land hunger, unequal distribution of resources and job opportunities. 

As you know Mr Ramaphosa was chosen by Kofi Annan to head long-term negotiations efforts in Kenya and he has had to pull out of the peace talks.  It is clear that the Kenyan government has indicated that they did not see Mr Ramaphosa to be an honest broker and the former Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan has reluctantly accepted the withdrawal of Cyril Ramaphosa from the role of chief mediator.  The South African government strongly rejects the erroneous argument by the government that Mr Ramaphosa could not be an honest broker.  The reasons given by the government are rejected with the contempt they deserve.  Mr Ramaphosa during the negotiations in the South Africa democratic process as well as his contribution during the Irish peace process has indicated his ability to seek solutions in the interests of peace and democracy and without taking sides.  The South African government respects Mr Ramaphosa’s position that he had withdrawn because despite his serious attempts to convince the government of his commitment to finding a peaceful negotiated solution, the Kenyan government remained adamant of not wanting Mr Ramaphosa to act as a negotiator on behalf of the AU.  And this we believe is not in the interest of the Kenyan people and in the interest of peace and stability in Kenya.

However on the positive side, Mr Annan has met representatives of Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga after the sides on Friday agreed to a “roadmap.”   The government and ODM mediators have agreed on major steps aimed at resolving the political crisis caused by the disputed Presidential election.  Among the key issues agreed to was the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the need to encourage and help displaced people to settle back in their homes or other areas and have safe passage and security throughout.  Other agreements were to encourage the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation team to come to Kenya to investigate what had happened since the conflict broke out and to ensure freedom of expression, press and peaceful assembly.

It has been announced by Kofi Annan that the truth commission should have as its members local and international jurists. And we hope that this will be done.
Mr Annan has announced that the PNU and ODM representatives unanimously agreed on the immediate measures to promote peace, reconciliation, healing and restoration. The proposed peace rallies should be convened by leaders of all political parties.
It is also good to note that immediately after the pact was made public, the Government of Kenya lifted the ban on live coverage which had been imposed after the announcement of the Presidential results.

  • There are many other recommendations in terms of what should be done about humanitarian issues.  They recommended that measures to be implemented immediately should include:
  • Assist and encourage displaced people to go back to their homes or other areas, and to have safe passage and security throughout;
  • Provide adequate security and protection, particularly for vulnerable groups, including women and children in the camps;
  • Provision of basic services for people in displaced camps. Ensure that there is adequate food, water, sanitation and shelter within the affected communities - both those in displaced camps and those remaining in their communities;
  • Provide medical assistance with specific focus on women, children, people living with HIV and Aids and the disabled, currently in camps for displaced;
  • Ensure all children have access to education. This will involve reconstruction of schools; encouraging return of teaching staff and provision of learning materials, and helping children to return to the institutions;
  • Provide information centres where the affected can get information regarding the assistance that is available to them and how to access it, for example, support for reconstruction of their livelihood, or tracing of family members;
  • Operationalise the Humanitarian Fund for Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post 2007 Election Violence expeditiously by establishing a bypartisan, multi-sectoral board with streamline procedures to disburse funds rapidly;
  • The fund is open to public contributions and all citizens and friendly countries, governments and international institutions to donate generously;
  • Ensure that victims of violence in urban areas are not neglected;
  • Ensure that all-inclusive Reconciliation and Peace Building Committees are established at the grassroots level. The committees should involve the provincial administration, councils of elders, women, youth and conflict resolution or civil society organisations.

The team also agreed that the Speaker of the National assembly, Mr Kenneth Marende, be requested to hold a Kamukunji (informal) meeting of all elected 207 MPs to allow them to debate the political crisis.

No time frame was set for implementation of the recommendations as part of the immediate measures to resolve the crisis, but the parties recommended that weekly updates of the progress be made public and given to President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.  So there is some progress in that field but the violence is still continuing at a level which is unacceptable.

Both sides have named their negotiating people the government side is led by Foreign Affairs minister Moses Wetangula and the other side by senior members of the opposition.

The South African government welcomes the agreements reached by the Kenyan government and the opposition to urgently implement the decisions taken.

SUDAN

The two sides have failed to meet the deadlines for the redeployment of forces. Although the Government of National Unity has been restored, its success will determined by the successful implementation of the Agreement.  In the absence of a demarcated boundary, the two sides continue to dispute each other’s presence in certain areas. The redeployment of forces must be completed. Also the formation of joint integrated units of the SAF and the SPLA must be expedited.

One of the most serious challenges ahead continues to be Abyei, a disputed region between north and south.  Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the region has had no administrative governance structure. 

It is also important that the demarcation of the overall north-south boundary is resolved as son as possible, because as the on going delays have implication for other matters, such as the census, elections and power- and wealth-sharing arrangements.

DARFUR

The UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, said in Addis Ababa during the Summit last week that "All the key issues have been resolved.  On the composition of the force, we understand the position of the government is that [it will be] predominantly an African force, that is why we expedited the deployment of African units.”  However, he said they want at the same time to prepare for the deployment of a few non-African units for capacity that might not be available in Africa.”

We are still concerned that only 9 000 of the 26 000 troops have been deployed, and as we said last week they still estimate that it could take much of 2008 for an effective force to be deployed. This is I believe is unfortunate because as I said previously the delay to fully operationalise the UN-AU hybrid force can create conditions for violence to break out in ways that have not happened up till now.  We are again repeating that the fact that there is no full deployment is largely because Western nations have not sent some of the strategic equipment needed such as helicopters.  UN officials continue talks to resolve any outstanding matters, as I reported last week disabling the communication during security operations and banning of night flights which have raised concerns on the effectiveness of the Mission.

However, Sudan has postponed the signing of legal framework of Darfur hybrid peacekeeping operation and indicated that a date for the signing would be determined later.  Sudan’s ambassador to the United Nation Abdal-Mahmood Abdal-Haleem has explained that the signing of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) had been adjourned to a later date because the foreign minister had to go and attend an IGAD meeting on Kenya which was very vital at this stage.  We hope that this will be signed very soon because it is supposed to define the parameters for the composition, type of equipment and weapons UNAMID will possess, as well as assign land for use by the mission.  Technical delegations from the Sudan, the African Union and the United Nations had negotaited the SOFA in Khartoum last month.  Now this delay, we believe, has to be dealt with quite urgently in order to prevent any more delays in this process.  The South African government is also concerned that if we do not move decisively on Darfur, then the broader Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan can also be impacted on.  What is quiet clear is that the two sides have failed to meet the deadline for the re-deployment of their forces and that although the government of national unity is restored, its success will be determined by the successful implementation of the agreement.  However in the absence of a demarcated boundary, the two sides continue to dispute each other’s presence in certain areas.  And it is therefore important that the re-deployment of the two sides armed forces must be completed as soon as possible.  We also believe that the formation as determined by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of a joint integrated units of the government army and the SPLA should be expedited.  We must quickly get the integrated forces functioning.  However one of the most serious challenges ahead continues to be the disputed region between north and south.  And as you know since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement this region has had no administrative government structures.  So it is quite clear, we must move decisively on the Darfur issue if we do not want the broader Comprehensive Peace Agreement to have difficulties.

ZIMBABWE

As you are aware, President Mbeki in an interview with SABC, reported to the Organ of SADC on Politics, Defence and Security on his mediation efforts in Zimbabwe.  The President reported to the organ of SADC that the Zimbabwe negotiators working with the facilitating team have in fact completed negotiations on all substantive matters relating to the Zimbabwe political situation.  The President reported that agreement on everything of substance, inter alia the constitution, changing of the laws, creating a climate conducive to free and fair elections, land questions, issues of sanctions have been resolved.  He reported that what is outstanding are some procedural matters that have to do with issues around the enactment of the constitution that has already been negotiated and agreed, how and when does it come into force.  He further reported that there is a continuing discussion amongst Zimbabwean parties about these outstanding procedural issues.  The organ SADC has thus urged the Zimbabwean parties to continue to engage on this matter and to get an agreement on the procedural issues.  The organ of SADC has also renewed the mandate of the facilitator to try to ensure that the outstanding procedural issues are resolved.

As you are aware it was announced through a Government Gazette that the elections in Zimbabwe would take place on 29 March 2008 and this will be for the harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local elections.  The Nomination Courts will sit in the provincial magistrates' courts on Friday 8 February for all candidates for the Senate and House of Assembly elections to hand in their respective names.

You are aware that the Constitutional Amendment Bill No. 18 harmonised local, parliamentary and presidential elections, amongst others, and was adopted jointly by all political parties in Parliament in September 2007 and subsequently signed into law.  In addition, amendments to media and security legislations that were considered problematic by the opposition and civil society have also been made. The Parliament of Zimbabwe passed amendments to the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Broadcasting Services Act in December 2007 with the support of MPs from ZANU-PF and the MDC

President Mugabe’s nomination by the ZANU-PF Central Committee to be the party’s presidential candidate for the 2008 presidential elections was endorsed at the Extra Ordinary Congress in Harare in mid-December 2007.  The ruling Party started holding its own primary elections on 4 February 2008 to decide on their candidates that will contest House of Assembly and Senate seats in March.  And the opposition party are also in the process of nominating their candidates.

Recent reconciliation talks between the two MDC opposition forces broke down and it was announced on 3 February 2008 that the two MDC factions will field rival candidates in the March elections.

Official preparations are underway in anticipation for the elections.  Inspection of the voter’s roll began on 3 February 2008 and constituencies have been deliminated to allow for an increase in the number of parliamentarians as per provisions of Constitutional Amendment No 18.

The Zanu-PF National Commissioner Elliot Manyika confirmed that “there are indications that there will be shocks in some areas.  Some provinces are through with the primary elections while others are still to complete their exercises.”

BURUNDI

The Facilitator Minister Nqakula and Special Envoy Ambassador Mamabolo travelled to Dar Es Salaam from the 28th to 31st January 2008.

They met with Rwasa the leader of the Palipehutu-FNL to convince him to return to the peace process. 

After that they travelled to Addis Ababa to meet Presidents Kikwete and Museveni, who are the co-chairs of the regional initiative to renew the mandate of South Africa as the facilitating country in the Burundi peace process, which was granted.  This mandate has been renewed for one year, therefore Minister Nqakula will continue as the facilitator.

Last night Minister Nqakula and Ambassador Mamabolo travelled to Dar Es Salaam to meet with Rwasa today 5 February. 

The facilitation is seeking to ensure that representatives of the Palipehutu-FNL return to the joint verification and monitoring initiative by end of February and that the leadership of the Palipehutu-FNL return to Bujumbura by the end of March.  The plan for the first six months is to focus on the implementation and finalisation of the DDR process and the beginning of the security sector reform process.  The plan for the second six months is to focus on post-conflict reconstruction assistance with specific identified projects.

MIDDLE EAST

In the context of international law, the Geneva Convention and the AU positions on indiscriminate military actions against civilians, the South African government expresses its unequivocal condemnation of the tragic suicide bombings in Israel in the city of Dimona, Israel yesterday. 

It is our view that all acts of terror leading to the loss of civilian lives do not deliver the much cherished peace and security that is sought by Palestinians and Israelis alike.  The suicide bombings reportedly perpetrated by a splinter group of the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade can’t justify any cause and has been shown to effectively weaken the Palestinian authority and the legitimate cause of the Palestinian people.

The South African government calls upon the members of the post Annapolis working groups engaged in peace negotiations under the leadership of Mr Qurei and Ms Livni to not allow this suicide bombing to stall their efforts.  Similarly the South African government condemns the recent spate of suicide attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka, Iraq and Pakistan.

AFRICAN UNION

Last week I briefed you on the importance of the AU Summit that was held under the banner of the “Industrial Development of Africa.”

Summit took important decisions that will make an important impact on Africa’s developmental challenges.

Finally on the African Union we gave you a full briefing last week and when you go back to that briefing, what I will say today you can just add to you information.  As you know, President Kikwete of Tanzania has been appointed as the new Chair of the AU and he will hold this post for the coming year. 

The Foreign Minister of Gabon Jean Ping was elected the new Chairperson and he replaces the present Chairperson of the Commission, Professor Konare. The Secretary General of Comesa, Mr Wencha from Kenya was elected Deputy Chairperson, replacing Mr Mazim Baka from Rwanda. And all the other Commissioners have been elected.

  • Peace and Security: Mr Ramtane Lamamra (Algeria)
  • Political Affairs: Mrs Julia Joiner (Gambia)
  • Infrastructure and Energy: Mrs Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrhaim
  • (Egypt)
  • Social Affairs: Adv. Bience Gawanas (Namibia)
  • Human Resources Science and Technology: Mr Jean Pierre  
  • Ezin (Benin)
  • Trade and Industry: Mrs Elizabeth Tankeu (Cameroon)
  • Economic Affairs: Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba (Malawi)
  • Rural Economy: portfolio reserved for East Africa and elections deferred to most probably in April 2008 and to coincide with the Extra-Ordinary Session of Council of Ministers to be held in Tanzania.

This is important because now we have put to rest any debates about the election of the senior people because now they have to get on with ensuring that the decisions taken at Summit and other meetings will now be implemented with the vigour it has to.

We reported last week on the whole debate on the union government and the audit of the African Union.  It has now been decided that an Extra-Ordinary Session of the Executive Council will be held in April 2008, in Tanzania to look at the report of the experts on the audit of the AU.  We did brief you last week on the importance of this audit and I do hope you look at it because it has a lot of implications on how the future of the AU progresses.

On the Committee of Ten that had to deal with the African government leading to the United States of Africa, the Ministerial Committee of 10 reported to the Summit and the Summit has now decided that the Ministerial Committee of will be replaced by a Heads of State Committee and joined by the outgoing and the newly elected Chairperson of the AU Commission.  It is now the Heads of State who will take this process further, look at all the elements relating to the formation of the African Government and will report back to the Summit in July.  The ten countries are SADC represented by Botswana and SA; the Northern region represented by Libya & Egypt; the Central Region is represented by Gabon & Cameroon; the Eastern region by Ethiopia & Uganda; and the Western region by Nigeria & Senegal.  So the next  few months are going to be important because the Heads of State will have to look at all elements relating to the creation of the African Government because it is quite clear that the July Summit has to take some decision on this matter.  We believe enough work was done through the Ministerial Committee and other initiatives in the past and now the Heads of State have just to pull this together and get the final decision on the way forward.

Serious discussions on Economic Partnership Agreements, I briefed you about our concerns about the European position on this. The AU has taken some decisions on this. 

As I reported last week, the theme of the conference was “The industrialisation of Africa” and once again it is quiet clear that the Summit had a very fruitful discussion on the whole issue of the industrialisation of Africa and the need for Africa to take certain steps to ensure that this does become a reality.  The full decisions of the Summit are:

  • Endorse the Action Plan of the 1st Extraordinary Session of AU Conference of Ministers of Industry (CAMI) on the industrial development of Africa and
  • Reaffirm our strong commitment to the principles of good governance, rule of law, accountability, sound macro-economic management, which are necessary for the accelerated development of our countries.

 Commit ourselves to:

    • Accelerate the pace of Africa’s industrial development especially the conversion of natural resources to higher value-added products
    • Adopt policies and programmes for natural resource processing and greater value addition in Africa
    • Enhance public-private sector partnership, particularly in the areas of heavy infrastructure development
    • Increase investment in Science and Technology, Human Capital Development, with emphasis on technical training to enhance Africa’s industrial productivity and competitiveness;
    • Pool resources and share  knowledge and know-how in the area of industrial technology, planning and production management
    • Establish and strengthen  the legal and institutional frameworks  for the promotion of African industrial enterprises at national, regional, continental and international levels;
    • Strengthen African Industrial Research  and Development Institutions and Agencies to develop innovative approaches and programmes for the accelerated industrial of Africa;
    • Encourage Africans in the Diaspora to increase their contribution to the industrial development of Africa;
    • Speed up the establishment of the African Investment Bank and the promotion of African  regional and continental capital markets;
    • Achieve the harmonization business laws
    • Take necessary measures at the national level to implement the Action Plan
  • Reaffirm our strong commitment to the principles of good governance, rule of law, accountability, sound macro-economic management, which are necessary for the accelerated development of our countries.
  • Call upon our development partners to adopt policies and measures to encourage their companies to increase investment in local processing within Africa of the continent’s natural resources.

The next Assembly of the AU will be held end of June and beginning of July 2008 in Egypt and we believe that by that time a lot of work would have been done on the three issues: the audit; the AU government and indeed the EPAs with the European Union and jointly with that the industrialisation of Africa. 

President Mbeki commented that while appreciating the Programme of Action of Industrialisation of Africa, the urgent task that needs the attention of Ministers of Industry, the AU Commission, Private sector and other roleplayers was to develop short, medium and long-term plans, costed and with clear time lines.  Africa was aware of its challenges and what needs to be done, but the challenge was more the realisation of the implementation plan.

The decisions of the Summit will enhance Africa’s efforts to meet our Millennium Development Goals.


Comments by Ambassador Abdul Minty, Deputy Director-General: Ambassador and Special Representative Disarmament and Nepad

As you might have heard the second accused Geiges also pleaded guilty today.  Just to give you background about the case, you know that is a case that involves the supply of equipment for the nuclear weapon programme of Libya and it is also said that this is part of a global network arising out of the so-called Khan Network in which, according to the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and other countries, up to 30 to 40 countries are involved in the various transactions that relate to this.

In that context, as we reported to the Board of Governors in September, South Africa is the only country that has successfully prosecuted any of the people involved – at that time it was Gerhard Wisser, a German national and no it is Geiges, a Swiss national.

Now the significance of this is that the network information is quit clear. In the actual pleading documents and the charges you get the details of the kinds of transactions that were involved and we will be working with the IAEA and other countries to see if we cannot get other countries that were involved to also prosecute.  There is a perception of course that the matter is over – I just want to emphasise that it is not over, you see the legal process is not completed for both of them, for Wisser and Geiges.  The suspended sentences are linked to them giving a full disclosure of any information they have with regard to any involvement with Weapons of Mass Distraction.  With regard to the charges they have violated laws that passed under our Energy Act, which has to do with the DME and the Non Proliferation Act, which has to do with the Non Proliferation Council which I happen to Chair – so they violated those two sets of regulations.  But now once the police complete their interviews with both of them and give us – the DME and the Non Proliferation Council – the results of those declarations and information, it will be up to us to judge whether they have given all the information.  If, through the evidence that we have – you must remember that we confiscated a lot of documents and material - if, through the evidence that we have and the knowledge that we have about their involvement in the Khan Network, it is found that they have not declared fully, then the suspended sentences no longer become suspended.  So just to let you know that the legal process is not complete until we have all those affidavits from them and we are satisfied that they have disclosed fully, of course then we will share that information with the IAEA and the Agency has got units that are working out their own picture of this network with regard to putting together the different jigsaw pieces, and that is why it is important for the agency to get the full impression of this kind of network.

Comments by Dayanand Naidoo: Chief Director Consular Services

Just to explain Consular Services: Essentially we were set up to assist South African citizens that are distressed abroad and clearly our assistance is limited to what is it that we can actually do in the country where the event occurs and the Deputy Minister explained it clearly on our association with the French and our request to them.   As it stands at the moment we have five South Africans that have been evacuated to Gabon; four others are at the French Military Base as we speak and these four South Africans will be evacuated depending on the schedule by the French military, they normally have been flying out in the evenings. So of course when we are informed that they will indeed be leaving, whether it is tonight or tomorrow, our mission in Libreville, through our Ambassador there, will then receive the four and will render them assistance.  There are three more South Africans that remain stranded in N'Djamena, we are in contact with them through our Charge d'Affaires Gert du Preez as well as we are speaking to their employer in South Africa who also has contact with them there. They are safe, its just a matter of moving them either to the French Embassy school and from where they will get into the planes. That is the status as we have it – there are also other South Africans in the south of Chad and they all are in contact with their employers; we are in contact with their employers; and we are in contact with them via our Embassy in France and they have not indicated that they are in any danger and clearly where we stand indications are that evacuations are only out of N'Djamena, there is no other evacuation being planned out of any other part of Chad but the companies have indicated that over the next few days they are in the process of evacuating their employees.

Questions and answers

Question   Could you give us some idea whether the South African government believes that at this stage of the agreements that have been reached between the government of Zimbabwe and the MDC a free and fair election is possible.  This was the original intention and it seems, although you said that President Mbeki reported to the SADC meeting that negotiations are continuing, but all the evidence is that there are no negotiations taking place.  The MDC is complaining that President Mbeki hasn’t reported back to them since the SADC Summit.  And so it seems as if the situation as it is now is the situation that will prevail at the time of the elections.  Are those conditions for free and fair elections?

Answer   As I indicated that President Mbeki gave the organ a full report.  It’s clear from what I said, he has said on all substantial issues there has been an agreement, it’s now a matter of procedure.  I’ve also indicated that in terms of Amendment 18 and other factors which both Zanu PF and MDC jointly both voted in December in parliament all the laws impacting on the elections in terms of the media, repressive legislations had been dealt with.  So objectively the conditions are there.  It’s interesting that the opposition have now agreed to contest the elections, albeit as two factions of the MDC. 

And it’s important for South Africa, for SADC and the international community to now contribute in any way possible to ensure that given that legal and other frameworks are in place that the elections are free and fair.  Because it’s clear that in the end we must ensure that all the Zimbabwean political formations would accept that it’s free and fair and the international community, starting with Africa and further afield must accept that it’s free and fair otherwise we wont be able to solve the crisis in Zimbabwe.  I’m not sure, well we’ve just got back from the AU Summit, I’m sure the President or his facilitating team will report back to the two factions of the MDC on the discussions at the organ and see how we can go forward.  We must understand that there is no longer any negotiations that are needed.  It’s now all procedural.  They’ve agreed to everything, the question is do you implement the new constitution before the elections or after the elections, so it’s a procedural problem.  Although the facilitator has a renewed mandate on this, it is really now procedural which the Zimbabweans themselves have to sort out.  But as I indicated that the election date has been announced, 29 March.  Within the ZANU PF a new candidate has emerged to contest against President Mugabe.  The two MDC factions have their own candidates.  They are all going through their primaries, and as I’ve indicated early indications are that many senior members of ZANU PF have lost their seats in these primaries already.  So there’s lots of interesting things happening we just have to watch it.  It is my view that there are now certain developments which we must assist in consolidating to ensure that everything goes well for the elections.

Question   Minister three questions.  First, just on Zimbabwe again, is it the President’s assessment that the conditions are of such a nature that parties will see the current situation in the country as conducive to free and fair elections?  And then on Chad, you said that more South Africans will be evacuated this afternoon, could you put a figure to that.  And then also about those who will remain who still need to be evacuated and those who will stay behind.  And thirdly on Kenya, did the South Africa notify the Kenyan government about its displeasure on Cyril Ramaphosa’s dismissal or leaving the mediation process?

Answer   I’ve just done that now.  All I can say is that we’ve indicated that through the facilitation all the conditions that were regarded as being obstacles to free and fair elections had been agreed to both parties and legislated on.  Now we must, as I said earlier, try to ensure that, if its in the legislation, what are the other conditions that must be created to ensure that it is fully implemented so that all the contesting parties will work to create conditions for a free and fair elections. I haven’t asked the President of what his assessment is, but I can say to you that it will now depend on how the whole process preparing for the election campaign will unfold and whether the new legislation or the amendments to the legislation will make it possible for all parties to freely and fairly participate in the campaign.  It is now a matter for us to watch all the time.

On Chad, there were five taken out yesterday there were four supposed to be taken out today, that leaves three more who seem to be not yet wanting to come out.  But we are in touch with them through our Charge d’Affaires if and when they want to come out, we’ll bring them out.  Well yes, I made a public statement generally, but on the issue of Mr Ramaphosa specifically we will make this clear to the Kenyan government about our view vis-à-vis Cyril Ramaphosa.

Question   Two questions on Chad.  Do you think you were ill-informed about what happened in Chad, because on Sunday Ronnie Mamoepa was still insisting that there is no need to evacuate even as the rebels swept into the capital?  And is it the government’s responsibility to save South Africans caught in situations like that, or in practical terms are they on their own?

Answer   I think what Ronnie Mamoepa was saying on Sunday was at the time when we were assessing the situation.  We first of all get in touch with our mission, we get in touch with other institutions, the French and others to get a better sense of the timing vis-à-vis the evacuation.  It’s clear by Sunday we were still assessing the need to evacuate.  But late Sunday when it was becoming clear that the French, we had already discussed with the French that if and when they were going to evacuate they would evacuate those South Africans that wanted to come out.  So later as we went on through Sunday it was becoming quite clear and we did make it clear to the French when they evacuate that they should evacuate those South Africans that wanted to come out.  It is our responsibility as the South African government and this is why we have embassies.  Where there are conflicts or other natural disasters that we have a special responsibility to first of all try to determine what South Africans are in the area, and secondly then to work out plans on how to assist them whether giving them safety of some sort where they are or when there’s a need to evacuate what arrangements can be made to evacuate them.  In most of these cases we cannot evacuate on our own, we need the support of the major powers who have much more logistics, troops etc in these countries.  We work very closely with the majors to achieve this objective.  I must say to date on every occasion the major powers have been willing to cooperate with us whether it’s natural disasters or armed conflicts to evacuate or put our citizens in areas of safety. 

Question   My first question has been answered.  I just wanted to find out from the Minister the government’s reading of the rejection of Cyril Ramaphosa as a mediator by the Kenyan government.  And secondly, just your take on former Minister Mukoni availing himself as a candidate for presidential elections in Zimbabwe.

Answer   I have indicated in my written statement that we reject the reasons given for not wanting Cyril Ramaphosa to be part of the AU mediation team and spending some time there negotiating.  The reasons given, as I say, we reject with contempt because there’s no basis for suggesting that Mr Ramaphosa is not acceptable because he had some business dealings with the leader of the opposition.  Mr Ramaphosa has categorically denied this.  And as I said, we are convinced that Mr Ramaphosa’s track record both in South Africa and in the Irish peace process has proven that he is quite capable of acting in the long-term interest of issues that need a political solution.  So we are very concerned that the government decided not to accept Mr Ramaphosa as an honest broker.  We think it’s a loss to the mediation team.  However as I said there has been some other progress made and we hope that Kofi Annan will find as suitable a candidate as Mr Ramaphosa to carry on with what they have already achieved up till now.  Mr Ramaphosa gave the government all the assurances and he had serious discussions about his commitment to finding a solution and yet they rejected him. 

On Zimbabwe: as I was coming here the announcement was made.  It is a first time that within the ZANU PF, and as you know he is not speaking as an independent candidate but he says he is standing as a loyal member of ZANU PF.  There is another presidential candidate.  We still have to wait for the consequences.  He has indicated he will announce the names of key personnel both political and non-political who will be part of his campaign and therefore part of his team.  So we will have to wait to see what the repercussions are on the Zimbabwean presidential campaign.  You see that also in the ZANU PF primaries, many leading ministers, deputy ministers, senior politicians according to the national commissar of ZANU PF have lost their seats. 

Question   Minister two questions, first of all accepting the help of France in getting our people out of there, does that in any way constrain us to taking a critical view of what France might be doing in Chad, what is our position?  We know that the new president doesn’t want to act as an age-old policeman but would we be happy with France intervening to save the government of Idriss Deby?  On another one entirely, Iran launching a satellite carrying projectile today, the United States calling it a ballistic missile and other phrases to it.  Does this in any way affect Iran’s position vis-à-vis the International Atomic Energy Agency in our view?

Answer   The arrangements between France and its former colonies to have military bases are arrangements between two governments and it’s been there for a long time.  None of the countries have changed that arrangement and so it exists.  Them helping us does not constrain our views on their role any where, French troops.  Where we feel that they are not playing a constructive role we’ll speak on it, but we’ve had no occasion to question the role of the French troops in Chad or in Gabon or elsewhere to date.  The Security Council has again called on all the countries in the region and elsewhere to adhere to the call by the government to assist them.  And if they feel, because France is the only country with troops because the EU troops have not yet been deployed, and if the government calls for the French troops to assist them we’ll just have to accept that.  So if it brings stability to the area we will not challenge that, and as I said we are opposed to any unconstitutional change of our governments and we will not accept the actions of the rebels in Chad. 

The Iran missile situation has just happened and my colleagues in the Multilateral might better be able to discuss that.  My own view is that many countries in that region are testing weapons, many countries all over the place are testing weapons.  We must not allow this missile testing to divert from the reality of what I said last week that we are convinced that within the framework of the IAEA very good progress is being made in resolving all outstanding issues with the IAEA on the nuclear issue.  I think that we must all be a bit cautious about going overboard about this Iran missile test.  There’s nothing to indicate that this is aggressive posture.  As I say every country in the region is doing the same thing.

Question   On the question of Kenya, the majority of African countries are yet to send congratulatory messages to the Kibaki government, has South Africa done that?

Answer   No the South African government has not sent congratulation messages to President Kibaki because as the election results were announced there was a challenge to these results and indeed very serious violence erupted and we’ve been waiting to get the reports from the AU, the Security Council and other sources to find a solution.  I think at the moment we are all of the view that there’s very serious violence based on the challenging of the presidential elections.  It’s best for us not to pre-empt anything that might come out of the truth and reconciliation and what might come out of the negotiations and the UN human rights investigations team.  So until then we will hold our recognition like most of the African countries and just try to encourage a peaceful solution.  But it is a contested terrain at the moment.

Question   Why are no others of these countries proceeding with prosecutions, is it a lack of will or ability?

Answer   Well we don’t really know. When we gave our report to the IAEA Board – and we will do another report at the next Board meeting in March – we indicated that in some cases we also knew of countries that were well-positioned to assist us in our own investigations and that that assistance was not forthcoming. So this is a serious matter. No government makes a statement like that lightly.  Now there is a lot of evidence in the various publications that is coming out – investigative journalists have written about it, and many others. There are complications in some countries of a legal nature. For example if you have a federal system of government, then the prosecutorial authorities who have federal power do not have the powers that different states have, and some of them have tried to improve that legislature, subsequently to give them a coherent approach to the prosecution.  So we are trying to see if we can discuss how to go forward. Now there is no formal international court or structure as you know so we have to work through the Agency.  And governments that have been involved, the 30 or more – and their nationals are involved in these transactions, they then decide to have discussions with us on the basis of the evidence that we have, we will have to work with them carefully to try and see if we can’t get successful prosecutions because it is extremely important to get these prosecutions – you do not know what these people are doing in the global sense and Dr El Baradei when this whole thing was exposed, described it as being the biggest threat to the NPT  and clearly it is the biggest threat to the NPT.  But we are discussing this also with bigger countries, and you will be familiar in the context of our normal policies on disarmament which differ from the big powers, that often when we raise issues of disarmament, namely: nuclear weapons should be abolished, they claim that we emphasise that in order to divert people from Non Proliferation.  The manner in which we have dealt with this case, I think, will indicate that we have acted far better than other countries involved in it.  I should maybe share with you that the South African government, when we first found this evidence, worked in a very coordinated manner – resources were put in without limitation with regard to ensure that the investigation was very thorough and comprehensive, where various services were mobilised.   And the success of the conviction, where the accused admitted guilt, is really based on the overwhelming evidence that has been prepared, so I think it is a very great tribute to our investigative capacity and our agencies.  And also to the fact that the prosecution was conducted in a manner that was exemplary, so Wisser was left with no alternative when he saw the evidence to plead guilty, and Gieges, who up till now had not pleaded guilty – although quit a lot of the evidence to which Wisser had pleaded guilty would in a sense have been very strong against Geiges should he have continued to plead not guilty. So he then pleaded guilty in light of the overwhelming evidence.

At this stage of course we can’t disclose all the cooperation that we had and extended to other government for obvious proliferation implications but we did also have considerable cooperation from a number of governments and there were witnesses who were ready to come and give evidence should a court trial have proceeded here – so we have now built up quite a lot of experience and knowledge, and indeed international cooperation – in some areas not as much cooperation as we had expected on this matter, so we will now be interacting with other governments.  The dilemma – it is difficult maybe for many people to understand – the dilemma is that if you use any of the material that you get through this kind of investigations and you mention it or release it in some way – if it is something that can proliferate, then our international obligation is to handle that carefully. We take full responsibility of its proliferation if we hand it to somebody. So if we give it to another entity or to another government we have to make it very clear to that government about the use of that information because the source of that information could very well be our own country. So to that extent you have a certain liability.  Now there are no precedents to this because there are not many cases that have been dealt with in this way – most of them have been national and not with the international linkage of this kind. But I am sure the matter will also be discussed in a different context when the NPT meeting takes place in May in Geneva. We had the first meeting last year in Vienna. This is preparing for the 2010 review meeting of the NPT and if and when it is discussed obviously South Africa will make its position clearer as it has done before.  So we do not know the basis of, if you wish, lack of prosecution as we don’t have enough information.  Maybe we can make another point. You see there is a great deal of focus by most of the western countries, as it so happens, on legislation – that you must have strong legislation on non proliferation and they focus a great deal on developing countries, saying “you don’t have this legislation”.  What we have said in all our submissions and also to the 1540 Committee is that legislation is very important but what is critical in this sort of cases is information-sharing and investigative capacity – so you can have all the paper legislation you want but if you don’t get information from other governments and go share the information with other government and work with them together, it is very difficult to get convictions.  And also if you don’t have investigative capacity and do proper investigation and bring the case to court.  So I suspect that many governments feel that they have evidence, but not enough evidence for a conviction.  In Germany they have attempted a couple of prosecutions but they did not succeed as the authorities wished to.  And there are some indications that they might be resuming some of those efforts.

Question   You have indicated that the others in Ndjamena don’t want to be evacuated, you seem to be suggesting that they are not in any danger but if they would like to be evacuated then you’d send them to the French?

Answer   They are. I think the problem here has been over the question that was put to Mr Mamoepa earlier on is sort of that we are contradicting things that we say.  The situation continues to unfold and clearly people that indicated earlier on and then Deputy Minister Pahad was quiet correct – over the weekend we had suggested to South Africans that they should rather remain where they were and they had undertaken at the time – and this information has only come through over the last while in terms of the fact that they need and will be making their way to the school – the three of them.

Question   You said “lots of South Africans” in the South. Why don’t you say: “one in the East and two in the South?” When you say lots do they have any numbers?

Answer   The number keeps fluctuating depending on which company you are speaking with, for example late last night we had spoken to one of the airlines and we had go updates from them that they had evacuated on their own before there was fighting six of their employees and another four were confirmed left this morning.  And then ofcourse there are other companies, I don’t wish to name them I’ve got the list, they have various contracts from mining, cellphone companies in Chad and when we speak to the companies they then give you the numbers.  That is why I say lots, if I give an estimate and say there were ten then you’d have to explain the ten.  So there are a number of South Africans.  They have been in contact with their companies they are in contact with Mr Du Preez our Charge d’Affaires and all we can say is they are safe and some of them chose to remain and some who will be leaving we are told  in the next two to three days their companies are in the process of evacuating them.  Clearly some of these people have lost their passports etc, and again through our mission in the region we will give them assistance to return home.

Question   Is Mr Du Preez himself in any danger?  He is staying behind while the bullets are flying around?

Answer   No he is not.  We are in constant contact with him through not only consular services, but the acting Director-General of Foreign Affairs as well as our Ambassador in Cameroon who is accredited there.  At the moment he has indicated that he is in no danger.  Clearly if those circumstances change then a decision will be made about his evacuation or his possible should I use the word evacuation.

Question   Could we get some kind of an estimate when you say lots people that could mean a hundred or ten.  Could we not get some kind of figure?

Answer   I’m resisting very hard sir to give a number but it’s not hundreds.  You see the problem is if I say to you we know of 15 or 20 and then tomorrow some company says but I’ve got 35 employees then our numbers are wrong.  This is what has been consistently happening.  If I may say yesterday when we spoke to this airline they indicated they had six people.  When you probe further, no it’s not six.  It’s six here and four somewhere else and another two in another place.  And we’ve indicated to them it’s not our role as the department, especially as consular service to know what it is they were doing there.  That’s not our inquiry.  Our inquiry is simply to establish numbers so that when we negotiate with the French authorities, we know exactly what it is that we are asking.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

5 February 2008

 

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