Notes following IRPS Cluster Media Briefing, Imbizo Media Centre, 120 Plein Street, Cape Town, Wednesday 14 May 2008

Explosions in India

The South African government joins the international community in condemning the series of explosions in Jaipur, India that has resulted in 61 deaths and the injury of 100s.  We extend our condolences to the government and people of India.

Terrorism is a serious threat to international peace and security.

The South African government condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations.  We are committed to the full implementation of the United Nations Global Terrorism Strategy.  We will intensify our efforts to finalise the Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism during the 63rd session of the UN General Assembly.

As part of our obligations arising from the membership of the UN, our country will next month host the visit of the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Directorate (CTED) aimed at determining South Africa’s ability to deal with threats associated with global terrorism. Our country stands ready to co-operate to the fullest extent with this Directorate, certain that measures we have thus far put in place, are appropriate in our circumstances.  We welcome any constructive engagement on this matter.

Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar

The official death toll following Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar stands at 31938 with 34460 people missing.  However, NGO estimates are much higher.

The international community has pledged massive humanitarian assistance.  However, the UN Secretary-General has indicated that the Myanmar authorities are not co-operating fully with the international community. 

It is estimated that at least 1.5 million people are serious risk from starvation and disease because of the inability of the humanitarian organisations to effectively function in Myanmar.

Earthquake in China

We reiterate our condolences to the Chinese government and people following the earthquake in the Sichuan Province that has left tens of thousands of people have been killed with many more thousands being injured and displaced.

IRPS Cluster Strategic Objectives

  • Consolidation of the African Agenda
  • Strengthening of South-South Co-operation
  • Strengthening of North-South Co-operation
  • Participation in the Global System of Governance
  • Strengthening of Political and Economic Relations

President Thabo Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address, under the theme “Business Unusual - All Hands on Deck - to speed up Change,” committed all of government to “use the short period ahead of us further to energise our advance towards the realisation of the all important goal of a better life for all our people,” including the need to “enhance our focus on key areas in terms of our system of international relations, with a particular focus on some African issues and South-South relations.”

It is of particular concern that 14 years after having committed ourselves to a democratic society free of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and other forms of related intolerance we now, in our country, experience a rise in such incidents. 

This is particularly worrying given our history and that South Africa hosted and presided against the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR) in 2001.  The Declaration enjoins member states to implement the Programme of Action.  Seven years later, the UN General Assembly has passed Resolution 61/39 for the convening of the Review Conference which will be held in 2009 at a venue to be determined.

What is off concern to us is that some countries spearheading a campaign to boycott the Review Conference.  The South African government expresses its serious concerns at calls for a boycott of this Conference which can only subtract from global efforts to eradicate racism and xenophobia.  Those of us who were victims of centuries of racism in our country, correctly, must express our serious concerns at the global rise of racism and xenophobia including recent developments in our own country.  All of us have the responsibility to help devise strategies to uproot racism, xenophobia and other related intolerance in our midst.

It is our view that the Review Conference must be held because it is the responsibility of the international community to collectively implement the decisions of the first conference and devise new strategies to uproot racism, xenophobia and other related intolerances in our midst.

Given the increasing attacks against foreigners in South Africa and in dealing with this unacceptable phenomenon of xenophobia, it is important to avoid instant sensationalism.  One must carefully study each incident to identify the root causes and whether criminal and other elements are not involved in organizing violence against foreigners.  It is my view that the media has a very important role in this process.

It is also important for political leaders, trade union leaders, religious leaders, the private sector and other non-governmental organizations to constantly educate our people about the dangers of xenophobia and racism.

I do hope that what we have recently experienced will intensify our view that we cannot be complacent about the dangers that exist in all societies and that we will work together to address this.

Consolidation of the African Agenda

Continue to facilitate the resolution of political challenges facing Zimbabwe

After reviewing the situation in Zimbabwe, the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in Lusaka in April this year reaffirmed its support for the facilitation process being undertaken by President Mbeki.  With the Presidential results having been released, we look forward to a peaceful presidential run-off.  This means that all the results have now been released.  The Opposition controls the House of Assembly, the Senate is split on a 30-30 vote, the Presidential election results are known.  It is my view that the ZEC’s final announcement mirrored what we had all predicted.  It is our view that the run-off now has to take place since neither side received a majority of 50 + 1%.

We now commit SADC and all those observers who will be invited to really ensure that we have an effective presence that will ensure the run-off will be held in as peaceful a manner as possible.

It is appropriate that we congratulate the people of Zimbabwe for the peaceful manner in which the harmonised elections were conducted.  We call on all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could undermine the credibility of the forthcoming run-off election.  President Thabo Mbeki as the Facilitator has dispatched 6 retired SANDF generals, led by Lt-General Romano to Zimbabwe to assess the allegations of violence and present a report to President Mbeki.  This report should be presented in the near future and we hope that this will serve as a basis through which to address this matter.
Once the run-off elections have been held, we have to, together with the region and the international community deal with the economic crisis that is engulfing Zimbabwe and therefore we as South Africa renew our commitment to working within the framework of SADC to make a major contribution to the socio-economic developments following the formation of a new government.

It is our view that judging from the results, clearly the Zimbabwean electorate want the leadership of the country to work together for the reconstruction and development of their country.

It is our view that the Zimbabweans have an opportunity to create their own future and the conditions for the future peace and development of their country.

Contribute to Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) in Sudan

Our country has also been privileged to lead the AU’s Post Conflict Reconstruction and Development of the Sudan.  Early this year, we visited Sudan to assess progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts.  While there has been significant progress in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, important challenges remain including the failure to implement decisions of the Abiye Boundaries Commission, slow progress in the redeployment of security forces, the North-South border Demarcation as well as the establishment of electoral institutions for the national elections to be held in 2009.  We are concerned that failure to address these issues will impact on the outcome of the referendum scheduled for 2011 that will determine whether Sudan remains united or separates as North and South Sudan.

This is essential because of the strategic importance of Sudan because of its mineral resources and its impact on the security and stability of Africa as a whole.

In this context, let me also say that we remain seized with the situation in Darfur.

Challenges in the resolution of the Darfur crisis

The South African government condemns the recent violence outside Khartoum reported to have been carried out by forces of the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM).  This fighting will seriously impact negatively on the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and the Darfur Peace Agreement.  The Sudanese government has accused Chad of supporting the JEM forces and has broken off diplomatic relations with Chad.

We will continue to intensify our work to help capacity and institution building in Sudan.

The DFA-GOSS-UNISA Capacity and Institution Project was launched in 2005.  To date the project has trained 15 groups and over 700 Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) officials in the following fields:

  • Leadership and Governance;
  • Diplomacy and International Relations;
  • Public Service and Administration at national level;
  • Public Finance  at regional and local levels;
  • Government Systems and Communication;
  • Correctional Services; and
  • Judicial Services.

The project will be entering into its third phase in 2008. The target group for phase three will focus on the leadership of Southern Sudan (having wider political participation) at GoSS, States and local levels of government. The majority of the training will be done in Southern Sudan in order to train larger numbers for a longer period at the same value as the current training in South Africa. The Project will focus on institution building and the practical aspects of the training will continue in South Africa.

It is clear that this is not enough and DFA will be involved in a trilateral co-operation agreement with the German Government, and UNISA in training Southern Sudan officials in the field of correctional services and legal affairs by December 2008. In addition, the Norwegian Government has donated R50 million for the specific training of the police in Sudan, the project will be implemented this year.

Sudan and United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) signed the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) on 9 February 2008, which provides a legal framework for the activities of the military, police and civilian personnel of UNAMID. Although crucial in ensuring UNAMID troops functionality, the signing of the SOFA which has been viewed as a major development is unlikely to effectively address the deteriorating security situation in Darfur. In addition, diplomatic relations between Chad and Sudan have deteriorated, impeding on stability and security in Darfur, and constraining UNAMID efforts to make a difference in Darfur.

The Department of Defence has deployed personnel as part of the new proposed AU-UN Hybrid Mission. The Mission was extended to March 2009.

Support stabilisation efforts in the Comoros

South Africa was not in favour of military action to deal with the situation in Comoros but the decision was taken and now, following the recent AU mandated military operation on the island of An’joun, it has now been decreed that elections on the island will be held on the 15th June 2008.  The South African government will watch this situation to see what contribution, if any, we can make to ensure this process is credible.
Support the strengthening of peace and stability in Burundi

Efforts to address the non-implementation of the ceasefire agreement between the government and Paliphehutu-FNL persist amidst clashes between these parties. The AU continues to provide the diplomatic umbrella to the presence of South African troops for Demobilisation, Disarmament and Reintegration (DDR) and is working consistently at the political level for the implementation of the existing agreement.  The South African inspired Programme of Action, to advance the Burundi peace process, is recognised by all diplomatic role players as the basis of engagement with the non-implementation of the cease-fire agreement.

South Africa has both a political and military mandate in Burundi. South Africa was requested by the Regional Initiative to be the facilitator for the talks between the Government of Burundi and the last Burundian rebel movement Paliphehutu-FNL. Furthermore, South Africa has been requested to deploy the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to the AU Special Task Force for Burundi, which is tasked with the protection of FNL combatants and FNL leadership. The SANDF Mission in Burundi ended at the end of March 2008. It is clear that we will renew this mandate.  It is our view that the Paliphehutu-FNL cannot continue to delay participation in this process and the finding of a solution and we should, together with the international community, reiterate that we cannot re-open negotiations on agreements that have previously been concluded.

The Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement (CCA) assigns roles to the various stakeholders. Accordingly, the Regional Initiative is the guarantor of the process whiles the Facilitator to the Burundi Peace Process, the Safety and Security Minister of South Africa, Mr Charles Nqakula, shall remain the moral guarantor and the recourse authority and conciliation agent. For their part, the AU and the UN will play an important role in the implementation of the CCA. The United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi (BINUB) is represented by two members in the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM).

The Regional Initiative for Peace in Burundi extended the mandate of the Facilitation of the Burundi Peace Process until 31 December 2008. In consultation with Burundi’s regional and international partners, a Programme of Action has been developed to help ensure the full implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement (CCA) between the Government of Burundi (GOB) and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL (FNL).

The Programme of Action addresses in a comprehensive manner the political, security and socio-economic reintegration dimensions of the peace process in order to ensure the early resumption of the process as well as prevent its collapse in the future.

The Programme of Action comprises two phases that will define the safe return of all FNL leaders and combatants to Burundi and their political, economic and social integration in that country. The process of integration will be closely monitored to ensure that returning FNL members are assured security and that systems that will cater for their integration are properly defined and put in place.

The Government and the FNL bear primary responsibility for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement and the conclusion of the peace process.

Strengthen Economic Diplomacy and Market South Africa abroad

The recent World Bank Report indicates that despite some areas of positive developments, most countries in sub-Saharan Africa will fail to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

It is our view that in order for us to meet most of our MDGs we have to intensify our South-South co-operation.  This is becoming increasingly important because China and India are going to be the biggest economic powers by 2015 and other major countries of the South – Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and even South Africa – are beginning to become important players in the world economy and this is why we will spend must time consolidating South-South relations.

South-South Co-operation

We have engaged with other countries of the South in favour of a more equitable global financial architecture responsive to the need of the developing world and thus to push back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment.  In this regard, we have further helped launch the Doha Development Round with a particular focus on advancing a global developmental agenda.

South Africa’s Strategic Engagement with China

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of our diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China.  We have organised a series of events in China beginning in April to celebrate the establishment of these diplomatic relations.  Equally, the People’s Republic of China has also organised a series of events in South Africa marking the 10th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.

At the centre of our approach to these celebrations is the need to forge a strategic Partnership for Development with China ensuring export of our high-value added products and attracting investments.  As part of the celebrations, President Mbeki will pay a State Visit to China towards the end of 2008.  To sustain our marketing drive into China, we are finalising arrangements to participate in the Shanghai World Expo scheduled for 2010.

We take this opportunity to congratulate China for having taken the step to initiate discussions with the Dalai Lama group in Tibet.  Whilst supporting China’s territorial integrity, we wish them success in these discussions.

Young South African athletes will indeed be participating in the Beijing Olympic Games scheduled for later this year.  Accordingly we express our fervent hope that they, like their counterparts from the Springbok and other sporting codes, will indeed represent us with honour and distinction by winning gold medals and thus bring glory to our country.  In this context the government and people of our country extend their best wishes to the government and people China and wish them success in hosting these Games.

IBSA Dialogue Forum

South Africa initiated the establishment of the India – Brazil and South Africa Forum (IBSA) which was launched in 2003.  These are three established democracies with cultural diversity from three different continents.

As part of preparations for this Summit, we ourselves hosted this past weekend the IBSA Ministerial meeting in Cape Town.  Coinciding with this IBSA Ministerial meeting was the first ever joint naval exercise in Cape Town by IBSA Navies.

President Thabo Mbeki will in October this year participate in the 3rd IBSA Summit of Heads of State and Government scheduled for New Delhi, India.  The Summit will take place under the theme, “Integrated Poverty Alleviation Strategy for IBSA.”

This is quite important for us because it does mean that we are beginning to narrow down our focus on our interaction with all fora in which we are engaged.

Africa – India Forum Summit 

SA participated in the inaugural Africa-India Forum Summit held on 8-9 April 2008 in India that providedan opportunity to enhance South-South co-operation and consolidate the African Agenda.

The agenda included regional integration and climate change.

The Summit adopted a Framework for Co-operation, which specifies co-operation in the following areas: Economic; Political; Science, Technology, Research and Development; Social Development and Capacity building; Tourism; Infrastructure, Energy and Environment; and Media and Communication

The Summit agreed to develop a plan of action within a year, with a follow-up mechanism to implement the Framework and to meet every three years.

Within IBSA and the Africa-India Forum we are beginning to build a very important foundation for South-South relations and this is enhanced by the New Africa – Asia Strategic Partnership which South Africa and Indonesia host.

New Africa Asia Strategic Partnership (NAASP)

During the bilateral visit in March 2008 to South Africa by the Indonesian President, Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, it was decided by the two Heads of State / Government that the 2nd Asian-African Summit (which would also be the 1st NAASP Summit) would be held in South Africa during their current terms in office, possibly during February 2009, and preceded by a NAASP Ministerial Meeting and an Asian-African Business Seminar.

As the current NAASP Co-chairs, SA and Indonesia, would hand over the initiative to two new Asian and African Co-chairs after the Summit, in accordance to a draft Charter, proposed by the two countries to assist with the future functioning of NAASP. In addition, a conference on capacity building and support to Palestine will be initiated jointly by South Africa and Indonesia to possibly take place in Jakarta during June 2008.

North-South Co-operation

There are major developments in the Africa – Japan relationship.

Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD)

TICAD IV will be held in Japan on 28-30 May 2008 under the theme, Towards a vibrant Africa

SA participated in the Ministerial Preparatory Meeting held on 21 March 2008 in Gabon that agreed on the following issues for the Summit Agenda;

  • Market access for Africa into Japan;
  • Japanese Foreign Investment and Overseas Development Aid to Africa;
  • Infrastructure development and NEPAD projects;
  • Millennium Development Goals; and
  • Climate change

Cross-cutting issues of human resources development and cooperation in technology will also be discussed.

TICAD IV then presents an opportunity for Africa to possibly influence the discussions on issues of African interest at the G8 Summit, particularly the Africa Outreach Programme to be held on 7 July 2008, as part of the Summit

Japan will also chair the G8 Summit scheduled for 7-10 July 2008.  President Mbeki will participate in this Summit.  There are two components to this Summit – the Outreach Segment which South Africa, together with Mexico, India, China and Brazil are part.  For the Africa Outreach Programme, Japan also plans to invite Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

Consolidation of the African positions for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) 16 and 17 

In 2002 South Africa hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) which was also the 10th year of review of the Rio Summit of (1992).  The Rio Summit established the administrative and monitoring mechanism within the United Nations called the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD).  It meets annually to review progress on the implementation of the outcomes of the Rio and Johannesburg Summits.  This Commission is currently meeting in New York in which Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe is participating. 

CSD16 & 17 collectively constitute the 3rd implementation cycle of the CSD, starting May 2008 until 2009.  This two year cycle is important for Africa as it focuses primarily on Africa and sustainable development

South Africa’s objectives for CSD16 include calling on developed countries to meet their commitments to enable the implementation of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation (JPOI) targets as well as other set international targets.

SA has already submitted its country report to the CSD Secretariat, focusing on the following thematic issues: Agriculture, Desertification, Drought, Land, Rural Development and Sustainable Development in Africa.

A High Level Task Force on the Global Food Crisis has been established by the United Nations that brings together heads of many of the United Nations specialised agencies, Funds and Programmes, Bretton Woods Institutions and relevant parts of the UN Secretariat.

The primary aim of the Task Force is to promote a comprehensive and unified response to the global food price challenge in support of governments and affected populations.  The focus of the meeting held on 12 May 2008 was the development of a comprehensive framework for tacking the challenges posed by the food price crisis.

This strategy is expected to outline short and longer-term actions, such as food aid, social protection initiatives and agricultural boosts, which will help counter the negative consequences of the food crisis for the most affected.  Elements of such a strategy will be presented at a High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome 3-5 June.

Strengthen Political and Economic Relations

SA-European Union Strategic Partnership

Following the establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership in 2007, the next Ministerial Troika Meeting will be held on 3 June 2008 in Slovenia.

The Troika Meeting will be followed by the 1st SA-EU Summit on 25 July 2008 in France.

Finalise the SADC-EU EPA Negotiations

South Africa’s engagement with the European Union is legally regulated through the TDCA.  In 2005, we commenced a review of this instrument.  That process is nearly complete and will be presented during the envisaged Summit with the EU on 25 July this year.

During this review process South Africa proposed to lift out the trade chapter and review it within the context of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiations.  This we did correctly guided by our own interest to promote greater convergence in the trade regime amongst the countries of our region.  After a long delay the EU agreed to this approach. 

Regrettably the impact of these EPA negotiations has tended to subvert our efforts towards regional integration.  Not only have SADC countries been parcelled into different EPAs.  Consequently, in December last year we saw deep cleavages appearing even among the SACU members.  South Africa, Angola and to some extent Namibia are raising concerns on account of both the imbalance in the exchange of concessions and on the negative implications for regional integration contained within the interim EPAs.

We remain of the firm view that we should continue to do everything we can to ensure our region indeed acts in a manner consistent with imperatives to advance regional integration.  In this context we appeal to our partners in the EU, to respect this especially as they know from their own experience, how critical this is, to enable our countries to grow their economies and benefit from the unstoppable force of globalisation.

SACU-India Preferential Trade Agreement negotiations 

South Africa and India held the 2nd Round of negotiations on the PTA on 21-22 February 2008.

The MoU for negotiating a PTA has been finalised and will be signed at the next round of negotiations scheduled for September 2008

Participate in Global Governance

United Nations Security Council 

South Africa has entered its second and final year as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.  Our country will continue to be guided by principles rather than expediency, and at times, speak truth to power in the maintenance of global peace and security.

We have consistently stated our objective in the UN Security Council as the need to advance the interests of Africa in particular and the South in general in the maintenance of global peace and security.  Accordingly, we utilised our Presidency in the Security Council in March 2007 to explore the relationship between the UN Security Council and regional organisations and the AU in particular in the maintenance of global peace and security in line with Chapter VIII of the UN Charter.  In April this year, during our Presidency of the Council we built upon the theme we introduced in 2007.  We adopted this approach in an effort to consolidate complementary themes relevant to Africa that are explored in the Security Council, while linking the topic of co-operation between the UN and the African Union to the issue of conflict resolution in the continent.

In pursuance of this objective, President Thabo Mbeki hosted a debate of the Summit of the UN Security Council and African Union Peace and Security Council in which it was agreed that the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon will appoint an AU-UN panel of distinguished personalities to formulate proposals on how support to regional organisations in general and the African Union in particular can be provided in a concrete way, with a view to ensuring sustainability.

Again in April we convened a joint meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council at Ambassadorial level on how best to maximise the relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council to further co-operate in the fields of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and conflict management.

As part of our ongoing international work, we certainly will, together with the general membership of the UN, remain seized with processes aimed at the reform of the General Assembly, the UN Security Council and management.

South Africa has together with the general membership of the UN played a major role, as part of the process of reform of the UN, in the establishment of the Human Rights Council charged with the responsibility of pursuing the observance and respect for human rights globally.  We are of the firm view that none but this Council bears the primary responsibility for dealing with global human rights violations.  Accordingly, during the month of April, we subjected our country to an external examination under the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Mechanism.  We express confidence that in its final report on our country, the Human Rights Council will indeed assist us in further strengthening our ability to stay the course in our chosen path of putting protection, promotion and advancement of Human Rights at the centre of our democratic state.

Climate Change and Food Crisis

The issues of climate change have taken the centre stage in many international fora.  The devastating effect of the cyclone in Myanmar which left over 20000 people dead is a painful reminder of the reality of climate change.  Accordingly, we join the international community in extending our sincere condolences to the people of Myanmar and will support international efforts for humanitarian relief.

At the same time we convey our deepest condolences to the government and people of China following the earthquake in Sichuan province on Monday 12 May 2008 in which thousands have been killed with many more thousands being displaced and left homeless.

The current food crisis is testimony to the fact that in order to preserve the environment we need to ensure food and energy security.

It is our view that the developed world has a greater responsibility to deal with climate change since they are major emitters as well as having greater resources at their disposal. Generations to come will not forgive our generation for merely paying lip service to this critical matter. Our view, correctly, remains that each generation has to bequeath unto the next, a better world than it found, with a view to balancing development while preserving a healthy environment.

The devastating effects of climate change, high food and oil prices will undermine efforts by developing countries towards the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Questions and answers

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you tell us how confident you are that it is possible to have a credible run off in Zimbabwe, given that our own generals and described the violence as shocking?

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, can you explain the conditions that must be created for the run off to take place?

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, what was the rationale for the President to deploy generals to Zimbabwe – why were ordinary civilians not sent to Zimbabwe?

Question Deputy Minister Pahad, two weeks ago when the President met with clergy from Africa he took them into his confident and indicated his concerns that the US and British had undermined his efforts at brokering some sort of deal?  He also complained that the Americans had influenced the MDC to renege on an agreement?  Could you elaborate on this matter?

Answer I think, despite a lot of skepticism, the Facilitation managed to ensure the harmonized elections take place and these have not been challenged by anyone, including the EU.  The conditions were sufficient for the will of the people to be expressed and I think the results speak to this.  There was much skepticism regarding the delay in the announcement of results saying that it was because of doctoring.  When we tried to explain that it was very difficult because under the Facilitation it was agreed that the results would be posted at each polling station.  The chances for doctoring of results was not present but there was a lot of speculation and it is difficult for me to understand where the informed sources come from and what the information is based on.
We remained quiet but consistently confident that the conditions had been created under the Facilitation for elections to take place and that the majority of Zimbabweans would be able to go and vote, feeling quite confident that they could do so without intimidation and within a framework that has not been challenged by anybody.

Given that, I believe that there has been some increasing information and reports of violence in Zimbabwe and the decision to send generals, I suppose, is based mainly on the allegations that it is the military personnel and the war veterans that are being deployed in all areas of Zimbabwe to carry out acts of intimidation.  I suppose the generals, who have had their own experiences in South Africa, during our black-on-black violence and in the nasty period we experienced, might be better than civilians in determining exactly the nature of the allegations and to verify them.  I do not think it was generals vs civilians but rather the view that the generals would be able to bring their own experience to the situation and therefore deal with the situation more appropriately.

The conditions that must be created are similar to what was created during the first round of harmonized elections – that which was agreed to by all three parties to ensure that there would be no violence, the media would not repressed, freedom of assembly is ensured and all the other factors that made the first harmonized elections take place.

The SADC Observer Report indicates that despite what was described as better conditions there were certain things that must be looked at for future elections but I do not think this is a matter that can be considered in the run off elections due to time constraints.

So the conditions are there and were created, short of the new allegations of violence the conditions have led to the results of the last harmonized elections are the conditions that we must try to work on and see whether they can be improved.

So the SADC observers must be there in large numbers – previously there were observers from the AU, from Asia, Latin America, other sub-regions in Africa and indeed Russia and China.  If there can be sufficient observers like in the past elections then we can be confident that at the end everybody will accept that the will of the people was manifested and expressed.  We will take steps to end any violence that may be perpetrated.

It is our view that if, for instance we want UN observers, we must make a presentation to the UN General Assembly.  The General Assembly can make a decision.

It is our view that when we interfere with Zimbabwe in an unconstructive manner we enable the situation to further deteriorate.

I want to add it is incorrect to say that there were no other international observers – there were 41 different observer organizations.  The decision of the Zimbabwe government to not invite the EU, the US and others, was entirely their own decision.  We in South Africa would invite anybody to come and observe our elections.

Question Deputy Minister, just a point of clarity – will the report by the Generals be presented to President Mbeki or has it been presented to President Mbeki?

Answer The report is expected to be finalised this week.  We will be informed as soon as the report is completed.

Question Deputy Minister, we have the international conference on cluster bombs in Dublin on Monday.  What is our position on a partial or total ban on cluster bombs?

Answer We have been the leading player, even before we were democratic South Africa, on the issue of weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation of small weapons.  This is a debate that is currently ongoing in South Africa to try to get a sense of how to proceed.  There is an argument that even landmines are necessary in war situations (South Africa spearheaded to programme to ban landmines).  There is some argument that well controlled cluster bombs are necessary but we have to still finalise this matter before the Conference.

Question Deputy Minister, France, Britain and the US is pushing for the UN Security Council to take action against Myanmar to allow international aid.  What is South Africa’s view on this matter?

Answer As Minister Dlamini Zuma indicated yesterday, the earlier debate of the Forum in which this should be debated is being considered – the Security Council or ECOSOC.  We were not opposed to the debate but were considering the forum – ECOSCO brings together all the countries while the Security Council brings together only 15. 

As I said when I introduced the topic, we are calling on the government of Myanmar to expedite the removal of all restrictions.  We would support all efforts to ensure humanitarian assistance reaches Myanmar without further obstacles.  This would be our view.

Question Deputy Minister, are relations with China strained over the ship that we did not allow to dock?

Answer We did discuss this matter in China.  We were informed that this ship had been recalled and was returning to China before we heard it publicly.  It was a matter that was being dealt with by other South African departments including SARS.  Our relations have not been affected.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

14 May 2008

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