Notes following IRPS Cluster Media Briefing, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Friday 4 July 2008
PRESIDENT MBEKI TO LEAD SOUTH AFRICAN DELEGATION TO THE G8 SUMMIT
President Thabo Mbeki will participate in the G-8 Summit in Hokkaido, Japan from Monday – Wednesday 7-9 July 2008. Other related meetings will include the meeting with Africa and the Outreach Meeting with the G-5 that includes South Africa, China, India, Mexico and Brazil and this has been extended to further include Australia and South Korea. There will therefore be a whole series of meetings. This G-8 meeting follows the TICAD Summit recently hosted by Japan and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) High Level Summit on food security that was recently hosted by Rome.
The key overarching issues will therefore be climate change, the Millennium Development Goals and the rising food and energy prices which impacts on everything. It is our view that at this Summit, as has been confirmed by the African Union Summit, that we should reaffirm that the one plan that must guide all activities of the G-8 towards Africa has to be the African Action Plan which must be the basic and common framework for engagement between the G-8 and Africa. There has been a tendency for host countries to bring new initiatives to Summits and we believe this is diverting efforts towards working towards the achievement of the Africa Action Plan. We will also, hopefully, push as the Outreach and Africa segments for the full implementation of past G-8 commitments especially regarding the process of the debt write offs and the doubling of the overseas development assistance.
As I said, the key thing that must emerge from this G-8 Summit is an integrated approach to the Africa Action Plan. It is clear that many different countries, and as the Japanese have done during the TICAD Summit have introduced new programmes but we believe, as I have said, that these are beginning to be too diversified and we are therefore not achieving implementation. We will therefore, fully support the Africa and Outreach countries emphasis on the Africa Action Plan.
It is also important that we also, at this Summit ensure that we revitalise the implementation mechanism that was established to follow up on the Africa Action Plan. As you know, this mechanism consists of personal representatives of members of the G-8 and African countries. We believe that the non-operationalisation of this implementation mechanism has ensured that we do not achieve as many successes as we should have been achieving.
The G-8 Summit will take place within the context of escalating food and energy prices and this has been creating huge problems all over the world including many riots. We will hopefully be able to give greater attention to the 10 point programme on the food crisis that has been presented by the President of the World Bank Robert Zoellick. He has said, “what has been described as a silent tsunami is not a natural disaster but a man-made one. The nexus between high energy prices is unlikely to be broken and will be exacerbated by global climate change. The results have been rising production and transport costs for agriculture, falling food stocks and land shifted out of food production to produce energy substitution,” and he said, “this is a 21st century food for oil crisis.”
He then outlined a ten point plan:
- The World Bank should fund fully the World Food Programme’s emergency needs, support its drive to purchase food aid locally and ensure the unhampered movement of humanitarian assistance.
- We need support for safety nets. The World Bank, working the World Food Programme has already made a rapid needs assessment for more than 25 countries.
- We need seeds and fertilizer for the planting season especially the smallholders in poor countries. The key is not just financing, but fast delivery systems.
- We need to boost agricultural supply and increase research spending, reversing years of agricultural underinvestment. We should double this investment in research and development over the next five years.
- There needs to be more investment in agribusiness.
- We need to develop innovative instruments for risk management and crop insurance for small farmers.
- We need action in the US and Europe to ease subsidies, mandates and tariffs on biofuels that are derived from corn and oilseeds. The US’s use of corn for ethanol has consumed more than 75% of the increase in global corn production over the past three years. The choice does not have to be food or fuel. Cutting tariffs on ethanol imported into the US and European Union markets would encourage the output of more efficient sugarcane biofuels that do not compete directly with food production and expand opportunities for poorer countries.
- We should remove export bans that have led to even higher world prices. Twenty-eight countries have imposed such controls.
- We should conclude the Doha World Trade Organisation deal in order to remove the distortions of agricultural subsidies and tariffs and create a more adaptable, efficient and fair global food trade.
- There should be greater collective action to counter global risks.
FOREIGN MINISTER DLAMINI ZUMA TO HOST UK FOREIGN SECRETARY MILIBAND FOR THE SOUTH AFRICA – UNITED KINGDOM BILATERAL FORUM
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma will, together with her United Kingdom counterpart, Foreign Secretary David Miliband, co-host the South Africa-United Kingdom Bilateral Forum on Tuesday 8 July 2008 at the Presidential Guesthouse in Pretoria.
Foreign Secretary Miliband’s visit to South Africa is scheduled for Monday – Tuesday 7 – 8 July 2008.
Foreign Secretary Milliband will be accompanied by other Ministers and this will therefore be an important occasion to discuss many bilateral issues but also many of the international issues including the forthcoming G-8 Summit.
The South African delegation will include Ministers Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Mandisi Mpahlwa, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and Deputy Minister Gert Oosthuizen.
You can expect that the recent African Union Summit will he high on the agenda as well as other matters of common interest to both countries.
AFRICAN UNION SUMMIT
The 2008 Summit of the African Union Assembly was held from 30 June – 1 July 2008 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. The Summit was preceded by the 16th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Council (PRC) from 24-25 June 2008 and the 13th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council from 27-28 June 2008.
Many of the issues that will be discussed at the G-8 Summit were discussed at the African Union Summit and this would give some direction to the African representatives that will be in Japan.
Water and Sanitation
The 11th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union was held under the Theme: Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation. Consistent with this theme, the AU Heads of State and Government committed themselves to:
- Increased efforts to implement previous declarations related to water and sanitation;
- Raise the profile of sanitation challenges by addressing the gaps in the context of the 2008 Ethekwini Ministerial Declaration on Sanitation in Africa as adopted by the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW)
- Address the water use for food security as provided for in the Ministerial Declaration and outcomes of the 1st African water week and particularly:
- Develop or update national water management policies, regulatory frameworks and projects and prepare national statistics and action plans for achievement of the Millennium Development Goals targets on water and sanitation over the next seven years;
- Creating a conducive environment to enhance the effective engagement of local authorities and the private sector;
- Implement adaptation measures to improve the resilience of our countries to the increasing threat of climate change and unreliability to our water sources and our capacity to meet water and sanitation targets;
- Significantly increase domestic financial resources allocated for implementing national and regional water and sanitation development activities and call upon the Ministers of Water and Finance to develop appropriate investment plans.
Poverty and Underdevelopment
Millennium Development Goals
The Council considered the Report on Africa’s progress towards achieving the MDGs and on the status of implementation of the MDGs. To this end, the Executive Council expressed concern that the majority of African countries were off-track to meeting all the MDGs by the target date and called upon all Member States to align their development programmes to advance the achievement of the MDGs and the Partners to support the implementation of programmes in this regard by devoting sufficient resources. The AU Commission together with other relevant Partners like the UN System were urged to develop strong implementation oversight mechanisms in order to ensure real time assessment of the implementation of the MDGs Africa Steering Groups.
A special High Level meeting is being convened by the UN Secretary-General ahead of the UN General Assembly in September 2008 to look at this matter. The AU Summit agreed that it would thoroughly prepare, as a collective, to ensure that this is a very successful meeting in September.
Clearly, Africa is not going to meet the Millennium Development Goals and the message to the G-8 is going to be that the G-8 has to do more and implement their commitments to Africa to enable us to meet our Millennium Development Goals.
Joint Conference of Ministers of Trade and Finance, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 3 April 2008
The Council considered and endorsed the report of the Joint Conference of Ministers of Trade and Finance held in January 2008. The report related to the review of the interim EPAs in line with the concerns raised by African Heads of State during the second Africa – European Union Lisbon Summit in December 2007. The key issues it discussed include support for countries and groups that initialled or signed an Interim Agreement on EPAs; reaffirming Africa’s decision to welcome the idea of organising a high level Africa-EU meeting to try and find a solution to disputed issues pending between the two parties; that the negotiation process should be more transparent and negotiators should make sure there is coherence between the EPA negotiation process and that of the World Trade Organisation (WTO); that funding of African projects at national, regional and continental levels should be considered. Finally a road map taking into consideration the revision proposed by the African party was envisaged for 2008 within the scope of Aid for Trade.
Consideration of the Report on Negotiations of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs)
The Executive Council considered and endorsed the report, which urged the European Union to provide adequate and predictable additional resources beyond the EDF to meet adjustment costs, to support supply side capacity and build infrastructure, regulatory capacity, competitiveness and national and regional interconnectivity. The Joint Conference of Ministers of Trade and Finance directed the AU Commission to develop, in collaboration with the ECA and RECs, a model EPA that would serve as a template for African countries and regions in their negotiations of full and comprehensive EPAs with the EU.
Consideration of the Report on the On-Going Doha Round Negotiations in the World Trade Organisation
The Executive Council endorsed the Declaration on the WTO Doha Development Agenda negotiations which was adopted by the Joint Conference of AU Ministers of Trade and Finance in Addis Ababa in April 2008. it reaffirmed its commitment to the attainment of a fair, balanced and rules-based multilateral trading system with specific commitment for special and differential treatment for developed countries. The Executive Council further called on an early conclusion of the current Doha Round of Negotiations, without compromising the development dimension that should be at the centre of the outcome. The other countries were also urged to show commitment and greater flexibility in the negotiations.
We are therefore increasing our co-ordination with regard to African issues. In this context, the Summit also discussed the report on the Ministers of Energy and Transport.
Report of the African Union Conference of Ministers of Energy
The African Union Conference of Ministers in charge of Energy met on 17 February 2008 in Algiers to essentially discuss the official launching of the activities of the African Energy Commission (AFREC). The Ministers committed themselves to strengthen sub-regional, regional, continental and inter-continental co-operation for the sustainable development and efficient use of energy resources to the benefit of our peoples; make every possible effort with a view to speeding up the signing and ratification of the AFREC Convention by all countries that have not yet done so; and to support efforts towards the operationalisation of the African Electrotechnical Standardisation Commission (AFSEC) as a subsidiary body of AFREC.
The Executive Council took note of the Report, particularly the launching of the African Energy Commission (AFREC). It urged Member States that have not done so to speed up the signing and ratification of the Convention of the African Energy Commission. The AU Commission, AfDB and other partners were asked to mobilise the necessary resources for the activities of the AFREC.
Report on the First African Union Conference of Ministers of Transport, 21-25 April 2008, Algiers, Algeria
The Executive Council considered the report of the First Conference of African Ministers of Transport (CAMT) was held in April 2008 in Algiers. The theme of the Conference was: “Transport: engine of integration and sustainable development in Africa”. The conference was preceded by a preparatory meeting of experts. This Conference brought together the conclusions of sectoral transport ministers on Railways (Durban, 2006), Maritime (Abuja, 2007), Air (Addis Ababa, 2007) and Road (Durban, 2007). Some of the key issues discussed include the low level of development of infrastructures and transport services in Africa; the multiplicity and complexity of administrative procedures in matters of transit between African countries, especially at border-crossings; the low level of implementation of international conventions and regional treaties relating to the facilitation of transport; the increase in the number of accidents in the different modes of transport and their negative economic and social impact; the diversity and disparity in norms and standards, regulations and procedures in the different sub-sectors and the low level of resources allocated to the development and maintenance of transport infrastructures.
The Executive Council endorsed the Declaration and Plans of Action adopted by the Ministers aimed at developing and strengthening transport infrastructure and services. It urged Member States to ensure effective application of the Continental Guidelines in their negotiation of air service agreements with the European Commission and to consult the AU Commission whenever necessary to in order to protect collective interests in the aviation industry.
Report of the Special Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health
The Executive Council considered the report of the Special Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Health held at the ILO Headquarters, Geneva, Switzerland, on 17 May 2008. The Special Session of the Conference considered the Implementation Plan for the Africa Health Strategy (2007); Agreed on the way forward for operationalising the Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Plan for Africa; considered the Progress Report on Implementation of the Outcome of the May 2006 Abuja Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria as requested by Heads of State and Government and the Progress Report on the Implementation of Health-linked MDGs, in commemoration of 30th Anniversary of the Alma Ata Declaration.
The Executive Council emphasised that the attainment of the Health MDGs will require renewed commitment to health and development with particular focus on Primary Health Care; strengthening of health systems, significant increases in domestic and foreign investment, national ownership and improved effectiveness of international cooperation. The Executive Council endorsed Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, Minister of Health of South Africa as AU Goodwill Ambassador and Champion for ‘Africa’s Movement to Improve Maternal Health and Promote Child Survival and Development beyond 2015’ in collabotation with AU Ministers of Health. The Executive Council urged Member States to double efforts at national, regional and continental levels to implement the outcomes of the Abuja Summit on universal access to HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria.
NEPAD HEADS OF STATE AND GOVERNMENT IMPLEMENTATION COMMITTEE (HSGIC) AND AFRICAN PEER REVIEW (APR) FORUM
The Summit discussions focussed on the outcomes of the NEPAD Review Summit (April 2008), the appointment of a new CEO for the NEPAD Secretariat, the rotation of the HSGIC membership, an update on the AU/NEPAD integration and the preparations for the G8 Summit (July 2008).
The outcomes of the Summit are summarised as follows:
- The process for appointing a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Authority (currently the NEPAD Secretariat) has already commenced. It is expected that the appointment process will be completed by the next AU Summit.
- The Summit emphasised that the integration of NEPAD into the structures and processes of the AU should proceed expeditiously on the basis of the Maputo 2003 and Algiers 2007 decisions, and that is should be completed by the next AU Summit.
- Summit agreed that the current HSGIC would provide the AU Summit with its recommendations for the membership of future HSGIC’s, but that the decision in this regard would ultimately be made by the AU Chairperson.
- Summit endorsed the proposal that the Host Agreement between the AU Commission and the Republic of South Africa would be finalised by the end of July 2008.
- There was consensus on the need to tie the G8 to the Africa Action Plan and to ensure that the Plan is used as the basis for G8-Africa deliberations. In this regard, the fulfillment of G8 commitments should be discussed at successive G8 Summits.
- The Assembly recommended that Financing for Development should be reviewed at the next G8 Summit.
Some of the principal decisions that were taken by NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee were that we need to get the G-8 to reaffirm the Africa Action Programme. That is the programme that had agreed with the G-8 when we met them in Canada in 2002. We must confirm this as the programme agreed to between the G-8 and Africa and our experience has been that you move from one G-8 Summit to another, from one country to another. The host countries pick on certain matters that they like and so the rest of the programme gets forgotten. The G-8 must implement the whole Africa Action Programme and not particular items within the Action Programme that are chosen by the host G-8 countries and we also want to ensure that there is an implementation mechanism of the G-8 and Africa – a joint mechanism so that we can follow up on the implementation of the G-8 of the Africa Action Plan.
We will also convey the African Union decision on water and sanitation. Previously, there had been resources committed by the G-8 to address these matters of water and sanitation but because the mechanism between the G-8 and Africa collapsed we have not been able to follow up on those.
Also the debt issue is important for countries whose debts were written off, there is a requirement that is being imposed by the developed countries that because debts have been written off countries are not allowed to borrow so countries are not able to develop.
The Summit paid a lot of attention to, quite correctly, which is the matter of high food prices. There was a long discussion, fortunately also joined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, sitting together with the African Union saying what do we do about this very important challenge which is impacting negatively on poor people on our continent so again, that matter of programmes to increase agriculture production to deal with all of these problems in the developing countries.
High Food Prices
The Assembly declared its firm commitment to address the challenges posed by high food prices through adopting the following short, medium and long term measures:
Immediate/Short term responses:
- Immediate assistance to the vulnerable segments of populations through targeted food assistance and safety net measures including cash and/or food transfers to combat hunger and malnutrition;
- Intensify agricultural production and productivity through the use of targeted input subsidies, particularly fertiliser and improved seed, and enhance access to water and small scale irrigation;
- Improve post harvest management to minimise crop storage losses and enhance processing;
Medium to long term responses:
- Invest in appropriate social safety nets and interventions that include both protective actions to mitigate short-term risks and preventative actions to preclude long-term negative consequences;
- Scale up investments for sustained agricultural growth including expanded public spending for rural infrastructure (roads, markets, irrigation and water-harvesting techniques, etc);
- services (micro-finance, market information systems, insurance programmes, etc);
- agricultural research and technology development and transfer (increased productivity, post-harvest management, extension, etc)
- Enhance suitable land management practices including soil and water management and conservation
- Enhance institutional and human capacities for agricultural development
- Review bio-fuel policies to make more grains and oilseeds currently used for bio-fuel available for food and feed.
Human Rights and Good Governance – APRM Summit of Heads of State and Government
This was high on the agenda of the Summit.
The African Peer Review Summit of Heads of State and Government met and reviewed Uganda and Nigeria. Unfortunately, given the shortage of time Burkina Faso could not be reviewed and indeed it has now been decided that an Extraordinary Summit should be held to look at all the countries that have been reviewed in the past but also Burkina Faso and to see how to take these review processes forward.
It is my view that this has been one of the most exciting innovations of the African continent in relation to human rights and good governance – the African Peer Review Mechanism. Coming from this meeting where Nigeria and Uganda were reviewed very openly, frankly as were the other reports including the South African reports, it is my view that it would be a good example if some of the other countries who were so insistent on the issues of human rights and good governance can subject their own governments to the sorts of reviews that African governments are being subjected to. Another member has acceded to the APRM – Togo and now there are 29 countries who are participating in the APRM.
I believe this is a very important process which I believe is unique in the world and it allows Africans to deal with the issues of human rights and good governance as well as corruption in a way that allows us to openly and frankly look at our shortcomings and see how we can assist each other to deal with these shortcomings.
I hope you have read the South African report.
Consideration of the Report of the Commission on the Use of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction by some Non-African States as recommended by the Conference of Ministers of Justice/Attorneys General
It was agreed that the abuse of “universal jurisdiction” adopted by some Non-African States violates international law and is of great affront to the sovereignty of States. The Ministers of Justice, meeting in Addis Ababa, 18 April 2008, requested the AU Commission “in view of the increasing nature of indictments issued in Non-African countries against African personalities, to carry out a comprehensive legal study and make appropriate recommendation to the Assembly, through the Executive Council, for its consideration at the next Ordinary Session(s) scheduled for Sharm El Sheik, Egypt, in July 2008”. The AU Commission presented a Report to the PRC who, after deliberations, made recommendations for adoption by the Executive Council.
The Executive Council, while calling for unequivocal condemnation of international arrest warrants issued illegally by some non-African States, recommended it for adoption by the AU Assembly. This was dully done by the Assembly.
Election of Judges of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (The Court)
The following members were elected to the Court for a of six year term and recommended to the AU Assembly for appointment:
Ms. Sophia A.B. AKUFFO (Ghana)
Mr Githu MUIGI (Kenya)
Mr Joseph MULENGA (Uganda)
Judge Bernard NGOEPE (South Africa)
The Assembly endorsed the Council decision.
The Assembly adopted the Draft Single Legal Instrument on the merger of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and the Court of Justice of the African Union as prepared by the Ministers of Justice. The merger instrument has since been finalised following the meeting of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General.
Peace and Stability
Continental Peace and Security Architecture
Significant progress has been made regarding the establishment and operationalisation of the:
- Peace and Security Council
- The Continental Early Warning System
- The Panel of the Wise – the former Algerian President has been elected the President of the Panel of the Wise – they will concentrate in 2008 on elections and the consequences thereof.
- The African Standby Force
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- Sudan including Darfur
- Central African Republic
- Côte d’Ivoire
- Western Sahara
African Standby Force
The Executive Council considered the Report of the AU Commission on the operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF). This follows the outcomes of the Extraordinary Meeting of the Chiefs of Defence Staff and Heads of Security which was held in Sirte, Libya, in February 2004 and subsequent meetings which culminated in the adoption of a Roadmap for the Operationalisation of the ASF in March 2005 by the AU Commission and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs). The ASF state amongst others that pertinent actions that need to be undertaken urgently to operationalise the African Standby Force include the consolidation of ASF tools and development of Concepts of Operations, identification of capacities for deployment and Capability Development; implementation of ASF Training Plan 2007-2010; verification and assessment of readiness of the pledged brigade units for purposes of providing guidance and support. This shall be carried out by the AU Commission and include co-opting officers from the regions to form appropriate teams. Staffing of the Planning Elements both at the strategic level (AU Commission) and regional levels; support the AU Commission to formulate among others, the Civilian Dimension of the ASF, Medical Aspects and Legal Aspects, that required urgent attention.
The Executive Council endorsed the Recommendations contained in the Declaration of adopted by the Second Ordinary Session of the Ministers of Defence and Security regarding the operationalisation of the ASF by 2010. It further requested the AU Commission together with the RECs and Regional Mechanisms and Member States to implement the recommendations expeditiously.
The Union Government
There are two schools of thought regarding this matter: one that believes an African government can be achieved immediately and another that believes that this is a gradual process leading the formation of an African Union government and ultimately a United States of Africa.
The Assembly received the report of the 1st Meeting of the Committee of Twelve Heads of State and Government on the Union Government. The Assembly resolved that on the basis of the report of the Committee of Twelve Heads of State and Government, which it highly commended, the AU Commission should then present at the next Assembly time bound recommendations regarding acceleration of the Union Government process. This should include time bound implementation mechanisms regarding accelerators and benchmarks, rationalisation and harmonisation of RECs, fostering relationship between Union Government and Member States and RECs and sovereignty of States. Instead of the usual two day Assembly the next Summit of February 2009 will be held for three days. The first day will be dedicated solely to discussing the way forward on the Union Government.
I believe the debate in closed in terms of the format and content of an African Union government and the pace at which we must move.
This was discussed extensively during the meeting of the Executive Council of Ministers, the Peace and Security Summit which preceded the Summit of the African Union and indeed, after extensive discussions, a resolution was unanimously adopted. I believe this gives us the direction within which we have to move to resolve the Zimbabwean issue.
The Assembly urged all parties to the Zimbabwean crisis to, without delay and under the current mediation, resume talks that should lead to a Government of National Unity.
Resolution on Zimbabwe
The African Union Assembly, meeting in its 11th Ordinary Session held on June 30 to July 1, 2008 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt,
DEEPLY CONCERNED with the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe;
DEEPLY CONCERNED with the negative reports of SADC, the African Union and the Pan-African Parliament observers on the Zimbabwean Presidential run-off election held on June 27, 2008;
DEEPLY CONCERNED about the violence and the loss of life that has occurred in Zimbabwe.
CONSIDERING the urgent need to prevent further worsening of the situation and with a view to avoid spread of conflict with the consequential negative impact on the country and the sub-region;
FURTHER CONSIDERING the need to create an environment conducive for democracy, as well as the development of the people of Zimbabwe;
EXPRESSING its appreciation to SADC, and its Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, as well as the Facilitator of the intra-Zimbabwe dialogue, His Excellency Thabo Mbeki, President of the Republic of South Africa, and His Excellency Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission for the ongoing work aimed at reconciling the political parties;
RECOGNISING the complexity of the situation in Zimbabwe;
NOTING the willingness of the political leaders of Zimbabwe to enter into negotiations to establish a Government of National Unity;
NOTING FURTHER the preparatory discussions on this matter had already started, under SADC facilitation;
- TO ENCOURAGE President Robert Mugabe and the leader of the MDC Party Mr Morgan Tsvangirai to honour their commitment to initiate dialogue with a view to promoting peace, stability, democracy and the reconciliation of the Zimbabwean people;
- TO SUPPORT the call, for the creation of a Government of National Unity;
- TO SUPPORT the SADC Facilitation, and to recommend that SADC mediation efforts should be continued in order to resolve the problems they are facing. In this regard SADC should establish a mechanism on the ground in order to seize the momentum for a negotiated solution;
- TO APPEAL to states and all parties concerned to refrain from any action that may negatively impact on the climate of dialogue;
- In the spirit of all SADC initiatives, the AU remains convinced that the people of Zimbabwe will be able to resolve their differences and work together once again as one Nation, provided they receive undivided support from SADC, the AU and the world at large.
This is very important because there is now an African Union decision the way forward and all other parties (the United Nations or any other international organisations) must respect the will on the African Union Summit and indeed, do nothing that will impact negatively on efforts by the African Union, through the SADC mediation to find a solution to the Zimbabwean crisis.
Consideration of the Report on the Situation in the Middle East and Palestine
The Executive Council expressed deep concern over the worsening humanitarian situation in Palestine, condemned the Israeli occupying authority and denounced the repressive practices and policies, particularly the continuous invasions, assassinations and the brutal assaults committed against the defenceless Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories. The Israeli government was urged to immediately put an end to activities which constitute a flagrant violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949.
The African Diaspora Summit
The Executive Council commended the efforts of the AU Commission and the Republic of South Africa on progress made so far in organising the African Diaspora Summit which is scheduled for 7 – 11 October 2008 in Johannesburg, South Africa and urged the two to continue working together in this regard. If also welcomed the organisation of a Technical Workshop to be held in South Africa from 28 -30 July 2008, in accordance with the recommendation of the Ministerial Conference and also within the framework of efforts to promote consensus-building in the finalisation of the Declaration, Programme of Action and its Implementation Plan which would be adopted by the African Diaspora Summit. The AU Commission was requested to ensure that the process of organising Regional Consultative Conferences continues as part of the Implementation Plan.
AU SUMMIT ENDORSES CANDIDATURE OF ABDUL MINTY FOR POST OF DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF IAEA
The AU Summit, at its meeting in Sharm El Shaikh, Egypt, decided to endorse several candidatures including that of:
“Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty of South Africa for the post of Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the event that the incumbent Director General, Mr Mohamed El Baradei of Egypt decides not to avail himself for the next term”.
It also decided to endorse the candidatures of Egypt and Burkino Faso for the two seats reserved for Africa for the period 2008-2010.
The South African government believes the candidature of Mr Minty is very important because South Africa is the only country that voluntarily destroyed its own nuclear capacity. South Africa has also been playing a major role within the IAEA. Mr Minty has represented us on the Board of Governors for the last few years and we believe that if Mr Baradei does step down, then Mr Minty will be the best candidate to ensure that the IAEA becomes an instrument that is effective in preventing the proliferation while working towards the destruction of weapons of mass destruction.
I do believe that human rights, good governance and corruption is an issue that the African Union has been addressing quite seriously and consistently but I believe, that since the creation of the African Peer Review Mechanism, we stand above any continent in our collective efforts to deal with these issues and I do believe that all the issues I have referred to falls within the ambit of these processes that I have outlined and therefore, I believe, we have emerged from this Summit, rather than being divided in our approach as the media has been suggesting, but more united that we have been in the past specifically because we now have a new commission that has only been operational since May 2008. And, our institutions, following the audit of the African Union is beginning to put into place processes that will make the AU more effective at defending the interests of the African continent.
Questions and Answers
Question Deputy Minister, the United States has introduced a draft resolution in the UN Security Council calling for mandatory sanctions against Zimbabwe. The matter will come before the Council on Tuesday next week. Will South Africa oppose this resolution? What is our stand on this resolution?
Answer Let me reiterate what I have just said, it is my view that there is an African Union Summit decision taken a few days ago. It is my view that the African Union Summit came to that conclusion based on a concrete understanding of the realities on the ground. They debated this matter for many hours – in the Executive Council and in the Summit and indeed, the resolution that emerged is the only way forward to finding a solution on the Zimbabwean crisis.
Any other interventions that go against the gist of what the AU Summit resolution presents, I believe, will not be off assistance. It will only go towards preventing a solution that is so dearly needed. Why a chapter 7 resolution, the contents of which we are discussing, at this stage? That is another process that is going on.
As the AU Summit resolution says, we call on all other organisations and the international community to not do anything that will jeopardise what the SADC Facilitation, on behalf of the African continent, is trying to achieve. We therefore hope that those who have proposed this draft will seriously consider what the Summit decisions were and allow Africans to solve Africa’s problems.
Question Deputy Minister, where do we stand on Zimbabwe – in terms of the process – is there any process, mediation, dialogue? People are talking of different things – a government of national unity, a transitional government, a government of healing?
Answer Given the mandate of the Summit to the Facilitation to now urgently implement what the resolution says – it has been that both sides are already, and even during the Summit, were engaged in discussions – it is now up to the Facilitation to ensure that steps are urgently taken for this process to really begin to be operationalised.
We do hope that given the circumstances of the pressure and we have just come from the African Union Summit, that the parties, despite what they have been saying publicly are now making preparations for serious discussions on the establishment of what the African Union calls a government of national unity, what others are calling for a reconciliation government. The nature of extent of this can only emerge from discussions undertaken and agreed to by the Zimbabweans themselves.
We ourselves, are not at this stage able to dictate what it should be called – a transitional government or long term agreement. This is a matter that the Facilitation must be able to encourage the Zimbabweans to agreed upon.
As I said, all the observer missions reported on the problems in Zimbabwe. The African Union Summit has expressed deep concern about the situation in Zimbabwe. Now, it is up to the Zimbabweans, understanding the feelings of the African continent about the need to find a solution, under the Facilitation to find a solution as soon as possible.
Question Deputy Minister, government has been asked this question but we are hoping for some frankness and openness: does the South African government recognise President Mugabe as the legitimate President of Zimbabwe?
Answer I think this is an academic discussion. President Mugabe attended the Summit, he headed the Zimbabwean delegation. I think the challenge, as the African Union resolution adopted unanimously refers to, is to look at the future now. We have understood and analysed the past. Let us now move forward to finding this solution that the region, the continent and in fact the people of Zimbabwe demand. Our approach now is to not be diverted on discussions of legitimacy or not. The reality is that on the ground, the inauguration has taken place and what we now have to do is to get the two sides, as equal partners, to meet to find a solution to the situation in Zimbabwe. The AU will fully support this and we hope it will be supported by the international community.
The challenge now is to get the Zimbabwean parties – government and the opposition – to start preparing for discussions on the way forward.
Question Deputy Minister, we are fully aware that the AU has endorsed the mandate given to President Mbeki but the MDC has said they are not happy with the mediation because they believe he is supportive of Zanu-PF and President Mugabe. What is the response of the South African government to this?
Answer I think what we need to work on is the Summit, having listened to many Heads of State who had also interacted with the Zimbabwean parties, came to this conclusion and endorsed the progress made by the SADC Facilitation led by President Thabo Mbeki and mandated the SADC Facilitation to continue.
I believe that the public statements must be seriously considered and my view is that we cannot ignore a Summit decision. The Summit has endorsed the facilitation and therefore all Zimbabwean parties must accept this decision and start dealing with the Facilitation. We are wasting time and whoever is challenging the Summit decision is wasting valuable time. I think we cannot now look for new mediation because it has reached a certain stage and as the Summit has endorsed and mandated, the Facilitation must continue.
There is nothing that prevents the Facilitation from seeking assistance of others. South Africa is not mediating as South Africa. South Africa, under the mandate of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation, is facilitating on behalf of SADC and therefore on behalf of the Continent and accordingly the President has to be in touch with the President of Angola who is the Chair of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation and indeed with the Chair of SADC which is President Manawasa as well as the Chair of the African Union President Kikwete. There is some suggestion that South Africa’s mediation is solely limited to South Africa and the Facilitation is not consulting with all the other relevant institutions in Africa, including, as the AU says with the Chairperson of the AU Commission Mr Ping.
There are lots of briefings and consultations with each other with this understanding of how the mediation must move forward. I do believe that the time has now come, as has been expressed in the Summit resolution, where we are at a very critical stage on finding a long lasting solution in Zimbabwe.
We must not lose this opportunity and it is in the interests of the Zimbabwean people for the political leaders of go into these negotiations as determined by the AU and within the context of the discussions look at all the issues each side is raising and see how the Facilitation, in consultation with the relevant SADC institutions, and if need be with the relevant AU institutions, can help resolve any of these outstanding issues on the agenda.
All of the parties, prior to the run-off elections, have committed themselves to some form of a unity structure. Now the time has come, given the AU resolution for them to implement what they have publicly said. Our view would be that this is what must happen and if there are issues to be raised, it should be done within the context of the mediation.
Question Deputy Minister, according to the MDC, torture camps are still in operation and at least 10 of their members have been killed since 27 June. How realistic is it, within such a climate, to have both sides sitting around a table to talk?
Answer There is no question o realism or not. It is question of necessity. The Zimbabweans, in line with the decisions of the African Union must meet and deal with all these issues including the issue of violence.
I have already said that all the observer mission reports, including SADC, the AU and the Pan African Parliament, have reflected concerns about the violence post the harmonised elections in March. So there is no debate about the extent of the violence in Zimbabwe.
The question is: given all these factors, given the reality on the ground, all the votes indicate a very divided (sometimes down the middle) society. The African Union Summit then concluded that the best way forward would be for the Zimbabweans to meet and begin to form a government of national unity – that is the terminology used by the African Union. For me, the terminology is not important – what is important is the content of what they have agreed to.
The issue of the violence – if the violence continues or increases, we believe these issues must be raised with the mediation as was done in the past. These matters were then dealt with by the mediation. I believe that the run-off is over now, any continuing violence can only be an impediment to the decision of the AU and is therefore not in the interests of the Zimbabweans or the African continent and we would therefore urge, as the AU has done, that all violence be stopped immediately. The processes of facilitation must be operationalised.
The matter of the violence was thoroughly discussed. If you read the three reports to which I have referred as well as other reports, all these things have been documented and discussed. If acts of violence continue, it is up to the Zimbabweans to take the necessary action, dependent on the decision of the African Union, to take immediate action to stop the violence.
If it continues, we must take action – whatever action is possible – to put a stop to it so that a conducive climate can be created for negotiations to start. It is of no use harping on something that has been going on for so long and our reports indicate this. The AU resolution also indicates its deep concern about the violence so we do not want to keep harping on something that has been dealt with. Let us now emphasise the way forward rather than go back to the issue of violence. We have dealt with this.
Question Deputy Minister, is South Africa opposed in principle to the draft resolution currently before the United Nations? Do you think that you would be able to find some common ground on Zimbabwe when the British Foreign Secretary is in South Africa? Is South Africa concerned that the Zimbabwe question will overshadow the G-8?
Answer I did say when I introduced the topic and in response to an earlier question that the draft resolution proposed by the United States is a matter that is now being discussed by all members of the Security Council – permanent and non-permanent. It is work in progress.
It is my view that the drafters should take note of the AU resolution which calls on the international community, at this very crucial stage, not to take initiatives that can impact negatively on what the AU processes are, through the SADC facilitation.
So, I do sincerely hope that in our discussions we can convince the relevant drafters that we are at a very very decisive moment and to come in with a chapter 7 resolution that will lead to lots of discussion will impact negatively on the processes that are being undertaken. They should rethink this and if necessary, at some stage, when they have come to the conclusion that the recent decision of the AU is not succeeding, come back to this resolution which can be looked at in the context of what has and what has not been achieved through the AU processes. I would hope they would not proceed with this.
Regarding the British Foreign Secretary: I cannot expect such a senior delegation from the UK, coming to South Africa within the context of our broad discussions, to not discuss the Zimbabwean issue and I think we will openly and frankly exchange views and I hope we will come to some consensus on the way forward because all of us, the whole of Africa as well as the European Union, the United States and indeed the broader international community wants a solution. I don’t believe our discussions can be antagonistic – it is between two partners who have a longstanding relationship, strong economic and cultural ties, and like all other discussions, this will be one of the issues on the agenda – there are many other issues – we have to discuss Darfur, the Ethiopian-Eritrean border issue, the Sudan-Chad issue, indeed the Middle East issue which remains the greatest threat to international peace and security. The former British Prime Minister is now, on behalf of the Quartet, dealing with the reconstruction of the Occupied Palestinian Territories so all of this will be on the agenda; the Iranian nuclear issue – there are lots of warning signs of the possible attack against Iran; the situation in Afghanistan and in Iraq, so all of these meetings are excellent opportunities for our foreign ministers to sit down and discuss these issues. There are no restrictions on what can be on the agenda. The G-8 will also be taking place while we are meeting with the British delegation and all the issues at the G-8 – the African Action Plan, food and energy crises, are all on the agenda. We look forward to this meeting where our foreign ministers can assess where we are in our relations and how we can move forward. It is now time that our 53 countries, which consists the largest number of countries in the UN, to now get the world to understand that we are as concerned as the rest of the world and we want solutions but solutions that emerge from discussions.
We want to emphasise what has emerged from the Summit: that Africa is committed to dealing with all the challenges that are of concern to others but we have African positions on many of these issues and I did mention to you that the EPA partnership agreements are key on the agenda. We have to move on the inability of the WTO to find solutions to these talks. So, there are many issues to discuss.
Question Deputy Minister, is there a programme from the Facilitation team henceforth?
Answer I am assuming that the Facilitation team has to date been working according to some plan and programme. I am not privy to what the Facilitation’s team programme post-Summit is but I believe that the Facilitation team can sooner or later brief the media about what the programme will be within the context of the AU resolution. Our view remains that as the Facilitation team we cannot negotiate through the media and/or publicly. I know that the media is receiving leaked information but we cannot help this. As the facilitation team they have to adhere to their brief and not hinder the facilitation process.
Question Deputy Minister, what is the news of President Manawasa?
Answer This is very unfortunate and now I see that the Zambians are becoming quite agitated because they say that some sources have come from South Africa. As Foreign Affairs we immediately checked with the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria who also informed us that they had been inundated with 100s of calls and they confirmed to us that this rumour has started in South Africa and are not true. Our Mission in Zambia confirmed that this was not true.
The President, as he was entering the memorial service was informed by a very high ranking SADC official that President Manawasa had died so he was working on the basis that this was the latest information given to him by this senior official and he had to take it as being the truth.
Foreign Affairs quickly issued a statement retracting this.
The Zambian government has issued a statement saying the President is ill in hospital. We do apologise to the Zambian government and people, as well as the South African people that these stories have emanated from South Africa.
Question Deputy Minister, could you help me to understand why putting a little more interest on President Mugabe is not in the interest of achieving a solution?
Answer There is no question of applying pressure – pressure has been applied for the last 7 or 8 years. Smart sanctions are in place, the economy is in a state of serious crisis. Pressure has been put on President Mugabe. Nobody has said that pressure has not been applied. We are referring specifically to a chapter 7 resolution proposed by the United States in the UN Security Council. We believe, as the Summit has said, that at the moment, such a resolution will assist the process and therefore why do we not wait to see how the decision of the African Union is operationalised before we jump to hasty decisions of a chapter 7 resolution.
It is very difficult to see, how in the wake of the AU resolution, how a chapter 7 resolution will assist the process. What is the objective of this resolution given that there is a decision by the African Union on the way forward. What other pressure can be applied? If the pressure you are referring to is going to create the conditions where negotiations based on the AU resolution cannot proceed, then we are all in trouble.
Question Deputy Minister, you said, “If acts of violence continue, it is up to the Zimbabweans to take the necessary action, dependent on the decision of the African Union, to take immediate action to stop the violence. If it continues, we must take action – whatever action is possible – to put a stop to it so that a conducive climate can be created for negotiations to start.” I was wondering if you have a plan B?
Answer I said this before, it is our considered view, and I did say this matter was thoroughly discussed at three levels during the Sharm El-Sheikh meetings – the Permanent Representatives, the Executive Council, a scheduled Peace and Security Summit, and finally, the views from every sector, taking into account the observer missions reports which guided many of the discussions, we went to the Summit where there was very intensive discussions involving many many Presidents speaking on the topic and after that, the conclusion reached was that we are in a very difficult and complex situation and that the AU, therefore, calls on the Zimbabwean parties to take measures to begin the processes of discussions. If there is anything that impacts negatively on this, then it is clear that the Facilitation would have to take this up because you cannot expect negotiations to take place where increasing levels of violence are prevalent. So, we believe that logically, an important element of getting the Zimbabweans to sit down and seriously talk is to create the necessary conducive environment in which this can happen and that includes all these aspects – the violence, the humanitarian situation, the issue of arrests, etc. I am also sure that if you want these discussions to succeed then you would have to create the conducive climate. So we are therefore not looking at any contingency plans. We have an A plan that is determined by the AU and it is this that will drive us. We also have the mandate of 53 countries on our continent and given this unanimous support it is incumbent upon SADC to carry out its task to find a regional solution to a regional problem.
Question Deputy Minister, you held discussions with US Congressman Howard Berman in Pretoria yesterday. What was the meeting about?
Answer This was a very important all-party congressional delegation. It was mainly from the Foreign Relations Committee and they are very influential in the United States. The former Chairman, who is a Republican accompanied the delegation which is now chaired by Congressman Berman. Three or four matters were raised. Congressman Berman was instrumental in ensuring the reallocation of funds to the HIV and Aids programme. All of them, including the Republicans were key to ensuring that the US legislation that bars people from the liberation struggle (because they were classified as terrorists) from entering the US, including former President Mandela, on a special waiver. This committee was instrumental in ensuring that the US, and the bill has now been signed off on by President Bush, will now get rid of this regulation in the US legislation. This was the key issue they came to brief us on and what must now happen.
As the Foreign Affairs Committee, we discussed the implications of the AU resolution, they wanted to discuss broader issues that threaten international peace and security – the Middle East and Iran and off course, the domestic situation in South Africa including preparations for the 2009 elections and the need for the international community to remain seized, and especially the US, on the African developmental agenda. I do believe that the Congressional delegation understands fully the challenges faced in Africa and I hope they will take our discussions on board in terms of Africa achieving the Millennium Development Goals. We briefed them on the G-8 Summit and our expectations of the outcomes and what we hope that the US will contribute to the implementation of the Africa Action Plan, the full implementation of the G-8 commitments – they had committed US$ 50 billion until the end of the Millennium Development Goals. All reports indicate that less than US$ 10 billion has been allocated so there are lots of things that have to be discussed with their government.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
4 July 2008