Notes following IRPS Cluster Media Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, Media Centre, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Friday 29 August 2008

PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI EXTENDS CONDOLENCES ON THE DEATH OF PRESIDENT LEVY MWANAWASA

Let me again reiterate the heartfelt condolences of President Thabo Mbeki on behalf of the government and people of South Africa, the SADC Region and on his own behalf to the government and people of Zambia on the death of President Levy Mwanawasa.

In this regard, President Mbeki said “The Government and people of South Africa and indeed the entire SADC region are deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of our brother and leader, and recent Chairperson of SADC, President Levy Mwanawasa’ said President Mbeki.

“Coming in the wake of the recently concluded SADC Summit held in Johannesburg, the peoples of our country and region- SADC- will most certainly miss his invaluable contribution to the region’s political and economic development.

“In memory of this African Patriot and leader of the Zambian people, we surely must commit ourselves to building upon the foundations he laid during his tenure as the Chairperson of SADC for the deepening of regional economic integration, intensification of regional infrastructure development as well as the restoration and strengthening of regional political unity and cohesion” continued President Mbeki.

“Accordingly, during these difficult moments, we can only but share in the pain and sorrow of the Zambian peoples at the loss of President Mwanawasa. In this regard, our thoughts and prayers necessarily reach out to the entire Zambian nation and in particular members of the bereaved family.

“The people of South Africa and indeed the entire SADC region, accordingly, extend their heartfelt condolences to the government and people of Zambia and to his widow Maureen Mwanawasa and the children” concluded President Mbeki

CONDOLENCES ON THE PASSING OF MR JANUARY MASILELA

I would also like to take this opportunity to add the Department’s heartfelt condolences to those of the government and the people of South Africa to the family of Secretary of Defence, January Masilela, who passed away in a car accident early on Sunday.

Mr Masilela contributed towards the liberation of our country and was a loyal servant of the people and government of South Africa since we attained democracy.

He joined the Department of Defence in December 1999 and has served his office with loyalty and dedication until his untimely death. As the Head of the Department of Defence, he has played an important role in the signing of various International Agreements.

Mr Masilela was born in Middelburg, Mpumalanga on 23 February 1955, where he grew up and did his secondary school education until he left the country for exile. While in exile he trained in Angola, Soviet Union, the then German Democratic Republic and Cuba. He was a Commissar (Deputy Commander) in the Umkhonto WeSizwe Headquarters in Angola and Chairman of Regional Political Military Council in Botswana.

On returning from exile he held the following senior positions: 1994-1997, MEC for Local Government in Mpumalanga; from 1997 to 1999, MEC Department of Agriculture in Mpumalanga. In December 1999 he was appointed the Secretary for Defence (Director-General) in the Department of Defence.

PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI TO HOST VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT ON HISTORIC STATE VISIT

South African President Thabo Mbeki will on Tuesday 2 September 2008 host his Venezuelan counterpart President Hugo Chavez for bilateral political, economic and trade discussions at the Union Buildings during his first State Visit to South Africa scheduled from Tuesday – Wednesday 2-3 September 2008.

President Thabo Mbeki will host President Chavez for discussions within the context of South Africa’s priority to consolidate relations with Latin America with a view to fastracking the developmental agenda of the South.

It is South Africa’s declared intention to expand its relations with Venezuela in particular and Latin America and the Caribbean in general.

Bilateral relations between the two countries will be reviewed against this background. Discussions would focus on opportunities that exist in the areas of Energy, Mining, Trade and the Armament Industry. In addition, areas for possible future engagements with Venezuela in the fields of Agriculture and  Public Works would be explored.

Accordingly, issues on the agenda of discussions between Presidents Mbeki and Chavez on Tuesday 2 September 2008 are expected to include, among others:

  • The status of bilateral political, economic and trade relations between the two countries and indeed between SACU and Mercosaur;
  • The strengthening and consolidation of South-South relations through, among others, co-operation in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the G77 + China fora;
  • A briefing on developments in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean including conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa;
  • Preparations for the forthcoming inaugural Summit of the African Diaspora which South Africa has been mandated by the African Union to host in October this year;
  • The 2nd Africa-South American Community of Nations Summit to be hosted by Venezuela from 24 to 29 November 2008 – this follows that hosted in Addis Ababa in November 2006; and
  • Other issues of mutual interest including the comprehensive reform of the United Nations Security Council and the global financial architecture.

Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Hugo Chavez will, on conclusion of discussions sign the Framework Agreement on Cooperation between South Africa and Venezuela. In addition, the respective Ministers of Minerals and Energy of South Africa and the Minister of Energy and Petroleum of Venezuela will sign an Energy Cooperation Agreement and a Memorandum of Understanding on Energy Cooperation.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The July 2008 visit by the Minister of Minerals and Energy to Venezuela paved the way for closer energy cooperation with that country with Venezuela keen to explore South Africa’s gas-to-liquid technology.

Venezuela has one of the largest oil reserves in the world and developing commercial relations in this sector could provide alternative sources of energy to South Africa. 

Trade statistics

South African Rand in millions (DTI) June 2007:

SA EXPORTS

2007                                      2006             2005             2004
275,852                                  156,509          107,002          105,216

SA IMPORTS

2007                                     2006              2005             2004
530,085                                  325,200          20,920           29,033

The major export products were machinery and mechanical appliances, base metals and chemicals.

South Africa has seen a dramatic increase in imports over the same three-year period, mainly covering plastic and rubber imports from Venezuela.

President Chavez is scheduled to depart South Africa on Wednesday 3 September.

CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS POST CONFLICT RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICA (PCRD)

Sudan

On 7 July 2008, the Sudanese Election Act was passed by Parliament after the signatories to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) agreed on the contentious issues that had delayed the passing of the Act. This paves the way for the Parties to begin preparations for the elections to be held in July 2009 as mandated in the CPA.

Following the outbreak of violence in Abyei that led to the displacement of over 50 000 people and the destruction of Abyei town and the looting of properties of civilians, the Sudan People Liberation Movement (SPLM) and the National Congress Party (NCP) signed the “Roadmap for Return of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and implementation of Abyei Protocol” on 8 June 2008.

On 18 June a 640 stronghold battalion of SPLA troops was deployed to form a new battalion as agreed in the Roadmap. This joint force will be the sole military force in the Abyei region. The UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) will also enjoy free movement and access to both the north and the south of Abyei.  This will pave the way for the return of the internally displace persons (IDPs). 

The Darfur Peace Process is in a process of being revived, following the appointment of the Foreign Minister of Burkina Faso, Mr Djibril Bassole, as the new UN and AU joint chief mediator for Darfur. His appointment comes two years after the failure of the Abuja peace talks mediated by the AU Envoy Salim Ahmed Salim and the UN Envoy Jan Elliason. Mr Bassole’s appointment has been welcomed by the Darfur rebel leader Abdel Wahid El Nur, who has urged Bassole to break the deadlock of the peace process by working to convince Khartoum to stop attacks on civilians and disarming its militias as well as evacuating the new settlers from the displaced lands. The UK continues to offer its support in hosting the peace talks. However insecurity still prevails, as peacekeepers were attacked on 8 July 2008 where 7 UNAMID peacekeepers were killed and 22 injured. Among the injured was a South African officer.

South Africa continues to support the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) through Post Conflict and Reconstruction Development Programmes. The DFA-GOSS-UNISA Capacity and Institution Building Project for Southern Sudan is running optimally. Preparations are underway for the training of 80 GOSS officials in the areas of Correctional Services and the Judiciary. The training is scheduled to commence on 3 August 2008 and will be funded by the German Government.  

The project will be entering its third phase during September 2008. The target group for phase three will focus on the leadership of Southern Sudan at the levels of the GoSS, States and local 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 offered in South Africa.

The Department of Defence has deployed personnel as part of the AU-UN Hybrid Mission in the Sudan, which has been extended to March 2009.  Two SANDF members are also deployed as AU observers in Southern Sudan. 

The International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor has requested a warrant of arrest against the President of the Sudan, Omer Hassan El Bashir for genocide and war crimes. Amidst fears of anarchy and possible insecurity the UN/AU Hybrid force is evacuating all non essential staff to other regions of the Sudan.

On 21 July 2008, the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) took a decision to request the United Nations (UN) to invoke Article 16 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to defer the indictment of the President of the Sudan, Omer Hassan El Bashir. The AUPSC stated that the arrest of the Government of the Sudan (GOS) President will jeopardise all AU and UN peace initiative and the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in the Sudan.

While not condoning impunity, the Commission is of the view that prosecution in the current circumstances may not be in the best interest of the victims and justice. Accordingly, the search for justice should be pursued in a way that does not impede or jeopardise efforts aimed at finding a lasting solution to the conflict in the Sudan as a whole. In this regard, the AUPSC took a decision to establish within a period of thirty days a High-Level Panel comprising distinguished Africans of high integrity.  This panel will be mandated to study the situation and advice the Commission on how best the issues of accountability and combating impunity could effectively and comprehensively be addressed.

The Commission also urged the GOS to take immediate and concrete steps to investigate human rights violation in Darfur and bring into justice perpetrators, and to keep the AU fully and continuously informed of progress made in addressing the unfortunate situation in the western region of the Sudan (Darfur).

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – (Apex Priority 22)

South Africa’s assistance to the DRC is broadly based on five priority areas as identified by the DRC government namely; health, education, water and sanitation and infrastructure, with security sector reform being an all encompassing priority. The Presidential Binational Commission (BNC) which has been in existence between South Africa and the DRC since 2004 provides a legal and administrative framework to manage and implement a number of post-conflict reconstruction and development projects in that country.

The implementation of projects in the DRC remains the substance of the work of the BNC, focusing on the development of the DRC.  A detailed report on the progress with respect to implementation of this Apex priority was presented to the July 2008 Cabinet Lekgotla. 

Thus far the DRC has made good progress in the reconstruction of the country and presents real opportunities for intraregional economic co-operation, foreign direct investment (FDI) and sustained growth and development. Cycles of conflict have undermined foreign-investor confidence.

Clashes have erupted between fighters loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda and the army in the east of the DRC, the UN says.  Both sides have blamed each other for starting the fighting, which lasted several hours.  “They are mutually claiming the other side started it.  At the moment it is very difficult to confirm who has started it”, UN Mission spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Paul Dietrich told the BBC.  It is the heaviest fighting in the east since a January peace deal.  Lt-Col Dietrich said the UN believed that Mr Nkunda – a renegade general – was trying to expand the rebels’ zone of influence.  Reports earlier this month indicated that Gen Nkunda was touring his area, strengthening his defences and recruiting fresh forces.  The UN has 17,000 peacekeepers in DRC.

Contribute to the stabilisation of Somalia

Under the aegis of the United Nations, on 9 June 2008 the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the Alliance for the Reliberation of Somalia (ARS) signed a peace agreement in Djibouti. The parties reached an agreement on:

  • A 90-day renewable cessation of hostilities, starting within 30 days;
  • The deployment within 120 days of a Council-authorised “international stabilisation force” excluding neighbouring countries, and Ethiopian withdrawal “after the deployment of a sufficient number of UN forces;”
  • A statement by the ARS group condemning violence and disassociating itself from recalcitrant groups;
  • pledges to ensure unhindered humanitarian access and Assistance;
  • A UN-chaired Joint Security Committee to oversee implementation; and
  • AUN-chaired high-level committee to follow-up on political cooperation between the parties and justice and reconciliation, and a related conference by 30 July 2008. 

Despite the signing of this agreement, the political, security and humanitarian situation in Somali have not improved. Insurgencies continue in and around Mogadishu, and piracy on Somali waters exacerbates the humanitarian situation in the country. In its attempts to deal with piracy on Somali waters, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a chapter VII resolution on 2 June 2008 authorising foreign ships engaged in counter piracy operations to enter Somalian territorial waters. Although this action is necessary given the rising wave of piracy on Somali waters, this will concomitantly complicate the already complex security situation in Somalia as countries will unilaterally enter Somali waters when the need arises.  

In addition, the gap between critical needs, particularly in and around Mogadishu, and the level of humanitarian response, has widened due to the extremely limited capacity of aid agencies to deliver assistance in a highly insecure and volatile environment. Another critical issue is the warning from the World Food Programme (WFP) that it will have to cut food aid to Somalia if it does not receive new naval protection against pirates. This comes in the wake of the imminent withdrawal of the Dutch frigate which has been in Somalia for seven months. The WFP has reported that shipping companies are reluctant to sail unescorted to Somalia, and it had no offers to take over escort duties from the Dutch navy.

The Medicins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has reported that a hunger crisis (famine) has already begun in Somalia with children dying of malnutrition and hundreds admitted to hospitals and nutritional programmes.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations estimate that some 2.5 million Somalis now rely on humanitarian assistance.

In a bid to resuscitate South Africa’s much needed intervention in the resolution of the Somali conflict, President Thabo Mbeki has appointed Ambassador LM Makhubela, the Chief of State Protocol as his personal Envoy to Somalia.

BURUNDI PEACE PROCESS

On 18 August 2008 the Facilitator to the Burundi Peace Process, Minister Charles Nqakula, and Ambassador Mamabolo met with both President Nkurunziza and Chairman of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL Mr. Agathon Rwasa respectively. Ambassador Bah, Special Representative of the African Union was also in attendance.

The Facilitator reminded both parties of the deadline of 31 December 2008 and expressed doubt regarding a second renewal of the mandate. The Facilitator emphasised that his role was not to lead discussions but to facilitate and in this regard requested the two parties to stop talking past each other but to talk directly to each other.

The Facilitator referred to the recent accusations and counter-accusations that he has received from both parties and said that this did not bode well for the peace process and asked them to recommit themselves to the letter and spirit of the Cease Fire Agreement.

The Facilitator emphasised that the two parties need to own the peace process and thus he made the following requests to the parties:

  • Parties to start meeting regularly-twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays;
  • Parties expected to brief the Political Directorate on matters discussed every Thursday;
  • Two Task Teams to be formed with one comprising the principals and another one which will be technical in nature to take further the discussions and implement recommendations made by the former;
  • Parties to make a list of all the matters that have been discussed and agreed upon, as well as a list of those issues that have not been resolved;
  • Unresolved issues needed to be forwarded to the Political Directorate for deliberation.

The Facilitator again went to Burundi on Thursday 28 August 2008 to meet with the Government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL. The purpose of the meeting is to make follow-up on progress. The outcomes of this meeting will inform the Facilitator as to whether the process is moving forward or are there other issues that will need to be attended to, to ensure progress. 

ZIMBABWE

LATEST POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS

  1. SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government

The issue of Zimbabwe featured high on the agenda of the SADC 28th Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government that took place in Sandton from 16 – 17 August. Negotiations between the two sides continued during the Summit; however, no agreement was reached during this time. The SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security held an Extraordinary Summit on the margins of the SADC Summit, where the Facilitator briefed the Organ on progress made. The Summit expressed the firm opinion that the documents contained in the Facilitator’s Report to the Organ reflect the framework, spirit and purpose of the SADC and AU Resolutions.  In view of that, they are a good basis for a global agreement between the Parties.

COMMUNIQUE OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SUMMIT OF THE ORGAN

  • The Extraordinary Summit of the Organ of Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was held in Sandton, Republic of South Africa from August 16 to 17, 2008, on the margins of the 28th Ordinary SADC Summit.
  • The Extraordinary Summit of the Organ was attended by the following Heads of State and Government:

Angola                          H.E. President Jose Eduardo dos Santos
DRC                             H.E. President Joseph Kabila
Lesotho                         H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Mr Lesao Lehohla
Madagascar                   H.E. President Marc Ravalomanana
Malawi                          H.E. President Bingu wa Mutharika
Mauritius                       Dr the Hon Prime Minister, Navichandra Ramgoolam, GCSK
Mozambique                  H.E. President Armando Emilio Guebuza
Namibia                        H.E. President Hifikepunye Pohamba
Seychelles                     H.E. President James Alix Michel
South Africa                   H.E. President Thabo Mbeki
Swaziland                      H.M. King Mswati III
United Republic              H.E. President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwetwe
of Tanzania
Zimbabwe                      H.E. President Robert Gabriel Mugabe
Zambia                          Hon. Kabinga J. Pande, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs,
.....................................the Special Representative of H.E. Dr Levy Patrick Mwanawasa,
.................................... SC
Botswana                       Hon. Pandu Skelemani, MP, Minister of Foreign Affairs and
.....................................International Cooperation

  • The Extraordinary Summit of the Organ considered the political developments in the Republic of Zimbabwe and:
  • Recalled the Resolutions adopted in Dar Es Salaam, United Republic of Tanzania on 29th March 2007 and in Sharm El Sheik on 30th June to 2nd July 2008 on the framework of dealing with the Political Situation in Zimbabwe, which call upon the parties to form an all inclusive Government;
  • Acknowledged the efforts made by the parties so far in implementing the SADC and AU resolutions;
  • Commended the parties for their commitment to the dialogue in implementing the SADC and AU resolutions on resolving the Political Situation in Zimbabwe;
  • Commended the Facilitator, President Thabo Mbeki for his efforts and encouraged him to continue in his mediation efforts and fully support his work;
  • Expressed strong opinion that documents as contained in the Facilitator’s Report reflect the framework, spirit and purpose of the SADC and AU Resolutions.  In view of that, they are a good basis for a global agreement;
  • Encouraged and appealed to the parties to sign any outstanding agreements and conclude the negotiations as a matter of urgency to restore political stability in Zimbabwe;
  • Recognised that while negotiations are continuing, it may be necessary to convene Parliament to give effect to the will of the people as expressed in the Parliamentary elections held on 29 March 2008;
  • Remains committed to support the parties as they implement the agreement.

Sandton, Republic of South Africa
August 17, 2008

  1. Opening of the Parliament of Zimbabwe

The swearing-in of the Members of Parliament-elect and the subsequent election, by secret ballot, of the leaders of the two chambers of Parliament took place on 25 August. The Senate (Upper House) has 93 seats, 60 of which are directly elected. The remaining 13 are appointed by the President. The House of Assembly (Lower House) has 210 seats. MDC-T has 100 MPs in the House of Assembly, ZANU-PF has 99, MDC-M has 10 MPs and one Independent. Zimbabwe has a hung Parliament – neither MDC-T nor ZANU-PF enjoys an outright majority and would have to rely on the smaller MDC faction for support.

Mr Lovemore Moyo of MDC-T won the contest for the position of Speaker of the House of Assembly with 110 votes. Mr Paul Themba Nyathi of MDC-M received 98 votes. ZANU-PF did not field a candidate but threw its weight behind the Mutambara faction’s candidate. Ms Nomalanga Khumalo of the MDC-M took the Deputy Speaker post uncontested.

On 24 August, President Mugabe announced the appointment of 8 Provincial Governors and 3 Senators. ZANU-PF holds 30 seats in the Senate, MDC-T has 24 and MDC-M has 6 seats. The 18 Chiefs, who also now sit in the Senate, have traditionally supported ZANU-PF. This gives ZANU-PF a majority in the upper house of Parliament. Ms Edna Madzongwe of ZANU-PF beat the MDC-M candidate to become President of the Senate. Mr Naison Ndlovu, also of ZANU-PF, beat Ms Sekai Holland of the MDC-T to become Deputy President of the Senate.

In terms of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, if the President is absent or incapacitated, the Vice-President becomes the Acting President of the country. In the absence of the President or the two Vice-Presidents, the President of the Senate then assumes that role.

Provincial Governors:

Reappointments:
Angeline Masuku                  :           Matabeleland South
Thokozile Mathuthu               :           Matabeleland North
Cain Mathema                      :           Bulawayo Province
David Karimanzira                :           Harare Province

New Appointments:
Martin Dinha                       :           Mashonaland Central
Aeneas Chigwedere            :           Mashonaland East
Christopher Mushowe          :           Manicaland
Faber Chidarikire                :           Mashonaland West

Governors for Masvingo and Midlands Provinces have yet to be appointed. President Mugabe also appointed Joseph Msika, Patrick Chinamasa and John Nkomo to the Senate.

  1. Socio-economic Trends

The official annual inflation rate reached 11.2 million percent in August 2008. However, independent analysts have estimated that actual inflation is closer to 50 million percent, based on prices of a basket of basic foodstuffs. The Zimbabwe dollar is devaluing at a rate of 1000% a week.

At the end of July, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) removed 10 zeros in an effort to bring down inflation. From 1 August, Z$10 billion has become Z$1. However, economists predict the zeros will return very soon as the latest measures do not address the causes of the hyperinflation and are not being followed by meaningful reforms, such as addressing the unavailability of foreign currency and low investment in Zimbabwe.

  1. Humanitarian Situation

The Zimbabwean government suspended the work of all humanitarian organisations on 28 May, after accusing them of engaging in political activities. There was an expectation that this ban would be lifted after the MOU between the rival political parties was signed on 21 July. However, to date this has not happened. Some NGOs appear to have resumed unofficial operations, but are ‘negotiating at field level’ for access.

On 18 June, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) published its crop assessment, which forecast that more than five million Zimbabweans would suffer food insecurity in the next nine months, a million people more than the previous year. The FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) estimates that 2.04 million people in rural and urban areas will be food insecure between July and September 2008, rising to 3.8 million people between October and December, and peaking to about 5.1 million at the height of the hungry season between January and March 2009.

  1. South Africa’s role

South Africa will continue to facilitate dialogue between the ZANU-PF and MDC factions, within the framework of the SADC mandate and AU Summit Resolution in an effort to reach an inclusive political settlement. In addition, there is a need to deal with the humanitarian situation and to start work on the economic rescue package for Zimbabwe.

Reports that talks will resume today.

The Head of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security, reported to have said that all parties had agreed at the SADC Summit “that all Zimbabwe stakeholders should go and sit and finalise all outstanding issues, which will pave the way for establishing a stable and peaceful government.  All parties concerned must abide by all the agreements”.

LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS IN ANGOLA, 5-6 SEPTEMBER 2008

A contingent of ten South Africans, including members of Parliament and representatives of civil society, will form part of a SADC Observer Mission in respect of the legislative elections to be held in Angola from 5-6 September 2008. They will form part of the bigger group of election observers, which include the AU and EU, invited by the Angolan Government. The Executive Secretary of SADC, Tomas Salomao, participated in the launch of the SADC Observer Mission on 23 August 2008 in Luanda, which will be headed by Mr John Kunene of Swaziland.

In his remarks at this occasion, the Executive Secretary of SADC mentioned that SADC is in Angola with an open spirit, not only to observe the elections but also to assist in post-election process, which includes reconstruction and socio-economic development of Angola. In his official launch remarks, Mr. Kunene stated that the invitation by the Angolan Government to observe the legality and transparency of the electoral process, attests that Angola is committed to democracy and political transparency.

The Observer Mission leader further clarified that his mission would be guided by the Principles and Guidelines of SADC on Elections. He indicated that their involvement would be based only on observation and not participation. By the time of the launch observers from three countries, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia were already in Angola. The South African contingent is scheduled to arrive on Thursday 28 August 2008.

The fourteen political parties participating in the forthcoming legislative elections have commenced with their respective political campaigns throughout the country since the beginning of August 2008. It could be expected that the MPLA and UNITA would remain the strongest contestants of the elections. At this stage, no major obstacles regarding the preparations for the elections have been reported. The impression is further that Angola, through the National Electoral Commission, would ensure that logistical arrangements are ready on the day of the elections which would be conducive to a peaceful election atmosphere.

WESTERN SAHARA

Negotiations between the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front have been at an impasse following the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations held Manhasset, USA. In the negotiations Morocco continued to negotiate from a premise that Western Sahara was part of the sovereign territory of Morocco. On the other hand Polisario remained steadfast to the principle that the Saharawi people have the inalienable right to vote in a referendum with the option of independence.

The pronouncement of the Special Envoy of the Secretary General, Mr Peter van Walsum, at the conclusion of the fourth round of negotiations in which he intimated that the referendum option was “unrealistic.”

Mr Walsum qualified his statement by pointing out that the political reality was that Morocco is the stronger of the two parties and enjoys the support France and the USA in the Security Council. Therefore, according to Mr Walsum, the solution to the problem should not be based on international law but rather on the Moroccan so called ‘autonomy plan’. Mr Walsum’s statement is seen to be a significant deviation from the position that regards the issue of the Western Sahara as an outstanding decolonisation issue.

The President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), Mr Mohamed Abdelaziz, has conveyed in his letter to the United Nations Secretary General (4 August 2008) his contention that through his statements the Special Envoy has disqualified himself from leading any future negotiations between the parties. He went on to state that Polisario would refuse to return for the fifth round of negotiations unless Mr Peter Van Walsum is replaced.

STRENGTHEN THE AFRICAN UNION AND ITS STRUCTURES

South Africa participated in the African Union Summit held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from 24 June 2008 to 1 July 2008 under the theme “Meeting the Millennium Development Goals on Water and Sanitation”. The Summit meeting was preceded by the 16th Ordinary Session of the Permanent Representatives Council (PRC) from 24 to 25 June 2008, the 13th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council from 27 to 28 June 2008, the Meeting of the African Peer Review Focal Points and the Consultative Meeting of the NEPAD Steering Committee on 28 June 2008, and the 19th Summit HSGIC and the 9th African Peer Review Forum (APRF) on 29 June 2008.

Key outcomes of the Summit of the AU Assembly include:

  • The decision on the situation in Zimbabwe which includes a call on 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.
  • The resolve, that on the basis of the Report of the Committee of Twelve Heads of State and Government on the Union Government process, the AU Commission should present time bound recommendations regarding acceleration of the Union Government process at the next Assembly session in February 2009.
  • The commendation of efforts deployed by various countries and organisations to promote peace, security and stability in Africa;
  • The decision to have Regional Economic Communities play  leading role in Economic Partnership Agreement negotiations;
  • The decision to implement the AU Audit Panel recommendations in respect of the AU Commission that are of an administrative and institutional nature with no financial implications;
  • The articulation of Africa’s objections against the abuse of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction;
  • The re-election of judge B. Ngoepe as a judge of the African Court on Human and People’s Rights;
  • The request to Member States to implement their pledge of at least 15% of their national budgets to health in order to adequately address health and development, especially HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria;
  • The declaration adopted outlining its firm commitment to address the challenges posed by high food prices through the adoption of identified short, medium and long-term measures; as well as
  • The declaration adopted on water and sanitation which includes the 2008 Ethekwini Ministerial Declaration on Sanitation in Africa as adopted by the African Ministerial Conference on Water (AMCOW).

The Union Government Process

The AU Assembly considered the report of the 1st Meeting of the Committee of Twelve Heads of State and Government on the Union Government that took place in Arusha Tanzania during May 2008. The Assembly resolved that on the basis of the report of the Committee of Twelve Heads of State and Government, the AU Commission should present at the next Assembly time bound recommendations regarding acceleration of the Union Government process. This should include recommendations on; time bound implementation mechanisms regarding accelerators and benchmarks; the rationalisation and harmonisation of RECs; fostering relationships between the Union Government, Member States and RECs; and the sovereignty of States. Instead of the usual two day Assembly the next Summit, scheduled for February 2009 will be held over three days. The first day will be dedicated solely to discussing the way forward on the Union Government.

Decision on Economic Integration

The AU Assembly took note of and endorsed the recommendations contained in the report of the Second Conference of African Ministers of Integration held in Kigali, Rwanda from 26 to 27 July 2007.  Member States, RECs and the AU Commission were urged to take the necessary steps in co-operating with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the African Development Bank (AFDB) and development partners, to implement various recommendations with a view to speeding up the Continent’s integration process. These recommendations included inter alia that infrastructure development on the continent should be prioritised; that governance issues as well as peace and security be given the necessary prominence; that the capacities of RECs should be strengthened and that better co-ordination should take place within and among RECs and with the African Union Commission (AUC); that concrete measures such as the free movement of persons, goods, services and capital should be promoted; and that the AUC should co-ordinate Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU to support regional and continental integration efforts.

OUTCOMES OF THE 28TH ORDINARY SADC SUMMIT AND COUNCIL OF MINISTERS MEETINGS, 14-17 AUGUST 2008, SANDTON

  • The 28th Ordinary SADC Summit took place from 16-17 August 2008 in Sandton, South Africa where President Thabo Mbeki assumed the chairship of the Organisation.  The SADC Troika now comprises of South Africa (chair), Zambia (outgoing chair) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (incoming chair).  The Troika of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security consists of Swaziland (chair), Angola (outgoing chair) and Mozambique (incoming chair).  The final Summit Communiqué is attached as annex A.
  • Minister Dlamini Zuma assumed the chairship of the SADC Council of Ministers during its session from 14-15 August 2008, the latter of which was also attended by South African Ministers of Trade and Industry, Finance, Health and Agriculture. Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry and Finance were also in attendance during the Council.  South Africa’s delegation throughout the meetings preceding Summit included representatives from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry, Finance, Agriculture, Communications, Science and Technology, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
  • Minister Mpahlwa assumed the chairship of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration which met on 13 August 2008 to finalise its report to Summit.
  • The Summit was attended by the Head of State or Government of all the member countries except Botswana and Zambia. The former boycotted the session due to its concerns on the legality of the Zimbabwean participation and the latter’s absence was due to the hospitalization of President Mwanawasa.

Highlights of the Summit

  • The highlight of the Summit was the achievement of the economic integration milestone namely the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area (FTA) on 17 August 2008.  The benefits of the FTA for SADC and its citizens was the main theme of the statements made by the Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Tomaz Salomão, representatives of civil society, private sector and President Mbeki.  The launching ceremony was marked by an electronic mapping of SADC without borders as well as the unveiling of a plaque by President Mbeki in his capacity as Chair of SADC.
  • Another significant element of this Summit session was the holding of a Retreat of SADC Heads of State and Government on 16 August 2008.  The aim of the Retreat was to allow SADC leaders to engage closely and openly on endogenous and exogenous issues presenting key challenges to the region.  This was a unique feature of the Summit in that SADC leaders have not had such opportunities to engage informally, outside of the formal sessions before.  Participation in the Retreat was restricted to Heads of State plus one (1).
  • Another highlight was the signing of the Protocol on Gender and Development by SADC member states.  The Protocol calls for far-reaching changes in SADC countries including the repeal of all discriminatory laws; the inclusion of gender equality and equity in national constitutions and adopting the goal of 50% representation of women in political and decision-making structures in SADC countries by 2015.  Reports on progress in implementation will be tabled to Summit every two years.  As a signatory to the Protocol, South Africa will need to undertake the ratification procedures and develop a national plan of action accordingly.
  • Certain Summit outcomes such as the re-admission of Seychelles, the abolition of the Integrated Committee of Ministers, the amendment of the SADC Treaty, the signing of numerous other legal instruments particularly the Gender Protocol, highlighted the dynamic nature of SADC and its ability to evolve with current global challenges and developments.  During its terms as chair, South Africa would need to ensure that SADC remains relevant and united so as to better implement its numerous commitments.
  • The Summit considered the outcomes of the SADC International Conference on Poverty and Development and the Ministerial Task Force on Food Security.  The Heads of State approved the Implementation Plan of the decisions arising from the Poverty and Development Conference, directing the Secretariat and urging member states to implement the plan which includes the establishment of the regional Poverty Observatory.
  • Another outcome of the Poverty and Development Conference was the establishment of a Ministerial Task Force on Food Security comprising of Ministers of Trade, Agriculture and Finance.  The aim of the task Force was to immediately focus on the current food crisis and in so doing, to promote regional collaboration in food security.  After consideration of the Task Force’s report, the Summit urged member states with a cereal surplus (Malawi, South Africa and Zambia) to encourage regional sales to facilitate regional food security, as well as all member states to take advantage of the opportunities of rising food prices to stimulate growth of the sector.  Member states were also urged to undertake short-term measures to mitigate against the high food prices including safety nets, food/cash for work, feeding schemes for students and zero rating on food imports, together with long-term measures to increase cereal production and access.
  • The membership of SADC increased to fifteen (15) with the Republic of Seychelles being welcomed back into the Community.  The Secretariat was tasked to liaise with Seychelles in effecting the appropriate legal instruments.
  • The Summit welcomed progress on preparations for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit to be held in October 2008 as an important vehicle for harmonisation of the regional integration programmes and as contribution to broader continental integration.  The Tripartite Summit is scheduled for 20 October 2008 in Kampala and will be preceded by Ministers and Senior Officials’ meetings.  The agenda will be finalized by the Joint Task Force of the three REC Secretariats following comments by the SADC Council of Ministers that the agenda should be more focused to allow for detailed discussions. 

OVERVIEW OF 1ST SOUTH AFRICA -EU SUMMIT AND 7TH SA-EU MINISTERIAL TROIKA MEETINGS HELD ON 25 JULY 2008 IN BORDEAUX, FRANCE

The inaugural South Africa-European Union Summit took place on 25 July 2008 in Bordeaux, France.  The meeting was held in the framework of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership, which was established in May 2007, elevating SA-EU relations to the same level as those the EU has with its most important partners, namely, USA, Russia, Canada, India, Brazil and China. One of the cornerstones of the Strategic Partnership is the enhancement of political dialogue, including interaction at Heads of State level at regular intervals.

The South African delegation was led by President Thabo Mbeki, supported by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Mangena and Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Mr van Schalkwyk. On the EU side, in the Troika format, the delegation was led by President Sarkozy – President of the Council of the European Union, and the President of the European Commission - José Manuel Barroso. They were accompanied by the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, Louis Michel and the following French Ministers: Bernard Kouchner (Foreign Affairs), Jean-Louis Borloo (Ecology, Energy and Sustainable Development) and Alain Joyandet (Secretary of State for Co-operation and Franchophone).

The Heads of State also deliberated on the ongoing Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations between the SADC EPA Group and the EU. They underscored the urgency to bridge the existing differences with a view to reaching an outcome that promotes development and regional integration in Africa, particularly in SADC and SACU. In the context of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and NEPAD, the Presidents agreed to support initiatives aimed at developing the private sector in Africa and issued a separate Declaration in this regard (“Declaration by the EU-South Africa summit regarding the private sector”). Therein they pledged support for the role played by the European Investment Bank, the EU-Africa Trust Fund for Infrastructure, the African Development Bank as well as the IDC in driving investment in Africa.  

Other regional issues discussed were the peace and security situation in Darfur and Zimbabwe. The Presidents also discussed global issues of common concern such as the WTO negotiations, migration and food security. In addition both parties issued a joint declaration on climate change.

The Summit also issued a joint Declaration on Climate Change.  The Presidents agreed that climate change is a vital challenge to humanity and as such needs to be addressed by both developing and developed countries in accordance with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. The Presidents emphasised their shared commitment to the objectives and principles of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. They reaffirmed their utmost determination to conclude negotiations on a strengthened global climate change agreement by 2009 and decided to issue the attached political statement.

The Presidents also took note of the successful organisation of the “Water Research for Sustainable Development” seminar, which took place the day before the Summit.  The seminar brought together more than 40 leading South African, French and other European water researchers.  The participants discussed new water research priorities in areas such as water and food security, water and public health, water and industry as well as water and climate change.  The seminar outcome was the formulation of very specific recommendations for new research projects, which will now be implemented through various instruments for South Africa – EU cooperation. 

The Summit was a historic moment in relations between South Africa and the EU as it was the first time that South Africa interacted with the European Union’s highest decision makers in a Troika format to discuss issues of common strategic importance, allowing both parties to unlock the full potential of the Strategic Partnership.

Preparations for the 3rd IBSA Summit, 10-15 October 2008

In preparation for the 3rd IBSA Summit that will be taking place in New Delhi from 10-15 October 2008, India has invited most Sectoral Working Groups to meet their trilateral counterparts during the month of September 2008 in India. The purpose of these meetings immediately prior to the Summit will be to reflect on the progress made in terms of sectoral co-operation since the 2nd IBSA Summit. In this regard, it is expected that Agreements/ MOUs in the following areas may be ready for signature at the 3rd IBSA Summit: Human Settlement Development; Science and Technology; Climate Change; Tourism; Intellectual Property Rights; Trade Facilitation; Maritime Transport; and Civil Aviation.

In addition to the government-to-government co-operation and preparations, civil society will once again be participating in the 3rd IBSA Summit. India’s preliminary programme for the forthcoming 3rd IBSA Summit includes side events from 13-14 October 2008 which would include an Academic Seminar, a Women’s Forum, Parliamentary Forum, 2nd IBSA Editors Conference and a meeting of the Business Council. In addition, an IBSA Cultural Event will also take place at the Summit. The 13th Focal Points meeting will be held in New Delhi on 10 October 2008.

Review of the IBSA Fund Facility for Hunger and Poverty Alleviation

A meeting between IBSA officials and the UNDP was held in New York on 7-8 July 2008, to discuss the fast-tracking of the disbursement of the IBSA Fund Facility for Hunger and Poverty Alleviation.

The following allocations and progress updated were presented:

  • Haiti:  An allocation of US $577,000 for the year 2008. According to a detailed budget presented by the project coordinator, the estimated costs for operating the Haiti project until the end of 2008 (exclusive of international consultants and management costs) are around US $370,000.
  • Guinea Bissau: The UNDP notified the Board that, upon an initial contact by the government of India, Central Electronics Limited (CEL), a company based in Delhi, has been engaged to formulate the energy component of the IBSA project in Guinea Bissau.
  • Lao People’s Democratic Republic: The board approved the revised Lao project proposal requesting an IBSA contribution of US $930,000.
  • Burundi: An amount of US $1,145,630 was allocated.
  • Cape Verde: An amount of US $1,600,000 for the provision of safe drinking water and the amount of US$ 34,800 as a grant for the refurbishment of Covoada’s Health Care Infrastructure were allocated.
  • Palestine: An amount of US $1,000,000 was allocated. 

15TH MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE OF THE NON-ALIGNED MOVEMENT TEHRAN, 27-30 JULY 2008

NAM Ministerial on Iran’s Nuclear Issue

The South African delegation to the 15th Ministerial Conference of the Non-Aligned Movement was led by Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini ZUma.

  • The Ministers reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of all states to develop research, production and use of atomic energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination and in conformity with their respective legal obligations. Therefore, nothing should be interpreted in a way as inhibiting or restricting the right of states to develop atomic energy for peaceful purposes. They furthermore reaffirmed that States’ choices and decisions, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.
  • The Ministers recognized the IAEA as the sole competent authority for verification of the respective safeguards obligations of Member States and stressed that there should be no undue pressure or interference in the Agency’s activities, especially its verification process, which would jeopardize the efficiency and credibility of the Agency.
  • The Ministers welcomed the continuing cooperation being extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IAEA including those voluntary CBMs undertaken with a view to resolving all remaining issues, including those as reflected in the latest report of the Director General of the IAEA on 26 May 2008. They welcomed the fact that the IAEA has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran as reflected in the Agency’s reports since November 2003 and further noted the assessment of the IAEA Director General in Safeguard Implementation Report (SIR) 2006 that all nuclear material declared by Iran had been accounted for and remains in peaceful activities. They noted at the same time, that the process for drawing a conclusion with regard to the absence of undeclared material and activities in Iran is an ongoing and time consuming process. In this regard, the Ministers further welcomed the modality agreement reached between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the IAEA on 21 August 2007 leading to the resolution of the six outstanding issues as a significant step forward towards promoting confidence and a peaceful resolution of the issue. The Ministers took note of the Document INFCIRC/711 in which the Agency and Iran agreed that after the implementation of the Work Plan and the agreed modalities for resolving the outstanding issues, the implementation of safeguards in Iran will be conducted in a routine manner.
  • The Ministers considered the establishment of nuclear- weapons free-zones (NWFZs) as a positive step towards attaining the objective of global nuclear disarmament and reiterated the support for the establishment in the Middle East of a nuclear weapons free zone in accordance with relevant General Assembly and Security Council resolutions. Pending the establishment of such a zone, they demanded Israel to accede unconditionally to the NPT without delay and place promptly all its nuclear facilities under comprehensive IAEA safeguards in accordance with Security Council Resolution 487 (1981).
  • The Ministers strongly believed that all safeguards and verification issues, including those of Iran, should be resolved within the IAEA framework, and be based on technical and legal grounds. They further emphasized that the Agency should continue its work to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue within its mandate under the Statute of the IAEA.

NAM Ministerial on International Law

  • The Ministers reaffirmed and underscored the continued relevance and validity of the Movement’s principled positions concerning international law, as follows:

The Ministers reemphasized that the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the principles of international law are indispensable in preserving and promoting peace and security, the rule of law, economic development and social progress, and human rights for all. In this context, UN Member States should renew their commitment to defend, preserve and promote the UN Charter and international law, with the aim of making further progress to achieving full respect for international law; and
 The Ministers remained concern at the unilateral exercise of extra-territorial
criminal and civil jurisdiction of national courts not emanating from international    treaties and other obligations arising from international law, including  international humanitarian law. In this regard, they condemned the enactment of politically motivated laws at the national level directed against other States, and stressed the negative impact of such measures on the rule of international law as well as on international relations, and called for the cessation of all such measures;

  • Oppose all attempts to introduce new concepts of international law aimed at internationalising certain elements contained in the so-called extra-territorial laws of certain States through multilateral agreements;
  • Endeavour to generate further progress to achieve full respect for international law and, in this regard, commend the role of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in promoting the peaceful settlement of international disputes, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the UN Charter and the Statute of the ICJ;
  • Urge the Security Council to make greater use of the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the UN, as a source of advisory opinions and interpretation of relevant norms of international law, and on controversial issues, further urge the Council to use the ICJ as a source of interpreting relevant international law, and also urge the Council to consider its decisions be reviewed by the ICJ, bearing in mind the need to ensure their adherence to the UN Charter, and international law;
  • Invites also the General Assembly, the other organs of the United Nations and the specialized agencies duly authorized, to request advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice on legal questions arising within the scope of their activities;
  • The Non-Aligned States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) shall continue to preserve the integrity of the Statute and ensure that the ICC remains impartial and fully independent of political organs of the UN, which should not instruct or impede the functions of the ICC, bearing in mind the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute;
  • The Non-Aligned States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC call upon those States, which have not yet done so, to consider to ratify or accede to the Rome Statute of the ICC;
  • Participate actively and consistently in the work of the special working group of the Assembly of States Parties of the ICC on the crime of aggression, with a view to achieving an agreed provision thereof for inclusion in the Statute by 2009;
  • The Non-Aligned States continued to underscore the necessity of the independence of the ICC in accordance with its judicial nature. They stated that the Security Council's responsibilities under the Charter of the UN should not limit the role of the Court as a judicial body. The Court should be empowered to pronounce on acts of aggression independently, when the states parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC have reached agreement on the definition of the crime of aggression.
  • Oppose all actions, in particular through the Security Council, aimed at establishing a process to grant immunity to the staff members of UN peacekeeping operations, which violate the relevant provisions of the Rome Statute of the ICC and damage the credibility and independence of the ICC; and
  • Call upon the Non-Aligned States Parties to the relevant treaties to work collectively to increase and enhance their representation and coordination in the bodies established through those treaties, and support the candidatures of their experts as a further manifestation of solidarity among them.

NAM Ministerial on the Middle East Peace Process

The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the Middle East peace process based on Security Council resolutions 242, 338, 425, 1397 and 1515, the Madrid terms of reference and the principle of land for peace. They rejected attempts to alter the terms of reference of the peace process and further rejected the imposition of unilateral measures and schemes by Israel, the occupying Power, aimed at forcibly and illegally imposing a unilateral solution. In this regard, they stressed the need for intensified and coordinated efforts by the international community to support the peace process as well as to ensure respect for international law, including international humanitarian and human rights law, the key to a peaceful settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Arab-Israeli conflict as a whole.

The Ministers stressed the need for the advancement and resumption of substantial negotiations between the parties on all tracks of the peace process for the achievement of a comprehensive, just, lasting and peaceful settlement, based on the relevant U.N. resolutions and in accordance with the rules and principles of international law enshrined therein. In this regard, they reiterated the necessity and urgency of ending the prolonged and unlawful Israeli occupation of all of the Arab territories occupied since 1967. They further reaffirmed their long-standing position in support of the establishment of the independent State of Palestine in all of the Palestinian Territory occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem as its capital.

The Ministers took note of the international conferences held at Annapolis in November 2007 and at Paris in December 2007 and called for serious follow-up and further intense efforts by the international community for the genuine resumption and advancement of the peace process on all tracks towards attainment of a just and comprehensive peace and regional stability. They specifically stressed in the role and responsibilities undertaken by the members of the Quartet and called upon the Quartet to exert serious efforts and actions to support and promote the negotiations between the parties on final status issues, including serious and sincere implementation of the Road Map for a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They also called upon the Security Council to engage the Quartet, considering the Council’s Charter authority and responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

The Ministers also reaffirmed their support for the Arab Peace Initiative, which was adopted by the XIV Arab Summit in Beirut in March 2002, and reaffirmed by the 19th Arab summit in Riyadh in March 2007, and welcomed the XX Arab Summit in Damascus in March 2008, which reaffirmed the commitment by all Arab States to the Arab Peace Initiative and stressed that such commitment is subject to adherence by Israel to its obligations under the terms of reference for achieving peace in the region, and called for intensification of efforts in this regard. They urged the Security Council to act upon the Initiative, and on the basis of its own resolutions, towards achieving a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East, particularly in light of the recent deterioration of the situation and the current urgent circumstances in the region. Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem

The Ministers also condemned Israel’s continued imposition of collective punishment upon the Palestinian people in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem. They condemned in particular Israel’s inhumane closure and blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in the virtual imprisonment of the entire Palestinian civilian population there and the deepening of the economic, social and humanitarian deprivation and crisis due to the occupying Power’s obstruction of access to food, medicines, fuel and electricity, building materials and other basic human necessities as well as the obstruction of movement of humanitarian personnel and sick persons requiring medical treatment outside of Gaza. The Ministers stressed that, in addition to violating countless provisions of human rights law, such collective punishment measures by Israel are tantamount to grave breaches of international humanitarian law, by which it is bound as the occupying Power and with which it must scrupulously comply. They called upon Israel to cease such illegal practices against the Palestinian people and to immediately and permanently end its illegal closure of the Gaza Strip and to allow for the opening of all of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings for the movement of persons and goods into and out of the Territory. In this regard, they reiterated their support for the Palestinian Authority’s proposal to assume responsibility for the operation of the Palestinian side of the Gaza Strip’s border crossings, and called upon the parties to resume the application of internationally-agreed arrangements to ensure their speedy reopening and to ease the isolation and suffering of the civilian population.

The Ministers also condemned Israel’s imposition of severe restrictions on the movement of persons and goods via closures, hundreds of checkpoints and the Wall and its associated permit regime.

Further in this connection, the Ministers reiterated their condemnation of Israel’s continuing construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, in flagrant defiance of international law, the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice of 9 July 2004 and General Assembly resolution ES-10/15 of 20 July 2004.

They welcomed the establishment of the “United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” and called for its expeditious operation and the speedy fulfilment of its mandate.

The Ministers reaffirmed their support for the Palestine Liberation Organization, the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and the Palestinian Authority under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas and emphasized the importance of maintaining and protecting the national and democratic institutions of the Palestinian Authority, including the Palestinian legislative council which shall constitute a vital foundation for the future independent Palestinian State. The Ministers also called for the speedy restoration of the situation in the Gaza Strip to that which existed prior to the events of June 2007 to pave the way for Palestinian dialogue to achieve national reconciliation and unity, and, in this regard, expressed support for the Yemeni Initiative and called for its implementation.

TURKEY-AFRICA SUMMIT, ISTANBUL, 18-21 AUGUST 2008

South Africa was represented by Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka in the first Turkey-Africa Summit and by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad in the Ministerial Meeting which took place in Istanbul from 18-21 August 2008.

The Summit was held under the theme: ‘Solidarity and Partnership for a Common Future’.  This was a timely gathering as there has never been such an urgent need for South-South co-operation, given the new challenges facing our development goals such as climate change, price rises and the global energy crisis. 

The WTO talks and EPA negotiations further demonstrate the necessity for positive assessments of Africa and for us to consolidate our gains with genuine partners in order to further accelerate our development agenda.  The Summit served to declare Turkey as a strategic partner for Africa, inter alia due to its geo-strategic position linking east and west and its own growing economy; its participation in the African Development Bank and as a State Participant in the African Development Fund; and the existing contribution Turkey is making to peace and stability in Africa. 

The Istanbul Declaration, adopted by the Summit, captures and promotes NEPAD and REC programmes, in particular focusing on eight areas of cooperation: developing a concrete manifestation of solidarity and partnership for a common future; inter-governmental cooperation; trade, investment and management of SMMEs; infrastructure, energy and transport; agriculture, agribusiness, rural development, water resources; culture and education, media and communication; and peace and security.

The challenge of course is to find effective implementation mechanisms so that the commitments quickly translate into concrete programmes in the continent.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Question: Minister what is your response to the announcement by Robert Mugabe that he is going to form a cabinet and that borne out by the Herald newspaper and by Bright Mutonga the ZANU PF spokesman.  Do you believe this would seriously jeopardise the mediation efforts of President Mbeki?

Answer: The biggest challenge we have is to finalise the outstanding issues.  I think the talks that will start today; you’ve already seen it reported that the chief negotiator for the MDC Tsvangirai has already sent in a letter of protest to President Mbeki on this issue.  You also would have seen the report that the Executive Secretary of SADC, Dr Salomao, is reported to have said that the regional body gave Mugabe the powers only to convene parliament, as reflected in the SADC Communiqué issued after the Summit.

It is clear that the Secretary General’s interpretation seems to be that we should really concentrate on finalising the outstanding issues and he seems to think that the SADC Communiqué only allowed for a parliament to be held.  By implication he seems to be hinting, according to the newspaper reports, that there is no mandate to form a new government without consensus of all three players.

Question: There has been speculation, particularly in the media, that these outstanding issues that you refer to refer directly to the question of the executive power.  Could you share some light on some possible structure that could address this issue in order to provide for an effective dealing with this matter?

Answer: As I’ve said previously the facilitation is being carried out by Minister Mufhamadi.  We are not fully privy to what the outstanding issues are.  But if you’ve been reading the media carefully, it’s clear that, at least some of the media claim to have access to those leaked documents which have hinted at two or three issues: what are the actual powers of the president? What are the actual powers of the prime minister? Who chairs cabinet? On what basis are cabinet ministers chosen?  Does parliament choose the prime minister or does the president choose the prime minister?

These are some of the issues that the papers have referred to as they obtained from leaked documents.  We at Foreign Affairs are not privy to the documents that they are referring to.  But it is clear from the press reports that these are the issues they say outstanding.

I can only stress that SADC as a whole were of the opinion that the documents that were given to them on the basis of all previous discussions gave an excellent opportunity and foundation for finalising these negotiations and that it is in the interests of the Zimbabweans now to really move forward, to really do what SADC has called for which is the finalisation of outstanding issues. 

Question: You indicated a dire situation developing in Zimbabwe.  It is my understanding that today’s talks are crucial.  Will they continue into the weekend?  Are you convinced as government and as SADC that President Mugabe is actually threatening to go ahead with unilateral action at this stage?

Answer: I cannot comment on whether he is going to go ahead.  I can only say that we’ve been told that all negotiators are here and that the talks will now carry on what we ended with at the Extraordinary Organ.

All reports are indicating that it is vital for Zimbabwe specifically, but the region generally to find a political solution.  It is quite clear that there are contingency economic recovery packages and that you can assist somewhat with the humanitarian crisis, but unless there is a political solution you don’t have the necessary framework in order to initiate or implement the economic recovery programme, nor effectively deal with the humanitarian crisis as the International Red Cross has reported.

So the talks are crucial, all talks are crucial in order to find a way forward.

Question: On the possibility of President Mugabe forming a government on his own, you were sighting the Secretary General, what is the position from the South African Government’s point of view?  Does the South African government feel that such a move would derail the mediation efforts?

Answer: Not being privy to the discussions that took place at the Extraordinary summit, I’m unable to comment on that.  It is Minister Mufhamadi who must comment on that issue.  It is clear from what the Secretary General has said that the Executive Secretary seems to be different.

Question: Could you explain to me how SADC reached the decision that it’s ok to go ahead with the reconvening of parliament when the Memorandum of Understanding that was signed clearly states that parliament should be reconvened by consensus.

Answer: SADC came to the decision, and I can only interpret from the communiqué.  They had three days of discussions, all the members of the executive as well as all the role players in Zimbabwe.  At the end they came to that conclusion based on their reading of the documents that were provided to them.

We do hope that sooner than later Facilitation will make the documents available to all of us to be privy to them.  It is clear that the Heads of State and the Foreign Ministers who went through the documents were quite convinced that it was a basis for a solution in the interest of all Zimbabweans in the transitional phase.  What the actual details were, I’m not aware.

Question: Is it only the MDC group that is here or is ZANU PF also here?  The state media is reporting that Minister Chinamasa is saying that there is a deal on the table and that they don’t need to negotiate any further.  Can you confirm whether it is only the MDC that is here or whether ZANU PF will also participate?  Are the talks just for today or will they take place through the weekend?

Answer: From what I was told all the relevant role-players are in South Africa at the moment.  I think the length of the discussions will be determined by what progress they make.  I don’t think there is any limit or deadline for them.  I don’t think the SADC Summit set any deadline.  They just said they think the documentation provided an excellent framework for a solution.  Today’s talks must try to see what else can be done to get a consensus from all three parties on the way forward.  If it takes them longer, I hope they will stay longer to resolve these outstanding issues.

Question: For the sake of clarity, is the mediation that is taking place only scheduled for one day, that is only this Friday or are you saying that it is going to continue over the weekend?

Answer: We have not been given a time limit or deadline.  I am assuming it will continue until all parties feel they have covered sufficient ground.

Question: Is President Mbeki facilitating today’s talks?

Answer: Firstly we do not know. The Department of Foreign Affairs is not aware whether President Mbeki will participate. I assume that if it necessary for him to be brought in then he is willing to take part, but we are not aware whether he is starting with the talks or not – I think it would be good if you spoke to his spokesperson.

Question: What role did Foreign Affairs play in the release of the two South Africans that have arrived from Uganda this morning?

Answer: From the day we were informed that the two South Africans had been arrested in Uganda we carried out extensive activities both in Pretoria and through our High Commission in Uganda. Thus Foreign Affairs as well as the Intelligence Services immediately sought access and immediately sought information on what basis the two South Africans were detained. We are happy that we continued interacting with the authorities at every level to seek some access, which we got quiet quickly. Our Mission was able to meet with them to get their side of the story and to confirm if they were in good conditions. In fact we continued then to interact with the Ugandans and we are happy that they have been released now.

This again highlights one of the problems that we have been saying that in the fight against terrorism many people’s names are coming onto lists that are not UN lists but some of the big powers are creating their own lists and you get South African after South African on these lists now. Previously it was only in the United States or the United Kingdom but now we find that in the United Arab Emirates and now it is Uganda and other countries South Africans’ names appear. They are immediately seen as a threat; they get arrested and then it takes a long time to get through to the relevant government structures – to the intelligence structures; or to the security structures to try to convince them that our own reports don’t indicate that the people they have arrested or put on lists are of what they call within the terrorist framework. It is clear that this time something has happened that their names appeared on some list and they were detained. But as soon as we were able to give them sufficient information about our own understanding, both at Foreign Affairs and Intelligence level, then the only way forward had been to release them. We hope that we are able to try to tackle these lists now more effectively. We have had this with Professor Habib and others and many have been kicked out of the UAE and not allowed to even transit because they had been on some list.

The problem is that our enquiries about these lists are not getting any success because governments are telling us that this is a matter of national security and they cannot tell us what basis they put people on the list – we cannot verify any of these issues. This is why, if you will recall, we challenged them in the UN Security Council when they put South Africans on the UNSC list, and we have managed to keep those off the UNSC list until we get further information; giving us accurate information about the allegations.

I think that like any government we are very wary of taking information that is not verified because now we have learnt the hard way that there is a lot of misinformation as we continue to get more and more involved in the anti-terrorist world.

We are totally committed to fighting terrorism. In every meeting, including the SADC meeting; the AU meeting; the IBSA meeting; our bilateral meetings with India, and our meetings with the EU, terrorism is always on the agenda and we have totally committed ourselves to fight terrorism both at home and anywhere in cooperation – but I want to stress that we want some of our other partners to be more upfront and transparent with us. We do not expect them to go to the media all the time, but if they have information, to share this information with us so that we can either verify or challenge the information they give us. I think the Ugandan experience is a good lesson in us trying to convince other countries in Africa not just to move on lists without seeking some clarification from countries whose citizens are being detained in their countries.

So we have worked very well on this matter; we have had good cooperation from the Ugandans and we are now happy that the two have been released.

Question: Does the Department of Foreign Affairs have any comment regarding the nomination of Barack Obama as the candidate for the Democrats?

Answer: We have noted that the Democratic Convention has endorsed Barack Obama as the Presidential candidate; we look forward to a very robust Presidential campaign and we wish it all the success and all the best. It is up to the American people. They will deserve the President they choose.

Question: Deputy Minister you mentioned that we need a political solution to the Zimbabwe crisis to address the economic and social problems, and the problem with humanitarian aid. Is it not possible somehow for the region to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to allow humanitarian aid meanwhile? Should it have to depend on any political solution when people are starving while negotiations drag on?

Answer: We have always expressed our concern about the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe. There was a Secretary General’s Envoy who had gone there and there have been subsequent delegations from SADC and the AU, and we will continue to raise the issue of the humanitarian situation. You know the government’s reasons for cutting off the humanitarian organisations were based on that they were getting involved politically. I think in the end we will continue to urge that everything possible to, while dealing with the political manipulation or not, that we start effectively dealing with the humanitarian situation.

The World Food Organisation and the World Health Organisation are giving quiet increased number of people who are going to be in need of aid in the next coming period. So clearly the situation demands action by all the parties concerned.

Question: What reasons were given by the Ugandan authorities as to why these two guys were put on the list?

Answer: We are now waiting through the Diplomatic channel both through the intelligence services and Foreign Affairs for us to be given reasons – they won’t give them to us over the telephone until there is a Note Verbal to us and we are awaiting that to really assess that, because it will help us then to get a better handle on why is it that so many South Africans are finding themselves on these lists and most of them, if not all, are proven to be quiet innocent. We are waiting for the Note Verbal on that matter.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

29 August 2008

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