Transcript Copy: Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad Briefing on International Developments, 18 September 2008, Union Buildings
63RD UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY
South African President Thabo Mbeki will lead a government delegation to the General Debate of the 63rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA63) which will convene on 23 September and continue until 1 October 2008 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.
President Mbeki will be supported by Foreign Affairs Minister Dlamini Zuma, who is scheduled to leave on Friday 19 September to prepare for the President’s arrival on Sunday, Deputy Minister Pahad and other senior government officials.
This 63rd General Assembly is important for various reasons. It is the last session of the General Assembly that President Mbeki will attend as Head of State and Government. Therefore this becomes an important occasion to assess work done in the last 15 years in the international arena, but more specifically in relation to the United Nations.
The theme of the General Debate is “The impact of the global food crisis on poverty and hunger in the world as well as the need to democratise the United Nations,” two issues that have been at the heart of our country’s foreign policy and at the heart of what President Mbeki has been trying to do during his presidency.
President Mbeki is scheduled to address the General Assembly on 24 September 2008. President Mbeki has previously addressed the General Assembly on various topical issues of concern. These include the issues of global governance, the need for the international community to address the challenge of underdevelopment in many parts of the world as well as issues of peace and stability. As you know the United Nations plays a vital role in all these matters and the General Assembly offers an opportunity for Heads of State and Government to, therefore, express their views on how the Organisation can contribute to addressing these issues facing the world today.
This 63rd General Assembly coincides with the midterm review of the Millennium Development Goals. The international community agreed on a set of goals for development to be achieved by 2015. Prominent among these was the goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. We note that while some progress has been made with these goals many countries still lag behind. African countries, in particular, are still facing obstacles to the full achievement of the goals. Another important goal is the global partnership for development, based on the realisation that there is a need for global solidarity and global support to countries as they seek to implement the MDGs.
The Millennium Development Goals Report, 2008 has tabled some of the achievements that have been registered and some challenges that still lie ahead.
The MDG Report 2008 points out that some of these successes have been achieved by means of targeted interventions or programmes – such as the delivery of bed-nets, drugs and vaccines, and mobile phones. For example, the production of mosquito nets rose from 30 million in 2004 to 95 million in 2007, the number of people living with HIV in developing countries who received antiretroviral treatment increased by almost 1 million in 2007, and there were over 60 million new mobile telephone subscribers in Africa in 2006.
Achieving some other goals or targets will depend on country-wide systems of qualified and adequately equipped personnel and an effective institutional infrastructure. Building these capacities requires strong political commitment and adequate funding over a longer period before the effects become visible.
Providing all the assistance that is necessary will require delivery of the additional official development assistance (ODA) that has been promised and cannot be achieved by reallocating resources among different sectors.
Alongside the successes are an array of goals and targets that are likely to be missed unless additional, strengthened or corrective action is taken urgently:
- The proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa living on less than $1 per day is unlikely to be reduced by the target of one-half;
- About one quarter of all children in developing countries are considered to be underweight and are at risk of having a future blighted by the long-term effects of undernourishment;
- Of the 113 countries that failed to achieve gender parity in both primary and secondary school enrolment by the target date of 2005, only 18 are likely to achieve the goal by 2015;
- Almost two thirds of employed women in the developing world are in vulnerable jobs as own-account or unpaid family workers;
- In one third of developing countries, women account for less than 10 percent of parliamentarians;
- More than 500,000 prospective mothers in developing countries die annually in childbirth or of complications from pregnancy;
- Some 2.5 billion people, almost half the developing world’s population, live without improved sanitation;
- More than one third of the growing urban population in developing countries live in slum conditions;
- Carbon dioxide emissions have continued to increase, despite the international timetable for addressing the problem;
- Developed countries’ foreign aid expenditures declined for the second consecutive year in 2007 and risk falling short of the commitments made in 2005;
- International trade negotiations are years behind schedule and any outcome seems likely to fall far short of the initial high hopes for a development-oriented outcome.
The situation is also worsened by the collapse of the WTO trade talks and the financial collapse experienced this week and indeed the food crisis. These are all adding to the challenges of meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
There are some key successes. The single most important success to date has been the unprecedented breadth and depth of the commitment to the MDGs – a global collective effort that is unsurpassed in 50 years of development experience. It is not only governments of developing countries and the international community that have adopted the MDGs as their framework for international development cooperation, but also the private sector and, critically, civil society in both developed and developing countries.
Besides being advocates for the MDGs, private foundations in the developed countries have become an important source of funding for a wide range of activities intended to achieve them. NGOs in developing countries are increasingly engaged in undertaking these activities, as well as in monitoring the outcomes. This global collective effort is yielding results. Adding more recent data to those contained in earlier Reports largely confirms the patterns identified previously.
The General Assembly is the largest gathering of Heads of State and Foreign Ministers and Developmental Ministers and so an element of the delegations’ visit will be bilateral meetings that will be taking place. There are many bilateral meetings with Heads of State, Foreign and Developmental Ministers that the South African delegation will undertake.
The key issues that will be on the agenda will be:
- Zimbabwe - Now that the historic agreement has been signed, the question is how do we mobilise the international community to support the Zimbabweans to deal with their continuing challenges of economic reconstruction and development;
- Sudan – broadly the CPA; the International Criminal Court quest for a warrant of arrest for President Al Bashir and, the continuing operationalisation of UNIMED in Darfur;
- The challenge to meet the Millennium Development Goals and how we can mobilise support for the NEPAD programmes.
There will also be some major meetings on the sidelines of the General Assembly. The first of these is the High-Level meeting on Africa’s development needs, which takes place on 22 September 2008.
This meeting will review Africa’s development needs and focus on the state of implementation of various development commitments; the challenges faced and the way forward. This high-level meeting provides an opportunity for world leaders to come together to renew their commitments to Africa’s development and focus attention on how to address the challenges. The meeting will also be attended by civil society organisations, inter-governmental organisations, UN agencies, funds and programmes, as well as the Bretton Woods institutions, the World Trade Organization, the regional development banks, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development. As you know many commitments have been made to African countries both in bilateral contexts as well as in various multilateral organisations. It is therefore important that these commitments be reviewed to see what can be done to accelerate implementation. This therefore is an important meeting in which President Mbeki will participate. The meeting will conclude with the adoption of a Political Declaration.
This will be followed on 25 September 2008, by the High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the General Assembly.
I believe that this will be an opportunity to frankly and openly discuss why we are not able to meet the Millennium Development Goals despite the changes we have made in the African continent to create the necessary climate, dealing with conflict resolutions, good governance and enhancement of democracy – we are still failing to meet the Millennium Development Goals. This will be an important meeting at which the President will participate.
The High-Level Event will be a forum for world leaders to review progress and take stock of the existing gaps at mid-point in the global effort to achieve the MDGs by 2015, identify concrete actions needed to scale up efforts to this end, and help ensure that the MDGs and international targets remain on track and the momentum is maintained beyond 2008. The deliberations will take place around three central themes: Poverty and Hunger; Education and Health; and Environmental Sustainability. In addition, Gender Equality and the Global Partnership for Development will be addressed. These are the MDGs:
The primary outcome of the High-Level Event is expected to be a Secretary-General’s summary on the way forward, based on the discussions in the thematic groups.
The General Assembly also becomes one of the biggest gatherings of Heads of State and Government as well as Foreign Ministers. Therefore both the President and the Minister will hold a series of bilateral meetings with their counterparts on the fringes of UNGA63.
Another important event for South Africa this year will be the reception to be hosted by the President on 25 September 2008 to which he has invited Heads of State and Government. The reception will also be used to launch the African Legacy Programme of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Presidents of FIFA and CAF have been invited to participate in this event. The Chairperson of the African Union, President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, as well as the UN Secretary-General have also been invited. You will recall that the African Legacy Programme was also launched at the January 2008 Summit of the African Union. The Summit adopted a declaration reaffirming the commitment of leaders in the continent to make the 2010 FIFA World Cup a truly African event. The AU also took a decision in March (during an AU Legacy Technical Workshop) that the Programme should also be launched during the UN General Assembly in New York.
The aim of the Legacy Programme is to ensure that the 2010 FIFA World Cup benefits South Africa and the whole African continent through a sustainable legacy. It also seeks to ensure that the hosting of the 2010 FIFA World Cup presents an opportunity for the advancement of African football. Therefore by also launching this at the level of the United Nations we hope that this will contribute to galvanising the international community to this first ever FIFA World Cup held in Africa.
AFRICAN DIASPORA SUMMIT – “TOWARDS A UNITED AFRICA AND ITS DIASPORA”
South Africa will host the African Diaspora Summit from 07 – 11 October 2008, at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. This gathering of the global African family will be preceded by a pre-Summit civil society meeting on 07 October 2008, a senior officials meeting on 08 October 2008, and a Ministerial Conference on 09 October 2008. The Summit forms part of the African Union’s ongoing efforts to actively engage the African Diaspora in the developmental initiatives of our Continent.
Seen within the context of the Fifth Pan-African Congress held in Manchester in 1945, this forthcoming Summit will be the pace-maker of the regeneration of our Continent and its Diaspora across the globe. Its overall concern is to understand the past, reflect on the present, and to consider the unity of our Continent and its Diaspora. It marks a significant advance in the participation of the African Diaspora in the reconstruction and development of our Continent, and will call for greater political solidarity between Africa and its Diaspora, while carrying forward the broader struggle against political and economic discrimination.
The Declaration, Programme of Action and its Implementation Mechanisms to be adopted by the 79 Heads of State and Government from Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, together with representatives from civil society in Africa and in the Diaspora, will strengthen and deepen political and economic cooperation between our Continent and its Diaspora.
This first African Diaspora Summit, coming in October 2008, at a time when almost all African states are independent, with the exception of the people of the Western Sahara calls for a major civic celebration in our country to commemorate the significant role that the African Diaspora played in our triumph over colonialism and apartheid. The Summit, therefore, reinforces our conviction that Africa and its Diaspora share a common history and a common experience. It is this common root, history and experience that bind us as a community; and as a community we are committed to strengthening political and socio-economic cooperation amongst ourselves.
Through this gathering our Heads of State and Government and members of civil society will deliberate on how our Continent and its Diaspora will:
- Utilise remittances to finance investment and development projects in our Continent;
- Share knowledge and best practices in the area of regional integration from countries of residence. In this regard, there could be exchange of professionals, including retirees;
- Cooperate by taking common positions during international negotiations such as the Economic Partnerships and World Trade Organisation negotiations;
- Promote greater trade and investment between Africa and the Diaspora through joint organisation of trade fairs, investors fora, and enhanced exchange of information on business and investment opportunities between African Chambers of Commerce and Industry with those in the Diaspora;
- Support the creation of the African Investment Bank by contributing to its share capital once established as well as to share experiences on best practices in the financing of infrastructure projects; and
- Strengthen cooperation between regional organisations in the Continent and those in the Diaspora. For instance, there is a need to strengthen ties between the AU Commission and CARICOM.
For our Continent and country to ensure that we host a successful Summit and that the Diaspora initiative is sustained into the future, the African Diaspora Summit can, must and will:
- Create favourable conditions to allow for the return of Africans in the Diaspora;
- Create conducive investment and business climate by according special fiscal incentives to investment undertaken by Africans in the Diaspora, just like it is done for Foreign Direct Investments;
- Establish effective ways and means of channelling remittances to Africa at minimum cost;
- Establish mechanisms for informing the Diaspora of the AU Programmes and Projects, such as those contained in NEPAD;
- Tap on the skills and experiences of the Diaspora by engaging them in consultancy work, which in most cases is done by the so called international experts; and
- Devise deliberate policies and develop cooperation programmes aimed at the Diaspora.
Our country believes that for us, as Africans, the Summit means our Continent and its Diaspora has an opportunity to come together in a combined affirmation of our confidence in ourselves, and our future.
1. IMPLEMENTATION OF THE COMPREHENSIVE PEACE AGREEMENT
1.1 From 15- 16 September 2008, President TM Mbeki undertook a working visit to the Sudan. During the visit, President Mbeki held discussions with President Omer Hassan Ahmed El Bashir and Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit on the latest developments in the Sudan, particularly the: i) indictment of President El Bashir by the International Criminal Court (ICC), ii) implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA); iii) Darfur conflict with special emphasis on the operationalisation of UNIMED; and iv) South Africa – Sudan Bilateral relations.
Let me say that from this visit we are quite convinced that some good progress is being made, for instance the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, the Interim Evaluation Report indicates that quite substantial progress has been made to implement the CPA.
1.2 The implementation of the Abyei Protocol: The NCP and the SPLM have made progress in the implementation of the Abyei Roadmap for Return of IDPs and Implementation of Abyei Protocol signed on 08 June 2008. On the political level, President El Bashir has appointed Arop Mayak Mony Toc from the SPLM as the Chief Administrator of the interim Abyei Administration and Paham Abdel Rahman Al-Nour of the NCP as the Deputy Chief Administrator. The leaders of Abyei are mandated to nominate ten other members of the Administration. On the legal front, both Parties have appointed their legal representatives to the Abyei Arbitration Panel in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. This is in line with the above-mentioned Abyei Roadmap which provides that a five member arbitration tribunal must be constituted and tasked to establish whether the Abyei Boundary Commission (ABC) acted within its mandate in deciding on the delimitation issue to demarcate the area of the, “nine Ngok Dinka chiefdoms transferred to Kordofan in 1905” as stated in the Abyei Protocol. The NCP has appointed Judge Awn Shawkat Al-Khasawneh of Jordan, who is currently the Judge and Vice-President of the International Court of Justice and Gerhard Hafner of Austria from the University of Vienna and former member of the International Law Commission. The SPLM has appointed Stephen Schwebel of the US, a former judge and President of the International Court of Justice and Professor Michael Reisman of the USA from Yale Law School. The four will appoint the fifth member of the Arbitration Panel.
1.3 Despite some challenges, relative peace and security has returned to the region since the outbreak of violence in May 2008 which resulted in the displacement of 30 000 to 50 000 civilians and the total destruction of the town of Abyei. Currently, the IDPs are being encouraged to voluntarily return to Abyei and the international community is also encouraged to make donations facilitating the return of the displaced persons. South Africa has donated approximately 40 tons of humanitarian aid.
1.4 North-South border demarcation: The technical committee for the demarcation of the North-South border line of 1956 has recently approved the report of the Maps and Documents Sub-committee which mainly focused on the legal aspects of the border report. The committee is now expected to use the legal facts (as presented by the sub-committee) under which the North-South border was demarcated since 1956, to come to a logical conclusion that will put the North-South border issue to rest. It is envisaged that the actual demarcation will commence in December 2008.
2. THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT
2.1 On 14 July 2008, the International Criminal Court (ICC) Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo made an application to the Pre-trial Chamber of the ICC for an arrest warrant against President El Bashir. President El Bashir’s indictment is related to the ongoing crisis in Darfur, which has resulted in the death of over 300 000 people and the displacement of over 2.5 million Darfurians. The ten charges against President El Bashir include:
- Three counts of genocide, including the killing of the Fur, Massalit and Zaghawa ethnic groups, causing serious bodily and mental harm to these groups and inflicting conditions to bring about their physical destruction;
- Five counts of crimes against humanity, including a widespread systematic attack directed against the civilian population, murder, extermination, forcible transfer of the population, torture and rape; and
- Two counts of murder, including intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population.
2.2 The ICC judges are expected to study evidence before the Court before deciding whether to issue a ruling on the indictment either in October or November 2008.
2.3 In the meantime, President El Bashir appointed Vice President Salva Kiir to head a high-level committee to deal with his indictment. The Committee is mandated to develop a road map against the accusations by the ICC. According to the presidential decree, the panel has to co-ordinate its efforts with the African Union (AU), the Arab League and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). The committee has to conduct diplomatic efforts and study legal aspects of the accusations and to find a compromise with the international community to avoid negative effects on the signed peace accords. In addition, President El Bashir has launched the “People of Sudan” initiative, under which the National Congress Party (NCP) will lead a political process to resolve the Darfur crisis. The initiative will see the participation of all parties and Darfur armed groups that have not previously signed the Darfur Peace Agreement (DPA). Some have already dismissed the idea with the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM) stating that President El Bashir cannot be a defendant and a judge at the same time. Furthermore, the August 2008 Kalma Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp killings by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Darfur have puzzled many observers as this happened at the same time that the Government was to launch the initiative.
2.4 The AU has urged the UNSC to invoke article 16 of the ICC Statute and defer the process initiated by the ICC in order to avoid jeopardising peace efforts in the Sudan. The AU has also called for the establishment of an independent High-Level Panel to investigate and recommend on how to address the issues of accountability and combating impunity, on the one hand, and reconciliation and healing, on the other hand.
3. THE DARFUR CONFLICT
3.1 Deployment of the UN AU Mission in Darfur (UNAMID): Since its deployment, UNAMID has not received the required 18 helicopters to support the work of the peacekeepers on the ground. In a report by an aviation expert endorsed by 36 international civil society organisations, it is stated that “NATO alone can provide as many as 104 suitable helicopters for the UNAMID force. Among NATO countries best placed are the Czech Republic, Italy, Romania and Spain. In addition, Ukraine and India could together contribute 34 helicopters”. In this regard, the UN Security Council is urged to engage in diplomatic efforts to ensure that these countries donate helicopters.
3.2 Furthermore, during the next round of rotation which will take place in November-December 2008, the UN has indicated that it will insist on contributing countries to meet the requirements of the UN. Should this decision be implemented, it is feared that the number of troops deployed on the ground will be greatly reduced as the majority of contributing countries currently do not meet the UN requirements. This will impact negatively on the Mission as it will increase risk of attacks.
3.3 A Tripartite Mechanism has been established between President Al Bashir, Vice President Salva Kiir and President Mbeki to continue to monitor progress in all these areas and to intervene where necessary to see whether outstanding problems can be resolved, especially in relation to the operationalisation of the UNAMID forces in Darfur. That’s why I said this is going to be an important part of the discussions at the UN General Assembly.
4. SOUTH AFRICA – SUDAN BILATERAL RELATIONS
4.1 The implementation of the DFA-GOSS-UNISA Capacity and Institution Building Project for Southern Sudan is running optimally. To date, fifteen training programmes have been implemented and over 800 GOSS officials have been trained. The Project will be entering the third phase in November 2008. During the third phase of the Project, some of the training will be undertaken in Southern Sudan in order to train large numbers and to assist with institution building.
4.2 In the spirit of North-South Co-operation, the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany contributed 1080, 000.00 Euro to the Project for the training of officials in the fields of legal affairs, judiciary and correctional services. In this regard, a fact-finding mission was undertaken by officials from the Departments of Foreign Affairs, Correctional Services and Justice and Constitutional Development, and UNISA from 24 May to 01 June 2008 and the training on judiciary (22 judges) and correctional services (37 Officers) was undertaken from 02 August to 01 September 2008.
4.3 On 31 March to 02 April 2008, Minister Dlamini Zuma in her capacity as the Chair of the AU Committee on the Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development of the Sudan undertook a visit to the Sudan. The purpose of the visit was to review the implementation of the CPA as well as progress made in the reconstruction and development of the country.
4.4 On 22 August 2008, the Department of Foreign Affairs in partnership with The Gift of the Givers delivered a humanitarian consignment of 40 tons to Juba destined for Abyei. The consignment is meant to alleviate the suffering of the people of Abyei following the fighting in May 2008 that left over 30 000 civilians displaced.
4.5 The process of establishing South Africa’s presence in Juba is progressing. In May 2008, a fact finding mission by the Department of Foreign Affairs was undertaken. The purpose was to identify human resources requirements for the opening of the Consulate in Juba. It is envisaged that the Official designated to represent South Africa in Juba will be deployed in January 2008.
4.6 The Department of Foreign Affairs and the Government of Southern Sudan Southern Africa Liaison Office in Pretoria have concluded a Statement of Intent that facilitates the functioning of the GOSS Liaison Office in Pretoria.
4.7 South Africa has deployed a battalion and civilian police in Darfur as part of. South Africa continues to support Darfur peace efforts through bilateral and multilateral mechanism.
ZIMBABWE: LATEST POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS
- Signing of the Political Agreement between ZANU-PF and the two MDCs
On Monday, 15 September, ZANU-PF and the two MDC formations signed in Harare the historic Agreement ending a long process of negotiations facilitated by South Africa on behalf SADC and AU.
In the Agreement, the Parties declare their commitment to agree to work together to create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the Zimbabwe situation, and in particular, to implement the Agreement with the aims of resolving once and for all the current political and economic situations and charting a new political direction for the country.
Let me once again take this opportunity to say that this Agreement is indeed a historic agreement, indeed it is a milestone in the context of Africa taking the initiative, with the support of the international community, to find African solutions. We have consistently said that given the specific environment create which would enable the Zimbabweans to get together to solve their problems in a way that looks at national interests. It is our view that this has laid a solid foundation to dealing with other African problems, not in isolation, in order to ensure that we get an African solution supported by the international community.
Indeed, everybody from the Secretary-General to the Commonwealth has reflected on the role played by the South African mediation to bring about this historic agreement in Zimbabwe.
This agreement contains elements that will be used not only by countries in Africa but also by many countries elsewhere to find solutions that are acceptable.
The following are the most salient issues contained in the Agreement:
Zimbabwe's new political partners are set to start talks to allocate cabinet posts today, Thursday. Zanu-PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa has confirmed today’s meeting between President Robert Mugabe, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara, leader of an MDC splinter faction.
The President and the Prime Minister will share executive authority. The President chairs the Cabinet as well as the National Security Council, which replaces the Joint Operations Command. The Prime Minister shall oversee the formulation of government policies by the Cabinet and will chair a newly-formed Council of Ministers. The Council will oversee the implementation of policies and assess the day-to-day business of the Inclusive Government.
Regarding the land question, the Agreement accepts the inevitability and desirability of the land reform programme, and stipulates that the former colonial power (Great Britain) has the primary obligation to compensate former landowners for the expropriation of their farms. The Parties have also agreed to ensure the security of tenure of landholders.
The Agreement commits the Parties to establishing a land audit under the auspices of Parliament, which will among others address the issue of multiple farm ownerships.
The political solution is a prerequisite to dealing with the very serious economic and humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe.
The Parties have agreed to develop an economic recovery strategy and plan to urgently address issues of production, food security, poverty and unemployment hyper-inflation, interest rates and the exchange rate. A National Economic Council will be established, composing of representatives from Business, Labour and other sectors, to formulate an economic programme to be approved by the Government.
For Africa generally, we believe that the main priority for Zimbabwe at the moment as they look at the long term solution to the economy is to make sure that the agricultural season is given all the support in order to achieve the success. The rainy season is coming. Discussions with commercial farmers in Zimbabwe have already started on how Southern Africa especially – we hope the international community will support us in this – will provide the necessary seeds and other equipment that will enable the Zimbabweans to make this season a very successful season. This for the immediate period will be our priority.
I want to reiterate that if there is political stability, the economic turnaround of Zimbabwe will not be so difficult.
The Agreement also calls for the lifting of all measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe and commits the Parties to working together in re-engaging the international community with a view to bringing to an end the country’s international isolation. All parties endorse the SADC resolution (i) calling for the sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted; (ii) that all forms of measures and sanctions against Zimbabwe must be lifted in order to facilitate a sustainable solution to the challenges that are currently faced in Zimbabwe; and (iii) they committed themselves to working together in reengaging the international community with a view to bringing to an end the country’s international isolation.
I hope this puts paid now once and for all to any confusion about the necessity to keep some pressure on, because this is now sought by all Zimbabwean parties. I’m happy that the EU has not reintroduced any new sanctions and has said that they will review this next month and are waiting to see how the agreement is going to be implemented. It is our view that the time has come to take the political decision to lift the sanctions so that the economic recovery plan can be fully implemented.
Significantly they also speak about external interference and they reaffirm the principle of the UN Charter of non-interference in the internal affairs of member countries and therefore they agree that (i) the responsibility of effective change of government in Zimbabwe lies exclusively on and is the sole prerogative of the people of Zimbabwe through peaceful and constitutional democratic means. (ii) They reject any unlawful, violent and undemocratic and unconstitutional means of changing government. (iii) They agree that no outsiders have a right to call or campaign for regime change in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe will adopt a new Constitution within the next 18 months. The Agreement lays out a timetable whereby a Parliamentary Select Committee will be established to consider a new draft constitution. The Agreement also makes provision for a Stakeholders’ Conference to consider such a draft, following which further public hearings and consultations shall take place before Parliament. Following a second Stakeholders’ Conference and a full debate in Parliament, the new Constitution would then be adopted in a referendum.
ZANU-PF and the MDC factions have already agreed to a new draft Constitution (known as the Kariba Draft), which they adopted on 30 September 2007. Other interim constitutional amendments can be passed by Parliament and assented to by the President in a Constitutional Amendment No. 19.
The Agreement also contains a provision that suspends any by-elections for a period of 12 months. Should a vacancy arise during this period, the party that previously held that seat would be entitled to automatically nominate a replacement candidate. This will allow Zimbabwe to avoid the divisiveness of election politics and to undergo a period of national healing.
The Agreement commits all Parties to renouncing the promotion of violence for political purposes and to ensure that institutions and structures that they control are not engaged in politically-motivated violence. The Agreement declares that the Parties will work together to ensure the safety of any displaced persons, their safe return home and their enjoyment of the full protection of the law and makes provision for the possibility that prosecuting authorities will expedite the determination as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence to warrant the prosecution or keeping on remand of all persons accused of politically related offences arising out of or connected with the March and June 2008 elections.
The role of the media:
In terms of freedom of expression and communication, steps will be taken to ensure that the public media provides balanced and fair coverage to all political parties for their legitimate political activities. The Agreement declares that the Parties will ensure that public and private media shall refrain from using abusive language that may incite hostility, political intolerance and ethnic hatred or that unfairly undermines political parties and other organisations. To ensure the opening up of the air-waves and ensuring a multiplicity of players in the media industry, the government will begin the immediate processing of all applications for re-registration and registration in terms of both the Broadcasting Services Act as well as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Agreement states that NGOs should be allowed to engage in humanitarian and food assistance without discrimination, provided that they operate within the confines of Zimbabwean law.
Implementation of the Agreement:
The Parties will constitute a Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC), composed of four senior members from ZANU-PF and four senior members from each of the two MDC formations. The JOMIC will be the principal body dealing with the issues of compliance and monitoring of the Agreement and will assess the implementation of the Agreement from time to time and consider steps which might need to be taken to ensure its’ speedy and full implementation.
In addition, the implementation of the Agreement shall be guaranteed and underwritten by the Facilitator, SADC and the AU.
- Socio-economic Trends
On 10 September, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) announced that it will license at least 1000 retail shops and 250 wholesalers countrywide to sell their products in foreign currency as it moves to stem the outflow of forex brought about by thousands of Zimbabweans crossing the borders to South Africa and other neighbouring countries on a daily basis to buy groceries and other products in those countries. Service stations and oil companies will also be able to sell fuel (which is imported) in foreign currency. While the decision to allow some shops to trade in foreign currency may alleviate forex shortages in the short-term, it is doubtful whether this would make a real difference to the broader economic recovery of the country.
The economic decline of Zimbabwe continues unabated. Education, healthcare and other basic services are deteriorating while the rampant hyper-inflation is having a free run on the quality of life of ordinary Zimbabweans. 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 RBZ introduced a new currency which removed 10 zeros from the old Zimbabwe dollar in an effort to bring down inflation. From 1 August, 10 billion dollars has become 1 dollar. 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.
- Humanitarian Situation
The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe has been greatly affected by a decade of economic decline, as well as the government ban on humanitarian operations by NGOs and UN agencies. The Government lifted the ban on NGOs operating in Zimbabwe on 1 September. However, not all organisations have been able to resume their programmes. The National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO) has said that there has been a "selective application” of the lifting of the ban. The lift excludes organisations operating in areas such as transitional justice, human rights and governance and democracy.
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 experience food insecurity in the coming 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.
- South Africa’s role
Now that a political settlement has been reached between the main parties, there is a need to focus attention on the economic recovery of Zimbabwe. In this regard, SADC Finance Ministers as mandated by the 2007 Summit would need to proceed and help develop an economic rescue package for Zimbabwe. Such an economic package would require the support of the international community in particular the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. The AU through the African Development Bank would be expected to play a critical role in the economic reconstruction of Zimbabwe.
South Africa will play her role in the economic recovery of Zimbabwe. It is expected that the Joint Commission for Co-operation (JCC) will be convened once a new government of national unity has taken office. South Africa will utilise the JCC as a vehicle to drive her bilateral post-conflict engagements with Zimbabwe. This will also be done in partnership with the South African private sector. In this regard, South Africa will need to ensure that enabling legal mechanisms such as Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) exist. Key projects to help reconstruct Zimbabwe’s economy which would require South Africa’s financial and technical support are expected to be identified during the JCC.
The JCC last met in South Africa in 2002. A Senior Officials’ Meeting was convened in February 2007 in Victoria Falls.
THE BURUNDI PEACE PROCESS
1.1 The Government of Burundi and the PALIPEHUTU-FNL have agreed to continue to hold regular meetings aimed at addressing issues related to the implementation of the 2006 Comprehensive Ceasefire Agreement (CCA), following a series of meetings on 19, 21 and 26 August 2008.
The Parties have agreed on the following:
1.1.1 The acceleration of the implementation of the 2006 Agreements
- The Government to provide viable assembly areas, with the involvement of the Facilitation Office and the International community;
- Increase the number of units in charge of protecting the assembly areas with the involvement of the Facilitation Office and the International Community;
- Setting up of a joint team comprising the FNL – National Defence Forces (FDN), should this prove to be necessary for the protection of the assembly areas;
- Respect the obligations contained in the Agreement and hold field visits in case of violations of the Agreement to establish the facts.
1.1.2 History Commission
- The Government should draft the applicable law as soon as possible to create the History Commission. The partners to the peace process will assist in mobilising funds (Facilitation and International Community) in order to facilitate the starting of such a project.
1.1.3 Political and War Prisoners
- The Government undertook to start releasing prisoners that have already been identified by the Joint Verification and Monitoring Mechanism (JVMM). The combatants in their midst will be taken to assembly areas, while civilians will return to their homes.
- The local command of the defence and security forces will be immediately informed of the permissions given to the combatants of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL to avoid any misunderstanding.
1.1.5 The issue of the name and integration of members and combatants of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL within the institutions
- In principle, there are no objections regarding the integration of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL within the institutions,
- For issues that would raise Constitutional contradictions, such as the approval of the PALIPEHUTU-FNL as a political party and its participation in Parliament as an observer and in other positions at the Executive level, the Political Directorate has to be involved and assist the two parties in securing a settlement.
1.2 The Parties have committed themselves to continue meeting twice a week and ad hoc should the need arise. They have committed to resolve all their differences through dialogue and not resort to violence. They have also assured the Facilitation Office that they will abstain from making precocious media statements.
1.3 The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has urged the parties to implement the CCA in accordance with the agreed timeline in the Revised Programme of Action, and in line with the mutual commitments made in June 2008 in Magaliesberg. The UNSC has further called upon the parties to demonstrate flexibility in overcoming the obstacles that are hindering the implementation of the CCA while respecting the framework of the Constitution of Burundi. The Security Council encouraged the PALIPEHUTU-FNL to work with the JVMM in order to start rapidly and fully implement the Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) process following the regrouping of its combatants in preassembly areas.
5-6 SEPTEMBER 2008 LEGISLATIVE ELECTIONS IN ANGOLA
Political events in Angola over the past period took a positive turn when legislative elections were held on 5-6 September 2008. A contingent of 10 South Africans, including members of Parliament and representatives of civil society, formed part of 80 SADC Observers of the legislative elections. Apart from South Africa, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia participated in the Mission. The SADC Observers, led by Mr John Kunene of Swaziland, formed part of a bigger group of election observers, which included the AU and EU, ECOWAS and the USA.
The SADC mission made the following main observations in its Preliminary Statement:
-High levels of political tolerance with no incidents were registered; Access to both private and public media by all political parties were in line with the provisions of the Electoral Law; members of the police were helpful to voters and to observers without interfering with the electoral process; and, election authorities cooperated in providing explanations and clarifications.
- The team further observed: The need to streamline the functions of the Inter-Ministerial Commission and the IEC in elections as they were perceived to cause duplicity and delays; the delays in publishing the voters´ roll for inspection created mistrust; voter education should be entrusted to people with complete impartiality; airtime to political parties in the public media was allocated in line with the law, but the public tended to feel an overwhelming advantage to the ruling party during all the other available airtime; and, delays in the opening of polling stations were problematic. The Observer Mission received a complaint concerning the delay in releasing funds to the political parties in a timeous manner. The EU Observer Mission echoed most of the SADC observations: it also expressed its satisfaction that 6 of the 14 contesting parties included over 30% of female candidates on their lists.
- The final election results still have to be published. The preliminary results indicate that the ruling MPLA has won a landslide victory obtaining 81.76% of the votes. UNITA, which has, together with the other parties, accepted the results, was second with 10.36 % of the votes. The Social Renewal Party (PRS) was third with 3.14 % and the other eleven parties obtained 1% and less of the votes. It is not foreseen that the final election results will differ much from these.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Question: Minister would you agree that this new Cabinet needs to be sworn in without delay, there is some talk that the deal cannot be fully implemented until the constitutional amendment is passed and there is no way to bring parliament forward to earlier than 14 October. Could this delay be injurious? Would you call for this to be done expeditiously?
Answer: I think everybody understands that having got this comprehensive agreement, it is absolutely vital for the executive to start functioning. Since the elections, both the legislative and the senate and the presidential and the run-off, there has never been effective governance.
Everybody understands that if you delay too long then the momentum of implementing other aspects of the agreement get impacted upon. I’m optimistic that the Zimbabweans are trying to ensure that this executive comes into being sooner rather than later.
You must have heard – it was in the papers – that ZANU PF has been having meetings with the Politburo etc to discuss the very aspect of the distribution because many of the existing ministers will not be ministers in the new transitional government.
So this needs discussion. My own view would be a little patience as they sort out what must be quite a difficult task of setting up this administration. We should give them that time but ofcourse we are conscious that this must happen within the necessary timeframe for everything to function.
The economic recovery plan cannot get implemented unless you have a minister of economics. You can’t deal with the agricultural programme unless you have a minister dealing with agriculture, so it becomes absolutely vital to get that finalised sooner than later.
Question: Just to follow up on the earlier question. Is there a timeframe for that to be worked out?
Answer: No. In the agreement there is no timeframe for the establishment of the executive, but I think that they all accept that it has to be done as soon as possible. By the way, I’m not convinced that anybody is trying to sabotage the process by operationalising the executive. I think all are committed to it.
Question: Was there a – it is not apparent from the signed document – was there a tacit agreement or some agreement of some sort regarding the distribution of the portfolios among the three parties. For example speculation has been that the MDC has the police or home affairs portfolio and so forth. Is there some document somewhere or unspoken agreement as to what the distribution would be?
Answer: No. I’m not aware that there is already some agreement but there is a lot of speculation that they had come to some broad agreement on that. But we are not aware of those details.
I think now it is a matter for the Zimbabweans to resolve what is technical. It has political connotations but it is something even the facilitation cannot now be overseeing unless there is a delay. The key issue is that the Zimbabweans have got to this stage.
The task facing them is so enormous that they all have to work as a team. It is the political stabilisation, working on the new constitution, preparing an agreed time for the new elections, but most significantly the economic and humanitarian crisis will demand that they all work together.
Question: How exactly does the prosecution of President Al Bashir undermine the ongoing effort and early resolution of conflict? Is President Thabo Mbeki saying that there is no merit to the 10 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity? Is he saying that Al Bashir should get off completely scot-free?
Answer: No. There is no question of that and I read you what the AU position is. We are all for dealing with impunity and accountability but we say you must balance that with the whole issue of ensuring that you achieve peace and you achieve the whole process of reconciliation. It is our view and it is the view of the AU. We are only reflecting the collective view of the African Union.
I think most observers who are seriously looking at this matter, that this warrant coming at the time that it is coming, when such significant progress has been made in both the Comprehensive Agreement, the Abyei problem, the North-South demarcation of borders even on the issue of UNAMID – nobody is challenging that there has been significant progress.
If you now have a warrant – hypothetically – against Bashir what happens? You can’t continue consulting with him; he is no longer party to the process. So what’s the next alternative? He draws out of every agreement that has been made up to now, because how does a man who is under a warrant of arrest going to be able to come even to South Africa to deal with the details of the issues that confront the Sudanese?
Nobody challenges that the warrant will undermine the entire peace process.
Question: The constitution making process in Zimbabwe will be one area of contestation. What does the agreement say in terms of the modalities or process?
Answer: They have come to very detailed agreements on how the constitution making process will advance. The agreement says “parties agree that they will set up a select committee of parliament composed of representatives of the parties whose terms of reference will be as follows:
(i) set up sub-committees chaired by a member of parliament composed of members of parliament and representatives of civil society as may be necessary to assist the select committee in carrying out its mandate;
(ii) To hold public hearings and such consultations as it may deem necessary in the process of public consultations in the making of the new constitution;
(iii) To convene an all-stakeholders conference to consult stakeholders on their representation in the sub-committees and other related matters;
(iv) To table its draft constitution to a second all stakeholders conference;
(v) To report to parliament on its recommendations of the content of the new constitution of Zimbabwe.
This then would have to be put to a referendum of all the people of Zimbabwe to be accepted. These subcommittees would have to be set up within two months of the inception of a new government, and that the all-stakeholders conference shall be within three months to that date.”
This is important because it brings to play the criticisms that people have been making in that it is only the three political parties that have been involved, other interest groups have not been involved and that civil society has not been involved. This outlines exactly how and the timeframe for the involvement of all stakeholders and then eventually for the draft constitution to be taken to the stakeholders and then only after that to be taken to a referendum.
So there is clear, transparent, detailed process that they have agreed to. I must stress again, I do believe, if anybody reads this agreement, nobody can but marvel at the detail and compromises that all parties had to go through to make sure that during this transitional phase the conditions are ripe for them to begin the preparations for an election at the period when they decide in the near future. At the moment to bring stability and economic recovery, they have all gone to great lengths to find the compromises necessary.
I’ll repeat it, I believe that the processes we have gone through with the DRC and now with Zimbabwe will be models that we should use not only in dealing with conflicts in Africa but I think these models will be useful in many conflicts that are taking place outside of the African continent.
In that way I do believe that SADC has added a new chapter in conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction and development. It is something that I think SADC can be proud of.
Question: Minister, the Parliamentary elections in Swaziland tomorrow, we’ve seen protest action by COSATU and trade unions inside Swaziland. What is South Africa’s position with regards to that and those elections?
Answer: This is a matter that the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security has been dealing with, but by and large it has been the Commonwealth that has helped and is helping with the process of trying to see how they can influence the direction.
As members of SADC we will continue to be involved with the Kingdom to see what contribution we can make in the process of achieving a constitution and electoral process that will be accepted by all the people.
Civil society and NGOs, it is in their right to protest and we do hope that any protests that South Africans carry out would be within the framework of the law and do not violate any of the laws either of Swaziland or of South Africa.
Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
19 September 2008