Notes following Deputy Minister Fransman’s Media Briefing, 1 March 2011

LIBYA

The South African Government wishes to express its satisfaction at the successful completion of the evacuation mission undertaken to Libya under the leadership of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans. 30 South Africans have been evacuated out of Libya and returned safely to South Africa. We were able to assist fellow SADC countries by evacuating 9 SADC citizens from Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Mozambique as well as one UK citizen onboard the same flight.

The South African Government will continue to monitor the situation in Libya and remains committed to provide assistance upon request from the Libyan people in ensuring a smooth transition to democratic rule.

South Africa as a member of the United Nations Security Council welcomes and supports the UNSC resolution on Libya. We voted for it. We remain deeply concerned at the deteriorating situation in Libya, which has resulted in untold atrocities and countless loss of civilian lives.

The Libyan people, joined by the rest of the international community, have been calling for an end to this indiscriminate use of force.  Echoing this call, the Libyan delegation appearing before this Council yesterday, pleaded for, “a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution” to put an end to the bloodshed and killing of innocent people.

The Council has responded swiftly and resolutely to this call.

This resolution sends a clear and unambiguous message to the Libyan authorities to end the carnage against its people.

It further complements the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council, which strongly condemned the indiscriminate and excessive use of force against peaceful protesters and called upon the Libyan authorities to end forthwith all acts of violence in accordance with international humanitarian and human rights law.

We are confident that the measures contained in this resolution will contribute towards the long-term objective of bringing peace and stability to this sister nation.

South Africa calls on the Government and people of Libya to seek a speedy and peaceful resolution to the current crisis in accordance with the will of the people.

1. ZIMBABWE

Our assessment of the situation in Zimbabwe is that, there has been noticeable progress in the country, particularly on the economic front, since the formation of the Inclusive Government (IG) in February 2009. The economic situation has stabilized. This is ascribed to a number of factors including the adoption of multi-currency which has eliminated hyperinflation, resulting in the general availability of goods, reopening of shops and factories, improved revenue collection.

The political situation however remains polarised due to the non-resolution of the main outstanding issues. These include the appointments of Attorney-General; Reserve Bank Governor, Provincial Governors and the swearing in of Roy Bennett as Deputy Minister of Agriculture.

The parties to the Inclusive Government (IG) are being assisted by the Facilitation Team to draft a roadmap to elections. Such a roadmap should include the implementation of the GPA, the functioning of the three important commissions viz the Electoral Commission, Media Commission and Human Rights Commission whose responsibilities are critical to ensuring a conducive and credible environment leading up to elections.

South Africa’s position

The South African position and that of SADC is to ensure that the next elections as envisaged in the GPA are held under a new constitution that would have been the product of the constitution-making process supported by the Zimbabwean electorate through a referendum. In this regard, any calls for election without the finalisation of the constitution making process are in breach of the GPA as well as the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment no 19 which gives legitimacy to the Inclusive Government. 

•In keeping with the SADC and AU resolutions, South Africa continues to call for the lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, many of which serve to deter potential investment to that country. The lifting of sanctions would go a long way to supporting the required economic recovery of Zimbabwe.

ZEC to clean voters’ roll

Zimbabwe has started the process of cleaning up the voters’ roll ahead of a constitutional referendum and elections tentatively set for late in 2011, according to the chairperson of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), Simpson Mtambanengwe. He said that the organisation had begun formalities to engage the Registrar General’s Office to clean up the voters’ roll in preparation for the holding of a referendum later in 2011. In line with its mandate of conducting and supervising all elections and referendums in the country, ZEC has started working with the Registrar General’s office to ensure that the voters’ roll is in order in time for the referendum expected in the second half of the year.

2. UPCOMING EVENTS

 PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA TO PAY A STATE VISIT TO FRANCE

President of the Republic of South Africa, Jacob Zuma will undertake a State Visit to France scheduled for 2-3 March 2011. President Zuma will be supported by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Trade and Industry, Mr Rob Davies, Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, Police, Mr Nathi Mthethwa, Energy, Ms Dipuo Peters and a strong business delegation.

During the State Visit, President Zuma will have consultations with the President of the French Republic on deepening and strengthening the strategic partnership between the two countries, on developments on the continent of Africa and taking the African Agenda forward, as well as on global and international issues of mutual interest.  France’s Presidency of the G20 and South Africa’s hosting of CoP17 are likely to feature high on the agenda of the two Heads of State. President Zuma will also have consultations with the French Prime Minister, Mr Francois Fillon. Other major meetings include those with the President of the French Senate, the President of the National Assembly and the Mayor of Paris.

Agreements that will be signed during the visit include the New Partnership Framework Document for 2011 to 2013 (the framework for bilateral development cooperation between South Africa and France) according to which the French Development Agency (AFD) will make available approximately 1 billion Euro over three years, through various financial mechanisms.  As a concrete step to widen and deepen bilateral consultations on issues of policy and strategic importance a new Forum for Economic Dialogue will be launched during the State Visit to complement the existing Forum for Political Dialogue.

3. LAUNCH OF KOFI ANNAN GLOBAL COMMISSION ELECTIONS, DEMOCRACY AND SECURITY IN SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa will be hosting the First Meeting of the Global Commission on Electoral Processes on the 04-05 March in Pretoria, which is a joint initiative of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, known by its acronym IDEA, and the Kofi Annan Foundation.

The Global Commission on Electoral Processes is envisioned as a body which will make recommendations to governments, regional and international organisations regarding the implementation of principles and practices to enhance the integrity of electoral practices.

In the abovementioned context, the following Eminent Persons, Members of the Commission, selected on the basis of high level political experience; demonstrable commitment to the integrity of the electoral process and regional representivity will be meeting in South Africa : Mr Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General (as Chair); Mr Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon, former President of Mexico (Vice-Chair); Martti Ahtisaari, former President of Finland;  Mr Festus Mogae, former President of Botswana; Madame Vaira Vike-Freiberga, former President  of Latvia; Dr  Hassan Wirajuda, former Foreign Minister of Indonesia;  Mr Vidar Helgesen, former Deputy Foreign Minister of Norway - currently the Secretary General of International IDEA and Ms Louise Arbour, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – currently the President & CEO of the International Crisis Group.

South Africa was one of  IDEA's founding member states in 1995 together with 13 others countries (Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, India, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden). South Africans such as Dr Frene Ginwala formerly served on IDEA’s Board of Advisors, while Dr Brigalia Bam, Chairperson of the SA Independent Electoral Commision (IEC), is currently serving on the Advisory Board.

END



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