Questions & Answers Session following the Media Briefing by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, Pretoria, 18 April 2011:

Member of the Media: . . . the AU Panel, because it would consider the conditions that were set by the rebels for a cease-fire, i.e. mainly that Gaddafi would be part of the [unclear]. Is that something that [unclear] would be part of the agenda items that [unclear]?

Member of the Media: My question is with regard to Mr Anton Hammerl. Do we know the response from the [unclear] and do you have actually opened the services [unclear]? Do we know the response from that [unclear]?

Member of the Media:  My question is about the BRICS Summit. And some say South Africans joining into BRICS is not only for South Africa itself but also for all Africa. Why do you think so? And if so, what is South Africans going to do to facilitate the BRICS investment into Africa in promoting South African growth?

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: The meeting between Colonel Gaddafi’s contingent with the AU High Level Panel and that of the transitional leadership in Benghazi.

Colonel Gaddafi accepted the proposal of a roadmap without putting conditions. The other side in Benghazi said they have understood and they would embrace the outline of the roadmap, but they would want Gaddafi and his family to leave the country before they can start the negotiations.

Now, what the AU Panel expected was to say, do they accept, both sides, the outline of the roadmap. So that if they both accepted the outline, then the obstacles that would make the implementation of the roadmap then follows. So that is what the leadership of the AU High Level Panel is looking at now. It is to continue to engage with the transitional leadership in Benghazi on whether they think the roadmap as it stands, itself, without the conditions that have been put, would be accepted. Because, if you are saying yes to the roadmap, but you immediately put conditions, then you are negating that which the Secretary General of NATO said, to say that the solution of the problem, the political crisis and the security crisis in Libya would never be resolved military. Now, so even those who are on the ground, doing what they are doing at the moment, are actually accepting that there is no military solution to the problem of Libya. So the discussions have to start. The cease-fire has to happen before we look at how the whole discussions should unfold.

 So the message the AU High Level Panel came back home with was that they were prepared to continue to engage with the transitional leadership in Benghazi, to say that the solution would not be brought militarily, but through political discussions. We want to back that thing where you do not ask us to, you know, in a meeting like this, to give you further details and updates of what we are doing, except to state that, as I have said in the statement, there are efforts to locate Mr Hammerl and we are keeping his family informed. Because, if we give you fuller details here and now and then they get publicised, we might actually be risking, you know, his safety. So please bear with us that we do not go into that to that extent at the moment.

On South Africa's role in BRICS. The foreign policy of this country contends that South Africa's national interests are better safeguarded by us, not just focusing on the national interests of South Africa, but broadly of our region and our Continent, because our fortunes are [unclear].

As much as we did not go to the AU to seek mandates to join BRICS, wherever you find South African diplomats, they speak for the wellbeing of South Africa, but also of the African Continent that we are an integral part of. President Zuma has been given a mandate by the leadership of the AU to champion infrastructure development of the Continent, but above all, also the integration of the infrastructure. So, he took advantage of our presence in Hanan [phonetic] at the third BRICS Summit, to also highlight that, underpinned by what NEPAD outlines.

Member of the Media: Do we find ourselves, and particularly the President, find himself in an awkward position, seeing at the BRICS Summit, being the only member of that grouping, to have voted in favour of the no-fly zone, and we are also picking up quite a lot of criticism from other Africans for that. Our position on that? And then, on the other side, we are calling for no military action, which is the logical consequence of such enforcing a no-fly zone, we displease the NATO members and members of the coalition. Are we not stuck in the middle a little bit here?

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: Fortunately I was part of the BRICS Summit. We have had the summit discussions behind closed doors, together with all the other four leaders. We have also had bilateral meetings with all the leadership of BRICS. I just want to, once again, remind all of us here that not a single member of BRICS voted against Resolution 1973. None. Secondly, two members of BRICS are also permanent members of the Security Council. They did not veto that Resolution. Thirdly, individually in our bilateral meetings, not a single leader, and I say this without fear of contradicting myself, not a single one had said that they're aggrieved by South Africa's voting the way we did, because they themselves did not vote against the Resolution. Remember that prior to Resolution 1973, when the vote of taking the leadership of Gaddafi to the ICC, there was no contradiction. The vote went through unanimously. Secondly, on the sanctions, the vote went through unanimously. Thirdly, on Resolution 1973, they did not want to be asked to contribute to what we see happening at the moment. I also need to remind you that South Africa voted the way we did with the full knowledge of the African Union, and that South Africa also voted in unison with all of the other members of the African Union sitting in the Security Council, mainly meaning Nigeria and Gabon. Now, all members appreciated the role that South Africa played. But also to remind you that this is a resolution that was sponsored largely by the Arab League to which Libya belongs, as much as it belongs to the AU. Now, there was no awkwardness whatsoever. Because, if you read the explanations towards the vote, even by those other members of BRICS, they were just short of wanting to vote fully for this resolution. So, there were no ambiguities, no awkwardness, because there was a full consultation, but also an understanding of why South Africa voted the way we did. What we do have issues with is that a no-fly zone means a no-fly zone. He did not mean to replace Gaddafi's mechanisations with that of NATO and the Western powers. They themselves are still searching for that which will bring them together on what to do next on the issue. And that is why I have said earlier on that I have heard the Secretary General of NATO on television saying that the solution will not lie in military [unclear], but it is going to have to take a political route to resolve this problem.

Thank you.

Questions & Answers Session - Part 2

Member of the Media: I have got two questions that I want to ask you, Madam Minister. The first one is, what is your assessment of the unrests in Burkina Faso and Uganda? Do you think these street protests can degenerate into another street revolution like in Tunisia and Egypt? And can this wave of street revolutions go and reach other African countries like, for example, Zimbabwe? And the second question, referring to the idea, as was in Hainan, about the possibility of BRICS countries using the national currencies for trade exchanges, and given the fact that South Africa is in fact representing all the African Continent within its BRICS, do you see the possibility of the South African Rand becoming a unique African currency? Thank you.

Member of the Media: Libyan state TV reported on Sunday that the Libyan leader, Gaddafi, received a call from President Zuma. Can you confirm that there was a call and what the two talked about?

Member of the Media: Do you know [unclear] about his whereabouts and does South Africa know where he is? I am sorry, but I have to ask it. Do we know where he is?

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: Let me repeat my refusal to answer the question and put his life at risk. President Zuma has requested us, because that is our responsibility, to engage with the Libyan authorities to provide consular services to a South African citizen. That is what DIRCO's responsibility is and that is what we continue to do. Whether President Zuma has had a telephonic conversation with a Colonel Gaddafi, well, I just came back yesterday from China, so I will investigate that if such kind of a call took place. But what I do know is that President Zuma as the leader of the Panel is anxious to see that the cessation of hostilities happens so that the mission of the AU could continue unhindered. I also need to say to you that all the leaders of BRICS had unanimously supported the initiative of AU High Level Panel led by President Zuma in Libya. They are or calling for a ceasefire so that a negotiated settlement could take place. So, if there are initiatives to prevail on both sides that the cessation of hostilities take place, that I think we should consider as a good sign.

The question from the Russian News Agency. We are monitoring through the AU Peace and Security Council the reports of unrests both in Burkina Faso and Uganda. But I think we should not mistake every other peaceful demonstration by civil society in any country to mean it is a revolution. We should see as normal people going out in the streets in a peaceful manner to air their grievances in any democracy. I had lived in a country called the [unclear] where every second day you find that the people are marching in the streets. I do not know, I do not remember us ever considering that to be a revolution that is going to become another North African revolution. In democracies we should get used to allowing citizens to exercise their democratic rights to demonstrate peacefully that which they consider governments to heed their grievances.

The issue about the discussion about the utilisation of national currencies to form a basket of currencies to accelerate trade or intertrade amongst BRICS countries, yes, this discussion did take place. The discussion further went into the interbank discussions where our development banks had their own meeting and also had their own MOU signed. They will continue, these banks, and development banks in our respective countries, they will continue their discussions to see how, to find modalities that will help us take this forward and they will work together with the governance of our respective reserve banks and together with the ministries of finance in all our countries.

Member of the Media: Minister, about the upcoming SADC Summit, the special one next month ,Zimbabwe and Madagascar could be these two issues and I wondered if you could just update on where things stand in the appointment of those extra [unclear] officials to go to Zimbabwe to draw up a timetable [unclear] to report to the Summit. Now, Madagascar, the implication of the communiqué of the Heads of State troika was that the troika has not accepted the [unclear] on Madagascar and I wondered if you could clarify whether that is so and how that would be resolved or addressed at the Summit?

Member of the Media: You said that you were trying to bring the parties together to find a lasting solution. Now that the rebel movement that is trying to topple [unclear]. And then regarding the ambassador, are you still confident in the ambassador although you [unclear], because he issued a statement on behalf of the rebel movement calling for Gaddafi to step down. Do you still consider him being the ambassador to South Africa?

Member of the Media: With regard to Swaziland, no country in the world has more influence over Swaziland than South Africa. Does South Africa support democracy in Swaziland or to continue the absolute reign of horror? And with the mass arrests and actions taken with regard to the [unclear] protests and suppressed as such by the government, will South Africa use its seat on the Security Council for a statement condemning Swaziland for the restrictions on its citizens?

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane: Well, as you rightly said, Swaziland is a sovereign state. But, indeed, yes, South Africa is a neighbour of Swaziland. But to say that we are like a big power overarching Swaziland, that is not the way we do things in the SADC. We work as a collective SADC and there is no superpower in the SADC. We are not one. I do know that there is a regular interaction to deal with the crisis or the [unclear] crisis in the government between the leaders of the SADC and the neighbouring countries neighbouring Swaziland. And we will work with the people of Swaziland to bring their own outcome, their own desires of what kind of democracy they want for themselves in Swaziland. What we will call for and continue to call for is that peaceful demonstrations, where the citizenry are urging to air their views, should be allowed to be. Like I said, almost on a weekly basis would have regular interaction with the Swazi leadership. I have also said earlier on that I had a meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Swaziland last week. I am also quite aware that there is regular interaction between our Minister of Finance and the Minister of Swaziland. I am aware that our President is in regular contact with His Majesty, the King. I am aware that several other leaders in our region are talking to Swaziland. So, that much is happening. We would like to keep the SADC as a zone in peace and security that focuses on the integration of our economies and development.

On the issue again, the question from SAPA, on Libya, we will just share with you the latest information which we shared with the rest of your colleagues last week. But what I can say to you now is that there are separate meetings that have separate names [sounds like]. The meeting between Colonel Gaddafi and his leadership was in Tripoli. The meeting between the AU Head of the Panel and the traditional leadership was held in Benghazi.

The question raised by Peter about the forthcoming meeting of the Extraordinary Summit. It is not a regular summit. It is an Extraordinary Summit to receive the report of the troika, an updated report on the developments in Zimbabwe. The focus mainly will be about the implementation and progress report on the implementation of the GPA, but also, we will be presenting formerly to the other associates through our President, who is the facilitator, the proposal that there should be three additional officials who will work with the facilitator to strengthen and fast track or accelerate the implementation under Jomic [phonetic] of Zimbabwe. So that is what will happen. So, I think, Peter is not expecting me to say what I anticipate to be the outcome of that particular meeting, because the troika is going to report to the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of States, update them and hand over the report to them and they will decide to endorse or amend or do whatever with the report that will be presented to them by the troika.

On Madagascar, I remember Peter, in this room; you shared your information with us. The former president of Mozambique present at what he considers to be the roadmap to turn Madagascar into constitutional order, and that the troika summit noted the presentation of the proposal for a roadmap, which will be forwarded for a thorough discussion of the way forward to the Extraordinary Summit of Heads of States in May. So, that is what they did. I do not remember rejection. I remember that they have noted. They have made comments and noted the report and that it should be forwarded to the full Extraordinary Summit of Heads of States and governments in May.

Thank you very much.

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