Media statement by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim Ebrahim, on international relations matters, Thursday, 24 January 2013, DIRCO

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media,

In our briefing today, we will focus on the African Union Summit, recent developments in Africa and preparations for the Fifth BRICS Summit.

1. African Union (AU) Summit

His Excellency President Jacob Zuma will lead the South African delegation to the 20th Summit of the African Union Assembly, scheduled for 27-28 January 2013.

The theme of the Summit is “Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”. 

The Summit is preceded by the 22nd Ordinary Session of the Executive Council, which is taking place today and tomorrow, 25 January 2013.

The Summit is expected to ring in the Golden Jubilee celebration for the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of the OAU/AU which will be marked on 25 May 2013.

The Assembly will pay tribute to the generations of Pan Africanists and the founding fathers of the continental organisation, as well as popularising the African Union.

Some of the issues that the Assembly is expected to discuss include the peace and security architecture of the continent; the NEPAD; and the African Peer Review Mechanism.

President Zuma, in his capacity as Chair of the NEPAD High-Level Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative will on Saturday, 26 January 2013, host a meeting of Heads of States and Government to review progress of the continent’s priority infrastructure projects.

The Assembly will consider the African Union New Strategic Plan for the period 2014 to 2018. 

The President will also announce the convening of the first “BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum”. This Dialogue will focus on unlocking BRICS-Africa potential for cooperation on Infrastructure. 

2. The situation in Algeria

The South African Government has strongly condemned the terrorist attack that took place at the Tigantourine gas processing facility outside Amenas in Algeria on 16 January 2013 and expressed its heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims of the attack. 
We received confirmation that one South African citizen who was rescued by the Algerian Military has arrived safely back in South Africa on Monday, 21 January 2013.

South Africa continues to support the global fight against terrorism and supports all multilateral efforts, especially within the United Nations (UN) and African Union (AU), aimed at eradicating terrorism.

The South African Government has noted the dire humanitarian situation and continued terrorist threat in the Sahel region and re-iterates the need for all African States to work together with the AU, in partnership with the rest of the international community, to redouble efforts to address the situation.

We stand ready to support Algeria in its fight to eradicate terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.

3. Emergency Aid to the Sahel region

South Africa remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance to the Sahel region. You will recall that on 20 March 2012, Government announced that South Africa would be providing emergency humanitarian assistance to the Sahel as per request of the Governments of that region.

Following the successful delivery by air to Niamey, Niger, between September and December 2012, of 440 tonnes of nutrition for children (maize power boost), 100kgs of bio-pesticide and 12 000 protection kits for the application of the bio-pesticide, a further consignment has reached Cotonou, Benin, by sea.

On 18 January 2013, 873 tonnes of fertilizer (16 206 bags), 2597 tonnes of animal feed (4058 bags) and 110 tonnes of maize power boost nutrition (4305 bags) arrived in Cotonou and is currently en route by road to Niamey. 

A final consignment of 1 000 tonnes of animal feed and 5 tonnes of summer oil for the application of the bio-pesticide will leave Durban harbour, for Cotonou by the end of January 2013.

The President of the Republic of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou visited South Africa in November 2011, and thereafter a Task Team visited Niger to investigate its needs at the request of the Government of Niger.  As a result, Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane announced in March 2012 that South Africa would assist with emergency aid to various countries in the Sahel, including the Republic of Niger.

All the aid for Niger has been sourced in South Africa, with the uniforms for the protection kits being manufactured by a women’s co-operative.  The maize power boost is an enriched maize product, also produced locally and the animal feed is a blend of materials suitable for animals living in the extreme conditions of the Sahel.  The bio-pesticide requested by Niger is a product developed specifically for the desert locusts of the Sahel and was developed recently, with the participation of South African experts.

Members of the media,

South Africa remains concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation throughout the Sahel region.

Over 15 million people, including 3.5 million Malians, across the Sahel have been affected by the food and nutrition crisis since 2012 and over 1 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition.

The recent insecurity in Mali has exacerbated this crisis. Internally displaced persons and refugees are continually arriving in drought-affected areas where food insecurity forecasts are among the worst in the region.

South Africa is currently working with the Malian authorities to deliver the South African-sponsored humanitarian aid package as per the request of the Malian Government. Details of the delivery of the aid package will be announced in due course.

South Africa will continue to support efforts by ECOWAS, the AU and the UN to restore peace and security in Mali.

4. ECOSOC membership

South Africa commenced its three year term on the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) on 1 January 2013.

South Africa joins at a strategic juncture, when the world is focused on the run-up to the 2015 target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), with the Post-2015 Development Agenda discourse being the dominant topic in the global arena.  Given the key role that ECOSOC plays in co-ordinating global efforts towards the shaping of the Post-2015 development framework, South Africa intends to use this platform, to ensure that the options considered for the Post-2015 UN Development Agenda are compatible with South Africa’s own development agenda, African Union aspirations and the development agenda of the South.

DIRCO is co-ordinating inter-Departmental consultations to define South Africa’s position on this matter, guided by the recently adopted National Development Plan: Vision 2030 and other relevant Government policies.

Furthermore, the ongoing discussions on the reform of ECOSOC, as mandated by Resolution 61/16 on “The Strengthening of the Economic and Social Council”, are also an issue of cardinal importance to South Africa as this will enhance the role and relevance of the Council, making it a truly meaningful body in fostering the global development agenda.

During our tenure on the Council, South Africa will also participate in the meetings of ECOSOC subsidiary bodies, consultations with international development partners and Ministerial meetings where pertinent issues related to the advancement of the socio-economic development agenda of the countries of the south are discussed.

5. BRICS Summit

Members of the Media, in conclusion,

South Africa remains on track with preparations for the Fifth BRICS Summit scheduled for March 2013 under the theme “BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation”.

On Tuesday this week, the BRICS Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) received an update on the substantive and logistical preparations for the Summit.

As part of the build-up towards South Africa's hosting of the BRICS Summit, Government is hosting a series of roadshows in all nine provinces. The purpose of the roadshows is to raise awareness around the importance of South Africa's membership of the BRICS bloc and the benefits thereof. The first of these roadshows took place yesterday, 23 January 2013, in Polokwane, Limpopo Province.

As mentioned earlier, it is expected that President Zuma will brief the AU Summit this week on South Africa’s hosting of the 5th BRICS Summit in March 2013.  It is further expected that the President will announce that the first “BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum Retreat” will take place on the afternoon of 27 March 2013 as from 15:30-17:30.The theme for the session is entitled “Unlocking Africa’s potential: BRICS and Africa cooperation on Infrastructure”. A Press Conference will be held following the Dialogue Forum.

Since this will be the first time that South Africa hosts the BRICS Summit, the Chairperson of the African Union; the Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC); and the Chairperson of the AU Commission have been invited to the Summit. The eight Heads of State/Government chairing the eight African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the Heads of State/Government within the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI) have also been invited to attend the Summit. In addition, the Executive Heads of the eight RECS and other relevant regional and international organisations’ representatives have also been invited.

I thank you

Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, spokesperson for DIRCO, 082 884 5974

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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