Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media
We would like to take this opportunity to share with you information on a number of developments taking place which relate to the implementation of our foreign policy and which we believe are of interest to the public.
In particular, we wish to focus on:
(1) the outcomes of the recent African Union Summit,
(2) the upcoming elections in the Kingdom of Lesotho,
(3) emergency relief provided to the Republics of Mozambique and Malawi, as well as
(4) South Africa’s role as Chair of the G77+China.
1. OUTCOMES OF THE AU SUMMIT
We recently returned from the 24th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU Summit) held on 30-31 January 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the theme: “Year of Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”.
The Republic of Zimbabwe was elected to Chair of the AU for this year, and will have the double responsibility of leadership of both the continent and the region as chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The Summit also considered the state of peace and security on the Continent; the escalation in international terrorism; as well as Agenda 2063 and its 10 year action plan.
Agenda 2063 is a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development on the African continent. It envisions that in fifty (50) years, Africa will be a world leader, setting the standard for inclusive economic development, democratic governance and a humane and just social order.
Some of the decisions taken at the AU Summit include the following:
On ‘Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want’, the Summit adopted the Framework Document and the Popular Version of Agenda 2063. The AU Commission was requested to conclude all consultations in order to finalize the First Ten-Year Plan and to submit it for adoption by the June/July 2015 Summit.
The Executive Council took note of developments and progress on the flagship projects and requested the Commission to present detailed road maps for implementation of:
• The Integrated High Speed Train Network;
• The creation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017;
• The African Passport and Free Movement of People;
• The Implementation of the Grand Inga Hydroelectricity Dam Project;
• The Pan-African E-Network; An African Virtual and E-University;
• Establishment of an Annual African Forum for Policy Dialogue;
• Formulation of a Commodities Strategy; Implementation on the Yamoussoukro Decision on the Unification of the African Air Space by 2017;
• Silencing the Guns by 2020;
• Developing a Space Programme for Africa.
On the status of the Ebola virus outbreak, the Assembly urged Member States to continue their assistance to the countries affected by Ebola. The Assembly recommended the extension of the mandate of the African Union Support to the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa (ASEOWA):
• Called upon Member States who have not yet done so, to lift all restrictions imposed on Ebola-affected countries;
• Requested the international financial institutions and partner countries to cancel the debt of the three affected countries (Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone);
• Approved the recommendation to urgently convene a Global Conference on the Ebola epidemic; requested and appealed to the scientific community to accelerate the search for a vaccine against Ebola. The urgency of the establishment of the African Centre for Disease Control and Prevention was re-emphasized as a result of this epidemic.
On the Report of the Conference of Ministers of Finance and Economy on the Alternative Sources of Financing the African Union, the Assembly was agreed that countries’ assessed contributions will need to be adapted according to GDP’s of Member States. Informed by the suggested alternatives, it was decided that domestic sources of funding will be the prerogative of each Member State according to their own financial structures.
On the situation in the Republic of South Sudan, the parties were urged to recommit to an unconditional end to hostilities as provided for by the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement and to conclude consultations on outstanding matters with a focus on the establishment and structure of the Transitional Government of National Unity.
The Assembly noted progress in the implementation of the peace framework agreement and appreciate work done by MONUSCO and FIB in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
On the Boko Haram terrorist group, the AU reiterated its solidarity with the Government of Nigeria and other affected countries. The United Nations Security Council was urged to endorse the deployment of the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) for an initial 12 months. The Assembly also authorised the establishment of a Trust Fund by the United Nations Secretary-General to sustain the operations of the Multinational Joint Task Force and the international community was called upon to provide support to this Joint Task Force.
The Assembly also considered the reports by the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (HSGOC) and that of the Committee of Ten (C10) on the Reform of the UN Security Council. On the C10 report, the Assembly reiterated its call for Africa to continue speaking with one voice through its Common African Position on all issues relating to the UN Security Council reform and related matters; and underscored the overriding need to ensure that the interest of Africa continues to be maintained and safeguarded at all times in the on-going inter-governmental negotiations on Security Council reform.
H.E President Zuma chaired the 22nd African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) Forum Summit. The January 2015 APRM meetings reported progress made on the Malabo decisions to address institutional challenges and integration. Cote d’Ivoire acceded to the MoU on the APRM to become the 35th Member State of the APRM.
Kenya was appointed as the new Vice-Chair of the APRM Forum as well as the appointment of two new Panel Members, Honourable Brigitte Mabandla (South Africa) and Chief (Mrs.) Chinyere E. Asika (Nigeria.) The incoming Panel Members respectively replace Ms. Baleka Mbete, current Speaker of the South African National Assembly, and Ambassador Professor Okon Edet Uya, who passed away in April 2014.
Honourable Mabandla is the current Chairperson of the National Orders Advisory Council of South Africa. She served as Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development from 2004-2008. Chief (Mrs.) Asika is a Board Member and Trustee in various Nigerian organizations. She has formally served as Senior Special Assistant to the President on NEPAD, in the Cabinet of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
The Summit decided that South Africa will host the upcoming AU Mid-Year Summit and its related meetings in June/July 2015.
2. UPCOMING ELECTIONS IN THE KINGDOM OF LESOTHO
South Africa will lead and form part of the SADC Election Observer Mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho. The elections are scheduled for the 28th of February 2015. It is expected that the SADC Election Observation Mission will be launched in Maseru on 18 February 2015. Preparations for the elections are already underway and political parties have started campaigning.
His Excellency President Zuma is meeting the Leaders of the Government of Lesotho today in his capacity as Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation. The Leaders are expected to brief the Chair of the SADC Organ on final preparations for the elections.
As Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation since August 2014, South Africa has led successful SADC Election Observer Missions to Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius and Zambia. The missions found that elections in these countries were peaceful, transparent, credible, and free and fair, thus reflecting the will of the people.
3. EMERGENCY RELIEF TO MALAWI AND MOZAMBIQUE
The South African Government sent a team from the National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) to the Republic of Malawi on 22 January 2015 in response to floods and resultant humanitarian situation in the country.
A joint command was established between the South African team from the National Disaster Management Centre and the Malawi Defence Force (MDF) to coordinated air transport requests from the Malawi Government and the UN relief agencies and international organisations for the relief and rescue operations in the Southern Region of Malawi that was severely hit by floods.
On the emergency situation in Mozambique, which was similarly caused by floods in January 2015, the Mozambican Government sent a request to the South African Government to assist with relief efforts.
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF), in conjunction with the Mozambican Defence Force (FADAM) and the National Disaster Management Institute of Mozambique (INGC), took leadership of flood relief efforts. Two Oryx medium transport helicopters, SA Navy divers, medical staff from the SA Military Health Service and the South African Air Force with troops were deployed to the Zambezia Province.
The mission was also concluded successfully and the teams have returned to South Africa.
4. SOUTH AFRICA AS CHAIR OF THE G77+CHINA
We would like to conclude the briefing by bringing to your attention the fact that, in early January 2015, South Africa took over the reigns as Chair of the G77+China. The G77+China is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations, which provides the means for the countries of the South to articulate and promote their collective interests and enhance their joint negotiating capacity on all major international issues within the United Nations system, and promote South-South cooperation for development.
South Africa’s tenure comes during a year in which various envisaged development processes would demand that the Group remains more steadfast in promoting the interests of developing countries. 2015 is the year in which the United Nations celebrates its 70th Anniversary and it is also the year in which the target date for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be reached.
The MDGs, adopted in 2000, set bold targets for development and were key in forging a global cooperation framework for development. Foremost in the efforts of the UN member states and the G77+China in particular this year will be the evaluation of the progress made in reaching these goals and the negotiation of the post-2015 development agenda.
By forging alliances between countries of the South, and by leveraging the South’s collective bargaining power and negotiating capacity across many different negotiation tracks in the UN system, the G77+China has ensured that its member states collectively work together to articulate and pursue the collective and individual economic and social interests of developing countries. The G77+China has played a critical role in promoting South-South Cooperation for development as well as successfully strengthening economic and technical cooperation among developing countries.
The G77+China remains a champion for a more legitimate and accountable global system of governance. For far too long, developing countries have not been at the centre of global standard-setting and decision-making processes that impact on our development. It is critical, therefore, that the countries of the South continue to push, through the G77+China, for the reform of the global governance system, in particular, for the enhanced voice and representation in the decision-making structures of International Organisations.