Category Archives: Zimbabwe

My fellow Zimbabweans, I am writing this letter and hope that all of you will read it and share it.

My days on this earth are numbered, but I know that once I am gone, you and your children will never forget about me.

I want you to understand that the reason I have stayed long in power, 36 years on, is because I want to empower all of you my fellow black Zimbabweans. No other president in the entire continent of Africa has done what I have done for you, but you continue to take me for granted.

Do you know that in the whole of Africa, Zimbabweans are the only blacks who own their land? We are the only blacks who own and run means of production, we own our own companies, our own land.

That is the true meaning of independence. Political and economic independence.

I have fought tooth and nail my entire political life to ensure that all of you have both political and economic independence.

I don’t hate white people, no, not at all. What I hate is their thinking that they are better than us, that they can just come to our country and take our resources and our land, and tell us what to do.

To that I say no.Today, I am happy that almost all the land is in black hands.

It is up to you to use the education I gave you to develop the land so it is productive so you can feed yourself.

One thing I am proud of is that I worked hard to ensure our natural resources and our land was given back to its rightful owners: you the black people of Zimbabwe.

Go to other countries in Africa. Right here just across he Limpopo, in South Africa, Mandela sold out and gave all the land and economy to the whites.

The blacks in South Africa will be slaves to white South Africans forever. As long as land is not in the hands of its rightful owners, the Africans, the black man will continue to suffer in his own land.

The real wealth is now in your hands, I wrestled it away from the white people who came to steal it from you. Yes, the world was angry at me and punished the whole country with sanctions, but I don’t care because I know I was doing the right thing. I was empowering my people. You.

Take care of the land and the industries I have you.

I did my part, the ball is now in your court. Do your part.

You will remember me and appreciate me for what I have done for you when I am gone.

Your president and leader

Africa for Africans.

Robert Gabriel Mugabe

Zimbabwe Flag

FLASH REPORT ON THE SITUATION IN ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe’s military said on 15 November, it had seized power in a targeted assault on “criminals” around President Robert Mugabe who were causing social and economic suffering.

In an extraordinary statement after long hours of unrest, Zimbabwe’s army early Wednesday, 15 November, sought to reassure the country that “this is not a military takeover” and that President Robert Mugabe was safe and sound. The military said instead it was targeting “criminals around” the president who have sent the nation spinning into economic despair.

Military vehicles blocked roads outside the Zimbabwean parliament Wednesday after army generals denied staging a coup but used state TV to vow to target “criminals” close to President Robert Mugabe. An AFP reporter witnessed cars being turned back by soldiers near parliament, while other military vehicles were stationed outside the offices of the ruling ZANU-PF party in the capital Harare.

Overnight, at least three explosions were heard in Zimbabwe’s capital and military vehicles were seen in the streets after the army commander had threatened to “step in” to calm political tensions over the 93-year-old Mugabe’s possible successor. The ruling party accused the commander of “treasonable conduct.”

Reports indicate that soldiers have taken over Zimbabwe’s ZBC state broadcaster, compounding speculation of a coup against President Robert Mugabe. The Zimbabwe army’s takeover of the state broadcaster and action against some members of President Robert Mugabe’s government has been praised by the chair of the Liberation War Veterans’ Association.

Several cabinet ministers, including local government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and finance minister Ignatius Chombo, and Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwayo, were arrested. There was

allegedly a brief gun fight outside Mr Chombo’s house. Zimbabwe finance minister Ignatius Chombo was a leading member of the so-called “G40” faction of the ruling ZANU-PF party, led by Mugabe’s wife Grace, that had been vying to succeed the 93-year-old president – Reuters

Speculation had been mounting throughout the day that a coup was under way against Mr Mugabe, after the head of the armed forces threatened to “step in” over the sacking of an influential vice president.

Chris Mutsvangwa, head of the war veterans’ group issued a statement from Johannesburg praising Army General Constantino Chiwenga for carrying out “a bloodless correction of gross abuse of power”. The statement said the army will return Zimbabwe to “genuine democracy”.

Zimbabwe’s army has urged other security services to “co-operate for the good of our country,” warning that “any provocation will be met with an appropriate response.”

It says that if the country’s degenerating political, social and economic situation is not addressed, it “may result in a violent conflict”. The army insists that this is not a military takeover and that President Robert Mugabe’s security is guaranteed.

Gunfire erupted near Mr Mugabe’s private residence in Harare in the early hours of Wednesday, a witness told AFP. “From the direction of his house, we heard about 30 or 40 shots fired over three or four minutes soon after 2.00 am,” a resident who lives close to Mugabe’s mansion in the suburb of Borrowdale said.

Armed soldiers were assaulting passers-by in the early morning hours in Harare, according to the Associated Press, while officers were seen loading ammunition near a group of four military vehicles. Aggressive soldiers told passing cars to keep moving through the darkness. “Don’t try anything funny. Just go,” one told a Reuters reporter on Harare Drive.

Zimbabwe’s ruling party on Tuesday accused the army chief of “treasonable conduct” after he challenged President Robert Mugabe over the sacking of the vice president, in the latest sign of worsening instability in the country.

The ZANU-PF party criticised General Constantino Chiwenga who had demanded that Mugabe stop purges of senior party figures, including Vice president Emmerson Mnangagwa who was dismissed last week. The youth wing of Zimbabwe’s ruling party accused the military chief on Tuesday of subverting the constitution for threatening to intervene after President Robert Mugabe plunged the country into political crisis by sacking his vice president.

Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says it will oppose any attempt by the army to stage a coup, amid reports of a military convoy moving through the capital, Harare, AFP news agency reports.

A coup would be “undesirable” as it would “bring democracy to a halt” in the southern African state, MDC Shadow Defence Minister Gift Chimanikire told AFP ahead of the convoy sightings. “No one wants to see a coup,” he added.

The U.S. Embassy closed to the public and encouraged citizens to shelter in place, citing “the ongoing political uncertainty through the night.” The British embassy issued a similar warning, citing “reports of unusual military activity.” The UK embassy in Harare also urged British citizens to stay indoors during the ‘uncertain situation’. The governments of South Africa and Zambia on Tuesday warned military leaders in Harare not to take any “unconstitutional” steps to avenge Mr Mnangagwa.

South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) says it will not intervene to end the crisis unfolding in neighbouring Zimbabwe, amid fears that the military could overthrow 93-year-old President Robert Mugabe, the world’s oldest ruler.

It was not clear where Mugabe and his wife were early Wednesday. “Their security is guaranteed,” the army statement said. The president reportedly attended a weekly Cabinet meeting Tuesday.

Thabo Mbeki

SOUTH AFRICA’S POLICY TOWARDS ZIMBABWE – A SYNOPSIS.‬‬

SOUTH AFRICA’S POLICY TOWARDS ZIMBABWE – A SYNOPSIS.‬‬
By Thabo Mbeki

Historically, with regard to the Zimbabwe liberation struggle, the ANC had good relations with ZAPU and none with ZANU when it broke away from ZAPU. This was a product of a continuous process in Zimbabwe which had started with the establishment of the Southern Rhodesia African National Congress in that country and the membership in the South African ANC of Zimbabwe students and workers while they were studying and working in South Africa.

ANC relations with ZANU

Despite this history, in 1978 ZANU sent a delegation from Mozambique to Lusaka, led by the late former Vice President of Zimbabwe, Simon Muzenda, to meet the ANC. The delegation had come to propose that the ANC should send Umkhonto we Sizwe (MK) cadres to Mozambique to join the units of ZANLA, the ZANU military wing, which were operating along the Limpopo River. The delegation suggested that this would give MK the possibility to infiltrate its cadres and materiel into and through the then Northern Transvaal.

Though the political leadership of the ANC warmly supported this proposal, the MK leadership opposed it on the basis that there were already MK cadres embedded in units of ZIPRA, the military wing of ZAPU, which were also operating along the Limpopo. These might end up fighting their comrades in the ZANLA units as there were occasional skirmishes between ZIPRA and ZANLA. Consequently we did not take up the ZANU offer.

However we interacted warmly with the ZANU delegates at the 1979 Commonwealth Conference in Lusaka which decided on the Lancaster Conference on Zimbabwe.

ANC relations with the Zimbabwe Government

On the very day that Zimbabwe achieved its independence in 1980, the President of the ANC, the late O.R. Tambo, met then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe in Salisbury, later Harare, to discuss the possibility of the ANC opening an office in Harare and using Zimbabwe as a base to carry out underground political and military work in South Africa.

Prime Minister Mugabe suggested that the ANC should assess whether it could operate from Zimbabwe, given that the new Zimbabwe administration would include many people it would inherit from the Smith regime. These included General Peter Walls who led the Zimbabwe Defence Force and Mr Ken Flower who headed the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO).

A few weeks thereafter, President Tambo informed Prime Minister Mugabe that we had conducted our on-the-spot assessment within Zimbabwe and thought that we could indeed operate from Zimbabwe despite the presence in various Zimbabwe state organs of people inherited from the Smith regime.

Prime Minister Mugabe immediately agreed that we could then operate in Zimbabwe as President Tambo had proposed. I was therefore directed to interact with then Minister of Security, and now Vice President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to work out all the details for our ‘underground’ work and open representation in Zimbabwe, which was done.

The late Chris Hani was then put in charge of our ‘underground’ operations in Zimbabwe, while the late Joe Gqabi, who was later murdered in Harare by agents of the apartheid regime, served as our public Chief Representative, with Geraldine Fraser, now Fraser-Moleketi, as one of his assistants.

Zimbabwe land reform and South Africa

In 1990 as we began our negotiations to end the system of apartheid, the then Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, engaged President Mugabe to persuade him that the Government of Zimbabwe should not proceed with any programme to implement a radical land reform, given that the Lancaster House Constitutional 10-year prohibition of this had expired.

Chief Anyaoku and the Commonwealth Secretariat feared that any radical land redistribution in Zimbabwe at that stage would frighten white South Africa and thus significantly complicate our own process of negotiations.

President Mugabe and the Zimbabwe Government agreed to Chief Anyaoku’s suggestion and therefore delayed for almost a decade the needed agrarian reform, which had been a central objective of the political and armed struggle for the liberation of Zimbabwe.

ANC intervention in Zimbabwe

All the foregoing resulted in the establishment of firm fraternal relations between the ANC and now ZANU-PF, which created the possibility for the two organisations to interact with each other openly and frankly.

During these years of our interaction and working together with President Mugabe, the Government of Zimbabwe and ZANU-PF, we came to understand that all these were committed to such objectives as improving the lives of the people of Zimbabwe, defending the independence of our countries and advancing Pan Africanist goals.

We supported all these objectives. However their achievement required that as a country Zimbabwe should remain a democratic and peaceful country with a growing economy of shared wealth, and a country which would continue to do everything possible to eradicate the legacy of colonialism.

When the ANC felt that problems were arising with regard to these objectives, it did what nobody else in the world had done. It prepared and shared a document with ZANU-PF which was a comprehensive critique of developments in Zimbabwe, with suggestions about what ZANU-PF should do to correct what was wrong.

Done in 2001, the document was entitled “How Will Zimbabwe Defeat Its Enemies!” It dealt with a whole variety of issues, including the political and economic.

Though the then planned ANC/ZANU-PF meeting to discuss the document did not take place, ZANU-PF never raised any objection to the fact that the ANC prepared the document to assist Zimbabwe to overcome some of its challenges.

We probably made a mistake when we did not insist that this meeting should be held.

The South African Government and the Zimbabwe land question

When the war veterans and others began to occupy white-owned farms, we intervened first of all with Prime Minister Tony Blair in 1998 to encourage the UK Government to honour the commitment that had been made at Lancaster House in 1979 to give the Government of Zimbabwe the financial means to carry out the required land redistribution in a non-confrontational manner.

This led to the September 1998 International Donors’ Conference on Land Reform and Resettlement held in Harare, which the British Government attended, but whose very positive decisions were not implemented, thanks to the negative attitude adopted by the very same British Government.

Unfortunately, contrary to what the Conservative Prime Ministers Margaret Thatcher and John Major had agreed, Tony Blair’s Secretary of State for International Development, Claire Short, repudiated the commitment to honour the undertaking made at Lancaster House.

In a November 1997 letter to Zimbabwe Minister of Agriculture and Land, Kumbirai Kangai, she wrote: “I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know, we were colonised not colonisers.”

In a February 22, 2015 article in The Telegraph, the Conservative Party Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, commented about the parlous state of Zimbabwe and said:

“But it is vital to recognise that Zimbabwe was not always like this, and did not have to be like this…And Britain played a shameful part in the disaster. Readers will remember the 1979 Lancaster House Agreement, by which Margaret Thatcher granted independence to Rhodesia…So it was crucial that the Lancaster House Agreement protected the interests of these white farmers. They could, of course, be bought out, but their land could not be simply seized. There had to be a “willing buyer, willing seller”. The British government agreed to fund the arrangement, compensating the former colonial farmers for land that they gave up… And then in 1997, along came Tony Blair and New Labour, and in a fit of avowed anti-colonialist fervour they unilaterally scrapped the arrangement…It was Labour’s betrayal of the Lancaster House Agreement – driven by political correctness and cowardice – that gave Mugabe the pretext for the despotic (land) confiscations by which he has rewarded his supporters.”‬‬

Later, Prime Minister Blair told me that the British Governments he led never formally took this decision to repudiate the Lancaster House Agreement and regretted that in the end, his Government had to accept it because Claire Short had succeeded to convince the UK public that it was indeed Government policy!

Further to help resolve the conflict on the land question, at some point we also got commitments from three (3) other Governments to finance land acquisition by the Zimbabwe Government which would then distribute the land to those who had started to occupy some farms. The Zimbabwe Government welcomed this initiative.

At the suggestion of the then UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the UNDP assumed the responsibility to work with the Zimbabwe Government to implement this land acquisition and redistribution. Unfortunately the UNDP acted in a manner which led to the failure of this initiative.

The South African Government and Zimbabwe politics

Our Government started to work more intensely with the opposition MDC after the 2000 Zimbabwe Constitutional Referendum, which rejected the Constitution that had been put to the nation by the Government.

The MDC approached us to help secure the agreement of ZANU-PF to amend the extant Constitution by including in it various matters, many of which had been included in the Constitution which had been rejected.

From then onwards we did our best to encourage ZANU-PF and the MDC to work together to find solutions to the constitutional, political, economic, security and social challenges which faced Zimbabwe.

It was exactly this same approach we took which resulted in the conclusion in 2008 of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) by the Zimbabwe political parties.

Though we acted as a Facilitator, the fact of the matter is that the GPA was negotiated and elaborated by the three Zimbabwe Political Parties which had been democratically chosen by the people in the 2008 elections. No part of the Agreement was imposed on the Parties by the Facilitator.

This approach was informed by our unwavering determination to respect the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future, firmly opposed to any foreign, including South African, intervention to impose solutions on the people of Zimbabwe.

Writing in the privately-owned Zimbabwe Independent on September 25 last year, Wilbert Mukori said: “The best chance the nation has had to end Mugabe’s dictatorship was by far during the Government of National Unity (GNU) when all the nation had to do was implement the raft of democratic reforms already agreed in the 2008 Global Political Agreement (GPA).

“However, MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai and other opposition parties, who were tasked with implementing the reforms, sold out and joined Mugabe’s gravy train. So after four or five years of the GNU, no meaningful reforms were implemented…The people of Zimbabwe failed to recognise the importance of the 2008 GPA reforms and so they did not pressure GNU leaders to implement the reforms.”

Regime change in Zimbabwe

There were others in the world, led particularly by the UK, who opposed our approach of encouraging the Zimbabweans to decide their future. These preferred regime change – the forcible removal of President Mugabe and his replacement by people approved by the UK and its allies.

This is what explained the sustained campaign to condemn us for conducting the so-called ‘quiet diplomacy’. What was wrong with ‘quiet diplomacy’, which led to the adoption of the GPA discussed by Mukori, was that it defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their future, as opposed to the desire by some in the West to carry out regime change in Zimbabwe and impose their will on the country!

In the period preceding the 2002 Zimbabwe Elections, the UK and the US in particular were very keen to effect this regime change and failing which to impose various conditions to shorten the period of any Mugabe Presidency.

Our then Minister of Intelligence, Lindiwe Sisulu, had to make a number of trips to London and Washington to engage the UK and US governments on their plans for Zimbabwe, with strict instructions from our Government to resist all plans to impose anything on the people of Zimbabwe, including by military means.

Accordingly it was not from hearsay or third parties that we acquired the knowledge about Western plans to overthrow President Mugabe, but directly from what they communicated to a representative of our Government.

In its 11 November, 2007 edition, the UK newspaper, the Independent on Sunday, reported that during its interview of Lord Guthrie, former Chief of Defence Staff of the UK armed forces, it learnt that “Astonishingly, the subjects discussed (with Prime Minister Tony Blair) included invading Zimbabwe, “which people were always trying to get me (Guthrie) to look at. My advice was, ‘Hold hard, you’ll make it worse.’”

According to John Kampfner in his book, “Blair’s Wars”, Blair once told Claire Short that “if it were down to me, I’d do Zimbabwe as well – that is send troops.” In his Memoir “A Journey”, Blair explained that the reason he could not “get rid of Mugabe” which he “would have loved to” was because “it wasn’t practical (since…the surrounding African nations maintained a lingering support for him and would have opposed any action strenuously).” South Africa and the Zimbabwe elections

The 2002 elections in Zimbabwe were observed by two South African Observer Missions among others. One of these was a multi-party Mission deployed by our Parliament, not Government. The second was composed of people seconded by civil society organisations. The Government contributed to this latter Mission by appointing Ambassador Sam Motsuenyane as its leader.

With no intervention by Government, these two Observer Missions, like all others, determined that the declared outcome of the elections reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe.

The same thing happened with regard to the 2008 elections which resulted in the MDC (Tsvangirai) gaining 100 House of Assembly seats as opposed to 99 for ZANU-PF and 10 for MDC (Mutambara). None of the two leading Presidential candidates, Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai, got the required 50%+1 to emerge as the outright winner.

The second round of the Presidential election was marked by a lot of violence, resulting in the withdrawal of Tsvangirai. Our view was that the level of violence had made it impossible for the people of Zimbabwe freely to exercise their right to choose their President.

I therefore met President Mugabe in Bulawayo to propose that the election should be called off and conducted afresh in conditions of the total absence of any violence. President Mugabe did not accept our suggestion, arguing that the action we were proposing would be in violation of the Constitution.

During the 2013 Harmonised Elections, ZANU-PF won 196 of the House of Assembly seats as opposed to 70 for the MDC (Tsvangirai), and President Mugabe was elected during the first round. All the Observer Missions which actually observed these elections agreed that the announced results ‘reflected the will of the people of Zimbabwe’.

Over the years ZAPU, ZANU and, later, ZANU-PF saw it as part of their responsibility to contribute to the victory of our struggle against the apartheid regime and system and the building of the democratic South Africa, and acted accordingly. The ANC took the same position with regard to the struggles of the people of Zimbabwe to defeat colonialism and reconstruct the new Zimbabwe, and acted accordingly.

Throughout these years we defended the right of the people of Zimbabwe to determine their destiny, including deciding on who should govern the country. This included resisting all efforts to impose other people’s solutions on Zimbabwe, which, if this had succeeded, would have served as a precursor for a similar intervention in our country!

Consciously we took the position that democratic South Africa
should at all costs avoid acting as a new home-grown African imperial power which would have given itself the right unilaterally to determine the destiny of the peoples of Africa!

PRESIDENT JACOB ZUMA

PRESIDENT ZUMA TO RECEIVE PRESIDENT OF ZIMBABWE ON A STATE VISIT TO SOUTH AFRICA

The President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma will on 08 to 09 April 2015 receive his counterpart, His Excellency Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, on a State Visit to South Africa.

The objective of the visit is to consult on issues of mutual interest, paying particular focus on bilateral and economic cooperation, including regional and continental matters. The visit will further strengthen the historical, cultural and fraternal bonds that exist between South Africa and Zimbabwe

South Africa and Zimbabwe share common historical and cultural bonds anchored on Zimbabwe’s support to South Africa’s liberation struggle. Furthermore, the visit will witness the signing of a number of agreements; the Bi-National Commission Agreement being the highlight, whose objective is to elevate the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Economic cooperation between the two countries has grown well over the past decade as evidenced by the presence of a large number of South African companies in Zimbabwe as well as the increasing trade volumes. In 2014, South Africa’s exports to Zimbabwe amounted to R24.8 billion, while Zimbabwe’s exports to South Africa reached R2 billion.

Malusi Gigaba2

Media Statement by Minister Gigaba during the handing over of Zimbabwean Special Permits

This media briefing was convened to present an update on the Zimbabwean Special Permit application process which opened on 1 October 2014.

This was after the Department of Home Affairs had announced the introduction of this new special permit, on 12 August 2014, for DZP permit-holders who wished to remain in South Africa after the expiry of their old permits.

The Department introduced the new Zimbabwean special permit to document Zimbabwean nationals whose stay in South Africa was normalized through the permits issued, from 2010, in terms of the old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project (DZP).

The Department has engaged VFS Global, as a partner, to receive the applications. VFS Global started receiving applications, online, on the 1st of October 2014.

The Zimbabwean Special Permit application process closed officially on 31 December 2014, the day that also marked the expiry of the old Dispensation for Zimbabweans Project, including for those permits whose expiry dates were beyond 31 December 2014.

Regarding the breakdown of applications, we wish to announce that, as of 13 March 2015, 208 967 applications were submitted online, to VFS.

A total of 206 939 applicants booked appointments with VFS for interviews, 2 028 applicants have not booked appointments with VFS, and have till 31 March 2015 to do so, which is the closing date.

162 256 applications have been done at VFS, 50% of these have been adjudicated by the DHA. We have adjudicated 83 009 applications to be exact.

It is anticipated that the adjudication and the handing out of outcomes would be finalised by the end of August 2015.

The process has benefitted from the partnership the DHA had established with VFS Global in the quest for efficiency and better service.

It was supported in large measure by the ten ZSP centres VFS Global established to facilitate ZSP permit applications.

We therefore thank VFS Global for the sterling work it had done in this regard, as well as our officials in the permitting section.

The ZSP will allow permit-holders to live, work, conduct business, study and financially transact in South Africa for the duration of the permit.

The Department has also met with SABRIC (South African Banking Risk Information Centre) to ensure issues around the accounts of applicants are resolved.

The ZSP will be valid until 31 December 2017.

We had allowed eligible Zimbabwean nationals in possession of the old DZP permits to be in the country and to travel between our two countries, without being declared undesirable or arrested for being illegal, until their application process had been finalized, and had been issued with their new ZSP permits.

The requirements for the new ZSP included: A valid Zimbabwean passport; Proof of employment/proof of business registration/proof of registration from a learning institution and a DZP reference number that had to be used for lodging the ZSP application online.

The Department of Home Affairs remains committed to deliver high-quality service to clients better to advance the goal of building a professional department, using cutting-edge technology, offering excellent, world-class services, in a highly secure environment.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane

Media statement by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on international developments

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.

Thank you

Minister Malusi Gigaba

Minister Gigaba’s Visit to the VFS Centre

Minister Malusi Gigaba accompanied by Deputy Minister Fatima Chohan visited the Visa Facilitation Services (VFS) Centre dedicated to the Zimbabwean Special Project (ZSP) in Cape Town.

Minister Gigaba was briefed by the VFS management on the process thus far, including plans for Zimbabweans intending to travel back home during the festive season.

Minister Gigaba announced that Zimbabweans intending to travel home for the festive season will be able to do so although their permits may not have been issued at the time.

He said: “During the festive season, Zimbabweans qualifying for this process will be able to travel home and return to South Africa without any challenges. Their applications will be available to us electronically, enabling us to verify whether they have been captured properly.”

As of 18 November 2014, 164 251 online applications were submitted while 156 302 appointments were booked. It is expected that 249 000 Zimbabweans, who previously qualified for the Dispensation for Zimbabwean Permits (DZP), will come forward for the ZSP process.

Said Minister Gigaba: “There is a high level of compliance and we are confident that by the end of December 2014 all Zimbabweans who qualify for this process would have applied. We expect that by the end of April 2015 all the permits would have been issued.”