Vladimir Putin sworn in for 4th term as Russian President

Vladimir Putin took an oath of office when he was was sworn in as Russian president on Monday for his fourth term. At a ceremony held in an ornate Kremlin hall, Putin vowed to pursue an economic agenda that would better the general standard of living.

Putin said emphasis will be placed on Russia’s economy following a recession partly linked to international sanctions.

“Now, we must use all existing possibilities, first of all for resolving internal urgent tasks of development, for economic and technological breakthroughs, for raising competitiveness in those spheres that determine the future,” he said.

In March, Putin tallied 77% of the presidential votes.

According to Time.com, Putin has led Russia for all of the 21st century. He stepped down from the presidency in 2008 because of term limits, but was named prime minister and continued to steer the country until he returned as president in 2012.

– Time.com

Public lecture on BRICS at the University of Limpopo

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has partnered with the University of Limpopo for this morning’s public lecture on South Africa’s hosting of the 10th BRICS Summit.

Taking place under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration, Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”, the lecture was presented by Prof Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director-General for Asia and Middle East at DIRCO and BRICS Sherpa.

Addressing students, Sooklal said: “Today, it is important that people know about BRICS because the people are at the forefront of BRICS. The organisation is focused on advancing the economy and the domestic interest of South Africa including the SADC region.”

Prof. Sooklal was joined by Mr Kenneth da Nobrega, Sous Sherpa for the Republic of Brazil and Mr Pavel Knyazev, Sous Sherpa for the Russian Federation. The meeting of the BRICS Sherpas will take place 24-26 April 2018 at the Mabula Lodge in Bela Bela, Limpopo.

Image: Embassy of Russia


WCW: Remarkable African women in Politics & Economics

The last few years has seen a slow but steady shift of political and economic power. We’ve highlighted these five phenomenal African women who are making strides in their respective designations. 

  1. Trudi Makhaya (South Africa) – Economist, entrepreneur and writer who was recently appointed to be South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s economic advisor. Makhaya’s duties include coordinating the work of investment envoys as they travel the world in a bid to attract at least $100-billion (R1.2-trillion) in new foreign direct investment to the economy over the next five years.
  2. Bience Gawanas (Namibia) – was recently appointed by the United Unions Secretary General António Guterres as a new female Special Advisor on Africa. Gawandas who is currently the Special Advisor to Namibia’s Minister of Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare has also served as Special Advisor on health, social affairs and poverty in Namibia and is known as a champion of women’s health and rights on the continent.
  3. NneNne Iwuji-Ewe (Mozambique) – She became the United Kingdom’s first female ambassador. She spent 16 years in the British Foreign Office and will take up her role as British high commissioner to Mozambique, taking over from Joanna Kuenssberg.
  4. Bogolo Kenewendi (Botswana) – She is the youngest minister in Botswana’s parliament. She first joined parliament in 2016 as an elected MP by former president Ian Khama, and she is now the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry. Her appointment has received a lot of praise as most political positions are given to older people.
  5. Obiageli Ezekwesili (Nigeria) – is Senior Economic Advisor to the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative. She was a co-founder of Transparency International, serving as one of the pioneer directors of the global anti-corruption body based in Berlin, Germany.


India tops Economic and Social Council elections

India has won an election to a vital non-governmental organisation committee in the United Nations, after gathering the highest number of votes beside getting elected by acclamation of subsidiary bodies in five separate polls.

The UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) elected India and Kuwait (Asia-Pacific States) by acclamation to the Commission for Social Development, filling outstanding seats for a four-year term beginning on the date of election.

India was among the 17 members elected by acclamation to the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice.

The elected members are going to serve a three-year term beginning on January 1, 2019 and expiring on December 31, 2021.

Those elected members include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Swaziland, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, Thailand, Belarus, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico Austria, France, Turkey and the United States. 

India got the highest number of votes at 46, followed by Pakistan (43), Bahrain (40) and China 39. While Iran lost the elections by having gotten only 27 votes.

Source: www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Putin plots out post-election plans

Re-elected Russian President, Vladimir Putin has revealed his primary objective for his presidential term.
According to Russia Today, Putin will pay close attention to the following, saying:

1. “The main thing that we will be working on is of course the internal agenda. First of all we must ensure the growth rate for the economy and make it an innovative one. We must develop healthcare, education, industrial production, infrastructure and other branches that are crucial for moving our country forward and increasing the living standards of our citizens.
2. There are also issues connected with the national defence and security, we cannot do without them, but still the internal agenda is of primary importance today.
3. As for the defence expenditures, we have slated their decrease for this year and for the next year. This will not cause any problems for our defence capability, because the main investments into the development of the newest weapons systems have been made over the previous years.
4. We just need to bring some things to their logical conclusion, to continue the research and development that I have not spoken about yet.
5. There will be no increase in spending, no arms race. We have everything, we have secure reserves in this field.”

Putin believes that workforce productivity is a key issue that is the joint-responsibility of the nation.

Source: Russia Today

Remember the Sharpeville massacre.  

Today South Africans celebrates Human Rights Day to commemorate the Sharpeville massacre that took place in 1960.

The Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) proposed an anti-Pass campaign to begin on March 21, 1960.

Black men were to gather at Sharpeville without their reference books and present themselves for arrest.

The order was given to disperse, after which the Police opened fire with sharp-point ammunition on the crowd of men, women and children –  69 people died and 180 were wounded.

It was more than a protest the Pass Laws of the apartheid regime, but it was an affirmation by common people rising in harmony to proclaim their rights.

When Nelson Mandela became president in 1994, he included this day in the list of national holidays.

South Africans are asked to reflect on their rights and how to protect themselves against violations.

Source : SA History

Russian Presidential Elections: Putin continues to lead

Russian leader, Vladimir Putin has once again secured a victory to lead the country for a second consecutive term, with all votes counted.

He started serving as President of the country in 2008, with another six years (to end in 2024) now being added to his term.

Putin currently leads with 76,6% of the votes, putting him well above the simple majority needed to avoid a run-off.

First-time Communist Party candidate, Pavel Grudinin is running second with 11.9%, followed by nationalist politician, Vladimir Zhirinovsky who is also in the top three with 5.66%.

Putin picked up a higher following this year, compared to his 64% win in 2012. The Central Elections Commission (CEC) has 10 days to finalise the votes.

Source : Russia Today

Wits University to host the first ever Public Diplomacy Conference in Africa

Wits University’s new African Centre for the Study of the United States is collaborating with the Center on Public Diplomacy based at the University of Southern California for the first ever public diplomacy conference in Africa.

The conference aims to serve as a launch of the first Public Diplomacy Project in Africa and develop a vision and mission for the project. Stakeholders include Brand South Africa, University of Southern California, USA, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the Washington DC-based Public Diplomacy Council, The United States Embassy in South Africa, Global Ties Network (US and South Africa).

Confirmed speakers include: Prof Jay Wang, Director, Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California; Prof Nicholas Cull, Director, Public Diplomacy Program, University of Southern California; Dr Carlton McLellan, Founding Director, Global Ties South Africa and Senior Advisor, Global Ties US; Prof Adam Clayton Powell III, President, Public Diplomacy Council of the United States; Prof Gilbert Khadiagala, Director, ACSUS; Mr Clayson Monyela, Head of Public Diplomacy, DIRCO.

Date: 10 March 2018 
Time: 8.00am – 4.30pm 
Venue: Wits Club, Wits University West Campus

Secure the base: decolonise the mind

When Professor Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o delivered his speech on decolonising the mind in Johannesurg, South Africa, his message ignited much needed dialogue. We decided to share an excerpt from the moving speech so that dialogue continues beyond the borders of South Africa.

“So along with the economic and political empires, Europe simultaneously and consciously created empires of the mind through language ideologies and practices, empires in tune with their world view and practical needs.

They gave us their accents in exchange for their access to our resources. Or let me put it this way: Europe gave Africa
the resources of their accent; Africa gave Europe access to the resources of the continent. So when African intellectuals and leadership were busy perfecting their borrowed accents, Europe and the West were busy sharpening their instruments for access to the resources of the continent. Accents for Access: that, unfortunately, is the story of post-colonial Africa.

Has the metaphysical empire, or the empire of the mind, outlived the physical empire as envisioned by the advocates of the language spread? Metaphysical empires create colonies of the mind. The success of the empires of the mind, and their product, colonies of the mind, can be seen in the very defenders of the dominance of European languages over those of areas and regions outside Europe. In Africa today, the defenders are African intellectuals and policy makers.
ome of them act as if it is the English whose existence is being threatened by African languages: African languages interfere with the English accent.

Again, this is not new or unique to Africa. The defenders of English and arguments in favour of its dominance, come from the intellectual of the colonised periphery as a whole. In the case of English, this phenomenon first manifested itself in England’s Northern neighbour, Scotland. The eminent intellectuals of the 18th century Scottish enlightenment, Hume, Smith, et al waxed ecstatic about standardisation of English and its virtues for national formation and even as an imperial export.

But even among the Irish the greatest defenders of the language were latter-day Irish intellectuals.
Of course there is nothing wrong in wanting to take English or any other language as one’s own. I have always argued that each language, big or small, has its unique musicality; there is no language, whose musicality and cognitive potential, is inherently better than another.

African languages with all their different and unique musicalities are still in everyday use. What seems to horrify these intellectuals, the policy makers and the international financial services behind them, is the call for vigorous literary intellectual and eve scholarly reflection of that reality. Availability of more information, more knowledge, more skills in those languages otherwise in daily oral use will break up the nation. But the concentration of the same in English or French will somehow cement the nation. The result: pamper European languages; pauperise African languages. The entire African language speaking majorities are taxed directly or indirectly so that 90 percent of the resources available for language education can go to groom English accents. In some countries, African languages have been unceremoniously axed out of the curriculum or made into electives.

Some advocates of English dominance not only want it so but would actually like to see the literary disappearance of native languages altogether.

The explanation of this desire, death wish for one’s own language and the simultaneous categorical embrace of the dominant other, has to go beyond the uses or not of the languages in question. It probably lies in how that sense of dominance was brought about.

A common thread in the export of English in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and Africa was the constant association of extreme humiliation and negativity with native languages and the corresponding value and prestige associated with English in colonial education factories.

Corporal punishment, physical violence, was often meted to children caught speaking mother tongues in the school compounds, and additionally, made to perform acts of shame like carrying objects that proclaimed their stupidity or made to swallow filth in some cases. One set of languages was associated with defeat, shame, incoherence, savagery even, and the other, with modernity and science, with the human and conquest.

No wonder people would want to bask in the sunshine of the language of glory and hide
from those of shame and defeat.”

The full version of this article first appeared in issue 4 of BRICS Journal, as part of our partnership with The National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

BRICS Sherpas meet in Cape Town

The BRICS Sherpas and Sous Sherpas meeting gets underway in Cape Town this morning.
This will be the first official meeting on the BRICS calendar under the auspices of South Africa’s chairship which it assumed in January.

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Nomaindiya Mfeketo, will deliver opening remarks at the meeting.

“The meeting will discuss the working arrangements for BRICS in 2018. South Africa, as the host country for the BRICS 2018 Summit, will present its chairship priorities to its partners,” DIRCO said.

South Africa is scheduled to host the 10th BRICS summit from 25 – 27 July at the Sandton Convention Centre, which will see South Africa building on the BRICS programme of development and prosperity for partner countries.
The five BRICS countries account for 26 percent of the world’s landmass and are home to 43 percent of the world’s population. The bloc is composed of emerging markets and the developing world.

There has been substantive progress achieved since South Africa joined BRICS in 2011, as seen for example in the launch of the Africa Regional Centre of the New Development Bank (NDB) in South Africa.

The formation has strengthened its cooperative mechanism for institutional development, most notably witnessed in the creation of the New Development Bank and the recently launched Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg.
In 2015, total intra-BRICS trade amounted to R3.06 trillion.

South Africa’s exports to BRICS countries marginally increased from R123 billion in 2011 to R138.2 billion in 2016, while in the same period, imports from BRICS countries also increased from R115 billion to R230 billion.
Total Intra-BRICS FDI was R554 trillion at the end of February 2016.

– SAnews.gov.za