SA elected to United Nations Security council

It’s official, South Africa has earned a seat on the United Nations Security Council. Voting  took place at the UN head office in New York today, where South Africa earned a seat as a non-permanent member of the UN council.

Being elected for the third time, South Africa is the only African country as part the council. This is a new dawn for both South Africa and Africa ahead of the government elections in 2019. In her new term as the Foreign Minister of South Africa, LindiweSisulu has a big task ensuring that the African Union and BRICS policies are upheld.


EU Wants Exemption from Iran Sanctions.

The EU is insisting that the Trump administration exempt EU Business from the sanctions it plans to impose on Iran. This comes after Trump pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. Leaders from the UK, France and Germany with the EU foreign Policy Chief, Federica Mogherini have signed a letter written to the USA requesting they exempt European companies operating in Iran.

The letter which was dated the 4th of June addressed to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asks for trade between EU and Iran to be spared from sanctios. It also states the disappointment over President Trump’s withdrawal from the deal. The letter also goes on to state that the agreement established with the Obama administration was meant to discourage the Iranians from developing or obtaining a nuclear weapon. That European business operating legally under international law should not suffer as a result of USA decision to withdraw.

The letter also has a list of demands which includes: exemption of all European companies that have started or are already operated in Iran, giving confirmation of places where businesses can operate or are free from sanctions like the health sector and exemption of financial institutions from the EU to continue working with the Iran Central bank. The US on the other hand has been admit of EU and international community be compliance to new sanctions.


Jordan’s New Prime Minister

Jordanian King Abdullah II, appoints Omar al-Razzaz as the new Prime Minister of Jordan. This comes just days after former Prime Minister Hani al-Mulki resigned. After angry protesters demanded his resignation after price increases and new incoming tax reform bill.

King Abdullah has tasked Omar al-Razzaz to form a new government and also review the tax system, stating the new suggested tax law should be further debated by civil society and unions. Al-Razzaz, who previously worked at the World Bank as an economist has also served as the Jordanian Education Minister. The king also noted on the Royal Twitter account that the increased regional tension and drop in international aid has resulted in the current crisis.

Lack of access to traditional markets and high cost of border security is making Jordan fall short on the national budget and created economic difficulties for the Middle East country. The tax bill would have increased the burden on Jordan’s middle class and poor specifically. Protestors are still calling for more transparency and an overall in government policies.


Operation: First Carrier Strike Group, China’s Navy Moves to elite level

China’s navy has made another step in solidifying itself as a major naval force. This week the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) aircraft carrier reached initial operational capabilities named the Liaoning aircraft carrier.

China has been steadily growing its navy with new ships being produced at an impressive pace. While the Liaoning, built from a Russian Soviet-era hull, has been in use for several years. It’s mostly been involved in training exercises and only this week came into combat readiness. It’s a comprehensive system of offense and defense that has now been effectively tested.

The Type 001A is another aircraft carrier completely built in China, is slated to join the fleet but is still in the testing phase. The Chinese government has suggested, it may developing six carriers to complete its fleet.  Six aircraft carrier is seen as efficient enough to advance China’s regional interests and help deal with emergencies on several fronts.

There’s no exact number of carriers china is planning to build but it stated it has no interest in having the same number of carriers as the United States.


Iran seeks commitment from EU for nuclear deal

Iran is looking to get a more solid commitment from the EU’s standing on the nuclear deal. Businesses and trade contracts already underway are worth millions, with both Iran and EU standing to lose big, not forgetting employment created from these contracts. With the USA President Donald Trump pulling out of the nuclear deal, Iran might have no other choice but to start enrichment of uranium again, in order to protect itself and its interests. 

The government of the Islamic Republic of Iran on Monday informed the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that it will be reactivating its processing of uranium enrichment as a safe guard if the European Union is unable to keep the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) alive. The United States not only broke out of the deal meant to foster peace in the region, but also imposed new sanctions on Iran which will come into effect by November.

Trump has also threatened to sanction European companies still doing business with Iran. The Atomic Energy Agency of Iran, stated that the output of the new enrichment of uranium, will still be within limits set by the 2015 nuclear deal. According to JCPOA, Iran is only allowed a uranium enrichment output of 3.67 percent, a level insufficient to produce a thermonuclear weapons but enough to generate electricity for its citizens. Iran is looking for definitive assertion from the EU that businesses, trade deals and citizens will be protected and it too won’t start sanctioning Iran.

Many European companies are also looking for European Government protection against sanctions (as many of these companies may have US shareholders and Dollar still used in settlements), before they can full commit to Iranian Deals. The Iran Government feels the EU may just be supplementing rhetoric for decisiveness. If there is no clear direction on the part of the EU, in terms of the continuation of JCPOA, Iran will have no other choice but to
build back up its nuclear program.

Some European companies have already started pulling out of business deals with Iran, French automaker PSA suspended two signed deals with Iran Automakers, Khodro and Saipo to comply with US sanctions. Many Iranians today view the Trump administration as being far worse than the Bush administration that start the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars.


Putin’s New Bill to Counters US Sanctions

After the lower house passed the new bill in May, Russian President Vladimir Putin today signed off on new measures, designed to protect Russia from United State and its allies, Impeding on Russian interest, security and sovereignty. Coming into immediate effect upon signing, this new bill aims to negate USA unwarranted actions and preserving Russia territorial integrity, political and economic stability.

In April, Washington launched new political and economic sanctions against Russia, its citizens and its businesses. American sanctions targeted, lawmakers, senior government official, business owners and private to state owned companies. This new round of sanction threatens US-Russia bilateral relation and is harmful to thousands of Russian citizens. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated that Russia has every right to respond in kind and to look into renegotiation of trade deals.


SADC Grows as Comoros Joins the Southern African Bloc

The Union of the Comoros (a former French colony), on the 25th of May announced it will be joining The Southern African Development Community (SADC), which will be made Official at the Annual SADC Summit hosted by Namibia in August this year. The French speaking archipelago’s goal in joining SADC is to branch out, to do more business and trade with more English speaking nations.

Comoros, which is known for being one of the most impoverished countries in the world, is already a part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), is made up of three islands in the Indian Ocean near the North East of Mozambique and its economy is mainly dominated by primary sector production, like agriculture, fishing, forestry and hunting.

Comoros will become the 16th member state of SADC. Foreign Minister Mohamed Elamine Souef of Comoros said the reason in joining is that SADC had nothing to do with resent disagreement with France over the disputed island of Mayotte and the ending of French Visa’s to Comoros citizens.


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, 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.


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.