Deputy Minister Landers to deliver Public Lecture on SA’s UN Security Council agenda

The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Luwellyn Landers, will deliver a Public Lecture focussing on the priorities identified by South Africa for its two-year tenure in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Organised in partnership with the Southern African Liaison Office (SALO), the public lecture will be held in Cape Town on Friday, 22 February 2019. 

It is expected that Deputy Minister Landers will contextualise South Africa’s work in the UNSC within the framework of the country’s broader foreign policy mission, i.e. “an African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which aspires to a world that is just and equitable.”

The event forms part of a series of other public platforms through which the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) takes South Africa’s foreign policy to the people. Accordingly, amongst those invited to the Public Lecture are representatives of community organisations, NGOs, think tanks, the academia and foreign diplomatic missions.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

Venezuelan Crisis deepens as President Maduro blocks US aid

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is holding strong by blocking US aid from entering the country, Maduro has claimed that US Aid is the vehicle the United States uses to in act regime changes. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido has called for people fight for humanitarian aid to enter the country.

Venezuela is current in an economic spiral downwards which has caused many Venezuelans to either leave the country or stay and suffer from lack of public services and food shortages. Guaido has said President Maduro is disconnected from the people, while Maduro has called Guaido an agent of the US in creating a coupe.

The US President Donald Trump has supported and recognized Guaido as interim president of Venezuela though un-elected. So far all aid is being held up in neighbouring countries Colombia and Brazil, Brazilian presidential spoke person has said Brazil will deliver humanitarian aid with despite President Maduro according to bbc.com.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

Three Months of the France Yellow vest movement

 

(Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)

What started off as an economic and political grievance has morphed into a massive protest, where the yellow vest has become unsightly for French President Emmanuel Macron. The yellow vest movement began 17 November 2018 and has held steady into 2019 it is now in its 14th week and looks only to continue as President Macron has only managed to escalate tensions. 

Initially, the protestors only wanted an undoing of the new governmental tax reforms as well as the burdening increases in fuel and cost of living. However, the protestors were met with riot police, water cannons, and teargas. With Macron holding steady on tax reform and fuel increases as pressure mounted.

The yellow vest protestors by 4 December, were calling for President Macron resignation. Macron attempted to quell the fires by announcing that fuel increases would not happen and new tax reform would be put on hold.
The yellow vest movement, unfortunately, has become very violent with many French citizens have lost eyes and hands from rubber bullets and stun grenades due to the brutality of the police. The police have also suffered injuries from the continuing protest with throwing rocks.

President Macron may be losing standing as the number of injured citizens continues to increase and other rival political parties and European leaders like Italian deputy prime minister Di Maio, siding with the yellow vests.

 

By Mokgethi Mtezuka

SA to host EU-SADC joint council

South Africa will on Tuesday host the first European Union (EU) – Southern African Development Community (SADC) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) joint council meeting.

The meeting which will be held in Cape Town will provide an opportunity for the ministers of the SADC EPA states and the EU to discuss the state of play in the trade between the parties and how the EPA can contribute to inclusive and sustainable development.

The ministers will also consider a number of procedural issues such as the approval of the rules of procedure of the various committees created to oversee the implementation of the EPA, said Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

“The core objective of the SADC EPA Group and EU’s joint efforts in implementing the agreement must be to ensure that the EPA enables sustainable development in the SADC EPA states through changing the structure of trade, including the fundamental structural imbalance in the trade between the parties, and promote enhance value-added trade,” says Davies.
South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, and Namibia signed the EPA that has been negotiated with the EU in June 2016.

The EPA provisionally entered into force on 10 October 2016 – replaced the trade chapter in the Trade Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between SA and the EU that entered into force in 2000.

Through the EPA, South Africa gained improved market access into the EU for agricultural products such as wine, sugar, ethanol, and fruit, as well as for fisheries. SA exports to the EU have increased from R214 billion in 2015 to R262 billion in 2017.

Davis says SA exports to the EU are led by vehicles which contributed 26% of the country’s total exports to the EU in 2017.

This is followed by precious stones and metals, nuclear reactors, edible fruit and nuts and ores, slag and ash which contributed 17%, 8%, 8%, and 7% respectively in the same year.

“Although South Africa has managed to increase exports of value-added products to the EU, thus contributing to South Africa’s industrial development objectives, there is still a need for further improvement in changing the structure of trade,” said Davies.

– SAnews.gov.za

Belarus President: We are ready to merge with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) shakes hands with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko as they meet each other in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on August 22, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / SPUTNIK / Alexey NIKOLSKY

Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko announced after a three-day bilateral meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin, that Belarus is ready to merge with Russia. Russia could incorporate Belarus in a similar fashion to how they absorbed Crimea.

The Russia-Belarus merger is expected to happen before 2024, as Lukashenko said that Belarussians are ready for the union as both state and people are ready to consolidate effort together.

Russia president Vladimir Putin noted that completely independent states do not exist in the world, as many countries are dependent on their neighbors.

Both President Putin and Lukashenko have welcomed the idea of unification as this will create a new state and new map for both Russia and Belarus.

Source: themoscowtimes.com

India and Russia to discuss military cooperation

Image Source: Financial Express

Russia and India are expected to discuss military cooperation during India’s Aero Show 2019 says an official of the Russian State conglomerate Rostec, Viktor Kladov. The India Aero show 2019 will run from 20 February to 24 in Banglore.

Russia is looking to make clear the final technical issues of the project to produce Russian Ka-226T helicopters in India, said Kladov, Rostec’s director for international cooperation and regional policy. Russia expects to sign a contract with India.

Indo-Russian helicopters, a joint venture was registered in India, in May 2017 and will be located near Banglore.


Source: Xinhua 

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams leading South Africa to digital transformation

Speaking to Africa-Europe high-level panel on digitisation in Austria the newly appointed minister expressed the following words:

“African countries may also want to discuss at the intergovernmental level, issues of internet governance, cybersecurity, and the new emerging technologies that impact our people; and as such, we hold a stern view that this should not just be a discussion limited to developed countries.”

Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams was appointed Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services in March 2017. Between October 2011 and March 2017, Ndabeni-Abrahams served as the Deputy Minister of Communications. 

At the time, in 2011, she was the youngest minister in former president Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet at the age of 34. From 1990 to 1994 she served as a member of the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) in East London before becoming a member of its national executive committee from 2008 to 2010. 

She is also a member of the African National Congress Eastern Cape provincial executive committee.  In November, she was sworn in as Ministers of Communications and she will also oversee the Department of Telecommunications after South African president Ramaphosa announced changes to his Cabinet.

Full Article in BRICS Journal Print Issue 7

South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation issues a statement on US, UK and Germany memorandum

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) notes with disappointment the dispatching of a Memorandum to the Office of The Presidency by the Embassies of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland. This is a departure from established diplomatic practice.

In terms of acceptable diplomatic practice, protocol and convention, diplomatic missions are expected to communicate to the receiving state by means of a note verbale (diplomatic note) conveyed through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. All embassies, regional and international organisations accredited to South Africa are aware of this protocol and universal norm. South African diplomatic missions abroad consistently observe this protocol by directing official communication to the respective foreign ministries in the countries of accreditation.

The South African government is intensifying its efforts to deepen and expand economic relations with a number of countries around the world, and is pleased with the enthusiastic response its efforts have yielded thus far. All matters that have been raised by investors are being addressed by the respective clusters of our government. We are satisfied that all the branches of our democratic state, including state agencies, are vigorously pursuing their respective mandates to address our current challenges.

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, has instructed the Department to demarche the concerned Ambassadors with a view to discussing substantive matters contained in their correspondence, and to reiterate acceptable protocol in addressing such matters.

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation would like to remind all diplomatic missions accredited to South Africa to address official correspondence through the appropriate diplomatic channels.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

THE NEW PRESIDENCY OF BRAZIL AND THE UPCOMING CHALLENGES

Brazil enters a new phase of politics since it democratized itself again in 1985, after 21 years of a military dictatorship that had been stimulated by Operation Condor, from the United States of America, and that influenced the directions of all of Latin America. Jair Bolsonaro represents a jump in the dark because, in addition to a much below average parliamentary career, was elected under a strong scheme of fake news illegally funded by enterprises throughout social media.

Even before the start of 2018 election campaign, Bolsonaro gained notoriety for exposing a line of reasoning completely out of modern world’s reality. He spoke against the brazilian black people on several occasions, against women, against the LGBT population. He positioned himself in favour of innocent death in wars, methods of torture, cursing women reporters and parliamentarians in front of the cameras. He honored the main torturer of the military dictatorship political police several times.

Curiously, after all Bolsonaro was elected without attending the traditional presidential debates, only by the force of the fake news and the algorithm manipulation in the social networks. This makes it very difficult to know what to expect from the next government. Bolsonaro, however, gave some rather significant signals about the political course that Brazil is expected to follow in the next few years. During campaign he had salute the US flag and promise to deliver natural resources and military strategical structures to the Americans.

A few days after elected, Bolsonaro continues to demonstrate his inability to gauge the consequences of his speeches and generates negative repercussions worldwide. He has already announced the end of the ministry of labor, the intention to charge monthly fees at public universities, to create distance learning schools over the internet, and to give police forces freepass to kill. He announced on facebook the persecution of teachers, student organizations and even the press who opposed the new government.

In international politics it has not been different. He has already spoken against Mercosur, the common market of South American countries that is important for regional development, against China that is the main commercial partner of Brazil, showed signs of distancing from the BRICS cooperation initiative and announced the change of the Brazilian embassy in Israel, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Recent announcements have created tensions in Brazil’s diplomatic relations with South America, the European Union, BRICS and the Arab countries.

There is also a delicate issue that is unfolding on the border with Venezuela. NATO sends troops to Colombia, while the United States military, in addition to donating tanks to the Brazilian army, carries out unprecedented military exercises in Brazilian territory, near Venezuela. Donald Trump is airing the possibility of military intervention in the Bolivarian Republic and one of Bolsonaro’s son, who is a federal deputy, has already spoken openly about the war with Venezuela. In other words, due to the 2018 election, there is a more favorable conjunctural alignment for military aggression against Nicolas Maduro.

So, what is expected for the upcoming years is a Brazil, once again, on its knees before the traditional western politics, the withdrawal of historical rights won through the workers’ struggle and a substantial surrender of the national patrimony to foreign interests and of the public patrimony to the greedy private initiative that wants to increase the rates of profit by suppressing the Brazilian people’s dignity. There was a complete reversal of the role that Brazil had been ready to fulfill in recent years.

The Brazilian people are facing a new moment of struggle for sovereignty, self-determination and the maintenance of peace. A new moment of resistance begins for the consolidation of a multipolar world where Brazil can fulfill the active role that has always fulfilled in the articulation of the new world.

By Henrique Domingues

Russian warns against military intervention in Venezuela

 

Russia has warned the USA against any military action on Venezuela, this comes after the US called newly sworn in President Nicolas Maduro illegitimate and recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the interim president of Venezuela.

According to CNN.com Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabko warned not just the US but everyone against any military action on Venezuela as this could lead to far deeper devastation then the current economic crisis facing the country.

President Nicolas Maduro also hit back given all USA dignitaries 72 hours to leave Venezuela and calling Juan Guaido attempt to declare himself president equal to a Coup. The Venezuelan military has also sworn its allegiance to Nicolas Maduro, leaving Guaido with little bargaining power.

Former US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also warned US leaders against intervening militarily in Venezuela, sighting previous US led regime change in Latin America as causing more problems than they solved and tarnishing US credibility as reported by Sputnik International.

By Mokgethi Mtezuka