Foreign Nationals a priority as Marabastad Refugee Centre relaunches

President Jacob Zuma will undertake a return visit to Marabastad in Pretoria, to launch the revamped Marabastad Refugee Reception Office Renovation Project, on Friday 17 February 2017.

In the 2016 State of the Nation Address, President Zuma reported that he had visited the Home Affairs offices at Marabastad and had received complaints from foreign nationals about long queues and other difficulties at the centre. He made an undertaking that the matter would be followed up by the Department of Home Affairs, and indeed the Centre has been upgraded.

The challenges experienced at Marabastad included limited human resource capacity, slow information technology infrastructure, inadequate filing systems, poor management practices and a working environment not conducive for clients and staff. The centre was also marred by allegations of corruption, long queues, overcrowding and the presence of criminal syndicates.

The centre has been refurbished with new signage, counters and lighting, the installation of a new security system and electrical fencing. Other key interventions include the introduction of new systems and processes such as an automated booking system and paperless processes, off-site interpretation services, an improved registry and filing system and continuous engagement with stakeholders.

The President will first tour and attend the re-naming ceremony of the Marabastad Refugee Reception Centre and later give a keynote address at the Tshwane Events Centre in Pretoria.

The details of the launch are as follows:

Date: Friday, 17 February 2017
Time: 10h00
Venue: Marabastad Refugee Reception Centre, Pretoria (Relaunch and Tour of the Centre)

Time: 11h00
Venue: Tshwane Events Centre, Pretoria (Formal programme)

Enquiries: Dr Bongani Ngqulunga 082 308 9373 or

SA to increase agricultural exports to BRICS nations, says Zuma

During the State of the Nation Address held at Parliament on Thursday 8 February 2017, President Jacob Zuma said that the country will increase its export of agricultural products with BRICS partners over the next few years.

He said the decision follows the agreements reached with the BRICS nations.

“We will implement agreements on the export of pulses, mangos and pork to India. We will also export twenty thousand tons of beef to China per year for a period of 10 years,” said Zuma.

He added that the country would continue to pursue the reform of the international system as the current system undermines the ability of developing countries to contribute and benefit meaningfully.

“Our cooperative partnerships with other regions are bearing fruits. The BRICS New Development Bank has recorded encouraging progress,” he said.

Zuma also welcomed the decision to establish the BRICS Credit Rating Agency taken at the 8th BRICS Summit held in Goa, India in October last year. He said the BRICS Credit Rating Agency would ensure that countries can
assist each other in assessing their own economic paths instead of depending on rating agencies outside of the BRICS block. Earlier this week, Quartz India reported that BRICS nations were forging ahead with the agency as they have started engaging with financial experts about the agency’s model and methodology.

Meanwhile China has revealed that it plans to reform the agricultural sector to improve the lives of people in rural areas by 2020. Shangai Daily reported that the country plans to improve structures in the agricultural sector, promote green production and encourages innovation amongst others.

– Image: BuzzSouthAfrica

BRICS Bank prioritises raising funds for infrastructure

SABC News reports that the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS members) New Development Bank (NDB) has its sights on raising 2.5 billion US Dollars within the next year, to put money behind infrastructure projects.

The 8th BRICS Leaders Summit took place at the Indian south west resort of Goa this past weekend (12-14 October) where President Jacob Zuma joined leaders of India (Prime Minister Narendra Modi), Brazil (President Dilma Rousseff), Russia (President Vladimir Putin) and China (President Xi Jinping) for the gathering.

The main aim behind the establishment of The BRICS New Development Bank was to assemble resources that would enable infrastructure for development projects in BRICS member countries.

The BRICS New Development Bank has been described by economists as a “game changer” in the evolution of financing, as well as a tool to “rebalance the global order with respect to development finance”.  The bank’s founding members have pledged to sow 100 billion US dollar capital base into the bank, China being the single largest contributor.

While many eyebrows have been raised about its existence, the bank believes that it is not  a substitute for the established multinational institutions, e.g the World Bank, African Development Bank, Asian Development Bank or the Development Bank of Latin America. Instead, Leslie Maasdorp, Deputy Chairperson of the New Development Bank says the NDB will work hand in hand with institutions already established.

“So we have got structured partnership with multinational banks and there is so much we can learn from these institutions. We were not set up to compete with these institutions but we can learn from them. It has been an exciting year but there are challenges ahead,” Maasdorp told SABC News.

The bank (headquartered in Shanghai, China) has already secured a rating from local rating agencies in addition to raising capital through the bond market and will also look to the private sector for resources into infrastructure development. The Chairperson of the Indian Chapter of the BRICS Business Council, Onkar Kanwar said: “Agriculture and energy are priority area of cooperation of our economies.  We should also collaborate in developing energy efficiency technologies.”

The bank’s Africa Regional Centre will be headquartered in Johannesburg within the first quarter of 2017. “Our Africa Regional Centre is expected to open this quarter and I assure President Zuma that it will work with the objectives he articulated. We are targeting lending of about 2-point-5 billion US dollars for the next year.  Providing local currency financing minimises currency risk for our members,” says President of the BRICS New Development Bank Kundapur Kamath.

All the BRICS leaders are in full support of the bank, looking at it as a reliable tool to strengthen business opportunities, build investments and promote innovation and growth.

-SABC News