Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa, Media Briefing by the Director General, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba at the Union Buildings on 2009-08-31 at 13:30
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Thank you. First of all, apologies colleagues that we are running a bit late.
1. 9th SADC SUMMIT, KINSHASA, 07 -08 SEPTEMBER 2009.
Let me start with the SADC Summit. As you know there is a Summit that is taking place. South Africa would be handing over the chair to the DRC. The officials' meeting starts from the 2nd to the 4th. On the 5th and the 6th is the Ministerial and the actual Summit is actually going to take place on the 7th and that 8th.
It is going to be a very important Summit. First of all, important for South Africa because in a sense we will have to give a bit of an account of what happened during our chairship. Also important because it will give an opportunity for the DRC in a sense to lead our regional organization and I think it is going to be an important occasion for the DRC.
South Africa will, of course, continue as part of the troika. So, as the outgoing chair we will continue and so we will work very closely with the DRC and, of course, during the summit, there will be a determination of which country will chair in the coming years, which will then be the part of that third leg of the troika.
Now, in terms of the agenda items. I think firstly is that there would be an appointment of the new Executive Secretary and Deputy Executive Secretaries of SADC. And on the Deputy Executive Secretary, you will recall that SADC, as part of the importance that we attach to the issue of regional integration, took a decision that under the Executive Secretary there must be two Deputy Executive Secretaries, one dealing with finance and administration and one to focus on regional integration. So, all those three positions will be filled.
From the information that we have there was contestation for the positions of the Deputy Executive Secretaries and we will see how that will pan out at the end of this meeting. It does not seem that there is going to be much contestation for the position of the Executive Secretary, but of course, that is going to be a decision for the Heads of States to make.
Just to say, whilst I am on that, that the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane, will chair on the 4th September, the Panel, the Ministerial Panel that will then do the interviews and take decisions on the Deputy Executive Secretaries, and she will do that in her capacity, of course, as the Chair of Council of the SADC.
The second important area that will be covered is that there will be a reflection on the Report of the Ministerial Task Force on Regional Economic Integration. You will recall that there was a meeting of the Task Force that was here in Johannesburg on the 31st of July, 2009. And the work of the Task Force will also, of course, relate to the issues around the global financial crisis and how the region responds to that, the status of the implementation of the SADC FTA, the issues around the Customs Union and the issues around the implementation within the SADC of the decision that came out of the SADC-COMESA East Africa community meeting.
Suffice to say on this issue that we have reported previously that we were very encouraged by the outcomes of the Task Force meeting that took place on the 31st of July. In particular, we thought that the focus looking particularly at the increasing of the productive capacity within the region, as a way to promote regional integration, is very important. We expect also that there would be a bit of a discussion around this target date of 2010 of the Customs Union.
As I say, we have been encouraged that more countries are realising that perhaps the bigger focus should be not so much on the declaration of the date for the Customs Union per se, because quite clearly it is a date that is difficult to achieve. We have always argued that, we have always said that we have worked very hard to try and meet whatever deadlines are set, but this is going to be a tough call.
But rather to focus on very concrete things about building infrastructure, helping with the industrialization in the region, so that by the time you remove the tariff walls, in effect, there is a scope for people to trade. So, we think it is those issues that will come out in that discussion. I must say that in that discussion also, we hope we will also help look at the issue of the regional integration and this was the encouraging thing in the meeting of the 31st of July, with a strong focus on the developmental content of the regional integration. Because we are talking about integration towards some sort of objective, which is to advance development in the region. So, we expect that that is going to be an exciting discussion.
There will be a discussion of the Report that will be given on the Ministerial Committee of the organ and this, of course, the Report of the organ may well be presented by King Mswati, the Chair of the organ. And here, needless to say, generally the appraisal I am sure will come that we continue to enjoy peace and stability in the region by and large, that we had the elections that have taken place. We have got interesting elections that are coming up in Botswana and Namibia and possibly presidential elections in Angola sometime next year. So, the process of regular elections is quite well established in the region.
But, of course, there are some areas that have been areas of focus for the SADC and I am sure that the report of the organ will in a sense stimulate discussion in those areas, in four particular areas.
One is, of course, the report of the mediation and facilitation process by the former President of Botswana, President Masire, that is with respect to Lesotho. We expect also that there will be a discussion with respect to further developments in the DRC, particularly the situation in the East. And we also expect that there will be discussions on some sort of progress report preview, if you may, of the situation in Zimbabwe, bearing in mind that, of course, the discussions that took place here in January were under the auspices of the SADC. And so this is a succession (not audible) of the Summit of the SADC.
So, we expect some discussion. The form and the nature of that discussion I think are not clear yet. And then, of course, we would expect that the special facilitator for the Madagascar situation, President Chisano, will table a report on the progress with respect to that.
There would be other issues around food security in the region, about health measures that are being taken in the region, perhaps to deal with the issue of communicable diseases. And, of course, South Africa would also give some sort of progress report on the preparations for 2010.
So, by and large, we expect it to be essentially quite a vibrant Summit. And from all indications that we have, is that the preparations are in place in Kinshasa.
2. IBSA TRILATERAL MINISTERIAL COMMISSION, 31 AUGUST – 01 SEPTEMBER 2009.
The second area that I would like to cover is just to indicate that the Minister, Minister Nkoana Mashabane, is in Brazil as we speak, having left yesterday for a meeting, a trilateral meeting, the Ministerial of IBSA, that is hosted by her counterpart, Celso Amorim , the Minister of External Relations of Brazil. Also attending the meeting is the Minister of External Relations of India, S M Krishna.
Essentially the meeting in Brazil, we expect it to focus on the following three issues, in particular, especially in the context of the global economic crisis, to exchange ideas about how to strengthen the system of global governance. And all three countries are participants in the G20. There are discussions about the issues and concerns about the progress on the WTO. And, of course, as you know, the General Assembly has started some sort of process of looking at the process of the reform.
Then, of course, a very heated discussion in the context of the global economic crisis is over the reform of the Bretton Woods institutions and would expect the countries to exchange ideas. And, of course, one of the items on the agenda is the issue of climate change, to compare notes, basically, as we prepare for Copenhagen.
We would also expect that there would be some discussion looking at how to create synergies between IBSA and BRIC, given the participation of both India and Brazil in the BRIC formation.
Now, of course, there will be political issues. We know that there will be, obviously, the Brazilians would want to share perspectives on the situation in Bolivia and also in Honduras in particular. Then there are the issues in the Middle East that are of concern to all three countries. And as you know, IBSA has taken a decision sometime back to engage as IBSA, in the humanitarian efforts in Palestine. And I am sure also that they would be interest in the issue that is happening here in the region and I am sure it would be fair to say Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Sudan would be issues that would be looked at.
Now, just bear in mind that there would be a review of all the agreements that had been signed, the implementation of those agreements, the implementation of frameworks for improving trade, given the decision that was taken in New Delhi by the Heads of States to increase trilateral trade to US$25 billion amongst the three countries by 2015. So there will be a lot of a review of that.
And then, finally, then just to say on IBSA, and that this will be in preparation of the Summit of IBSA, which Brazil is going to host. The Summit level is on the 8th of October, but of course, the meetings at ministerial level will start on the 6th of October. So this meeting would be partly in preparation for that.
3. PRESIDENT ZUMA’S RECENT VISIT TO ZIMBABWE, 27-28 AUGUST 2009.
The third point, which I am not going to spend that much time on, because you have obviously followed the visit of the President to Zimbabwe, and you have followed the statements that he had made, the press communiqué that was released. And, as I said, there would be far more detailed, perhaps a review of this in Kinshasa, safe to say that we would continue to reiterate that we are encouraged by, quite clearly, the clearest signs of a some sort of recovery in Zimbabwe.
We are also encouraged by the fact that the inclusive government is still holding. We hold the view that everything necessary should be done to make sure that the global political agreement is implemented fully and without delay and that it is important to continue to address some of the areas of disagreement, because that is necessary to build the confidence of the international community, and that in turn is very important to make sure that people can fully support Zimbabwe on this path to reconstruction.
So, as I said then, apart from that, obviously, the President was briefed, as you know, had one-on-one with all the three parties to the global political agreement and had a meeting with all the three principals. And I am sure he would be ready to make his input about his impressions in detail if and when this issue arises in the context of the SADC Summit.
4. SOUTH AFRICA – EUROPEAN UNION SUMMIT, 11 SEPTEMBER 2009.
An important meeting that we would also be holding, and this is the 4th point I would like to come to, is really the meeting that is going to take place in Kleinmond, the South Africa-EU Summit.
Maybe just to say and to contextualize the importance of this. This is going to be a meeting between South Africa and the EU. You know that the EU is the world's largest trading bloc and generates about 30% of global GDP. We also know that this is a very important trading partner for South Africa and since we signed and started implementing the TDCA, we have seen the volumes of bilateral trade between the EU and South Africa moving from about R56,5 billion in 1994 to the current R313 billion in 2007. We also know that South Africa's exports to the EU amounted in 2007 to R252,6 billion. We know that the EU is the biggest source of foreign direct investment in South Africa and is also the biggest source of overseas development assistance, and we have spoken about this before.
So, just to put it in context, that is how important the EU is to us. Now, in terms of the partnership with the EU, sometime back, you will recall that there was a discussion with the EU that we should take our relationship beyond the mere implementation of the TDCA, and established what we called then the strategic partnership. And the strategic partnership then implied that the EU would conduct these relations with South Africa more or less along the same lines that it has established with such important partners as Russia, China and India, amongst others, and that the first Summit was held in Bordeaux on the 25th of July, 2008.
And so, this would be the first time that, at Summit level, we will be hosting the EU here. Needless to say, the South African delegation at Summit, of course, will be led by the President and he will be assisted by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Minister Sonjica, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Rob Davis, and the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel.
And, as you can pick up from the delegation from the South African side, the issues of climate change, the issues of the global financial crisis, the current discussions and problems that we have had with the EPA (Economic partnership agreements) negotiations, and then, of course, political issues will be on the agenda. Of course we will also use the opportunity to review the implementation of the strategic partnership between South Africa and the EU.
An important part of this meeting will be the signing of basically the amendment to the TDCA. Essentially what has happened now is that they are about 35 new articles which had been negotiated to beef up the areas of cooperation with the EU. And this covers such areas as customs and revenue services, communications and things like that. So, which again shows the scope of the areas of interaction between South Africa and the EU. And so, they will be a signing of that agreement and the signing will be by the Minister of International Relations.
Now, the EU side we expect that the delegation will be led by the Prime Minister of Sweden, who is currently the rotating President of the EU. We expect that the President of the European Commission, Manuel Barosso, may attend. There may be a clash with him with respect to some of the issues related to his reappointment as the President of the European Commission and it looks like there may be some things in the European Parliament, but this would become clearer as we move on. We expect that Xavier Solana, the Secretary-General of the Council of Higher Representative will also be here. And we expect, of course, the President of Sweden to come with the Minister of the European Commission for Development, the former Foreign Minister of Belgium, who will also be part of the delegation. And, of course, the Prime Minister of Sweden will be accompanied by two ministers, including the Minister of Development.
So, we expect then to have quite a significant meeting and this will be in Kleinmond in the Western Cape. Just to say that this will be on the 11th, and the day before that, on the 10th, there will be a bilateral meeting between Sweden and South Africa and this will take place in Cape Town. The ceremonial reception for the Prime Minister of Sweden will take place at around 15h00 in the afternoon in Cape Town.
And the focus really with Sweden is really to look at strengthening bilateral relations. You know that we have got a binational commission that is in existence between South Africa and Sweden, which is led at Deputy Presidents' level. And so, the two principals will have the opportunity to review the progress on the work of that a bilateral commission.
But just to say that there are really no issues. We expect this again to be a very friendly and very constructive discussion. We are looking at improving trade. Politically, I think, that we generally share a number of the same values as Sweden. So we don't expect difficulties. There will be an exchange of ideas, both in the context of the EU and with Sweden. And we would expect the EU to brief us a bit on really the perspectives with respect to the Middle East, given that they are actively participating in that process. And I am sure that they would want to exchange some ideas on some of the African conflicts.
5. AFRICAN UNION SPECIAL SUMMIT IN TRIPOLI, LIBYA – 31 AUGUST 2009.
The 5th point. Just to say that Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, supported by Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe and the Deputy Minister Makwetla, the Deputy Minister of Defense, are participating in the Special Summit of the African Union, which is currently taking place in Libya. They left yesterday. Again, you know, this is going to focus largely on the conflict areas and the areas that will be looked at are Somalia, Sudan, and the Great Lakes. Those would be the key ones where there would be far more substantive discussion. And then obviously there would be a reflection on others areas. But those are the big ones that they would be discussing.
And finally, just to say that, of course, we are following very closely the progress in Maputo. As you know, there were discussions that ended on Friday. We are both encouraged, I must say, to a large extent by the progress that has been made to date, particularly relating to the agreements on the institutions to be established, and agreement amongst the parties about the leadership of those different institutions. We are also encouraged by the progress with respect to how the different parties and formations are going to participate in the Executive. We do know that there is an outstanding issue that revolves largely around the position of Prime Minister. We know that the parties have requested to go back to some further consultations.
And we are hoping then that they would be able to come back, so that we can try to move forward in Madagascar. We don't think the issues are easy, but I think up to now we have been encouraged by the fact that at least for two sessions now, we have had the four parties and the protagonists, so to say, sitting around the table. And we are encouraged, and I must say, we are happy as SADC that soon after that special summit that we hosted here in Johannesburg; the teams have been brought together. The facilitator started his work and two sessions have been there and obviously we have got some progress that we have registered.
So, South Africa again commits to everything that is possible on our side to support that process, and as I have already indicated, I am sure in Kinshasa there would be further reflection on this issue. I think those are the main issues that I wanted to talk to.
Thanks very much.
Questions by Members of the Press:
Member of the Press: SABC Radio.
DG, on the Great Lakes politics, there is this question about the fate of John Bemba. We know that South Africa has been listed as a country that he prefers to be granted asylum to. We have official position on this matter, and is this matter likely to be discussed at the SADC Summit itself?
And then the other question relates to the Chairmanship of the DRC. I mean, there are skeptics to say that the country is still grappling with security challenges, especially in the East, and is South Africa confident that the DRC is better positioned to really to take up this responsibility? Thank you.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Thank you very much. First of all, just to say no, on the case of John Pierre Bemba, South Africa has not finalised his position and just to say that our understanding is that we have up to the 14th of September to do that. We do know that, indeed, they have put South Africa as one of the countries. There are some questions that we have raised. We are trying to look at all the implications of any decisions that we take, whether we agree or we don't agree.
And I think there is anxiety on our side that any decision that we take must be an informed decision and must not be an impulsive, emotional decision on this issue. We also are aware that he in fact is going to be released now. As you know, the prosecutor of the ICC has decided to appeal the decision. But, as we understand, we have up to the 14th of September. There are consultations taking place. I think in South Africa, certainly, there have been some consultations and I think we are in the process of also consulting more widely even within the region. And so that is an informed decision that we would take. So, as of now, no firm decision has been taken.
Now, with respect to the chairmanship of the DRC, no question about it. I think if any one of us said the DRC is not going to struggle a bit, I think we would be lying. It is a huge responsibility. They have got very pressing domestic challenges. From our own experience chairing SADC, we know that some of these things, to facilitate these meetings, you do need some sort of institutional memory that would help you to support and assist them. But the leadership of the region took a conscious decision last year, knowing all those constraints. That, first of all, we can't have first level and second level members of SADC, in that to the extent that the DRC was ready and willing, the attitude of the region is that, let DRC have the responsibility. In fact, there is nothing that strengthens you sometimes like the responsibility.
But, I think there would be a general understanding that in as much as we, as South Africa, I can say it certainly from the work that I have done at an officials' level, chairing the meetings of the officials, we benefited a lot from the support and the work that I did with Zambia as the outgoing chair. And so we tried during our chairmanship to draw in the DRC to participate more actively. We are leaving tomorrow to go to the DRC. We are ready to exchange ideas with them very strongly about what work had been started and where we are. And we are hoping, and I think that is what is going to happen, is that the DRC also will during that period, yes, put its own imprint on the chairmanship. But I am sure also they also will, like we did with respect of the troika, I am sure they will also want to draw some support from the members of the troika.
And just to say, on South Africa's side, we have given a firm undertaking to the DRC that we will be there to support them as they move forward.
Member of the Press, Radio 702:
Thanks very much. The figures you have given for the trade, European trade, is that Rands or Dollars?
And the other one was, is this the first time that Kinshasa has got the SADC Summit, or first time that they will be chairing it?
Then the substantive question was about the BIPA (Bilateral Investment Protection Accord) with Zimbabwe. Was that discussed at all during the President's visit? And, I mean, there is this blocking point that, you know, Clause 11, and the land deal. What are the prospects of that and what is the progress there? And what are the prospects of us getting this very vital bilateral investment protection agreement?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: JJ, first of all, yes, in fact it is the first time that Kinshasa will host this Summit, a full Summit of the SADC. The first time that they will chair the SADC.
Secondly, the issue of the BIPA is a difficult one indeed. We share to an extent a bit of the impatience to try and conclude this BIPA. We do understand some of the concerns that obviously the administration in Harare is trying to make sure that it protects itself in the process. I don't think that this was raised at the level of the Summit. I am unaware. Our understanding is that actually it is at the level of the trade ministers. There was the, probably what would approximate a near-final version of that Article 11 that you referred to, JJ, that it looks like now it seems to have responded to the concerns of both parties, I think about a week ago. That's what we were told.
So, as to that the trade ministers of South Africa and Zimbabwe, when they are planning to finalise that, I think it is not clear to me now. But certainly, we were told that the version that is on the table now, certainly the team from Zimbabwe now, which includes representatives from the three parties, seems to have okayed the last version that we had seen. So, that was about a week or so ago.
So, let's hope then we will bring some finality to the issue of the BIPA.
Oh yes, those figures, JJ, I wish they were in Dollars or Euro.
The 300 billion and everything, those figures are in Rands. I wish they were in Rands. That would be good.
Member of the Press, Bloomberg news.
DG, You mentioned that there is consensus of the Executive Secretary of SADC. Could you tell us who that is? I assume that the incumbent is stepping down now.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: No, let me be careful. I didn't say that that there is consensus. I said, to our understanding, there are no many candidates competing with the incumbent. The incumbent had made it clear that he is available to continue serving. That is Dr Salamao . We are unaware of other candidates. So, that is what we are saying. Obviously in that sort of situation, I think the Heads of State would, first of all, will have to confirm that indeed there is now other candidate, but if there was another candidate, we would be knowing that. So, it would be fair to say that there is no other candidate. But, of course, the Heads of State would have to make an assessment of what their view is of the performance of Dr Salamao . So, it is not an automatic appointment. But, of course, the absence of competitors should surely make his path far much easier.
Member of the Press, Independent News:
DG, before Angola, you said that one of the issues that would be on the agenda would be try to persuade Angola to participate more in the peacekeeping operations, if I understood you correctly. There was a hint in the remark that Dos Santos made after the meeting with President Zuma that they were interested. But I wondered whether there was any concrete agreement on that.
Also, in relation to Zimbabwe, if I understand you correctly, you are saying that nothing is really going to be done, except that President Zuma will take his recommendations to the Summit. But, would you be able to give us some idea please what he, I mean both sides had their issues, what he sees as the, or what South Africa sees as the priority issues, or at least the real issues that have to be dealt with.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: No Peter, let me start with the second one, because I am not going to be able to answer it. I was hinting that the concluding meeting that the President had, were absolutely him and the three principals. And the reason they did that was to make sure that no Ayanda (Dr Ntsaluba) is in the place to start then saying what I am sure they would want to discuss when they meet in Kinshasa.
So, I think he has had the opportunity of listening to all the parties and then he will give his impressions. And, of course, many people will have also had their own reading on that. I think the important things that we want to focus on the Zimbabwe issue is that we have managed to reach this far with SADC acting in unison, so that we don't move back to the period that you are all too familiar with, where there would be different accents, too many different accents to the issue. And the important thing is that even now it is going to be important moving forward for SADC to act in unison. The only way to achieve that is that everybody's views about what characterization of the current situation is and what therefore what needs to be done must be tabled in the context of the discussion on Zimbabwe.
There were concrete agreements on the issue of peacekeeping, except to say, indeed, one of the areas that South Africa and Angola have explored as the part of the strengthening of our strategic partnership, is really to cooperate far much more closely in the area of peacekeeping. And I think you are correct that indeed that is something that we both share. So, President Dos Santos clearly says that. And part of that is recognition of the fact that these are the two countries, certainly in the context of the region, that have got the possibilities to make the more significant contribution to peacekeeping at this current point in time. And if we really want to have a stronger impact as a region, then it is far much better for us to begin to coordinate our efforts.
Member of the Press, BBC News: I am not sure if you are to answer this one either. There was a headline last week in the Herald which said "SADC, at your disposal". And it was at the time when the President began his visit. I just wonder how that is being interpreted by the Department and by the Presidency, and how you measure success in terms of Zimbabwe, from the SADC?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Yes. No I didn't see the article. So, I can't comment on that article. I am really sorry about that.
But how do we measure success? I think we measure success in Zimbabwe, first of all, politically, by judging whether in fact the parties still are honouring the commitment that they have made, that the only way to resolve that situation at the political level, is for the political leadership to engage and really to substitute meeting in the streets to sitting and discussing far much more, whatever the difficulties. We know that they have got differences, some of them very deep, but the important thing is that they continue to talk.
We measure also from a socio-economic perspective the progress, as we say that of course Zimbabwe starts now from a very, very low base. There is no question that the current situation had a major impact, or the situation that has prevailed there. But we are encouraged by the fact that the economic climate is improving. It is true, because industries are not yet functioning optimally. There are high levels of unemployment, and therefore even the presence of our availability of commodities is not something. It is a luxury to the majority of the people. So we are conscious of that. But we have always understood that there has to be a beginning and we believe that that beginning has been made.
We believe that it was good for the leadership of Zimbabwe to overcome what would certainly not have been an easy decision. It is not easy for any country to shelve essentially the use of its own currency. And you know that there tends to be a strong linkage between the issue of your currency and your sovereignty. It is an emotional issue. It is like some of our South Africans, when we see South African Airways, there is an emotional thing about it that sometimes hooks us and therefore enters the debate about the difficult [unclear] from that perspective.
So, the fact that they took those decisions is beginning to pay off. We believe, and the fact that they have stuck to them, yes, we know that there is a debate going on in Zimbabwe, but the fact that the mainstream is sticking to those, or rather, those debates are informed by what best will assist the economic reconstruction in Zimbabwe.
We are also encouraged by the fact that, by all accounts, the general humanitarian situation has slightly improved. And in any event, children are at school, and we know what the situation is that prevailed then. And some of the problems that were there around the corner are the health system, with all the difficulties, and there are still enormous difficulties.
So, instead of Zimbabwe being on a downward spiral, we are beginning to say it is in the lower point of the recovery. But we also firmly believe that the point at which they are, is not a point of irreversibility, and that why we continue to urge the parties to really remain true to the letter and spirit of the GPA (Global Political Agreement) and move forward with taking those measures that will restore the confidence, or at least to make sure that the international community has some level of confidence in what is going on, so that the much needed investments in Zimbabwe can come in.
So, that is really why we say, if you were to ask us now, we would say, on the plus side. It might not be the turn that we wanted. It doesn't matter what it is, but it might not be what we wanted. We also understand that there are emotive issues that still remain. The issues about the allegations about land invasion. The issues about the parliamentarians who are arrested and charges laid against them. We know that there are issues around the failure to install the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Bennett, is an issue. And we also know that some of those decisions are around particularly to reach an amicable agreement amongst the parties, around the issue of the Attorney General, the Governor of the Reserve Bank as well as the governors, the provincial governors.
So, those are the issues on the minus side. They need to be resolved. But on the plus side, there are also those issues.
Our genuine sense is that we are still at a point, we could have easily still have been at a point now when we would all be saying, look, this thing is not working. It is a disaster. Zimbabwe is moving backwards. But, I am sure all of us would agree that we are not at that point. And which is a major achievement on its own, given where we have been in the past.
Member of the Press, Media 24:.
DG, you mentioned the emotive issue of land invasions as one of the issues that is needed to be resolved. One of the matters that are likely to come before SADC, I think next week, is the Tribunal judgment in November and the subsequent confirmation in Windhoek on the issue of land invasions and those 78 farmers, I think who SADC said have the right to remain on their farms. Does South Africa believe that that judgment is being adhered to? And the farmers seem not to believe that. But what is our position on progress on that issue? And should the President of Zimbabwe comply, if he is not complying already? So, my question is basically, what is going to be done about the SADC Tribunal judgment? Thank you.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: I really don't know what will be done, but what we do know is that there is not full compliance with the judgment. That we know. And we also know that the Zimbabweans have raised legal issues. We also know that all of us navigate very carefully around this thing about domestic legislation, as well as the positions of the tribunal. I mean, the last time it was discussed, it was quite clear that we might have a particular dominant view in terms of wishing that this thing should move in a particular direction. But, quite clearly, the issues are complex. I think it would be interesting. My understanding is that again there will be a report from the Tribunal. There were certain questions that were put to the legal team within SADC after the last meeting. So we expect them to probably come and give some sort of, shed some light.
Because, part of it was really difficult for the Heads of State and the Ministers to engage, because there is not so much a dispute on politics, as a dispute around law, and which one. So, I think it would be good to get that input and I think that will inform us. It may well be that it might point to, if it points to defects in our regional legal frameworks, and maybe point at loopholes about enforceability, then we must have the political discussion about whether we want them to be enforceable and what amendments need to be made in order to make them enforceable.
So, that second political debate surely will have to follow from a proper understanding of the actuality of the legal situation. So, it is a difficult thing. I am also trying to be, I mean, you know our view. Our view has been, we have made repeated appeals to the government of Zimbabwe. We have stood in representation of those South African citizens who have had their farms taken. So, our position about, about that is known, in as much as we believe that the land issue and the land distribution issue is a legitimate issue needed to be addressed, that it is also known that we also had our own misgivings about how it was executed. And so, that is really our approach there.
Member of the Press:
On the issue mediation of Zimbabwe, we know that President Zuma will present his political report. How do you proceed beyond that, given the fact that we would have a new chairman? Are we going to see maybe his role or mandate being reviewed at the SADC Summit level? And the other issue relates to IBSA. You are saying that there is going to be a review of some of the past agreements that had been signed. What is the state of, the future of IBSA itself, because it has been put in question? And about those issues, why do we need to review those? Has anything changed? Thanks.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Let me start with the first one. I mean, President Zuma is the Chair of the SADC. He went to Zimbabwe as both Chair and as President of the Republic, and SADC is the guarantor. So, he would be expected to say something around the issue of Zimbabwe. And that is why I say he will then explain or express his views. Then there would have to be a discussion within SADC as to exactly what is our assessment of where the issues in Zimbabwe are. The last time the issues were discussed, the Summit met fully on Zimbabwe. This was in August last year in Sandton. You will recall that at that point there was no global political agreement. There was no inclusive government. Now, those have been achieved.
Now, some of the questions that would have to be dealt with are then, what is the most efficient way of managing the process forward, and that opens up the options. Should we still have a dedicated person as the facilitator? Should this still reside with the Chair of SADC, in which case, it will then automatically pass over to President Kabila? Should it now move on to be an issue of maintenance, largely dealt with to the organ on politics and defense, in which case it would move there. And I think every time that there is a an issue like this, you reach those points where you do those reviews and I think , it will come out of that what then the future course is going to be and the extent of President Kabila's involvement. And this will come out of that.
Now, the future of IBSA. We are working on the basis that IBSA has a future. But we would also be misleading you if we did not say it, otherwise there will be no basis for discussion, that we would want to understand clearly the relationship between IBSA and BRIC. And that is why I said the Ministers will have the opportunity to reflect on that.
At the present time there is a take by India and Brazil that says that this basically responds to, in fact, IBSA is a far much more formalised structure that has been operating for a while, and that BRIC is a (unclear). . . But, I think the fair thing is to say that we need to discuss it out of that. But, our general sense is that, in fact, on the agenda are more activities to be carried on by IBSA. So, we think the future of IBSA is secure, but we also think that IBSA cannot exist pretending now that there is no BRIC, and therefore there has to be clarity and openness and discussion about what the relationship between these two structures is.
The review of the agreements, the review won't be a review because there are problems. Maybe the review perhaps is far more to look at the status of implementation of the agreements. It really is to assess the status of implementation.
Member of the Press, e-TV:
Would you say South Africa as Chair of SADC has during its chairmanship, has it done enough to ensure political stability in the region? I am not sure whether the word 'enough' is a bit too strong. But, would you say as far as your Zimbabwe, Madagascar, even Lesotho, just to highlight a bit of the challenges that you had during that time, as well as some of the successes. Thank you.
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Well, at the beginning we made an assessment before we took over as Chair. We made an assessment of what were areas that we would prioritise. The centre piece of that was really to make surely that we do everything possible to restore the unity and cohesion in SADC.
You will recall that at that point there were two things that were putting strain on the SADC. One was the Zimbabwe situation and the second one was the airports, amongst others. Now, those were the two big ones. I think since we assumed the chairmanship of the SADC, we have tried to make sure that the follow up and the handling of the issue around Zimbabwe is such that actually it is managed day-to-day on the basis of a regional consensus. And I think it is fair now to say that you do not have some of those points, and I think it is open that sometimes the most classical that the media like to refer to was the position of Botswana.
And I think there are far more consensus and common understanding of what needs to be done. I am sure, I have met my counterparts from Botswana, and I can tell you that the assessment that we have of the characterization of progress and some of the general areas of concern, is generally an assessment that we share.
So, we believe that. We also believe that the region is far more cohesive, and which is something that we wanted to do and we want to protect and defend that, and we will do everything possible to achieve that. You will see that in the course of this year there will be a further build up of that. There will be a lot of high level interactions between President Zuma and some of the regional leaders, Mozambique, Namibia, at a high level, Zambia, and all of that are trying to make sure that South Africa plays its part in making sure that that cohesion in the region is advanced. We did indicate that our trip to Angola, amongst others, was aimed at achieving that.
The way that we are trying to handle even the differences around the issues of the airports, we are trying to refrain to make it a grandstanding issue. We have been discussing in detail with each of the countries to try and understand what their own anxieties and concerns are. So that is the first thing. The second thing is that we wanted to spend a bit of time and look at the issue of regional infrastructure. And I think that there are a number of corridors that the ministers of transport and infrastructure have been working on in the course of this year, as a specific area of focus. The third area that we wanted to work on is the area about the uni-visa. And part of the reason that we are particularly focusing on this, is so that we can give effect in making sure that the benefits of 2010 accrue to other countries within the region.
And we have made an undertaking that in working with the LOC, we will try to make sure that those benefits are there. And I believe that within the constraints that we have, because there are certain decisions that we can impose on the countries that will come and play in South Africa, for example, we might have wished that some of the (unclear) should actually be based in the neighbouring countries. But that decision we cannot impose. And we are now faced with the situation where the majority of them want to be based in South Africa. But, at the same time, we know that from the hospitality side, there is a lot of possibilities and tourism. And there are discussions that are going on around how to make sure that the even in between matches we encourage as many of the people that will be visiting our shores to go to some of the neighbouring countries.
And, again, we believe that we have done it. We wanted to begin the process of operationalizing the fund that is with the DBSA, which is really the fund that we use to initiate projects with, as the first step to the development of a regional fund, and again, significant progress has been made on that.
So, our sense is that with the exception of the issue that erupted that was not necessarily expected at that time and that we had to deal with during our chairmanship, of course working together with, that was Madagascar, we believe the things that we received, we can document clearly that during South Africa's chairmanship, that there was a progress on each one of them. Even the issue of Madagascar, we really believe that we did what we would have been expected to do. In fact, I would argue that we went beyond what would have been the normal expectation in terms of supporting the implementation of the decisions that were collectively taken by the leadership of the region.
So, I think that is really our assessment.
Member of the Press, ISS:
You mentioned, DG, that our Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, and our Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Deputy Minister of Defense are attending an AU meeting in Libya. I just want to find out whether you think that the operationalization of the African standby force must be [unclear] especially since the [unclear] 2010 exercises are coming next year. Do you think that is going to be discussed at that meeting?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Yes, I think it will be discussed at the meeting. You see, one of the debates that are obviously going to come up in Tripoli or in Sirte, unavoidably, is going to be yes, as you deal with the different conflicts, what is the overall peace architecture that you have.
You know that South Africa is amongst those countries that are saying, we have taken a decision around the standby force. In SADC we have already advanced constituting the brigade. Let us go down that path, early warning systems and all the other things that are part of that architecture. So we will be arguing strongly that there is no justification to detour from that course.
I am sure the debates will come up again in the context of ‘Sirte’ about an alternative model of the architecture, which is around about an African army, a committee on defense, and then all those things. So, unavoidably those discussions will come out. But we hope that, indeed, we will not move from one initiative to the other and that we will stay the course and continue to implement the decisions.
Here, for example, with respect to our own brigade, as you know, we are going to have these exercises on the 21st here in South Africa, proceeding on to Namibia. And a from the perspective of the region, we are just trying to make sure that we do everything so that nobody should say we envisaged architecture is not working, because regions are not moving, certainly the SADC, so that we are in a stronger point, because we believe that the current framework is the framework that we should pursue.
Member of the Press, Independent News:
Could you summarise very briefly on the, comment on the mysterious objects found outside the embassy in Vienna? Do you know anything about that?
Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, Director-General, Department of International Relations and Cooperation: Peter, I think I must have an office for you in the Department or in DICO. No, just to say that actually just about two hours or so ago, I had a discussion with our Ambassador in Vienna. Yes, indeed, there were those objects. We do not know what they are. They have been taken by the Vienna police. We do not know what they are. But anyway, no damage has been done to our building. The officers were evacuated. The place was searched by the police and as far as I know, at the time that I was talking to the Ambassador, I think the staff was preparing to move back to their offices.
For more information contact Nomfanelo Kota on 082 459 3787
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag X152
01 September 2009.