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Bua Briefs 5 of 2011


31 March 2011

Freedom Day

Government calls on all South Africans to join in celebrating national Freedom Day at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Wednesday 27 April 2011. This day commemorates the first democratic elections held in South Africa on 27 April 1994 and is celebrated annually as a reminder of the struggle for a free and just South Africa. This year, we celebrate 17 years of freedom and democracy in South Africa and the achievements we have made as a nation.

We witnessed the electrifying consolidation of our national identity during the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, supporting the class of 2010 and even volunteering during the Public Service strike. It is this passion that must be maintained and built on.

Freedom Day provides a milestone for all South Africans to collectively participate in the commemoration of the pain and struggle to build a non-racial, democratic and free South Africa in which we all have the freedom to prosper.

  • Government reaffirms its commitment to consolidate democracy and promote cultural diversity and social cohesion in South Africa, as we celebrate living in a system that guarantees that never again will our humanity be taken from any South African, irrespective of their race, gender, creed or sexual orientation.
  • In commemorating all the heroes and heroines and the role played by ordinary citizens in the country and abroad, government calls on all South Africans to unite in creating a better future for all.
  • Nation-building requires all South Africans to live by example by ensuring that that the values and principles enshrined in our Constitution become a lived reality in the development of fully functioning communities.
  • We celebrate the Bill of Rights, which distinguishes us among the nations of the world and guarantees all South Africans freedom from the repression and hatred that characterised our past.

The composite development of citizens requires intellectual stimulation, creativity, innovation and a sense of self-worth and national identity in becoming active agents of socio-economic change.

  • Government reaffirms its commitment to consolidate democracy and promote cultural diversity and social cohesion in South Africa. To this end, government continues to play a critical role in promoting social cohesion, nation-building and building national pride, which all contribute towards the building of a national democratic society.
  • Government has embarked on the Magnificent Friday Initiative. This initiative is aimed at mobilising all South Africans behind our national teams.
  • Government, under the leadership of the Department of Arts and Culture is establishing an information portal on social cohesion, initiating community conversations led by provinces (at least one in every district) and culminating in the National Summit of Social Cohesion to be held in the second half of this year.
  • In the spirit of instilling patriotism and promoting social cohesion, government calls on all sectors, our constituencies, political parties, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, civil society, religious groups, youth and others to be part of Freedom Day celebrations.

The contract between government and the people, since 1994, has seen basic service-delivery programmes being pursued to restore the lives and dignity of its people through the development of decent human settlements.

  • In 1994, only 62% of households had access to running water; by the year 2010, 94% of households had access to running water.
  • In 1994, only 50% of households had access to decent sanitation; by the year, 2010, 80% of households had access to decent sanitation.
  • In 1994, only 51% of households had access to electricity; by the year 2010, 75% of households had access to electricity.

Government has prioritised programmes and put in place mechanisms that are aimed at fighting poverty, growing our economy and creating jobs, in ensuring a positive outcome of the lives of all South Africans. Job creation has been uplifted as a critical lever to alleviate other developmental challenges.

  • In partnership with the business and labour sectors, government is committed to creating enabling conditions for the economic empowerment of all South Africans. Government has set aside R9 billion for over the next three years for a jobs fund to co-finance innovative public and private employment projects.
  • The New Growth Path is aimed at enhancing growth, employment creation and equity. The policy’s principal target is to create five million jobs over the next 10 years.
  • Government has put in place key programmes to ensure that the foundation of basic education is solid and also to ensure that people acquire the requisite skills to meet the demand of a growing economy. Some R5 billion has been set aside for the National Skills Fund, which has key responsibilities for training work seekers. 
  • Government continues to pursue its social programmes which are linked to social justice and freedom. We have allocated R73 billion over the next three years for the Expanded Public Works Programme.

Let us remember and celebrate freedom fighters and those who contributed to freedom in South Africa through the 15th National Orders Awards Ceremony on Freedom Day, 27 April 2011 at the Union Buildings.

  • The national orders are the highest awards bestowed upon citizens by the President of the Republic of South Africa.
  • As an initiative that was implemented at the dawn of the First Decade of Freedom, it also contributes towards the symbolic building and consolidation of our new democracy.
  • National orders are awarded to deserving citizens and eminent foreign nationals. The President, as the fount of honour in the country, bestows these orders and decorations and is assisted by the Director-General in The Presidency, who is the Chancellor of National Orders, and the Advisory Council on National Orders, in the execution of this responsibility.
  • The national orders enforce social cohesion.  Through the orders, the country can achieve an interaction and common identity between different individuals belonging to different ethnic societal groupings that would not ordinarily identify or relate with one another. 

Government calls on all South Africans to exercise their right in building democracy by participating in the upcoming municipal elections.

  • We all have a responsibility to continue working together to build our country.
  • Elections are a crucial element of democracy and it is the responsibility of all eligible persons to go and vote to protect democracy. Participation in the local government elections will ensure that we are part of the national collective to build a South Africa that belongs to all who live in it.
  • All South Africans have to oblige by and respect the rules of the election period to ensure that we continue having free and fair elections.

Working together to unite the nation, promote democracy and protect our freedom

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National Nursing Summit: 4 - 6 April 2011

For government to realise the vision of ”A long and Healthy Life For All South Africans”, the Department of Health’s National Service Delivery Agreement for the period 2009 to 2014 lists 10 priorities as part of the 10-Point Plan for the overall improvement of the performance of the national health system. It is against this undertaking that government, under the leadership of the Department of Health, will convene key role players and stakeholders in collectively developing practical solutions to issues in the health system and address the integral role of nurses and midwives in alleviating challenges and meaningfully contributing to the success of the Government’s health-reform agenda.

This summit precedes the 29th Triennial Congress of the International Confederation of Midwives which convenes for the first time in Africa in June 2011.

Government has put in place various initiatives and interventions aimed at establishing a citizenry that actively contributes towards a functioning democracy, where current and future generations must lead healthy lifestyles and have access to healthy choices in becoming agents of socio-economic change.

  • Government continues to give prominence to the health of its people which has been expressed further in Outcome Two: A long and healthy life for all South Africans. Achieving this outcome necessitates the need for an integrated response to delivering quality healthcare and services. Where various sectors, including the nursing profession, provide critical enablers to ensuring the health of all citizens.
  • The nursing profession plays a key role in each of the four output areas: increasing life expectancy, decreasing maternal and child mortality, combating HIV and AIDS and decreasing the burden of diseases from tuberculosis and strengthening health-system effectiveness.
  • Government, under the leadership of the Department of Health, has, among other things, better planning and management of human resources for health as part of the 10-Point Plan for the overall improvement of the performance of the national health system.
  • The service-delivery platform of the health system will be changed from one that largely focuses on the delivery of curative health services to one that is also centred on primary healthcare (PHC), which encourages health promotion, prevention and community development.

The reviewing of nursing practice is of primary importance in achieving excellence in the quality of healthcare.

  • The objective of the summit is to critically reflect and discuss key issues affecting nurses and the nursing profession, within the context of South Africa’s disease burden, as well as the national and international health sector.
  • The  role of nurses in major health policies such as the revitalisation of PHC, National Health Insurance, the Millennium Development Goals and the National Service Delivery Agreement [PDF] will be looked at and agreed on to find the best possible contribution to be made by the profession.
  • The discussions will also look into how nursing education and training can be improved to ensure alignment to patients and community needs and therefore inform the revision of the National Nursing Strategy to represent the aspirations of all nurses in South Africa.
  • It is envisaged that a Nursing Compact will emanate from the summit, representing a collective call for greater attention, investment and integrated action to build capacity, professionalism and commitment within the nursing workforce.

“Reconstructing and revitalising the nursing profession for a Long and Healthy Life for All South Africans”

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Labour Summit

Government has declared 2011 as a year of job creation through meaningful economic transformation. In the pursuit of the goal to create five million jobs by 2020, government is engaging key partners. A summit between government and organised labour will take place on 19 April 2011, which follows the Business Summit held on 18 March 2011. Stronger partnerships between government, the private sector and organised labour will galvanise resources in achieving and sustaining economic growth and job creation.

Government is committed to working with organised labour to boost job creation in the country.

  • Government, in partnership with various sectors of society, has made substantial progress in transforming the economy to benefit the majority of South Africans, but challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality remain. The official jobless rate in South Africa is 24% and poses a serious threat to the country’s economic stability.
  • Government and social partners need a concerted and committed effort to ensure sustainable, realistic and innovative solutions to job creation, which is a critical lever to alleviate other developmental challenges, where unemployment remains the biggest threat to the growth of Africa's largest economy, as the country recovers from recession.
  • The summit allows for shared thoughts and open dialogue between government and organised labour to collaborate in undertaking their respective roles in ensuring that South Africa realises its developmental agenda.
  • The partnership between government and labour will secure an enabling environment that will facilitate the development of an economy that stimulates economic growth and job creation.

Government prioritises employment creation in all economic policies and has identified strategies that will enable South Africa to grow in a more equitable and inclusive manner in the future in attaining its developmental agenda.

  • The New Growth Path identifies five priority areas as part of the programme to create jobs, through a series of partnerships. Priority areas are being targeted in a bid to create more jobs; namely infrastructure development, agriculture, mining and beneficiation, manufacturing, the "green" economy, and tourism.
  • A R9-billion jobs fund will be established to finance new job-creation initiatives over a three-year period and is complemented by the Industrial Development Corporation’s (IDC) R10-billion investment in projects with high job-creation potential over the next five years.
  • South Africa aims to create five million jobs by 2020 and bring South Africa's unemployment rate down to 15%.
  • Government calls all organised sectors of our society into action; labour organisations, business entities and all government departments which have a responsibility to contribute to our national objective of creating jobs.

Working together we can do more to secure an enabling environment for job creation

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Third BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) Leaders’ Summit

President Jacob Zuma will for the first time participate in the third BRICS Leaders’ Summit from 14 to 15 April 2011 in Beijing, China. South Africa joined the important bloc of emerging economies in December 2010, which is in line with the country’s foreign policy to strengthen South-South relations. Discussions will centre on strengthening economic and trade cooperation among BRICS members.

The changing global environment has seen a greater political and economic role for the BRICS and other emerging powers. By 2020, the BRICS countries are expected to contribute nearly half of all global gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

South Africa remains committed to the consolidation of the African Agenda and will use its BRICS membership to increase strategic cooperation among emerging market economies of the South in support of this agenda.

  • South Africa is dedicated to African unity and integration within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU). This includes the strengthening of continental institutions, which are critical in responding to the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, peace, security and stability on the continent.
  • South Africa will ensure that the rest of the African continent is advantaged by its BRICS membership and continues to benefit from the BRICS countries in the priority areas identified by the AU such as energy, information and communications technology, rail and road infrastructure, agriculture and food security.
  • South Africa took up its two-year non-permanent seat to the UN Peace and Security Council (UNSC) from January 2011 and will continue to make a significant contribution to deepening the relationship and cooperation between the UNSC and the AU.
  • All BRICS countries will serve on the UNSC in 2011 as permanent (China and  the Russian Federation) or non-permanent members (Brazil, India and South Africa), which augurs positively for enhanced cooperation efforts. The fact that three of the Group of Four (G4) nations – Germany, India and Brazil – are also on the council at the same time means there will be some aggressive proposals supporting the expansion of the UNSC with both permanent and non-permanent seats this year.
  • Africa's trade with BRIC grew from 4,6% of its total external trade in 1993 to just more than 19% in 2009, which produced a US$-20,2 billion (R147-billion) trade surplus for Africa.

As a BRICS member, South Africa’s advocacy to prioritise the role of emerging economies will be strengthened in the international developmental agenda.

  • South Africa’s BRICS membership will enhance its reputation as one of the leading campaigners for the reform of multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organisation, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the UNSC.
  • At its first Summit in Russia in 2009, BRIC heads of state called for emerging economies to have a greater voice in international financial institutions and for a more diversified global monetary system.
  • As part of the G20 and the Group of 5 (G5 – the five emerging nations), South Africa will use its BRICS membership to push for a developmental position on multilateral forums, including on contentious issues such as climate change and agricultural trade. South Africa is the only Africa nation represented in the G20. 
  • The upcoming UN Conference on Climate Change, hosted by Durban, will strive towards a common developmental position to reduce gas emissions. BRICS members have all signed the Kyoto Protocol, a blueprint to reduce carbon emissions.
  • South Africa is seized with ensuring a legally binding climate-change agreement that will govern the world’s response to the increasingly visible effects of climate change and reiterates that any final agreement must support the developmental agenda of the South.

South Africa’s diversified foreign policy objectives and interests allow for both groupings (IBSA and BRICS) to co-exist as they are highly complementary.

  • South Africa’s BRICS membership and future engagements will build on existing bilateral relations and IBSA.
  • South Africa will leverage both formations to promote the African Agenda and create new trade opportunities for value-added exports and investment. IBSA aims to increase trade volumes between the three countries to US$ 25 billion by 2015.
  • South Africa believes that IBSA remains extremely relevant for political dialogue and South-South relations. South Africa will host the fifth IBSA Summit this year aimed at addressing global issues of common interest; advance national priorities through the sharing of best experiences; and further facilitate and monitor the implementation of IBSA decisions, agreements and action plans.
  • Any demise of IBSA would negatively affect attempts at the harmonisation in preferential trade agreements between the Southern African Customs Union (Sacu), the Southern Common Market (Mercosur) and the Latin American Trade bloc to culminate into an India-Mercosur and Sacu Trilateral trade arrangement.

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Deputy President's working visit to USA

On invitation from US Vice-President Joseph Biden, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe undertook a working visit to the US from 27 to 31 March 2011 with the view to consolidating North-South relations. This follows Mr Biden’s visit to South Africa in 2010 to attend the opening ceremony of the FIFA World Cup, during which he was hosted by Mr Motlanthe for bilateral discussions. This visit will be followed by the SA-US Annual Bilateral Forum (ABF), which is a strategic dialogue to enhance partnership and cooperation in the areas of health, education, agriculture, safety and security, multilateral and third-country issues, and energy and environment.

Discussions are expected to focus on key issues including: Cote d’Ivoire, Somalia, Sudan, Zimbabwe, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), peacekeeping, Haiti, Egypt, the Middle East Peace Process, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa), and Climate Change (Conference of the Parties 17).

South Africa is committed to strengthening bilateral political and economic relations with the USA and expanding areas of cooperation in support of South Africa’s domestic priorities and foreign policy objectives.

  • At a multilateral level, South Africa and the USA cooperate at the United Nations Security Council, the Group of 8 and the Group of 20 (G20). South Africa is the only African member of the G20, the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
  • Bilateral trade relations between both countries continue to grow despite a decline from R124 billion in 2008 to just R82 billion in 2009, which reflected a drop of 34%, due to the global economic and financial crisis.
  • The two countries signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in 1999 and the USA signed a Trade, Investment, and Development Cooperative Agreement [PDF] with South Africa and the other countries in the Southern African Customs Union in 2008. South Africa also continues to benefit from the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) with nearly all of its exports qualifying for duty-free entry into the USA. AGOA expires in 2015.
  • The USA is currently the largest portfolio investor and second-largest source of foreign direct investment in South Africa after the United Kingdom, with total US portfolio investment amounting to $41 billion as of December 2008, and total US foreign direct investment amounting to $5,7 billion.

The USA has made efforts to align its programmes and projects with South Africa’s identified priorities.

  • The USA has significantly partnered with South Africa in its fight against HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases. Cooperation exists through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Partnership Framework, which harmonises development assistance through the South African Government to improve efficiency and long-term sustainability in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Since 2004, the USA contributed more than $2 billion and in December 2010, the two countries signed a five-year partnership framework to improve coordination on PEPFAR.
  • Total official development assistance from the USA towards several South African priorities in 2009 amounted to about US$681,9 million. Most of the funds were directed towards healthcare with a specific emphasis on HIV,  AIDS and tuberculosis prevention.
  • Cooperation also exists in the area of police training and the USA supported training for security contingencies related to the 2010 World Cup, including airport-security management, border-control management, critical incident management and preventing attacks on soft targets.
  • This working visit was expected to explore policy options and tools in the utilisation of the agricultural sector as a major driver of economic development and job creation, as well as rural development in the context of the South African Government’s New Growth Path.

The USA considers South Africa as a strategic partner on the continent and supports South Africa in its efforts to consolidate the African Agenda.

  • South Africa is dedicated to African unity and integration, within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU). This includes the strengthening of continental institutions, which are critical in responding to the continental challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, peace, security and stability.
  • South Africa began a two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in 2011. The USA is one of the UNSC’s permanent members. Although the two countries have expressed differences with respect to the situations in Zimbabwe and Iran, among other foreign policy issues, South Africa assisted US efforts to resolve Haiti’s political crisis in 2004 by providing an exile location for former President Bertrand Aristide.
  • The USA supports South Africa’s efforts to deliver foreign assistance to other African countries through the US$1,3-million Trilateral Assistance Programme. This partnership began in 2008 with the two countries working together to develop local government structures in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The programme currently supports South African efforts in Southern Sudan and Malawi.
  • The USA provides assistance to 47 countries in Africa and the United States Agency for International Development operates 23 bilateral missions on the continent with the overall goal of transformational diplomacy: to help build sustained and well-governed states that respond to the needs of their people, reduce widespread poverty and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system.

South Africa and the USA share a confluence of values in important areas such as democracy, the rule of law, good governance and the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa and are deeply committed to achieving global priorities in ensuring a better world for all who live in it.

  • Both countries are committed to, among other things, the international promotion of human rights, the promotion of international trade, the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the elimination of illicit trafficking in narcotics.
  • As part of the G20, and more recently the influential BRICS grouping, South Africa will push for a developmental position on multilateral forums, including on contentious issues such as climate change and agricultural trade. The next Climate Change Conference (COP 17) will be held in South Africa in November 2011.
  • South Africa is seized with ensuring a legally binding climate-change agreement that will govern the world’s response to the increasingly visible effects of climate change and reiterates that any final agreement must support the developmental agenda of the South.
  • As the first and only nuclear enabled country to voluntarily dismantle its programme, South Africa remains deeply committed to a world free of nuclear weapons and concrete nuclear disarmament measures. South Africa’s unique position in nuclear disarmament was commended by President Barrack Obama at the first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington from 12 to 13 April 2010.
  • This visit also facilitated opportunities for knowledge transfer and capacity-building for South African stakeholders in the agricultural sector, the “green economy”, and other identified skills deficit sectors (as identified by the Human Resources and Development Council).

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Highlights

Economic development

Boost to local tourism
During the launch of the domestic tourism campaign, the Minister of Tourism, Mr Marthinus van Schalkwyk, committed to a 17% increase in domestic tourism and 15% in international tourists visiting the country by 2020.

New tourism grading system unveiled
The Department of Tourism unveiled a new star grading system for accommodation and other establishments in the country. This follows a revision of the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa's (TGCSA) grading system. The process is an overhaul of the TGCSA's entire operating system to ensure a seamless process of managing quality assurance for tourism products.

Microsoft in R475-million deal
The Department of Trade and Industry and Microsoft revealed the first small black-owned software development firms in a deal that costs R475 million. This investment will address job creation, developing enterprise, building the local software economy and developing scarce technology skills.

Arts and culture

South African art breaks records at London auction
South African paintings broke three records at an auction in London. A painting by Irma Stern was sold for R34 million, one by Alexis Preller for R8,4 million and another by Gerard Sekoto for R6,7 million.

Rural development

Rural youth skills programme
A total of 500 young people from the country's rural areas graduated and received their certificates from the Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr Gugile Nkwinti.

Pretoria chosen for IBM Smarter Cities Challenge
Pretoria is one of 24 cities worldwide to have been chosen for an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant in 2011. These cities were selected because of their commitment to the use of data to make better decisions and for their desire to explore and act on smarter solutions to their most pressing concerns.

Infrastructure development

Transnet investment for KwaZulu-Natal harbours
Transnet has announced its R20,5-billion investment plan over the next five years to improve capacity and maintain Durban and Richard's Bay harbours. Transnet’s CEO, Brian Molefe, said Transnet was working on a plan that would end congestion in Durban Harbour. Durban has the biggest container terminal in Africa.

Social development

South Africa's first information centre launched for the blind
The Institute for the Blind in Worcester has opened South Africa's first information centre for the blind which revolves around geology. The centre boasts a geological exhibition, an open-air fossil trail, a museum for the blind and an entertainment area and theatre.

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