Bua Briefs 10 of 2011

11 August 2011


The 17th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which serves as the seventh meeting of the parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP7), will take place in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011.

COP17/CMP7 is significant in the negotiation process to produce a second commitment period, given that the Kyoto Protocol, which commits developed countries to cut their emissions, is set to expire in 2012.

South Africa is ready to welcome the UN and 194 countries to Durban.

  • South Africa is an experienced host of numerous successful international events, the most recent being the International Olympic Committee (IOC) General Assembly Session in Durban and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
  • Government is working closely with the UN to ensure that South Africa hosts an international event, which meets UN requirements. The UNFCCC visited South Africa from 1 to 6 August and confirmed the country’s state of readiness. An Inter-Ministerial Committee to oversee government’s preparations for the conference was set up earlier this year.
  • All logistical arrangements are being finalised. Arrangements for the increased demand for air and ground transport are at an advanced stage. Security preparations are in place to deal with a broad range of possible threats and disruptions. There will be visa-free entry for UNFCCC accredited attendees, while all other observers and delegates will follow normal visa procedures.
  • The hospitality industry is geared to welcome the international community with the same openness that brings close to 10 million visitors to this country each year. Some 20 000 beds have been secured and 2 662 rooms have already been booked and paid for.

As incoming COP president, through the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, South Africa will facilitate a balanced and credible outcome that is equitable, fair and inclusive.

  • The Department of International Relations and Cooperation has been part of the climate change negotiations even before the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997. The department is familiar with the history, dynamics and substance of this complex process.
  • During the preparations for COP17/CMP7, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation is working closely with Mexico in its capacity as current COP president.
  • South Africa’s hosting of COP17/CMP7, as a developing country, demonstrates its commitment to address the global threat of climate change.
  • In its informal consultations at ministerial, negotiators and stakeholder’s level, South Africa has emphasised the party-drive principle.
  • To achieve a balanced outcome, South Africa will require the Cancun Agreement as well as the commitment to deal with unfinished business from the Bali Roadmap and Action Plan to be put into operation.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to sustainable development and demands that COP17 puts in place the necessary building blocks to deliver a balanced agreement that takes historical responsibilities into account.

  • The citing by the International Energy Agency of 2010 being the year with the highest recorded emissions demonstrates the urgency with which the world has to deal with climate change.
  • If climate change is not addressed, its impact will undermine the developmental gains and the progress that South Africa made since 1994, the Southern African Development Community and the African continent to achieve the Millennium Development Goals
  • South Africa, through the Department of Environmental Affairs, which leads the South African delegation in pursuing the country’s interest at the COP17/CMP7 negotiations, is committed to developing the unity of the African group and a common African position in the negotiations.
  • The African continent is affected the most by climate change and it is important that Africa continues to speak with one voice. A series of preparatory meetings by the African group negotiators have been held, with the last meeting held in Durban from 8 to 10 August.

For South Africa, taking meaningful climate action is about seizing the opportunity –to build international competitiveness, new economic infrastructure, sectors and activity; create prosperity and jobs; transform the economy and society; reduce poverty; and improve health and quality of life for all.

  • South Africa will implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions, which result in the reduction of emissions by 34% by 2020 and by 42% in 2025.
  • The extent to which this commitment is achieved depends on the provision of finance, technology and capacity building support by developed countries and through the UN climate change regime.
  • South Africa will intensify work on understanding the vulnerabilities of the country and its people to the effects of climate change. A Team South Africa approach will be taken to COP17 to showcase climate response activities as a country.
  • South Africa will continue to look at opportunities of climate proofing South Africa’s people, the economy and its natural resources. The imminent Climate Change Response Paper outlines the country’s leadership in response to climate change.


State visit by the Republic of Ghana

The President of the Republic of Ghana, Prof. John Atta Mills, will pay a state visit to South Africa from 23 – 24 August 2011. Discussions between President Mills and President Jacob Zuma will focus on strengthening bilateral relations between the two countries with the view of consolidating the African Agenda.

South Africa is committed to strengthening existing political, economic and trade relations with Ghana.

  • South Africa and Ghana favour international and regional political and economic cooperation and are active members of the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU).
  • The South Africa–Ghana Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC) was launched in Pretoria in May 2007, to serve as a vehicle for advancing relations between the two countries. The second session of the PJCC was held in March 2010. Agreements were signed on cooperation in the field of foreign relations, arts and culture.
  • Ghana is South Africa’s largest trading partner in west Africa after Nigeria with exports to Ghana showing a slight decrease from R2 523 584 000 in 2010 compared to R2 704 631 000 in 2009. Imports from Ghana increased slightly from R58 009 000 in 2009 to R87 275 000 in 2010.

South Africa and Ghana are committed to the consolidation of the African Agenda through the organs of the AU.

  • South Africa plays a significant role in the advancement of the African Agenda by among other things, strengthening multilateral institutions such as the AU and speeding up the process of regional integration.
  • The AU has prioritised the establishment of the African Economic Community (AEC). A pan-African common market of a billion people without internal borders will unleash the enormous economic growth and development potential of Africa.
  • South Africa and the countries in the AEC will benefit from enhanced regional integration including better trade as a result of an increased market size.
  • African countries need to strengthen their economic integration and coordinating mechanisms through the regional economic communities seen as the building blocks of the AU. Ghana is a member of Economic Community of West African states (ECOWAS) a and South Africa a member of the Southern African Development Community. 

South Africa and Ghana remain committed to achieving global priorities with a view to ensuring a better world for all who live in it.

  • South Africa supports post-conflict reconstruction and development in Africa, namely, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and Burundi. Within the context of the AU Peace and Security Council South Africa will continue to support initiatives to ensure peace and security on the continent. South Africa and Kenya were elected for a two-year and three-year term respectively on the AU Peace and Security Council in 2010.
  • South Africa was re-elected to the non-permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat 2011/12, in October 2010. The AU indorsed South Africa’s bid in January 2010.
  • Ghana participates in UN peacemaking and peacekeeping operations, which led to the opening of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Ghana.
  • Both countries share similar views on the reform of the UNSC with regard to the setting up of the Human Rights Council and the Peace Building Commission, as well as African representation in all the decision-making organs of the UN.
  • As developmental states Ghana and South Africa share similar developmental challenges including the improvement of living conditions of all their people in line with the millennium development goals, climate change and energy security.
  • South Africa has partnered with several other African countries - Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia - in the bid to host the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). Africa’s bid proposes that the core of the mega telescope be located in an arid area of the Northern Cape, with about three antenna stations in Namibia, four in Botswana and one each in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Mauritius, Madagascar, Namibia and Zambia. 


State visit to Burundi

President Jacob Zuma will visit the Republic of Burundi from 11 to 12 August 2011. Between 2003 and 2005 the President (then Deputy President) played a leading role in Burundi's peace process. In 2009, the South Africa National Defence Force successfully completed their peacekeeping mission, Operation Curriculum, to Burundi.
South Africa remains committed to the stability of Burundi to ensure growth and socio-economic development in the Great Lakes Region.

  • South Africa remains committed to peace building efforts in Burundi with a view that sustainable development must be premised on negotiations and a peaceful resolve where all parties take collective responsibility.
  • The prosperity of the continent is determined by the stability across regions, it is important to contain conflict by speedily addressing issues.
  • South Africa advocates conflict resolution to be accompanied by post-conflict reconstruction and development (PCRD). South Africa aided Burundi in the development and functionality of their state organs and democratic institutions.
  • During the state visit, South Africa will identify areas where the country can offer further assistance as a successful PCRD Programme is fundamental for Burundi’s sustainable development.

South Africa aims to forge closer political and economic alliances with Burundi, which will be mutually beneficial.

  • Burundi is an important trading partner to South Africa with exports to the country totalling over R65 263 000 in 2010.
  • South Africa remains committed to strengthening economic relations with Burundi by creating an environment, which is conducive to improve and increase trade.
  • South Africa plans to balance trade between the two countries by accessing new trade opportunities in Burundi during this visit.
  • Burundi is a key partner in various fields.

To further strengthen the relationship, the following bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during the visit:


31st Ordinary Summit of Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government

The Republic of Namibia will hand over the chairpersonship of the SADC to the Republic of Angola during the 31st Ordinary Summit of SADC Heads of State and Government in Luanda, Angola from 17 to 18 August 2011. This summit will also see South Africa assume the chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.

South Africa is committed to address the political challenges facing member states to ensure a peaceful and prosperous region.

  • South Africa will continue to use its concurrent membership of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), African Union Peace and Security Council and the SADC Organ on Peace and Security, to align the work of the UNSC and regional bodies to facilitate more effective conflict resolution in the region.
  • South Africa calls on Zimbabwe's political party negotiators to implement the election roadmap and outstanding provisions set out by the Global Political Agreement before hosting an election.
  • South Africa urges all the parties in Swaziland to begin a political dialogue with a view to speedily and peacefully resolving all the challenges facing the country.
  • South Africa supports SADC mediation efforts to assist Madagascar towards a more comprehensive and all-inclusive process that would guarantee lasting peace.
  • South Africa commits to contribute logistical and other relevant assistance to the Democratic Republic of Congo as it prepares for presidential and legislative elections and calls on all parties to commit to a free, fair and peaceful election.

An integrated SADC will initiate stronger regional growth and create a better regionalresponse to socio-economic challenges.

  • The SADC continues to serve as the primary vehicle for South African foreign policy and aims to achieve regional development and integration, in the knowledge that South Africa’s future is inextricably linked to the future of the African continent and that of its neighbours in southern Africa. 
  • The SADC strives for the achievement of a balanced and equitable regional integration as a fundamental condition for sustainable development of the region and to address developmental challenges of unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment. 
  • Implementation of the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan is crucial in addressing development discrepancies in the SADC by aligning SADC programmes to achieve developmental priorities in enhancing the quality of life of the southern African people. To encourage intra-regional business, South Africa has ratified the SADC Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, which seeks to encourage and improve interaction between people.
  • South Africa supports the SADC climate change framework, which will shape a common climate change response that will strengthen the unified voice of the SADC at the 17th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP17) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

South Africa is committed to the SADC’s integration into the trilateral free trade areas to ensure a greater competitive advantage in African trade.

  • The continent holds the potential to build and sustain more diverse markets, through the consolidation of the free trade areas (FTAs) of the SADC, the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
  • The creation of a single FTA would see a combined population of almost 700 million people and a gross domestic product of US$875 billion from 26 countries. This would open borders to about half of the continent, spanning the entire southern and eastern regions of Africa from the Cape to Cairo.
  • The trilateral free trade areas will allow African member countries to trade without import quotas, tariffs and on better terms. Integration of trade regions will improve the efficiency of transport infrastructure, documentation and the overall administrative procedures associated with cross-border trade.
  • South Africa welcomes the decision to initiate work on industrialisation and economic diversification as a central pillar of the Tripartite Initiative. The country should strengthen and identify competitive advantages in value added production and trade, including through the development of complementary cross-border value chains.
  • South Africa is proud to lead the New Partnership for Africa's Development High Level Sub-Committee on Infrastructure. Its primary objective is to contribute towards intra-Africa trade through the construction of road and rail infrastructure in the North-South Corridor, which includes the SADC, EAC and Comesa regions.


Women's Month 2011

South Africa commemorates Women’s Month in August. This year marks the 55th anniversary of the women’s anti-pass march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. The commemoration of Women’s Month provides a platform for visible communication on government programmes and interventions aimed at improving the status of women in the country. The theme for Women’s Month this year is: “Working together to enhance women’s opportunities to economic empowerment.”

The focus of government is to facilitate the empowerment of women to become equal participants in the economic, social and political spheres:

  • Government acknowledges the historical inequities that have disadvantaged women, limiting development opportunities and representation in decision-making positions. Over the past 17 years of democracy, government made deliberate efforts to improve the status of women.
  • Women representation in Parliament increased drastically from 2,7% during apartheid to 27% after the historic 1994 elections and reached 44% after the 2009 general elections. South Africa is fourth among countries that have the highest number of women in Parliament and 43% of South Africa’s Cabinet ministers are women. The number of women councillors declined from 40% to 38% after the 2011 Local Government elections.
  • Government promotes the appointment of women into managerial positions in the public service and state-owned enterprises including career progression from the lower ranks where women are already in the majority.  
  • There is a need to promote the appointment of women to decision-making positions in the private- and other sectors. By September 2010, 10% of CEOs and chairpersons of boards of companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange were women. Women held less than 16% of directorships in companies and 21% of executive management positions.
  • To accelerate the empowerment of women and address issues of compliance towards the attainment of 50/50 gender parity, the Gender Equality Bill is being developed by the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities.

Government programmes are already empowering and improving the living conditions of women.

  • Women are highly affected by poverty and unemployment. Therefore, all the efforts to create employment including the New Growth Path and the Job Fund are expected to benefit women.
  • Government has labour intensive schemes and programmes such as the Expanded Public Works Programme and the Community Worker Programme, which focus on helping women by creating local jobs and developing skills.
  • Qualifying beneficiaries get land and property through the Human Settlements Subsidy Programme (asset and wealth creation).
  • Government's priority of turning rural areas into thriving centres of development is having a positive impact on women. Rural women are the intended beneficiaries of the programmes and resources that eradicate poverty, such as the War on Poverty Campaign. The National Rural Youth Service Corps emphasises 50/50 gender parity in the recruitment of youths to be skilled.
  • With assistance from government and other institutions, women’s groups are establishing and running productive and profitable rural development projects.
  • Gender parity has been reached on access to education for boys and girls. Working with partners, government is implementing initiatives to encourage girls to study and pursue careers in the fields of science, technology and engineering. Government’s allocation of dedicated scholarships and research funding for women is also helping to increase the number of women in these sectors.

South Africa is addressing social challenges facing women, particularly the scourge of gender-based violence.

  • Crimes against women and children are a national priority. These crimes have a severe, long lasting impact on victims including serious mental health problems; gynaecological complications; unwanted pregnancies; HIV-infection; serious physical injuries or disability; and ultimately, death. The impact is not limited to a person who experiences it, but also those who witness violence, in particular children.
  • To coordinate the national response to this scourge, the Department for Women, Children and People with Disabilities is establishing the Advisory Council on Violence Against Women and Children. The council will comprise key government departments, civil society organisations and other relevant partners and it will coordinate the implementation of the 365 Days National Plan of Action to End Violence Against Women and Children.
  • Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units have been established in all 176 policing areas. Police officers are trained to deal with these cases and forensic social workers are hired to assist child victims in particular.
  • Some 28 Thuthuzela Care Centres have been established in areas with high incidents of violence. These are one-stop centres where rape victims can lodge a case with the police and receive counselling and medical care including prevention of HIV infection and unwanted pregnancy.
  • Communities are mobilised to take part in curbing violence against women and children through campaigns such as Child Protection Week and 16 Days of Activism of No Violence against Women and Children.




South African economy remains strong
According to the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, South Africa’s financial system remained strong, despite the global financial turmoil following the downgrade of the United States of America’s (USA) credit rating and the ongoing European debt crisis.


South Africa and USA schools partner to fight HIV and AIDS
Educators and students have launched the Aids Prevention Project on the Cape Flats. This is a unique partnership between two schools in Cape Town and Los Angeles, which will share knowledge and information on HIV and AIDS. The project will enable students, teachers and administrators in both schools to use the Internet and web-based technology to exchange information about the impact of HIV and AIDS in their respective communities.


Doctors welcome Chief Executive Officer (CEO) regulations
The South African Medical Association has welcomed the Minister of Health, Mr Aaron Motsoaledi’s statements that new regulations are on the cards for hospital managers, saying better qualified CEO’s will improve patient-care.

National Health Insurance (NHI)
Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi briefed media on the National Health Insurance (NHI). The Minister highlighted that the proposed system will not mirror South Africa's advanced private healthcare sector but would give millions of poor better access to healthcare.

Infrastructure development

South Africa opens bidding for green energy projects
The South African Government has opened a bidding process for private companies to launch ''green'' energy projects to feed the national electricity grid, in a bid to improve the power supply. The process is part of government's plan to double South Africa's power supply by adding more than 50 000 megawatts of electricity to the grid, with 30% of new power generation slated to come from independent power producers.

Gautrain operational
The Gautrain rail link between Pretoria and Johannesburg started operating on 2 August. The operational stations include the Hatfield and Rosebank stations. All stations between these two stations were opened from 29 July to allow commuters to familiarise themselves with the bus routes and train services.

Gauteng toll tariffs
Cabinet approved toll tariffs for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) phase A1 yesterday (10 August 2011), and agreed that the Minister of Transport gives effect to the approval in terms of the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act, 1998 (Act No.7 of 1998).


Women honoured
South Africans of all ages made their way to the Freedom Park Monument to honour ordinary women who have had a positive effect on the lives of people around them. The day was used to celebrate the 20 000 women who marched to Pretoria in 1956 to protest against pass laws.

Government supports women empowerment programmes
President Jacob Zuma said that government will continue to implement support programmes to help women use business opportunities and information. President Zuma accused the business sector of being too slow to implement gender equality further saying that 2011 was the year of economic transformation and job creation particularly for women.