Bua Briefs 15 of 2011

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26 October 2011

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) 2011

The 2011 CHOGM will meet in Perth, Australia, from 28 to 30 October. CHOGM is a biennial summit meeting of the heads of government from all Commonwealth nations and a main decision-making forum. The meeting is hosted by different member states, and is chaired by that nation's respective Prime Minister or President, who becomes the Commonwealth Chairperson-in-Office.

Under the theme, Building Global Resilience, Building National Resilience, CHOGM 2011 will provide a platform for Commonwealth leaders to discuss world issues such as trade and investment opportunities, reinforcing our strong people-to-people links and promoting shared values relevant to building a strong and secure future for all.

The Commonwealth of Nations, a voluntary association of former colonies of the United Kingdom, is defined as “a voluntary association of independent sovereign states consulting and cooperating in the common interests of their people and in the promotion of international understanding and world peace”.

Its membership is diverse, spanning all six continents of the world, encompassing all major faiths, and including both developed and developing countries Africa (19), Asia (eight), the Americas (two), Caribbean (12), Europe (three) and the South Pacific (10). The Commonwealth represents one-third of the world's population and more than one-quarter of the world's countries. The countries of the Commonwealth share a commitment to democracy, freedom, peace, the rule of law and opportunity for all.

As a founding member of the Commonwealth, South Africa was expelled in 1961 due to internal apartheid policies but rejoined the organisation in 1994, shortly after the country’s first democratic elections. In November 1999, South Africa hosted the CHOGM in Durban and assumed the chair for the next two years.

The Commonwealth has funded development projects which include:

  • developing Mpumalanga’s Tourism Growth Strategy in 2007/08
  • benchmarking South Africa's Fruit Export Trade Logistics Chain in 2007/08
  • an e-learning and website designer/developer course in 2005/06
  • a study tour to India by the Agricultural Research Council in 2004
  • being an adviser to the Commission for Gender Equality in 1999.
Key messages
supporting statements
South Africa's membership of the Commonwealth brings significant benefits to our national and international interests.
  • South Africa expresses its sincere appreciation for the sustained struggle that was waged to ensure that we end the apartheid crime against humanity.
  • This was a determining factor in South Africa’s decision to rejoin the Commonwealth following the election of the first democratic Government in 1994.
  • The modern Commonwealth is a key contributor towards advancing South Africa’s national interest and in providing a platform for South Africa to galvanise efforts towards creating a “better Africa and better world”.
  • The Commonwealth’s work and programmes of action are in line with South Africa’s national priorities: capacity-building, economic and social development, the removal of disparities in living standards, and the alleviation of poverty and illiteracy, which are also some of the pressing challenges of the current decade.
Poverty alleviation and the provision of practical solutions to developmental challenges is a shared priority.
  • South Africa’s active participation in CHOGM ensured that the need to address poverty was placed high on the world agenda.
  • Although sub-Saharan African economies grew by an average of nearly 5% over the last decade, nearly every African country faces serious challenges of achieving consistent economic growth.
  • To maintain and even accelerate growth and economic opportunities going forward, countries must address the binding constraints posed by the region’s lack of infrastructure.
  • The global economy is uncertain and turbulent, and developed and least developed nations need to collaborate to invigorate the world economy.
  • The work of the Commonwealth in the area of small states and their problems regarding economic vulnerability and capacity-building is of great value to not only the Commonwealth but also for the global economic outlook.
South Africa is committed to pushing the development agenda and advocating for more assistance for the continent in its efforts to promote the African Agenda.
  • South Africa supports multilateral diplomacy as one of the means to advance its foreign policy where membership of the Commonwealth provides a platform to deepen North-South and South-South cooperation.
  • The Commonwealth programmes are cross-cutting and address two of the most fundamental issues strongly supported by South Africa: the United Nations’ (UN) millennium development goals (MDGs) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
  • South Africa is dedicated to African unity and integration within the framework of the Constitutive Act of the African Union. 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.
  • The portfolio of country and African regional projects is about 28% of all projects delivered by the CHOGM Secretariat. Approximately 81 projects were under implementation in Africa during 2009/10, disbursed mainly across four programmes: Public Sector Development, Economic Development, Human Development and Democracy and Consensus-Building. The total value of assistance to the African region and the countries within was close to £3,5 million.
  • South Africa advocates for countries of the North to be more responsive to the needs of developing countries and for countries of the South, which represent the majority of developing countries in the world, to play a more visible role in global affairs.

Climate change is one of the greatest threats to sustainable development and demands that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 17 puts in place the necessary building blocks to deliver a balanced agreement that takes historical responsibilities into account.

  • South Africa will implement nationally appropriate mitigation actions, which will result in the reduction of greenhouse gas 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 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.
  • If climate change is not addressed, its impact will undermine the developmental gains and the progress that South Africa, the Southern African Development Community and the African continent have made to achieve the MDGs.


Group of 20 (G20) Summit

The G20 is the premier consultative body for international economic cooperation and a coalition of the world’s foremost developed and developing nations. Its summit will be held on 3 and 4 November 2011 in Cannes, France.

Infrastructure development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and global food security are the central pillars of the French Presidency’s development agenda for the upcoming G20 Summit.   

Development has been part of the G20’s agenda. Its summit in Seoul in November 2010, adopted the Multi-Year Action Plan on Development. The action plan details recommendations in developmental areas that G20 leaders consider as “significant bottlenecks to increasing and maintaining growth in many developing countries”.

Key messages
supporting statements
The G20 has a duty to fight poverty and provide concrete solutions to development problems. South Africa is committed to make meaningful progress on the Development Agenda.
  • In the current global economic and fiscal context, it is important that all options are considered to meet the financing needs of developing and low-income countries.
  • South Africa supports efforts that explore ways of identifying additional resources for the financing of development and the fight against climate change.
  • Although sub-Saharan African economies grew by an average of nearly 5% annually over the last decade, nearly every African country faces serious challenges in providing a steady and reliable supply of electricity.
  • To maintain and even accelerate growth and economic opportunities going forward, countries must address the binding constraints posed by the region’s lack of energy infrastructure.
South Africa is committed to active participation and policy leadership within the G20 to influence key policies relating to the global economy and to advance Africa's concerns.
  • The G20 should play an active role in low-income countries and sub-Saharan Africa, by narrowing the development gap and reducing poverty to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensure a more robust and resilient global economy for all.
  • President Jacob Zuma leads the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Sub-Committee on Infrastructure whose 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 Southern African Development Community, East African Community and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
  • Commemoration of the African Union-adopted Africa Food and Nutrition Security Day annually on 30 October, serves as a rallying point to intensify commitments from all stakeholders to address the challenges of food, nutrition insecurity and malnutrition in Africa.
  • South Africa needs to continue lobbying developed countries to mobilise resources to support growth and development. Developing countries should be recognised as equal partners in the development of their economies. South Africa’s priority areas within the G20 are shaped by its domestic agenda and development priorities.
  • South Africa will share its experiences with G20 countries on measures to strengthen financial regulation.

South Africa is committed to transforming institutions of global governance and calls on Northern countries to be more responsive to the needs of developing countries, and for the South to play a more visible role in global affairs.

  • South Africa’s constructive role in the multilateral arena will be put to the test as host of the 17the Conference of Parties (COP17/CMP 7) on climate change at the end of this year. This event will serve to highlight the impact of climate change on the country and on the African continent, which has been the hardest hit by climate change effects. This platform will also provide South Africa with an opportunity to showcase successful implementation of its green initiatives.
  • South Africa will use its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as an opportunity to contribute to reforming the working methods of the council and to work towards the achievement of a representative, legitimate and more effective council.
  • As part of the G20 and the Group of 5 (G5 – the five emerging nations), South Africa will use its new BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) 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 African nation represented in the G20 and hosted the G20 Development Working Group meeting, which it co-chaired with France and South Korea. Given the current challenges facing the global economy, in particular the needs of low-income and developing countries, South Africa calls G20 leaders to adhere to commitments made on the reform of the international financial institutions. South Africa co-chairs the G20 International Monetary Fund Reform Working Group with Australia.




South Africa, Equatorial Guinea strengthen trade

South Africa and Equatorial Guinea have agreed to work together to increase bilateral trade. President Jacob Zuma said discussions reviewed the state of bilateral cooperation on issues such as trade and industry, transport, minerals and energy, agriculture, public enterprises, communications, defence and security. Both countries had also agreed to take appropriate measures to increase the volume of two-way trade and investments in fostering closer economic ties.

Improvement for South Africa in Doing Business Report 2012

The ease of doing business in South Africa improved one place this year to rank the country 35 out of 183 economies, according to the World Bank's Doing Business 2012: Doing Business in a More Transparent World Report 2012. According to the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation's report,  South Africa made starting a business easier by implementing the new Companies Act in April.

South Africa's reputation improving

According to findings from a study by the Reputation Institute, South Africa's reputation among people of the G8 countries has shown a steady improvement since 2009, from a score of 44,27 in January 2009, to 44,60 in January 2010 and 46,70 in January 2011 (on a score scale of 0 to 100). Recent gains in beating crime bode well for further improvement still.


South Africa’s ranking in the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance

South Africa is ranked fifth out of 53 African countries in the 2011 Ibrahim Index of African Governance, sustaining its top five ranking for the third year running, behind Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana and Seychelles. The country maintained its scores on three of the index's main groupings, holding steady at third for participation and human rights, and seventh for both sustainable economic opportunity and safety and rule of law. However, it slipped from fifth to eighth place for human development.

Science and technology

Science centres to help matriculants

The Department of Science and Technology is rolling out science centres across the country in a bid to improve, Science and Mathematics results in schools. The Department of Science and Technology sponsored 30 science centres nationwide, which aim to provide support in the teaching of Mathematics and Science to about 197 schools.

Skills development

Department drives job creation through artisan training programme

The Department of Public Works has acknowledged the achievements of 98 learners who completed the theoretical training of its Artisan Development Programme at a graduation ceremony at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (Necsa) nuclear research centre. The 98 learners will now undertake 80 weeks of monitored practical training in respective trades, supervised by a qualified artisan, at prominent mining companies as well as at Necsa.

Internship programmes helping South Africa to tackle skills shortages

Government is taking the initiative to deal with the issue of key skills shortages in the country by offering young professionals internships in conjunction with the French Government. This is being done through the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition Internship Programme. The aim of the internship programme is to offer young professionals an opportunity to acquire skills from their international counterparts to use in growing the country’s economy, while dealing with the skills deficit.

Cities get clean for job creation

As one of the initiatives to create five million jobs by 2020, towns and cities around the country are cleaning up their act and generating employment opportunities. The “Clean Cities and Towns” initiative, spearheaded by the Department of Cooperative Governance, is aiming to produce thousands of green jobs and reduce levels of unemployment in the country's poorer communities. The programme is also being facilitated through the Community Work Programme, which has created over 80 000 employment opportunities nationally.

Climate change

Climate change policy launched

The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Edna Molewa, has announced government's ground-breaking National Climate Change Response Policy. The policy gives South Africa a clear road map to respond to the urgency of climate change as it pushes towards a green economy. The timing of the policy is set to give South Africa some muscle during next month's 17th Conference of the Parties climate change negotiations.

Tourism, arts and culture

South African film wins international award

The South African production Skeem scooped the coveted Audience Choice Award at the recent Abu Dhabi Film Festival, showing that locally directed motion pictures pose stiff competition among industry heavyweights. The production boasts an all-star South African cast who have featured in some of the biggest films made in South Africa. The festival ran from 13 October to 22 October 2011.

Table Mountain in line to be one of the 7 Wonders of Nature

There are just 14 days left for South Africans to try get Table Mountain, one of only two African nominees in the New 7 Wonders of Nature Competition, permanently into the history books (and onto the travel itinerary of millions).

Table Mountain is one of 28 finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature competition, in which the world's top natural sites are being whittled down to seven winners in an exercise in global democracy that is expected to draw over a billion participants.

Cape Town wins World Design Capital 2014

Cape Town has won the title of World Design Capital 2014. The International Council of Societies of Industrial Design awards the title to cities based on their commitment to use design as an effective tool for social, cultural and economic development.