Media release

Transcript: Post Cabinet briefing by Jimmy Manyi, Government Spokesperson

31 March 2011



Jimmy Manyi: I think let me pause there and see if there are any questions for any clarity? Starting in Cape Town?

Unidentified speaker: There are five questions in Cape Town for this round.

Reporter: Morning Mr Manyi. On the Libyan question, you say on the one hand South Africa votes at the United Nations (UN) to authorise military intervention in the form of an enforced no-fly zone, then rejects any foreign military intervention whatever it is for. Please can you explain this obvious contradiction and say where does South Africa now stand in terms of the use of force to enforce a no-fly zone?

Jimmy Manyi: Okay.

Reporter: I wanted to ask, but my second question is if South Africa says it rejects regime change in Libya and talks about humanitarian assistance and all of those things, where does South Africa stand with regards to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi? I mean, are we supporting an exit strategy for him? How would we like to see this thing being resolved going forward?

Jimmy Manyi: Thank you. Next question?

Reporter: There’s been talk about the rebels in Libya being supplied with arms. What is South Africa’s position on that?

Reporter: The US president has indicated that they’ll be supplying the rebels with arms and South Africa is obviously opposed to any kind of military intervention. How does it view the situation now given that fact that they’ve disabled Gaddafi’s air power but now they’ll be supplying arms to the rebels?

Jimmy Manyi: Last question in Cape Town!

Reporter: Also on Libya. The President said the same thing eleven days ago that government opposes a regime change. I mean, its obvious that you would prefer the African Union (AU) to be handling this but what in practical terms is government going to do to stop the United States (US) and European intervention, instead of just always saying no to regime change?

Jimmy Manyi: Okay, I’ll get Clayson [Department of International Relations and Cooperation Spokesperson Clayson Monyela] to respond to those questions but I think I just must clarify that it’s a regime change doctrine. I think it’s a principle that we’re talking about but Clayson, can you respond to all the questions? Have you got a mike there or can you come here? Whichever way!

Clayson Monyela: Colleagues in Cape Town and in Pretoria! Good morning. South Africa as you know, voted in support of the United National Security Council (UNSC) Resolution on Libya which amongst others imposed the no-fly zone. The resolution was very clear that the UNSC members were to take all the necessary measures to ensure that the no-fly zone if effected. Now in the resolution itself and I’m sure many of you have seen copies of this – it’s on our website in case you haven’t read it – it was very clear that there was not going to be any military intervention or occupation. Those were the bottom lines for South Africa which we ensured that were part of the resolution. As I say, if you haven’t read it, please do that. Now, the necessary measures obviously also gave authority to the UNSC members to do what is happening now. The term that the media has been using is ‘air bombardments’ to ensure that nobody can fly and attack the civilians and for us the principle was that we needed to protect the innocent civilians who are being killed in that country, which is why South Africa has called for restraint, we’ve called for ceasefire, we’ve also called for a speedy and peaceful resolution to the current crisis in Libya. Now, the question of whether our rejection of a regime change doctrine is in contradiction to the vote, it doesn’t arise. Our vote was premised on the principle of protecting the lives of innocent civilians. On Tuesday we are going to be having a media briefing specifically on Libya to be addressed by the minister and we’ll unpack further what we mean by this but for us there is no contradiction. If you read the resolution you will see that the main rationale behind the vote, in fact by all the UNSC that voted, was the protection of innocent civilians, which is why even the countries that have decided to take the action that they have taken in Libya, it is really to ensure that civilians are not attacked or killed and in the statement that Cabinet has issued today we are saying we reject or we say no to the killing of civilians and secondly, no to the doctrine of regime change and that’s what Manyi was saying. I hope that answers your questions.

Reporter: Not really. Clayson, sorry, we also asked you about South Africa’s position on Muammar Gaddafi. Where do we stand?

Clayson Monyela: I was going to go to that. I was just checking on the answer for the first question. On Muammar Gaddafi both the minister and the deputy minister and the department have been on record as saying that we condemn the excessive use of force. We condemn violence from any side in that country, whether from the government side or what has been called the rebels, which results in the killing of civilians in that country. We’ve also been on record as saying the condemnation will extend to anybody that is behind the violence or excessive use of force including the colonel himself. We have been on record on this. The third question was with regard to the supply of arms to the rebels. Now, this is a question that we will address on Tuesday but we will be I think, consistent with our position on the Libyan question to say we wouldn’t want to see any action from anybody that will fuel the crisis in that country, including the supply of arms that would result in the killing of civilians because this for us is the key thing. The lives of the people of that country should be protected. We support their quest to see reforms, to see democracy, to see a change in line with the will of the people of that country. We would be opposed to any action from any side that would result in the situation of that county worsening or further loss of life. I think I’ve dealt with all the questions. My name is Clayson Monyela. I’m the spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. Yes?

Reporter: Hi Mr Monyela.

Clayson Monyela: This is becoming a briefing on Libya.

Reporter: How do you explain that you’re still backing the UNSC resolution but the European and American powers are now bombing the very civilians that you say you wanted to protect? Have you not updated your position on this? I mean, according to the Arab League President there’s been enormous loss of life. Can’t you give some kind of logical explanation how your position still stands given that this is happening?

Clayson Monyela: Yes, we will not speak for the Americans or any other country. Our position remains that we say no to the killing of civilians by anybody so if the action by whatever countries you are mentioning there is aimed at killing civilians in that country we’ll say no to that. But I don’t think any country would go to Libya with the primary purpose of killing people. But our position is very clear and this is what Cabinet has also articulated, that we say no to the killing of innocent civilians in that country. And that would extend to an action by anybody.

Reporter: Hi Clayson. If you can answer this question – when South Africa voted in support of the UNSC resolution, did South Africa understand what it takes to enforce a no-fly zone, including the bombardment that was supposed to take place? And if South Africa did understand, why didn’t South Africa also assist in this process to ensure that there is as little civilian casualties as possible in the enforcement of this no-fly zone? And then secondly, my question on Muammar Gaddafi was, where do we stand with regard to a sort of an exit strategy for him? Would we support it?

Clayson Monyela: Sure. Let me deal with your last question. We’ve always been saying that we can’t dictate what should happen in a sovereign country. The people of Libya are the ones who should determine how they should be governed and who should govern them. It is not for South Africa to say who should be running that country. So we wouldn’t necessarily dictate what should happen to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The people of that country should decide on what should happen to him. That’s number one. Number two, with regard to whether we understood what would have to happen to enforce the resolution, yes. We were very clear. You must remember, Resolution 1973 was the second resolution on Libya. There was Resolution 1970 which amongst others imposed sanctions, freezing of assets, an embargo on arms, etc, etc. Now, the reason why the UNSC took Resolution 1973 that amongst other imposed a no-fly zone was essentially to also ensure that the first resolution is implemented. And now our principle position there, and which is why for us there were about four bottom lines, one of them was that we didn’t want the sovereignty of Libya to be tampered with, including foreign occupation. But we understood the no measures to mean that action would have to be taken if the no-fly zone is not respected, which is why we have not said we have necessarily a problem with the action that has been taken, but if you read the resolution itself, you will see that its very clear about no military intervention or foreign occupation of Libya. And this is also the position of the African Union which is why in the statement today, you’ll see that Cabinet is commending the moves by the African Union to appoint a panel that will have to assist with the Libyan question with the view to finding a peaceful and lasting solution to the current challenges in that country. So yes, we did understand what would happen which is why we voted for it, the principle for us being the protection of the innocent lives of civilians in that country.

Unidentified Speaker: There are another two follow-ups in Cape Town. May we take it?

Jimmy Manyi: No, we’re going to come to Joburg now, on the same Libyan issues.

Reporter: Clayson, I appreciate the problem you find yourself in. [Much laughter]. Does government think that more lives have been saved by the creation of the no-fly zone than lives that have been lost as a result of it?

Clayson Monyela: Look, it’s a bit tricky. You have to rely on statistics for that, before the no-fly zone was effected and post the no-fly zone and I guess, compare the casualties before and after. But we think this was a good decision by the UNSC which was why we voted and supported it and welcomed the resolution because we needed to take action at the level of the United Nations Security Council to ensure that innocent lives of civilians are protected in that country. So yes, our view was that all that remains was that this needed to be done because the lives of the people in that country needed to be protected.

Jimmy Manyi: Any other questions in Pretoria on this matter? Okay, it is an important matter colleagues. Understand, we’ll go back to Cape Town and we’ll pick up on those follow-up questions.

Reporter: Just a clarification – you say that the UN decision was a good decision and action that needed to be taken and then you are calling for an immediate ceasefire. Is the government still supporting this action that is going on or is it rejecting what is going on at the moment?

Reporter: I’m a tad confused. Thousands upon thousands of Libyans are prepared to die for regime change, but we reject their plight and we say you can’t give the rebels guns but only very recently we sold sniper rifles to Gaddafi which he used to kill civilians. Could you explain?

Reporter: Thank you. Yes, my question has now been asked but I’ll move to another question. To what extent is the South African government’s decision making on Libya based on information from media sources, from other governments? To what extent do we have our own information about what is going on, on the ground in Libya?

Clayson Monyela: I’ll start with the last question. We base all our decisions on our own information. Obviously the government has got a lot of information at its disposal but it will mainly be our own information that informs our decision making. The other question about the sale of arms to the rebels. I think I’ve already dealt with that question. The issue about the sale of sniper rifles, I remember the Minister of Defence dealing with that question. So I’m sure you still have her response on the record on that issue. The first question was with regard to whether we – I forgot. What did you say?

Reporter: It is clarification on the government’s position. On the one hand you’re saying the UN decision was a good one and action needed to be taken and on the other hand you think about rejecting and calling for a ceasefire. So as the position stands now, do you support what’s going on with the coalition strikes?

Clayson Monyela: Look, there’s no confusion there. The UNSC resolution was very clear in terms of the rationale behind the resolution itself and the measures that needed to be taken to ensure that the first resolution 1970 is implemented and respected which is why there needed to be this follow-up resolution 1973, particularly the imposition of the no-fly zone for the protection of innocent civilian lives in that country. What we are saying is rejecting the killing of civilians, number one, number two the notion of regime change. We don’t think it is an issue for outsiders to decide what needs to happen in a sovereign country, which is why as South Africa we are on record as saying it’s the people of Libya who should decide who should govern them and how they should be governed, which is why we will always be opposed to the principle or the doctrine of regime change because it is not an issue for outsiders. It’s the people of that country who decide on who and how they should be governed. That’s why for us it is a principle issue hence the decision and the articulation by government and also by Cabinet to say ‘we will always say no to the doctrine of regime change’. If the people of Libya want change in that country it is for them to decide, not for outsiders. That’s the principle.

Jimmy Manyi: Thank you Clayson. I think you’ve acquitted yourself very well. Right, next line of questions on any of the matters on the post-Cabinet briefing. We are back in Pretoria.

Reporter: Just the deliberations with labour on conditions of employment. How is that process going? I think the last time one of the labour groupings was a little frustrated – hadn’t walked away but certainly had rejected a deal. How is that process going?

Jimmy Manyi: I think for now it is still the opening bats and people are still having tea and everybody is still very nice to each other. So far, it is still the opening bats. It is going well so far. Okay? Next question? Done? I don’t have questions in Joburg and Pretoria. Cape Town?

Reporter: Mr Manyi, on the Eastern Cape Education Department there’s a very short mention in the post-cabinet statement where you say they received a report on the challenges being experienced by the Eastern Cape Department of Education and are studying the findings. I was under the impression that it was the findings of previous studies about what is going on in the department that led Cabinet to take action on the Department of Education in the Eastern Cape. Has there been any progress? What steps are being taken? Can you give us some indication of concrete moves that are being made to solve those problems?

Jimmy Manyi: I think what the statement was seeking to outline is exactly those things. I think the Department of Education are the ones with the details. They have just submitted that to Cabinet. It’s a [unclear] thing on its own and if there was somebody here from the department of Education they would give more details. I sit here, I don’t have a lot of those details with me at this point but we’re quite happy to issue a press statement on the details of…in fact we will do that. We will issue a press statement today for everyone to know exactly what those developments are and as I say, as we speak right now, I don’t have it with me right now but I undertake to give it to you before close of business.

Reporter: Can you just say whether there was any discussion in Cabinet with regard to the situation in Ivory Coast and developments there? Will you be calling for a ceasefire in that country as well as requested by the incumbent leader Mr Gbagbo and just how do you see that situation there playing out? Do you think this looks like the end game for Mr Gbagbo? Thanks.

Jimmy Manyi: Okay, in this particular cabinet meeting there was no discussion on that matter but just to answer the question I’m going to ask Clayson here who does our international relations issues. Clayson?

Clayson Monyela: Thanks. In fact, there’s been another vote at the United Nations Security Council last night South African time, on Cote d'Ivoire. We’ve just issued a statement. It should be with all the media houses by now. Before I came here, we issued it within the last hour and you will see in that statement that South Africa has voted for this particular resolution. In fact I think I have a copy with me. I can just read a paragraph or two. As I say, we’ve sent this out to all the media houses but essentially we’re saying in the statement that South Africa remains deeply concerned at the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Cote d'Ivoire. South Africa believes that the African Union and the United Nations should persist in the quest to find a peaceful political solution to the current crisis in Cote d'Ivoire which is now rapidly sliding back into a civil war. A political solution aimed at restoring national reconciliation and unity, democracy, good governance is the only sustainable approach to ensuring long term stability in Cote d'Ivoire. Now, in this regard the African Union Peace and Security Council summoned during the recent meeting on 10 March endorsed the recommendations of its high-level panel on eh overall political solution to the current crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. The AU reaffirmed its recognition of the election of Mr Alassane Ouattara as the president of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire. South Africa wishes to encourage the Chairperson of the AU Commission to continue in its effort to appoint a high representative whose mandate is to implement an overall political solution and to complete the process for a way out of the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. Now, to go straight to the resolution today, South Africa has voted in favour of Resolution 1975 as the resolution if fully in line with the roadmap outlined by the African Union as it calls for an end to hostilities, the protection of civilians and for the parties to implement the political solution endorsed by the African Union. Additionally, the resolution strengthens the deployment of the forces under the mandate of the United Nations by allowing it, amongst others to protect civilians under the imminent threat of physical violence within its capabilities and the area of deployment. We conclude by saying as the parties comply with the terms of the resolution and through their actions to work towards a sustainable political solution that takes into account the will of the people of Cote d'Ivoire. And as you know amongst others, it also calls for a cease of fire and a cessation of hostilities. I hope that answers your question. As I said, the statement is out there. I’m sure you’ll be able to find it.

Jimmy Manyi: Right. This clearly demonstrates that the South African government is very serious about peace on the continent and these are their thoughts that the government is making to play a constructive role, to play a leadership role, to ensure that there’s peace and stability on the continent. Anything else from Cape Town?

Unidentified Speaker: No more from Cape Town.

Jimmy Manyi: Thank you very much Cape Town. Pretoria? Thank you very much Pretoria. That concludes our business of the day.

Duration: 25 Minutes, 56 Seconds

Jimmy Manyi (Government Spokesperson)
Cell: 083 645 0810

Issued by Government Communications (GCIS)


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