Daily Archives: May 27, 2013

Time for bold decisions – AU leaders

Addis Ababa: Leaders of the African Union (AU) member states wrapped up their 21st summit in Ethiopia on Monday with a set of land-mark decisions that they say will lead to a self-reliant continent that is at peace with itself.

Leaders agreed to:

Accept a report which recommends that AU explore rigorous alternative sources of funding in Africa. South Africa’s membership of BRICS is used to attract funding for infrastructure in Africa. Peace and security be top priority in the next 50 years.

It was a historic summit for the continental body as it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Organisation of African Unity (now AU), established in 1963.

Own funding options

The idea of exploring alternative sources of funding for the AU has been under discussion for years among the African leaders. Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is spearheading the drive, which he believes is the only way for the continental body to be less dependent on outside donors.

The fact that the biggest chunk of the AU budget is mainly sourced from donor partners, with some African members failing to pay their annual subscriptions, is not sitting well with some, as this has been seen to lead to unjustified external influence in how the continent is governed.

The report of the High–Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Funding the African Union has been approved by Heads of State and will be sent to Finance Ministers to study it and report back at the next summit in January.

Previously, the panel recommended a number of proposals for more sustainable funding, including a $2 tax on hotel rooms on the continent and a $5 levy on flights to and from African countries.

“It can’t be business as usual. We can’t continue to depend on outside help… Yes, outside help is crucial and greatly appreciated but we must also look at ways of making ourselves independent, and therefore it is very important that we also fund ourselves and our programmes,” said AU Commission Chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

Speaking at the conclusion of the summit, Dlamini Zuma also said the summit basked a plan to take advantage of South Africa’s membership in the economically powerful BRICS grouping, which consists of Brazil, Russia, India and China. The AU thinks partnerships with BRICS can help attract the much-needed infrastructure funding for the continent.

In March, President Jacob Zuma hosted various African leaders and members of regional blocks for a BRICS Leaders’ Africa Dialogue Forum, held on the sidelines of the BRICS summit, held in Durban in March.

Peaceful and secure continent

On peace and security on the continent, Dlamini Zuma said the summit conceded that while the AU’s Peace and Security Council has made in roads to neutralise conflicts in some parts of the continent, more work needed to be done to avert crisis situations and humanitarian problems arising out of these conflicts.

Several countries including Mali, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Sudan remain in constant conflict, and the AU has had to deploy peace keeping troops to contain violence in these areas.

“We believe sooner rather than later the guns should be silenced on our continent. We need more dialogue with those who feel different, we need to find a way of having a discussion about our differences instead of resorting to conflicts and violence,” said Dlamini Zuma.

This was echoed by the chairperson of the union and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn who said conflict in Africa was standing in the way of development.

No tolerance for coups

Expressing concern over the dangers posed by the unconstitutional seizure of power, something which is common in some African states, Desalegn said gone are the days where generals will be tolerated to take power by force and govern with a gun.

“The summit called on all member states to activate rapid response mechanisms to deal with any threats of coups and other forceful means of governing. The summit agreed that unconstitutional change of governments should be averted and condemned where it happens. This is serious,” Desalegn said.

“The situation in Madagascar and the recent development in Central African Republic are reflections of this worrying trend. While noting the importance of looking for political solutions to these problems, I have no doubt that the non-acceptance of unconstitutional change in governance, will remain our firm position.”

Dti to host investment seminars in Japan

Pretoria: Awareness of business opportunities in South Africa will come to the fore at investment seminars that the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) in partnership with The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi United Financial of Japan (UFJ) will host in Japan this week.

The seminars will take place in Yokohama, Japan from 28 – 30 May 2013. “The business seminars will give a chance to South African businesses to have bilateral business interactions with their counterparts in Japan,” dti Minister Rob Davies said on Sunday.

The seminars are a follow-up on the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the dti and the bank in February this year. The aim of the MoUs is to increase foreign direct investment from Japan into South Africa by supporting Japanese clients with market intelligence that will assist them to establish businesses locally.

Speaking to SAnews, dti Director General Lionel October, who witnessed the signing of the MoU said that South Africa had seen an increase in Japanese investment into the country.

“We now want to expand, using South Africa as the base into the African continent. We want to cooperate in terms of exports into the continent as a joint venture between South Africa and Japanese companies,” said October at the signing ceremony in February.

More MoU’s will be signed with other institutions. South Africa’s export objectives to Japan aims to promote more value-added products from South Africa, and diversify the trade balance away from traditional resource related products. This would be done by focussing on manufactured goods in sectors such as agro processing, automotives, clothing, leather and textiles, metals beneficiation, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Japan is an important export destination for South Africa. It is the third largest export destination for South Africa as well as an important traditional trading partner.

“According to information from Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), South Africa ranks either first, second or third as Japan’s source in the world, of imports of preserved pears, preserved apricots, grapefruit, prepared peaches, ground nuts, motor cars of a capacity less than 1500 cc, cane sugar, oranges, rock lobster, macadamia nuts, apricots and juices, etc,” said Davies.

Meanwhile, the dti will also participate in the African Fair 2013 that will take place during the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) V Summit. The Fair is the biggest business event related to Africa in Japan and aims to promote African exports to Japan by exhibiting African products and by encouraging bilateral business interactions between Africa and Japan.

“High-end items such as Rooibos espresso, Fairtrade wines and Wedgewood nougat will be showcased to appeal to the sharp Japanese palette. Artwork from Ardmore Ceramics as well as Carrol Boyes design items, among others, will be exhibited during the Trade Fair,” said Davies.

Teen to appear in court for family axe murder

Pretoria: The 14-year-old charged with murdering his family with an axe is due to appear in court today to face four counts of murder. The boy is alleged to have killed four of his family members, including his three-month-old sister and seven-year-old brother on Friday at the Barcelona informal settlement in Ethwatwa in the East Rand. His mother and grandmother died after being rushed to hospital.

The boy’s two other sisters, aged eight and nine, managed to escape unharmed. “I do not want to speculate on the motive … but the victims were attacked with an axe while they were sleeping,” Gauteng police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini told SAnews on Monday.

The minor is being kept at a place of safety in Cullinan after the attacks. His sisters, according to Dlamini, alerted the community and police were called in to attend to the scene. “Even though no weapon was found, we were informed by the sisters that the brother used an axe to kill the family who slept in the same room,” said Dlamini.

Shongwe and Mashego-Dlamini outlines plans for the current financial year

_: Mpumalanga Health and Social Development MEC Ms. Candith Mashego-Dlamini and Community Safety, Security and Liaison MEC Vusi Shongwe will jointly table Policy and Budget Speeches for their respective portfolios on Thursday.

The MECs will be expected to reflect on successes and challenges of the previous financial year and determining the way forward for their departments in the current financial year.

MEC Shongwe will be among others expected to reflect on plans to expanding the integrated social crime prevention initiatives, reduction of contact crimes by 4-7% with major focus on all hot spots in the province, enhancement of road safety and progress on the building of the traffic college at Bushbuckridge.

Meanwhile MEC Mashego-Dlamini is expected to pay attention to the implementation of National Health Insurance (NHI), intensification of male medical circumcision as well as six priorities at health care facilities which are cleanliness, drug supply, staff attitude, security, infection control and reduce patient waiting time.

Zola/Jabulani Hospital finalises staff recruitment

Pretoria: In an effort to ensure that Zola/Jabulani Hospital is fully equipped when it opens its door to the public, the Gauteng Health Department says it is finalising recruitment of staff as well as procuring and installing medical equipment.

Health MEC Hope Papo has assured that all together, 90 824 pieces of equipment are on the proposed list for procurement and of these, 20 957 have been delivered to the hospital.

The new 300 level 1 bed hospital is expected to bring much needed relief to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital. “The hospital has not been fully handed over to the department because the contractor has not finished building and fitting fixed items. We cannot allow delivery and placement of equipment in unfinished areas of the hospital where construction work is still in progress. However, in areas of the hospital that have been handed over, equipment is being delivered and installed,” said Papo.

He said during the process of procuring equipment for Jabulani Hospital, the department detected a duplicate order for 290 bedside lockers, which amounts to R433 550.

He said a full investigation was underway to establish the official(s) responsible for placing the double order and reasons thereof. “In January 2012, a purchase order request form was completed for 290 plastic bedside lockers at a cost of R319 000. Another purchase order was created for 290 steel bedside lockers from a different company to a value of R433 550. The results of this investigation will determine the action to be taken.”

In the vicinity of the hospital, there is the Zola Gateway Clinic, which was officially opened in September 2009. The clinic offers comprehensive primary health care centre services. It operates on Mondays to Fridays from 7am – 4pm and Saturdays from 7am – 1pm. Papo said once the hospital is opened and functional, it is intended that the clinic will be operational for 24 hours.

The service units available at Zola/Jabulani Hospital include emergency and trauma, high care, paediatrics, obstetrics and midwifery, gynaecology, rehabilitation services and dentistry.