Monthly Archives: February 2018

Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers: High Level Segment of the Conference Disarmament

Statement by Deputy Minister Landers at the High Level Segment of the Conference on Disarmament Geneva, Swirtzerland

Thank you Madam President for the opportunity to address this august body.

Madam President,

At the outset, let me state unambiguously that South Africa is a strong proponent of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control and an ardent supporter of a world free from the threats posed by weapons of mass destruction and the proliferation of conventional arms.

While the threat to humanity posed by chemical and biological weapons has led to the banning of these weapons of mass destruction through negotiations in this very body, the achievement of a world free from nuclear weapons remains an unfulfilled and elusive goal.

South Africa’s commitment to disarmament has never been a goal in itself. Amongst others, it is based on our belief that international peace and security cannot be divorced from development – that global security is not achievable when enormous financial and other resources continue to be diverted towards the acquisition of more and more destructive capabilities, while more than a billion people around the world continue to suffer from hunger and deprivation.

We believe that common threats can only be effectively addressed through enhanced international co-operation and strong international institutions that can respond to our collective security concerns.

Madam President,

There can be no doubt about the inextricable link between disarmament and non-proliferation and that continuous and irreversible progress on both fronts are required. As the cornerstone of the nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation regime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) represents a historical bargain between the nuclear-weapon States and the non-nuclear-weapon States, in terms of which the former has undertaken to eliminate their nuclear weapons based on the reciprocal undertaking by the latter not to pursue the nuclear weapons option.

Regrettably, this grand bargain has been challenged by its partners not living up to their commitments, especially under article 6.

We are convinced that neither the possession nor the pursuit of nuclear weapons can enhance international peace and security. We are particularly alarmed about statements seeking to justify the retention of nuclear weapons on the basis of the perceived benefits of nuclear deterrence.

Such justifications and the notion that nuclear weapons provide an ultimate security guarantee, weaken arguments against proliferation and the development of nuclear weapons by others, which tend to use the very same arguments to justify their decision to pursue the nuclear weapons option. Simply put, there are no right hands for wrong weapons and the idea of responsible possession of nuclear arms therefore has to be contested.

The primary responsibility for undertaking the necessary steps for the elimination of nuclear weapons lies with the nuclear-weapon States. It is therefore incumbent upon these States to engage, without further delay, in an accelerated process of negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control.

Madam President,

As you are aware, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) was adopted on 7 July 2017 by a United Nations Conference. The adoption of this Treaty through an inclusive multilateral process in the United Nations framework, which involved both States and members of civil society, is the culmination of three international conferences held between 2012 and 2014 that considered the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and their associated risks. We regret the decision by the States possessing nuclear weapons not to participate in the UN Conference.

The adoption of this Treaty by two thirds of the UN membership displays the moral and security concerns of the international community with regard to the catastrophic consequences of the use of nuclear weapons and the need for security for all.

As one of the most significant developments in the area of nuclear disarmament since 1945, the TPNW represents the highest non-proliferation standard that any State can commit to, thereby strengthening and complementing the NPT. This was also the reason why it was acknowledged by the Nobel Peace Committee in 2017.

It also provides the opportunity for those States that are not located in nuclear-weapon-free zones to join an instrument that expresses total opposition to nuclear weapons.

The TPNW is fully consistent with the NPT and endeavours to contribute towards fulfilling its provisions, including the obligation under Article VI to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures towards nuclear disarmament.

It neither distracts from or adds to the safeguards regime established under the NPT, nor precludes the further strengthening of any safeguards regime or the additional measures that States may have already committed to, or may undertake in the future.

As with the NPT, any State joining the Treaty is required, as a minimum, to conclude and implement a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the IAEA.

The UN Conference endeavoured to ensure that the Treaty does not inadvertently create loopholes in the existing regime, while recognising that detailed verification arrangements would need to be developed in the future, hopefully with the participation of all States.

Madam President,

I have to reiterate that the TPNW is not the final word on nuclear weapons, but a critical step in the evolution of the regime that would be required to achieve and eventually maintain a world without nuclear weapons. Its approach is consistent with the approach taken in the elimination of other unacceptable weapons, where prohibition preceded elimination.

Importantly, the Treaty does not prioritise the security interests of one or a few States above the security interests of the international community as a whole, but rather recognizes that nuclear weapons pose a threat to all States and people.

South Africa was among around 50 countries that signed the Treaty when it was opened for signature on 20 September 2017 in New York and we look forward to the soonest signature and ratification of the TPNW by all States that are committed to the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons.

The TPNW Madam President, does not distract from, but rather encourages, urgent progress towards the implementation of the nuclear disarmament obligations and commitments under the NPT.

What undermines confidence in the NPT is lack of the judicious implementation of article 6 and the necessary sense of urgency in fulfilling commitments. We believe that the faithful implementation of the nuclear disarmament commitments with the necessary sense of urgency will restore confidence in the regime and strengthen international peace and security.

As we prepare for the 2020 NPT Review Conference, it is imperative that we take stock of the progress made towards the implementation of all Treaty provisions and the solemn commitments made in this regard. We should guard against some States opposed to the TPNW using this to distract our attention from an objective assessment of the progress made in the implementation of the 1995, 2000 and 2010 NPT Final Documents.

In this regard, we will have to assess why the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the last treaty to be negotiated in the CD 22 years ago, has still not entered into force. Given recent international developments, the importance and urgency to achieve the early entry into force of the Treaty cannot be over-emphasised.

Madam President,

The present CD Session takes place against the backdrop of a number of challenges that have affected international disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control efforts during the last few years. The continuing deadlock and inability of the CD to deliver on its responsibility as the single multilateral disarmament negotiating forum of the international community must rank very high amongst these challenges.

We regret that the recent decision adopted by the CD once again fell short of our expectations for an end to the protracted impasse. Past repetitive activities have not brought the Conference closer to agreement on a programme of work. Nevertheless, it is our hope that the recent decision would not distract the CD from the imperative of reaching consensus on a Programme of Work early during the 2018 session and starting negotiations. We have no doubt that this will require increased flexibility by all CD members and a willingness to move beyond narrow interests.

In South Africa’s view, there are several items on the CD’s agenda that have long been ripe for negotiations, including a fissile material treaty, a treaty on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, as well as other effective measures towards nuclear disarmament.

We see no reason why any or all of these issues cannot be subjected to negotiations in the CD, especially given the complexities of each of these areas which may take time to resolve. Neither do we believe that the conclusion of such instruments could in any way jeopardise the national security interests of any State.

To the contrary, new norms in these areas can only serve to strengthen international and regional peace and security. In addition, the mere act of negotiation can also help to rebuild trust among States, something that is desperately needed.

Madam President,

There is an urgent moral duty for the CD to be a working and functional platform as envisaged by the founding fathers. Collectively, Members of the CD hold the key to unlock this body’s true potential and through the CD we can respond to the current global challenges.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa

MEC Alan Winde outlines economic impact of drought on agriculture, 1 Mar

On Thursday 1 March Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde will outline the economic impact of the Western Cape drought on Agriculture and the way forward for the sector.

The Department of Agriculture, in collaboration with BFAP, has recently completed its report which details the macro-economic impact of the drought.

Source: Government of South Africa

South Africa: Team SA Kit Unveiled Ahead of Commonwealth Games

Team South Africa will truly be dressed for success at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

The official team kit launch took place in spectacular style at the Mall of Africa in Midrand, Gauteng and big news for fashionistas of the rainbow nation is that Italian clothing giant Lotto Sport Italia have designed all the team’s sporting apparel.

A variety of South Africa’s most decorated sportsmen and women showed off the brand-new kit which saw a bold move away from the traditional green and gold design.

Speaking at the launch, SASCOC president Mr Gideon Sam said it was indeed a proud moment. ‘No-one is more aware than us of the past controversies surrounding some of the team kit at previous multi-code events. With this in mind we have asked the people that count, namely the athletes, to play an integral part in the kit design.

‘National sports legend Natalie du Toit, now head of the Athletes Commission at SASCOC, drove this project and I think that today the phrase “a picture is worth a thousand words” is particularly apt.’

For their part an official Lotto statement said: ‘Today Lotto is proud to announce the partnership with SASCOC, which confirms its commitment to the Olympic spirit. Whether you are training for the Olympics or for a local tournament, compete honourably, and Lotto will be there for you. Sportivamente!’

Founded in 1973, Lotto began its activities with the production of tennis shoes and football boots, and over the years has expanded its offerings both in the performance area and the free time area with a broad line of leisure products. Lotto distributes its products in over 100 countries worldwide, through monobrand stores, independent sports goods shops, specialised chains and large stores with specialised sports departments.

Sponsorships have always been a vital key to Lotto’s success, with past and present legends such as Ruud Gullit, Andriy Shevchenko and Luca Toni in football, and John Newcombe, Boris Becker, Martina Navratilova, David Ferrer and Agnieszka Radwanska in tennis, to name just a few.

Multiple Paralympic gold medallist, Natalie du Toit, also acted as Master of Ceremonies.

The launch got underway to the iconic sounds of American bad Black Eyed Peas hit song “Let’s get it started.”

Explained a proud Du Toit: ‘For a few months leading up to the Games, athletes watch social media with bated breath, interested in what the Australian team and the American team kit will look like. This is usually sent out at around the same time as the major qualification competitions for that specific international competition.

‘It is with pride that Team South Africa is able to do this too!

‘One of the first tasks of our Athletes Commission was to design the kit for the Commonwealth Games team 2018. We as the commission got straight to it and created something that we are proud of as a commission to present.

‘As our commission is represented by multi-coded sports players, we are proud to say that the designs have three specific aspects in mind.

‘Firstly, we have designed colour and fit to be wheelchair-friendly, secondly, we have designed colours that could be worn with any part of the kit and thirdly, we were adamant to not be completely green.

‘Thank you to the Athletes Commission and the team for the time taken, the willingness to be involved in this project as small and as big as it might seem and the manner in which you all conducted yourselves. We hope that all of South Africa rallies behind our team as our athletes take part at these Games, being as positive as we can be. We are proudly #teammzansi #positivechange”

At the launch Paralympic track ace Jonathan Ntutu wore a blue and white vest with matching blue and white shorts and women’s rugby stalwart Marithy Pienaar wore the team tracksuit.

Hockey’s Owen Mvimbi and Stephanie Baxter then modeled the green and yellow vest and three-quarter pants as well as the squares and second tracksuit pants.

Strongwoman weightlifter Celestie Engelbrecht showed off the team rain jacket and track suit pants while other official team garments were worn by hockey’s Lisa Deetlefs and sprinter Anaso Jobodwana. London Olympics gold medal-winning rower Lawrence Ndlovu and Athlete High Commission Nicola Rossouw also strutted their stuff.

The final, and perhaps fitting, demonstration came from Olympic silver medallist and reigning world champion long jumper Luvo Manyonga who wore the podium tracksuit.

The 2018 Commonwealth Games will be staged between 4-15 April in the east coast city of Gold Coast.

Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee

South Africa: Dudu Myeni Fails to Appear Before Inquiry

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, tasked with dealing with the Inquiry into the mismanagement of state funds in state-owned enterprises met on Wednesday and was supposed to hear evidence from former South African Airways (SAA) board Chairperson Ms Dudu Myeni.

The Chairperson of the Inquiry, Ms Zukiswa Rantho, said: Today we were expecting Ms Dudu Myeni, we have been informed that she is not coming. We wrote her a letter inviting her to the Inquiry and she responded by sending an SMS to the Committee’s Secretary. In her response she said she is waiting to be guided by her lawyer on how to respond to the invitation by Parliament. They will look at the legalities of coming to the Inquiry and will come back to us in writing. She has apologised for being unavailable via an SMS.

However, members of the Committee were of the view that these were delaying tactics and bordering on undermining the process by the Committee. Some of the Committee members recommended a subpoena should be issued to Ms Myeni whilst other members felt a letter should be sent to re-invite Ms Myeni to appear before the Committee next week before Wednesday.

Ms Rantho welcomed the comments from the members and indicated that she will discuss with the legal team on what is the best way forward.

Source: Government of South Africa

South Africa: Semenya Edged By Serena Williams At Laureus Awards

South Africa’s Caster Semenya lost out to tennis icon Serena Williams as the racket sport dominated the main honours list at the 2018 Laureus Awards Ceremony on Tuesday night.

Rio Olympian 800-metre gold medallist Semenya was one of six women’s finalists.

Pictured on the red carpet on with wife Violet Raseboya on Tuesday night, Semenya was the only South African up for nomination at the annual awards.

The men’s award went to Roger Federer, who, in the company of HSH Prince Albert and HSH Princess Charlene,won his fifth and six Laureus statuettes to become the most decorated Laureus Winner in history.

Speaking after receiving his Awards, Federer said: ‘This is a very special moment for me. Everyone knows how highly I value my Laureus Awards, so to win another would have been wonderful, but to win two is a truly unique honour. And so unexpected. I’m delighted and I would like to thank the Laureus Academy for all their support.

‘It was an unforgettable year for me, to come back after a very difficult 2016, and these Awards just make it even more memorable. When I won my first Laureus Award back in 2005, if you had said I would have ended up winning six I would not have believed you. It’s been an amazing ride.’

Voted for by the legends of sport in the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Awards recognised sporting achievement in the 2017 calendar year. The Awards were hosted by Hollywood superstar Benedict Cumberbatch, while world-renowned singer-songwriter Emeli Sande performed for guests.

In the Sportsman of the Year category, Federer fought off tough competition from the likes of Rafael Nadal and Cristiano Ronaldo to win the Award. The Swiss tennis star who won the Australian Open and Wimbledon, also received the Comeback of the Year Award, in recognition of his achievements in overcoming a serious knee injury.

Williams won the Sportswoman of the Year Award following her Australian Open success, her 23rd Grand Slam title. Serena, who also gave birth to her first child in 2017, is now the most decorated female Laureus Award winner with five Laureus statuettes.

Golfer Sergio Garcia won his second Laureus Award, 18 years after winning the Laureus Newcomer accolade at the 2000 Awards. The Spaniard received the Breakthrough of the Year Award for winning the 2017 Masters, his first ever Major Championship win on his 74th attempt.

Mercedes AMG Petronas beat the likes of Real Madrid and the Golden State Warriors to win the Team of the Year Award, after continuing their dominance in Formula One by securing their fourth successive Constructors World Championship.

French Vendee Globe winning sailor Armel Le Cleac’h received the Action Sportsperson of the Year Award, while Swiss triple world champion wheelchair racer Marcel Hug won the World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award, for his 800m, 1,500m and 5,000m titles in the T54 class at the 2017 World Para Athletics Championships in London.

Attended by sports stars, celebrities and business leaders from around the world, the Awards also shone a light on the transformational work of Laureus Sport for Good, the Laureus charity which uses the power of sport to help young people overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage.

Active Communities Network, an international sport for development organisation which works in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, received the Laureus Sport for Good Award for their life-changing work in using sport to help young people make positive lifestyle choices, by learning life skills and progressing into education, training and employment programmes.

Brazilian football team Chapecoense, the team which was torn apart by a devastating plane crash and whose revival and comeback inspired the sporting world, were honoured with the Laureus Best Sporting Moment of the Year Award.

Italy and Roma football legend Francesco Totti received the Laureus Academy Exceptional Achievement Award, honoured for his inspirational 22-year one-man-club career with Roma and his 2006 World Cup success with Italy. At the prestigious Awards Ceremony, Totti also joined Manchester United star and new Wales manager Ryan Giggs on stage as the newest Members of the Laureus World Sports Academy.

Houston Texans defensive end J. J. Watt received the Laureus Sporting Inspiration Award for his incredible fundraising efforts after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, where he raised more than $37 million to support relief efforts.

US Olympic Legend and Laureus Academy Member Edwin Moses received the Laureus Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of his remarkable sporting career in which he won two Olympic gold medals and remained unbeaten for nine years, nine months and nine days in the 400 metres hurdles. He is now a world leader in the fight against the use of illegal drugs in sport.

Source: South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee