Daily Archives: February 4, 2019

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane on Supreme Court of Appeal judgement

Minister Mokonyane considers not to appeal SCA Judgement

The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Nomvula Mokonyane, has announced that the Department of Environemtal Affairs is considering not to appeal the judgement of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), as handed down on 24 January 2019.

The judgment relates to an appeal lodged by Recycling and Economic Development Initiative of South Africa (REDISA) following an attempt to place the entity under final liquidation at the instance of the department.

REDISA was responsible for the implementation of a waste tyre recycling scheme for South Africa, known as the REDISA plan, since 2012, The Plan entailed the creation and management of a national network for collecting waste tyres, storing them and delivering them to recyclers for processing.

Having received and considered advice from the State Attorney and Senior Counsel, we are considering not to appeal the judgement of the SCA and to instead move with urgency to engage all the affected role-players in a process that is aimed at bringing certainty and moving the country closer to a new 5-year plan for waste tyre recycling said Minister Mokonyane.

The department is confident that an amicable solution may be reached amongst the parties to allow for the above to obtain and for a new dispensation on waste tyre recycling to emerge.

It is in the interests of the country, our environment and the industry that we find solutions to the above matters speedily concluded the Minister.

Source: Government of South Africa

UN Report: N. Korea Trying to Protect Nuclear, Missile Capabilities

UNITED NATIONS North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remain intact and the country is working to make sure those capabilities cannot be destroyed by any military strikes, according to a confidential report by U.N. sanctions monitors.

The report to a 15-member U.N. Security Council sanctions committee, seen by Reuters on Monday, comes ahead of a second planned summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later this month. They initially met in June 2018 and Kim pledged to work toward denuclearization.

While Trump has hailed “tremendous progress” in his dealings with North Korea, the U.N. report found that Pyongyang “is using civilian facilities, including airports, for ballistic missile assembly and testing with the goal of effectively preventing ‘decapitation’ strikes” on a smaller number of identified nuclear and missile assembly and manufacturing sites.”

The report said it “found evidence of a consistent trend on the part of the DPRK to disperse its assembly, storage and testing locations,” using the abbreviation for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the 317-page U.N. report, which was submitted to Security Council members on Friday.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

Ineffective sanctions

“The country continues to defy Security Council resolutions through a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal,” the sanctions monitors found.

“These violations render the latest U.N. sanctions ineffective.”

The monitors said they had evidence of one unprecedented prohibited petroleum product transfer of more than 57,600 barrels, worth more than $5.7 million.

They said the case highlighted “new sanctions evasion techniques that defeated the due diligence efforts of the region’s leading commodity trader, as well as the U.S. and Singaporean banks that facilitated the fuel payments and a leading UK insurer that provided protection and indemnity cover to one of the vessels involved.”

The report accused North Korea of also violating a U.N. arms embargo and attempting “to sell a wide range of military equipment to armed groups and governments in the Middle East and Africa,” as well as small arms and light weapons to Libya, Sudan and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The U.N. monitors also noted “a trend in the DPRK’s evasion of financial sanctions using cyber attacks to illegally force the transfer of funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.”

North Korea is subject to a ban on luxury goods and the monitors said they are investigating the public appearance of a relatively new Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine in Pyongyang on Oct. 7 last year, which usually sells for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Russia and China suggested the Security Council discuss easing sanctions after Trump and Kim met for the first time. But the United States and other council members have said there must be strict enforcement of sanctions until Pyongyang acts.

Source: Voice of America

Zimbabwe Teachers to Strike, Ignoring Government Appeal

HARARE, ZIMBABWE Zimbabwean teachers will go ahead with a national strike from Tuesday after last-ditch negotiations with the government failed, unions said, risking more unrest after violent protests last month.

The main public sector union backed down last week on its plan to strike for better pay, citing a volatile situation after security forces cracked down on protesters in January, but teachers said they would go ahead with a work stoppage.

Government officials met teachers’ unions on Monday in Harare to try to dissuade them from walking out, and to continue negotiations, but without success.

The country’s 305,000 government workers are demanding wage rises and payments in dollars to help them to deal with spiraling inflation and an economic crisis that has sapped supplies of cash, fuel and medicines in state hospitals.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Union and Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the two biggest teachers’ unions, said their demands had not been met and the strike was on from Tuesday.

“There is no going back, the strike is indefinite. But if government concedes to our demands tomorrow, we will call it off,” said PTUZ secretary general Raymond Majongwe.

Education Minister Paul Mavhima said he had pleaded with unions to give talks a chance as the government seeks ways to address some of their grievances.

“They should be guided by considerations of the bigger national interests and in this case it is the welfare of learners,” Mavhima told reporters.

Zimbabwe was thrown into turmoil last month when a three-day stay-at-home strike against President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to raise the price of fuel by 150 percent turned into violent anti-government protests.

The government introduced a subsidized bus service in major cities, forcing public taxis, which had hiked prices threefold, to cut fares.

But on Monday bakers hiked the price of bread by 60 percent, according to new prices displayed in shops. The increase follows that of other basic goods like cooking oil, rice, maize meal and beef last month.

Last week private doctors set new charges in U.S. dollars.

Zimbabweans say Mnangagwa, in office since 2017, is failing to deliver on pre-election promises to provide accessible healthcare and education and to boost employment, leading to growing frustration that analysts say could trigger further unrest.

Mnangagwa and government officials, without giving evidence, accuse Western governments of funding the opposition to cause violence and unrest, an echo of the era of former President Robert Mugabe, when authorities blamed the West for most of its troubles.

Source: Voice of America

Upcoming EU-Arab Summit Brings More Headaches Than Expected

BRUSSELS When plans for a summit between the European Union and the Arab League were first hatched last year, it was envisioned as the start of a new friendship across the Mediterranean. What a difference a few months makes.

The EU hopes that improving ties with its Arab neighbors would help advance its policies, not least its aim to fight illegal immigration from the Middle East and North Africa.

But after the murder of a journalist in a Saudi consulate last October, European officials helping to prepare for the Feb. 24-25 summit in Egypt say they are now focused mainly on limiting the awkwardness.

“The idea was to give them red carpet treatment and start engaging with them more, see what we can do on migration,” said one European diplomat. “But now we are in an unlucky spot as some of the [Arab League] national leaders are not our favorites.”

With barely three weeks to go before the summit, top EU leaders have yet to confirm their participation.

A lower-level meeting of Arab League and EU foreign ministers intended to set up an agenda for the summit ended on Monday in Brussels with no agreement on a joint statement.

As top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini was explaining to a news conference why they had failed to agree, she was interrupted by her co-chair, the Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit.

There were “more complications on the European side than the Arab side,” Aboul Gheit said. In a friendly but public sign of disagreement, Mogherini snapped back: “I would say the contrary.”

The EU wants to focus at this month’s summit on migration, but that is a fraught area in which EU member states disagree sharply among themselves. Hungary, led by an anti-immigration hardliner, vetoed Monday’s joint declaration over the subject.

“This summit has been very difficult to organize, to find a date, nobody really wants this,” another EU official said of the top-level talks later this month. “For the EU it is all about migration, but there are so many other touchy subjects that people would rather not address.”

Saudi, Sudan and Syria

A key change in the European-Arab relationship in recent months has been the collapse in the global standing of the wealthy and influential Arab leader, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The West’s relationship with Saudi Arabia � the world’s biggest exporter of oil and second biggest importer of arms � has been the bedrock of its ties to the Arab world for decades.

But the de facto ruler has been shunned since U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October. Riyadh initially denied the killing, then gave conflicting accounts. It now accepts that its agents killed him but says its leadership had nothing to do with it.

Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, arrived at Monday’s meeting in Brussels speaking as if little had changed: the sides faced common challenges “like countering extremism and terrorism,” he said. “There are also big offers related to trade and investment.”

But relations are not what they once were. Attending an event with the crown prince is tricky for some European leaders who were already accused by rights groups of rubbing shoulders with him at a meeting of the G-20 industrialized countries in November, European sources said.

Nor is Crown Prince Mohammed the only potentially awkward guest for the EU. In recent weeks, Arab states have been showing solidarity with Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, who has been facing the most sustained anti-government demonstrations at home of his 30 years in power.

Bashir, wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court in the Hague, is persona non grata for some Europeans.

“We don’t deal with him directly, but we deal with Sudan,” an EU official said. “They could send somebody else.”

A guest even more unwelcome to the Europeans will not be invited to this summit, but could be at a future one soon: Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.

Hostility to Assad has long been an issue on which European countries agreed with the leading Arab states, which suspended Damascus from the Arab League in 2011. But with Assad’s future now all but secured by Russian and Iranian forces, some Arab countries are pushing to readmit Syria. Most EU countries are not ready to rehabilitate him.

“We are not in a situation today to renew a normal relationship with Syria,” Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders said Monday.

However, Austria and the Czech Republic are more amenable, hopeful that restoring ties with Assad would help Syrian refugees return home.

“Preparations for the summit are going very slowly, it’s all rather uncomfortable,” one EU diplomat said, but stressed there were no plans to call the whole thing off. “There are plenty of embarrassing traps to avoid, like sitting at one table with the Saudis, Sudan’s Bashir, or even Assad returning.”

Source: Voice of America

Deputy Minister Andries Nel engages Ethics Institute on ethical leadership in local government, 5 Feb

The Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), Mr Andries Nel will tomorrow (5 February 2019) convene a meeting with the Ethics Institute to explore partnership possibilities aimed at developing a code for ethical governance in municipalities.

The Ethics Institute is an independent public institute producing original thought leadership and offering a range of services and products related to organisational ethics.

The aim of the project is to develop a Code for Ethical Governance in Local Government which is envisaged to have a similar standing in local government as the King Code on Corporate Governance (King IV) has been in the private sector. To achieve this level of relevance and legitimacy will therefore require research and structured engagement with relevant role-players.

The meeting is to among others, strengthen and further emphasise and support the commitment made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on ethical leadership during his State of the Nation Address.

With various challenges of governance, there is a case for the development of a Code for Ethical Governance in Local Government.

Source: Government of South Africa