SOUTH AFRICA ACCUSED OF UNDERMINING G7

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

South Africa will lodge a formal complaint with the Group of 77 (G77) plus China after South African negotiators were harshly criticised for trying to disrupt the unity of the developing nation bloc at climate talks in Copenhagen.

The G77′s Sudanese Chairman, Lumumba Di-Aping, during an emotional meeting with African civil society earlier this week, criticised the weakness of many African delegations, who were lazy or had been “bought off” by industrialised nations, according to a blog by South African journalist Adam Welz.

Mr Di-Aping said some members of the South African delegation had actively sought to disrupt the bloc’s unity. Mr Di-Aping, who called the meeting at short notice, was reported to have requested microphones be switched off so as not to record his comments.

Tears rolling down his face, he said: “We have been asked to sign a suicide pact. “He lambasted the dominant thinking that global warming be restricted to 2176C as amounting to “certain death for Africa” – and this in exchange for only $10 billion (R75bn) a year, the level of short-term financing over the next three years proposed by the UN. Mr Di-Aping said this was “not enough to buy us coffins”.

South African senior negotiator Joanne Yawitch said on Thursday that South African members of parliament attending the meeting had confirmed statements were made that were “very disparaging” of South Africa. “We don’t know on what basis (Di-Aping) is saying it,” she said. “I don’t know if (he) got carried away, but we have severe problems with it. We should have been able to deal with it through the appropriate channels… We are deeply concerned that sentiments were expressed in a public forum.”

A complaint would be lodged, and a meeting with Mr Di-Aping was being sought. Some developing countries are understood to be unhappy that economically advanced nations like South Africa, India and China have disclosed targets to reduce emissions intensities, believing it undermines the G77′s negotiating position. South Africa has pledged a 34 percent emissions cut by 2020 off a “business as usual” scenario, assuming adequate financing flows. Differences in the G77 spilled into the open on Wednesday as Tuvalu requested a break in official proceedings in Copenhagen.

This came after the Pacific island nation, which is not a G77 member, tabled a protocol calling for discussions on a legally binding agreement to Kyoto that would set reductions from 2013. It was rejected by bigger G77 nations, but was supported by many others. South African chief negotiator Alf Wills said the reluctance to discuss the proposal was a procedural concern.

If it was opened for discussion, then so too would a Japanese proposal that would “kill” the Kyoto Protocol that binds developed countries to emissions cuts.

Mr Wills said the G77 – comprising the interests of oil-exporting nations on the one hand and small island states on the other – was not unified on the required degree of average global temperature containment, but 2176C appeared to be the “middle of the road” number.

The Alliance of Small Island States (Aosis), which seeks a temperature rise of not more than 1.5176C to preserve its 43 members, yesterday described as “entirely normal” the differences in the G77.”The G77 is not breaking up,” said Aosis chairperson Dessima Williams. The group was united by its history of pursuing development from underdeveloped circumstances, and its insistence on preserving the Kyoto Protocol.

Source: (www.busrep.co.za 20091211)

DEVELOPING WORLD SCORNS DANISH SCHEME

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

As tensions grew at the United Nations (UN) climate change talks it emerged on Thursday that the world’s major emerging economies, led by China and SA, were calling for a “binding” amendment to the Kyoto Protocol requiring rich countries to slash carbon pollution by more than 40% .

A previously unseen 11-page draft “Copenhagen Accord”, to be posted on the website of French daily Le Monde, was finalised on 30 November after a closed-door meeting in Beijing between China, India, SA and Brazil. The initiative, led by Beijing, was conceived as a rebuttal by developing countries to another backroom accord hammered out by Denmark, the host country.

The text embraces the objective of limiting by 2100 the rise of global temperatures to 2º C compared with pre-industrial times, a goal shared by developed countries. But the emerging giants also called on rich countries — committed to CO² reductions under Kyoto of at least 5% by 2012 — to “multiply by eight” that promise for a second, seven-year period running up to 2020.

The draft says these commitments must be made “mainly through domestic measures” and not through the purchase of so- called “offsets” outside their borders in developing countries. It also stipulates that any developed country not constrained under Kyoto in effect, the US should take on the same legally binding commitments.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that to help keep global temperatures increases below the 2º C threshold, rich nations would have to cut their carbon emissions by 25%-40% by 2020 compared to 1990.The four emerging economies — which account for nearly half of the world’s CO² output — also reject all “unilateral fiscal measures” by industrialised countries, such as the carbon import taxes in pending US legislation.

On finance, they call for the creation of a special fund under the authority of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change answerable directly to member countries.

The US, Japan, the European Union and other industrialised countries have said that money to help poorer countries cope with climate change — which could reach hundreds of billions of dollars a year within a decade — should be funnelled through existing institutions. SA has said that as pledges stand, industrialised countries appear to expect developing countries to bear 78% of the emissions burden.

Lumumba Stanislaus Di- Aping, chairman of the Group of 77 (G-77), on Thursday repeated his call for countries to reconsider the 2º C target, as this would mean a temperature rise for Africa of 3,5º C -4º C, according to the UN climate panel’s report.

“The world has enough resources to address climate change in a more committed manner. The International Monetary Fund has 200bn in special drawing rights that are not being used. That money should be made available. “Without the US, the rest of the world can still issue 200bn to save the world, so why are you not doing it?” he asked. “I don’t think that’s the spirit of leadership required at this moment.”

On Di-Aping’s call for the 2º C target to be reconsidered, SA’s lead negotiator, Alf Wills, said the G-77 was not unified on this issue, as oil-producing nations would prefer a less ambitious target while the small island states, which are especially vulnerable, would prefer a 1,5º C target. The target of 2º C was a middle- of-the-road approach, he said.

“It’s important we don’t get diverted by a red herring and lose the action needed to address the problem. “The science is that 2º C is linked to a particular concentration of greenhouse gases, which is 450 parts per million (ppm). The existing concentration is 390ppm, which leaves 60ppm by 2050. The debate is around how you share this across the whole world, rich, poor and developing countries.” Joanne Yawitch, a member of SA’s team, said of rumours of an African group walkout: “There are many conspiracy theories doing the rounds. It’s a negotiating process, where people with different views are trying to agree. People use tactics, and that’s not … dirty dealing.”

Source: (www.businessday.co.za 20091211)

TUKS MARKS RIGHTS TIME OF YEAR

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

International Human Rights Day was marked for the first time in South Africa on Thursday – and centred on the campus of the University of Pretoria. 

This day is celebrated worldwide each year to commemorate the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the UN in 1948. It is normally conducted from the headquarters of the High Commission of the UN in Geneva.  As part of the celebrations, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Judge Navi Pillay, served as the President of the first World Human Rights Moot Court held at Tuks’ Law Faculty this week.

Judges in this simulated court case included former Chief Justices Pius Langa and Arthur Chaskalson, as well as international Judges. 

According to the dean of the faculty, Professor Christof Heyns, the World Moot Court in many ways resembles the Soccer World Cup. Ten countries within the five UN regions qualified for the final rounds. The winner of the Africa round was the American University in Cairo. 

Judge Pillay was awarded an honorary Doctorate from the University of Pretoria during a graduation ceremony where 30 students from the entire continent received their Master’s degrees. 

Judge Pillay, who became UN High Commissioner in July, 2008, said during her keynote address that this year Human Rights Day was dedicated to ending discrimination and embracing diversity.  She dedicated the honour to all those people who had stood up against injustice, violence, marginalisation and tyranny. 

“It is thanks to their determination and courage that many of us have had the privilege to see and experience a complete transformation in this country and elsewhere in Africa.” 

Judge Pillay said racial and ethnic discrimination, however, still occurred across the planet and remained one of the most insidious forms of discrimination. “Left unchecked, or actively fanned, they can all too easily lead to hatred, violence and, in the worst cases, escalate to full blown conflict, crimes against humanity and genocide.” 

She said that as attacks against non-nationals in South Africa and elsewhere demonstrated, the plague of xenophobia was far from being defeated.  One of the worst forms of discrimination related to the conditions of women.

Despite significant improvements over the past century, women and girls were still discriminated against in all societies, Judge Pillay said. 

At the same time, vulnerable minorities all over the world continued to endure serious threats and were frequently excluded from taking part fully in the economic, political, social and cultural life available to the majorities in the countries they lived in.  Judge Pillay said similar problems faced the estimated 370 million indigenous people who made up 5 percent of the world population. 

“Discrimination in all its aspects must be denounced and forcefully rejected every time it rears its odious head, whether in the guise of political opportunism, cultural mores or specious arguments presented as scientific evidence.”

Source: (www.pretorianews.co.za, 20091211)

SOUTH AFRICAN CITIZENS ROT IN FOREIGN JAILS

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

At least 1,062 South African citizens are languishing in prisons all over the world. Most prisoners are serving time for drug-related offences.

This was revealed by International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in response to a Parliamentary question.

There could be even more South Africans in overseas prisons, since Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said the 1,062 were only those who had asked Consulates for assistance.

Source: (www.sowetan.co.za 20091210)

South Africa: MOTLANTHE PROMISES TO HELP SCHOOL

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

Deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe has promised to look into the needs of a primary school in Soshanguve after a teacher complained about the lack of sports facilities and other needs at the school. Tlamaganyo Primary School, according to the teacher, does not have a library, a lab, a fence around the school in addition to the lack of sports facilities.

The promise was made during a constituency meeting with stakeholders in the Soshanguve area where Mr Motlanthe and other Parliamentarians visited on Thursday.

Community members, workers and leaders converged at the National African Federated Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nafcoc) centre to air the views and needs of Soshanguve residents.

“Sure we can do something about this and speak to public works about the fencing of the school. Education is a priority of the ANC-led Government. I see no reason why the school should not have decent sporting facilities,” Mr Motlanthe said.

However, he warned that it was also the responsibility of the community to take ownership of the school, especially with regards to burglaries at the school. “The school must be the responsibility of the community. Those people that break in come from the community. “If you take ownership of the school, you will notice when people gain forceful entry and you should notify the police,” he said.

The community at large complained about the lack of extra-mural activities, jobs and health facilities.

Source: (www.pretorianews.co.za 20091211)

Challenges remain in efforts women's rights – Zuma

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

The Government has created an environment conducive to the empowerment of women and children, but more still needs to be done, said President Jacob Zuma at the closing ceremony of the 16 days of activism campaign.

“Prevailing attitudes regarding the place of women in society and the different notions of masculinity continue to present a barrier to the general pursuit of women’s rights and gender equality,” said Mr Zuma.

He was addressing the closing ceremony of the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign at the Free State University in Qwaqwa.

“While measures put by Government have generally impacted positively on the lives of children and women, we nevertheless acknowledge that a number of challenges still remain. “These exist both in implementation and in transforming societal attitudes and harmful practices that manifest themselves negatively against women and the girl child,” said Mr Zuma.

One of the worst manifestations of this was gender-based violence, particularly violence against women and girls, he said.

“The crime statistics released by the Police Department in September indicated an unfortunate increase in sexual offences, with much more cases of rape being enrolled in the magistrate courts across the country,” Mr Zuma said.

He said the Ministry of Women, Children and Persons with Disabilities had been asked to work with other Departments and civil society to ensure the campaign was sustained throughout the year through a 365-Days Campaign.

“This campaign has increased awareness of the detriments of violence on women, children and society as a whole. “It continues to seek to entrench the Bill of Rights and other pieces of legislation that guarantee the dignity of each person”. Mr Zuma said law enforcement agencies had been directed to put women and children high on their agenda of protection during the festive season. The criminal justice system also needed to strengthen its focus on the needs of survivors of abuse.

“Investigating officers need to engage closely with the survivor when investigating for purposes of bail applications because of its potential to cause severe distress to the survivor.”

Mr Zuma said Government and other sections of society had done all they could to inculcate a culture of respect, love and compassion for women and protection of our children. “But more still needs to be done,” he said

Source: (www.pretorianews.co.za 20091211)

Italy's govt informs on Berlusconi's health and Nigerians?

14.December.2009 · Posted in news

A message on Facebook by Kayode Ogundamisi: “Italian government just announced to the Italian people that the Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi suffer from a broken nose and two broken teeth!

Now what is stopping the Nigerian Federal executive council from informing Nigerians of the current status of President Umoru Musa Yar’Adua?”

NOW IT BEGINS

10.December.2009 · Posted in sports

by Matshelane Mamabolo and Lebogang Seale

The soccer gods dealt South Africa a very bad hand at the World Cup draw in Cape Town last night. Seeded top, the host nation had expected a favourable draw for next year’s 32-nation soccer spectacle that takes place from 11 June to 10 July. But fate ensured that Bafana Bafana’s path to the second round will be a difficult one. Mexico, Uruguay and France will provide tough opposition for Carlos Alberto Parreira’s lowly ranked Bafana, and history suggests the Brazilian and his boys will need a miracle to get through the group.

The sigh of disappointment that engulfed the packed Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC) when Mexico and France were drawn in Group A was confirmation that all realised the enormity of the task that awaits Bafana. But Springbok captain John Smit and Bafana defender Matthew Booth, both of whom assisted with the draw, broke the gloom with their positive outlook.

“I’m pretty happy that we will have good practice before we reach the semifinals and final,” said Smit, clearly choosing to look beyond the group stage. Booth was equally optimistic: “We did not expect it to be easy. But I don’t envy the Mexicans, who will be subjected to 90 000 vuvuzelas.” Mexico will provide stiff opposition for Bafana in the opening match at Soccer City on June 10 while France will be their last group opponent in Mangaung.

Sandwiched between the two will be a clash with Uruguay in Pretoria. In eight combined matches with the three countries, Bafana have only one win to boast of – a victory against Mexico in 2005. That poor record is going to have to change dramatically if we are not to become the first host nation in World Cup history to be knocked out in the first round. Bafana’s deadly draw notwithstanding, the 40-minute, made-for-television event itself was a huge success, going off without any glitches.

Opening to a resounding African beat and kaleidoscope of colour, it provided a foretaste of the grand spectacle that awaits fans next year. The CTICC erupted in rapturous applause when Johnny Clegg gave a rendition of his hit song Scatterlings of Africa against the background of glowing images of South Africa’s colours.

The glamorous ceremony graced by an array of dignitaries and celebrities from the sporting (Portuguese legend Eusebio), political former presidents FW de Klerk and Thabo Mbeki and movie (Charlize Theron) worlds, marked another milestone in South Africa’s road to 2010. Not even an earlier bomb scare at the CTICC, when a foreign journalist allegedly claimed he had a bomb in his bag, could damp the spirits among the dignitaries.

Nelson Mandela was not there, but his message of goodwill was relayed from a giant screen. “In Africa, soccer enjoys great popularity and has a particular place in our hearts. We must strive for excellence while ensuring the event leaves a lasting legacy for the benefits of our people. “The Fifa World Cup proves that the long wait for Africa has ended. Ke nako (It’s time)!” the frail Mandela said, to loud applause. Fifa president Sepp Blatter reiterated Madiba’s statements, comparing the continent’s hosting of the World Cup to “a love story” because “Africa has waited for too long”.

President Jacob Zuma reminded everyone about the hospitality that awaits visiting fans and teams next year through a “display of warmth and humility”. Then Benin singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo mesmerised the audience with her popular song Agolo. But this was only a prelude to the resounding welcome that Theron received when she was invited onto the stage.

The Benoni-born Hollywood star expressed her excitement and pride at South Africa’s status as World Cup hosts, which she described as an “an incredible and historic” moment.

“I can’t describe how great it is to be home… So much has changed but the passion for the game and the competition remains the same,” she said. Theron led a star-studded line-up of celebrities – including England star David Beckham, cricket fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, Booth, and Smit, who helped Fifa general secretary Jér244me Valcke conduct the draw proceedings.

(www.thestar.co.za; / www.pretorianews.co.za; 20091205)

Zuma will put Africa's case in Copenhagen

10.December.2009 · Posted in news

by Sheree Béga 

Environmental groups have welcomed President Jacob Zuma’s decision to attend the UN Copenhagen climate talks after his office initially insisted that he did not need to be at the crucial summit. On Thursday, the cabinet announced that President Zuma would lead South Africa’s delegation to the Danish capital, together with Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs Buyelwa Sonjica and other senior government officials.

Last month, the Saturday Star reported how President Zuma’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya, claimed there was no need for the president to attend as the Summit – which gets under way on Monday – “did not depend on personalities”.

The Mail & Guardian reported yesterday that the about-turn came after French President Nicolas Sarkozy asked Zuma to attend, joining forces with France and Brazil in pledging a reduction by 2050 of carbon emissions to half the 1990 levels.

US President Barack Obama and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao are also due to attend the talks. These nations are the biggest polluters. Conservation group WWF-SA said they were very happy that President Zuma would attend.

Tasneem Essop, WWF-SA’s international climate change advocate, said: “South Africa has long been a progressive voice in the negotiations and also has the interests of the African continent and the global South (developing nations) at heart. The country has been vocal in putting pressure on wealthy nations for ambitious cuts in greenhouse emissions and in highlighting the need for these countries to support adaptation efforts in the world’s poorest nations.

“As a water-stressed country in a region where warming is already happening at around double the average global rate, and where the population is especially vulnerable to climate change and variability, we have a very real interest in a successful global deal that is fair, ambitious and binding.

“It’s especially important that we get heads of state from developing countries to attend, particularly from Africa, the continent with the most to lose. Their attendance will help break deadlocks, so that we come out with something much stronger than just a political agreement,” she said.

WWF-SA expects South Africa to put a package of actions on the table as part of a low-carbon development plan for the country. Makoma Lekalakala, the programme officer for Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, said the most important contribution from the government was a willingness to achieve a globally binding agreement to reduce global emissions, with a minimum of 40 percent greenhouse gas reductions from 1990 in 2020 by developed nations.

“Countries like South Africa also need to reduce their emissions at home. Is President Zuma willing to reduce emissions at home?” Lekalakala asked. “Is he ready to stop both Eskom and Sasol from increasing their carbon emissions?  “If he is, just his presence at Copenhagen will help to bring about the kind of agreement necessary for a real, lasting and just change. “Climate change is not about individual countries, but the fate of humanity as a whole. Every leader needs to commit to real action in the name of our common good.”

Fiona Musana, communications manager of Greenpeace Africa, said: “All the world’s leaders, including Zuma, should be there (in Copenhagen) to make sure that whatever legal agreements are made, each leader is able to say ‘Yes, I own a part of this. I’m going back to my country to make the commitment at a domestic level to reduce coal use and embrace the energy revolution’. “Zuma’s being there is critical. It’s about personal commitment to demanding action from the developed world. Only when leaders sign on the dotted line will they make Copenhagen meaningful.”

(www.thestar.co.za / www.pretorianews.co.za; 20091205)