Daily Archives: March 29, 2015

Ramaphosa returns to Lesotho

Pretoria- Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa will next week visit Lesotho for the closure of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) offices, the Presidency said on Sunday.

The closure of the SADC Facilitation office in Lesotho will occur during a ceremony scheduled for Monday in Maseru, spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said.

The ceremony will witness the lowering of the SADC Flag and the official closing down of the SADC Facilitation Mission.

The function will be addressed by SADC Facilitator Deputy President Ramaphosa, Lesotho’s Prime Minister Phakalitha Mosisili and SADC Executive Secretary Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax.

“The closing ceremony marks the end of the facilitation mission following the successful SADC intervention which culminated in the recently held elections declared credible, free and fair by elections observers,” said Mamoepa.

Even though the SADC Facilitation mission offices will be closed down, Mamoepa said SADC has committed to continue to provide support beyond the elections to create peace and stability through the Facilitation Mission.

SADC Double Troika Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation held in Pretoria early this year urged all Lesotho’s political role-players to focus their attention, post the elections, on the constitutional and security sector reforms.

“SADC has committed itself to continue to assist the people of Lesotho in this process by making available expertise from member-states.”

The Deputy President was appointed by the regional body to mediate the political crisis in Lesotho.

His efforts saw the small mountain kingdom take to the polls on February 28, two years ahead of schedule under a political deal brokered by the SADC. This was part of a bid to end a political impasse that started in June last year, when former Prime Minister Tom Thabane suspended Parliament to avoid a vote of no confidence that was being pushed by his coalition government partners.

Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili emerged as the leader of the winning coalition in the election

Eskom and Government Keeping SA in the Dark On Operation Breaking Dawn [press release]

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Eskom need to take the nation into their confidence and be frank about the possibility of a national blackout.

Documents show that Eskom is running simulation exercises in preparation for a national blackout. These simulation exercises are being run under the codename Breaking Dawn, under the command of Ayanda Noah, Eskom’s Chairperson of the Emergency Response Command Centre.

On 18 March 2015, during an Oral Questions Session with the Deputy President, I asked Deputy President Ramaphosa if he was aware of any drills being run in preparation for a national blackout. The Deputy President replied, stating that:

“I am not aware of any provincial war rooms that are conducting drills in case of system failure and I guess that if that was happening I am sure that the national war room would have been aware of such activities.”

This is in stark contrast to an Eskom briefing document, dated 17 March 2015, on operation Breaking Dawn, which stated that these simulation exercises were being conducted. The briefing document reads:

“Eskom annually undertakes a national exercise to prepare the organization for responding to extreme events. In the past these exercises have addressed issues such as emergency demand reduction. This year’s exercise will address a national blackout scenario, as confirmed by the Mancom Operations Committee.”

Given the Deputy President’s position in government and the War Room falling within his purview, it seems highly unlikely that he would not be aware of Breaking Dawn. Did Deputy President Ramaphosa intentionally mislead the nation?

While business, industry and households are doing what they can to take strain off the grid, if there is a possibility of a national blackout, a report on the true state of Eskom will sensitize South Africans to what power-saving measures are needed.

I have therefore written to the Deputy President requesting that he provide Parliament and the nation with the following:

An accurate, comprehensive report on the maintenance needs of power stations

The likelihood of a national blackout and

A fortnightly briefing by the Deputy President to the National Assembly on the state of Eskom

For the sake of public trust, these measures need to put in place until the crisis at Eskom has been remedied.

The crisis at Eskom has a severe impact on the country’s already weak economy, and in many instances the livelihood of our people. It is therefore vital that Government and Eskom are transparent and open about the problems facing Eskom.

Furthermore, the internal tribulations at Eskom are cause for concern, especially now that the power utility is essentially leaderless.

Mmusi Maimane

Deputy Federal Chairperson of the Democratic Alliance | Parliamentary Leader of the Democratic Alliance

Source : Democratic Alliance

Pres Zuma to visit Algeria

Pretoria- President Jacob Zuma will on Monday undertake a two-day State Visit to Algeria at the invitation of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, the Presidency announced on Sunday.

“The objective of the visit is to further strengthen and consolidate the strategic and historical bilateral relations between the two countries,” spokesperson Mac Maharaj said.

The two presidents will have discussions on important regional and global issues of mutual concern, as well as to review the status of bilateral relations when they co-chair the 6th Session of the Binational Commission of Cooperation (BNC).

South Africa and Algeria enjoy excellent bilateral cooperation through the framework of the South Africa-Algeria BNC which has centred the bilateral interaction between the two on the following key areas such as quality of life and human resources; people to people relations; energy and infrastructure; natural resources; defence, safety and security as well as and trade and investment.

In addition to further consolidating these areas of cooperation, the 6th Session of the BNC according to Maharaj will cement collaboration in the areas of agriculture; energy; higher education; telecommunications and information technology; labour and social security; health; tourism and transport among some.

Algeria is South Africa’s largest trading partner in the region and bilateral trade has grown progressively over the last few years, thus providing great potential to further enhance trade and investment co-operation.

Located in the fertile coastal plain of North Africa, Algeria through its National Investment Plan (NIP) is seeking to diversify its economy away from its dependence on hydrocarbon exports by developing, inter alia, its mining, agro-processing and infrastructure sectors.

“Algeria is seeking to develop and diversify its economy through the NIP, which is valued at approximately US$262 billion for the period 2015-2019 and presents numerous opportunities for South African companies,” said Maharaj.

Algeria is also a strategic partner in the North Africa region, accounting for 32% of total trade in 2014.

Total exports to Algeria were valued at R1.8 billion, whilst total imports from Algeria were valued at R86 million.

President Zuma will be accompanied by Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana, Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Human Settlements Minister Lindiwe Sisulu, Telecommunications and Postal Services’s Siyabonga Cwele, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies.

South African President On State Visit to Algeria As From Monday

South African President Jacob Zuma will pay, as from Monday, a three-day State visit to Algeria, at the invitation of President of the Republic Abdelaziz Bouteflika, said Sunday the Presidency of the Republic in a communiqué.

This visit will be ” a new phase in the strengthening of the long-standing relations of fraternity and solidarity that unite the Algerian and South African peoples since the period of the fight against the apartheid,” said the source.

On this occasion, the talks “will allow the two heads of State to deepen dialogue between Algeria and South Africa on regional and international issues of common interest, including peace and security in Africa, the progress of NEPAD (The New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and the African economic integration.”

The stay of President Zuma in Algiers “will also be marked by the holding of the 6th Algerian-South African high binational cooperation commission, which will give a new impetus to the multisectoral cooperation as well as the exchanges between the two countries.”

Interchange to Ease Traffic Flow

The Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr Tshenolo Mabeo, says the Thapama circle will be closed on April 8 to pave way for the construction of the Francistown interchange.

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of the interchange, Mr Mabeo said the anticipated Francistown interchange will enhance traffic flow and ease congestion in the A1 Road during peak hours.

He said during peak hours more than 4 000 vehicles pass through the Thapama circle immensely delaying travel time for people, goods and services. Mr Mabeo noted that with the interchange, goods conveyed will arrive quicker and this will act as an attraction for potential INVESTORS and become a potential tourist attraction site. He said besides socio-economic development, decent roads also contribute the government’s efforts to reduce fatalities that continue to claim lives and leave many people with disabilities.

“The construction of this interchange will address key accidents spots as in the case of the junction entering the bus rank from Thapama circle,” he said. The Minister said with the interchange an improvement of activity within the North-South trade corridor and between Martin’s Drift and Kazungula village is expected.

“This corridor is heavily used by commercial vehicles especially freight companies transporting goods and services from Southern Africa to the rest of Africa,” he said. Mr Mabeo said Botswana is a major player in the transportation system within SADC and therefore the quality of its transport system is important to its INVESTOR attractiveness and the country’s competitiveness.

Minister Mabeo thanked the community for their patience, dedication and cooperation during the relocation of their homesteads to pave way for the project. He also thanked the business community for their cooperation, “I know development such as this one can directly or indirectly affect your operations and put your businesses at risk but in the long run the benefits of the infrastructure will boost your business gains a ten-fold”.

On other issues, he said the vehicle population in Botswana continued to grow during NDP9 by 50 per cent from 204 228 to nearly 319 459 and the growth was mainly from private vehicles, public service transportation and heavy commercial vehicles which put pressure on some of the roads.

For his part, Francistown East MP, Mr Buti Billy called on the Ministry of Transport and Communications to consider introducing toll gates particularly between Dumela industrial and the City Centre.

He said trucks that transport goods to Dumela Industrial are normally overloaded and impact negatively on the roads. He noted that toll gates can generate income to repair and maintain roads.

Source : BOPA