Daily Archives: May 15, 2017

Secretary-General Urges Collaboration in Finance, Clean Energy to Tap Development Potential of Enhanced Connectivity, at Infrastructure Forum Opening

Following are UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ remarks at the opening of the Belt and Road Forum, in Beijing today:

I feel very grateful and very honoured to have the opportunity to speak at this Forum.

The world today is at a critical juncture. We face both unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities, with the potential for widely contrasting futures.

In recent decades, the world has made remarkable progress in human development. The proportion of people living in extreme poverty has dropped by half. China alone lifted more than 600 million people out of poverty. Billions of people gained access to drinking water. Millions more are in school. Thanks to major inroads against malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases, people are living longer, healthier lives. Technological innovations have stitched the world together in new webs of commerce, contact and common endeavour.

Yet, we also know that millions of people are being left behind. The tide of globalization has yet to lift all boats. For too many, the path to prosperity has proven elusive. Inequalities within and between countries are causing social tensions and sometimes conflicts. The planet’s ecosystems are degrading at an alarming rate. Climate change has become a serious danger.

The inability to resolve old conflicts or prevent new ones has caused immense suffering. Terrorism and fragility are on the rise. Trust is on the decline � trust in Governments, in globalization and in the values that hold us together.

Our challenge is to revitalize international cooperation for the common good, and build lives of peace and dignity for all.

For the first time in human history, the world has at its disposal sufficient resources and advanced technologies to end extreme poverty, to reduce inequalities and to place the planet on a sustainable trajectory. We also have inspiring new strategies, agreed by all two years ago: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on financing for development.

Bringing these plans to life requires wide-ranging action, investment and leadership. In this context, the Belt and Road Initiative has immense potential. Running through Asia, Europe and Africa, it is far-reaching in geography and ambition. For countries yearning to become more integrated with the global economy, it can promote access to markets.

While the Belt and Road Initiative and the 2030 Agenda are different in their nature and scope, both have sustainable development as the overarching objective. Both strive to create opportunities, global public goods and win-win cooperation. And both aim to deepen connectivity across countries and regions: connectivity in infrastructure, trade, finance, policies, and perhaps most important of all, among peoples.

In order for the participating countries along the Belt and Road to fully benefit from the potential of enhanced connectivity, it is crucial to strengthen the links between the Initiative and the Sustainable Development Goals. Those 17 Goals can guide the policies and actions under the Belt and Road towards true sustainable development.

As projects under the initiative unfold, let us work together to uphold international environmental and social standards, and to ensure that the benefits reach beyond cities into rural areas.

With the initiative expected to generate vast investments in infrastructure, let us seize the moment to help countries make the transition to clean-energy, low-carbon pathways instead of locking in unsustainable practices for decades to come. Chinese leadership on climate change will continue to be pivotal.

As the Belt and Road attracts public and private funding, let us recognize that countries will still need official development assistance. I urge donors to fulfil their long-standing commitments, namely the Addis Ababa Plan of Action. And just as the initiative opens new corridors for goods, let us also keep open the channels for dialogue, so that any possible tensions among the countries touched by this undertaking can give way to mutual benefit.

The Belt and Road Initiative is rooted in a shared vision for global development. Indeed, China is a central pillar of multilateralism.

China played a key role in shaping the 2030 Agenda and in making possible the adoption of the Paris Agreement � two of the past decade’s signal achievements in international diplomacy. China has also launched several major initiatives, from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and increased support for United Nations peacekeeping, to a combination of new funds aiming at strengthening both peace and prosperity.

This wide-ranging engagement is more necessary than ever today. Our world is multipolar. But, that by itself is no guarantee of prosperity and peace. A multipolar world needs multilateral cooperation to face common threats and seize shared opportunities.

The Belt and Road Initiative has clear echoes of the ancient Silk Road. Today, we must take that spirit to new heights, for the benefit of all. As a Chinese saying goes: Building the road is the first step towards prosperity. The United Nations system stands ready to travel this road with you in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and to fulfil our promise to leave no one behind.

Source: United Nations

SOUTH AFRICAN CONSTITUTIONAL COURT PREPARES TO HEAR APPLICATION ON PRESIDENT ZUMA

JOHANNESBURG, May 15 (NNN-SABC) — The Constitutional Court of South Africa is in the spotlight this week as it prepares to hear an application on the use of a secret ballot in a vote of no confidence against President Jacob Zuma on Monday.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM), joined by various other opposition parties, wants the Court to order National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete to allow the use of a secret ballot during the voting process.

An overnight vigil was held from Sunday and would be followed by a march by opposition parties to the Constitutional Court in Braamfontein in Johannesburg on Monday.

It is not the first time the secret ballot issue is brought before court. The battle for a secret ballot was first brought to the High Court in Cape Town by Agang Parliamentary leader Andries Tlouamma in 2015. Tlouamma, who was joined by Congress of the People (COPE) and the UDM at the time, lost the court battle to force Mbete to allow the use of a secret ballot.

National Assembly rules and the Constitution do not make provision for the removal of a sitting President from office by voting through a secret ballot. The Constitution only allows the use of a secret ballot to elect a President, if there is more than one nomination.

President Zuma was elected through a secret ballot in 2009 when former COPE Parliamentary leader Mvume Dandala contested the position. He received 277 votes against Dandala’s 47 votes. However, the President was re-elected unopposed by the National Assembly after the 2014 general election.

The UDM in Parliament says it is confident that the court will rule in its favour on the use of a secret ballot in the No Confidence motion against President Zuma. UDM chief Whip Nqabayomzi Kwankwa says his party is also confident that many members of Parliament (MPs) from Zuma’s African Natioal Congress (ANC) will vote with the opposition.

As the Chief Whip for example, I am consulting a lot of members. Members from the African National Congress, trying to lobby them to vote in favour of the motion on a day that will be decided after the Constitutional Court process has been completed,” he says.

“The response has been extremely positive obviously, but as we engage with those people we do so with the strictest confidence in order to make sure that we don’t’ put their lives at risk because we understand that a lot of them have been intimidate and threatened.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says it’s confident that the Constitutional Court will give constitutional certainty. IFP Chief Whip Narend Singh says: We have submitted an affidavit setting out why we believe the court should give certainty. We feel that it is inconsistent with the spirit of the constitution and we hope that the court can give us some kind of direction even if they cannot dictate to Parliament, but to request Parliament to reconsider those clauses that deal with the question of secret ballot.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Security Firms See Potential North Korea Link to Ransomware Attack

Cyber security researchers on Monday pointed to code in a “ransomware” attack that could indicate a link to North Korea.

Symantec and Kaspersky Lab each cited code that was previously used by a hacker collective known as the Lazarus Group, which was behind the high-profile 2014 hack of Sony that was also blamed on North Korea.

But the security firms cautioned that it is too early to make any definitive conclusions, in part because the code could have been merely copied by someone else for use in the current event.

The effects of the ransomware attack appeared to ease Monday, although thousands more computers, mostly in Asia, were hit as people signed in at work for the first time since the infections spread to 150 countries late last week.

Health officials in Britain, where surgeries and doctors’ appointments in its national health care system had been severely impacted Friday, were still having problems Monday. But health minister Jeremy Hunt said it was “encouraging” that a second wave of attacks had not materialized.

He said “the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range that we had anticipated.”

In the United States, Tom Bossert, a homeland security adviser to President Donald Trump, told the ABC television network the global cybersecurity attack is something that “for right now, we’ve got under control.”

He told reporters at the White House that “less than $70,000” has been paid as ransom to those carrying out the attacks. He urged all computer users to make sure they install software patches to protect themselves against further cyberattacks.

In the television interview, Bossert described the malware that paralyzed 200,000 computers running factories, banks, government agencies, hospitals and transportation systems across the globe as an “extremely serious threat.”

Cybersecurity experts say the hackers behind the “WannaCry” ransomware, who demanded $300 payments to decrypt files locked by the malware, used a vulnerability that came from U.S. government documents leaked online. The attacks exploited known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

During the weekend, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the clandestine U.S. National Security Agency had developed the code used in the attack.

Bossert said “criminals,” not the U.S. government, are responsible for the attacks. Like Bossert, experts believe Microsoft’s security patch released in March should protect networks if companies and individual users install it.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country had nothing to do with the attack and cited the Microsoft statement blaming the NSA for causing the worldwide cyberattack.

“A genie let out of a bottle of this kind, especially created by secret services, can then cause damage to its authors and creators,” Putin said while attending an international summit in Beijing. He said that while there was “no significant damage” to Russian institutions from the cyberattack, the incident was “worrisome.”

“There is nothing good in this and calls for concern,” he said.

Even though there appeared to be a diminished number of attacks Monday, computer outages still affected segments of life across the globe, especially in Asia, where Friday’s attacks occurred after business hours.

China

China said 29,000 institutions had been affected, along with hundreds of thousands of devices. Japan’s computer emergency response team said 2,000 computers at 600 locations were affected there.

Universities and other educational institutions appeared to be the hardest hit in China. China’s Xinhua News Agency said railway stations, mail delivery, gas stations, hospitals, office buildings, shopping malls and government services also were affected.

Elsewhere, Britain said seven of the 47 trusts that run its national health care system were still affected, with some surgeries and outpatient appointments canceled as a result. In France, auto manufacturer Renault said one of its plants that employs 3,500 workers stayed shut Monday as technicians dealt with the aftermath of the Friday attacks.

Security patches

Computer security experts have assured individual computer users who have kept their operating systems updated that they are relatively safe, but urged companies and governments to make sure they apply security patches or upgrade to newer systems.

They advised those whose networks have been effectively shut down by the ransomware attack not to make the payment demanded, the equivalent of $300, paid in the digital currency bitcoin.

However, the authors of the “WannaCry” ransomware attack told their victims the amount they must pay will double if they do not comply within three days of the original infection, by Monday in most cases. The hackers warned that they will delete all files on infected systems if no payment is received within seven days.

Source: Voice of America

KZN ready to host Tourism Indaba delegates

Pretoria – KwaZulu-Natal will take centre stage over the next few days as it hosts Tourism Indaba 2017 – a top travel show in the continent.

The Tourism Indaba, hosted for the 25th consecutive year, this time at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from 16-18 May 2017, will afford the province the opportunity to talk to top players in the tourism sector, from the continent and across the globe, to broker deals that will see KZN getting a bigger piece of the global tourism pie.

The Tourism Indaba is the biggest travel show in Africa and one of the three biggest in the world.

The travel show is attended by an estimated 10 000 delegates over the three days and generates almost R200 million for the economy of the province.

Exhibitors will have an opportunity to meet with over 800 buyers from India, Brazil, the SADC countries, Nigeria, Italy, Australia, the UK, Germany, the USA, France and the Netherlands.

Indaba is a very important marketing platform for us as a destination, so we are looking forward to engaging with trade and international buyers who will be coming this year.

We want to position KZN on the global stage, and we are confident that, with so many new developments that have happened in the province over the past year, buyers will be as excited as we are to package and promote KZN in their respective markets, said MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Sihle Zikalala, ahead of the Indaba.

As it has been the norm over the years, TKZN will host a business breakfast session on 16 May 2017, the first morning of the Indaba where MEC Zikalala will give an update on some of the tourism developments that are expected to take the sector to greater heights, including new international airlines now flying directly to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport.

The MEC will also officially open the brand new TKZN stand, which will be shared with sister entities Trade and Investment KwaZulu-Natal and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife. The stand will also have a section for black-owned tourism business enterprises.

Once gain this year, some of our emerging tourism business owners who are currently part of our Incubation Programme will participate in this year’s Indaba.

We believe that this will be a fruitful platform for them from which to network and forge relationship with international players within the sector, and start creating business linkages that can help grow their businesses, said CEO of Tourism KZN Ndabo Khoza.

The TKZN stand will be jam packed with meetings with strategic partners ranging from airline partners and international tour operators from all over the globe.

However, delegates will still be given a taste of the KZN hospitality by Gateway Mall which will offer free shuttles from the Indaba to the mall for some shopping at the end of each day.

Delegates will also be able to take a picture with a KZN iconic background as their keepsake when they go back home to remember their time in the exceptional Zulu Kingdom.

Source: South African Government News Agency

South African Local Government Association hosts Women’s Commission National Summit

The South African Local Government Association (SALGA) Women’s Commission (SWC) is to convene a National Summit on Wednesday, 17 May, at Emperors Palace, where its new National Commissioner will be elected and issues affecting women in local government will be discussed.

The SWC has documented its Journey since 2010 -2016 in a report titled Working together to promote gender equality, sustainable development and good governance.

The report which reflects the voice and representation of women in society in general, the challenges women face in South Africa in particular, politically and economically, will also be presented at the submit this Wednesday and will be made available on SALGA’s website.

The key objectives of the summit is to:

adopt revised Terms of Reference aligned to the SALGA Constitution as adopted at the SALGA November 2016 national conference

agree on the Programme of Action aligned to the SALGA 5 year strategy � 2017-2022, including localising SDGs on Gender equality, and

elect the national chairperson of the commission.

Source: Government of South Africa