Daily Archives: June 20, 2017

Heading to Uganda for ‘solidarity summit,’ UN chief marks World Refugee Day with calls for action

Refugee protection is not a matter of solidarity or generosity, but an obligation under international law, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres today said, detailing five strong appeals to the international community for respecting refugees’ rights.

We are still witnessing many remarkable examples of solidarity in today’s world. But at the same time, we are seeing more and more borders being closed, we are seeing more and more refugees being rejected and, namely in countries of the developed world, Mr. Guterres said in his first press conference in New York since becoming Secretary-General.

Among his calls on Member States, Mr. Guterres urged Governments to manage their borders but to increase their resettlement quotas and protect asylum seekers and people who deserve protection; to seek political solutions to world’s conflicts which are spurring the record 65.6 million refugees; and to fund humanitarian aid work.

In line with World Refugee Day, marked annually on 20 June, Mr. Guterres, who was the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for a decade prior, announced that he would be leaving later today for Uganda, which this week hosts a UN-backed summit to support the more than 1.3 million refugees within its borders for the next four years.

Some 950,000 refugees from South Sudan have crossed into Uganda since the start of the conflict in the world’s newest country in December 2013. The figure is three times higher than the number of refugees who crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Europe last year, Mr. Guterres said, adding that Uganda not only provides protection but land for the refugees.

In contrast, the UN chief had sharp words for developed countries not doing enough to provide support for refugees or take them in despite heart breaking pleas for food, water and other basics.

Some 80 per cent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries with a dramatic impact on their economy, society and security, he noted.

This is particularly worrying, especially when associated to forms of political populism, xenophobia, racism, in which refugees become a target, Mr. Guterres said, many times being accused of being part of the terror threat when refugees are not terrorists � they are the first victims of terror, they are fleeing terror; that is why they are refugees.

Speaking alongside Ninette Kelley, the Director of the NY Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mr. Guterres lashed out at the irrational debate surrounding migration, calling it a necessary element of establishing different forms of equilibrium in the global society and the global economy.

Stressing that Governments need to apply their own migration policies in their countries, he urged world leaders to respect human rights and to create opportunities within their borders so that people migrate out of choice and not out of necessity.

Addressing the difference between refugees and migrants, Mr. Guterres said that the UN General Assembly will next year hold two key debates with the aim of agreeing on two compacts � one on refugees and one on migration.

We are talking about two different situations: refugees crossing borders, fleeing conflict or prosecution, [and] economic migrants who aspire legitimately to have a better life and move from one country to another, aiming at a better future for them and their children, the Secretary-General said.

He added that migration is necessary: If something is necessary, it’s better to control it and to do it regularly than to let smugglers and traffickers be in charge of these movements.

Source: UN News Centre

Address by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Gordon Institute of Business Science

Unpacking Radical Economic Transformation

Programme Director, Ms Katie Kilpatrick,

Dean of GIBS, Professor Nicola Kleyn,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In just under a week’s time, South Africa will celebrate the 62nd anniversary of the adoption of the Freedom Charter at the Congress of the People in Kliptown.

The Freedom Charter is a good starting point for our discussion this afternoon because it captures perfectly the intent and, to some extent, the content of radical economic transformation.

It was at the Congress of the People that representatives of the people of this country gathered to declare that: The People Shall Share in the Country’s Wealth.

They said:

The national wealth of our country, the heritage of South Africans, shall be restored to the people.

Given the extent of dispossession, discrimination, exploitation and exclusion, this call in the Freedom Charter was a call for radical and fundamental economic transformation.

Over the intervening six decades, the principles of redress, redistribution, social justice and equality have been at the centre of ANC economic policy.

These principles have underpinned the ANC’s policies in government, notably in the Reconstruction and Development Programme and the National Development Plan (NDP).

At the ANC’s Mangaung Conference in 2012, the organisation adopted the NDP as an overarching framework for the second phase of our democratic transition � the pursuit of socio-economic freedom.

The Mangaung Conference recognised that in the nearly two decades since the advent of democracy, political freedom had largely been achieved.

The priority now was to pursue economic freedom.

The term ‘radical economic transformation’ was first used in the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, which was adopted by government in 2014 to guide the work of this current administration.

The MTSF 2014-2019, which is derived from the NDP, introduced the term to signal an intensification and acceleration of the economic transformation process.

Radical economic transformation is therefore not a break with existing policy.

It does not represent a new, uncertain path.

Radical economic transformation indicates a new phase of accelerated implementation of the long-standing economic policy positions of the ANC and government.

Part of the problem with the current conversation about radical economic transformation is that the term has often been misused, misrepresented or misunderstood.

We now know that some highly-paid PR specialists contrived a plan to use terms like radical economic transformation and white monopoly capital to launch a publicity offensive in defence of their clients.

It was part of defining a new narrative where those who stood in the way of their clients’ interests were presented as being opposed to radical economic transformation and representing the interests of white monopoly capital.

It is has therefore become accepted in many quarters that the term radical economic transformation is often deployed to either mask or justify activities that could be best described as state capture.

Some people use the term radical economic transformation to proclaim measures that are intended to cement their ‘radical’ credentials rather than actually achieve meaningful improvement in the lives of the poor.

However, if we are to progress as a democratic nation, we need to ensure that we are not distracted or side-tracked by the misuse of the term.

Rather, we must focus on the real substance of radical economic transformation and the steps we need to take, together, to achieve it.

Radical economic transformation is, in essence, about building a more equal society through sustained inclusive growth.

It requires that we change the structure of our economy.

We need to fundamentally alter the racial and gender composition of the ownership, control and management of our economy.

We need a South African economy that truly reflects the composition, diversity and interests of the South African people.

It cannot be owned by white people.

It cannot be dominated by men.

This necessarily requires that we address the concentration of ownership in the economy.

Many significant economic sectors are dominated by just a few companies.

Not only does this make transformation more difficult by limiting the scope for new entrants, but it also stifles competition, keeps prices high and encourages inefficiency.

If we are to truly unleash our country’s potential, we need to tackle this concentration of ownership, control and market dominance.

We also need to diversify our economy, specifically through the development of our industrial capacity.

South Africa has abundant mineral and agricultural resources, but is not extracting the true economic value of these resources before exporting them.

In reality, South Africa’s natural resources are creating millions of jobs in other countries.

By beneficiating our minerals, by processing our agricultural produce, we will be able to realise their full potential value.

Radical economic transformation will not be achieved without a massive increase in the number of South Africans who are employed.

Job creation remains the most effective driver of inclusive growth, the most direct route out of poverty, and the best way to address inequality.

That is why government, business, labour and other social partners have identified job creation as the most important and pressing economic task of the moment.

Everything we do must be aimed towards job creation.

But jobs will not be created in any significant quantity unless the economy grows at a much faster rate.

And the economy will not grow unless there is significant investment in productive activity.

It must therefore be a matter of great concern that the country is in recession, that business confidence has declined and that our sovereign credit rating has been downgraded.

These developments severely undermine our efforts to fundamentally transform our economy.

Yet, although we find ourselves in difficult economic circumstances, we cannot afford to be despondent.

Now, more than ever, we need to work together on practical measures to turn around the South African economy.

Now, more than ever, the social partners need to define a common programme for growth and work tirelessly to implement it.

Now, more than ever, we need the CEOs Initiative to be bringing government, business and labour together to create jobs.

Now, more than ever, government needs to play its part.

Among the areas where progress has been made, and where work is ongoing, is in the promotion of investment in industry.

This includes through the work of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Investment, the expansion of industrial incentives, the establishment of special economic zones and streamlining investment approval processes.

Another important area is to leverage public infrastructure investment far more effectively and deliberately.

Even under the current fiscal constraints, government continues to dedicate significant resources to its infrastructure build and maintenance programme.

We need to use this investment to develop our own manufacturing capabilities and local suppliers.

We need also to bear in mind that investment in infrastructure on the African continent as a whole will only grow in the coming decades.

As South Africa, we need to ready ourselves to be among the leading suppliers for Africa’s infrastructure revolution.

For radical economic transformation to be successful, the process of black economic empowerment needs to be integral to our efforts to grow the economy.

Empowerment and growth should be mutually reinforcing.

By bringing more black South Africans into the economy � as owners, managers, financiers, industrialists and employees � we are expanding the capacity of our economy.

We are improving the potential for growth and development.

We need to use the levers of state procurement more effectively to affirm black-owned companies.

We have been successful to some extent, but we need to do more to ensure that government’s substantial procurement budget opens up opportunities for emerging black businesses.

We need to challenge the view that preferential procurement measures encourage fraud and corruption.

Where there is corruption, nepotism or fronting, it must be dealt with decisively and those responsible must face the full might of the law.

Government’s black industrialists programme is part of a broader development in the evolution of black economic empowerment.

Until now, much of the empowerment activity has been around the acquisition of black partners of minority stakes in established businesses.

While this has enabled many to build up a capital base and acquire skills and capabilities, it has not brought about the broad-based empowerment that the country needs.

There is now a growing determination for black business people to establish their own companies or to become majority shareholders in existing businesses.

There is a greater push, using mechanisms like the black industrialists programme and the revised BEE codes, for black people to establish, own, finance and control businesses in their own right.

Central to the success of radical economic transformation � central to the growth of our economy and the prosperity of our people � is the development of our people’s skills.

If we can succeed in undoing the damage that apartheid education did, we will have succeeded in changing our country’s economy and our society beyond recognition.

If we can provide all our children with quality basic education, if we can make higher education accessible to all, and if we can equip our young people with skills appropriate to the workplace of tomorrow, then we will have laid the firmest foundation for economic growth and inclusion.

If these efforts are to succeed � if we are to transform our economy � we need to have certain fundamentals in place.

We need a capable developmental state that is able to effectively direct resources towards where they have the greatest economic and social benefit.

That means it needs to have an advanced planning and monitoring capability.

It needs to ensure that the country’s resources � from its minerals to its oceans to its broadband spectrum � are used to advance the interests of the people, particularly the poor.

We need to have state owned enterprises that fulfil a clear developmental function, that are governed effectively, that manage their finances responsibly and that are led by capable, honest and accountable people.

We need to root out corruption both in the public and private sectors.

We need to eliminate mismanagement and wastage.

Among other things, we need to proceed with urgency to establish a judicial commission of inquiry into state capture.

Our law enforcement agencies need to give these issues their full attention so that the allegations can be properly investigated and, where crimes have been committed, that those responsible are brought to book.

Fundamentally, radical economic transformation requires a supportive macroeconomic policy.

We need to preserve our economic sovereignty so that we, the people of South Africa, may determine for ourselves the economic model, policies and programmes that best serve our national interest.

That means we need to avoid a debt trap, which would scupper our transformation efforts and leave future generations saddled with the burden of our irresponsibility.

We must adhere to the current fiscal framework.

We need to be spending our public resources on infrastructure, education, health and the needs of the poor � not servicing debt.

Above all, for radical economic transformation to succeed, we need to build a new national consensus on a programme for inclusive growth.

We need to mobilise all sections of society in support of that programme.

Even at this most difficult moment in our country, we need to draw on the great achievements of our young democracy, we need to affirm our resolve to build a united, just and equal society, and we need to forge a new social compact for fundamental social and economic transformation.

As a country, we face many intractable challenges, both the product of a grossly unequal and unjust past and the result of current uncertainty.

But as a people, we have the means, the determination and the resources to work together to overcome them.

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa


CAIRO, Egypt, Robust Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Egypt, continues to boost inflows to North Africa, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said.

According to UNCTAD’s World Investment Report 2017, the FDI flows into North Africa rose by 11 percent from 2015 to 2016, to 14.5 billion U.S. dollars, driven by foreign investment reforms and new gas discoveries.

The report said, much of the growth was due to investments in Egypt, where FDI inflows increased by 17 percent to 8.1 billion U.S. dollars.

“The discovery by Shell (Netherlands) of gas reserves in Egypt’s Western Desert, continued to drive investment in the country’s hydrocarbons sector,” according to the report.

This makes Egypt fourth most attractive African destination for investors, after Angola, Nigeria and South Africa, the report said.

As a proactive participant in North Africa, Egypt’s economy benefited from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, as the two countries are undertaking a number of cooperative projects, including the establishment of an economic area in the Suez Canal Zone, and investments in maritime and land transport facilities, according to UNCTAD’s report.

Egypt has been suffering an economic recession over the past few years, due to political instability and relevant security issues, that led to the decline of tourism, foreign currency reserves and foreign investment.

The country pins hope on its economic reform programme and the recently approved investment law, to attract more foreign investment and boost its economy, especially that the new law offers massive tax incentives to investors.


Initiative to look at affordable data prices

Soweto � The Internet for All initiative will look at how South Africans can access the internet with affordable data prices, says Telecommunication and Postal Services Deputy Director General Tinyoko Ngobeni.

Addressing the Internet for All initiative in Soweto on Tuesday, Ngobeni said government was concerned about the high data prices.

We will also be looking at the availability of smart devices, whilst we also still need to upgrade the infrastructure from 2G to 3G as well as LTE, Ngobeni said.

The South African government, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the private sector and civil society have partnered to connect 22 million South Africans to the internet by 2019 through the Internet for All initiative

The Internet for All initiative seeks to address the following four barriers to internet inclusion, namely infrastructure gaps, limited affordability of data and gadgets, poor digital skills and low confidence in the use of the internet, as well as the lack of relevant digital content.

Ngobeni said the initiative will also look at how government services can be made available online.

Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele said more than 22 million people in South Africa do not use the internet at all and some studies show that 62% of the rural population lacks 3G coverage.

Let us not allow the internet to be another form of discrimination or increase the digital divide among our citizens.

Our youth are hungry for skills, access to information and opportunities to improve their lives. Let’s empower our youths to be the champions of this programme, Minister Cwele said.

He was expected to participate in the establishment of the South African Internet for All Working Groups.

The working groups include infrastructure and connectivity; affordability and availability; local content, as well as skills training and awareness.

The working groups are coordinated by the Government and include the WEF, large and medium size global and local Information and communication technology (ICT) companies and civil society.

The groups are a collaborative platform that will set targets, monitor progress and revise the targets when necessary.

Source: South African Government News Agency

As Africa Faces More Terrorism, Experts Point to Saudi-spread of Fundamentalist Islam

WASHINGTON DC � On June 5, Saudi Arabia and its allies, including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, accusing it of funding extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic State.

In response, Qatar said it was the victim of a policy of domination and control by its larger neighbor and that Saudi Arabia was, in fact, the one responsible for backing extremism.

So what is the truth? Fundamentalist strains of Islam, including Saudi-born Salafism and Wahhabism, form the ideological bedrock for most terror groups. According to a study by Leif Wenar of King’s College London based on the Global Terrorism Database, three out of four terror attacks in the last 10 years have been conducted by people espousing Salafist ideology.

Wenar said Saudi Arabia is the chief exporter of Salafism around the world, spending tens of billions of dollars to build mosques,fund madrassas, finance preachers and offer scholarships to students to study the rigid form of Islam.

The effort is possibly the most expensive ideological campaign in human history, Wenar told VOA.

Saudi Arabia is not the only factor, of course, in the spread of violent extremism. But for 50 years Saudi Arabia has been funding schools and mosques and radical preachers worldwide who have set down their particular narrow and puritanical version of Islam, which has in many places mutated into the violent extremism we see today, Wenar said.

Saudi Arabia said it has changed, stating publicly that it wants to take a hardline stance against radical Islam. In May, it welcomed 50 world leaders to Riyadh to commemorate the opening of a new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. It said it has also increased oversight of charitable organizations that may be linked to terrorism.

Ali Shihabi, executive director at the Arabia Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said that since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, Saudi Arabia has become a world leader in fighting terror.

It is extremely, actively involved in police and security measures in the region against terrorism, and it is using its religious establishment now to fight terrorism, he said. It is turning this whole infrastructure that it has, this whole religious, what some people even call Wahabi, infrastructure, into a tool to fight terrorism.

Shihabi draws a line between the quiet Salafism spread by Saudi religious organizations that teach respect for authority and rejects violence and the revolutionary Salafism that promotes attacks on authorities and non-believers.

There’s a fundamental disconnect between Salafism as it is practiced in Saudi Arabia and the Salafism that terrorists have used or misused for their own purposes, Shihabi said.

Exporting religion to Africa

The impact of Saudi Arabia’s support of conservative Islam is felt across the African continent. Hussein Solomon of the University of the Free State in South Africa has studied the phenomenon and said Africa’s traditional Sufi form of Islam has been steadily pushed out of some countries in favor of Salafism.

This has given an ideological backing to terror groups who reject Sufi mysticism and forbid things like secular music, Western-style clothing and women speaking to unrelated men.

In some countries, such as Mali, Salafists have conducted attacks against non-Muslims or Muslims they consider to be heretics.

We are seeing a tremendous escalation of terrorist attacks, Solomon told VOA. We actually are seeing three terrorist attacks per day on the African continent, and [they] are linked directly to Wahabi ideology.

Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates offer scholarships to young Africans to attend religious schools in the Gulf states. According to a report by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, the number of East African students enrolled in Gulf state universities has grown from several hundred in 2010 to nearly 10,000 in 2014.

Solomon said he has interviewed parents whose children have returned home from these schools with radically changed, hardline views.

One Malian boy came home and denounced his father for listening to music and smoking cigarettes, and his mother and sisters for not wearing a full hijab. It caused tremendous ruptures just inside the family, Solomon said.

Saudi Arabia has also built hundreds of mosques around the continent. Solomon said the divisive form of Islam taught in these mosques has caused tension between Muslims and Christians in areas where they live side-by-side.

Part of the deal in terms of the construction of the mosques is that the Imam either comes from Saudi Arabia or [is] trained by the Saudis and is given a syllabus in terms of what to say and what to preach, and, of course, this is an ill-effect to a continent like Africa which is multi-ethnic, multi-racial and certainly multi-religious, he said.

Wenar said he has also reviewed textbooks published in Saudi Arabia that compared Christians and Jews to animals and taught children that they are prohibited from befriending infidels.

This really is quite an archaic and extreme ideology that the Saudis have been sending, and it seems [that] to check it, we should make the world more aware of what’s going on, he said.

Fighting extremism

Shihabi said the rise of Islamic extremism in some African countries is not a result of textbooks or what is preached at Saudi-funded mosques. Mainly, he believes, extremists twist religious doctrine to fit their own local, political purposes.

And people realize that if you want to be a revolutionary today and you want to attract attention, you put on this Islamic cloak, and it gets you much more attention than if you just package yourself as a domestic player with no transnational reach, he said.

In a recent New York Times story, William McCants, a Brookings Institution scholar, accused Saudi Arabia of being both the arsonists and the firefighters when it comes to Islamic extremism.

Shihabi argues that is no longer the case. Saudi Arabia may have been… an accidental arsonist in ways in the past if part of its ideology was misused, but now it has certainly become a very dedicated fireman, and it’s been doing that for the last fifteen years.

Source: Voice of America