Statement by UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on the death of Nelson Mandela

NEW YORK, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — It is with very great sadness that I have heard the news of the death of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa.

His extraordinary wisdom, selflessness and compassion not only held South Africa together following the collapse of apartheid, preventing potentially immense displacement, but made him a true global symbol for the oppressed and persecuted, and an example to all of us.

For a world in which conflicts force millions from their homes every year, the death of such an outstanding champion of peace should give us all pause for thought. His passing is a profound loss.

Antonio Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees

Additional Information: Nelson Mandela and UNHCR Nelson Mandela had a direct and personal involvement with UNHCR, both before and after he took office. He was personally acquainted with former High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata as well as with other UNHCR managers including former Africa Bureau Director Nicolas Bwakira and Kallu Kalumiya, UNHCR’s first representative in South Africa. This relationship was initially centered on the return of South African refugees, but broadened later.

UNHCR was the first UN agency that Mandela met with when he visited Geneva in 1990. When UNHCR first started negotiating with the apartheid minority Government for the repatriation of South African refugees, the African national Congress was initially not supportive. Mandela personally gave his blessing for these negotiations to continue and came at different points to support them.

A second formal meeting between the ANC, led by Mandela, and UNHCR on the repatriation took place in Johannesburg a year later. The ANC reiterated its support for UNHCR’s involvement in the process.

UNHCR established an office in Johannesburg later that year with sub-offices around the country. It was the first United Nations office to be reopened in the country and was supported and facilitated by the ANC under instruction from Mandela.

Former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata was designated by the UN Secretary General to represent him at the formal launch of the Convention for a Democratic South Africa (CODESA) process, which negotiated a new constitutional dispensation for post-apartheid South Africa. A close and trusting relationship between Mandela and Ogata was mentioned in her book The Turbulent Decade. She visited South Africa at the beginning of her last year in Office in 2002 and, at the end of that visit, met with Mandela at his home.

Mandela visited UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva in 1992. Ogata was invited to his inauguration in May 1994, but was unable to attend. The then Deputy High Commissioner Gerald Walzer represented her.

Even when out of office Mandela continued to support the work of UNHCR, including in UNHCR’s anti-xenophobia campaign launched in the late 1990s.

Source: APO

Wan E’xiang, Special Envoy of President Xi Jinping to Attend the Celebration Marking the 50th Anniversary of Kenyan Independence

BEIJING, China, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei announces at the regular press conference:

Vice Chairman Wan E’xiang of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will go to Kenya upon invitation as the special envoy of President Xi Jinping to attend the celebration marking the 50th anniversary of Kenyan independence on December 12.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Africa: Business Roundtable on Food Security with Private Sector Representatives of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

WASHINGTON, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Remarks

Jonathan Shrier

Acting Special Representative, Office of Global Food Security

Johannesburg, South Africa

December 4, 2013

The U.S. government currently partners with South Africa as a “strategic partner” in Feed the Future, the U.S. global hunger and food security initiative. As our whole-of-government initiative, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with 19 partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the vicious cycle of poverty and hunger. Our goal is to reduce the prevalence of poverty and stunted children by 20 percent in the specific areas where we work, which will help families lift themselves out of poverty, purchase nutritious food, and have access to education and health care.

An overarching objective of our strategic partnership with South Africa is for the United States to support a viable South-South, demand-driven approach to development cooperation. We collaborate with three non-traditional donors – Brazil, India, as well as South Africa – to build upon our deep historical ties, and to leverage the expertise, resources, and leadership of rising middle-income countries for the benefit of Feed the Future partner countries. We seek to share South Africa’s innovative business models and advanced technical expertise across the region. We seek to support SADC’s important goal of transferring South Africa’s agricultural success to other countries, thereby reducing hunger and poverty across the region.

To meet these goals, we seek to deepen our partnerships across the government, civil society, academia, and the private sector in South Africa and beyond. We must increase responsible agricultural investment and scale-up our collective development impact in Southern Africa.

South Africa already plays an indispensable role in the achievement of regional — and, in turn, global — food security. South Africa is the largest economy on the continent and the engine of economic growth in Southern Africa, with one of the top ten stock exchanges in the world and well-developed physical telecommunications and energy infrastructures. South African firms conducted about 70% of intra-regional investment flows, and South Africa accounted for 71.5% of the region’s GDP in 2009. South Africa is also the largest food exporter within the region. Investment from South Africa’s private sector to neighboring countries is the key to economic growth to the region.

South Africa has achieved some of the highest crop yields in the world because of its innovative, high-performing businesses in the agricultural sector, which have adopted first-generation biotechnologies and effective plant breeding capabilities. For example, the average maize yield in South Africa is about 3,000 kilograms per hectare. This high yield compares to a regional maize yield level of around 1,500 kilograms per hectare. South African firms also boast cutting edge technology in the use of advanced food processing and fortification.

South Africa has also demonstrated a strong commitment in recent years to the development of key trade corridors in the region. As President Zuma has repeatedly stated, South Africa is committed to championing the North-South Corridor and to mobilize resources for the implementation of projects. USAID supports corridor efforts by working with private sector groups, such as the NEPAD Business Foundation, to help small-holder farmers access markets. We also work with the Southern African Trade Hub to improve trade facilitation and cross border management, specifically by focusing on National Single Windows, Coordinated Border Management, and Customs Connectivity. The main objective is to decrease the time and cost of transporting agricultural commodities and inputs across borders. I am pleased to report that we are seeing some significant results, such as improvements in crossing times for exports and imports as high as 60% at Mwanza (between Malawi and Mozambique) and 40% for Songwe (between Malawi and Tanzania) in this past year alone.

Now is a critical time for us to deepen our partnership in food and nutrition security. Southern Africa, as a region, continues to be severely affected by chronic vulnerability and continuous food and nutrition insecurity. With nearly 45% of the population living below the poverty line of $1.25 per day, chronic food shortages exist at both the national and household level throughout the region. Although 70% of the region’s population depends on agriculture for food, income, and employment, the productivity of most rural smallholders remains very low.

To respond to these challenges, the U.S. government’s programs across Southern Africa are designed to advance food security by improving agricultural productivity and market access for agricultural products and inputs, as well as by reducing trade barriers along major transport corridors. In Southern Africa, Feed the Future partners with three countries — Zambia, Malawi, and Mozambique. In Zambia, we support smallholder out-grower schemes, which help link more small-scale farmers to buyers and processors and other key private sector partners. Meanwhile, in Malawi, we work with the government to advance policy priorities that can improve agricultural inputs, agricultural trade, institutional architecture, and nutrition. Our programs in Mozambique focus on catalyzing international and local agribusinesses investments in agriculture, not only through Feed the Future, but also through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, which is a commitment by G8 members, African countries, and private sector partners to reduce poverty through inclusive agricultural growth.

Sharing agricultural technologies currently practiced in South Africa, and relying on South Africa’s world-class educational institutions to train agriculturalists from neighboring countries, can further improve the lives of millions of people across southern Africa. Our Strategic Partnership with South Africa represents an important opportunity to bring together the private sector, South African government, and Feed the Future programs to unlock the potential of Africa’s agricultural sector. For precisely this reason, the United States actively works with South African companies and academic institutions to disseminate key technologies and promote agricultural training.

The United States is committed to supporting South African private investment and sustainable, equitable growth in agriculture across the region. Strategic Partnership Grants have already helped to create new market linkages, connecting farmers in the region to rewarding markets elsewhere in Africa and globally. These grants have also helped to: increase food storage capacity; transfer cutting-edge technology (like drought tolerant seeds, sophisticated soil testing and analysis); and disseminate timely crop extension and market information via mobile technologies. But we can always do more, and we can always do better — together.

Together, we can increase market access, particularly for small-holder farmers. Together, we can support finance for improving infrastructure and trade, including the development of new financial products, services, and insurance products. Together, we can work from farms to markets to tables to improve incomes and nutrition. Not only is this the smart thing to do; it is also the right thing to do.

We can — and we will — make a significant difference in the lives of millions of people by reducing hunger and poverty in Southern Africa.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

Nelson Mandela leaves a deep sense of loss at ITU / Mandela, champion of downtrodden, wished to bridge digital divide

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — ITU membership, management and staff join the people of South Africa and the whole world in mourning the passing of Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary South African anti-apartheid leader who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and who is hailed as one of the most transforming personalities the world has ever seen.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in 1918 to the Thembu royal family in Transkei, South Africa. He spent the better part of his life in an epic struggle against apartheid in South Africa and served 27 years in prison. In 1993, Mandela was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in dismantling the shackles of apartheid and, in 1994 he was elected President of South Africa. During this tenure he was also Secretary-General of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

WCC honours the legacy of Mandela

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 6, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Calling Nelson Mandela a leader with hard-won wisdom and maturity unparalleled in our time, the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary gave thanks to God for Mandela’s life, which he described as a gift to South Africa and the whole world.

A renowned anti-apartheid activist and Nobel peace laureate who served as South Africa’s first black president, Mandela, 95, passed away on Thursday 5 December at his home in Houghton near Johannesburg.

“He will be recalled as the leader who acted to unify a nation once deliberately divided along the lines of race,” said Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, the WCC general secretary. Tveit added that Mandela was a “liberator who by force of his remarkable personality raised the dignity of Africans after centuries of colonialism, oppression and discrimination.”

Tveit described Mandela’s relationship to the WCC as a special one, recalling Mandela’s visit to the WCC Geneva offices in 1990 soon after his release from prison. This is when he expressed his gratitude for the churches’ support to the anti-apartheid struggle.

As South Africa’s president, Mandela addressed the WCC’s 8th Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe in 1998. He praised churches’ efforts against apartheid in South Africa, as well as missionaries for bringing high standards of education to Africa from which he benefitted as a child.

Mandela said, “… you have to have been in an apartheid prison in South Africa to appreciate the further importance of the church. They tried to isolate us completely from the outside. Our relatives could see us only once every six months. The link was religious organizations, Christians, Muslims, Hindus and members of the Jewish faith. They were the faithful who inspired us.”

“The WCC’s support exemplified in the most concrete way the contribution that religion made to our liberation,” he added. In his concluding remarks at the assembly, Mandela paid missionaries the compliment of saying that by their faith and action they shared in the “distinction of immortality” as “men and women whose names will live beyond the grave and down the centuries.”

In her reaction to Mandela’s death, Dr Agnes Abuom, moderator of the WCC’s Central Committee, said, “We thank God for giving us Mandela for 95 years. Through his life and works he has become an icon of dignity and freedom for all human beings.”

“We will remember Mandela for his forgiveness he extended to his enemies and the perpetrators of apartheid, a quality very rare among many world leaders today.”

“Our prayer is all that Mandela stood for may become part and parcel of our global values for justice, peace and dignity for the whole humanity,” added Abuom.

Mandela’s life was also described by the WCC’s general secretary as “consistent with the best teaching of his Christian educators and the ecumenical movement”. Calling him one of the most deserving Nobel peace laureates, Tveit added that Mandela’s ideals inspired freedom from apartheid and transformed his country during his presidency.

“I am convinced that it is entirely accurate to say of him that his name ‘will live beyond the grave and down the centuries.’ Indeed, as is said in the Orthodox tradition of Christianity: May his memory be eternal!” Tveit concluded.

Source: APO

Categories: African Press Organization

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