Committee calls for Better Safety Procedures following the death of South African Actor, Odwa Shweni

The Portfolio Committee on Arts and Culture has called for better and safer working conditions in the arts industry following the tragic death of Mr Odwa Shweni on Thursday 12 April 2018.

Mr Shweni is believed to have lost his footing which lead to his untimely death at the Sterkspruit Waterfall in the Drakensberg KwaZulu-Natal during a movie rehearsal.

Chairperson of the Committee, Ms Xoliswa Tom, said that “the untimely death of Mr Shweni raises many questions about the safety procedures during filming and rehearsals, and this is a matter that should be looked in to with all urgency”.

The Committee extends its heartfelt condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr Shweni and wishes them strength during this difficult time.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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South Africa: Minister Mokonyane to meet Sentech and National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) on debt owed to Sentech by community radio stations

The Minister of Communications, Ms. Nomvula Mokonyane, will on Friday, 20 April 2018, meet with Sentech, the National Community Radio Forum (NCRF) and the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA), as an attempt to resolve the current impasse which relates to monies owed by community broadcasters to Sentech.

Currently, community radio stations owe Sentech an amount of R 33 million for signal distribution services provided by Sentech to the broadcasters. This outstanding signal distribution fees have a potentially negative effect in the legal and administrative functioning of Sentech.

“The community media sector is a critical sector in the promotion of access to information, especially for rural and peri-urban communities. As government, it is our intention to prevent any further cuts in transmission by Sentech whilst ensuring that we immediately find a lasting solution to the debt-burden of community broadcasters.”

Sentech has over the last week threatened to cut signal to over 17 community radio stations who have failed to pay the signal distribution fees due to Sentech.

“The meeting we have scheduled must assist us in finding the short-term solutions to prevent any disruptions in transmissions and enable us to develop a long-term and sustainable fiscal framework for community media that will promote the growth of the sector and enhance its ability to raise revenue and improve governance in the sector” said Minister Mokonyane.

The government is committed to ensuring that the community media sector is provided the requisite support to ensure its effectiveness in providing information to the most vulnerable and sometimes isolated communities. This commitment will extend to making the necessary interventions to strengthen governance and management at the Media Development and Diversity Agency, whose mandate is to develop the community media sector in South Africa.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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UK and South Africa welcome progress on trade relationship

The Minister of Trade and Industry (the DTI), Dr Rob Davies had a bilateral meeting with his United-Kingdom counterpart Dr Liam Fox in London on Tuesday 17 April 2018. In the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting they discussed the trading relationship between the UK and South Africa. The ministers were pleased with the strength of the UK-South Africa trade and investment relationship.

As the UK is in the process of exiting the European Union (EU), South Africa welcomed the UK’s intention to avoid any disruption to trade. In particular, both ministers welcomed the significant progress made so far in discussions with the Southern African Customs Union (SACU which includes Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland) and Mozambique. These are to ensure continuity of the EU-SADC Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) as the UK leaves the EU.

Both parties welcomed the agreement reached between the EU and UK at the March European Council that the UK is to be treated as a Member State for the purposes of international agreements during the EU-UK Implementation Period (1 April 2019 to 31 December 2020). This provides further certainty that there will not be disruption to the existing trading relationship during the implementation period.

International Trade Secretary Dr Liam Fox said:

“Free trade has transformed developing economies across the world, and 44 of our 52 Commonwealth partners, including South Africa, benefit from development-focused preferential trade access to the UK market. That’s why it’s important to ensure continuity and certainty in our current trade arrangements as we leave the EU, and UK officials with their counterparts across Southern Africa have made excellent progress in this.”

“As we leave the EU and create a new independent UK trade policy, we will build further on our £9 billion of annual trade with South Africa, our biggest trading partner in Africa, and champion free trade to help developing countries combat poverty and grow their economies.”

Minister Davies, said that the UK remains an important strategic partner for South Africa globally. South Africa and the UK have enjoyed mutually beneficial preferential trade since entry into force of the first reciprocal trade agreement between South Africa and the EU in January 2000.

Minister for Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies said:

“The UK is South Africa’s second largest trading partner in the EU Region. Our goods exports to the UK in 2014 were R37.6 billion and increased to R46.3 billion in 2017.”

“Noteworthy is the positive trade balance that South Africa continues to enjoy in its trade with the UK, which earns the country foreign currency and contributes to reducing the country’s current account deficit. The key priority for South Africa is to change the structure of our trade to more value added products.”

Minister Davies also welcomed the progress made by experts towards finalisation of the rollover of the EPA arrangement between SACU + Mozambique and the UK. “This is critical to ensure continuity post-Brexit”, added Davies.

Both parties agreed to assess options for bilateral technical cooperation in the areas of trade and investment promotion. In addition, the parties agreed to work together to promote investments in priority sectors to advance sustainable economic development.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department for International Development (DFID).

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South Africa strongly objects to the travel advisory issued by Australia

The South African government takes strong exception to the Travel Advisory issued by the government of the Commonwealth of Australia, which contains misleading information about South Africa in general and, in particular, about the experiences of foreign tourists visiting South Africa.

Minister Lindiwe Sisulu will raise the concerns of the South African Government relating to the advisory with her Australian counterpart, Minister Julie Bishop.

The travel advisory has the potential not only to deter Australians from visiting South Africa, but also to tarnish our country’s image.

Officials from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation have in the past requested, without success, that the advisory be amended to reflect the situation in South Africa as it relates to the true experiences of foreign tourists. The decision to escalate the matter follows these unsuccessful attempts and indicates the seriousness with which the South African government values the contribution of the tourism sector to the economy.

Minister Sisulu said: “South Africa remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, and tourists in most instances have pleasant experiences of our country.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

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