KHOJALY GENOCIDE A DARK CHAPTER IN AZERBAIJANI HISTORY

26 FEBURARY 2021

The Khojaly genocide is one of the most tragic pages of Azerbaijani history; from February 25 to 26 1992, the town of Khojaly experienced the most inhumane and tragic events mainly targeting civilians. Armenian occupational forces and the 366th regiment of the former Soviet Union charged against civilians, inflicting inhumane acts such as torture, burning of civilians to death, mutilation, stabbing pregnant women and killing children.

According to statistics, 613 people were killed, among them, 63 children, 106 women, including 70 elderly and eight families. Twenty-five children lost both parents and 103 lost a parent. The Armenian forces showed no mercy as being Azerbaijani was enough reason for them to inflict such inhumane acts. As the Armenian ex-President said:

“Before Khojaly, the Azerbaijanis thought that they were joking with us; they thought that the Armenians were people who could not raise their hand against the civilian population. We were able to break that. And that’s what happened.”

After the Khojaly events, a major question arose as to why Armenians, who claimed to have survived oppression and “genocide”, would partake in such cruel events as Khojaly. Furthermore, there is the question of why Armenia would erect a statue of Garegin Nzhdeh, an extremist and Nazi sympathiser, in the capital Yerevan.  

Garegin Nzhdeh assisted with the ethnic cleansing of Jewish people during World War 2 and it is no surprise that during the first Karabakh War, Armenians aimed to cleanse ethnic Azerbaijanis who lived in the Karabakh region – the Khojaly events lend credence to these allegations.

Apart from Khojaly, during the second Karabakh War (September 27 to November 10 2020), Armenians bombed the city of Gandja, located 100 kilometres from the conflict zone and the second largest city in Azerbaijan, to kill civilians and raise chaos among the population, according to their Ministry of Defence. It is evident that they used the rocket Iskandar to hit cities such as Gandja, Terter and Barda, killing nearly 100 civilians.

As a state claiming to be the first to adopt Christianity and survive “genocide”, it is surprising to see them targeting civilians and completely ignore International norms on human rights. These are well-known facts that prove Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan. Furthermore, the following states recognise the occurrence of the Khojaly Genocide: Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pakistan, Colombia, Czech Republic, Honduras, Sudan, Guatemala, Djibouti, Paraguay, Panama, Scotland, Mexico, and Jordan.

I N T E R V I E W OF H.E. MR KANAT TUMYSH AMBASSADOR OF KAZAKHSTAN TO SOUTH AFRICA TO THE ‘DIPLOMATIC INFORMER’ MAGAZINE

30th Anniversary of Kazakhstan’s Independence:

Landmark Jubilee from Kazakh Embassy to RSA perspective

25 February 2021

The City of Tshwane

Q-1: Your Excellency, Ambassador Kanat Tumysh, this year Kazakhstan celebrates the 30th Anniversary of its Independence. Please tell us how your esteemed state has changed during these 30 years? What are the most significant initiatives of the country’s leadership, as well as the main achievements of modern Kazakhstan during the period of independence?

A-1: Kazakhstan has entered the year of a glorious, memorable and landmark event for our country – the 30th Anniversary of our cherished Independence. Throughout the years of our Independence, we have entered the group of the World’s Top-50 most competitive countries, and our GDP per capita has grown almost tenfold – from USD 1,512 in 1991 to 11,250 in 2020.

In His Excellency’s Article entitled “Independence is the most precious treasurepublished in the Kazakhstani leading media outlet – Egemen Qazaqstan on 5 January 2021, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan shared the following milestones within our modern history:

The first decade of our Independence entailed the laying of the foundation of a new Kazakhstan. At the time, under the leadership of Elbasy (H.E. Mr Nursultan Nazarbayev, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Leader of the Nation), the symbols of our state were established, and the governmental system (state system, powers, administrative authorities) was formed. Our national currency Kazakhstani Teŋge (KZT) came into circulation. We created our Armed Forces, and we adopted our Constitution. We established diplomatic relations with foreign countries, including South Africa on                      5 March 1992. We shifted our capital from Almaty to Nur-Sultan in 1997. Our country has become a member of authoritative and reputable international organizations, such as UN, OIC, OSCE, CIS, CSTO, SCO, Interpol, International Olympic Committee (IOC), FIFA, UEFA and many others. Kazakhstan managed to close down the world’s second largest nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk and voluntarily dismantled the planet’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal.

The second decade of our Independence was a period of defining the development priorities of the Kazakh state. During these years, the position of our country strengthened and our economic potential increased. We defined and established the legality of all our land borders. We implemented the “Cultural Heritage” programme and recorded our history. We saved the North Aral Sea and reclaimed the receding sea. We have also:

  • Initiated tri-annual Congresses of the Leaders of World Traditional Religions                        (in 2003);
  • Chaired the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and hosted its 7th Summit (2010);
  • Chaired the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and hosted its 5th and 11th Summits of (2005 & 2011);
  • Inaugurated and chaired the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) and hosted its 1st and 2nd Summits (2002&2006);
  • In 2009, following the Initiative by the Kazak leadership, UNGA by its Resolution 64/35, we established International Day against Nuclear Tests, observed annually on 29th of August (incredibly special day in 1991 when the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site was shut down once and forever);
  • Also chaired OIC and hosted its Ministerial Council in Nur-Sultan (Astana) in 2011, where the Organization managed to change its logo and name – from the “Organization of the Islamic Conference” to the “Organization of Islamic Cooperation”;
  • Attracted significant foreign investment in our country;
  • Turned our capital Nur-Sultan, which grew up on the banks of the Esil River, into our national showpiece.
  • Launched major infrastructure projects, such as the Western Europe – Western China international transportation corridor.
  • Accelerated housing construction at an unprecedented pace.

In the third decade of our Independence, our country grew and become a prosperous state. We adopted the Strategy “Kazakhstan – 2050” and planned to join the top thirty developed countries. We implemented large-scale Programmes such as, “Sustainable Industrial-Innovative Development,” “Nurly Jol” (lit. “Radiant Path”), “100 Concrete Steps” in each region.

On foreign policy track, we have finally resolved all the border issues with our neighbours.  Kazakhstan in that very decade put forward several significant international initiatives, such as:  

  • The ATOM Project (August 2012) an international campaign by the Nazarbayev Centre of Kazakhstan. The primary goal of the campaign is to build international support for the abolishment of nuclear testing. ATOM stands for “Abolish Testing. Our Mission.” The aim is to achieve a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty through online petitions and other methods);
  • The Universal Declaration on the Achievement of a Nuclear Weapon-Free World (adopted by the UN General Assembly with its Resolution 70/57 in December 2015);
  • The Code of Conduct towards Achieving a World Free of Terrorism (adopted in New York in 2018), joined to the date by around 90 states;
  • Kazakhstan at that decade also gained the status of the Member-Observer of the African Union in 2013.

The big task of the forthcoming fourth decade of our Independence is to become a powerful country and a mature nation. Along that road, we need to continue the process of political and economic reforms and modernization of our consciousness, to form a new identity of the nation adapted to modern requirements.

Working together hand-in-hand (As the famous proverb of my and many other nations – Jumyla kötergen jük jeŋil, i.e. Many hands make light work) all the Kazakhstanis have created the necessary conditions for a confident future. We intend to keep this pace up and not stray from our course.

However, as our country and people enter the fourth decade of our sovereignty, our state and its citizens are facing unprecedented new challenges and threats. Not only us, but also the whole world has entered a completely new era. The path of development of our civilization and the fundamental basis of the global architecture are undergoing radical change. There are many challenges, risks, and threats ahead. However, the main task for all of us is to overcome the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. The twenty-first year of the XXI century will be a turning point for entire humanity. This year will determine the main path of the coming decade. In such difficult times, we should not waste time and relax even for a moment.

Therefore, in the year of the 30th Anniversary of Independence we will carry out comprehensive reforms in our country. Our population wants successful economic and social programmes. We will focus all our efforts on building an effective state and a just society. The main priority of our country’s leadership is to improve the quality of life and welfare of our population. Our People focus on real results. We involve all active citizens in this large-scale work. They are directly involved in making decisions that affect the country.

To summarise, I would like to underscore that the eternal triad of our sovereignty consists of:

  1. Our vast land, stretching from Altai mountains in the east to Atyrau (Caspian Depression) in the west, from Alatau mountains (other names: Täŋir Tau, Mountains of Heaven, Tian Shan) in the south to Saryarqa (Kazakh Uplands) in the north:
  2. Our sacred language, which is nourished by our mother’s white milk; and
  3. Our prosperity and unity that our ancestors protected and provided to our nation as their legacy despite all difficulties.

We cherish these three values.

Q-2: Could you please kindly tell us about the latest trends in the electoral and legislative process in your country?

A-2: We realize that one of the key preconditions for our long-term success is the carrying out of reforms through quality legislation. That is why we renovated our Parliament this year.

Truly democratic elections successfully held on 10 January 2021 turned a new page in the development of our country. This important event once again proved the strength of our statehood. It demonstrated Kazakhstan society’s strong political culture and civic maturity. By holding elections at the beginning of this year, we not only overcame big difficulties, but also paved the way for modernization. The results of the voting in all regions showed that our people fully support the strategic direction of the state. The common goal of all the political parties is to make Kazakhstan a strong country. The new multi-party composition of the Majilis and Maslikhats (local representative bodies) at all levels has shown an increase in political competition in our society. The Nur Otan (ruling party in Kazakhstan, lit. ‘Radiant Fatherland’) Party, led by the Leader of our Nation (Elbasy), has retained its leadership position. Other parties, representing the interests of certain segments of our population, also received mandates of confidence.

READ MORE ON THE I N T E R V I E W OF H.E. MR KANAT TUMYSH AMBASSADOR OF KAZAKHSTAN TO SOUTH AFRICA TO THE ‘DIPLOMATIC INFORMER’ MAGAZINE IN OUR UP COMING NEW EDITION

AMBASSADOR OF EGYPT SEES SOUTH AFRICAN CYCLISTS OFF TO CAIRO


24 February 2021

Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in South Africa, Ambassador
Ahmed El Fadly, held an outdoor reception on 24 February at the premises
of the Embassy of Egypt in Pretoria for a number of qualified South
African cyclists participating in the two African championships, the African Road and Track championships which will take place in Cairo in March, 2021.

During the reception, El Fadly indicated the importance of the role of
sports in people to people relationships and its contribution to
consolidating the values of tolerance, cooperation and mutual respect.
“Sports play a vital role for both the individual and for the society as
whole, pushing the limits of human achievement.” El Fadly said.

“Sports bring people together and contribute to the integration of
cultures. The tournament is an opportunity for South African youth to
get to know Egypt and its civilization” El Fadly said. “Ancient Egyptians played several sports that form the basis of many that exist today. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi attaches great importance to sports. He participated in the Peace Marathon, which was organized on the sidelines of the World Youth Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2018. Egypt
also recently hosted the World Handball Championship, which was vastly successful despite being held in challenging circumstances given the
global Covid 19 pandemic.” El Fadly added.

The African Road and Track championships in Cairo will have 132
participants from 10 countries, which include, in addition to Egypt and
South Africa, cyclists from Algeria, Morocco, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Burundi, Tanzania, Benin, Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The track Championships will begin on March 11th in the Olympic Village in 6th of October City, and the African Track Championship will be begin on March
14th at “Cairo Stadium”. This is the third edition of the tournament
to be held in Egypt. South Africa has dominated the event before, winning more medals than any other African nation.

At the end of the reception, Ambassador Ahmed El Fadly expressed his
best wishes for success to the South Africa team participating in the
African Road and Track Championships, calling on the contestants to
share their experience, expertise and the events of the period that they
will spend in Egypt with their friends and colleagues in South Africa when they return.

Message from H. E. Mr. MARUYAMA Norio, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor


23 February 2021
Third year of Reiwa
Today we celebrate, for the second time, the birthday of His Majesty the Emperor after his accession
to the Throne in May 2019, the first year of Reiwa.
COVID-19 has led the whole world into an unprecedented situation since last year and as a
result of this situation, it is with my deep regret that this year I had to abandon to hold our annual
reception celebrating His Majesty’s birthday.
Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to share, through this message, my thoughts
of relations between Japan and South Africa with everyone who has shown an interest in Japan.
It is almost one year since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in South Africa, and I would
like to express my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost their beloved family members and
friends as a result of COVID-19. I would also like to pay tribute to the medical professionals and
essential workers who are working day and night to fight against this ‘invisible enemy’. I also wish a
speedy recovery to those who are currently under treatment.
I would also like to express my sincere respect to H.E. President Ramaphosa for his outstanding
leadership in guiding the country through this unprecedented situation, and to the Minister of Health,
the Honorable Mr. Mkhize, and other South African government officials who are working with the
President to ensure the safety of all the people.
Since the national lockdown came into effect in South Africa, some Japanese citizens staying in
South Africa chose to be repatriated to Japan in April last year and the repatriation operation continued
over several months. Despite such an unprecedented situation, those Japanese citizens were able to
make their return safely. I would like to take this opportunity to again thank the South African
Government and all those involved.
With regard to the fight against COVID-19, Japan commends the efforts of the United Nations
organization. The UN was one of the first to call for urgent assistance to South Africa, in April last
year. The Government of Japan quickly responded to this appeal. So far, Japan has funded several
projects and has contributed around $4m to South Africa, for projects conducted by the UNDP, UN
Women and UNIDO, as well as for projects conducted by IFRC (the International Federation of Red
Cross and Red Crescent Societies) which has similar type of support to South Africa.

Japanese companies operating in South Africa have provided face shields and masks to hospitals
and schools. Toyota has donated over 100,000 face shields. They have also contributed toward PCR
testing equipment, the renovation of hospitals, and has provided vehicles and food parcels for
vulnerable communities. I would like to express my appreciation for their dedication.
Japan will continue to cooperate with the health response to COVID-19.
The year 2019 was a year of unprecedented splendour and importance forJapan-SouthAfrica relations.
Among others, South Africa’s victory in the Rugby World Cup hosted in Japan was not only a historic
moment for the people of South Africa, but also a great opportunity to tighten the bonds between the
people of the two countries. Most notably, President Ramaphosa visited Japan three times during the
year, an unprecedented event in the history of Japan-South Africa relations.
Given all the above remarkable developments, the year 2020 should have seen a further boost
in relations between the two countries. However, due to COVID-19, numerous opportunities were lost.
Nevertheless, despite such difficulties, we had several occasions to realise bilateral cooperation
through various efforts throughout last year. The culmination of these efforts was the Japan-South
Africa Foreign Ministers Meeting held in Pretoria at the end of last year.
Despite many constraints, Mr. MOTEGI Toshimitsu, Minister for Foreign Affairs, physically
travelled to South Africa and held a bilateral ministerial meeting and working lunch with Dr. Naledi
Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The two Ministers exchanged their views
on a wide range of issues and agreed to further enhance our bilateral relations. During hisstay, Minister
Motegi also received a telephone call from President Ramaphosa, who extended his heartfelt welcome
to Minister MOTEGI on his visit to South Africa.
This year, we will continue to make every effort to strengthen our cooperation in various areas,
including the Japan-South Africa Partnership Forum, the Japan-South Africa Business Forum and the
Japan-South Africa Joint Committee on Science and Technology, which have until now been
postponed due to COVID-19.
It is a crucial theme for South Africa as to how they can achieve a resilient recovery from COVID-19.
President Ramaphosa reiterated at the SoNA 2021 that the priority for the economic recovery of South
Africa is to strengthen export competitiveness and boost domestic production. The President pointed
out the crucial role of the manufacturing sector to promote investment and employment. He also
stressed the importance of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which started this year.
His priority attracted my attention because Japan is a major contributor to all those areas.

Skills development is our long-term commitment. Japanese support for Kaizen and TVET skills
development training for fitters and turners will help South Africa’s manufacturing sector, especially
the automotive industry, to become more competitive.
Empowerment of small-scale farmers is our concern. Japan has been committing to a small-
scale farmers self-reliance program, Smallholder Horticulture Empowerment & Promotion (SHEP),
which supports small farms run by disadvantaged people.
To the President’s announcement of public sector reform, called Operation Vulindlela, which is
indispensable for the resilient recovery of the economy of South Africa, Japan has been responding by
providing technical assistance on water resources management. A handover ceremony of the
Infrastructure Branch Training Center (IBTC) yard is being planned for next month.
In terms of investment and employment promotion, Japanese companies have invested a total
of five billion USD in South Africa since 2013, and also created 150,000 jobs, mainly in the
automotive industry.
A recent example of investment is Toyota’s first production of hybrid vehicles in South Africa,
which was specially mentioned by President Ramaphosa at the SoNA. This critical investment follows
Nissan’s Navara and Isuzu’s D-MAX bakkie investments. Those Japanese companies are steadily
implementing their commitment, despite COVID-19.
In addition to these three companies, NTT Data announced a Johannesburg data center
investment last year. Just these four companies’ total investment reaches approximately nine billion
Rand. These new investments will also create many additional jobs.
I would like to commend the extraordinary efforts of Japanese companies to implement these
projects, despite this difficult time.
AfCFTA will provide South Africa with greater access to markets across the continent, making
South Africa a gateway to the continent. Japan is committed to actively pushing for the early
installment of the One Stop Border Post (OSBP) at Beitbridge, through technical cooperation. I am
confident that the OSBP project will ensure AfCFTA of becoming a truly attractive framework for
foreign investors. It will further enhance the importance of South Africa as a gateway country for more
than 150 Japanese companies in South Africa, doing business across the continent.
Unfortunately, we are unable to hold a physical event in celebration of the birthday of His Majesty the
Emperor this year. Nevertheless, I would like to bring Japan closer to the people of South Africa on
the occasion of this auspicious day, by celebrating Japan together online and on air.
For this purpose, we have filmed more than ten new short videos on Japan-South Africa relations
and Japanese support for South Africa. I would like you to enjoy these videos to witness the friendship
between Japan and South Africa. Ms. Lalla Hirayama is the host and Ms. Yvonne Chaka Chaka, and other people who have close ties both to Japan and to South Africa, appear in the videos. Some of the
initial episodes are already available at the following URL, and more will be added in the future.
(URL) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcPBlxTLdyOh4R1L7i3Wy2g
For people who are familiar with National Day Celebrations, joyful attractions like lucky draws
are always appreciated. To offer to our friends the same kind of enjoyment, not physically but on air
this year, the Embassy of Japan will hold a quiz show on Radio 702 on FM 92.7 and FM 106, from
the 1st to 5th of March,sometime between 3 and 6 PM every day, with Japanese companies sponsoring
the show and providing prizes each time. I hope that you will take part in the challenge and win some
prizes. I would like to express our sincere thanks to the following companies for their support of this
program: Fujifilm South Africa, Toshiba, Mitsubishi Corporation and Taiyo Bussan.
This year, in March, it will be 10 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake. Once again I would
like to express our condolences to the families of those who lost their lives. The Great East Japan
Earthquake was a complex disaster of unprecedented scale, but thanks to the efforts of people in the
affected areas and the efforts of various people, in Japan and from abroad, the reconstruction of the
affected areas are making steady progress. Immediately after the earthquake, a rescue team from South
Africa, the first emergency rescue team ever dispatched to Japan fromAfrica, arrived at Iwanuma City,
Miyagi Prefecture. Today, Iwanuma City is the Host Town for Team SA for the Tokyo Olympics and
Paralympics, and continues to engage in grassroots exchanges with South Africa.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were postponed last year, are now
rescheduled for this July. All those involved in the Games are working together to ensure the success
of the Games, taking all possible measures against COVID-19 and preparing in order to make the
Games safe and secure. Recently the G7 leaders stated their support to the commitment of Japan to
hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer, as a
symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19. The motto for the Olympics and Paralympics is
‘United by Emotion’. We would like to share the excitement of sport with the people of South Africa
who have become fans of Japan as a result of the Rugby World Cup.
I wish the world a speedy recovery from COVID-19 and a return to normal life. To this end, we will
continue to maintain close relations between our two countries at all levels, and we will celebrate
together when we have won this battle against COVID-19.
(END)

MINISTER TITO MBOWENI: 2021 BUDGET SPEECH

24 Feb 2021

Madam Speaker Mr President
Mr Deputy President Cabinet Colleagues
Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Honourable Members
Members of the Executive Committees for Finance

Introduction

It is my singular honour and privilege to present the 2021 Budget. Today I table before this House:

2021 Appropriation Bill
2021 Special Appropriation Bill
2021 Division of Revenue Bill
The Budget Review
The Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE)

Madam Speaker last year we outlined a strategy to becoming a winning country.

Since then, we have mourned the passing of nearly 50 000 of our fellow South Africans as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. The damage caused by Covid-19 runs deep and we share in the collective pain of many South Africans who have lost their jobs.

All this notwithstanding Madam Speaker, we are not without hope. Our national icon, the Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu reminded us that: “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. He observed that sometimes we forget that just beyond the clouds the sun is shining.

The brave and fearless sacrifices of our frontline workers continue to save thousands. We salute all our health care and essential service workers who remain standing at the front line of our fight against Covid-19. We also salute the many South Africans who rallied to help others survive.

These acts of human solidarity and sacrifice reflect a patriotic spirit that runs in our veins and inspires us. Often, we speak about how we must leave this earth better than we found it for future generations. Today I want to leave you hopeful and outline how we will leave this economy in better shape for those who come after us.

The Fiscal Framework

Under the leadership of our President, we have crafted a Fiscal Framework that extends support to the economy and public health services in the short- term, while ensuring the sustainability of our public finances in the medium term. This is our first reason for hope.

The fiscal framework we table today entails the following:

Main budget revenue is projected to be R1.35 trillion, or 25.3 per cent as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021/22. This rises to R1.52 trillion in the outer year (2023/24) of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

At the same time, non-interest spending will remain steady at approximately R1.56 trillion over the next three years but will decline as a share of GDP from 29.2 per cent in 2021/22 to 26.2 per cent of GDP in 2023/24.

I requested tips from the public to help craft this Budget. Many tips spoke about the limits to increased taxation. We agree that tax increases must be kept to a minimum as we stabilise our public finances. We have chosen not to introduce the R40 billion in tax measures initially proposed in the October Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

With this framework we provide the budget for South Africa’s vaccination campaign. This campaign allows us to emerge from the restrictions to economic activity. We are allocating more than R10 billion for the purchase and delivery of vaccines over the next two years.

We increase the contingency reserve from R5 billion to R12 billion to make provision for the further purchase of vaccines and to cater for other emergencies.

With this framework we are on track to achieve our goal of closing the main budget primary deficit. We shall achieve a primary surplus on the main budget in 2024/25. This important achievement will coincide with the end of this sixth Parliament.

Most importantly, we will stabilise government debt at 88.9 per cent of GDP in 2025/26 and the ratio will decline thereafter. This is a significant improvement to the framework we presented in October last year and creates a sound platform for sustainable growth.

Total consolidated spending amounts to R2 trillion each year over the medium term, the majority of which goes towards social services.

Honourable members, getting our fiscal house in order is the biggest contribution we can make to support our Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. Continuing on the path of fiscal consolidation during the economic fallout was a difficult decision. However, on this, we are resolute. We remain adamant that fiscal prudence is the best way forward. We cannot allow our economy to have feet of clay.

High government debt levels increase the cost of borrowing across the economy. The rising debt leads to higher future taxation and uncertainty. Servicing this rising debt takes away resources that could have been invested in infrastructure and frays our social solidarity.

Economic Outlook

Madam Speaker, my second reason for hope stems from a much-improved economic outlook.

Global economic growth is expected to rebound to 5.5 per cent in 2021 before moderating slightly to 4.2 per cent in 2022, spurred on by the expected rollout of Covid-19 vaccines and other additional policy initiatives.

China is expected to grow at 8.1 per cent in 2021, while India will achieve a growth rate of 11.5 per cent in 2021.

Sub-Saharan Africa is forecast to grow by 3.2 per cent.

In this context, the South African economy is expected to rebound by 3.3 per cent this year, following a 7.2 per cent contraction in 2020, and average 1.9 per cent in the outer two years.

Progress on Economic Reforms

Madam Speaker, honourable members, I am also hopeful because we are making meaningful progress in the implementation of our structural economic reforms. Our structural weaknesses limit the rate at which our economy can grow. Our structural reform agenda, as articulated in the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, is aimed at removing these brakes on growth.

Operation Vulindlela, which I introduced to you last year, has already made demonstrable progress in accelerating the pace of implementation of high-impact structural reforms.

Much of this progress was outlined in the State of the Nation Address (SONA). I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues for their support of Operation Vulindlela and assure members that Deputy Minister Dr David Masondo and the team from the Presidency and National Treasury remain hard at work together with the relevant departments to ensure that implementation of the remaining reforms is appropriately funded and accelerated.

We will not rest until we have fundamentally altered the structure of this economy by lowering barriers to entry, broadening ownership patterns, raising productivity and lowering the cost of doing business.

We face many challenges as a developing country. We are confronting these head-on. Our country has a network of highways and byways which are the envy of many. The mighty N1 from Cape Town to Beitbridge, the scenic R71 that meanders through the misty mountains of Makgoebaskloof and delivers us to the Kruger National Park, and the expansive N4 that stretches from Botswana across our country into Mozambique. They are part of the lifeblood of the regional economy. Our great dams, bridges and railway lines have supported our economy for decades. However, much of this infrastructure now needs repair or replacement.

Government has committed to a R791.2 billion infrastructure investment drive to this end. We are already partnering with the private sector and other players to rollout infrastructure through initiatives such as the blended finance Infrastructure Fund.

However, all these efforts to expand infrastructure will be wasted if the end user does not pay a cost-reflective tariff for usage.

Medium Term Spending Plans and Job Creation

Madam Speaker, my fourth reason for hope is that this Budget explicitly supports economic transformation and job creation.

Our R6.2 trillion spending envelope over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework gives expression to the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. This is not an austerity Budget. Our fastest-growing area of spending is our investment in the future-capital payments.

The Minister for the Department of Public Service and Administration, Minister Senzo Mchunu, is working with our partners in organised labour to achieve a fair public-sector compensation dispensation when negotiations on a new multi-year wage settlement begin later this year.

We have cumulatively made R83.2 billion available for the public employment programmes since the 2020 Special Adjustments Budget. We are now augmenting this by R11 billion for the Presidential Youth Employment Initiative, taking the total funding for employment creation to nearly R100 billion. This is in response to the job creation targets for young people. outlined by the President.

Government plans to finalise 1409 restitution claims at a cost of R9.3 billion over the next three years to achieve redress and equitable access to land. The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has also set aside R896.7 million for post-settlement support. This will include the recruitment of approximately 10 000 experienced extension officers.

A total MTEF allocation of R7 billion is made to the Land Bank. This allocation will help to resolve the bank’s current default and re-establish the development and transformation mandate. This amount will not affect the expenditure ceiling but will be offset through an expenditure reprioritisation process. Any support to state-owned companies and public entities will have to be done through budget reprioritisation as outlined in the 2020 MTBPS.

The Department of Small Business Development has allocated R4 billion over the medium term to township and rural enterprises, including blended finance initiatives.

The Department of Tourism has reprioritised R540 million over the medium term to establish the Tourism Equity Fund (TEF) as one of the measures to support the tourism sector recovery. The fund will acquire equity stakes in existing tourism enterprises, support expansion of operations and development of new operations.

I have outlined a few of the reasons we have to be hopeful but also acknowledge that much work remains to be done.

Debt Outlook

Honourable Members, an incorrect notion has taken hold that government is “swimming in cash”. Certainly, compared to last October, we are in a better place. But our assessment from the Supplementary Budget in June last year still stands: our public finances are dangerously overstretched.

Our borrowing requirement will remain well above R500 billion in each year of the medium term despite the modest improvements in our fiscal position.

Consequently, gross loan debt will increase from R3.95 trillion in the current fiscal year to R5.2 trillion in 2023/24.

We owe a lot of people a lot of money. These include foreign investors, pension funds, local and foreign banks, unit trusts, financial corporations, insurance

companies, the Public Investment Corporation and ordinary South African bondholders.

We must shore up our fiscal position in order to pay back the massive obligations we have incurred over the years.

Tax Policy Changes

We must advise this House that we now expect to collect R1.21 trillion in taxes during 2020/21, which is about R213 billion less than our 2020 Budget expectations. This is the largest tax shortfall on record.

In 2021/22 government expects to collect R1.37 trillion, provided our underlying assumptions on the performance of the economy and tax base hold. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those South Africans who diligently continue to pay their taxes.

In this Budget we make the following tax policy proposals.

The corporate income tax rate will be lowered to 27 per cent for companies with years of assessment commencing on or after 1 April 2022. This will be done alongside a broadening of the corporate income tax base by limiting interest deductions and assessed losses. We will give consideration to further rate decreases to make our tax system more attractive. We will do this in a revenue-neutral manner. We also intend to leverage the insights of the Davis Tax Committee as we undertake this reform.

2. The personal income tax brackets will be increased by 5 per cent, which is more than inflation. This will provide R2.2 billion in tax relief. Most of that relief will reduce the tax burden on the lower and middle-income households. This means that if you are earning above the new tax-free threshold of R87 300, you will have at least an extra R756 in your pocket after 1 March 2021.

3. Fuel levies will be increased by 27 cents per litre, comprising 15 cents per litre for the general fuel levy, 11 cents per litre for the Road Accident Fund levy and 1 cent per litre for the carbon fuel levy.

An 8 per cent increase in the excise duties on alcohol and tobacco products.
From today:

a. 340ml can of beer or cider will cost an extra 14c
b. a 750ml bottle of wine will cost an extra 26c

c. a 750ml bottle of sparkling wine an extra 86c

a bottle of 750 ml spirits, including whisky, gin or vodka, will increase by R5.50
a packet of 20 cigarettes will be an extra R1.39c
25 grams of piped tobacco will cost an extra 47c
And a 23 gram cigar will be R7.71 more expensive
It is clear that excessive alcohol consumption can lead to negative social and health outcomes. Consumers do react to price increases, and higher prices should lead to lower consumption of alcohol products with positive spinoffs.

SARS has started to deepen its technology, data and machine learning capability. It is also expanding specialised audit and investigative skills in the tax and customs areas to renew its focus on the abuse of transfer pricing, tax base erosion and tax crime.

In this coming fiscal year, SARS will establish a dedicated unit to improve compliance of individuals with wealth and complex financial arrangements. This first group of taxpayers have been identified and will receive communication during April 2021. In support of these efforts, we request that this House approve an additional spending allocation to SARS of R3 billion over the medium term.

Division of Revenue

Madam Speaker, let me turn to the division of revenue.

The 2021/22 Division of Revenue stands as follows: 48.7 per cent of nationally raised funds are allocated to national government, 41.9 per cent to provinces and 9.4 per cent to local government. This is after providing for debt-service costs, the contingency reserve and provisional allocations.

The provincial equitable share will be augmented by R8 billion for provincial health departments in 2021/22 to deal with Covid-19. Of the R10.3 billion for vaccines, R2.4 billion is allocated to provincial departments of health to administer the Covid-19 vaccine programme. Government will also put in place a no-fault compensation fund to cover claims in the unlikely event of any severe vaccine injuries, allocations to which will be announced in due course.

The local government equitable share is set to increase to 9.7 per cent of the Division of Revenue in 2023/24. We are aware that financial governance remains a challenge for many municipalities. Therefore, the Municipal Systems Improvement Grant is extended for the rollout of the District Development Model.

We must encourage collaboration and partnerships between municipal councils, labour, communities and the private sector around the principles of shared risk and shared reward. There needs to be a transition to smart local government and innovation. At the same time, well-functioning municipalities require that residents pay for services rendered.

Social Development

Provinces will receive R3.5 billion from the Department of Social Development to improve access to early childhood development services.

R6.3 billion is allocated to extend the special Covid-19 social relief of distress grant until the end of April 2021. In addition, R678.3 million is earmarked for provincial departments of social development and basic education to continue rolling out free sanitary products for learners from low-income households.

Regular social assistance grants are adjusted as follows:

A R30 increase for the old age, disability and care dependency grants to R1890.
A R30 increase in the war veterans grant to R1910.
A R10 increase in the child support grant to R460.
A R10 increase for the foster care grant to R1050.

Government remains committed to ensuring that deserving students are supported through higher education. The National Treasury is working with the Department of Higher Education and Training to work on policy and funding options that will be detailed in the MTBPS.

African and REgional Economy Policy

Madam Speaker,

This Budget takes seriously our commitment to the continent of which we are a part. Payments to the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) have been revised upwards by R1.9 billion in 2022/23 and R15.5 billion in 2023/24 to R137.3 billion over the medium term.

The African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund will over the MTEF support projects that enhance African trade, economic development and integration. An allocation of R148.1 million is set aside for this purpose.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AFCTA), part of which came into effect earlier this year, presents the opportunity to deepen our trade and financial linkages with the Continent. Following last year’s Budget announcement on supporting the African Continental Free Trade Agreement through a more modern risk-based capital management flow system, much progress has been made to implement the new system, and new regulations will be published by the South African Reserve Bank shortly.

The National Treasury also continues to work with industry bodies to promote South Africa as a financial hub for Africa. From 1 March 2021, companies with a primary listing offshore, including dual-listings, will be aligned to current foreign direct investment rules, which the South African Reserve Bank will oversee.

In order to improve access to African markets, our six busiest border posts will be upgraded and expanded. These will be significant infrastructure interventions using the PPP model. Starting with Beitbridge, which was built in 1929 and last upgraded in 1995, these One-Stop-Border-Posts will harmonise the crossing of border by people and goods, eliminating the dreadful scenes we witnessed recently.

Though we face many difficulties, we must not lose sight of our place in the world, as well as our potential and responsibilities. Twenty-five years ago, on 8 May 1996, the occasion of the adoption of the South African Constitution, former President Thabo Mbeki delivered his seminal “I am an African” address at this podium.

President Mbeki reminded us that there are moments in time when we must define what we want to be.

“Together with the best in the world, we too are prone to pettiness, petulance, selfishness and short-sightedness. But it seems to have happened that we looked at ourselves and said the time had come that we make a super-human effort to be other than human, to respond to the call to create for ourselves a glorious future, to remind ourselves of the Latin saying:

Gloria est consequenda – Glory must be sought after!”

Public Procument and Zero-based budgeting

Honourable members, our fiscal path requires that we better leverage government’s status as the largest purchaser of goods and services in the economy.

Finalisation of the Public Procurement Bill is urgent. The National Treasury is fast tracking it. The bill addresses fragmentation in procurement legislation. We aim to table this reform before Cabinet before the end of this year.

Many of the tips I received spoke of the importance of zero-based budgeting. The National Treasury is finalising the framework to implement zero-based budgeting across government. This will be done through spending reviews which have been used internationally to achieve spending efficiencies. These reviews are already underway and will shape this framework.

The Department of Public Enterprises and the National Treasury will be first to pilot a new budgeting methodology. The intention is to produce significantly re-costed budgets from 2022/23.

Addressing Corruption

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is allocated R1.8 billion to improve business processes. This allocation will support our brave law enforcement agents in the fight against crime and corruption. We are bringing the long arm of the law into the digital age through the Justice Modernisation Programme.

SARS, SARB and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) are working jointly on combating criminal and illicit cross-border activities through an inter-agency working group. This group has completed 117 investigations, and found R2.7 billion for our fiscus. Customs and excise operations are reducing the illicit movement of goods across borders, assisted by specialised cargo scanners, resulting in 3 393 seizures valued at R1.5 billion for the fiscal year to January 2021.

Retirement Fund Reform

We announced in the MTBPS the historic agreement with all NEDLAC constituencies for the annuitisation of provident funds. This will enable all workers to continue to enjoy tax deductions on their contributions.

The NEDLAC constituencies also agreed to accelerate the introduction of auto-enrolment for all employed workers, and the establishment of a fund to cater for workers currently excluded from pension coverage, as an urgent intervention towards a comprehensive social security system.

I can announce that annuitisation for provident funds takes effect from 1 March 2021, and provident fund members will continue to enjoy a tax deduction on their contributions. In addition, the National Treasury will this week publish draft amendments to Regulation 28 for public comment. The proposed amendments to Regulation 28 seek to make it easier for retirement funds to increase investment in infrastructure.

Summary of the Presentation on the Fiscal Strategy

This 2021 budget framework puts South Africa on course to achieve a primary surplus. By doing this, government debt will stabilise at 88.9 per cent of GDP in 2025/26.

The path is challenging but achievable. It is the most prudent way to achieve higher levels of prosperity and avoid a sovereign debt crisis.

Madam Speaker, Honourable Members, when the Constitution was adopted 25 years ago, the words “Nothing can stop us now!” resonated in this House. As we affirm our commitment to sustainable public finances and the supremacy of our Constitution, we must again become resolute in the mission to recover and shape our destiny.

Conclusion and Thanks
Madam Speaker, I thank the President and Deputy President for their courageous leadership during these testing times. A word of appreciation to the Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. David Masondo. Thanks to the Director- General Mogajane and his dedicated team at the National Treasury.

My thanks also go to the Commissioner of the South African Revenue Service, Mr. Edward Kieswetter and his hard-working colleagues for the tremendous job they are doing. My gratitude to the Governor of the South African Reserve Bank Mr. Lesetja Kganyago and the outstanding staff of the Bank.

I particularly appreciate my colleagues in Cabinet and the wisdom of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget. I also thank my colleagues in the Budget Council. I am grateful to the Parliamentary Committees who also work tirelessly on the budget.

Finally, to the millions of South Africans who faced, and continue to face, enormous difficulties and challenges, we ask you to take courage, persevere and walk with us. Above all, let us heed the counsel of Archbishop Tutu: See that there is light despite all of the darkness.

A prosperous future is possible for our beautiful country. Gloria est consequenda – Glory must be sought after!

I thank you.

Issued by:

National Treasury

More from:

National Treasury

600,000 COVID-19 VACCINES ARRIVED IN ACCRA, GHANA🇬🇭

600,000 COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Accra, Ghana🇬🇭 this morning, making the country the first in Africa to receive the vaccines from COVAX facility (co-led by WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations-CEPI).⠀

We are also working closely with governments & manufacturers to ensure health workers & older people receive COVID-19 vaccines in all countries within the first 100 days of 2021.

📸 by © COVAX/Krishnan

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO ESTONIA. 🇪🇪

Estonian Independence Day (iseseisvuspäev) is a public holiday in Estonia, always celebrated on February 24th.

This is Estonia’s National Day, marking the anniversary of the declaration founding the Republic of Estonia on this day in 1918.

On February 24th 1918, Estonia issued a declaration of independence from the new Soviet Russia, which was followed by a war with the Soviets to maintain Estonian liberty.

On February 2nd 1920, the war ended with the Tartu Peace Treaty which guaranteed Estonia’s independence for all time.

The Soviets went on to break this pact, however, and Estonia was under Soviet control for over 50 years.

In August 1939 Germany and the Soviet Union signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. The pact’s secret protocol divided Eastern Europe into spheres of influence, with Estonia belonging to the Soviet sphere. During this time, the Soviet’s “Russification” policy meant the Estonian flag was forbidden, with Russian was made the country’s official language.

In 1991 Estonia re-established its sovereignty after the peaceful “Singing Revolution” against Soviet rule, which saw music used as a tool of resistance and a declaration of intent.

Estonians start their Independence Day at sunrise with the traditional flag-hoisting on Toompea, a hill in the capital, Tallinn, and in other Estonian towns in the morning and progress through the day with church services, the military parade in Freedom Square, an open-air free concert in central Tallinn, and the President’s reception in the evening.

The 103rd anniversary of the Republic of Estonia will be celebrated across the capital Tallinn with various events, such as public flag-raisings, open-air concerts and an opening of a new snow sculpture park.

Due to the coronavirus situation, large public events have not been organized this year in Tallinn. People are being asked to stay away from the flag-raising at Pikk Hermann at dawn and the president’s evening reception has been cancelled.

Diplomatic relations were established in October 1991. Bilateral relations between South Africa and Estonia have developed gradually. There are no contentious or outstanding political issues between the two countries.

On 22 February 2021, H.E. Ambassador Vusi Mavimbela to the  Federative Republic of Brazil🇿🇦🇧🇷 presented his letters of credence as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of South Africa to the Federative Republic of Brazil🇿🇦🇧🇷 to H.E. President Jair Bolsonaro,  in a ceremony held at Palácio do Planalto, of the Brazilian Presidency.


Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa Africa and the Federative Republic of Brazil were established in January 1948.

Recent bilateral relations between South Africa and Brazil formalised rapidly since the advent of a democratic South Africa. Brazil’s President FH Cardoso singled out improved relations with South Africa as a foreign policy priority, a sentiment since echoed repeatedly by Brazil’s Foreign Minister LF Lampreia.

The expansion of bilateral relations resulted in the mutual exchange of numerous high-level visits, most notably, the 1996 State Visit to South Africa by President Cardoso and the 1998 and 2000 State Visits to Brazil by President Mandela and President Thabo Mbeki, respectively.
President Cardoso, accompanied by a large delegation of Brazilian businessmen, paid an official visit to South Africa from 25 to 28 November 1996.

The appointment of Ambassador Otto A Maia during April 1996 to South Africa marked the first time ever that a career diplomat with the rank of Under Secretary-General was appointed as Brazilian Ambassador to any African country.

The Diplomatic Informer Magazine SA
wishes Ambassador Mavimbela
success in his new post during his ternure.

STATEMENT BY HON FOREIGN MINISTER OF SRI LANKA HIGH LEVEL SEGMENT OF THE 46TH SESSION OF THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL 23 FEBRUARY 2021, GENEVA Statement by Hon Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka High Level Segment of the 46th Session of the UN Human Rights Council 23 February 2021, Geneva

Madam President,
Madam High Commissioner,
Distinguished Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I address you today, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has published a report on Sri Lanka accompanied by an unprecedented propaganda campaign on that report.
Sri Lankan heroic armed forces militarily neutralized the LTTE in 2009 after three-decades of conflict. The Sri Lanka Government acted in self-defense to safeguard the unitary state, sovereignty & territorial integrity from the world’s most ruthless separatist terrorist organization.
The LTTE is the only terrorist organization in the world which has killed two world leaders: a serving President of Sri Lanka and a former Prime Minister of India extending its terror beyond the borders of Sri Lanka.
End of terrorism guaranteed the most cherished of all human rights – right to life of all Sri Lankans – Sinhala, Tamil, and Muslims.
Nonetheless hegemonic forces colluded against Sri Lanka in bringing an unsubstantiated resolution against Sri Lanka which was defeated by the support of friendly nations who remain by Sri Lanka’s side even today. Further resolutions were presented to this Council on purely political motives. In each instance Sri Lanka presented the procedural improprieties, and how such processes could set a dangerous precedent affecting all member states of the United Nations.
The Government which assumed office in Sri Lanka in 2015, in a manner unprecedented in human rights fora, joined as co-sponsors of Resolution 30/1 which was against our own country. It carried a host of commitments that were not deliverable and were not in conformity with the Constitution of Sri Lanka. This led to the compromising of national security to a point of reviving terrorist acts on Easter Sunday 2019 causing the deaths of hundreds.
The rejection of this resolution by the peoples of Sri Lanka was clearly manifested in the mandate received by His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa in November 2019. Based on this mandate I announced at the 43rd session of this Council that Sri Lanka would withdraw from co-sponsorship of the resolution. I also stated that Sri Lanka would remain engaged with the UN system including this Council.
We have provided detailed updates to the OHCHR in December 2020 as well as in January 2021 on the progress of implementation of commitments that Sri Lanka had undertaken such as continuity of the existing mechanisms, appointment of a special commission of inquiry headed by a Supreme Court Judge, achieving the SDGs, progress made in returning lands, demining and creating new avenues of livelihoods.
These steps have been taken even as Sri Lanka was battling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past one year. In spite of these challenges we held a free and fair general election in August 2020 and elected a new Government with a two-thirds majority in one of Asia’s oldest Parliamentary democracies.
It is regrettable that despite the spirit of cooperation with the HRC and its mechanisms, elements working against Sri Lanka intend to table another country-specific resolution based on this OHCHR Report. This rejected report by Sri Lanka has unjustifiably broadened its scope and mandate further, incorporating many issues of governance and matters that are essentially domestic in any self-respecting, sovereign country.
I leave it to the members and observers of this Council to make their own judgment on whether Sri Lanka represents a situation that warrants the urgent attention of this Council, or if this campaign is essentially a political move that contravenes the very values and principles on which this Council has been established. Particularly at a time when legislation is enacted by some countries to protect their soldiers from prosecution in military operations carried out overseas, only points to duplicity and the hypocritical nature of their motives. This cannot but result in a significant loss of morale among countries engaged in the struggle against terrorism.
The Council must hold the scales even. Not going by hearsay, unilateral action or one angled doubtful sources but adhere to its guiding principles. Insistence on such ever-expanding externally driven prescriptions notwithstanding our continuous cooperation and engagement with this Council can pose numerous challenges.
As the Council is aware this is a critical time to the entire world in the last hundred years where we need to be united in our efforts to overcome the Covid19 pandemic and to revive battered economies. I appeal to the members of this Council to take note of our continued engagement and cooperation on its merit and support us by rejecting any resolution against Sri Lanka. We believe that the extent to which the resources and time of this Council has been utilized on Sri Lanka is unwarranted, and carries a discouraging message to the sovereign states of the global South.
The need of the hour, in the face of an unprecedented pandemic, is solidarity rather than rancor and acrimony arising from divisions within this council. In view of the circumstances set out above, we urge that this resolution be rejected by the Council and be brought to closure.
May I conclude quoting the words of Lord Buddha,
“Siyalu sathwayo niduk wethwa, nirogee wethwa, suwapath wethwa”.

May all beings be safe,
May all beings be free from suffering.
May all beings be well and happy.

Thank you.

🇷🇼RWANDA TAKES ACTION TO RESTART TOURISM

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