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Opinion & Analysis (1011)

South Africa, a leading economy on the African continent, and China, the largest developing country in the world, have forged a unique partnership. Operating at bilateral, continental and multilateral levels, the governments are actively striving to realise the comprehensive strategic partnership envisaged in 2010.
From Gaza to Syria, Iraq and Ukraine, the existing political order is under attack. The crises in Europe challenge the stability that was the product of post-Cold War settlements, while the post-World War II arrangements in the Middle East are unravelling.
In response to its beheading of two US journalists and the havoc the Islamic State group (IS) has created in the Syrian and Iraqi region, US president Barack Obama recently laid out his vision for confronting IS to his country’s citizenry. He presented a four step strategy which essentially consists of building an international coalition, without involving US 'boots on the ground', that would support the Iraqi military and 'moderate' Syrian rebels in confronting IS and wresting territory back from its control.
It has been nearly six years since Vice President Dick Cheney left Washington when the Bush administration ended. This past week, Cheney offered a stinging rebuttal of President Barack Obama’s strategy against ISIS - in advance of the president’s speech. Just hours before Obama appeared on television, Cheney spoke at a leading conservative think tank in Washington to an audience that was like a convention of the right-wing faithful, hoping to strap on their weapons and do battle once again, one more time.
More than a week has now passed since the ostensible coup attempt of 29 August in Lesotho. This was sold officially as an operation to neutralise elements within the Lesotho Mounted Police Service who were colluding with government supporters to disrupt a protest march the following Monday.
The heads of state and government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) members are ensconced in the resort town of Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe. This is for the annual summit of the regional economic community (17-18 August) that includes countries from as far north as Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
The 2014 South African Mining Lekgotla convenes in Johannesburg, on 13-14 August. This comes against the backdrop of unresolved challenges in the mining sector, including the recent protracted platinum strike, inter-union rivalries and violence, service delivery failure in mining communities and the persistent migrant labour system.
For well over a decade, a unique, but flawed global governance initiative, the Kimberley Process, has sought to assure customers that the high prices that they pay for diamonds - stones sold as symbols of love – are not associated with war and bloodshed. But more recently, the increasing production of synthetic diamonds in response to demand in emerging countries is threatening the stability of the entire diamond market.
At this week’s Mining Lekgotla (13-14 August 2014), the future of the currently suppressed platinum industry is likely to be a key agenda item. Whether fuel cell technology takes off is a critical determinant of what this future might look like.
Strategies to increase women’s participation in politics have been advanced through conventions, protocols and international agreements for gender mainstreaming, but they are yet to prove effective in achieving gender parity in the highest government rankings. The latest data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union show that globally, women account for an average of about 20% of parliamentary seats.
This week African leaders have descended on Washington, DC for the first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit. African leaders are expected to arrive with a long list of items to address with President Barack Obama, with the need to expeditiously reauthorise the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) near the top of the list.
On September 30, 2015, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) will expire. The act provides duty free access to the US, and if it lapses could threaten 62,395 jobs in South Africa alone.
Among the key themes of the US-Africa Business Forum, organised as an important core event during the upcoming US-Africa Leaders’ Summit in Washington, energy is recognised as a priority issue for Africa and the growing US partnership with African states.
The upcoming US-Africa summit on 5-6 August 2014, the first of its kind, includes the promotion of democracy on its agenda. This dimension sets itself apart from the plethora of other high level summits involving the engagement of emerging powers with Africa. Why is this important and how can the US engage meaningfully in the promotion of democracy on the continent?
In the lead up to the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit, taking place from 4 to 6 August, all eyes are on the future of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). South Africa currently qualifies trade preferences under the Act, along with 38 other African states. But just what is the Act, why is it important, and what is the current state of trade between the US and Africa?
Now that the sixth BRICS Summit and the FIFA World Cup are over, the focus moves from Brazil and the emerging powers to the United States of America. The first ever US-Africa Leaders Summit on 4-6 August 2014 finally offers an opportunity for other continents to step aside and let Africa take the right of way in Washington’s circles.
Hardly a multilateral meeting goes by without its attendees committing themselves to the promotion of peace and security across the globe. The Sixth BRICS Summit, hosted from 14-16 July in Brazil, was no exception. BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have, time and again, declared their commitment to 'building a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity', yet the various Summit declarations are sketchy at best on how these five countries intend to go about achieving this objective.
A country’s international economic agenda is invariably shaped by its domestic constraints and socio-economic development objectives. The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) states are no exception.
Indicators of health are a mirror of what goes on in societies, how the world works, and who benefits most. The world over, poor people are more sick and die earlier than those who are better off.
This week saw the Department of Trade and Industry (dti) Budget Vote presented to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry. SAIIA would like to congratulate Minister Rob Davies on his reappointment and wishes both the Minister and dti officials well for the implementation of their work programme.
In an era of global politics and interdependence, foreign affairs is closer to home than ever before. In fact in many ways it begins at home. As the world’s fastest growing free-market and the most populous democracy with the third largest armed force, India simply matters in global affairs.
Over the European summer the world will witness several centennial commemorations of the first World War. One hundred years ago today, on 23 July 1914, Austria-Hungary presented an ultimatum to Serbia, and on 28 July, war was declared on Serbia.
For a decade now the world has been engaged in what has been seen as a battle against blood diamonds perceived as funding wars in countries like Sierra Leone and DRC. The Kimberley process is one unique but flawed example of an attempt at global governance co-operation by producers and consumers to stamp out blood diamonds.
After five years of introspection and institution building, the sixth BRICS summit offers an opportunity for the group to focus on its relations with the rest of the world. Relations with the Group of 7 (G-7) are particularly contentious. Russia's exclusion from the G-8 following the crisis in Crimea has moved the BRICS to the centre stage in Russian foreign policy thinking, and risks pulling the group onto an opposition footing with the West.
The BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) were brought together by their investment returns and growth potential, but for the group to act they must find some common purpose.
The emergence of the BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) grouping coincided with the notion of an ‘Africa Rising’, a term coined following Africa's growing economic prosperity. The rise of BRICS also overlapped with their increased involvement in Africa.
As the BRICS meet in Fortaleza, Brazil from 14-16 July 2014, attention is once again on the group’s efforts to establish two new financial institutions: the New Development Bank and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement. Negotiations are underway on both and, while it remains uncertain that they will be officially launched in Fortaleza, substantial progress is expected to be announced at the summit.
BRICS’ critics were dealt a crippling blow recently when the group, which is often accused of being a talk shop, showed they are also very keen on reading. In an unusual move for an international summit, the group released an official 'BRICS Bibliography', listing key readings for those wishing to know more about the leaders, economics, history, literature, politics and sociology of each country.
On 22 June, four suspected illegal miners were found dead with gunshot wounds to the head at a gold mine near Johannesburg. Earlier this year, a rescue operation to remove illegal miners from the abandoned Gold One mineshaft on South Africa’s East Rand, revealed a reluctance to be rescued for fear of arrest. This brings to attention the scale and intractability of efforts to curb illegal mining.
To President Zuma’s credit, last Tuesday evening’s State of the Nation Address went straight to the heart of South Africa’s triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. His vision of needed policy responses also put the National Development Plan (NDP) at the front and centre: government plans to achieve an economic growth rate of 5% by 2019.