AU Chair urges countries to rally behind Okonjo-Iweala for WTO

8 October 2020
His Excellency, Mr. Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chairperson of the African Union, congratulates Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on her advancement to the third and final stage of the selection process for the position of the Director-General (DG) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the first African woman to stand for election and reach the final stage of selection for the WTO DG post. President Ramaphosa stated: “Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is a highly distinguished African, who has excelled in various public offices, in her native Nigeria, including responsibilities in the AU, and in numerous international assignments.
“At a time when international organisations need to be repurposed, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala is the right person to reposition the WTO in order to be an effective instrument for facilitating a fair, just, equitable and rules-based trading system. I have no doubt that she has the credentials and capability to restore order in an otherwise turbulent multilateral trading system.”

Antigen tests to be rolled out at points of entry  

8 October 2020

Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 detection will be rolled out to all ports of entry in South Africa with immediate effect.

The purpose of this rollout is to effect the provisions of the level one travel regulations, which stipulate that all travelers that arrive at a port of entry without a certified negative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test result (not older than 72 hours) must be tested at the point of entry before entering the country.

(Image Pixabay)

Antigen tests (different from antibody tests) are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. The advantage of the antigen test is that, unlike the PCR test, the results are available in 15 minutes.

In consideration of the logistical complications that a point of entry PCR test poses and the additional mitigation measures in place, it was resolved by Cabinet to implement testing at points of entry using the antigen test. Government is also aware that some of our neighbouring countries, for example Lesotho, do not have the capacity to conduct PCR testing for all travelers destined for South Africa. Antigen testing will therefore enable the management of  the influx of travelers without certified PCR tests timeously.

Is real estate a good investment in South Africa?

8 October 2020

In spite of –or perhaps due to- the COVID global crisis, the real estate market is making heads turn and attracting diverse demographics: from millennials looking to buy their first home to extended families looking for bigger properties, and even expatriates considering the buy-to-let investing strategy.
Is this the right moment to buy?
Here are the facts:
•     Unprecedented interest cuts - As a response to the coronavirus damage to the economy, on March 2020 the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) cut the interest rate by 1%. Another 1% was cut by mid-April, followed by an additional 0.5% in May and another 0.5% in July. As a result, there is currently a prime 7% interest rate, the lowest in over 50 years.
•     A buyers’ market- There is an oversupply of housing in South Africa, with new developments being built all over and older houses entering the real state agencies’ listings every day.
•     Available financing – Buying a house now is more affordable than ever before. There is a number of properties available for less than one million Rands, which value exempts the buyer from paying transfer duties. Also, there is government support for first-time homebuyers, designed to help medium to low-income earners. Furthermore, South African banks are approving more loans consisting of 100% of the value of a house; which means the buyer can get a mortgage with zero deposit.

The Russian Embassy, an auction and chefs partner to create goodwill

7 October 2020

South Africa is fortunate to have many valuable partners. It is also very fortunate to have caring, innovative citizens who are always able to come to the party when needed. When the coronavirus struck South Africa, the consequent lockdown left many of its citizens in dire need.

Photo: Ambassador Ilya Rogachev handing over proceeds to Chef Coovashan Pillay. On the right is James Khoza, President of the South African Chefs Association and on the left is Jan Stekhoven, owner of Bryanston Auctioneers

In these unprecedented times people dug deep to innovate and find solutions to the problems that arose. Ambassador Ilya Rogachev of Russia to South Africa together with the embassy staff gathered artefacts and collectibles and partnered with Bryanston Auctioneers to auction off these items.  At the handover Ambassador Rogachev said that given the global pandemic, no country or organisation is able to cope on its own and helping each other was the idea behind the charity auction.

The auction was held online and was open to everybody to bid for these rare items.

The proceeds from this auction was handed over to Chefs with Compassion at an intimate event hosted by Ambassador Rogachev. Accepting the donation, Chef Coovashan Pillay shared shocking statistics with regards to people going hungry and the amount of food that is wasted. South Africa has a world-class hospitality and restaurant sector and at the opposite end there are so many people going hungry every day.

AMW Holidays Worldwide Group Opening and Welcoming International Travellers in the Republic of South Africa

7 October 2020

Mr. Ahmed Talaat, the President and CEO for AMW Holidays Worldwide Group joined the Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, at O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg on Thursday, 1st October 2020 along with the German Ambassador to South Africa, Dr. Martin Schäfer, welcoming the first arrivals to O.R. Tambo International Airport along with 31 Flights, as AMW Holidays Worldwide Group is the leader for the Travel and Tourism Industry in the Republic of South Africa supported by 5 companies under the AMW Holidays Worldwide Group Umbrella namely, Land of Civilizations Tours, Mount Sinai Tours, Egyptian Investment Group, AMW Visa Services and AMW Travel Insurance.

Photo: Mr. Ahmed Talaat, the President and CEO for AMW Holidays Worldwide Group

Mr. Ahmed Talaat confirmed on this day, to the public through Newzroom Afrika during the television broadcast, that South Africa is a safe destination especially now that the summer season is starting in South Africa, knowing how the South African Government handled the COVID-19 pandemic with such professionalism.

Celebrating the 4,352nd anniversary of the Korean National Foundation Day

by Dr Jong-Dae Park, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea

2 October 2020

We hope that you and your family and friends are all keeping well in these unprecedented times. This year, we have had to deal with the new circumstances, and sadly, we lost some of our close South African friends along the way.

If we were in normal circumstances, you would certainly already have been invited to join us in celebrating the4,352nd anniversary of the Korean National Foundation Day and the 72nd anniversary of Armed Forces Day at our Residence. Indeed, this would have been my third and last national day reception I would host as the Korean Ambassador to South Africa, and in this regard, this would have been very special kairos moments to me personally.

It is not only I but indeed all of us at the Embassy. Surely you are also missing the atmosphere, gathering under the full-blooming Jacaranda trees in our Residence garden, with pleasant weather, clear and blue skies, having a glass of superb South African wine, chatting and hugging, and having Korean cuisine such as Bulgoki, Kimbap and Kimchi. Many of our South African friends have expressed their feelings of missing our cultural activities, like our monthly Korean film nights, our annual Korean Film & Food Festival in Centurion, and our annual K-pop and Korean essay contests, etc.

Priscilla Jana mourned

13 October 2020

South Africa has lost a human rights icon and a formidable legal intellect with the passing of South African Human Rights Commission Deputy Chairperson Priscilla Jana.

Ms Devikarani Priscilla Sewpal Jana passed away on Saturday, 10 October 2020, at the age of 76.

Ms Jana was an outstanding and fearless human rights lawyer who devoted her practice to fighting the apartheid regime, defending a broad range of struggle leaders and asserting the rights of marginalised South Africans, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Ramaphosa has extended his condolences to the family, friends and comrades of Ms Jana as well as to the leadership and staff of the South African Human Rights Commission.

Ms Jana was a former Member of Parliament and South African Ambassador to the Netherlands and Ireland.

Ecuador – land of opportunities

By Maria Soledad Cordova, Ambassador of Ecuador to South Africa

5 October 2020

Time sure does fly and after five years in beautiful South Africa, it is time to bid it farewell.  As the first female ambassador of Ecuador to South Africa it has been an honor and a privilege to serve my country in this region of the world.

Photo: Ambassador Soledad Cordova meeting with Dr Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, CEO of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Agency

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic slowed down activity this year, the friendly relations between Ecuador and South Africa have grown encompassing many sectors including in the fields of mining, environment, defence, education, indigenous knowledge systems, science and technology and space exploration.

Representing Ecuador in a number of Southern African countries, a Cooperation Agreement was signed with the African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) with the aim strengthening South-South cooperation.

Trade and investment remains a high priority on the embassy’s agenda and in this regard opportunities were explored to showcase products of Ecuador. It is said to have the best cocoa in the world and the embassy hosted various events where guests had the opportunity to taste coffee and chocolates from Ecuador. The famous hat woven from toquilla straw, made famous by workers on the Panama Canal, was declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2012.

Hiking to Ingeli Mountains in honour of OR Tambo

by HRH Stella Sigcau

5 October 2020

The Mbizana Community Hiking Club whose main objective it is to promote the preservation of environmental heritage as well as cultural and sustainable tourism, plans to hike to the Ingeli Mountains in honour of Oliver Reginald Tambo on 16 October 2020.

October was declared  the OR Tambo month in South Africa to honour his legacy and contribution to the liberation struggle of South Africa.  Mbizana remains one of the environmental endowed parts of the Mpondo Kingdom. It is also home to the struggle icon and longest serving ANC President (1967- 1991) Oliver Reginald Tambo  who was born on 27 October 1917 in Nkantolo village, overlooking the Ingeli Mountains which are 20 kilometres outside Mbizana, in the Mpondo Kingdom in theEastern Cape.

Change can happen against all odds

German Unity Day

3 October 2020

On the 9th of November 1989 the world was irreversibly changed when the Berlin Wall came down and everything seemed possible. It was a day marked by jubilation, not only in Germany but the world over. At the same time in South Africa apartheid was collapsing and three months later, in February 1990 Nelson Mandela was released from prison. “These events marked the moment in history when both our countries turned from oppression to freedom, from injustice to democracy, from despair to hope,” said Dr Martin Schäfer, Ambassador of Germany to South Africa at the Deutschland Fest that took place in 2019.

Lufthansa was the first airline to bring tourists to South Africa after the easing of lockdown restrictions (image: Pixabay)

Today marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Covid-19 pandemic has thrown the entire world a curveball. Ambassador Schäfer said he would have loved to celebrate 30 years of peace, freedom and unity with Germans and German friends in South Africa, as has been the case every other year, but the pandemic and restrictions have made this impossible.

While South Africa has amongst the highest Covid-19 infections in the world, its mortality rate is relatively low, but with the hard lockdown many livelihoods have been negatively affected. Germany, and indeed Schäfer, has been resolute in providing South Africa with much needed assistance in this very difficult time. Recently, and in the build up to the German national day, Germany provided R100 million for food relief and shelter for those in need on the Cape Flats.

Guinea an Attractive Investment Destination

2 October 2020

Statement by Her Excellency Mrs  Kaba Hawa Diakite, Ambassador Extraordinairy and Plenipotentiary of Guinea to the Republic of South Africa on the occasion of the National Independence Day of the Republic of Guinea

Honorable Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa;
Members of the South African Government,
Your Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic and Consular Missions and Representatives of International Organisations accredited to the Republic of South Africa;
Leaders of  the Guinean Community in the countries of our jurisdiction ;
Fellow Guineans ;
Ladies and gentlemen,

Allow me to express a renewned sense of national pride on this solemn occasion which marks the 62nd anniversary of the independence of our great country, Guinea.

An independence acquired at the cost of bloodshed, patriotism and bravery of the valiant people of Guinea. We pay tribute to our great leaders who resisted colonial domination and fought for our liberation including late Comrade Ahmed Sékou TOURE, first President of the country, Mr. Saïfoulaye DIALLO, Mrs. Hadja Mafory BANGOURA, Mr. Lansana BEAVOGUI.

Through their fight, they could restore our lost human dignity and freedom and gave us the strength as a people to independently determine our future.

Indeed, after 60 years of colonisation, the Republic of Guinea was the first country in the French-speaking Subsaharan Africa to cast a negative vote against colonialism during the historic referendum of September 28, 1958, through which our rightful status as an independent sovereign nation was acquired.

Greece: Refugee life on the other side of the highway

The fire at the Moria refugee camp on Lesvos in the Aegean has raised questions once more about the plight of the 24,000 refugees seeking a way into Europe.

by Greg Mills, Director, The Brenthurst Foundation

An image taken with a drone shows the refugee camp of Moria, on Lesvos island, Greece, 22 January 2020. At the camp, which is meant to host 2,500 migrants and refugees, now houses more than 20,000 people in poor conditions. The entire island of Lesvos among with Chios and Samos held a 24-hour strike on 22 January to protest the migration situation as thousands of asylum seekers are stranded there in unbearable conditions and low temperatures. EPA-EFE/DIMITRIS TOSIDIS

1 October 2020

It’s a slog up the steep hill from the quayside shops at the port of Samos to the Vathy camp on the slopes above the town. The sun is baking, the road seeming to stick to the tyres of my bike as I ground my way past women and children lugging water, cans, food and other supplies to the camp.

The facility lies on the other side of the double-lane highway linking the island’s eponymous port over a series of steep mountains, I was warned, to the more famous village of Pythagorio on the southern coast, the birthplace of the philosopher-mathematician. The Vathy camp opened in early 2016 on the site of a former military base, conveniently close to a major hospital.

That year saw the peak, so far, of the refugee wave.

More than a million migrants arrived in Europe from Africa and the Middle East in 2015, nearly half from Syria. Of the total, 850,000 landed on the Greek islands.

Greece’s geography makes it the gateway to the European Union, a short journey from mainland Turkey which today is, according to the UN, host to the world’s largest refugee population, some four million people, of which 3.6 million are Syrian.

Samos is the closest Greek island to Turkey, just over a kilometre away across the Mycale Strait. In just three months in 2015/16 more than 100,000 refugees landed on Samos, many surviving perilous passages on exposed inflatables.

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