Gallant Mthembu mourned

25 January 2021

President Cyril Ramaphosa has described the passing of Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu, as a great tragedy, particularly at a time when government is striving to return to a path of integrity, selfless service and transformation.

Mthembu, who passed away on Thursday due to COVID-19 related complications, was laid to rest at Pretoria Memorial Park Cemetery on Sunday.

In a moving eulogy delivered at the official funeral service held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ackerville, Mpumalanga, President Ramaphosa said Mthembu worked ever so hard on a daily basis to advance the cause of his political home, the African National Congress. He gave selflessly of his time and energy to the government he swore to serve, the Constitution he pledged to defend and protect, and his greatest loyalty was reserved for the country and its people.

The African Asian Neighbourhood

25 January 2021

A book launch and an online discussion hosted by The Diplomatic Society brought together several experts on international relations to share their experiences and knowledge on regional cooperation within the African Asian paradigm. SAARC, the South Asian Association for regional Cooperation, an eight country bloc, the African Union (AU) with 55 countries, Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) with ten countries and IORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association) with 22 countries, cover 95 countries and is home to around half of the world’s population at 3.6 billion people. Connectivity and cooperation between people and nations has significant sway in the geo political and socio economic context.

In his observation as the moderator of the discussion, Founder and Editor of The Diplomatic Society, Mr Kirtan Bhana observed a shift in international relations pointing to three poignant events of the last two decades of the new millennium. The first was the September 11, 2001 attacks in the USA. This devastating act sounded alarm bells for a drastic change in geo-political and social interaction. The other is the 2008 financial crisis which exposed the stark imbalance in the needs of humanity and the supply and demand value chains. Now we are confronted by the Covid-19 global viral pandemic, having not yet completely resolved the previous crises. Humanity, it seems, is in drastic need for innovation in international relations.

Kazakhstan Parliamentary Elections: An Important Step in Kazakhstan’s Path to Democratization

by Alberto Turkstra, Project Manager, Diplomatic World Institute

21 January 2021

On the occasion of the 2021 parliamentary elections, Diplomatic World Project Manager Alberto Turkstra visited Nursultan (Kazakhstan) from January 8 – January 11. In Nursultan, the author met with representatives of the various political parties participating in the elections, members of the Central Election Commission, the Kazakhstan Institute for Strategic Studies and the National Council of Public Trust. On the day of the election, several polling stations were visited in addition to the press briefings of international observers.

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and severe winter weather conditions, Kazakhstan successfully organised its legislative elections in strict observance of all sanitary requirements. The first parliamentary elections since President Tokayev came to power following the 2019 presidential election, they represented an important occasion to elect a new parliament which will help guide the future direction and further reforms of the country in all spheres.

Egypt and South Africa: A shared vision towards a sustainable strategic relationship
Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa, Ahmed El Fadly, and his Spouse Habiba Abdelrazek (left) and Ambassador-Designate of South Africa to Egypt, Ambassador Ntsiki J. Mashimbye, and his Spouse Khanyi Mashimbye (right)


14 January 2021

Ambassador of Egypt to South Africa, Ahmed El Fadly, and his Spouse Habiba Abdelrazek hosted a lunch in honor of the new Ambassador-Designate of South Africa to Egypt, Ambassador Ntsiki J. Mashimbye, and his Spouse Khanyi Mashimbye ahead of their departure to Cairo on Friday, January 14, 2021.

The two Ambassadors discussed the importance of the bilateral relations that have steadily improved since 1993 and how to strengthen it further through closer co-operation, given the unique standing of Egypt and South Africa in the continent as the largest economies in northern and southern Africa, respectively.

"The current relations between Egypt and South Africa neither reflect the depth of the historical relation between the two countries, nor its potential. The event was a chance to discuss ways and means of advancing the bilateral relations to a higher sustainable strategic level," Ambassador El Fadly said.

WIT announces the 2021 Shortlist

Brussels, January 11, 2021

Wholistic World Innovation Trophy – WIT – announces the shortlist of nom-inees for its first ever season in 2021:
• Design Beku (India)
Inclusive design, aimed at exploring how technology and design can be decolonial, local and ethical
• Indigital (Sydney)
Connects teaching of digital skills with cultural education, specifically cultural heritage of in-digenous people
• SumArth (India)
SumArth/MICROX Foundation is a non-profit social enterprise headquartered in Gaya, Bihar, India, aimed at supporting farmers in their economic growth
• Vion Lab (Sweden)
Specialises in Content Discovery, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. It analyses content to optimise the media recommendation and advertising experience for SVOD

The Careless State: Using ‘easy money’ to retain power, pursue vanity projects and cushion the elite

A key difficulty to understand the point at which states fail their citizens is in the criteria — when exactly is a state fragile or failed?

by Ray Hartley and Greg Mills

Failed, fragile, weak, collapsed, vulnerable, moribund, straggling, struggling, crisis, quasi-failed, “non-state”, broken, invisible, insufficient, stillborn, phantom, or even Potemkin states (those that pretend to work, but don’t), have all been put forward as models of state dysfunction.

A key difficulty to understand the point at which states fail their citizens is in the criteria — exactly when is a state fragile or failed? There appears to be no single reason or a tipping point at which a state becomes officially “failed”, an imaginary dividing line between success or normality and failure. Countries, after all, exist on a spectrum or continuum rather than in a binary world of success or failure.

South Africa to receive vaccines in January

7 January 2021

In a presentation to parliament on Thursday, 7 January South African Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize provided details on the government’s Covid-19 vaccine procurement and roll-out strategy.

Mkhize said that the aim of vaccination is to prevent morbidity and mortality, and achieve herd immunity and prevent ongoing transmission.

He said that he was pleased to announce that the Serum Institute of India (SII) has given permission to make a public announcement and start engaging with all relevant stakeholders in preparation for the roll out. The teams from the National Department of Health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) were fine tuning and aligning all the regulations processes to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays or regulatory impediments to activate this roll out.

SA Government outlines rollout plans for COVID-19 vaccine

4 January 2021

Government has set a minimum target of 67% of the population to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in an effort to achieve herd immunity, says Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize.

South Africa recently made the down payment to secure the COVID-19 vaccine for 10% of the population.

In a media briefing on Sunday on the country's COVID-19 Vaccine Strategy, the Minister said the rollout of the vaccine will be done in phases beginning with the most vulnerable in the population.

Phase one includes frontline health care workers (HCW), with a target of 1 250 000 people.

New dawn for SA trade with Africa

4 January 2021

The 1st of January 2021 marked the start of South African firms trading under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and with the United Kingdom under the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) Mozambique–UK Economic Partnership Agreement.

“South Africa has put in place the legal and administrative processes for preferential trade under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 1 January 2021, in line with the decision by the 13th Extra-Ordinary Session of the Assembly on the AfCFTA on 5 December 2020 to start trading under the AfCFTA. [This is] on the basis of legally implementable and reciprocal Tariff Schedules and Concessions, with agreed Rules of Origin,” said the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic).

The Andrei Stenin photo contest exhibition
Ambassador of Russia, Ilya Rogachev addressing guests at the opening of the exhibition (Photo by Dilon Bhana)

28 December 2020

The winning photographs of the Andrei Stenin International Photo Contest are on exhibit at the Apogee Gallery in Waterkloof, Pretoria until 6 January 2021.

This year the opening of the exhibition took place on 22 December 2020, which marked Andrei Stenin’s 40th birthday. Stenin, a famous Russian photographer, was killed on editorial assignment and the contest which was launched in 2014 in his honour, aims to discover young talented photographers from around the world.

Opening the exhibition, Ilya Rogachev, Ambassador of Russia to South Africa said that it is natural that the Republic of South Africa is among the host countries for the Stenin Photo Exhibition, given an impressive participation record of South African photographers at the Andrei Stenin Contest.

The Last Gasp to Impunity and Dominance: Defeating the TPLF clique

26 December 2020

Ethiopia’s history of modern political struggle largely revolves around democracy, economic gains and equality. In pursuit of these interests and principles, competing parties engaged in a struggle though none of them, so far, achieved a comprehensive and lasting solution that could bring Ethiopians together in their quest to a viable nation-state that is democratic and prosperous.

The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) dominated the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF)—a coalition of four parties—Oromo Democratic Party, Amhara Democratic Party, Southern Ethiopia People’s Democratic Movement, and Tigray People’s Liberation Front—that ruled Ethiopia for 27 years (1991-2018) was not an exception. The popular protests against the EPRDF which started in 2015 had seen the end of the domination of the TPLF in the EPRDF in 2018.

BRICS Partnership: United for a Better World

23 December 2020

On 17 November 2020 XII BRICS Summit took place – the main event of Russia’s chairmanship in the organization. The Summit, which was originally scheduled to be hosted in “Russia’s Northern Capital”, Saint Petersburg, for the first time in history, was held online, due to difficult epidemiologic situation around the globe. Still, it is noteworthy that despite COVID-19 pandemic and severe challenges it posed before humanity, BRICS did not cease its activities – under Russia’s chairmanship over 150 events of various levels were held, both via videoconferences and in-person meetings. The most tragic paradox of the COVID-19 pandemic, to our mind, is that its very logic suggests strict isolation of the countries from each other, yet none of them can withstand pandemic’s hardships on its own. BRICS countries proceeded from a common understanding that the only way to overcome the coronavirus crisis is through mutual aid. As a result, the five countries provided each other valuable support (this includes material help: PPE, test systems etc). We believe this alone describes better than words that BRICS has proven itself a strong, reliable alliance and that it is truly one of the priorities of the Russian Federation’s foreign policy. Instead of isolation, the BRICS members displayed unity and mutual aid, reaffirming organization’s status as one of the world’s most important ones.

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