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Dinesh Gunawardena takes over as Sri Lanka’s new Minister of Foreign Relations

By Srimal Fernando

9 December 2019

The newly-elected Sri Lankan President, Gotabaya Rajapaksa appointed Dinesh Gunawardena as the Minister of Foreign Relations after his Presidential election in 2019.  In addition to Foreign Affairs, Dinesh Gunawardena was also appointed as the Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations. The new foreign minister Gunawardena hails from a well-known political family in Sri Lanka. His father, Philip Gunawardena, is a famous national hero known as 'the Father of Socialism'. Gunawardena is a graduate from the University of Oregon in the US and entered politics in 1974. In 1983, as the general-secretary of Mahajana Eksath Peramuna’s (MEP) he entered Parliament in a by-election held in Maharagma.  He is well-known as a long-standing parliamentarian and has served as a minister several times since the mid 90s.


Making Swedish slow fashion and sustainability envogue  

4 December 2019

Celebrated Swedish Costume designer Nina Sandström showcased new work at the ground-breaking arts and fashion festival Arte Botanica at Nirox Sculpture Park this past November.

Manthe Ribane, artistic director for Arte Botanica talks about the initiative:
“It’s about nature being the catalyst for synthesizing and recognising the exuberance of diversity in the arts – in particular giving fashion its place amongst the arts, beyond its commodification at the hands of profits.
In future we will look to address more about sustainability in the way we live and enjoy nature.  It’s not a question of science or human preservation for future generations. That’s how it is usually presented, but for us its more about living in nature because we are a part of it, not its master and not something separate from it. Humans over-estimate themselves.  We will also want to introduce poetry, the spoken word and literature as an integral part of fashion, music and the way Africans enjoy life.”


France invites 1,000 African entrepreneurs to 2020 Africa-France Summit in Bordeaux

On 18 November 2019, Secretary General of the Africa-France 2020 Summit H.E. Ambassador Stéphanie Rivoal, announced in Pretoria that France, with Digital Africa, will be supporting 1,000 African entrepreneurs by giving them the opportunity to participate in the Summit to be held in Bordeaux, France, 4-6 June 2020.

Photo: Mr Aurélien Lechevallier, Ambassador of France in South Africa hosted a cocktail to launch the upcoming 28th Africa France Summit on Sustainable cities. He is pictured with Ambassador Stéphanie Rivoal, SG of the Summit and Mr. Ebrahim Patel, Minister of the Department of Trade and Industry of SA

During the Summit, the French President, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Macron, will welcome leaders and stakeholders from across Africa, at a time when the continent is facing unprecedented population growth in cities.


Return on Investment (ROI)

1 December 2019

South Africa has the most diversified economy on the African Continent, the most industrialised, and a highly developed infrastructure which supports not only primary manufacturing and services sectors, but is host to the largest diplomatic representation on the continent. With over 250 representations, trade, consular and honorary consul offices, it is home to the 2nd highest number of diplomatic offices in the world, preceded only by the United Nations headquarters in New York.

Photo: China's high-level government delegation headed by Former Senior Vice Minister of Commerce H.E. Mr. Chen Jian (pictured left) with Ambassador-designate Siyabonga Cwele who has been posted to Beijing as South Africa's Ambassador and Advocate Mr Ajay Sooklal.

Many multinationals have set up operations in South Africa and have chosen the country as their base for engagement throughout the African continent.  The country is acknowledged for its innovation in the technology, communications, financial and media and entertainment arenas and has hosted a number of mega events. It has also played host to a number of high profile and influential personalities over the years.


Clairwood Secondary School makes history

6 December 2019

Clairwood Secondary School has been very fortunate in that it received a tremendous boost in its recent relationship with the Chinese Government through the perseverance and ongoing liaisons of Mr. Y Naidoo the principal, Mr Lin Songtian, Ambassador of China to South Africa and Professor Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director General for Asia and Middle East at the Department of International relations and Cooperation.

Photo: Mr Yugan Naidoo (Principal) and Mr Frank Lin WU, Co – Dean, Confucius Institute Durban University of Technology Signing of Memorandum of understanding (l-r) Mr R G Moodley - Deputy Principal, Mr A Maharaj – Deputy Principal, Professor A Sooklal – Deputy Director General Asia and Middle East Dirco,  Mr Lin Songtian, Ambassador of the Peoples Republic of China to the Republic of South Africa, Mr D N Mthetwa – Chief Education Specialist Umlazi District, Mr Fei Mingxing – Consul General of the People’s Republic of China in Durban, Mr S Naicker – Superintendent of Education Management Umlazi District, and Mr T Pillay – Representive Directors Office Umlazi District


Chancellor of Germany visits the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

On Friday, 6 December, the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel will pay a historic visit to the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. It will be Angela Merkel’s first visit to the Memorial Site after her 14 years in office and the third visit of an incumbent head of government. German chancellor will be accompanied by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

The visit will mark the 10th anniversary of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation, established in 2009 to take care of the Memorial Site, that is the area and the remains of the former German Nazi concentration and extermination camp, currently under the care of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim.

The German concentration camp Auschwitz set up in 1940 was intended for Polish political prisoners. Over time, along with the Auschwitz II – Birkenau which was built later and included into the facility, the camp became one of the main sites of extermination of European Jews and a symbol of Holocaust. Inside the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration and death camp, Germans murdered around one million Jews. Largest groups of victims also included Poles, Sinti and Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.


Riedel wine glasses, Schlumberger and Cape Wines

On November 19 Dr Johann Brieger, Ambassador of Austria and Roswitha Brieger hosted a wine tasting and food pairing event to showcase Austrian heritage. Schlumberger, the world renowned Austrian sparkling wine was served as a welcome drink.

It is produced from carefully selected Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay grapes and hand riddled as the production follows a traditional method and is left to rest on the lees for 18 months. The food pairings were delectably put together by Chef Leanne Roberts to delicately enhance each of the wines served from Constantia Glen. The farm is owned by Horst Prader of Austria.

Their flagship wine ‘Constantia Glen Five’ was recently voted best red blend at the IWSC in London.


The innovative modernization of Kazakhstan

3 December 2019

The course towards the innovative modernization of Kazakhstan and the noble initiatives of the country’s leadership in world politics aimed at ensuring global and regional security and stability were highlighted at a reception to celebrate two significant holidays of Kazakhstan – the Day of the First President and the 28th Anniversary of Independence.

Pictured cutting the celebratory cake are (l-r) Mr Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan, Mr Joseph Gerard B. Angeles, Ambassador of Philippines and Dean of the Asian Group, Mr Bene M’Poko, Ambassador of the DRC and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps and  Dr Monde Tom, Director-General of the Department of Trade and Investment of South Africa

In his welcoming address Mr Kanat Tumysh, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to South Africa noted: “Today's successes in Kazakhstan have been achieved thanks to H.E. Mr. Nursultan Nazarbayev, our First and Founding President, who has transformed our country into a stable and reputable state with a growing economy.


Rest in peace

2 December 2019

Mr. Radhi-Sghaiar Bachir, Ambassador of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic to SA passed away following a short illness on 27 November 2019 whilst in hospital in Spain. A memorial service was held at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation where friends and colleagues paid tribute to Ambassador Bachir. Delivering her eulogy Minister Naledi Pandor noted that Ambassador Bachir actively engaged with all political parties, civil society, academia and friends of Western Sahara in his attempt to bring about the total emancipation of the people of Western Sahara and he will sorely be missed.


Solidarity with the Palestine

28 November 2019

This year marks 42 years since the United Nations (UN) General Assembly established the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. The commemoration of this day seeks to galvanise global action towards ending the occupation of Palestine.

Photo: (L-R) Ms Patricia de Lille, SA Minister of Public Works and Infrastructure, Mr Hashem Dajani, Ambassador of Palestine and Ms Zhuldyz Akisheva, Acting UN Resident Coordinator (UNIC)

The Embassy of the State of Palestine in South Africa commemorated this United Nations International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) with friends of Palestine.


Hard Hitting Message Movies at European Film Festival

2 December 2019

It’s the last week of the European Film Festival with issue-driven possible Oscar contending films from France, (Les Misérables), Italy, (Vice of Hope),  Ireland (Rosie) and the latest Spanish film from Pedro Almodóvar, Pain and Glory with the luminous Penelope Cruz and the glorious Antonio Banderas at their best. From Gavin Hood’s Official Secret, and the brilliant Swedish documentary Push, it’s a rich offering.








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October/November 2019











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