Press Releases

Press Releases

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 19 OCTOBER 2020

 

Dear Fellow South African,
 
The launch of the Presidential Employment Stimulus last week marks a fundamental shift in our approach to tackling unemployment.
 
We are undertaking a far-reaching and ambitious public investment in human capital, with the state as both a creator and an enabler of jobs. The Presidential Employment Stimulus is unprecedented in its scale and breadth, involving a public investment of R100 billion over the next three years.
 
We will protect and create directly-funded jobs and livelihood support interventions while the labour market recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Each of these is ready for implementation, and is additional to existing commitments.
 
While some of the interventions build on the strengths of existing programmes, the stimulus also includes new and innovative approaches.
 
This includes a focus on what we have termed ‘social employment’. We are working from the premise that there is no shortage of work to be done to address the many social problems in our society. The aim is to support the considerable creativity, initiative and institutional capabilities that exist in the wider society to engage people in work that serves the common good. This work cuts across a range of themes, including food security, ending gender-based violence, informal settlement upgrading and much more.
 
This will supplement the efforts of the public sector, allowing for greater scale and social impact as well as new forms of partnership with diverse social actors.
 
The stimulus includes a new national programme to employ teaching and school assistants in schools. Schools are making these appointments right now, delivering new opportunities in every community across the length and breadth of the country.
 
Public employment is not just for unskilled work. There is a cross-cutting focus on graduates, with opportunities for nurses, science graduates, artisans and others.
 
The stimulus will also protect jobs in vulnerable sectors that have been hit hard by the pandemic. Support will be provided to Early Childhood Development practitioners, mainly self-employed women. Over 74,000 small farmers will also receive production input grants.
 
As a nation, we need arts and culture to lift our spirits once more – the stimulus provides new funding to help the sector back onto its feet, including support to digital content-creation and expansion of e-commerce platforms.
 
This will enable artists to adapt to the new market conditions that the pandemic has imposed on us all and to seize new opportunities for growth.
 
A critical enabler for wider job creation, made more important by the pandemic, is connectivity. To overcome the digital divide, the stimulus will provide affordable, high-speed broadband to low-income households through innovative connection subsidies and the expansion of free public WiFi.
 
As our country recovers from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic, we are in no doubt as to the size of the task before us.
 
We have to achieve an economic recovery that is swift and inclusive. We have to get as many of our people as possible working again. We also have to regain lost ground in the provision of basic services and critical infrastructure, addressing social challenges and transforming townships and rural communities too.
 
Public employment is an instrument that can do all of the above: creating jobs at scale in the short term while markets recover, and creating social value in the process.
 
The example is often cited of the massive public works programme undertaken by the United States after the Great Depression in the 1930s. This was not just a stimulus, but also promoted social participation and inclusion.
 
There are several examples of innovative public employment programmes in the developing world, including in India, Ethiopia and here in South Africa. These programmes make a direct investment in local economies, reaching poorer areas first, supporting local small enterprises and trickling up into the wider economy from there.

They also promote social participation and inclusion, providing communities with the means to change their lives as they undertake new forms of work. In doing so, they contribute to transformation both at a local level and within broader society.
 
Direct public investment to support employment and create economic opportunities that generate social value does more than just tackle the unemployment crisis.
 
It is responsive, because it uses the state’s resources to respond to local community needs, be it for greener spaces, food security, more early childhood development centres, or for better and more accessible roads.
 
It is progressive, because it offers social protection and income security to those who face destitution because they are unable to find work.
 
It is an investment in the future, in that it supports the broader economic recovery agenda by urgently getting our people to work on improving our national and municipal infrastructure.
 
Through the interventions in the stimulus, we are creating work for those who need it, while leaving a lasting impact on entire communities.
 
Like public employment programmes across the world, this employment stimulus supports and complements the critical role of the private sector in creating jobs. It is counter-cyclical, in that as the recovery advances, the scale of public employment will decline.
 
The work experience and skills acquired by beneficiaries of the Presidential Employment Stimulus will improve their prospects of securing formal employment.
 
The experience gained is also a pathway to entrepreneurial activity. Participants will improve their skills and capabilities to start their own businesses, and can use the steady income provided by public employment to branch out into other income-generating activities.
 
I have consistently affirmed that the COVID-19 crisis is also a window of opportunity to build back better.
 
At this time of great upheaval, we would be doing ourselves no favours by making unrealistic promises that raise expectations, only to come short when they are not met. This is why each of the jobs and livelihood support interventions is fully funded, with a clear implementation plan.
 
The employment stimulus is not about vague commitments for some time in the future, but about jobs being created right here and now.
 
The stimulus is the result of extensive consultation with national departments, provinces and metros to rapidly design employment programmes that can be rolled out or expanded within six months.
 
The implementing departments and other stakeholders were rigorously assessed on their capacity to implement.
 
In every one of the programmes that fall under the stimulus, opportunities will be widely advertised and recruitment will be fair, open and transparent.
 
The goals we have set ourselves are realistic, measurable and achievable, and draw lessons from past experience and international best practice.
 
Our people are ready and willing to work. This vast potential must be harnessed, and our collective skills and capabilities brought to bear in rebuilding our country in the wake of the coronavirus.
 
The Presidential Employment Stimulus provides a respite for families who have endured a long hard winter with greatly reduced income, and for individuals who have spent many years without work.
 
Real, decent work is the right of every human being. It is a precondition for economic growth and social stability.
 
By giving effect to this fundamental right, the Presidential Employment Stimulus is making a decisive contribution to building a society that works.
 
With best regards,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 12 OCTOBER 2020

Dear Fellow South African,
 
Just over a week ago, Brendin Horner, a young farm manager in the Free State, was murdered in an appalling act of cruelty.
 
His killing should anger and upset every one of us.
 
No matter who we are, no matter what community we live in, no matter our race, creed or language, we should be as deeply affected by the death of Brendin Horner as we are by the many other South Africans who die violent deaths each year.
 
Just as we mourn the loss of his life, we also mourn the deaths of Mogamad Cloete, Tawqeer Essop and André Bennett, three young men who were shot in a car in Delft in the Western Cape in the same week.
 
Our thoughts are with their families at this time of grief. It is at such moments that we are called on to reach out to each other as South Africans, to show compassion, empathy and solidarity.
 
These crimes are a stark reminder of the levels of violence in our country.
 
While crime affects everyone, the majority of victims of violent crime are black and poor; and it is young black men and women who are at a disproportionately greater risk of being murdered.
 
We have a huge task to bring an end to murder, assault, robbery, rape and violence against women and children wherever it happens and whoever it affects. It requires that all peace-loving South Africans stand together not only to condemn these criminal acts, but also to work together to end them.
 
It requires that we hold fast to the principles contained in our Constitution, that we uphold the rule of law and that we strengthen our justice system to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to book.
 
The violent protests that took place in Senekal following the arrest of suspects in Brendin Horn’s murder show that we have not yet escaped the divisions and mistrust of our past. While anger at the senseless killing is justifiable, vigilantism is not.
 
The brutal killing of a young white farmer, allegedly by black men, followed by the spectacle of white farmers storming a police station to get to a black suspect has opened up wounds that go back many generations.
 
If we are to succeed in tackling violent crime, particularly in rural communities, we must confront this trauma and challenge the racial attitudes that prevent a united response.
 
Those people who think that farm attacks affect just a small part of our population are wrong. The farming community is an integral part of our economy. The farming community produces the food that we eat. Violent crime on farms poses not just a threat to the safety of our rural communities, but to our nation’s food security.
 
The claim that violent crime on farms is part of an orchestrated campaign by blacks to drive white farmers off their land is simply not borne out by fact.
 
Numerous studies show that crime in farming communities is largely opportunistic. Rural communities are more vulnerable because of their isolated location and, as a result, the relative lack of access to security and other services.
 
Contrary to the irresponsible claims of some lobby groups, killings on farms are not ethnic cleansing. They are not genocidal. They are acts of criminality and must be treated as such.
 
The success of our Rural Safety Strategy rests on greater coordination and better communication between the South African Police Service, business, farming organisations and communities.
 
There needs to be more collaboration between farm watch organisations and Community Policing Forums. Farming communities, including farmworkers, must actively participate in these forums, because it is they who are the eyes and ears on the ground. Traditional leaders need to be empowered to play a greater role in safety in farming communities.
 
Farmers need to more readily provide access to their lands to law-enforcement officials. Private security companies operating in farming communities need to work more closely with the SAPS, and at the same time ensure that arrests of suspects are done within the confines of our Constitution. We must continue to explore additional measures, such as integrated communications technologies, to step up rural safety.
 
At the same time, we have to invest in rural development and tackle the severe inequality that persists in farming communities. We need a coordinated effort to improve the quality of life of all people living in rural areas if we are to eliminate poverty, which is a major contributing factor to crime.
 
We would be naïve to assume that race relations in farming communities have been harmonious since the advent of democracy. Unless this is addressed in an open and honest manner, unless we are prepared to engage in dialogue, this will remain a festering wound that threatens social cohesion.
 
What happened in Senekal shows just how easily the tinderbox of race hatred can be ignited. As a nation we must resist any attempts to use crime on farms to mobilise communities along racial lines.
 
One murder is a murder too many. We stand in solidarity with all victims of crime, regardless of whether they live in cities or on farms, whether they are farmers or farmworkers.
 
We must work together to root out criminality, whether it is in Senekal or on the streets of Delft. Crime is not somebody else’s problem; it is our collective problem.
 
We must remain vigilant and work with the police to keep our communities safe. We must not harbour criminals among us. In far too many instances, perpetrators are known to communities and are sheltered by them.
 
We must not be blinded by our own prejudices to the suffering and pain of others. It should not matter to us if the victim of violent crime is black or white.
 
To do so would be a betrayal not just of this country’s founding principles, but of our own humanity.
 
With regards,

GOVERNMENT REVISES LIST OF HIGH-RISK COUNTRIES

Monday, October 19, 2020

The Department of Home Affairs has revised the list of high-risk countries based on a risk categorisation model.

“We continue to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic is still with us and we need to continue to take precautions,” the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement on Monday.

The latest list of high-risk countries is:

-          Argentina                                       

-          Germany           

-          Peru

-          Bangladesh       

-          India    

-          Philippines

-          Belgium             

-          Indonesia          

-          Russia

-          Brazil                  

-          Iran      

-          Spain

-          Canada               

-          Iraq      

-          United Kingdom

-          Chile    

-          Italy                    

-          USA

-          Colombia          

-          Mexico

-          France 

-          Netherlands   

The list of these high-risk countries will also be found on the Home Affairs website: www.dha.gov.za.  

At its last meeting, Cabinet instructed the Ministers of Health, Home Affairs and Tourism to lead a process to review the list.

According to the department, the review of the list of high-risk countries was done in such a way that it strikes a balance between saving lives and protecting livelihoods.

“Nothing has changed as far as all travellers from the continent of Africa are concerned. They are still welcome to visit the country subject to COVID-19 protocols,” Home Affairs said.

People from high risk countries, who may visit SA, fall in the following categories: business travellers, holders of critical skills visas, investors and people on international mission in sports, arts, culture and science.

“In addition, we recognise that there are a number of regular visitors from mainly European countries, who have been accustomed to long periods of visitation to our country during our summer season when it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

“Most of them own properties in the country. We appreciate the significant economic contribution that they make through their activities in the country. To this end, we will also allow visitors, in whichever category, who are coming to stay for a three-month period or more subject to COVID-19 protocols,” the department said.

People who need to apply must direct email requests to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., supported by:

(a)       a copy of passport and/or temporary residence visa

(b)       proof of business activities to be undertaken in the Republic 

(c)        proof of travel itinerary and

(d)       proof of address or accommodation in the Republic

In the first two weeks that the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. email address had been in operation, 4 701 applications were received, mostly from investors in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism. Of these applications, 3 113 have been approved.

These numbers show that on average, 335 investors a day applied to visit the Republic, sending a strong message that South Africa remains an attractive investment destination.

“In response to these numbers, the Department of Home Affairs has increased the capacity of people managing the email account to ensure speedier responses and we will try our best to ensure that responses are communicated within 24 hours,” the department said. –SAnews.gov.za

 

 

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 5 OCTOBER 2020

Dear Fellow South African,
 
Last week the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DLRD) announced that members of the public will be able to apply to lease 700 000 hectares of underutilized or vacant state land in seven of the provinces.
 
Agricultural land is the mainstay of our natural resource base. The availability and sustainable use of farmland to grow crops and for animal husbandry is key to our very survival.
 
South Africa has vast tracts of land suitable for agricultural production, with 37,9% of our total land area currently being used for commercial agriculture.
 
Like many other countries, our arable land is under threat from land degradation, water scarcity and urban encroachment. We are also losing prime agricultural land through land-use changes.
 
Given our history, broadening access to agricultural land for commercial production and subsistence farming is a national priority.
 
Although the post-1994 land reform process has resulted in more land being restored and restituted to black South Africans, the pernicious effects of the 1913 Natives Land Act continue to be in patterns of farmland ownership.
 
The Act went far beyond dispossessing millions of people of their ancestral land.
 
By depriving our people of their right to own and work the land on which they depended for sustenance and livelihood, this great injustice effectively ‘engineered the poverty of black South Africans.’
 
It’s aim was to destroy our people’s prospects for self-reliance, independence and economic prosperity. At the most fundamental of levels, it destroyed our ability to feed ourselves.
 
With land ownership still concentrated in the hands of the few, and agriculture primary production and value chains mainly owned by white commercial farmers, the effects of our past remain with us today.
 
The continued monopolization of a key means of production like land is not just an obstacle to advancing a more egalitarian society; it is also a recipe for social unrest.
 
The hunger for land to farm is growing, especially amongst the rural poor. And for a number of reasons, the pace of land reform in this particular sector has been slow and unsatisfactory.
 
Transforming patterns of agricultural land ownership is vital not just to address the historical injustices of the past, but to safeguard our nation’s food security.
 
As noted in the 2019 report of the Presidential Advisory Panel on Land Reform and Agriculture, “whilst we export food, back home 41% of people in rural areas and 59,4% in urban areas have severely inadequate access to food.”
 
Agrarian reform has been a priority of successive administrations since democracy.
 
Between 1994 and March 2018 the state has delivered 8,4 million hectares of land to previously disadvantaged individuals under the land reform programme. But this progress amounts to less than 10% of all commercial farmland.
 
In my State of the Nation address earlier this year I committed that state-owned agricultural land would soon be released for farming. 
 
This is a major milestone in the agrarian reform process, and gives effect to the promise of the Freedom Charter that the land shall be shared among those who work it.
 
Our redistributive vision aims to strike a balance between social justice and redress, and enhancing agricultural output by bringing more black farmers into the mainstream of the economy.
 
Land is a productive asset that generates profit and can be used for collateral to secure other assets.
 
We have to ensure that land acquired for farming purposes is productively used. To safeguard the allocated state land for farming purposes, the lease is not transferrable. Beneficiaries will sign a lease agreement with the state and pay a rental fee consistent with the land value.
 
We must also ensure that farmers are supported along the road to sustainability and profitability.
 
As part of this programme, beneficiaries will be trained in financial management and enterprise development. Experience has shown that emerging and small-scale farmers often lack the financial skills to exploit market opportunities and integrate with value chains.
 
We are prioritizing women, youth and persons with disabilities as beneficiaries.
 
There has been demonstrable success with empowering women farmers under the existing Pro Active Land Acquisition Strategy (PLAS).
 
In a number of provinces, women who have been allocated farms by the DLRD have been able to run them successfully and even move into commercial production. In addition to the land acquisition itself, the Department continues to invest in infrastructure, equipment and machinery to enable these entrepreneurs to run successful businesses.
 
Broadening access to land and opportunities for farming will support job creation and enterprise development, and improve the market for food, agricultural goods and services.
 
The ultimate goal of releasing these land parcels is to transform the agricultural landscape by growing a new generation of farmers.
 
Leasing land under such favourable conditions must spur them to think big; to not just grow their own businesses but to advance shared wealth and prosperity in the communities in which they farm.
 
They must heal the deep divisions of our past. They must dispel the stereotype that only white farmers are commercially successful in South Africa, and that black farmers are perpetually ‘emerging.’
 
In working this land; in turning it to productive use, they will indeed turn swords into ploughshares. They will become the faces of national reconciliation.
 
Best wishes,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 28 SEPTEMBER 2020

 

Dear Fellow South African,
 
Every South African knows how important electricity is in our lives. When it is available no one thinks about it. But when we have load shedding everything just goes wrong in our lives at home, in our work environment and practically in every facet of our lives.
 
As we know only too well our energy security is precarious and load-shedding imposes very high costs on our economy. Our fleet of coal-fired power stations is ageing, vulnerable to breakdowns and incurs significant maintenance costs.
 
Reliable, secure and affordable energy supply is the lifeblood of any economy. To limit the impact of climate change, it is equally important that energy is sustainable and environmentally-sound.
 
We have one of the most energy-intensive economies in the world. While our energy sources have become more diverse than before with the increasing inclusion of renewable energy sources, we remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels, mainly coal. We are also a water-stressed country and coal power generation consumes vast quantities of water.
 
A government we have decided that to grow our economy and attract investment, secure and sustainable energy supply is paramount.
 
It is therefore vital that we significantly, and speedily, increase our electricity generation capacity.
 
Following the commitments we made in the State of the Nation Address in February, government has now gazetted ministerial determinations that will enable the development of more than 11,800 megawatts (MW) of additional power generation. To give a sense of the scale of this development, South Africa currently has in the region of over 30,000 MW of electricity available on the national grid each day.
 
This signals government’s clear intention to move ahead with one of the key reforms that is needed to unlock the growth of our economy and attract much-needed investment.
 
This new energy will be procured from diverse sources, including solar, wind, gas, coal and storage. While meeting our energy needs well into the future, this new capacity will also help us meet our international obligations to reduce carbon emissions.
 
This electricity will be procured through a transparent tendering process that prioritises competitiveness and cost-effectiveness.
 
Most importantly at a time when energy supply is severely constrained, new generation projects that can be connected to the grid as soon as possible will be prioritised. The next step, which will be following soon, is to initiate various procurement bidding windows including opening Bid Window 5 of the renewable energy independent power producer programme.
 
This is in addition to the 2,000 MW of emergency power that is being urgently sought through the Risk Mitigation Procurement Programme to meet the country’s current energy shortfall.
 
In an effort to facilitate electricity self-generation and as part of the reform process, we have removed the licensing requirement for self-generation projects under 1 MW.  So far 156 self-generation facilities under 1 MW have been registered, with a total installed capacity of 72 MW.
 
For facilities that can generate above 1 megawatt, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa is improving its licensing processes to improve turnaround time. So far, five such facilities, with total installed capacity of 25 megawatts, have been licenced. Further work is being undertaken to reform the regulatory environment to ensure that we make fuller use of the great potential in this country for self-generation among commercial and industrial users.
 
As part of our regulatory reforms, draft amendments to regulations that would enable municipalities in good standing to procure their own power from independent power producers will soon be gazetted.
 
Stabilising our state owned enterprises is an important part of the reform process. In this regard, we are working to restore Eskom’s operational capabilities and restructure Eskom to fundamentally change the way in which we generate and transmit electricity in our country. Our vision is to lead South Africa though a just transition which ensures that as many people as possible benefit from the investment, growth and job-creation that we can achieve through expanding our electricity generation capacity.
 
We are making progress in overcoming the challenges that Eskom has been facing over a number of years. As part of the necessary restructuring process, separate governance structures in the form of boards have been appointed for the power utility’s generation, transmission and distribution divisions, as we announced at the State of the Nation Address. Improvements are continuing in municipal debt collection. Despite recent challenges we have faced with load shedding, maintenance work is continuing at power stations.
 
The concerns that have been raised about energy policy uncertainty are being addressed on an ongoing basis through the reform process that is at the centre of our national economic recovery effort.
 
The progress we are making in the area of energy policy reform isn’t just critical to fixing the current power supply crisis. It will begin to reduce the impact of electricity interruptions on businesses.  It will create investment possibilities – and upstream and downstream industrialisation opportunities – as we build new generation capacity and expand the electricity grid in the years ahead.
 
That is why addressing and overcoming the financial, structural, managerial and operational challenges at Eskom has had to take place alongside fundamental structural reforms to assure the future of our energy supply.
 
The crucial first step in this reform process was the release of the Integrated Resource Plan last year. The IRP updates the national energy forecast and provides a roadmap for our energy sector for the next decade.
 
It clearly outlines our energy mix, sets out key policy supply and demand decisions to support electricity infrastructure development, and paves the way for investment in low-carbon, climate change resilient energy sources and technologies.
 
The latest developments I have highlighted in this letter represent a huge, fundamental step forward in the implementation of our ambitious energy plan.
 
The procurement of power from independent producers will significantly increase investment in the sector, particularly in renewables and gas. This will attract greater investment in energy and create much needed jobs, and spur business development and localisation.
 
As we begin the long and difficult recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, we can draw encouragement, confidence and hope from the measures we are taking now to address our immediate electricity challenges and secure our energy supply well into the future.
 
These and other economic reforms that will be undertaken in the months ahead will without any doubt establish a firm and enduring foundation for the return to growth and job creation that South Africa sorely needs.
 
Best regards,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 21 SEPTEMBER 2020

 

Dear Fellow South African,
 
The United Nations will this week begin the 75th session of its General Assembly, where the nations of the world gather to seek collective solutions to global challenges.
 
In any other year, heads of state and government would travel to the UN headquarters in New York to address the General Assembly. But this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, this gathering is taking place virtually, using technology to bridge the distance between the capitals of the world.
 
As South Africa, we will be addressing the General Assembly by videoconference from the Union Buildings and will be participating in several other meetings.
 
This is an important moment for the United Nations. It is 75 years since its formation following the destruction of the Second World War. The countries of the world were determined that never again should such a human tragedy be allowed to happen. They believed that through an organisation like the UN, the world’s problems could be peacefully resolved through cooperation.
 
As the world confronts another global crisis, this time caused by a virus, the United Nations remains as important and relevant as ever.
 
The UN has played a vital role in supporting cooperation among countries and international organisations like the World Health Organisation as they have worked to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. It has focused attention on the most vulnerable countries and those parts of society most badly affected by the pandemic.
 
Importantly, the UN has enabled countries to focus on the work that needs to be done to not only to rebuild economies, but to do so in a manner that advances the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
 
The UN is leading the effort to ensure that the world that emerges from COVID is better, fairer and more peaceful.
 
In the 75 years of its existence, the UN has proven the value of cooperation and solidarity.
 
To resolve our global challenges – be they health emergencies, transnational crime, conflict and war, climate change, migration or natural disasters – we must work together. It is only through multilateralism that we can forge common strategies for the benefit of all.
 
We therefore need to strengthen bodies like the UN, ensure they are properly resourced and that they are representative. We must use this anniversary to push ahead with the reform of the UN and particularly its Security Council, which does not give equal voice to the different regions of the world. As South Africa, we will use our virtual presence in New York to continue to advocate for Africa – a continent of more than a billion people – to have permanent representation on the UN Security Council.
 
We recognise that global peace is not just about a world free of conflict, but one free of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment. It is a world of inclusive economic growth and shared prosperity. By providing all the world’s people with the means to live secure and productive lives, we are laying the best foundation for peace and stability.
 
One of the greatest challenges to the achievement of this goal is the continued exclusion of half of the world’s population through discrimination and marginalisation.
 
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women, which placed the emancipation of women firmly on the global agenda. It is a valuable opportunity to not only review the progress made over the last quarter century, but most importantly to clearly outline the actions we must now take to ensure that women occupy their rightful place as equals in all areas of life in all societies.
 
For Africa, this means, among other things, that we must intensify measures to empower women economically. This is in line with the African Union decision to dedicate this decade to the financial inclusion of women. We therefore welcome the opportunity later this week to take part in a panel of G7 and African countries on women’s digital financial inclusion in Africa. It will look at how women can take advantage of technological advances to start businesses, trade and find meaningful employment.
 
There is much that can be achieved by ensuring that women have greater access to affordable financial services and education. This should take place alongside other measures we are pursuing on the continent, such as efforts to increase the portion of public procurement set aside for women-owned businesses.
 
Our message is that unless women are brought into the mainstream of the economy they will continue to bear the brunt of exclusion and be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Our message is that a world that empowers women is a prosperous and sustainable world.
 
This sitting of the UN General Assembly must also address the climate change crisis. As the world rebuilds in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic we have an opportunity to place the global economy on a low-carbon, climate resilient path. We should be building green economies, not just for the sake of environmental sustainability but because of the opportunities for job creation and growth.
 
This pandemic has presented the world with a choice – between the global cooperation envisaged in the UN Charter or the pursuit of narrow self-interest. It is a choice between prosperity for all or for a just a few.
 
At the 75th UN General Assembly, the leaders of the world have an opportunity to begin rebuilding a new global order based on justice and equality.
 
By drawing on the spirit of solidarity, friendship and unity of purpose that has long defined the United Nations, we will set a clear path towards lasting peace and sustainable development.
 
Best regards,

 

EMBASSY PHONE LINES TEMPORARILY DOWN

Kindly note that the Embassy telephone lines are currently out of order due to the ICT network being down. The Embassy is working closely with the head office (Department of International Relations and Cooperation) in Pretoria to have the broken-down switch (connector between a router and telephone lines) replaced as soon as possible. It is unfortunate and regrettable that the switch is not readily available and can only be sourced and couriered from South Africa to Portugal. The COVID-19 pandemic is causing delays in delivery of the switch from the supplier and also for the movement of goods and services. The Embassy apologises for the inconvenience caused.

In the meantime, the Embassy can be contacted as follows: for emergencies please call 964151989 or 969501605; for consular queries please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; for other enquiries please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Consular hours: 09:00-12:00 Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays, while also by appointment only.

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT- 14 SEPTEMBER 2020

Dear Fellow South African,
 
In many countries around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has required the limitation of many civil liberties and put social cohesion to the test.
 
But countries with strong institutions, vigilant judicial systems and a robust media have been able to prevent human rights from being undermined and the authority of the state being abused.
 
It has been six months since the national state of disaster was proclaimed. Despite the unprecedented nature of the disease and the immense challenge of placing a country of 58 million people under lockdown, we have fared well. We have managed to contain the spread of the disease primarily because of the cooperation and vigilance of all citizens.
 
This is in no small part due to the sterling work of our media.
 
We owe a debt of gratitude to South Africa’s hardworking and tenacious journalists. They have kept our people informed by disseminating key health messages about social distancing and hygiene. They have done so under extremely trying conditions, often with limited resources.
 
They have told the stories of the effects of lockdown on the lives of people and their businesses. They have been out in the villages, towns and cities, bringing stories of ordinary people and drawing national attention to problems being experienced in hospitals and clinics, prompting government action.
 
Our media have also shone a light on excesses that perhaps would not have ordinarily come to light. They have fulfilled their watchdog role by unearthing acts of corruption and maladministration, sparking a massive national debate and leading to a number of high-profile investigations. Through this reporting they have earned people’s trust.
 
A free press is not an end in itself. It is a means by which democracy is secured and upheld. During this pandemic, our media has played not just its traditional watchdog role, but exercised its civic duty in supporting the national effort to contain the coronavirus.
 
Given the importance of the media to the health of our democracy, it is a great concern that like all other sectors of the economy, the coronavirus crisis has hit our media houses hard. Some publications lost as much as 60% of their income in the early days of the lockdown. A number of companies have had to implement salary cuts, reduce staff numbers or reduce hours worked. Regrettably, some publications have even been forced to close, among them some of South Africa’s most established and well-known magazine titles.
 
The job losses that have resulted from the lockdowns have exacerbated a crisis for media companies already facing challenges like loss of advertising revenues, falling circulation and market share being taken by mobile-first news and other technologies. These financial difficulties are being faced across the board, from online titles to traditional broadsheets to the public broadcaster.
 
This was one of the issues that was raised sharply during my engagement with the South African National Editors’ Forum last week. Instead of lamenting their fate, however, the media industry is working hard to refine business models, to drive innovation and to retain staff as much as possible.
 
At the same time, the media is a unique entity in any society because its practitioners fulfil a role that is so essential to our democratic order. They work to keep the public informed and to keep power in check.
 
We need more journalists, not less. That is why the loss of even a single journalist is not just a loss to the industry but to the country.
 
We need our media veterans, who bring with them vast experience and institutional memory, and are able to offer critical reportage and informed analysis. At the same time we need more young journalists in the profession who are tech-savvy, abreast with new trends in storytelling and in touch with the concerns of a youthful population.
 
As a society we owe the media our full support. Whether it is electing to pay for content, supporting crowdfunded journalism, paying our SABC license fees or simply buying a newspaper, we can all play our part to support this industry in crisis. As government, despite the gloomy economic climate we will continue to extend advertising spend to publications and broadcasters, especially community media.
 
The private sector must also continue to support the industry through advertising and working with media houses in the production of innovative content in line with global media trends. Local philanthropic and donor organisations should also come on board and support public interest journalism ventures, as is the case in many democracies.
 
The proliferation of fake news during the pandemic, primarily on social media platforms, has added to the urgency for more news that is accurate, fair and impartial. During this time our people have relied on our established media houses for information, once again underscoring their importance as pillars of our democracy.
 
As we begin the great task of rebuilding our economy in the aftermath of the pandemic, the media industry will need our support more than ever. The free press was once described as ‘the unsleeping guardian of every other right that free men and women prize’. As we salute their role in this pandemic, let us do what we can to ensure that the free and diverse media in our country is able to survive and thrive.
 
Best regards,

FROM THE DESK OF THE PRESIDENT - 7 SEPTEMBER 2020

Dear Fellow South African,
 
A year ago, almost to the day, thousands of women, men and children marched to Parliament to protest against a spate of rapes and killings of women and girls.
 
At the time, the nation was reeling from the murders of Uyinene Mrwetyana, Leighandre Jegels, Jesse Hess and a number of other women who had lost their lives at the hands of brutal men.
 
From all social backgrounds, young and old, students and working women, the peaceful protesters held aloft placards that read ‘Enough is Enough’ and ‘Am I next?’. The anguish and the anger was palpable that day. As I received their clearly articulated demands, it was clear to me that we needed to act urgently and with determination. It was important to me that I did not respond with hollow words and empty promises.
 
I committed to marshal the substantial resources of the state to tackle gender-based violence and femicide. I gave an undertaking that we would review our laws around gender-based violence. One of the key demands made by many women’s organisations was that the laws of our country should be tightened on granting bail to suspects and enforcement of long sentences for offenders.
 
I concluded that the struggle to end gender-based violence needed a multipronged strategy that should be led by the President and enlisted government to act. The Cabinet agreed to allocate resources and commit to a plan of action. A few days later, I called a joint sitting of Parliament, where we announced a R1.6 billion Emergency Response Action Plan to combat gender-based violence and femicide.
 
Over the six months of its implementation, public spending in various government departments was reprioritised to support interventions for care and support for survivors, for awareness and prevention campaigns, to improve laws and policies, to promote the economic empowerment of women, and to strengthen the criminal justice system.
 
And now we are on the cusp of the most far-reaching legislative overhaul in the fight against gender-based violence and femicide.
 
Over the past week, three key Bills relating to gender-based violence have been introduced in Parliament. Through the introduction of these Bills, we are honouring the promise we made to the protestors last year and to all the women of this country.
 
The three amendment Bills are designed to fill the gaps that allow some perpetrators of these crimes to evade justice and to give full effect to the rights of our country’s women and children.
 
The sad reality is that many survivors of gender-based violence have lost faith in the criminal justice system.
 
Difficulties in obtaining protection orders, lax bail condition for suspects, police not taking domestic violence complaints seriously and inappropriate sentences have contributed to an environment of cynicism and mistrust.
 
These Bills, once finalised, will help to restore the confidence of our country’s women that the law is indeed there to protect them.
 
The first is the Bill to amend the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act. This creates a new offence of sexual intimidation, extends the ambit of the offence of incest, and extends the reporting duty of persons who suspect a sexual offence has been committed against a child.
 
It expands the scope of the National Register for Sex Offenders to include the particulars of all sex offenders. Until now, it has only applied to sex offenders convicted of sex crimes perpetrated against children or persons with mental disabilities. The time an offender’s particulars must remain on the register has been increased, and those listed on the register will have to disclose this when they submit applications to work with persons who are vulnerable. The Bill also makes provision for the names of persons on the National Register for Sex Offenders to be publicly available.
 
The Criminal and Related Matters Amendment Bill tightens, among others, the granting of bail to perpetrators of gender-based violence and femicide, and expands the offences for which minimum sentences must be imposed.
 
People are angry that many perpetrators of such serious crimes are exploiting legal loopholes to avoid imprisonment and are frustrated that sentencing is often not proportionate to the crimes. The amendments impose new obligations on law-enforcement officials and on our courts.
 
When a prosecutor does not oppose bail in cases of gender-based violence, they have to place their reasons on record. Unless a person accused of gender-based violence can provide exceptional circumstances why they should be released on bail, the court must order their detention until the criminal proceedings are concluded.
 
In reaching a decision on a bail application, the courts are compelled to take a number of considerations into account. They include pre-trial reports on the desirability of releasing an accused on bail, threats of violence made against a survivor, and the view of the survivor regarding his or her safety.
 
When it comes to parole, a complainant or a relative of a deceased victim must be able to make representation to the parole board.
 
Given the unacceptably high levels of intimate partner violence in our country, we have tightened the provisions of the Domestic Violence Act.
 
Domestic violence is now defined to cover those in engagements, dating, in customary relationships, and actual or perceived romantic, intimate or sexual relationships of any duration. The Bill also extends the definition of ‘domestic violence’ to include the protection of older persons against abuse by family members.
 
Complainants will be able to apply for a protection order online. To prevent a scenario where perpetrators can hide past histories of domestic violence, an integrated repository of protection orders will be established.
 
The proposed amendments also oblige the departments of Social Development, Basic Education, Higher Education and Health to provide certain services to survivors where needed and to refer them for sheltering and medical care.
 
The circumstances under which a prosecutor can refuse to institute a prosecution when offences have been committed under the amended Act or to withdraw charges when it involves the infliction of bodily harm or where a weapon was used to threaten a complainant have been limited.
 
In perhaps the most groundbreaking proposed amendment to the Act, if someone has knowledge, reasonable belief or suspicion that an act of domestic violence has been committed against a child, a person with disability or an older person and fails to report it to a social worker or police officer they can be fined and even imprisoned.
 
Similarly, failure by a member of the SAPS to comply with their obligations under the Act will be regarded as  misconduct and must be reported to the Civilian Secretariat for Police Service.
 
The law is the one sure protector of all of society, but especially its most vulnerable. When diligently and fairly applied, it is the most powerful guarantor of justice.
 
The women of South Africa have had enough of lukewarm actions that do not address one of the most fundamental rights of all – to live in freedom from fear.
 
These proposed amendments are an appropriate response to a groundswell of dissatisfaction at the way survivors of gender-based violence have been treated by the criminal justice system in the past.
 
This government and its partners will make good by the women of South Africa. We will not let them down.
 
That we have reached this point is thanks to committed and principled activism.
 
The task before us now is to bring our collective efforts to bear by taking an active part in the public participation process towards finalising the Bills.
 
Let us now work together to see this process through, for the protection of the women and children of today and of tomorrow.
 
Best regards,