March 26, 2013.
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Motshabi Hoaeane.
A panel discussion warns against high expectations of the Brics summit outcomes.
A report reveals that African nations are increasing spending on agriculture and winning the poverty battle.
And, the European Union suspends most sanctions on Zimbabwe’s after a referendum.
A panel discussion hosted by Standard Bank at its Durban head office on Monday reached the consensus that stakeholders, participants and observers at the fifth Brics summit, which is currently under way, needed to manage their expectations and guard against placing a disproportionate amount of emphasis on the official outcomes.
The five panelists discussed a wide range of topics, all closely aligned with what could be expected from the last, in the initial cycle of the Brics summits.
South African Institute of International Affairs head of economic diplomacy Catherine Grant-Makokera cautioned that Brics was a young organisation, while Standard Bank CE Sim Tshabalala stressed that people needed to accept that Brics was “a set institution in a state of becoming” with various stakeholders still working towards fully defining both competition and cooperation among members.
Grant-Makokera emphasised that the value from summits such as these wasn’t to be found in the official declarations, which were often “cut and paste” affairs but in the intangibles, which included face to face time for politicians to interact, better understand crucial issues and “talk through priorities.”
A report by the ONE Campaign, an anti-poverty group co-founded by Irish rockers Bono and Bob Geldof, said Senegal, Malawi, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone either met or were close to meeting targets for increased budget spending on agriculture.
The report said all of the countries, except Cape Verde, which had insufficient data, are also on track or close to meeting a UN target of halving extreme poverty by 2015.
The ONE Campaign report, which assessed progress by 19 African countries and donors that send them aid, said, however, that despite record improvements by select African countries, Africa overall is still far from realising its agricultural potential.
The report also called on industrialised nations such as the US, France, Britain, Canada, Japan, Germany and Russia, to make good on their various funding promises to help African nations increase agricultural production.
The European Union suspended most sanctions on Zimbabwe on Monday after voters there approved a new constitution paving the way for an election to decide whether President Robert Mugabe extends his 33-year rule.
The move is the most far-reaching step so far in the European Union's strategy of easing sanctions to encourage political and economic reform in Zimbabwe. The European Union first imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe in 2002, in protest against human rights abuses and violations of democracy under Mugabe's rule.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the EU has agreed to immediately suspend the application of measures against 81 individuals and eight entities. However, ten people, including Mugabe, and two companies, including state-run diamond mining company the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, remain on the sanctions list, restricted by asset freezes and travel bans.
Also making headlines:
South African President Jacob Zuma says Brics fits well with South Africa’s National Development Plan.
Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel appoints two deputy commissioners to serve six-month terms on the Competition Commission.
The Government Employees Pension Fund becomes the first South African institution to implement the Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark.
And, businessperson Cyril Ramaphosa resigns from the Bidvest board.
That's a roundup of news making headlines today.