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Welcome to the Presidency media briefing session and update on the President’s programme of activities over the next two weeks.
This is a programme that supports the President’s focus on the issues that concern South Africa the most, and which the President listed as such in the State of the Nation Address on 9 February 2023.
Those concerns which shape the programme of the President and government are:
• Load-shedding.
• Unemployment.
• Poverty and the rising cost of living, and
• Crime and corruption
The deliberations of the Cabinet meeting chaired by the President just four days ago reflect government’s clarity and urgency in addressing these priorities.
President Ramaphosa noted progress in such areas as the opening of a bid window for a 513 megawatts (MW) of battery storage capacity as part of our response to the energy challenge.
The President also welcomed a regulatory exemption granted to Eskom by the Minister of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, Ms Barbara Creecy, that will later this year allow Kusile Power Station to resume generation capacity of 2 100 megawatts (MW) which will reduce South Africa’s exposure to load-shedding by two levels. 
The President has praised the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the automotive company Stellantis South Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC) to develop a new vehicle manufacturing facility in South Africa. Stellantis sells Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Citroën, Opel and Peugeot brands in South Africa.
An investment of this nature is an acknowledgment of our country’s world-class manufacturing capacity in the automotive sector; it will deepen the industrialisation of our economy, and, most importantly, it will create more jobs.
The President is also encouraged by the export numbers from, Minister Ebrahim Patel when he presented the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s Quarter 3 report to Parliament.
The Minister reported that as part of the realisation of private sector pledges to invest more than One Trillion Rand in our economy, South Africa achieved R188 billion in manufactured exports in Quarter 3; in other words, close to R60 billion a month or R2 billion daily.
These are important examples among many of how government, social partners and the nation’s labour force are working together for inclusive and sustainable growth.
This is the context within which the President’s leadership and coordination plays out and a demonstration of an economy that continues to open up and seek growth.
Mondays are normally reserved for the President to attend to his role as President of the governing African National Congress, and tomorrow will be no exception in this regard.
The President will lead the national commemoration of Human Rights Day under the theme “Consolidating and Sustaining Human Rights Culture into the Future”. The history of Human Rights Day is grounded in the Sharpeville Massacre that took place on the 21 of March 1960, where apartheid police killed 69 anti-apartheid protesters. Human Rights Day also honours 35 people who were killed on 21 March 1985 when apartheid police targeted community members after a funeral in Langa, Uitenhage. As part of the democratic dispensation, South Africa observes March as Human Rights Month to promote respect for basic human rights for all and restore and uphold human dignity in line with the Bill of Rights. This period also honours those who fought for liberation, and celebrates the many rights guaranteed under the Constitution, and which are the basis for building a united and inclusive, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous society. De Aar in the Northern Cape has been selected as the site for the national Human Rights Day commemoration as part of government’s rotation of national days that ensures that communities in all provinces are able to be part of such occasions.
On Wednesday, the President will chair a meeting of the National Security Council as part of government’s regular cycle of assessing matters of national and international security.
These deliberations allow our security services to take decisions and act in ways that keep us safe in our homes, streets and workplaces, and that allow our economy to move forward in the way we illustrated earlier.
Wednesday will also mark the beginning of an historic State Visit with the arrival of His Majesty King Philippe and Her Majesty Queen Mathilda of The Kingdom of Belgium in South Africa.
This will be the first State Visit to South Africa by the Belgian monarchy.
President Ramaphosa’s invitation to His Majesty and Her Majesty underscores the strong bilateral relations that exist between the two countries. The State Visit will serve to expand and strengthen bilateral relations between the two countries and revitalise economic relations with a focus on trade, foreign direct investment, and tourism. South Africa and Belgium are also pursuing cooperation in renewable energy and in particular, green hydrogen. Belgium is one of South Africa’s most important economic partners and many of South Africa’s exports enter Europe through the Port of Antwerp, which is the second largest in the European Union. South Africa enjoys a healthy trade surplus with Belgium with organic chemicals as the key export, followed closely by diamonds and motor vehicles. Belgian companies are also significant investors in the South African economy. Belgium is traditionally among the 10 major sources of international tourists to South Africa.
This bilateral economic activity sustains South African and Belgian enterprises and sustains jobs and livelihoods for thousands of South Africans in sectors that produce goods and services that are of value to Belgian investors and visitors.Relations between South Africa and Belgium are managed through a Joint Commission that meets at the level of Deputy Foreign Ministers. Mr Alvin Botes, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation hosted the Fourth Meeting of South Africa – Belgium Joint Commission in Pretoria on 8 November 2022. King Philippe’s delegation will comprise political, economic, and academic leadership including the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Hadja Lahbib, as well as the Ministers and representatives of the five regions of Belgium. The programme of the monarchs will include official engagements with President Ramaphosa and members of government as well as visits to Johannesburg and Cape Town where they will engage with academia, business, and civil society, and visit historical and cultural sites.
The official Welcome Ceremony for the Belgian State Visit will take place at the Union Buildings from 10am on Thursday 23 March 2023, while a South Africa-Belgium Business Forum will take place on the same day at the CSIR in Brummeria, Pretoria.
Business forums are platforms where private and public sector leaders and representatives are able to explore mutually beneficial opportunities and where – as the President and Minister Patel always say – businesses are able to advance from contact to contract.
The President looks forward to this Visit as an occasion for deepening strong ties between South Africa and Belgium as an important European and global economy.
The President will on Tuesday 28 March address the Localisation Dinner function of the Proudly South African Buy Local Summit and Expo.
The Buy Local Summit 2023 highlights sectors that impact positively on the economy and job creation, including furniture, agro-processing, fast-moving consumer goods, clothing, textiles, footwear and leather.
At the dinner, the President will interact with CEOs and captains of industry who will report on existing localisation activities and pledge further escalation of localisation within their companies’ procurement choices.
On Thursday, 30 March 2023, the President will brief the National Council of Provinces on issues raised by members in Questions for Oral Reply.
For the purpose of this briefing, we have come to the end of setting out the President’s programme for the period ahead, and I will now take questions.