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[South Africa]

August 17, 2002

President Thabo Mbeki believes that the summit "must proceed from the basis that all humanity is committed to a shared prosperity. It should be inspired by the knowledge that the resources exist within the global human society to achieve this objective."

However, he tells ANC Today that the "environment is the very first condition for human existence itself. It is a natural gift we have a duty to protect now and for all time in the interests of all human beings. As these human beings, we have an obligation to interact with our planet in a manner that preserves the planet."

Mbeki also warns South Africans to beware of "careless remarks and actions that communicate negative messages about our country and people."

As a role model for how not to behave, the president cites Pieter Van Zyl, the drunken thug who attacked the referee at a recent South Africa-New Zealand rugby match, and dislocated his shoulder.

David Steven | 07:51 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 10, 2002

Indymedia paints a grim picture of a Johannesburg, where "environmental destruction, malgovernance, political repression, social hypocrisy and parasitical financial activity" have combined in a concerted attack on "both ecology and the poor."

To blame: "the logic of capital accumulation," as a new black elite conspires with the Afrikaner old guard.

"Like the corporate-controlled summit itself," writes Patrick Bond, "Johannesburg will continue to undermine the very idea of “sustainable development” — until grassroots, workplace, women, youth, church and environmental comrades get their acts together and take power away from those old and new rulers who have made such a mess of Africa’s wealthiest city."

Update: Bond has written this article twice! A "remixed" version appears here.

David Steven | 01:34 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 8, 2002

Thabo Mbeki, South African President and summit chairman, today challenged the rich to use the World Summit to show that "the priorities of the poor are also their priorities," calling on them to cut consumption in order to protect the global environment and to devote increased resources to back a "credible plan of action that is inclusive, relevant, practical and implementable."

Mbeki placed NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, at the heart of Africa's contribution to the summit. "Africa," he said, "must enter into partnership with the rest of the world, drawing on the energy of governments, business, trade unions and civil society."

"The banners that will soon adorn Johannesburg will proclaim people, planet, prosperity. Will they be the trumpet of a prophecy that heralds spring, or will they be mere banners flapping in the wind?" he concluded.

David Steven | 07:46 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 3, 2002

Practice what you preach South African, Trade and Industry Minister Alec Erwin has underlined the concern of developing countries at rich country moves to protect domestic markets.

He points his finger at US protection for steel and agriculture - and at European opposition to reform of its 45 billion euros of farming subsidies. However, some signs are encouraging.

"We are more positive," he says, "especially on the trade and investment side, than we were after (the WSSD's final preparatory meeting) Bali."

The Minister's position is supported by the UK government's white paper on globalisation and the poor. "There are substantial inequities in the existing international trading system," it argues.

"Developed countries have long preached the virtues of openness: but practice lags behind the rhetoric. Despite progress over the last 50 years, developed countries maintain significant tarriff and non-tarriff barriers against the exports of developing countries."

The white paper claims that if both developed and developing countries cut their subsidies by 50 percent, developing countries would be $150 billion better off - which is three times aid flows.

David Steven | 11:02 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

August 1, 2002

NGO's are Big Business According to recent figures, the South African NGO sector contributes 1.2% of South African GDP and provides over 10% of formal, non-farming jobs - which is more than the mining industry...

David Steven | 08:51 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

July 31, 2002

The Straw Dog Straw dogs are draft documents that allow negotiators to have something to take apart. Victor’s Straw Dog covers the “current list of hot issues in South African civil society.”

According to Victor, South African civil society is most interested in local issues. It doesn’t think it’s been properly consulted on NEPAD and worries that it is tainted by structural adjustment policies.

It wants reform of the WTO, and opposes the Global Compact and self regulation by business. Partnership with business is regarded with suspicion. “Why should business, while it represents nothing but the intention to make profit, be part of governance structures rather than simply subcontractors to government?” Straw Dog argues.

African Civil Society also wants rich countries to go beyond debt relief to acknowledge the “ecological debt” they owe the developing world - a further reflection of the North/South gulf that may dominate the summit.

David Steven | 06:30 PM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |

July 28, 2002

Awareness According to a SABC/Markinor poll, only 15 percent of South Africans know the country will be hosting the summit...

David Steven | 10:29 AM South African time (utc/gmt +2) | |



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Jane Goodall
Primatologist and conservationist


Naomi Klein
Author of "No Logo"


Michael Dorsey
Director of the Sierra Club


Matt Thomas
Head of Renewables, npower


Tladi John Nlovu
Summit driver and entrepreneur


Lloyd Anderson
Director of Science, The British Council

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