South Africa – a strong mediator on the African continent

Fri, 05.10.2007
In Pretoria, Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the major role played by South Africa in resolving regional conflicts in Africa - in Zimbabwe, the Congo, Somalia and in Sudan. Alongside political talks, the spotlight was on one topic in which Germany has expertise to offer – the next FIFA World Cup, which South Africa will be hosting in 2010.
South Africa is the second stop on the Chancellor's five-day trip to Africa, after Ethiopia.
In Pretoria too Merkel emphasised the major interest of Germany and Europe in seeing positive economic development both in South Africa and on the continent as a whole. With the EU-Africa summit scheduled for December, Europe aims to open up "a new chapter in relations between our two neighbouring continents". On the basis of a forward-looking common EU Africa strategy, the two states can achieve much by pulling together.
>> "Things are moving in Africa," said Merkel speaking to the African Union
Today Germany and South Africa already have very close relations, stressed the Chancellor after a meeting with President Thabo Mbeki. Politically, economically and on international issues, the two governments work closely. Currently, German industry would like to help overcome the still tangible legacy of apartheid, with support on offer for in-company vocational training, announced Merkel, speaking in the capital.

Mediator and honest broker

The Chancellor singled out for special praise the vitally important commitment of the South African government to resolving regional problems and conflicts on the continent. "We appreciate the true value of this work," said Merkel.
At present the South African government is mediating in Zimbabwe between the government and the opposition. The opposition is being subjected to massive pressure by President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.
One day earlier, Merkel had expressed her deep concern about human rights violations and the destruction of slum areas in Zimbabwe, speaking to the African Union. "We must not stand by and watch these development," she urged. It is up to neighbouring states in particular to take action, she said.
Because of the huge flows of refugees, South Africa is itself severely affected by the situation in Zimbabwe. President Mbeki reported that the main thrust of efforts must now be to prepare for free and fair presidential elections to be held next year in the neighbouring country. Both the government and the opposition have announced that they will accept the results of elections of this sort.
Merkel announced that she would be raising the issue of the situation in Zimbabwe at the EU-Africa summit meeting in Lisbon.

Kick-off for 2010

"In 2010, the eyes of the world will be on South Africa," declared the Chancellor with a view to the next FIFA World Cup, which South Africa will be hosting. "They have the opportunity to give billions of people an entirely new image of their country," she went on. The Chancellor promised that Germany would assist with the preparations as far as possible.
The Chancellor and the President reported that the police forces of the two countries are already working closely and sharing information, as are the fan clubs. For stadium extensions too German experts are providing support to the South African authorities. And South Africa can learn from Germany how to best deal with FIFA, promised Merkel, with a wink.

Solar-powered public viewing

A German manufacturer of solar cells has set himself the goal of organising solar-powered public viewings in remote rural parts of South Africa. He and other German businessmen and women took part in a German-South African business conference in Pretoria. The Chancellor and President Mbeki attended the final session.
In the afternoon, the Chancellor will be visiting the "Soccer City" in Johannesburg, to gain an impression of the status of preparations for the World Cup. The 96,000-seater stadium will be the venue of the opening match and the final of the World Cup. Angela Merkel will be accompanied by Oliver Bierhoff, the manager of the German national football team.
>> First stop on the journey - Ethiopia