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Archive for South Africa

Newsline: Handbag designer Marks appointed U.S. ambassador to South Africa

Luxury handbag designer Lana Marks has been appointed U.S. ambassador to South Africa, the U.S. embassy said on Friday. Marks was born in South Africa and speaks Afrikaans and Xhosa, the White House has said. The U.S. Senate confirmed her nomination, which President Donald Trump put forward last year. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-safrica-usa-diplomacy/handbag-designer-marks-appointed-u-s-ambassador-to-south-africa-idUSKBN1WC0V3) Washington has had no ambassador in South Africa since Patrick Gaspard left in December 2016, with its mission being overseen by a chargé d’affaires. The website for Marks’ firm offers handbags for up to $20,000 and says they have become favorites for celebrities including Oprah Winfrey, Kate Winslet and Madonna.

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Newsline: China’s Ambassador to South Africa Attacks Trump Over Trade

Lin Songtian, China’s ambassador to South Africa, took out a half-page advertisement in a key local newspaper to attack the stance of the U.S. and President Donald Trump on global trade. In a paid-for editorial in Business Day, South Africa’s biggest financial newspaper, Lin said bullying by the U.S. will drive the world into a “severe recession” and accused Trump of capriciousness. “The Chinese culture emphasizes that ‘gentlemen keep their words.’ Honoring the promises and commitments is the basic ethical code and requirement for state leaders and businessmen,” he said in the advert titled ‘Voice of China.’ His comments were also published in the Star newspaper. “The president of the U.S. runs his country according to his own will, dictates the world through Twitter and changes his position overnight,” Lin said. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-10/china-s-s-africa-ambassador-says-u-s-follows-law-of-the-jungle) The column, part of a drive by Beijing to have its ambassadors speak out globally, reflects the deteriorating relationship between the world’s two biggest economies.

Newsline: South Africa closes embassy in Nigeria after xenophobic violence

South Africa has temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Nigeria following reprisal attacks by Nigerians triggered by xenophobic violence in South Africa. Between Sunday and Wednesday, mobs looted and destroyed shops, many of them foreign-owned, in South Africa’s commercial hub, Johannesburg. Nigeria’s government has been outspoken in its condemnation of the violence. South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Naledi Pandor, called the violence an embarrassment for her country. “Our government regrets all violence against foreign-owned stores or Africans from other countries who are resident in South Africa,” she was quoted as saying by national broadcaster SABC. She ordered the closure of the country’s high commission in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, and its mission in Lagos, following threats made to the diplomatic staff. (https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-49593030) Police say the unrest has subsided and more than 420 arrests have been made.

Newsline: South Africa downgrades embassy in Israel to liaison office

South Africa has downgraded its embassy in Israel to a liaison office. The office, located in Tel Aviv, has “no political mandate, no trade mandate and no development cooperation mandate. It will not be responsible for trade and commercial activities,” South African Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said. “The focus of the Liaison Office would be on consular and the facilitation of people-to-people relations,” Sisulu also said. (https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/south-africa-downgrades-embassy-in-israel-to-liaison-office) In May 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador, Sisa Ngombane, “until further notice” after Israeli troops killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds during protests at the Israel-Gaza border, part of the so-called “Great March of Return.” The violence reached a peak on May 14, 2018 with the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. With the downgrading of the embassy, and thus diplomatic relations with Israel, Ngombane will not be returning to Israel. The downgrade comes nearly a year after the ruling African National Congress party called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.”

Newsline: South Africa Will Not Reinstate Ambassador to Israel

South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel, who was recalled in 2018 in protest of the high death toll in Gaza, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Lindiwe Sisulu said on Apr. 5. (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-south-africa-will-not-reinstate-ambassador-to-israel-recalled-over-gaza-deaths-1.7089159) Since the South African envoy was recalled, a move that weakened ties between the two countries, the embassy has been functioning as a representative office, mainly providing consular service. “The South Africa government condemns in the strongest terms possible the latest act of violent aggression carried out by Israeli armed forces along the Gaza border,” the Department of International Relations and Cooperation said in an earlier statement.

Newsline: Algerian diplomat accused of sexual assault in South Africa

Police have confirmed a case of sexual assault has been opened against a diplomat in South Africa. The diplomat, understood to be attached to the Algerian Mission, is accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a domestic worker between 2013 and 2017. (https://ewn.co.za/2019/03/12/diplomat-attached-to-algerian-mission-accused-of-sexual-assault-in-sa) The Union of Local Employees of Missions Accredited to South Africa picketed outside the Brooklyn police station on Tuesday calling on police to act swiftly. The victim laid a complaint at the beginning of the month but the accused has not yet been arrested.

Newsline: South Africa to Downgrade Israel Embassy Status

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country is planning to downgrade the status of its embassy in the occupied territories, in response to Israel’s violation of Palestinians’ rights. Speaking to the parliament in Cape Town, Ramaphosa said South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu was working on implementing a decision by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to lower diplomatic ties with Israel. “The South African government remains seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African Embassy in Israel and we will communicate once the cabinet has fully finalized on this matter,” he said. (http://imemc.org/article/south-africa-to-downgrade-israel-embassy-status/) The South African president further noted that the decision to downgrade the embassy in the occupied lands is driven by Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinians and the regime’ failure to enter negotiations on the so-called two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. PNN further reports that, last May, South Africa withdrew its ambassador to Tel Aviv in protest at Israel’s deadly crackdown on anti-occupation rallies in the Gaza Strip. South Africa established close ties with the Israeli regime during the apartheid era, but after the collapse of the discriminatory system, the African country began to lean towards Palestine.