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Their Majesties the King and the Queen of the Belgians is undertaking a State Visit to South Africa from 22 to 27 March 2023 at the invitation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The visit – the first to South Africa by the Belgian monarchy – is a demonstration of 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.

Relations between South Africa and Belgium are managed through a joint commission that meets at the level of deputy foreign minister.

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.

His Majesty the King of the Belgians’ official delegation will comprise political, economic and academic leadership, including the Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hadja Lahbib, as well as ministers-presidents and representatives of the regions and communities 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



President Cyril Ramaphosa led the 2023 Human Rights Day commemoration on 21 March 2023 in De Aar, in the Northern Cape, where he delivered the keynote address.


The theme for this first commemorative day on the annual national calendar was “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 21 March 1960, during which police killed 69 anti-apartheid protesters.

Human Rights Day also honours the 35 people who were killed on 21 March 1985 when apartheid police targeted community members after a funeral at Uitenhage/Langa.

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.

Government, social partners and constitutional institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission are guided by the National Action Plan (NAP) to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance.

The NAP provides the basis for raising awareness of anti-racism, equality and anti-discrimination issues and developing collective responses.

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The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will host the Inaugural Charlotte Maxeke African Women Leadership Awards at the Sandton Convention Centre on Saturday, 25 March 2023.
The event is aimed at recognising and honouring exceptional African women leaders whose achievements, influence and contributions have advanced Africa’s development in various sectors of society. The awards will also recognise contributions to the advancement of gender quality and women’s empowerment.

Approximately 300 people will be in attendance, comprising Cabinet ministers, members of Parliament, the Diplomatic Community, African women leaders, captains of industry, civil society and community leaders.


The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on 22 March 2023 hosted a bilateral meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Ali Sabry, who is undertaking a Study Visit to South Africa from 21 to 25 March 2023.


Minister Ali Sabry is leading a fact-finding delegation to South Africa to study South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and related processes that South Africa underwent in its quest towards a non-racist, non-sexist, democratic South Africa.

Sri Lanka committed to undergo a similar process following the end of its three-decade civil war in 2009.

Minister Sabry briefed Minister Pandor on developments in Sri Lanka relating to the country’s nation-building and reconciliation programme, and the objectives of undertaking this study tour.

Bilateral relations

The Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka established diplomatic relations with the Republic of South Africa on 12 September 1994. Sri Lanka opened its resident diplomatic mission in Pretoria on 1 October 1997, while South Africa opened its resident diplomatic mission in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in September 2007.

South Africa attaches great importance to its historic relationship with Sri Lanka, in particular Sri Lanka’s solidarity and support for South Africa’s liberation struggle.

Bilateral relations between the two countries are cordial and conducted under the umbrella of the structured Partnership Forum (PF) that was established through the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of a Partnership Forum on 1 December 2003. The last session (the eighth) of the PF was held, virtually, on 15 February 2022 and it is expected that Sri Lanka will convene the Ninth Session of the PF at a mutually agreed date during 2023.

South Africa’s trade with Sri Lanka amounted to exports of approximately R4,1 billion and imports of approximately R571 million during 2022 (South African Revenue Service, 2023). The considerable trade surplus that South Africa enjoys with Sri Lanka is mainly due to the export of coal to Sri Lanka. The export of coal constitutes approximately 64% of total exports. Major imports from Sri Lanka include textiles, vegetable products, as well as plastics and rubber.

On the multilateral front, Sri Lanka is currently the Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Working Group on Maritime Safety and Security till 2027, IORA Vice Chair for 2021 to 2023 and will take over as the IORA Chair this year.



The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, has concluded her successful Working Visit to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where she participated in the meeting of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers, held bilateral talks with her DRC counterpart and met representatives of South African businesses operating in the DRC.

The Council of Ministers Meeting, held from 18 to 19 March 2023, oversaw the functioning and development of SADC, ensuring that policies and decisions are implemented. The council consists of ministers from each of the 16 member states.

Minister Pandor’s bilateral meeting with her DRC counterpart, Minister Christophe Lutundula, provided the two countries with an opportunity to take stock of the decisions and commitments of the South Africa-DRC Bi-National Commission as well as the status of memoranda of understanding and agreements signed between the two countries.

In light of the ongoing conflict in the eastern DRC, the two ministers exchanged views on the latest developments in the region and on regional efforts to bring about peace and stability in the eastern DRC.

On trade and investment relations, Minister Pandor recalled that South Africa had significant investments in the DRC. The main sectors for investment are financial services; mining and related services; construction and property development; retail; supplier services to the oil, gas and mobile telephony industries; ICT; security and guarding; logistics; and tourism and hospitality.

In the meeting with representatives of South African companies operating in the DRC, Minister Pandor said South Africa regarded the DRC as a key trade and investment partner and that the two countries were looking for ways to further expand two-way trade.



The Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Candith Mashego-Dlamini, recently concluded her Working Visit to the republics of Benin and Togo.
The Deputy Minister begun her tour in Benin, where she held successful talks with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Aurélien Agbénonci. The two delegations reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen bilateral relations between South Africa and Benin.

Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini emphasised the importance to deepen trade and investment relations as well as stronger people-to-people relations.

South Africa and Benin have various agreements and memoranda of understanding, which are at advanced stages of negotiations and include the Partnership Agreement in the field of Social Development and the Bilateral Air Services Agreement.

At the conclusion of her visit to Cotonou, Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini visited the Glo-Dijgbe Industrial Zone, where she received a presentation on possible partnership and investment opportunities for South African businesses.

South Africa and Benin have enjoyed excellent diplomatic relations since the signing of the Agreement on Diplomatic Relations in May 1994.

In Togo, the Deputy Minister met with the Secretary-General of the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Afo Salifou. The Deputy Minister and Secretary-General’s Salifou’s meeting discussed ways to explore new areas of cooperation between the two countries with a view of strengthen bilateral cooperation in line with the Framework for Cooperation Agreement, which was signed in December 2019.

While in Togo, the Deputy Minister also held meetings with the Minster of Investment and Promotion, Rose Mivedor; and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Local Consumption, Kodgo Adedze. The two meetings focussed on deepening trade and investment relations between the two countries to radically transform the agricultural sector.

South Africa and Togo enjoy good diplomatic relations. These relations were formally established with the signing of the Declaration of the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations in January 1997.



The Minister of Water and Sanitation, Senzo Mchunu, is leading a South African delegation to the United Nations (UN) Water Conference in New York, United States of America, from 22 to 24 March 2023.
Minister Mchunu will participate in several panel discussions with his counterparts on the African continent and across the globe, to discuss in-depth measures being undertaken by the South African Government to ensure water security by 2030 and beyond.

The conference is co-hosted by the governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands and is taking place under the theme: “Midterm Comprehensive Review of the Implementation of the Objectives of the International Decade for Action, Water for Sustainable Development, 2018 – 2028”.

Some of the discussions Minister Mchunu will participate in include a dialogue focussing on water for climate, resilience and environment, the launch of the International High-Level Panel Campaign on Water Investments as well as discussions on multi-stakeholder commitments to the water action agenda.

Minister Mchunu will also lead a discussion on Thursday, 23 March, themed: “Focussing on National Leadership for Inclusive Water Governance: Call for Renewed Water Action and Commitments,” which will see his counterparts from Senegal, Germany, Zambia and Tanzania share experiences from their respective countries on inclusive water governance.

The Department of Water and Sanitation’s participation in the conference aims to build, reinforce and sustain relationships with African and global partners and counterparts, identify active donors as well as mobilise donors by co-investing/cost-sharing in targeted cooperation. This is as the department continues to prioritise investment for monitoring, evaluation, knowledge and information management and learning towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG6) on water and sanitation by 2030 and beyond.

The South African Government continues to embrace the requirements of the UN SDG6 with the objective of ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. It further seeks to recognise strives to enhance the role of the Dakar Declaration of the Ninth World Water Forum as a catalyst for international efforts and actions to achieve universal access to water and sanitation.

This is through the alignment of activities toward the global agenda and the UN SDGs, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, Paris Agreement and the African Union Agenda 2063.

Trevor Noah has become the first comedian in 60 years to be the recipient of the Erasmus Prize; the last comedian to receive the award was Charlie Chaplin.
Noah has been named the 2023 recipient of the Erasmus Prize. The prize, which forms part of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation, was founded by HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands in 1958.

According to the foundation, he receives the prize for his inspired contribution to the 2023 theme In Praise of Folly, named after Dutch humanist scholar Desiderius Erasmus’ (1466 ‒ 1536) most famous book, which is filled with humour, social criticism and political satire. Not only is Noah the first comedian in 60 years to receive this award, he is also the first South African to do so.

The foundation shared that Trevor Noah’s sharp-minded, mocking, yet inclusive political comedy, upholds the “Erasmian Spirit”. Noah made a name for himself both locally and internationally, for his take on politics and always points out the hilariously absurd intricacies of politics and politicians.

The Erasmus Prize is awarded annually to a person or institution that has made an exceptional contribution to the humanities, the social sciences or the arts, in Europe and beyond. The award also consists of a cash prize of €150 000, which today is around R3 million.

“Emphasising the importance of tolerance, cultural pluriformity and non-dogmatic critical thinking, the Foundation endeavours to express these values in the choice of its laureates. The Erasmus Prize is awarded by the Board of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation. His Majesty the King is Patron of the Foundation.”

The official award ceremony will take place later this year. They announced Noah as the winner of this year’s prize in Amsterdam on 16 March 2023.



Big 7 Travel has released the list of the 50 Most Instagrammable Cafés in the world and Nourish’d, a vegan and plant-based café in Cape Town, has earned spot number 25 on the list.
Some 1.5 million people from 60 countries take surveys for Big 7 Travel and vote for the best travel accolades worldwide.

“Instagram continues to massively influence where people go on holidays, what they wear and what they eat – especially where they eat. The vast majority of us are guilty of snapping pictures of our food before we tuck in and restaurants and cafes are well aware of that trend. Instagrammable cafés have popped up all over the world with decor, dishes and drinks that are made for the gram. The kind of places that give meaning to the phrase ‘the camera eats first’.

“And we can’t deny that they’re absolutely beautiful. So, we wanted to round up the best café designs and the most exciting food from around the world. Whether it’s the setting, the decor, or the creative dishes, there’s something special about every one of these spots. The places that you simply cannot afford to miss when arriving in a new city.”

The team monitored social media platforms such as Instagram to see which venues rank the highest based on visitor engagement. They placed Nourish’d on the list because of how beautiful the food and café's locations are.

“A healthy venue where every dish served looks like a work of art. The entire decor is a breath of fresh air and you’ll get some seriously Instagrammable snaps in here to make your friends jealous. It’s sleek and understated, yet beautiful.” – Big 7 Travel

Nourish’d was founded in 2017 by Natasha Napoli who grew up behind the counter of her father’s pizzeria in Cape Town and while she was always destined to run the family business, she had bigger food dreams. The café provides plant-based and vegan cuisine that is zero waste and its practices are great for the environment.

The café has three locations, based in Kloof, Observatory and Greenpoint. They provide wholesome meals, juice smoothies and juice-cleanse programmes for people wanting to reset their systems.

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A South African roastmaster from Nelson Mandela Bay, Shaun Aupiais, this weekend flew the South African flag high when he won an international coffee roasting contest in El Salvador.
Participating in the Producer and Roaster Forum’s El Salvador international coffee roasting championship, hosted and organised by Perfect Daily Grind in San Salvador, El Salvador, Aupiais won the high-profile competition by doing what he loves best.

Red Band Barista Academy co-founder, Aupiais, competed against the best in the world – several international coffee roasting professionals – who were all working with the same green coffee beans.

The competition was preceded by an orientation day where the roasters had two practice slots for each competitor, and only one shot on the day of the competition (Friday, 17 March 2023).

Aupiais is looking forward to trying out his winning prize – an Aillio Bullet Roaster R1 V2 – when he gets back home to South Africa. The Red Band Barista Academy is a project of the Leva Foundation, a social upliftment non-profit organisation based in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

Red Band Barista Academy was founded in 2014 and has an employment rate of over 90% of its barista graduates. In August 2022, the Red Band Roasting Academy was established to train unemployed youth in the art of coffee roasting.

The win in El Salvador was just the dollop of cream on top of an exceptional trip to the coffee mecca of the world, Central America, by Aupiais and Leva Foundation CEO, Ryan le Roux.

The dynamic team was invited to speak at the Producer and Roaster Forum’s El Salvador event, where they shared their stories of impact of how the coffee industry is influencing unemployed youth’s lives in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

They also attended workshops, cupping sessions and other talks during the two-day event in El Salvador and will be visiting coffee farms in Guatemala and Costa Rica before returning home.

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The South African junior men’s and women’s hockey teams won their final matches in the Junior Africa Cup in Egypt and will be bringing home double gold.


They qualified for the World Cup, which is set to take place in December this year.

The junior men qualified for the World Cup after successfully beating their opponent, team Kenya. The victory secured their place in the Africa Cup final against Egypt, which they have since won. Similarly, the junior women also qualified for the World Cup before entering their winning final against Zimbabwe.

The women’s team won 1 – 0 against Zimbabwe and the game was an intense one with either side fighting for the ball and protecting the goals. In the end, teamwork won it for South Africa.

“But eventually the telling blow was landed by the South Africans. A world-class press from Tamlyn Kock forced the turnover and her shot was superbly guided home by Jesquinique Coltman. That would prove to be the only goal of the game as a nervy ending couldn’t stop the South Africans from claiming the title as best Junior African Women’s team for the 7th time in a row.” – The South African Hockey Association

For the men, it was a little different. They were coming up against Egypt, a team that has beaten them in the past. The goal for South Africa, was to change the loss they had felt during the championship against Egypt in 2016.

Both teams arrived at the field to win it and the match was one of challenge and determination by both sides. They played to the end of time, tied for the win. This meant a sudden death shootout of five. The first team to take the lead, wins the title.

“After both teams scored three from their five shootouts it went to sudden death. Hans Neethling, who had scored in the initial shootout stood up again and fired it home to give South Africa a 4-3 lead. Reece Govender had the opportunity to win the title for South Africa with a save, which he never had to make. He forced the striker out wide who then shot wide of the goal to seal a title for the Southern Africans and a first double in almost 10 years.” – The South African Hockey Association.

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Newport Beach in California played host to the Hoag Classic where Ernie Els managed to take a third Champions win by one stroke.
The South African is known as the “Big Easy” for his smooth swing and imposing stature. Having turned professional in 1989, he has won four Major Championships. Firstly, he won the US Open in 1994 and 1997 and then he took The Open Championship title in 2002 and 2012.

Forming part of the PGA Tour Champions, the Hoag Classic is played in Newport Beach in Orange County. The five-day event took place from 15 to 19 March 2023 and often draws a number of golfing legends to the course.

The 2023 edition was won by South African native Ernie Els. In the final round, he shot 6-under 65. This catapulted him above a dozen golfers and he turned in the best scorecard on Sunday, 19 March. With no bogey on the final day, he finished with 13 under for the tournament.

Els, who won the same event in 2020, credited his victory to understanding the weather conditions and a strong start that he was able to capitalise on as the weather turned and the wind started to gust.

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