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On Wednesday, 31 January 2024, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched South Africa's first shipment and preferential trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The launch ceremony took place at the Port of Durban and occurred on the margins of the 13th AfCFTA Council of Ministers meeting, held at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre from 30 to 31 January 2024.

South Africa was the first among the four Southern African Customs Union countries to practically realise the AfCFTA Agreement.
The 37th African Union Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government will, at its annual convention later this month, take  stock of the progress made thus far in the implementation of the AfCFTA.

The successful implementation of the AfCFTA is expected to lead to the diversification of exports, increased productive capacity, acceleration of growth, increased investment, increased employment opportunities and incomes and most importantly, broaden economic inclusion both in South Africa and the rest of the continent.

It provides South African exporters with new market access opportunities to key markets in the African continent and can unlock growth.

President Ramaphosa was joined by the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel; KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube; and AfCFTA Secretary-General, Wamkele Mene. Other dignitaries included the AfCFTA Council of Ministers, who witnessed the first shipment of Proudly South African products exported to the continent.

The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition said the launch ceremony was a historic step and an instrumental tool in generating meaningful trade on the African continent through the shipment of made-in-South Africa products.

“The main message being sent to Africa and the rest of the world through this event is to illustrate that companies can trade under the AfCFTA procedures to expand their markets within a legally binding framework,” the department said.

– Source:
President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the Gaza genocide case against Israel.
This comes after the United Nations (UN) top court ordered Israel to take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and do more to help Palestinian civilians, as Israel continues to wage war against Hamas militants.

In a landmark judgment, the ICJ determined that it was “plausible” that Israel had committed acts that violated the Genocide Convention.

“We have called Israel’s attacks on Gaza genocidal acts; acts for which Israel should and must be held accountable. Today the ICJ has vindicated us,” President Ramaphosa said on Friday, 26 January 2024.
The President was speaking to the nation in a televised address following the landmark ruling by the ICJ.

The war, which began in October last year, has already claimed more than 25 000 lives in Gaza, of which more than 16 000 of the dead were women and children.

The President cited the UN Children’s Fund, which labelled Gaza as a “graveyard for thousands of children”.

It is for this reason the President believed that the judgment marked an important first step in the quest to secure justice for the people of Gaza.

The President said South Africa stood on the side of freedom and justice for all.

“Thirty years ago, following our first democratic elections, President Nelson Mandela declared, ‘Let there be justice for all. Let there be peace for all. Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another’.”

South Africa approached the ICJ in December last year, under the Genocide Convention, for alleged attacks committed by Israel in Gaza.

In its application, South Africa pleaded with the court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention”.

The country also requested the ICJ to ensure Israel does not engage in genocide.

Handing down the court’s unanimous decision, ICJ Judge President Joan Donoghue said it was necessary, pending its final decision, to indicate certain measures to protect the rights claimed by South Africa.

Donoghue also stated that Israel must per its obligations under the Genocide Convention, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention.

Acts of genocide named in the Convention include the killing of members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

“We firmly believe that following this judgment there should now be a more concerted effort towards a ceasefire and negotiations should commence on a permanent two-state solution, to enable Israel and Palestine to live side by side as independent states,” said the President.

President Ramaphosa thanked the international community who had supported the country’s application and those who declared their intention to be part of the application.

“We will not waiver in our commitment to the Palestinian people and their quest for self-determination. Our own painful history obliges us to do no less.”

He also thanked the World Court for holding those guilty of genocide accountable and thanked the lawyers and the ministers of international relations and cooperation, and justice and correctional services.

“It is our earnest hope and wish that this court order paves the way for an end to this crisis, for an end to the terrible loss of life and hardship, and for the crucial first steps to be taken towards reconciliation and a just, lasting peace.”

– Source:
Deputy President Paul Mashatile has vowed that South Africa will continue to stand for the vulnerable and marginalised and fight for a just world.
This comes after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ordered Israel to, among others, take all measures within its power "to prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to commit genocide" and to immediately ensure that Palestinians have access to basic services and humanitarian assistance.
South Africa had approached the ICJ to garner not only a ceasefire of Israel’s military barrage of Palestine but also to ask the court to find the Israeli Government guilty of committing acts of genocide. The ICJ found that it was “plausible” that Israel committed acts, which violated the Genocide Convention.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said that as a signatory to the Genocide Convention, the South African Government bore a responsibility to prevent acts of genocide wherever they occur.

As South Africa celebrates 30 years of democracy this year, the country’s second-in-command said not only had government made significant strides in transforming South Africa, but it had also left a significant mark globally by “unapologetically” choosing to stand on the side of justice.

“We are a nation that will always stand for the vulnerable and marginalised and fight for a just world. We call upon the rest of the world to join us in this important fight for justice, equality and peace,” Deputy President Mashatile said.

The Deputy President was speaking at the South Africa Legislative Sector International Oversight Summit at the Century City Conference Centre in Cape Town on Tuesday, 30 January 2024.

The two-day summit provided the sector with an opportunity to reflect on the gains made in strengthening democracy, while discussing how it could optimise its role as a guardian of democracy by improving the legislative arm of the State.

“This theme is relevant in that it reminds us of the strategic role that legislatures play in transforming society and championing the interests of all South Africans towards a better life for all,” said Deputy President Mashatile.


He told delegates that 30 years of democracy were a demonstration that it was possible to have a people-centred government that considered citizens as critical role players in policy and law-making processes

“It is, therefore, important that through this summit, we maintain the commitments we have to these principles that underpin our democratic government and legislative sector. Parliaments must continue to be people-centred institutions that bring the voices of the people to governance.”

He cited accountability, good ethics, integrity and transparency as critical factors for a guiding framework to strengthen the legislature’s role toward improving the lives of all South Africans.

“Without these principles, the sustainable human development agenda will not find its truest expression.”

The Deputy President also touched on effective oversight, which he believed was crucial to ensure that these principles were upheld and that institutions served the needs of the people to realise a better life for all.

“The fundamental test of democracy lies in Parliament’s ability to maintain executive accountability through continuous oversight. The litmus test of an active citizenry in a democracy is the extent to which Parliament can hold the Government accountable to the people.”

He identified corruption, abuse of state power and maladministration as critical deficiencies that undermined governance, institutions and processes, which led to the erosion of public trust.

“In this regard, Chapter 9 of the Constitution mandates the creation of institutions designed to protect and support democracy.”

To demonstrate South Africa’s commitment to good governance, Deputy President Mashatile cited the State Capture Commission.

“Regarding the latest report received, Parliament is currently working on proper mechanisms to address the issues raised by the report of the State Capture Commission. The presiding officers of Parliament have already referred certain matters requiring direct action by Parliament to parliamentary structures for processing.”

– Source:
On 31 January 2024, the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, held a media briefing at the OR Tambo Building in Pretoria.
Among others, Minister Pandor presented some of the key priorities for this year, including the benefits that South Africa derives from its international work:

The recent summits of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the G77 and China held in Uganda

“The summits of Heads of State and Government of NAM and of the G77 and China were convened in Kampala, Uganda, from 19 to 22 January 2023. The NAM Summit identified five priority areas: regional and international peace and security; the fight against terrorism; migration and humanitarian crises; human trafficking; and the Sustainable Development Goals. In his statement to the NAM, President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that South Africa would remain steadfast in advancing its non-aligned approach to the maintenance of international peace and security by advocating for the peaceful political settlement of disputes and inclusive dialogue. The NAM welcomed its first new member in 13 years, the Republic of South Sudan, which brings the total membership to 121 states.

“Following the NAM meeting, I led the South African delegation to the G77 and China Summit under the theme, Leaving No One Behind.

“The G77 and China, also known as The South Summit, is the largest negotiating bloc in the United Nations (UN), representing most developing countries and over 80% of the world’s population. The focus of the summit was on South-South cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, sustainable development, climate change, poverty eradication and the digital economy.”

The case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding Israel’s genocide in the war on Gaza

“At a special Cabinet meeting on 8 December last year, it was decided that South Africa should institute legal proceedings at the ICJ against Israel for violating its obligations under the Geneva Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948).

“Oxfam’s figures indicate that the average daily killing of Palestinians by the Israeli military since 7 October 2023 exceeds the daily death toll of any major conflict in recent years. The deaths of children are almost incomparable both in terms of actual numbers killed and the rate at which children have been killed. More journalists have been killed in Gaza in the last 100 days than were killed during World War II and the Vietnam War.

“Cabinet was persuaded by the sheer immorality and illegality of the actions of the Israeli Government. There was consensus that South Africa needed to approach the highest judicial organ of the UN to seek an end to the mass killing of Palestinians and to stop the wholesale destruction of civilian infrastructure, including residential buildings, hospitals, schools, bakeries, water and electricity sources. From the outset, our concerns have been centred on the values and principles of the South African Constitution, which places a premium on the right to life, the right to dignity and the human rights of all people.

“On 29 December 2023, South Africa filed its application to institute proceedings against Israel, as well as its request for provisional measures. The matter was heard in The Hague on 11 and 12 January this year in relation to the request for provisional measures. On 26 January 2024, the court delivered its order on South Africa’s request for provisional measures. While not all provisional measures that were requested by South Africa were granted, crucial ones that will contribute to the protection of Palestinians were granted. The court was near unanimous (a 15-2 division) in its order for provisional measures, which included that:
  • Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent all acts of genocide as contained in Article II of the Genocide Convention (including “killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group”)
  • Israel must prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide
  • Israel is required to take effective measures to provide urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance
  • it must ensure effective measures are taken to prevent the destruction of evidence and ensure its preservation
  • Israel is required to provide a report to the court on the measures it has taken to give effect to these provisional measures within one month.
“While South Africa had called for the suspension of Israeli military operations in Gaza, the court did not grant this provisional measure. The decision by the court marks a decisive victory for international law and a significant milestone in the search for justice for the Palestinian people. It also affirms the importance of global governance institutions, including organs of the UN. It remains vital for all member states to respect and implement the decisions of the court.

“The finding also makes it clear that it is plausible that genocide is taking place against the Palestinian people in Gaza. Third states must, therefore, also act independently and immediately to prevent genocide by Israel and to ensure that they are not themselves in violation of the Genocide Convention by aiding or assisting in the commission of genocide. This necessarily imposes an obligation on all states to cease funding and facilitating Israel’s military actions, which are plausibly genocidal.

“South Africa will continue to do everything within its power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group, to end all acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people and to walk with them towards the realisation of their collective right to self-determination, for, as Nelson Mandela momentously declared, ‘Our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians’.

“The UN peace and security architecture is clearly not able to give effect to the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people or to protect them from grave war crimes and the threat of genocide, necessitating concerned states to turn to the judicial institutions of the UN.

“South Africa welcomes the support expressed by several countries and we encourage states that are so inclined to approach the court to intervene in the proceedings so as to send a strong message to the international community that the situation in the Gaza Strip is indefensible.”

The upcoming African Union (AU) Summit

“At the core of South Africa’s foreign policy is the advancement of the African Agenda. South Africa places great importance on the AU summits and the next one will take place on 17 and 18 February 2024, in Addis Ababa. The summit will be held under the theme, Educate an African Fit for the 21st Century: Building Resilient Education Systems for Increased Access to Inclusive, Lifelong, Quality and Relevant Learning in Africa.

“Last year, the AU finalised a 10-year review of Agenda 2063. A key recommendation in the Agenda 2063 evaluation report is that the AU member states must accelerate implementation of the Agenda 2063 flagship projects that are aimed specifically at fast-tracking continental integration, in particular trade and market integration, free movement of people and infrastructure development. One of the flagship projects in which South Africa is playing a leading role is the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which serves as a milestone development in the evolution of the AU. We are especially pleased that President Ramaphosa will officially witness the launch of South Africa’s first shipment and preferential trading under the AfCFTA today, 31 January 2024, at the port of Durban. The event will be an historic occasion.

“President Ramaphosa is also expected to attend and participate in several high-level committee meetings of the assembly. These include the meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change, which will be held to reaffirm Africa’s position on climate change as advocated during the COP28, held in the United Arab Emirates.

“In his capacity as the Chairperson of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative, President Ramaphosa annually hosts a meeting of participating countries on the margins of the AU Summit, to provide a progress report on infrastructure projects. The initiative aims to enhance infrastructural development in sectors such as transport, ICT, water and sanitation and energy in our country and throughout our region and continent and is critical to the implementation of the AfCFTA.

“Lastly, on the margins of the summit, the President is also expected to chair a high-level meeting of the Committee of Five (C5) on South Sudan to review and provide political guidance on the progress made in the implementation of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan.”

South Africa’s handover of the BRICS Chair to the Russian Federation

“The most prominent outcomes of the BRICS Summit that we hosted were as follows:
  • The first phase of the BRICS full membership expansion was announced. Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were invited to join BRICS as full members.
  • The BRICS foreign ministers were tasked to develop a BRICS partner country model.
  • The finance ministers/Reserve Bank governors were tasked to consider the use of local currencies and payment instruments and platforms.
  • The advancement of BRICS support for UN Security Council reform.
  • the establishment of a BRICS youth council.
“We anticipate that these outcomes will continue to receive support from Russia as the 2024 Chair.”

– Source:
Meetings Africa 2024 is poised to bring renewed vitality to the business events industry across Africa, simultaneously providing a substantial boost to South Africa's economy.
This was the sentiment expressed by Patricia de Lille, South Africa's Tourism Minister, during the media launch of the South African Tourism-owned strategic business event trade show. The launch took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Meetings Africa brings hundreds of exhibitors, buyers and key global business events sector decision-makers under one roof and has become a sought-after platform by exhibitors and buyers alike. With the show attracting thousands of attendees, it is expected to propel the tourism sector’s growth forward, capitalising on its robust recovery momentum.

Minister de Lille expressed confidence that this year’s show, to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre from 26 to 28 February, will bring even more value to all delegates and the global business events sector.

Propelling tourism growth

"Building from the successes recorded in previous years, Meetings Africa 2024 will no doubt enhance the already upward trajectory of our business events and tourism sector’s performance. At this year’s event, we anticipate the attendance and participation of more than 350 exhibitors, 350 local and international buyers, over 20 international media and more than 3 000 delegates," said Minister de Lille.

Last year’s edition of Meetings Africa contributed a staggering R388,5 million to the South African economy, creating and sustaining 753 jobs while also generating significant business deals worth millions of rands for exhibitors.

Emphasising Meetings Africa as a Pan-African trade show, Minister de Lille highlighted its critical role in telling the African story and promoting the continent as a premier destination for business events and tourism.

No less than 19 African countries are expected to participate in this year’s show as exhibitors will look to showcase their various destinations and products to the strong contingent of international buyers drawn from 52 countries.

– Source:
The Minister of Tourism Minister, Patricia de Lille, says township and village tourism have much to offer in terms of boosting the economy.
“I firmly believe that township and village tourism have so much to offer and so much untapped potential and we must place more focus on this area to showcase our hidden gems and the true magic of our villages and townships,” Minister de Lille said.

Addressing the inaugural Township and Village Tourism Expo, hosted by the South African Township and Village Tourism Organisation at the Cradle of Humankind, in Morapeng, on Thursday, 25 January 2024, Minister de Lille said the expo aimed to shine a light on tourism products in villages and townships where people from disadvantaged backgrounds were breaking through barriers to take their claim in the tourism sector.
“I have found only warm, kind and committed people in tourism in every part of this country and I look forward to exploring even more hidden gems this year and pushing harder with all partners to take the entire tourism sector to the next level,” Minister de Lille said.

The Minister commended the expo organisers for their objective to foster strong community engagement by involving local residents, community leaders and stakeholders in the planning and execution of the expo.

“Promoting township and village tourism is an integral part of diversifying our tourism offerings so that we can grow the economy, the sector and the number of jobs created by this sector.

“I am therefore pleased that the South African National Convention Bureau has provided financial support to this expo and that SA Tourism has also supported it through marketing it at global events such as World Travel Market London.

“I have often said that we must place more on emphasising township and village tourism, especially in the annual Sho’t Left Campaign and later today there will be workshop on this annual campaign by SA Tourism,” the Minister said.

The Minister said her department wanted to help the organisers to achieve their vision to develop townships and villages into smart residential and business hubs that foster job creation and social cohesion and market indigenous tourism experiences.

“We are your partner to transform the tourism industry and expand the value chain to be more inclusive and attract tourism investment to townships and villages.

“We need to showcase our culture, history, indigenous cultures and people to visitors from all over the world because I am certain that those are the experiences that will leave them with memories they will treasure forever and stories that will captivate them for years to come.

“We need to do better at marketing our history and cultures and show more people places like what is known as ‘Nobel Street’ where we showcase Vilikazi Street in Soweto as being the homes of two Nobel Peace Laureates, our dear Tata Madiba and Archbishop Desmond Tutu,” Minister de Lille said.

The Minister said history had helped transform the area around Vilikazi Street into a thriving business community but there are many more spaces and places like these all over South Africa which can be showcased.

The Tourism Incentive Programme is a package of support programmes aimed at stimulating the growth, development and transformation of the South African tourism sector.

“Through these incentives, the department aims to transform and achieve accelerated growth in the tourism sector. This in turn contributes to the achievement of the department’s objectives to stimulate enterprise growth, job creation, revenue growth and an enhanced visitor experience,” the Minister said.

– Source:
The Border Management Authority (BMA) announced on Sunday, 28 January 2024, that it processed over five million travellers through South African borders over the festive period.
“The 2023/24 festive season was a remarkable time where a noticeable increase in the movement of persons and goods entering and exiting the Republic of South Africa was experienced,” said the Commissioner of the BMA, Dr Mike Masiapato.

He said between 6 December 2023 and 18 January 2024, the agency lawfully processed 5 096 288 travellers across 71 ports of entry.
The latest data showed a one-million increase in travellers compared to 2022/23.

“However, this number of travellers is still one million less than the pre-COVID-19 average numbers of about six million travellers.”

Of the 5 096 288 travellers, 216 594 used private vehicles, 21 502 used mini-bus taxis, 6 443 used buses and 55 765 used trucks through the movement control system.

In total, more than 13 050 aircrafts were processed at international airports and approximately 709 vessels at seaports.

About 407 vessels underwent crew changes using the off-port limit mechanism in the maritime environment.

According to the data, OR Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) served the largest number of travellers, which was around 993 759.

The Lebombo land port of entry to Mozambique came second with 755 066 visitors, followed by the Beitbridge land port of entry to Zimbabwe with 745 563 travellers.

Compared to the 2022/23 festive period, ORTIA, Lebombo and Beitbridge recorded an increase in traveller volume of 22%, 24% and 25%, respectively.

“As you may recall, we increased our human-resource capacity and the operating hours in some selected ports of entry, which do not operate on a 24-hour basis.”

The BMA’s mandate is to facilitate and manage the legitimate movement of people and goods across 71 ports of entry of which 52 are land, 10 are international airports and nine are seaports.

Their work covers areas of immigration, port health, environmental and agricultural biosecurity, including access control and general law enforcement at the ports of entry and border law-enforcement areas.

“Although our primary job as the BMA is to facilitate the legitimate movement of people, we also have to deal with individuals who attempt to illegitimately move through our ports of entry and the border law-enforcement areas.”

He told the media that the agency detected about 15 924 individuals who were attempting to enter South Africa without requisite documentation.

“In this instance, after intercepting them, we took their fingerprints, declared them undesirable and banned them from re-entering South Africa for five years and kept the record in the Biometric Movement Control System (BMCS) and got them deported,” he explained.

The majority of interceptions occurred at the Lebombo land port of entry with 6 808, followed by 1 891 at the Beitbridge land port of entry.

Meanwhile, 6 455 travellers were denied entry into South Africa for being undesirable, including those who committed crimes in other countries and appeared on the Interpol red list.

In addition, about 4 626 travellers were refused entry for having invalid passports, fraudulent visas or failing to produce valid yellow-fever certificates.

This means 27 005 people were deported while attempting to enter South Africa illegally.

During this period, the agency also observed an increased detection rate of the undesirables due to the utilisation of the BMCS.

The Commissioner raised his concern at public transporting companies that continue to transport illegal migrants.

During this period, the BMA imposed about 98 administrative fines to various conveyancers, especially bus companies to the value of R3 540 000 for transporting illegal migrants at the cost of R15 000 per person.

At the same time, they collected about R9,8 million in outstanding fines from about 25 bus companies.

“In this regard, the BMA has committed to ensuring that valid passports would be required from all travellers when procuring cross-border tickets and for entering into the bus on travel day.”

– Source:
Over 18 469 South African citizens living in 101 countries around the world have started registering to vote using the Electoral Commission’s newly launched online registration portal system.
“The Electoral Commission has enabled an online registration facility for the first time to allow South Africans outside the country to easily register for the 2024 national elections,” Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) of the Electoral Commission, Sy Mamabolo, said..

Addressing the media in Pretoria on Thursday, 25 January 2024, Mamabolo said the commission hoped that the introduction of an online registration system would attract citizens from abroad.

Citizens living abroad must register as voters either online or in person at their nearest South African mission. South African high commissions, embassies and consulates will be open during working hours.
“Eligible voters are encouraged to check with their nearest mission on the registration dates and times. Registration requires a South African identity document as well as a South African passport.

“A special two-day voter registration event for South African citizens abroad took place between 26 and 28 January 2024, depending on the configuration of weekend days.

“In countries where Friday and Saturday are weekends, the two special days designated were Friday, 26 January, and Saturday, 27 January 2024,” Mamabolo said.

The countries with the most people registering online included the United Kingdom (5 938), The Netherlands (1 844), Germany (746), United States (821), Ireland (675), United Arab Emirates (1 068), China (515), Australia (588), New Zealand (314), Cuba (293), Portugal (284) and Belgium (280).

On the African continent, South Africans have begun to register in 28 countries, including Mauritius (316), Lesotho (224) Namibia (148), Botswana (170), Zambia (96), Zimbabwe (77), Kenya (73), Ghana (45) and Tanzania (40).

A full list of South Africa’s missions is available on the DIRCO website:

The commission advised South Africans who were already registered to vote – either on the national or international segment of the voters’ roll ‒ to check their registration status and to update their voters’ roll address if they intend to vote abroad in the 2024 national elections.

Mamabolo said the commission had put in place all necessary measures to ensure that no one is left behind and that all citizens vote in the 2024 national elections.

“The upcoming 2024 national elections offer an important opportunity for all South Africans to have their voices heard, regardless of geographic location,” he said.

The commission pleaded with businesses and organisations around the world to encourage their South African employees to register.

– Source:
The South African-Saudi Arabia Business Council has committed to boosting trade as part of efforts to grow the economies of both countries.
In 2023, South Africa's exports to Saudi Arabia increased to R7.3 billion from R6.6 billion in 2022, while imports from Saudi Arabia decreased to R54.6 billion in 2023 from R73.6 billion in 2022.

The exported goods included agricultural products, motor vehicles and basic chemicals, whereas the import items mainly consisted of refined petroleum and related products and crude oil.
Speaking at a press briefing in honour of the visiting Saudi business delegation, Co-chair of the South African-Saudi Arabia Business Council, Stavros Nicolaou, underscored the need to increase trade and investment.

“From my vantage point, the Saudi Arabia market presents enormous growth opportunities for South African companies looking to expand their businesses in the Gulf region as shown by local companies that are slowly establishing a presence in that region,” Nicolaou said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, have led ongoing engagements between South Africa and Saudi Arabia, which have since resulted in local businesses finding a foothold in the vast Saudi Arabia market.

Also speaking at the same media briefing, Dr Hisham Al Amoudi, Vice-Chairperson of the Saudi-South Africa Business Council, reaffirmed Saudi Arabia's commitment to investing in South Africa.

Al Amoudi said the South Africa and Saudi Arabia Joint Economic Commission and the Business Council were good platforms to further progress and boost inward investments between the two respective countries.

He said Saudi Arabia was committed to increasing investment across various sectors in South Africa.

"We are committed to increasing investments for mutual benefits and supporting South Africa’s economic growth. Our current investments contribute to South Africa’s gross domestic product,” Al Amoudi said.

The visit by the Saudi business delegation aimed to not only strengthen current trade relations, but also explored opportunities for South African companies to increase market access with products that have high export potential to Saudi Arabia.

These products included motor vehicles for the transport of persons, fruit, mineral resources, chemicals, machinery and electrical equipment.

Additionally, the Saudi delegation sought to boost investment from Saudi Arabia in sectors beyond South Africa’s renewable energy industry. Currently, Saudi is the largest investor in South Africa's local renewable energy sector and ACWA Power has a leading role in this area.

Overall, it is estimated that Saudi investment into South Africa amounts to US$1.62 billion.

The Business Council focussed on five main workstreams: energy and renewable energy; tourism; hospitality and entertainment; healthcare and pharmaceuticals; mining and commodities; and food and agro-processing. These areas aimed to utilise investment capital from Saudi Arabia while tapping into the opportunities that South Africa offered in these sectors.

– Source:
Cape Town earns second place in the 2024 “Time Out” rankings, affirming its global allure and cultural richness.
Time Out, the quintessential urban culture curator that has been igniting the wanderlust of city dwellers since its inception in London in 1968, bestowed this prestigious accolade on the Mother City after tapping into the pulse of thousands of urbanites worldwide.

Grace Beard, Travel Editor for Time Out, emphasises, “The basis of the ranking remains our global survey of the people who know their city best: the locals.”
And who could be better judges of a city’s charm than those who call it home? Cape Town’s triumph speaks volumes about the allure of its scenic beauty, its melting pot of multicultural communities and its pulsating creative scene. It is a city where the mountains meet the sea, where diverse cultures converge and where culinary adventures await at every corner.

“The quality and affordability of food, culture and nightlife in their city” are key criteria that underpin Time Out’s assessment, but it’s the intangible essence of a place that truly sets it apart.

Cape Town’s residents, known for their warmth and resilience, undoubtedly played a pivotal role in securing its well-deserved spot among the world’s elite cities.

While New York City claimed the top spot, Cape Town’s ascent to second place surpasses renowned European capitals like Berlin, London and Madrid. Its recognition as a must-visit destination highlights the city’s status as a global icon, a place that effortlessly blends modernity with tradition, offering experiences that linger in the hearts of travellers long after they depart.

For Cape Town, ranking second on Time Out’s list is more than just an honour; it’s a celebration of the spirit that infuses its streets, the warmth of its people and the kaleidoscope of experiences that await those who venture to its shores.

– Source:
Cape Town has once again earned a spot on the 50 Most Instagrammable Places in the World List for the sixth time.
The first time Cape Town made the list, was in 2019 in fifth place. Every year since then, the city has bounced around but always earned a place on the list.

The award is given by Big 7 Travel on their newly updated website, which uses a comprehensive scoring system that analyses the number of hashtags and TikTok views per destination, sample survey results of Big 7 Media’s audiences and from the global editorial team.

According to this year’s stats, Cape Town grabbed mentions on the biggest platforms in the millions. Instagram boasted a whopping 14 085 161 mentions and TikTok a staggering 6 600 000 000 mentions.

“Cape Town’s landscape is an enthralling mix of beaches, city life and natural beauty. Capture the unique topography of Table Mountain from across the city, whether that’s the V&A Waterfront or Signal Hill. No trip to Cape Town is complete without a hike up Table Mountain and some of the best views are only a short distance up from Kloof Corner. The Corner is a rocky ledge overlooking Lion’s Head and Camps Bay. To switch up the scenery, why not capture the colourful houses of Bo-Kaap? It’s one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city, with Table Mountain standing proud in the distance.” –

– Source:
Dr Esther Mahlangu’s iconic art car has finally returned back to South Africa after inspiring people around the world for over 30 years.
In anticipation of legendary Ndebele artist Dr Esther Mahlangu’s lifetime exhibition, Then I knew I was Good at Painting, her iconic art car has finally returned home to South Africa for the first time in over 30 years.

One of the most famous canvases in history, the car (a BMW 525i) was the beginning of Dr Mahlangu expanding her creative reach to the world and was painted in 1991. Aptly, it drove her talent from city to city on global tours from Washington DC to Hong Kong, further securing Ndebele art and Dr Mahlangu’s place on the map.
Its creation also meant that Dr Mahlangu became the first-ever non-Western and first female artist to earn the BMW commission. Others who added their touch to the art cars were Frank Stella, David Hockney and Andy Warhol.

The talented Ndebele artist and fans are set to see her creation back home as part of her upcoming exhibition. Her colourful cruiser was already installed at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town on 25 January 2024.

The upcoming Then I knew I was Good at Painting exhibition will explore seven decades of Dr Mahlangu’s magic from 18 February until 11 August 2024 before heading off to the University of the Witwatersrand and then on a global tour.

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Musa Motha’s latest breathtaking performance captivated judges and viewers alike on “America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League 2024”.
South African sensation Musa Motha has once again captured the hearts of millions with his awe-inspiring performance on America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League 2024.

Motha, who became a household name after his remarkable journey on Britain’s Got Talent in 2023, continues to inspire audiences globally with his resilience and talent.

Motha’s latest performance on the Fantasy League stage left judges and viewers alike in awe, as he delivered a powerful and emotive dance routine. Despite facing numerous challenges, including his battle with cancer and the loss of a leg, Motha’s determination and passion for dance have propelled him to extraordinary heights.

Simon Cowell, one of the judges on Britain’s Got Talent, described Motha’s dancing as “EXCEPTIONAL,” a sentiment echoed by fans and critics alike.

For those who have followed Motha’s journey from the beginning, his appearance on America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League is a moment of triumph and redemption. Despite the disappointment of not winning Britain’s Got Talent, Motha has seized the opportunity to showcase his talent on an even grander stage, demonstrating resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

Social media has been abuzz with praise for Motha’s latest performance, with fans expressing admiration for his talent and resilience.

One user commented, “It was an absolute travesty that this young man did not win Britain’s Got Talent because in my eyes he is one of the greatest contestants ever to grace got talent worldwide. He is an inspiration and truly deserves to make the finals of fantasy league and win.”

Another fan shared, “This performance brought me to tears. So beautiful. I’ve been following him since Britain’s Got Talent and honestly was heartbroken when he didn’t win. I’m so glad he’s been given another chance.”

Motha’s journey is a reminder that no obstacle is insurmountable and that perseverance and passion can lead to extraordinary achievements.

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A new Netflix documentary is shaking up the dinner table and South African twins are stars in the study.
If you haven’t watched You Are What You Eat: A Twin Experiment and you care about your body, this is definitely some food for thought.

The docuseries puts a Standford University Study into the spotlight as it seeks to compare two ways of eating (omnivore versus vegan) to chalk down what the impacts of both are. Because every person is so incredibly different in their genetic makeup, it is often difficult to get accurate results for these kinds of studies as the researchers indicate. So, in a first for this kind of diet comparison, the study cleverly called on the most genetically similar individuals ‒ twins.

Not only does the show take us on the journey of the experiment’s stars, but it also explores so many different avenues of food. From tracing why we are predisposed to eating what many of us eat in our daily lives, to exposing lesser-known truths in the agricultural industry and guiding us on how both of these impact the Earth.

Needless to say, the show is about a lot more than which diet is healthier.

Each twin is given one of the diets to follow for eight weeks. Despite being set in the United States, subjects came from different backgrounds, including the twins from South Africa.

Beyond the information-rich content of the show, Pam and Wendy Michelson bring fun, warm and playful flavours to You Are What You Eat.

The two live, work and laugh together and proudly represent their home city of Durban. As chefs who have their own catering business, Amawele, they are also committing to showing South Africa off proudly through a deep love for our food culture.

Of course, being part of the study meant that one of the twins had to give up meat, a base of many South Africans’ favourite dishes. However, the creation of vegan biltong had us feeling a lot of respect for these two who wore their unofficial Rainbow Nation badges so proudly.

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Bafana Bafana’s stunning 2-0 victory over Morocco has propelled them into the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-finals, leaving South Africans feeling incredibly proud.
South Africans woke up to jubilant celebrations as Bafana Bafana secured their coveted spot in the AFCON quarter-finals.

With a stunning 2-0 victory over Morocco late on Tuesday night, 30 January 2024, the South African soccer team has left South Africans feeling incredibly proud.

The triumph was nothing short of remarkable, as Bafana Bafana, against all odds, outmanoeuvred Morocco, the continent’s top-ranked nation, in a thrilling encounter in San Pedro. In a performance characterised by resilience and flair, the team delivered a memorable win that has reverberated across the soccer world.

The heroics unfolded in the second half, with Evidence Makgopa and Teboho Mokoena seizing the spotlight with their exceptional goals. Makgopa’s clinical finish and Mokoena’s sublime strike propelled Bafana Bafana to a resounding victory, leaving Moroccan fans stunned and South Africans delirious with joy.

Expressing gratitude to their nation, the team took to social media, extending heartfelt thanks to South Africa for its unwavering support and for being an integral part of their journey.

“Thank you South Africa – for the messages, the memes and being a part of the memories!”

With their sights set on the next challenge, Bafana Bafana will face Cabo Verde in the quarter-finals on 3 February 2024 (at 10pm SA time).

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The Minister of Sport, Arts and Culture, Zizi Kodwa, has congratulated South African boxer Jackson Chauke for winning the vacant International Boxing Organisation (IBO) flyweight title.
Chauke defeated British boxer Quaise Khademi to become the latest world titleholder.

“I congratulate Chauke for his excellent and inspirational achievement. He has raised the country’s flag sky high. Chauke is an inspiration not only to South African boxers but to all athletes for his dedication and commitment to the sport. These qualities have driven Chauke to the IBO flyweight title at 38 years of age,” Minister Kodwa said.
The Minister said he was an experienced fighter who won a silver medal in the men’s flyweight boxing event at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.

Chauke has had a stellar career, which has culminated in his IBO flyweight title victory.

“I once again express my desire to see South African boxing being revived and to return to the heights it has scaled before. May Chauke’s success and recent presence of South African boxers competing on the sport’s global stages further invigorate South African boxing,” he said.

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After a gruelling journey just under 5 000 kilometres in length, “Freedom Rower” Peet Botma has finished the World’s Toughest Row in a finish equally epic and emotional.
It has been a lifetime of experiences packed into weeks for Peet Botma, also known as the “Freedom Rower” after he embarked on the World’s Toughest Row. A solo adventure that saw 3 000 daunting miles (just under 5 000 kilometres) to mission. What began as a bold and extraordinary expression of humility in early December 2023 in San Sebastian in La Gomera, Canary Islands, had finally come to its end after a big final push.

On 28 January 2024, Botma arrived at the dockyard in Antigua where he was met by supporters and his family. This would be the first time he had seen people in 45 days, 22 hours and 57 minutes – the time it took him to compete in the World’s Toughest Row.
When Botma caught sight of the end and knew that his oar would finally be rested, he lit up the flare lights and held them proudly.

The occasion saw him welcomed with cheers and a special brand of South African support as a nearby yacht played South African songs.

What had been a dream for a decade was finally finished. What seemed unimaginable was now done and dusted. What seemed so hard out there on the Atlantic, now rested as a job well done.

“It is incredible. It has been a dream for so long, that is sort of being realised today and it was very, very hard at times out there. I think this race, this row, this ocean really can take you to places physically, mentally, emotionally where you have never been before. When you think you were there yesterday, it just takes you there again tomorrow and onto a next level. I’m very happy, very satisfied, happy with the row. Thank you.” Botma said, reflecting on the World’s Toughest Row.

Botma signed up for the row for himself and for the underprivileged boys of The Surf Lounge Academy. Hopefully, his larger-than-life effort will change not only his life for the better but theirs, too.

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A stunning unbeaten 50 from captain Laura Wolvaardt led the Proteas women to a historic victory over Australia in the second T20 at the Manuka Oval in Canberra on Sunday, 28 January 2024.
The six-wicket victory marked South Africa's first-ever win against Australia across all formats.

Chasing 143 to win, the Proteas got off to a stellar start thanks to a 75-run opening stand between Wolvaardt and Tazmin Brits.

Brits scored 41 off 28 balls (hitting eight fours) before falling to Tahlia McGrath (1/16) in the 10th over.

Needing 68 runs for a historic triumph, experienced all-rounder Marizanne Kapp (20) joined Wolvaardt for a quick 34-run stand before Kapp lost her wicket to Ashleigh Gardner with South Africa at 109/2.

Wolvaardt stood firm as she brought up her 10th T20I half-century as she remained unbeaten on 58 off 53 balls (hitting six fours).

All-rounder Chloé Tryon (4*) hit the winning runs to secure the historic win for South Africa and level the three-match series 1-1.

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Surfski paddler Kira Bester has won multiple titles both locally and internationally and now has her sights on becoming a world champion.
Kira Bester is a name that many more South Africans should know. From winning titles both locally and abroad to her fierce determination to win the Open title in the 2024 World Championships, this 22-year-old Surfski paddler and powerhouse is all about going against the current of the ordinary.
Bester has celebrated her flow of victory over the past few years, with 2023 being a smash hit of success. Last year (among other achievements), she won the Gorge Downwind Paddle in the United States, the Breede River Race, the Biogen SA Surfski Nationals and the Hong Kong Steelcase Dragon Run.

She competed in the ICF Ocean Racing World Championships in Perth where she emerged victorious as the under-23 World Champion.

Bester’s accomplishments are obvious feathers in South Africa’s cap, yet they are not nearly noted enough.

According to Dean McCoubrey, who is helping spotlight her achievements, she needs a lot of support to continue her journey and paddle her way to the world title.

“The international exposure from these races is crucial,” Bester says of her sport.

Currently, she is coaching part-time in Fish Hoek while completing her studies at the University of Cape Town in Environmental Science.

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Kate Allwood from Somerset West gave São Paulo her absolute all as the only South African swimmer selected to carry our flag at the World Deaf Youth Games.
Allwood has done the folks in Somerset West proud after she represented South Africa at the first-ever World Deaf Youth Games, held in São Paulo, Brazil.

This wasn’t just a mountain of a moment for Allwood as a young sportswoman; it was also one she summited alone as the only South African swimmer chosen to carry our flag at the Games.

Allwood swam resiliently against other teenage swimmers from the ages of 14 to 18 as the Games played out recently. With the support of her coach, Terence Parkin, her hometown and her family, she took on competitors from all around the world.
Poland, Japan, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Taiwan, among others, went up against Allwood in different heats. According to her high school, Somerset College, Allwood achieved personal bests in all of her events and made it to five finals of the Games.

Her school added that she placed sixth in the 200m individual medley, and seventh in both the 200m freestyle and 100m backstroke finals. The Deaf Youth Games ran from 14 to 22 January 2024.

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South Africa’s Bradley Cox got a podium place in the gruelling 2024 Dakar Rally during Stage 9, kicking off his 2024 riding career with a win
Described by even the most hardened competitors as one of the most challenging races on record, South Africa’s Cox (25) was undeterred, putting on an impressive performance on the back of a stellar 2023 season to place third in the Rally2 Category and finishing 13th overall in the Bike Category at this year’s Dakar Rally. Cox was also the only South African to make it to the Top 20 overall in the contest.

Running from 5 to 19 January 2024 in Saudi Arabia, this was the 46th edition of the Dakar Rally, which saw 239 vehicles – 96 of which were bikes – competing over almost 8 000 km from the ancient city of AlUla to the shores of the Red Sea, passing through the oceans of dunes in the Empty Quarter.
Competing for BAS World KTM Racing on his KTM-450 motorcycle as a privateer rather than a factory rider, Cox was elated with his third year at the Dakar Rally, although his 2023 experience was short-lived. The resident from Cato Ridge in KwaZulu-Natal said this was an opportunity to “set the record straight”.

“Dakar this year was amazing. I came in with big expectations and quite a bit of pressure because I’d done really well at the end of the 2023 season and the World Rally Championship rounds,” enthused the young rider, who shares his passion for the sport with his father, the ex-KTM factory rider, Alfie Cox. “The setback in 2023 – crashing and dislocating my elbow on day one – meant I was coming to set the record straight, which I did. I put good stages together where I was fighting inside of the top 10, finishing three times in the top 10 overall stages and once in the top five overall stage.”

Cox said he had lost a bit of time with navigation issues and bike problems in week one, but a hard year of training saw him overcome this to achieve an amazing result, despite incredibly difficult conditions.

Cox’ Dakar Rally performance continues his impressive streak, having won the last two rounds of the World Rally Championships in the Rally2 division, placing eighth overall. He also clinched his 10th South African Championship in 2023.

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Team South Africa is heading to Vietnam for the Davis Cup World Group II playoffs in early February. Captain Christo van Rensburg has selected his team who will be representing South Africa.
Last year, South Africa played host to the cup’s Africa Group III Tournament. This year, the playoff is being hosted in Tu Son, Vietnam, from 2 to 3 February 2024.

According to Tennis South Africa, the Davis Cup, often referred to as the World Cup of Tennis, is the premier international team event in men’s tennis. It is organised by the International Tennis Federation and contested annually in a knockout format between teams from participating countries.

There are 24 countries taking part in the event. The 12 winning nations will progress to play a World Group II tie in September 2024. The 12 losing nations will compete in their respective regional Group III events later in 2024.
The South African team is made up of:
  • Kris van Wyk
  • Philip Henning
  • Christiaan Worst
  • Leo Matthysen
  • Team Physiotherapist: Khulekani Ngcobo
  • Hitting partner: James Hart
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