Merkel warns of climate change in SA

Climate change is already happening in South Africa, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday during a visit to a biodiversity centre in Cape Town.

“You can see that climate change is already a reality here,” said Merkel, as she visited Biota Africa, a centre where German and South African scientists conduct research on African climate change.

“Climate change is more obvious in South Africa than in Germany,” she said.

“If the temperature rises seven degrees in South Africa, then it is too late,” said Merkel, on her third day of her South African visit.

‘Moving moment’

Merkel met on Saturday with former South African president Nelson Mandela and declared afterwards that it had been a “very moving moment” to meet the hero of the anti-apartheid movement.

Merkel met for 45 minutes with the 89-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was accompanied by his wife, Graca Machel, for what was the German leader’s first personal meeting with Mandela.

“It was a very moving moment for me to experience and to speak with Nelson Mandela,” the Berlin leader said, describing him as a monument of humanity.

She noted that as a young woman while she was living in the former communist East Germany, she had followed with interest Mandela’s opposition activities to end apartheid and so it was her special wish to have a chance to meet him.

With Mandela having largely withdrawn from the public limelight, Merkel and Development Aid Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul regarded it as an honour that they were given an appointment with the former South African president.

The meeting took place in the library of the Nelson Mandela Foundation, which has joined in the battle against Aids in South Africa.

There was a bit of joking when he asked Merkel whether she wanted some rum in her coffee. When she asked whether he drank rum with his coffee, he said he was too old.

Moments later, when Wieczorek-Zeul disclosed that her ministry was donating $3,6-million to his foundation, Mandela said: “You have just made me younger.”

Graca Machel, now one of Africa’s most influential women, praised Merkel for her efforts on behalf of the forthcoming European Union-Africa summit. But she warned the Berlin leader not to make too much of an issue of the participation of Zimbabwe’s controversial leader Robert Mugabe.

Mandela, for his part, said that the most important message must be peace itself.
Whether Sudan, democratic Republic of Congo or Somalia, all conflicts must be resolved through peace. He had arrived at this maxim during his many long years in prison, he told Merkel.

Merkel arrived in South Africa late on Thursday evening on the second leg of a three-nation trip to Africa. She met President Thabo Mbeki on Friday. She leaves South Africa on Sunday, with a brief stopover scheduled in Liberia before returning home.—Sapa-AFP, dpa

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