Press Comments made by South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi of Guinea Bissau
Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria Monday 6 August 2007

Thank you very much and good day to ladies and gentlemen of the media.

I would once more like to welcome my guest Prime Minister Martinho Dafa Cabi of Guinea Bissau and his delegation. His delegation includes the Ministers of Defence and Health.

Many of you will probably know that we have a long relationship with the people of Guinea Bissau as the ruling party and this meeting allows us to renew this relationship within the context of parties and to explore the kinds of projects we wish to have between both countries. In our discussions we identified areas of co-operation some of which is already work in progress. Prime Minister Cabi will also elaborate on some of this. Some of these areas are in the economic area, health and defence.

Regarding economic co-operation, the Prime Minister is accompanied by a large business delegation. They will have an opportunity to interact with South African business representatives tomorrow.

We as government are looking at addressing regulatory frameworks like the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Protection of Investments. These are key elements necessary to facilitate an enabling environment for investors in Guinea Bissau.

MTN is already operational in Guinea Bissau and we would wish to attract other companies to invest in Guinea Bissau.

We would like to encourage Guinea Bissau to use the resources available under NEPAD for infrastructure development, and also the African Infrastructure Fund that has just been launched at the African Union Summit in Ghana last month. This fund should reach a billion rand by 2008. it is obvious that Guinea Bissau will not be able to realise its great potential without infrastructure development.

There is ongoing co-operation between the Ministries of Defence that will culminate in the signing of an agreement between the two departments during this visit.

The South Africa government has taken a decision to open an Embassy in Guinea Bissau. We hope this will take place during the current financial year.

Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Dafa Cabi

Thank you very much Ms Deputy President.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Deputy President for the invitation extended to myself and my delegation to visit South Africa to come and greet the government and people of South Africa particularly the African National Congress.

This visit is aimed at consolidating relations with the South African government and to reiterate the friendship we share with the ruling party. You will see that in our delegation we have majority leaders of our ruling party.

We would like to thank you for the warm reception we have received since yesterday.

This meeting is going to serve as a good example of South-South co-operation, and show that Africans are able to co-operate among themselves and look for our own solutions.

I was asked why we had planned to visit South Africa at this time? This is a very good example of the spirit of friendship and brotherhood that existed between the late Oliver Tambo and Amilcar Cabral. These are the historical ties that have existed for very long and that we are here to renew. I would once more like to say that my delegation feels very honoured to be here in South Africa today.

We have just begun our discussions and we are thus far very pleased at the way in which these discussions have been conducted.

Our country has experienced serious economic, financial and political challenges. We will not shy away from discussing such issues with our brothers and sisters. The war that took place in 1998 crippled our economy, institutions and way of life. It also paralysed our infrastructure including energy and road infrastructure. We also have serious security challenges in our country. These are some of the issues we have discussed with the South African delegation. We do have a serious drug problem in our country although we do not produce drugs. This problem results from the weakness of our institutions. We realise this is not a problem that is unique to Guinea Bissau but exists throughout Africa.

We feel that we need to discuss these issues with our South African counterparts and to look for solutions.

Questions and answers

Question Prime Minister Cabi, could you be more specific on exactly what you are requesting in terms of capacity to deal with drug trafficking? Could you also elaborate on the Defence Agreement that will be signed?

Answer We know that South Africa is a great country within the Continent in terms of human resource, financial and logistical resources. We in Guinea Bissau have a vast country that we are not able to adequately take care of. We also have a challenge with regard to the training of people. It is these issues we are here to discuss. We also have the challenge of judicial police and the training of our defence force. We would like to receive South Africa's experience in these aspects. We are here to discuss such matters with South Africa.

Question Prime Minister, (inaudible)

Answer During our term in office (last three months), we have not experienced this situation of journalists being threatened. We, by our nature as a party, and as a country defend and uphold principles of human rights. We do not however defend anarchy. The State must have its own mechanisms with which to deal with such matters. The State cannot allow activities that are aimed at weakening the functions of the State.

As you talk of journalists, this was not a journalist but an official that was accusing our officials of acts which had no basis. This was not the first time and these accusations are always without factual basis. This individual is very confused. I am not sure why this individual feels such uncertainty. We do not have the death penalty nor exercise any form of persecution in Guinea Bissau. We suggest he take the matter before a court of law.

We have not said the matter of drug trafficking is underplayed. We have always treated the matter very very seriously. We know that drug traffickers have the capacity to destroy a State, not taking into account the matter of public health. This is a serious matter for us. It is exactly because of this that our government worked out an emergency programme against drug trafficking. This is a programme that is now being discussed in the country since we like the participation of all citizens. We know that this is not a problem for the government but is a societal problem.

We also know that the problems in Guinea Bissau are not unique to us - this is a regional challenge - and exist in Cape Verde, The Gambia and Senegal. In order to address this we have scheduled a sub-regional conference for later this year, dedicated to this particular matter - ie. border control issues. The weakness of our borders is again not unique to Guinea Bissau and requires a joint effort to resolve. This constitutes a very serious problem for us.

Question Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka, could you elaborate on the plans South Africa has to assist Guinea-Bissau in health and the agreement on double taxation?

Answer On the issue of human resources - health or otherwise - the issue is training and to share our training capacity. Once of the issues mentioned is that of drug control. I do not think that we position ourselves as a country that has all the answers or the capacity to respond but we can exchange lessons, even where we have failed, since we have common challenges.

On the issue of human resources, it is to encourage the citizens of Guinea-Bissau to use our training facilities. That is why we have suggested training programmes in the field of English so that they are able to use our training facilities.

In the area of defence, it would involve, sending our own trainers to assist the trainers of the country.

The agreement on normal taxation is a normal agreement that is signed with many countries in which South Africans have trade and investment interests in order to ensure that when our companies invest in another country, they are not taxed in both countries and vice versa.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

6 August 2007

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