Opening Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana Mashabane at the opening of the Ministerial Session of the RSA/DRC Bi-National Commission held at the Southern Sun Hotel, Pretoria: 29 October 2009

His Excellency, Mr. Raymond TSHIBANDA Minister of International Co-operation of the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Honourable Ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa,
His Excellency Ambassador M’Poko, Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Congo to South Africa,
His Excellency Ambassador Tsele, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Senior Officials from our respective Governments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure and I am indeed honoured and humbled to welcome you to South Africa on the eve of the 6th session of the South Africa – DRC Bi-National Commission. I would like to especially extend the word of warm welcome to our dear sisters and brothers from the Democratic Republic of Congo.   

This Ministerial session in preparation of the Bi-National Commission, offers us an opportunity to take stock of progress since the last session and make a candid and frank assessment of our bilateral cooperation with a view to charting a clear way forward that would contribute towards cementing the excellent relations that exist between our countries and peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to reiterate South Africa’s commitment to working with the people of the DRC as they address the challenges of reconstruction and development. We also wish to take this opportunity to commend the current regional efforts between the DRC and its neighbors to address challenges of peace and security in the Eastern part of the DRC. 

Ladies and Gentlemen

Since its inception in August 2004 the South Africa/DRC Bi-National Commission (BNC), has acted as a useful mechanism and instrument for the conception, implementation and monitoring of bilateral projects within the framework of the General Cooperation Agreement between our two countries. Several projects in various fields including security sector reform, capacity and institution building, humanitarian assistance, infrastructure development, electoral support - have been identified and implemented. There is noticeable progress in some of these fields while in others we can safely say that there is work in progress, and scope for improvement. The challenges that lie ahead are indeed enormous though not insurmountable. 

Our Senior Officials have been working hard over the past two days and we look forward to receiving their report.

We further take this opportunity to once more congratulate the DRC for assuming the chairpersonship of the SADC. We firmly believe that SADC is in the right hands and poised to move forward in its regional development programme.  In this regard, South Africa remains ready to work closely with the DRC during her tenure as Chair of our regional body.
Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, it is our firm belief that our bilateral partnership within the framework of the BNC will bring tangible mutual benefits to our respective countries as we address our developmental challenges.

We look forward to fruitful deliberations in preparation for the Heads of State meeting tomorrow.

I thank you.

For more information, contact: Nomfanelo Kota on 0824593787

Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Private Bag x 152

29 October 2009

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