Opening remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation at the first official launch of the SA-Congo Joint Commission for Co-operation on 28 October 2010, Cape Town

Your Excellency, Hon Minister Basil Ekouebe, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Co-operation of the Republic of Congo,
Your Excellency, Hon Minister Rigobert Maboundou, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of the Republic of Congo,
Your Excellency the Ambassador of South Africa to Congo, Ambassador Manelisi Genge,
The Charge d ‘Affairs of the Republic of the Congo, Mr Louis Mahoungou,
Officials of the Government of the Republic of Congo,
Officials of the Government of the Republic of South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome to Cape Town

It is my sincere pleasure to welcome you and your delegation to this official launch of the Republic of South Africa-Republic of Congo Joint Commission for Co-operation. Your presence here is living proof of the cardinal importance that both our countries attach to the deepening and broadening of our already excellent relations. 

This, the inaugural meeting of the Joint Commission for Co-operation is a decisive step forward in our relations as  it gives concrete meaning to the General Co-operation Agreement signed on 25 November 2003 in Brazzaville.

Our Presidents, Their Excellencies Mr Jacob Zuma and Mr Sassou Nguesso gave a new impetus to relations between our two counties during President Sassou Nguesso’s State Visit to South Africa in April this year. In their final declaration, our Heads of State announced that the first session of the JCC will be held before the end of 2010.  In launching this JCC we have responded to the clarion call by our Presidents, and the challenge now will be to use this instrument as an effective tool for the management of our bilateral relations.

Our meeting was preceded by a Senior Official’s Meeting whose report we are about to receive. I believe that the Officials worked diligently in a short space of time to prepare for this JCC, and I look forward to the outcomes and recommendations of their report. 

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother let me express South Africa’s thanks and appreciation for the support the Congolese government provided to South Africa during the vote that was recently conducted in by the UN General Assembly for the non permanent seats of the UN Security Council for the period 2011-12. You can rest assured that South Africa will use its mandate to advance the interests of Africa in the Security Council.

May I also take this opportunity to congratulate the government and people of the Republic of Congo on the successful commemoration of the 50th Independence celebrations. This momentus and epochal milestone is not only a moment of reflection, but an occasion to reflect on the challenges that lie ahead. We face common challenges of poverty and underdevelopment that we need to confront individually and collectively in order to place our respective countries on a path towards development and prosperity. It is in this regard that the JCC finds its relevance.

I wish to recall South Africa’s successful trade mission to Brazzaville in May 2010, during which various sectors, including trade, tourism, transport, energy, and agriculture, were discussed. The trade mission was necessary to explore mutual business opportunities for both countries. In addition, it was important for our operators to understand each other’s areas of need and how best to help each other develop our economies.

As such, it is imperative that the Joint Committee on Trade be convened as soon as possible to fast-track the implementation of the Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement. It is the wish of my government that the activities of the Trade Committee should add value to both our markets and assist the Congo to grow its secondary industries. Of equal importance, of course, is the desired outcome of increased trade between our two countries. Furthermore, the Commission will assist you in your endeavours to improve its fiscal, taxation and market legislations.

Excellencies and Colleagues,

The importance of the implementation of signed agreements cannot be emphasised enough. This is the correct platform to develop tangible deliverables on various sectors. For the past three meetings of Senior Officials, our discussions have centred on signing of agreements and possible bilateral projects. However, negligible progress has been achieved.

We must prove to our peoples that our co-operation can bring about a tangible improvement in their daily lives. We need to place emphasis on projects that are realizable, yet that will significantly contribute to increasing the well-being of our people.  Such projects should be the nucleus and catalyst of greater joint undertakings in the future.

During this session we will witness the signing of a Co-operation Agreement on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Both our Governments have been in serious discussions with the Agricultural Sector in South Africa, with a view to promoting the development of the agricultural economy in the Republic of Congo, alleviating food shortages, promoting bilateral trade, and also creating significant employment opportunities in both countries. Our agricultural operators are only waiting for this stamp of approval to get going, so we know that the conclusion of this treaty will have immediate positive consequences.

I am also delighted to learn that earlier today a Twining Agreement between Steve Biko Academic Hospital of South Africa and the University Hospital of the Republic of Congo was signed.  This Agreement is further living proof of our commitment to improve health care for our peoples.

Excellency, My Dear Brother,

It is now with great pleasure and humility that I hand over the Chair to you to make your remarks.

I thank you

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