Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the Ministerial Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lubumbashi, DRC: 20 June 2011

Your Excellency, Honourable Raymond Tshibanda, Minister of Regional and International Co-operation of the Democratic Republic of Congo;
The Deputy Governor of Katanga Province;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy-Ministers of both South Africa and the DRC;
Our Ambassadors from South Africa and the DRC;
Senior Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of the South African delegation, I wish to thank my Co-Chair for his warm words of welcome. Honourable Minister, your inspiring words of welcome have just reminded us that we are meeting in the land of one of the forbearers of African nationalism and our struggle for the right to self-determination – the late Patrice Lumumba. Today, Africa is politically free and independent, thanks to the great leadership of the likes of Lumumba, Samora Machel, Kwame Nkrumah, Nelson Mandela and Agostinho Neto. We cannot therefore fail to recognise and salute those who led the way for Africa’s emancipation from colonialism and Apartheid.  

The General Cooperation Agreement between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo – which we signed in 2004 – is intended to promote political, economic and social cooperation between our two sister Republics.  As we meet here this morning, we should be encouraged by the number of signed Sectoral bilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding which now stands at 36 - which cut across such important developmental areas as agriculture, customs, security and defence, energy, health, housing, economic cooperation, justice, and transport – to mention a few.

Ladies and gentlemen;

The number of the signed agreements between our countries is an expression of our commitment to working together. Some of the agreements have in a concrete manner paved the way for the development of bilateral projects. Key among these projects is the public service census, a project that started small in the Kinshasa Province. We note with great appreciation the intention to roll it out to all the Provinces.

We also recognise the continuing cooperation in the security sector led by our National Defence Force. South African men and women in uniform are working side by side with their Congolese counterparts to maintain security. We also recognise the all important collaboration between the Department of International relations and Cooperation and its counterpart in the area of diplomatic training.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet here today not only to review progress since the Sixth Session of the BNC which was hosted by South Africa in 2009, but also to promote and foster bilateral cooperation between our two countries. We are required to prepare a comprehensive report for our Heads of State during the Summit tomorrow. It is important to reflect earnestly and assess where we currently stand in our bilateral projects and what we need to do to improve and prioritise areas that will be bear immediate results. In this regard, I wish to commend our Senior Officials from both sides for their initial work which has laid a solid foundation for our Ministerial Session on the BNC.
Honourable Co-Chair;

As we meet here this morning, we need to draw strength and courage in the knowledge that we have registered commendable achievements in some of our joint projects, notably the public servants census, which has covered seven provinces to date, with an intention to roll-out to the remaining four provinces; the training of 628 Congolese diplomats by the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s Diplomatic Training Academy;  and the successful training of three battalions amounting to 5400 officers. It is also fair and proper for us to appreciate challenges affecting our projects, such as insufficient financial resources, as well as communication and follow-up difficulties.  This BNC is another opportunity for our two sides to continue to work together to surmount these challenges and others that were discussed in detail by our Senior Officials.

The South African delegation consists of Ministers of Water Affairs and Environment, Defence and Military Veterans; Transport; Public Enterprise; Energy; Health; Public Service and Administration; Police and Agriculture. The broad spectrum of our delegation is an indication of the importance we attach to this relationship. We therefore reaffirm our continued support to the Government and people of the DRC.

Ladies and gentlemen;

I want to conclude by extending our gratitude to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the hospitality accorded to our delegation and the excellent arrangements made for this meeting.

I thank you.



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