Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the occasion of the press conference following meeting with Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, 13 March 2012

It is with great honour that I announce that South Africa and the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia have just concluded an agreement on the establishment of diplomatic relations.

This is a crucial step in developing relations between our two countries. This move will also afford us with an opportunity to closely assess the situation in Somalia and propose interventions in partnership with Somalis and other key players towards the realization of lasting and meaningful peace in Somalia.

South Africa’s High Commissioner to Nairobi, Kenya, H.E. NN Ntshinga, will be accredited to Somalia until circumstances allow for us to open a Mission in Mogadishu. We will also be happy to receive diplomatic representation from Somalia in the near future, which will not only enhance our bilateral relations and outreach to Somalia, but also serve the Somali nationals in South Africa.

South Africa remains concerned about the continuing violence and loss of life in Somalia. While we take cognizance of the significant strides made by the AU Mission troops together with the Transitional Federal Government forces in Mogadishu and outlying areas, we reiterate our view that lasting peace in Somalia can only be realized through negotiations. In this regard, we would like to call on all Somali armed opposition groups including Al Shabab to lay down their arms and to join the peace process that has already been embarked upon.

We are encouraged by the determination of the current Somali leadership to embark on a constitution-making process that will serve as the basis for a new political dispensation that will replace the current Transitional Federal Institutions by August 2012 when the latter’s mandate expires. This is a crucial step that signals a bold move to advance the objectives of the peace process.

South Africa stands ready to share its own experiences on the constitution-making process with our Somali friends. We have in fact received a request from the office of the Deputy Speaker of the Somali Transitional Federal Parliament, for South Africa to host a 30-member delegation of Somali lawmakers who are part of the constitution-making process to undertake a study tour and to engage with our constitutional law experts and persons that played a critical role in the drawing of our own Constitution. This visit will be scheduled in the coming weeks in consultation with Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Somalia.

South Africa believes that it is imperative that Somalia has adequate institutions of governance that will be sustained beyond the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government. It is in this light that South Africa will work closely with local and international partners to ensure that Somalis are equipped to govern themselves. South Africa will therefore be allocating R100 million to providing capacity and institution building, socio-economic support, as well as specified training in key government sectors.

The continuing instability in other parts of Somalia sadly provides fertile ground for the scourge of piracy. South Africa is concerned about the threat posed by piracy and armed robbery off the coast of Somalia, especially by the extended range of the piracy threat into the Mozambican Channel. We believe that the solution to piracy is on land, and that the issue of piracy will only be solved once there is political stability in Somalia. It is necessary that Somali institutions be strengthened to enable them to play their role in the prosecution of piracy. South Africa would consider rendering assistance in capacity building for Somalis in the fields of justice and correctional services to support this.

The matter of bringing home our citizens held hostage by Somali pirates was discussed between Minister Abdullahi and myself. We maintain regular contact with the family. Yesterday, 12 March, together with officials from the Department, we held a meeting with members of the family and we will keep contact with them and continue to render consular support and update.

For further information, please contact Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for DIRCO, on 082 884 5974.

Issued by: The Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road 

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