Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 8th Session of the Bi-National Commission with the DRC, 22 October 2012, Pretoria

Your Excellency, Mr Raymond TSHIBANDA, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and the Francophonie of the Democratic Republic of Congo,

Honourable Ministers of the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of South Africa,

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with great honour and privilege that I welcome you all to the 8th Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I particularly extend a special welcome to you, Hon Minister Tshibanda and your delegation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

From the onset, I wish to recognise the special and sisterly relations that exist between South Africa and the DRC. This is a relationship that is anchored on mutual respect and solidarity.

Your Excellency,

I speak of solidarity that was demonstrated by our Leader, former President Nelson Mandela, when in 1997 he facilitated a meeting between the late former Presidents Mabuto and Kabila on a South African ship at Ponte-Noire. From then onwards, South Africa has partnered with the people of the DRC through difficult times.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our two countries signed in 2004 the General Cooperation Agreement - an Agreement that seeks to promote political, economic and social cooperation between our sister Republics. This was followed by the launch in the same year of the Bi-National Commission.

Today, our cooperation is very visible through a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding. We have about 30 signed agreements and memoranda of understanding between our sister countries.  These agreements and memoranda of understanding have paved the way for the initiation of various projects.

Ladies and gentlemen,

It feels us with pride to see progress in many of these projects. In this regard, we recognise commendable progress in the Public Service Census Project which is almost complete as only four of the eleven provinces are yet to be done. This project has helped the Government of the DRC to weed out ghost workers. In this regard, we believe that financial resources have been saved, thanks to this Project. This is a great achievement!

We also recognise PALAMA’s capacity building project whose achievement was the establishment of a public service academy for the DRC.

We must pat ourselves on our shoulders for work done in the immigration, water and transport projects.  Other areas of cooperation include energy, agriculture, trade and investment, transport, and mining.

One of the better performing sectors in our bilateral cooperation is the cooperation within the Defence and Security Sector as evidenced by the continued military and police training.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We meet here today to assess the progress we have made in the implementation of bilateral projects since our last BNC which was held in the beautiful City of Lubumbashi.

While we are happy with the progress we continue to make in some of the projects, we however need to highlight that the implementation of other projects is lagging behind. We are all aware of the challenges that hamper the smooth and effective implementation of some of these projects.  These include lack of funding and poor conceptualisation of projects on our part. Perhaps, one way to address some of these challenges is reprioritisation. We talk about this in the course of our meeting.

I hope that our Senior Officials have given attention to these questions during their meeting.

My Brother, Minister Tshibanda,

Let me take this opportunity to congratulate your country for successfully hosting the 14th Session of the Francophonie Summit.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you once more, and I trust that you will find the arrangements put at your disposal conducive to successful deliberations and your personal comfort.

I thank you






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