Statement by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on international developments, 07 June 2013, OR Tambo Building
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media.
In our briefing today, we will focus on a number of important matters relating to our work, including (1) OAU/AU Golden Jubilee, (2) the outcomes of the recent TICAD-V Summit; and our visit to several countries in Europe.
On behalf of the Government and People of South Africa, I would like to express the South African Government’s strongest condemnation of the recent attacks and killing of Somali and other foreign nationals in our country.
In terms of our Constitution, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and we, therefore, have been appalled and deeply saddened by the recent acts of violence against Somalis and other foreign nationals in South Africa.
The looting, displacement and killing of foreign nationals in South Africa should not be viewed as xenophobic attacks, but opportunistic criminal acts that have the potential to undermine the unity and cohesiveness of our communities. There is no cause to justify this heinous crime. We commend the swift action of the South African Police Services in apprehending about 100 people associated with the recent lawlessness.
Our thoughts and prayers are also with the victims, families and friends of this horrific crime.
We recall the support and solidarity accorded to us during our fight against apartheid by African people, including Somalis, and wish to express our sincere gratitude.
As South Africa, we value our close relations with our neighbours and the rest of the African Continent. Our relations with Somalia have always been cordial. You may recall that recently South Africa committed over a R100 million towards Somalia to build institutions of governance and capacity building.
1. The OAU/AU Golden Jubilee
Last week, our President, His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma, led South Africa’s delegation to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to take part in the historic activities marking 50 years of the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) / African Union (AU). The celebrations preceded the mid-year Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
Through the celebrations, Africa’s people recognise the AU and its visionary founders for fulfilling the Organisation’s mandate, which included promoting the unity and solidarity of Africa’s people, reclaiming the sovereignty of African states and eradicating all forms of colonialism (which included apartheid in South Africa).
South Africa’s contribution to this endeavour is the reason our country is respected on the continent and globally. Our role during the transition from the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU), in the establishment of NEPAD and the APRM, as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, as well as our commitment to the AU Commission and other organs of the union, are all informed by our belief that a better Africa is possible in our lifetime.
This mid-year summit adopted a historic decision to establish the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises (ACIR) at the initiative of South Africa.
The decision is in response to the ongoing challenges of peace and security that undermine democratically elected governments. Currently, the African Union does not have such an immediate response mechanism as the process of implementing the African Peace and Security architecture is ongoing.
The ACIR is an interim measure pending the operationalisation of the African Standby Force and its rapid deployment capability. The African Capacity is therefore not a new concept but is built on the principles of the African Standby Force.
South Africa and other countries have pledged support and readiness to contribute to this interim mechanism.
As we look to the future, we embrace the AU’s Vision 2063, which is encapsulated in the 50th Anniversary Declaration. To this end, the achievements of decolonisation must entail self-reliance and true socioeconomic emancipation.
AU Member States have committed to year-long commemorative activities linked to the Golden Jubilee. These commemorative events will be used to raise awareness at all levels of our nations about this historic milestone, what it means for all of us, sharing it and taking collective ownership of Vision 2063 going forward.
The guidelines given to us by the AU include awareness raising and mobilisation; celebration of best practices; sectoral and environmental activities; cultural and educational activities; as well as legacy projects.
The AU has also proposed monthly themes for the commemorative activities such as July (Health, Women & Pan Africanism); August (Climate Change and the Environment); September: Peace, Solidarity and Human Security; October (Agenda 2063); November (Democracy and Governance) and December (ICT, Science and Technology).
An inter-Departmental Logistical Coordinating Committee (IDLCC) has been set up to anchor the national programme and ensure that all spheres of government are involved in the commemoration activities.
2. Outcomes of the TICAD-V Summit
His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, along with 34 African Heads of State and Government, attended the Fifth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-V) Summit hosted by the Government of Japan, together with the other four TICAD Co-Organizers (i.e. AU Commission, UN Development Programme, UN Office of the Special Advisor for Africa and the World Bank), in the Japanese city of Yokohama on 01-03 June 2013 under the theme, “Hand in Hand with a More Dynamic Africa”.
South Africa’s participation at this Summit was premised on the AU’s strategic objective of ensuring that all global partnerships with Africa should support the African development priorities, while also strengthening Africa's participation in global affairs as an equal partner. The Summit was held a few days after the Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) had launched the 2013 Economic Report on Africa, which indicates that Africa’s medium-term growth prospects remain strong at 4.8% in 2013 and 5.1% in 2014.
The TICAD-V Summit adopted the Yokohama Declaration 2013, as well as its five-year Action Plan (including the Implementation Matrix) that will guide the strategic cooperation between Africa and Japan from 2013 – 2017. The Action plan is divided into six main categories, which are: (1) Boosting Economic Growth, (2) Accelerating Infrastructure and Capacity Development, (3) Empowering Farmers as Mainstream Actors, (4) Promoting Sustainable and Resilient Growth, (5) Creating an Inclusive Society for Growth, and (6) Consolidating Peace, Stability, Democracy and Good Governance. Based on these key areas, Japan (both public and private sectors) has committed to support Africa’s development priorities.
The South African Government commends the Government of Japan for the commitment made towards the development priorities and strategic objectives of the African Continent. With the TICAD Process celebrating 20 years of its existence this year, South Africa further supports the intention to hold the next TICAD Summit on the African continent, thereby further strengthening Africa’s long-standing partnership with Japan.
3. Visit to Europe
We are scheduled to meet Baroness Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who is also the Vice-President of the European Commission, for the 12th SA-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue (MPD) on Monday, 10 June 2013.
The Ministerial Political Dialogue is a structured engagement that takes place annually as part of the SA-EU Strategic Relationship. It also serves as a preparatory meeting for the annual SA-EU Summit, which this year will take place in South Africa on 18 July 2013.
South Africa and the EU’s common interests and shared values provide a natural foundation for the strategic partnership, underpinned by the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA), which was signed in 1999. The TDCA provided the legal basis for close relations on trade, development, economic cooperation and political dialogue and was an important stepping stone for the eventual establishment of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and the adoption of its Joint Action Plan in May 2007.
In 2013, the engagements between South Africa and the EU will be focussed around a central theme namely “Job Creation Through Inward Investment” in response to the diverse demands of the National Development Plan. South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) sets out ambitious goals for poverty reduction, economic growth, economic transformation and job creation.
It is hoped that European investment in South Africa will continue to play a vital role in bringing the vision and proposals contained in the NDP to life. Investment, in this regard, should be seen as broad and multi-facetted to encompass all the aspects of South Africa’s relationship with Europe.
From a trade perspective, the EU has maintained its lead as South Africa’s most important regional trading partner between 2000 and 2011. Since the entry into force of the TDCA, there has been a 128% increase in total trade between South Africa and the EU.
The EU in addition remains South Africa’s main partner in terms of development assistance. Currently the EU has set aside €980 million (close to R10 billion for South Africa) for the period 2007-2013 or about €140 million a year. To date, the total envelope has been committed largely towards areas of employment creation, water services, health and education through the use of South African systems. However, South Africa’s classification as high middle-income state signifies a possible decrease in development assistance from the EU.
The SA-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue on 10 June 2013 will provide for a high-level discussion on issues pertaining to the SA-EU Strategic Partnership, areas of common interest in Africa, specifically in terms of peace and security; and SA-EU international cooperation. Major issues to be discussed include ongoing negotiations regarding the Economic Partnership Agreements; domestic developments in both South Africa and Europe, considering the 2014 General Elections in South Africa and the ongoing financial crisis in Europe; and developments regarding SA-EU development cooperation.
We will also hold bilateral discussions with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Mr Didier Reynders. In July last year, we hosted Minister Reynders during his visit to South Africa. During that meeting, we extensively discussed the state of bilateral relations between South Africa and Belgium and exchanged views on developments on the continent, including the situation in the Great Lakes Region.
Belgium is one of South Africa’s development partners. Cooperation between the two countries covers a broad range of areas, development cooperation, transport and logistics. In particular, cooperation between the Ports of Durban and Antwerp is longstanding and highly valued.
Belgium remains a valued economic partner of South Africa and trade and tourism between the two countries are growing. Belgium is South Africa’s 12th largest export destination globally and the 4th in Europe.
Belgium ranks 6th in the world in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in South Africa, focusing on the following sectors: mining, green energy, ports, logistics and agriculture. Belgium is also one of the leading sources of inbound tourism. In 2012, more than 44 000 Belgian tourists visited South Africa.
Currently Belgium has allocated an amount of €25 million (R327,3 million) as Official Development Cooperation in South Africa over five years, up to 2016. In addition, the Region of Flanders also has a programme valued at €25 million, over the same time period.
From Belgium, we will proceed to Turkey for an Official Visit to on 13 June 2013 at the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Minister Dr. Ahmet Davutoğlu.
Our visit to Europe will conclude in Finland, where we will participate in the 13th African and Nordic Foreign Ministers Meeting, scheduled for 15-16 June 2013.
The meeting is expected to address three issues, namely: (1) How do macro-economic challenges affect the Nordic Welfare model? (2) Africa on the rise - how to make economic growth inclusive? and (3) Seeking solutions to African conflicts – the role of regional and global actors.
South Africa attaches great importance to its Nordic partners and believes that this engagement will serve as a platform to further consolidate and strengthen the already cordial relations with the Nordics.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road