Statement by High Commissioner Dr Zola Skweyiya at the London Conference on Somalia, 07 May 2013
Esteemed heads of State and Government, Heads of Delegations, Your
Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen
Allow me to express South Africa’s appreciation to the Government of the United Kingdom for co-hosting, together with the new Government of Somalia, this auspicious Conference on Somalia. May I also take this opportunity to congratulate Nicholas Kay on his recent appointment as the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Somalia.
During the London Conference on Somalia last year, South Africa pledged to work closely with Somalia in bringing the country to stability. In this respect, South Africa allocated 100 million Rands to providing capacity and institution building, socio-economic support, as well as specified training in key government sectors.
We believe strongly that if South Africa could emerge from centuries of the inhumane practice of Apartheid, then it is possible for Somalis to find unity and we have therefore decided to dedicate much of our support to Somalia to the field of reconciliation. The South Africa-Somalia Assistance Project is underway, with a view to assisting Somalis in reconciliation, as well as in rendering support through identifying required areas where intervention may be necessary in assisting the Somali government institutions to introduce the necessary regulatory frameworks for good governance.
In support of the parliamentary Constitution Review Committee, we believe that international assistance should not only support procedural review of the constitution but should seek to achieve meaningful consultation and public participation to ensure wide acceptance. Therefore, the international community must invest in structures that would support engagement and dialogue on the constitution to ensure it becomes a living document that is responsive to the country’s needs.
Another area of importance is the establishment of oversight structures for the role players in the rule of law cluster, and ensuring public participation and awareness of these structures. Although time, resources and skills might be limited it is critical that nationwide consultations inform these compliance structures.
Regarding reconciliation, the draft constitution instructs on establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Given South Africa's experience on TRC as a reconciliatory tool, we are well poised to support Somalia in the establishment of this Commission.
South Africa has also joined a number of other friends of Somalia in supporting the development of a sound civil service. In this respect, we have already trained a group of 25 senior Somali diplomats who recently graduated from an intensive course offered by South Africa's Diplomatic Academy located within the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. More such training courses are planned during the course of this year.
We have also recognized the importance of the Somali diaspora in rebuilding their own country. In recognition of the current skills deficit in the public service, South Africa seeks to support the Somali government in conducting a public service skills assessment to identify existing and needed skills in the civil service. This would facilitate the transfer of skills from the diaspora into the public service, thereby harnessing the skills-base that already exists in their diaspora communities.
Within the policing domain, and the ensuring of stability in Somalia, South Africa has initiated a feasibility study that would delve into understanding the maritime security needs of Somalia. This would include the development of a coast guard and rehabilitation of ports.
All the above would require adequate empowerment of the Somali Government in determining their own destiny. Most goals set will not be possible without the required financial support and the development of the Somali Central Bank that is still in its infancy having been born out of enabling legislation that was recently passed. South Africa is ready to render advice and support to the Somali authorities in this regard. In addition, South Africa will soon begin the training of a number of Somali bankers, who will be provided with practical mentorship by officials in our Treasury and Reserve Bank.
In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, this esteemed gathering presents an opportunity for Somalia to establish the partnerships to deliver on their vision for a stable, prosperous country. It is an added advantage for us, as the international community, to reunify and rejuvenate our common interests in building the relations that would support the stabilization agenda of the Government of Somalia. South Africa stands ready to play its part in supporting all efforts that can help bring lasting peace, security and stability to Somalia.
I thank you