Remarks by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the media briefing on international developments, OR Tambo Building, Rietondale, 21 January 2016
Good morning ladies and gentlemen of the media,
In its foreign policy work, the South African Government continues to place great emphasis on a vision of an African Continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.
We will continue to play a role in efforts across SADC and the rest of Africa aimed at maintaining peace and stability, promoting intra-African trade and investment and facilitating people-to-people contact.
SADC Double Troika Summit
Regarding the importance of maintaining peace and stability in the SADC region, South Africa participated in the recent Extra-Ordinary Summit of the SADC Double Troika held in Gaborone, Republic of Botswana, on 18 January 2016.
The SADC Double Troika is made up of the following countries: Botswana (Chair), Zimbabwe (Outgoing Chair) and Swaziland (Incoming Chair), Mozambique (Chair of the Organ on Politics, Security and Defence Cooperation), South Africa (Outgoing Chair of the Organ) and Tanzania (Incoming Chair of the Organ).
Before we speak about the outcomes of the Extraordinary Double Troika Summit, it is necessary that we provide you some background information.
You may recall that in July 2015, a SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Heads of Summit was convened in Pretoria and received and endorsed the report and recommendations presented by the SADC Facilitator, HE Deputy President Ramaphosa. The same Summit received and endorsed a report presented by the SADC Ministerial Fact Finding Mission and approved the agreed Terms of Reference for the Commission of Inquiry, which was instituted at the behest of HE. Prime Minister Mosisili and established to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Brigadier Mahao.
The Commission of Inquiry was led by Judge Mpaphi Phumaphi from Botswana, and officials from South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe. An independent pathologist from South Africa was nominated to conduct an independent post-mortem on Brigadier Mahao’s remains.
On 30-31 July 2015, the SADC Facilitator visited Lesotho to present his report and recommendations to King Letsie III and the Lesotho government. After consultations with the Prime Minister of Lesotho, it was agreed that the Commission of Inquiry will proceed under the SADC-approved Terms of Reference. In August 2015, the SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government met in Gaborone and reaffirmed Terms of Reference and urged the Government of Lesotho to gazette the Terms of Reference in totality. After the Summit, on 21 August 2015, Lesotho gazetted the Terms of Reference as approved by the SADC Double Troika Summit.
On 06 October 2015, a consultation meeting was convened by the Chair of the Organ, Mozambique, in Maputo, to request the Prime Minister of Lesotho to delay or defer the court martial process, instituted against a number of LDF members allegedly involved in mutiny, until after the finalisation of the Commission of Inquiry process. In early December 2015, a high-ranking officer in the Defence Force of Lesotho appeared in court seeking an order declaring the SADC-appointed Commission of Inquiry null and void.
Over and above all the SADC decisions taken, Lesotho made undertakings regarding the need for Constitutional and Security Sector Reforms. In spite of these undertakings, no action has been taken by the Government of Lesotho in compliance with the said voluntary undertakings and SADC decisions.
The recent Double Troika Summit in Gaborone took stock of the journey travelled with Lesotho up to now and decided the following:
- The Double Troika Summit received and endorsed the Report of the Commission of Inquiry, and urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to implement its recommendations;
- The Double Troika Summit received a Mission Report from the SADC Facilitator and reiterated that SADC enjoys immunity as per the SADC Treaty and the SADC Protocol on Immunities and Privileges, and urged the Kingdom of Lesotho to abide by the immunity provisions. Any court decision taken against the Commission of Inquiry is of no legal effect, and will not bind SADC and its Institutions;
- The Double Troika Summit noted with concern that the Kingdom of Lesotho has not undertaken the constitutional, public sector and security sector reforms. The Double Troika Summit urged the Kingdom of Lesotho to prepare with the support of the Organ Troika and the Secretariat, a road map for the implementation of the reforms as contained in the SADC Facilitator’s Final Report. The Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho is to submit a progress report to the Summit in August 2016; and
- The Double Troika Summit urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho and all political stakeholders to actively contribute to a conducive environment to allow the safe return to Lesotho of the opposition leaders and members of the Security forces who are in exile.
In next few days, H.E. President Zuma will lead a South African delegation to the 26th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, scheduled to take place on 30 and 31st January 2016 in Addis Ababa. The Summit will take place under the theme: “2016, African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on Women Rights.”
The year 2016, marks important milestones in the continental and global women’s agenda for gender equality and women empowerment. Continentally, it is the 30th anniversary of the coming into force of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights in 1986 and the beginning of the second phase of the African Women’s Decade 2010-2020.
The African Women’s Decade is the AU’s implementation framework which aims to advance gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Globally, 2016 commemorates 36 years since the adoption of UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the 21st anniversary of the 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which is the key global policy on gender equality.
To commemorate these important milestones, the African Union Heads of State and Government at their 25th Ordinary Summit in June 2015 in Sandton declared 2016 as “the Africa Year of Human Rights, in particular, with focus on the Rights of Women”.
Considering that 2015 was declared the “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development Towards Africa’s Agenda 2063”, the 2016 theme thus marks the second consecutive year that gender equality and women’s empowerment are adopted as the highest priority on the continental agenda.
The theme is also of importance to us as a country as we mark 16 years since the adoption of the Constitution of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) and the Bill of Rights and 60 years since the historic women’s march to the Union Buildings on 9 August 1956. Human Rights, especially women’s rights, remain a cornerstone of South Africa’s legal framework and policies, such as the National Development Plan, which is in line with AU Agenda 2063’s vision that there will be gender equality and women’s empowerment in all spheres of life.
Among the major issues of focus that the Summit will look at are:
- the status of peace and security in Africa,
- financing of the Union,
- elections and constitutionalism, as well as
- the implementation of NEPAD projects and the African Peer Review Mechanism.
The Summit is also expected to consider the Reports on Aids Watch Africa, African Trade, United Nations Reform, Climate Change, as well as Accelerating Water and Sanitation Goals in Africa.
Deliberations will continue with a review of the process of implementing the continental vision for the next Fifty Years called Agenda 2063, in particular, the First Ten Year Implementation Plan.
With regard to security matters, the African Union Peace and Security Council will hold its meeting on 29 January 2016 at the Level of Heads of State and Government, primarily to look at the state of peace and security on the African continent.
The Leaders will look at a number challenges facing our continent, including terrorism. In addition, meetings will be held on the margins of the Summit intended to consider situations pertaining to conflicts on the continent. For instance, meetings of the International Contact Group on Libya and the AU Ad Hoc Committee of the IGAD Plus Five on South Sudan will be held. Furthermore, there will also be engagements around the Framework on Peace and Security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the situation in Burundi.
Lifting of sanctions on Iran
South Africa welcomes the announcement that Iran has fulfilled all of its initial commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, resulting in the immediate lifting of all United States and European Union nuclear-related sanctions on Iran.
This achievement is a shining example that proves that negotiation and dialogue is the only way to find sustainable solutions to international conflicts. South Africa hopes that the spirit of cooperation and concord shown in reaching the Iran nuclear deal will be carried-over to settling other conflicts globally.
South Africa believes that the world should build on the momentum generated by the Iran nuclear deal to make progress on nuclear disarmament, as well as the establishment of the Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and all other Weapons of Mass Destruction.
The South African government fully supports trade and investment with Iran and has been working hard to revive economic ties with Iran, which is one of the biggest and richest consumer markets in the Middle East. We strongly encourage South African businesses to take advantage of the enormous opportunities that will arise from the lifting of sanctions.
South Africa and Iran enjoy a long-standing historical and strategic relationship that is based on mutual respect and the two countries have re-affirmed their strong principled commitment to the elevation and consolidation of bilateral political and economic relations and solidarity to one another to the benefit of their countries.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road