Statement delivered by Deputy Minister Nomaindiya Mfeketo at the 16th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meeting, Bali, Indonesia, 27 October 2016

Allow me to express my heartfelt appreciation to the Honourable Minister Retno Marsudi and Indonesia for the warm and friendly hospitality that my delegation and I have experienced in the beautiful city of Bali.

Allow me to convey President Zuma and the people of South Africa’s most sincere and heartfelt condolences to the Government and people of Thailand at the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej earlier this month.  May his soul rest in eternal peace. 

Excellencies,

I would like also to extend the sincere apologies of Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who was unable to attend this Council meeting. Critical regional security issues have made it impossible for her to attend.

However, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane’s conveys her warmest and best wishes to you all, and reiterates and underscores our unwavering commitment to the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and to you as the Council.

South Africa views the IORA as the pre-eminent regional organisation linking Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australasia via the Indian Ocean.  The geo-strategic and burgeoning importance of the region cannot be overemphasized. 

Indeed, the Association is at a critical time in its history as we prepare to celebrate 20 years of its existence in 2017, and as we seek to elevate its stature and consolidate its work programme for the next decade and beyond. 

Excellencies,

This is the last meeting before South Africa assumes the Chair. I would like to express South Africa’s continuing support and appreciation to Indonesia for its sterling leadership of the Association thus far, especially in guiding us towards IORA’s first Leadership Summit to commemorate the Association’s 20th Anniversary.

This will be a historic milestone and an unprecedented event that will elevate IORA to a higher level through the IORA Concord and its Action Plan into the next decade and beyond.

As we prepare for the Leaders’ Summit, we must prioritise the Concord as an outcomes-based document worthy of our Leaders’ approval and implementation during and following our Chairship. 

Excellencies,

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane is looking forward very much to welcoming you all to South Africa in 2017 when she will take up the Chair.

IORA should focus on important priority areas, and South Africa views the Ocean Economy as a Strategic Focus area for the foreseeable future. In this regard our preliminary priorities include the Blue (Ocean) Economy; promoting Innovation, Research and Development; and a deepened and broadened interaction with the Dialogue Partners and regional organisations. 

Women’s empowerment will be an important cross cutting theme that South Africa will continue to prioritise during our Chairship tenure.

As Chair, we will also have an African perspective as we will seek to align the activities of IORA to the “2050 Africa’s Integrated Maritime Strategy” (the AIM Strategy) in areas such as maritime security, capacity building, skills development, and technology transfer in the ocean economy.

Excellencies,

Ambassador Bhagirath will conclude his term as Secretary-General of IORA at the end of 2017.   It will be our job at the next Council meeting to appoint his successor. 

South Africa has expressed an interest in proposing a candidate for the position. I am very pleased to announce that Minister Nkoana-Mashabane will be approaching you all soon with the South African candidate.

Perhaps it’s time for the successful erstwhile Troika of IORA female Foreign Ministers to be followed by an African female leading the Secretariat. 

We will count on your support. 

In conclusion,

We remain committed to IORA and to building on its leadership under Indonesia, Australia, and India most recently.

Thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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