Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission with the DRC, 24 June 2017, Pretoria
Your Excellency, Minister Leonard She Okitundu, 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, Your Excellency, Mr M’poko, Ambassador of the DRC to South Africa Your Excellency, Mr Shilubane, Ambassador of South Africa to the DRC Senior Officials from our respective Governments, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is with great honour and privilege that I welcome you all to the 10th Session of the Bi-National Commission between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I particularly extend a special welcome to you, Honourable Minister Leonard She Okitundu and your delegation.
South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been collaborating with each other for the many years. Practically, our formal collaboration can be traced back to 1997 when former President Mandela facilitated a meeting between the late Presidents Mobutu Seseko and Desire Kabila in a ship at Port Noire.
That initiative subsequently led to the famous Inter-Congolese Dialogue which resulted in the power sharing agreement, known as the Sun City Accord, between the government of President Joseph Kabila and the warring parties. Those negotiations and the subsequent agreement entrenched the spirit of negotiation as a hallmark for resolving conflict in the DRC. It is our view that this spirit should continue to define how the DRC deals with her current political transition.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The signing in 2004 of the General Cooperation Agreement - an Agreement that enjoins us to promote political, economic and social cooperation between our sister Republics was a practical expression of the collaboration we are talking about. It was in the same year that we launched our Bi-National Commission (BNC).
Our cooperation within the framework of the BNC has manifested itself through the identification and implementation of various projects. Our records and collective memory will indicate that since the inception of the BNC, we have assisted in the training of the DRC Armed Forces; the DRC Police Service; over 1000 diplomats; provided electoral support; conducted the public service census; exchanged expertise on health and immigration issues.
Today, as we enter the second decade of our bilateral cooperation, we recommit ourselves to working together to improve our bilateral partnership in various fields. We need to continue to prioritise cooperation in the area of defence and security; energy, infrastructure; transport; mining; trade and investment; agriculture; capacity building; immigration; health, to mention but a few. We should work hard to smoothen our expansive cooperation.
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 Kinshasa in 2015.
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 therefore need to double our collective efforts and deal with all constraints that stand in the way.
We also meet today at a time when your country is going through a political transition in the midst of a determined external pressure. In this regard, we wish to assure you of our continued solidarity, and we will always stand by you and the people of the DRC. All our efforts must be aimed at the security and stability of the DRC.
Over the past three days, senior officials from our two governments have been meeting to prepare a joint report and I hope that their report will set the tone for our close collaboration. Importantly, I trust that report will have clear timelines.
My Brother, Minister Leonard She Okitundu,
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.
The holding of this ministerial meeting in this building which is named after our liberation struggle icon, OR Tambo means a lot to us. This is a year in which we commemorate the centennial of OR Tambo, who embodied our diplomacy of Ubuntu. We therefore rededicate ourselves to the values and principles of our forefathers such as OR Tambo, Patrice Lumumba and Kwame Nkrumah.
I thank you
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
O R Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road