05 July 2018
Minister LN Sisulu Launches Monthly Briefing to the Media on 4th July 2018
During my first Budget Vote Speech as the Minister of International Relations, I committed myself that we were going to improve our communication with the media through regular interactions with members of the press. I indicated that we were going to have monthly media briefings which will afford you (press) the opportunity to interact with us on a number of issues affecting our foreign policy. I am happy to confirm that today is the day we are launching our monthly media briefings.
From today henceforth we will have these briefings and they will be hosted by myself or the Deputy Ministers. If it happens that none of us are available we will ensure that our Director General and Deputy Director Generals proceed with the briefings. Our main objective is to keep you regularly informed on what we are doing in relation to the implementation of our foreign policy and ultimately reporting back to all South Africans here and abroad who expect nothing but the best from all of us.
We have just launched our “Travel Smart Campaign” which seeks to educate South Africans of their roles and responsibilities when they travel to other countries. We have been receiving a lot of cases from fellow South Africans who experience different challenges when they travel. Some of those could have been avoided if we had familiarized ourselves with the laws of the countries we intended to visit.
The recent case involves 51 young South Africans who travelled to China on study visas but with an intention to work as English teachers. All countries have laws in place and everyone is expected to adhere to them and failure to comply will have consequences.
We are happy that 49 of our young people are now back home in South Africa while the other two who are alleged to have recruited the rest of the group are currently detained by the Chinese authorities. We thank the Chinese authorities who worked with us to ensure that all our young people returned to South Africa safely.
My message to all young people is that our government is working hard in building and maintaining good relations with other countries for the benefit of all South Africans. As the doors of success open to other countries, please make use of our departments and institutions so that you will not fall victims of scams of various types. We are here to help you to succeed, give us an opportunity to assist you to achieve and exceed your dreams.
Over the last few weeks we were honoured to be elected for the non-permanent seat at the United Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2019 to 2020. This will be South Africa’s third term on the UNSC, having served in 2007-2008 and 2011-2012.
Once again, we wish to convey our sincerest gratitude to Member States of the United Nations General Assembly particularly the African Union who mandated and entrusted us with this enormous responsibility of serving the world at the UNSC as we advance the priorities of the AU agenda 2063. Our commitment to everyone who voted for us is that we will do everything in our power to live up to the promises we made leading up to the UNSC elections. These include strengthening the cooperation between the United Nations, regional and sub-regional organisations specifically between the United Nations and African Union as well as conflict resolution and peacebuilding through inclusive dialogue.
We assume the non-permanent seat as our country celebrates the centenary of the first democratic president of the Republic of South Africa, President Nelson Mandela. President Mandela believed in conflict resolution through inclusive dialogues. Our tenure at the Security Council will be dedicated to the legacy of President Mandela and his commitment to peace. Our commitment is to live up to his ideals and that of other forefathers of the African continent such as Nkwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and Kenneth Kaunda.
US withdrawal from UNHRC
We have noted with concern a decision by the United States of America to withdraw its membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). This is regrettable and we believe it goes against the spirit of multilateralism and the Charter of the United Nations, of which the US was one of the founding countries.
Our appeal is that all members of the United Nations should remain fully committed to multilateral processes.
Update on BRICS Summit
South Africa assumed the BRICS Chairship on 01 January 2018 for the year 2018, which holds special significance in the BRICS historical trajectory as it concludes the first decade of BRICS Summits at the highest diplomatic level.
We recently hosted the 2nd Formal Meeting of the BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs/International Relations in preparation for the 10th Summit taking place at the Sandton International Convention Centre from 25 to 27 July 2018. This will be the second BRICS Summit to be hosted by South Africa having hosted the Fifth BRICS Summit in 2013. The 10th BRICS Summit will be hosted under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.
At the recent BRICS Foreign Ministers’ meeting, it was agreed that we need to continue with the BRICS tradition of outreach, with the formation extending its cooperation to fellow developing and emerging economies. In this respect, the Ministers welcomed South Africa’s approach through the BRICS Plus Initiative, to be held during the Summit. The approved sub-themes for the BRICS-Africa Outreach and the BRICS Plus Initiative are, respectively, (i) BRICS in Africa: Working towards the realisation of the African Aspirations; and (ii) “BRICS Plus: Securing sustainable and inclusive growth for the prosperity of the Global South”. These sub-themes are aligned to the Summit theme and to South Africa’s Chairship priorities for 2018 Accordingly, South Africa has invited a number of African leaders for a BRICS-Africa Outreach, which will take place on the last day of the summit. These countries include Egypt, Ethiopia, Angola, Zambia and Gabon, representing the North, Eastern, Southern, Central and West Africa regions. The overarching objective of this gathering is to foster closer cooperation between BRICS countries and Africa.
We have lined up a number of events leading up to the Summit. These include community engagements, public lectures and round table discussions. Some of these have already taken place. The main objective for all these engagements is to ensure that all South Africans are informed about BRICS and what we stand to benefit and have gained as a country in line with our government priorities particularly economic growth and job creation.
Last week, the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) deputy ministers/special envoys on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region met in Pretoria to exchange views on the current situation in preparation for the upcoming 10th BRICS Summit.
We invited members of the press to apply for accreditation for them to take part in the Summit. On the day we closed application we had received over 1000 applications from various media houses around the world. We will soon inform media personnel of the outcomes of their applications through the relevant channels particularly those who did not make it due to a number of reasons.
We have returned from the 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government which took place in Nouakchott, Mauritania.
The issues discussed at the 31st Ordinary Assembly of the African Union included the continent’s commitment to fight against corruption as per the AU theme for 2018: “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation”, peace and security on the continent and developments towards the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AU Heads of State and Government deliberated on a number of issues including the institutional reform and financing of the African Union; the African Common Position on negotiations of a new cooperation agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) developing countries as well as the European Union (EU) Post-2020 and the adoption of the 2019 African Union Budget; elections of various structures to the AU and Pan African Parliament.
During the Summit, President Ramaphosa signed the AfCFTA) agreement, which is expected to have far-reaching impact on the African economies and significantly increase intra-African trade and investment. The agreement will soon be submitted to Parliament as part of the process towards its ratification
The 31st Ordinary Assembly of the AU also joined South Africa in celebrating the Centenary of President Nelson Mandela.
We also recently attended the 20th Meeting of the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ (MCO) on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, which took place on 22 June 2018 in Luanda, Republic of Angola. The South African delegation to Luanda comprised of the Ministers of Defence and Military Veterans; Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula; South African Police Service, Mr Bheki Cele; State Security, Ms Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba; Home Affairs, Mr Malusi Gigaba; and Justice and Correctional Services; Mr Michael Masutha. The MCO deliberated on a number issues affecting the region. These include the political and security situation in the region. The MCO also discussed matters relating to stability, public safety, corruption, immigration, justice and correctional services as well as the environment.
Zimbabwe is preparing for harmonised general elections and a date has been confirmed for July 30. According to media reports it is estimated that close to 6 million Zimbabwean voters have registered to vote. The polls will be the first without former President Robert Mugabe since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980 after he was replaced by Mnangagwa last November.
The recent bomb blast in Zimbabwe should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. As President Ramaphosa said in his statement, “violence and criminality have no place in the democratic process of any sovereign state within the SADC region”.
Zimbabwe’s new president committed to uphold the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections in the hope of securing a regional seal of approval. Adopted in 2004, and revised in 2014, the guidelines are an important initiative that commits regional governments to credible, democratic and peaceful elections. The SADC Secretariat stated that Zimbabwe is ready to conduct a credible election due to the conducive political and legislative environment in place.
We take comfort that Zimbabwe has extended invitations to over 40 countries to be observers at the upcoming elections. These include invitations to member states of the SADC countries, European Union, and United States.
It is worth noting that it will be the first time in over 10 years that international observers that are not accredited to diplomatic mission in Zimbabwe will be allowed to be observers.
The situation in Burundi remains a domestic political challenge which should be addressed by the Burundians themselves assisted by the leadership of the East African Community (EAC). Furthermore, South Africa would like to encourage all the Burundian parties including the Government and opposition parties to utilize the East African Community (EAC) - led Dialogue to resolve their challenges through peaceful means. We are ready to assist and support the mediation process, if and when it is called upon.
Burundi remains very close to us as South Africans. We played a critical role and invested resources which helped to end civil war in the country.
South Africa urges the international donor community not to impose economic sanctions and suspend funding for development assistance as this will only exacerbate the already dire economic situation and affect the most marginalized and impoverished communities.
Democratic Republic of Congo
We are closely monitoring the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The South African Government has over the years assisted the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to deal with persistent issues of security and instability. Consequently, the South African Government has deployed soldiers from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to form part of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and specifically of the Force Intervention Brigade (FIB). South Africa will continue to support peacebuilding and efforts to promote security and democracy in the DRC.
Last Thursday we laid to rest one of the finest diplomats our country ever produced, Ambassador Billy Modise. Ambassador Modise left the country in 1960. This saw him spending over 30 years in exile. After his return to the country he was called again to serve the democratic government as the first Black South African High Commissioner to Canada. During his tenure in Ottawa, Ambassador Modise laid the foundation for what is now a solid political, economic, trade and people-to-people relationship between South Africa and Canada. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Ambassador Modise during this time of grief.
Enquiries: Mr Ndivhuwo Mabaya, 083 645 7838
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