Remarks by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on the occasion of the DIRCO monthly media briefing, Media Briefing Room, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria, 27 August 2018

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen of the media. We are joined also by senior DIRCO officials, ably led by Acting Director-General, Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi.

Let me thank you, members of the media, for continuing to support our monthly media briefings. Through your platforms, we are able to communicate our foreign policy position to millions of our people and the world at large.

We made an undertaking in our last interaction that we would invite you after we return from the SADC Summit. We also undertook that we will give you more information on President Ramaphosa's State Visit to the People's Republic of China, where he will also co-chair, with President Xi Jinping, the Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

1. Zimbabwe Presidential Inauguration

I would like to start off by congratulating the people of Zimbabwe for having made the transition into a new government led by President Mnangagwa, who was inaugurated yesterday, 26 August 2018. President Ramaphosa joined other African leaders in Harare to witness the occasion and personally congratulate President Mnangagwa.

2. State Visit to China and FOCAC

President Cyril Ramaphosa will travel to the FOCAC Summit which will be held in Beijing, China. President Ramaphosa and President Xi will co-chair the Summit from 03 to 04 September 2018. The FOCAC Summit will be preceded by President Ramaphosa’s State Visit to China. This comes after our President hosted President XI Jinping on his State Visit to South Africa on the eve of the recent BRICS Summit.

The first Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Ministerial meeting was held in the year 2000, with the purpose of aligning and strengthening socio-economic and developmental cooperation.

The membership of FOCAC had grown to 50 African countries when the Ministers met in Beijing from 19 to 20 July 2012. The Ministers issued the Beijing Declaration of the Fifth FOCAC Ministerial Conference. South Africa took over from Egypt as the Co-chair of FOCAC for a period of 6 year, ending 31 December 2018.

The Sixth FOCAC Ministerial Conference and the Johannesburg Summit of the FOCAC was held in Sandton, from 3 to 5 December 2015. This was the second FOCAC Summit and the first FOCAC Summit to be hosted on the African continent.

The outcome documents included the Declaration of the Johannesburg Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Johannesburg Action Plan (2016-2018).

President XI Jinping announced the upgrading of the “Sino-African Strategic Partnership” to a “Comprehensive Strategic Cooperative Partnership” to be guided by the principles of “sincerity, real results, affinity and good faith”. The announcement by President XI Jinping included new measures to be implemented from 2016 to 2018, aimed at addressing the three bottlenecks in Africa, which are hampering Africa’s development.

To build the China-Africa comprehensive strategic and cooperative partnership, China committed to implement ten cooperation plans with Africa, namely in the areas of industrialisation, agricultural modernisation, infrastructure, financial services, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty reduction and public welfare, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security.

To facilitate the implementation of these measures, China announced the provision of US$60 billion for funding support, which includes US$5 billion for grants and zero-interest loans and US$35 billion for concessional loans and export credit and US$5 billion for Technical and Industrial Project Funding. Furthermore, an increase of US$5 billion would be added to the China-Africa Development Fund and Special Loans for the Development of Africa; and the China-Africa Fund for Production Capacity Cooperation will be provided with an initial contribution of US$10 billion.

The announcement by President XI Jinping included ten new measures to be implemented from 2016 to 2018. These include:

i) Commitment to political equality and mutual trust;

ii) Commitment to promoting win-win economic cooperation;

iii) Committed to mutually enriching cultural exchanges;

iv) Committed to mutual assistance in security;

v) Committed to solidarity and coordination in international affairs;

vi) Implement Africa-China trade and investment facilitation plan;

vii) Implement Africa-China poverty reduction plan;

viii) Implement Africa-China public health plan;

ix) Implement Africa-China cultural and people-to-people plan; and

x) Implement Africa-China peace and security plan.

These measures are aimed at addressing the three bottlenecks in Africa, as identified by China and Africa, which are hampering Africa’s development, namely, inadequate infrastructure; lack of professional and skilled personnel; and a funding shortage.

3. UK PM’s to South Africa

Tomorrow, 28 August 2018, President Ramaphosa will host Prime Minister Theresa May of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on a Working Visit.

Prime Minister May will be accompanied by a business delegation. The visit comes after President Ramaphosa visited the UK to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, where he secured a deal of over R800 million to help South Africa improve its economic situation.

South Africa and UK enjoy a strong historic trading relationship. The United Kingdom was South Africa’s 6th largest global trading partner in 2017, with total trade at R79,5 billion and was also the South Africa’s 8th largest global export market for SA goods in 2017 at R46,3 billion. The United Kingdom also remained SA’s 8th largest importer at R33,2 billion.

Prime Minister May will also use the working visit to hand over the SS Mendi Bell to the Commander-in-Chief, President Ramaphosa and people of South Africa to commemorate the sacrifice of over 600 South Africans who perished when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel over 100 years ago.

4. SADC Summit, Namibia

The 38thOrdinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) was in Windhoek, the Republic of Namibia, on 17th and 18th August 2018. I will not go into the details of the full set of decisions taken, save to reiterate the outcomes of the Summit with regard to the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

The Summit noted with concern that, despite a number of SADC initiatives in the Kingdom of Lesotho, progress on the implementation of the reforms roadmap, and national dialogue remains very slow.

Very significantly, the Summit urged the Kingdom of Lesotho and all stakeholders to ensure that the National Leaders Forum takes place, and called upon all stakeholders, including those who reside outside to participate.

The Summit resolved not to entertain any further delays in the implementation of Reforms and National Dialogue, and called upon SADC Member States to take necessary measures against those with intentions to delay, or threaten to derail the Reforms and the National dialogue processes.

Summit urged the Government of the Kingdom of Lesotho to put in place a program with clear milestones for the implementation of priority activities on the Reforms Roadmap and National Dialogue, while recognizing that the SAPMIL (SADC Preventing Mission in Lesotho) tenure end in November 2018, a report of which, is to be submitted to the Chairperson, of the Organ by 30thOctober 2018.

5. Singapore-Sub-Saharan High Level Ministerial Exchange

Today and tomorrow, 27 and 28 August 2018, South Africa will participate in the Singapore-Sub-Saharan High Level Ministerial Exchange. This is the 3rd iteration of this event which was launched in 2014, thus making it a biannual occurrence. The Ministers from the Sub-Saharan-Africa use this event to learn more about Singapore and to encourage investors to do business with their countries.

In addition to this, on 28 and 29 August 2018, South will also participate in the Africa-Singapore Business Forum (ASBF). 2018 is the 5th instalment of this biannual gathering – first launched in 2010. ASBF is the premier platform for business exchange and fostering trade and investment between Africa and Asia.

In both events, the South African delegation will be led Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule. Deputy Minister Mhaule will be supported by a team comprised of DIRCO and DTI officials.

As an integral part of its policy of promoting the overseas growth for Singapore-based companies and international trade, the Singaporean government is also focusing on Africa as a source of new markets through initiatives such as the biannual Africa-Singapore Business Forum (ASBF) and the Sub-Saharan High-Level Ministerial Exchange Visit.

South Africa and Singapore established diplomatic relations in 1992. South Africa’s bilateral relations with Singapore are warm. There has been an exchange of high-level visits over the years, with President Thabo Mbeki paying a State Visit to Singapore in 2005 and President Nathan paying a reciprocal State Visit in 2007. Then Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited Singapore in 2016 followed by a reciprocal working visit by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies in 2017.

6. Indian Ocean Conference

We received an invitation from the Indian Minister of External Affairs, in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Organising Committee of the Indian Ocean Conference, to address the 3rd Indian Ocean Conference scheduled from 27 – 28 August 2018, in Hanoi, Vietnam. The Conference is organised by the India Foundation, in association with its partners in Vietnam, namely the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Singapore.

Deputy Minister Landers will represent our government at this conference, which will convene under the theme “Building Regional Architecture”, on 28 August 2018.

The address by Deputy Minister Landers at the Conference will focus on the objectives of the South African chairship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and articulate South Africa’s foreign policy priorities to this end.

South Africa is currently serving as the chair of IORA for the period 2018 – 2019.  The participation by South Africa in the Conference is also in preparation of the 18th meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of IORA to be held in November 2018 in Durban.

South Africa has developed an overarching theme for our chairship that encompasses our view that the Indian Ocean Region should be characterized as a region of peace, stability and development within which to pursue the goal of promoting socio-economic cooperation for the wellbeing and development of the countries and peoples of the Indian Ocean Rim.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you for always honouring our invites to this engagement. It is always a pleasure to interact with you.

I thank you.


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