Remarks by Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on the occasion of the DIRCO monthly media briefing, Media Briefing Room, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria, 12 November 2018
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Mhaule
Director-General and DIRCO senior officials
Members of the press
On this day, 12 November 2004, the Palestinian people laid to rest one of its leaders, President Yasser Arafat. His funeral was not a normal one as it started in Cairo, Egypt, another country, and ended up in the West Bank, Ramallah, where he was buried. Fourteen years after his death, the people of Palestine are yet to attain their independence. The State of Palestine remains a priority of South Africa’s current international diplomacy and as the South African Government, we have repeatedly stated on previous occasions that we will continue to campaign for the independence of Palestine under the two-state solution.
As it happened with South Africa in 1992, also on this day, when former President FW De Klerk outlined government’s timelines, which led to the country’s first democratic elections, we remain resolute that the people of Palestine will one day enjoy their independence.
Last month, Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers visited the people of Saharawi to show our support towards their fight for freedom and self-determination. We used our visit to the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic to also deepen diplomatic relations between our countries. The freedom and independence of the Saharawi people is very important to us as it is to them.
1. Heads of Mission Conference and economic diplomacy
1.1 We recently hosted the biennial Heads of Mission Conference (HOM) to unpack the country’s priorities over the next few years. The conference was addressed by President Cyril Ramaphosa. Central to the President’s address was the role our Heads of Mission can play to mobilise Foreign Direct Investment. We were happy that the HOM coincided with the Investment Conference to mobilise international business people to invest in our economy.
1.2 Accordingly, we are confident that our country representatives abroad will continue to hold our flag high and work hard to attract much-needed investments into the country in order to deal with the triple challenges facing our people.
2.1 The 18th Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) was held in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on 2 November 2018 under the theme: “IORA: Uniting the Peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East through Enhanced Cooperation for Peace, Stability and Sustainable Development”.
2.2 One of the outcomes of the 18th IORA Meeting was a Special Declaration in honour of President Nelson Mandela, who is also one of the founders of IORA, which led to the establishment of the “IORA Nelson Mandela ‘Be the Legacy’ Internship Programme”. This initiative, expected to be launched in Mauritius on 18 July 2019, the day on which Madiba would have turned 101, aims at empowering and capacitating the young people of IORA with work experience in their fields of study. The 18th IORA Meeting also, among other things, signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises by Mozambique and MoU on Search and Rescue by Mozambique and Somalia.
3. Update on past working visits
3.1 President Ramaphosa recently had a successful Working Visit to Germany for the G20 Investment Summit and the G20 Compact with Africa Conference. The visit sought to cover a number of areas, which included a trade and investment drive and cementing bilateral relations between the two countries. The visit augured well with South Africa’s investment drive to raise over R1 trillion over the next five years as hundreds of German companies are currently running their businesses in South Africa.
3.2 It is worth noting that President Ramaphosa is expected to receive the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, on a State Visit to South Africa before the end of November 2018.
3.3 Deputy Minister Landers also undertook a Working Visit to Tunis to participate in the First Session of the South Africa-Tunisia Diplomatic Consultations. The visit by the Deputy Minister served as a catalyst to strengthen relations between the two countries.
3.4 Last Friday, we hosted Mr Martin Tlapa, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, who travelled to the country for Political Consultations on among other things, trade and investment, tourism and science and technology. We used Deputy Minister Tlapa’s visit to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the two countries. We agreed on intensifying economic relations between our countries.
3.5 We also hosted the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), His Highness Sheihk Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for the Second Joint Commission between the Republic of South Africa and the UAE. The UAE remains the South Africa’s main importing partner within the Gulf Region. During our meeting, we discussed a number of issues of mutual interests for our countries such as trade and investment, food security and transportation.
4. Upcoming working visits
4.1 President Ramaphosa will from 14 to 15 November 2018 lead a South African delegation on a Working Visit to the European Union (EU) in France and Belgium.
4.2 The visit will commence in Strasbourg, France on 14 November 2018 where President Ramaphosa will address the European Parliament and meet key figures, including the President of the European Parliament, Mr Antonio Tajani. President Ramaphosa will then proceed to Belgium, Brussels, where he will meet the King of the Belgians, His Majesty King Philippe Leopold Louis Marie, and the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Belgium, Mr Charles Michel. He will also receive a courtesy call from theMinister-President of the Government of Flanders, HE Geert Bourgeois.
4.3 On 15 November 2018, President Ramaphosa will co-chair the Seventh South Africa-EU Summit with the President of the European Council, Mr Donald Tusk, and the President of the European Commission, Mr Jean-Claude Juncker.
4.4 South Africa is the only African country, and one of 10 countries globally, that has a Strategic Partnership with the EU.
4.5 President Ramaphosa will also lead a South African delegation to Addis Ababa for the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) scheduled for 17 to 18 November 2018.
4.6 The main focus of the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly will be on the AU institutional reform process. The session is also expected to take stock of progress made on the reform process, discuss outstanding issues and challenges, and consider various reform proposals and recommendations. South Africa supports the institutional reform of the AU and the creation of an efficient and cost-effective union.
4.7 We look forward to a very fruitful meeting, which will hopefully lead to a strengthened and revitalised AU that will lead the continent on the road to unity and prosperity
4.8 We will be travelling to Russia to attend the 15th Session of the Joint Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Cooperation between South Africa and Russia. The ITEC Session is an annual bilateral economic cooperation mechanism between South Africa and the Russian Federation. The last ITEC took place in South Africa in 2016. Due to a number of commitments affecting our countries, we were unable to meet last year.
4.9 Towards the end of November, I will undertake a Working Visit to the United States of America. This comes after we had a bilateral meeting on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2018 with the US Secretary of State, Mr Michael Pompeo, during which we agreed to meet before the end of this year.
We are also going to use our Working Visit to Washington to continue engaging the business community and different stakeholders who have an interest in our country.
5. Regional elections
5.1 We note that Madagascar and Cameroon recently held their presidential elections. It should be commended that our people on the African continent are regularly afforded an opportunity to choose their leaders. As South Africa, we strongly support the national reconciliation, socio-economic development and a lasting political solution in Madagascar.
5.2 In the same vein, we are confident that preparations for the Democratic Republic of Congo elections are well on track. We further appeal to all political parties to commit to peaceful presidential elections.
6.1 We have had a number of cases affecting South Africans travelling, with the recent case involving Angela Quintal and her colleague, Muthoki Mumo, who were detained in Tanzania last week. Our appeal is that we must make sure that we familiarise ourselves with the laws of the country we intend to visit. That is why we launched the Travel Smart Campaign with the intention of raising awareness on what we can do or we can’t do when we travel abroad. We have a 24-hour Call Centre to assist those South Africans who find themselves in distress while travelling abroad. The number is 012 351 1000.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road