Remarks by LN Sisulu, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the DIRCO Monthly Media Briefing, 30 April 2019, DIRCO Media Centre

DIRCO Senior Officials,
Members of the media,

Introduction

1. Our briefing today will cover a number of areas we have been involved in over the past couple of weeks. These include international engagements such as the recent African Union (AU) Summit in Egypt; working visits; our term at the UN Security Council; an update on South Africans who voted abroad; consular matters as well as other current affairs issues affecting the work of the Department.

Working Visit to the Arab Republic of Egypt

2. Last week, H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa led a South African delegation to Cairo, Egypt, for the African Union (AU) Consultative Summit on Sudan and Libya.

3. The Summit on Sudan was an initiative of H.E. Abdel Fatta Al-Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt and Chairperson of the African Union. The Heads of State and Governments and High-Level Representatives of the regional partners of the Sudan, namely Chad, Congo, South Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria as well as South Africa were among the participants at the Summit.

4. President Ramaphosa was also part of the AU Troika Committee meeting convened by President Al-Sisi in his capacity as the Chairperson of the AU which deliberated on the situation in Libya. The meeting was attended by Heads of State and Government from the Republic of Congo, H.E. President Denis Sassou Nguesso, who is also the Chairperson of the High-Level Committee on Libya, and AU Troika members, including South Africa and Rwanda, as well as the Chairperson of the AU Commission.

5. On Libya, the Heads of States and Government called for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire. They further discussed the latest developments in the country and committed their support towards a stable Libya while encouraging parties within the country to find an inclusive and negotiated political solution to their challenges.

6. With regard to the situation in Sudan, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed the importance of peace, security and stability in the African continent. The Sudanese Authority and other affected parties within the country were encouraged to immediately restore the constitutional order through a “Sudanese-led and Sudanese-owned political dialogue” that involves all the Sudanese stakeholders.

7. The participating Heads of State and Governments also agreed to review the initial time frame given to Sudanese by the Peace and Security Council of the AU. The initial time frame for a “transition that is peaceful, orderly and democratic” was three months. We are hopeful that that the people of Sudan will adhere to the extended timeline given to them.

Working visits to Zimbabwe and Swaziland

8. Few weeks ago, President Ramaphosa led a High-Level South African delegation to Harare, Zimbabwe, for the Third Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between Zimbabwe and South Africa and also undertook a Working Visit to the Kingdom of eSwatini.

9. In Zimbabwe, President Ramaphosa held fruitful bilateral discussions with his counterpart, H.E. President Emerson Mnangagwa. The discussions were held with a view to further strengthening and deepening the bonds of friendship and cooperation between Zimbabwe and South Africa. The two delegations also exchanged views on regional, continental and international issues of mutual interest.

10. South Africa and Zimbabwe emphasised the importance of expanding trade and investment to drive the strategic engagement forward. In this regard, the Heads of State directed their Finance and Trade Ministers to work together to achieve these goals. Zimbabwe highlighted the key initiatives taken by government to improve the ease of doing business in the country and further informed on the country’s efforts to simplify and rationalise investment rules with the view to attract foreign direct investment.

11. The two countries also agreed to work together on re-engagement with the international cooperating partners in support of Zimbabwe’s economic reform and the Debt Arrears Clearance Agenda. Zimbabwe expressed appreciation for the unwavering commitment of the Government and people of South Africa in calling for the removal of illegal and unwarranted sanctions, which are stifling the country’s economic recovery programme.

12. President Mnangagwa and President Ramaphosa made an unequivocal call for the removal of sanctions on Zimbabwe which have largely affected the socio-economic conditions of the country.

13. The Working Visit to the Kingdom of eSwatini was aimed at reviewing bilateral relations with the Kingdom. South Africa and eSwatini have over 20 bilateral agreements in a number of areas such as movement of people and goods, defence, policing and health. As South Africa, we strongly believe that development in our neighbouring countries will contribute to our own country’s development and stability in the region.

14. Follow this Working Visit, we have since had a bilateral meeting with my counterpart in eSwatini, Honourable Minister Thulisile Dladla, to discuss issues of bilateral and multilateral interests affecting our two countries.

Update on the UN Security Council

15. We are at the end of the fourth month of our two-year tenure as an elected member of the UNSC. We are pleased with the interventions we have made at the Council since the beginning of the year. We have endeavored to bring our principled approach on conflict prevention and resolution to the work of the Council. In this regard, we have highlighted the importance of political solutions to conflict as well as the challenges faced by women in armed conflict.

16. Last week we participated in the open debate on Women, Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict. During the debate we called on the UNSC to work in unison to comprehensively deal with violence against women.

17. As a demonstration to our commitment to end gender based violence and the use of rape as a weapon of war, South Africa voted in favour of the UNSC resolution on Women and Peace and Security: Sexual Violence in Conflict.

18. Women issues are very close to our hearts and we will use our Presidency of the UNSC in October 2019 to continue advocating for rights of women in countries with conflict. 

19. Over the next few days, the UN Security Council will deal with, among other issues, the Humanitarian Situation in Cameroon and an open debate on the Middle East, focusing on Palestine which took place yesterday.

2019 General Elections

20. We have noted that in preparation for the country’s 2019 general elections, our regional body, SADC, has launched the SADC Electoral Observer Mission for South Africa. This comes just few days after South Africans living abroad have cast their votes. I am pleased that as DIRCO we were able to provide the necessary infrastructure to enable the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to execute their mandate. The IEC will at the right time give you necessary information about South Africans who voted abroad.

Establishment of a Task Team on attacks against foreign nationals

21. We are at an advanced stage to establish the Task Team to deal with incidents relating to xenophobia. This follows the two engagements between government and members of the diplomatic corps. The Task Team will comprise of DIRCO, Home Affairs, Police, DTI, and two members of the Diplomatic Corps. I have since written to the participating Ministries to identify officials who will represent their departments in the Task Team. To this end, the Task Team is expected to have their inaugural meeting this coming Friday, 03 May 2019 to work on their Terms of Reference.

22. We have noted some media reports that some members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM) feel reluctant to enter or visit some areas within the country. In South Africa we do not have no-go area zones. We have on a number of occasions stated that safety and security of everyone within the country is the responsibility of government. Therefore, there is no reason for such concern.

Consular matters

23. We have noted the latest information released by the Gift of the Givers about a South African, Mr Shiraz Mohamed who was abducted in Syria in 2017. DIRCO will continue engaging relevant partners abroad to secure his release. We have and will continue to keep the family informed of the developments.

Conclusion

24. We would like to thank those members of the community who responded positively to our request for donations for the affected peoples of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, who are reeling from the devastation caused by recent severe weather.  Through the assistance of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), we have almost transported all the collected items to the three affected countries with another consignment expected to be transported on 15 May 2019. South Africa has also pledged to assist with the rebuilding of three bridges in Zimbabwe.

25. We have indeed shown that everything is possible to achieve if we work together towards a common purpose. Together we have made a difference to the lives of peoples affected.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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