Remarks by Dr GNM Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of Engagement with the Resident Heads of Mission from Europe and Americas, 10 November 2021

Program Director;
Your Excellency, The Dean of the European Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Beka Dvali of Georgia;
The Dean of the Americas and Mercosur Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador Mairin Josefina Morena of Venezuela;
Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Deputy Minister Alvin Botes,
The Acting Director-General, Ms Nonceba Losi; and
DIRCO Officials,

Good evening,

I am delighted to be here with you tonight and thank you, Your Excellencies, for taking the time from your busy schedules to join me and team DIRCO.

I wish to welcome the new Ambassadors who recently presented credentials to President Ramaphosa. Welcome to the land of President Mandela, of Ubuntu, of diversity and friendship. I hope you will explore every avenue for strengthening relations between our countries, as we strive to create a Better World for future generations.

I had hoped to meet you all much earlier, but as is the case with so many events, our plans were affected by the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic.

The pandemic has had a devastating effect on people. Social relations and the economy globally. We must now focus on recovery and reconstruction. Of course the lessons of the pandemic must never be forgotten and should be used to address gaps and inadequacies.  For South and our continent Africa, these gaps were found in our public health systems, our manufacturing sectors and our Science and Innovation sectors. These are gaps we seek to address through new partnerships and programmes.

One positive outcome of the pandemic was the clear evidence that global problems require collaborative global solutions.

We were reminded that solidarity is critical at individual and community level, we have had to apply the principle of “Ubuntu” i.e. “I am, because You are”, and through the pandemic we have learned that “no one is safe, until all are safe”.

Despite the challenges, we are glad that we have also made progress in strengthening our relations and partnerships across the broad spectrum of nations represented here this evening. I am happy that Deputy Minister Botes and I have been able to engage both bilaterally and multilaterally, in person, and virtually with many of our colleagues from your countries and regions.

I am pleased that our discussions have led to the identification of actions and partnerships that will increase Africa’s ability to respond to future pandemics.

Allow me therefore to convey our sincere gratitude and appreciation to your respective countries for supporting our fight against COVID 19.

We have also recognised and agreed on the importance of achieving gender equity and the financial inclusion of women and hope to work with you on this.

Excellencies, we grapple with the widespread economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the urgency of addressing climate change, the fourth industrial revolution and international security are issues that also require our collective and immediate attention.

In South Africa these global challenges confront us at a time when we are also confronted by our own developmental challenges of high-levels of poverty, inequality, unemployment and inadequate restricted economic growth.

As a human-rights based constitutional democracy, South Africa has made a promise to ourselves and to the world that we will remain committed to the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality and the advancement of human rights and freedoms, non-racialism, non-sexism and the rule of law. These are values that we hope will be shared by all countries and we are actively pursuing their realisation in our country.

Through the leadership of President Ramaphosa, we have pursued measures and efforts to actively address COVID-19, energy, climate change and economic recovery. The key actions include:

  • The pursuit of a TRIPS waiver at the World Trade Organisation, to enable quicker and more equitable access to vaccines globally;
  • Through our Nationally Determined Contribution, reaffirmed our commitments to the Paris Agreement and a transition to a low-carbon, climate resilient future.
  • The establishment of a historic partnership at COP 26 that mobilised R131bn, in the pursuit of a Just transition in South Africa, which we hope will enable us to implement our ambitious goals and develop a model for a just transition that can be used elsewhere;
  • The encouragement of G20 members to consider Africa and South Africa for energy and infrastructure investments.

Along with several countries represented here we have committed to the Generation Equality action project that will ensure justice and economic rights for women and girls. I urge you to work with us on this transformative project.

Your Excellencies, I hope we will continue to seek collective answers to our collective problems, your futures are intertwined with ours on this continent of Africa. We believe that the future of the world will be influenced by the prosperity, safety, health and education of the African child. I can guarantee that through pursuit of our AU Agenda 2063 aspirations, my fellow Africans are determined to attain higher levels of development that will enable them to make their own contribution to the attainment of a sustainable and prosperous world.

It will be critical that we use our cooperation to support for the economic recovery and sustainbale development of South Africa and the African continent. This can be done in the context of the our own Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan (ERRP), the operationlisation of the AfCFTA, the AU Agenda 2063 and South Africa and Africa’s ability to leapfrop new technologies in pursuit of the aims of a green transition and a sustainable future.

Your Excellencies, as we move into the summer festive season here in South Africa, some of you may go back to your home countries to celebrate and visit your loved-ones, where it may be cold this time of year, I appeal to you to also spread the good news about your experiences in South Africa and encourage tourists in your respective countries to come to South Africa to experience her natural beauty and wonders. I am also hoping that more of your countries will follow those that acknowledged and showed confidence in South Africa’s management of the COVID 19 pandemic, by removing South Africa from travel restrictions.  This will enable mutual economic gains to support our economic recovery.

In conclusion I wish to acknowledge and thank the DIRCO team for organising this occasion.

I look forward to listening to some of your positive ideas on how we can strengthen our relations further.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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