Opening Remarks by HE Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic South Africa, at the Ministerial Meeting, Tenth Session of the Nigeria – South Africa Bi-National Commission (BNC), Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Monday, 29 November 2021

My Dear Brother, Honourable Minister Onyeama,

Honourable Ministers,

Esteemed Co-Chairs of the Senior Officials Meeting, Ambassador Losi and Aduda,

Your Excellencies, High Commissioners Mseleku and Manta,

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to express our gratitude and appreciation to the people and the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the exceptional hospitality we have enjoyed since our arrival in this beautiful city of Abuja.

We are truly pleased to be with close friends and family in this great country.

We are heartened once again by the continuing commitment to African solidarity shown by Nigeria toward South Africa when many in the world are treating our citizens as unwelcome pariah. This is reflective of the well-known solidarity of this country in difficult times of the anti-apartheid struggle.

Your Excellencies,

Today, we meet on the eve of the 48th Anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid by United Nations General Assembly. With the sterling friendship of Nigeria, the international community banded together, on 30 November 1973, to define and characterise apartheid as a Crime Against Humanity.

Today we also mark the celebration of the 22nd Anniversary of our Bi-National Commission, a great milestone in the history of our diplomatic relations.

Programme Director,

Our visit is intended to affirm South Africa’s commitment to strengthening and fostering greater collaboration and cooperation in bilateral and multilateral relations to address our common challenges for mutual benefit. Nigeria and South Africa are critical to Africa’s development and progress and must use their attributes to advance Africa’s cause.

Dear Co-Chair and My Dear Brother,

I am pleased to co-chair this session with you and believe it will give all of us time to reflect, assess, and report on the work we have done since our last Ministerial in Pretoria. I look forward to our deliberations.

Since our last Ministerial meeting in October 2019, our respective government departments, and senior officials, have been meeting to act on the decisions we made in our last BNC.

I have no doubt that our respective senior officials have made tremendous progress in their deliberations and plan to do even more.

We all know that much could have been done, however, due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, we experienced some challenges in meeting some of our objectives.

Co-Chair,

I look forward to the reports from the various working groups, notably, (1) political and diplomatic working, (2) trade, investment and finance, (3) social sector, (4) minerals and energy, and (5) security and defence.

These agreements must be of benefit to the peoples of our two countries.

Our present day bilateral engagements have to contribute to combatting the scourge of poverty, unemployment and inequality that scar our nations and continent.

It is through our resolute commitment to our bilateral cooperation and the implementation of the developmental aspirations of the African Union Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals that we can change the lives of our people.

Programme Director,

Our economies are amongst the biggest in the continent. But neither of us was spared by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Furthermore, our government has noted the recent announcements by several countries to institute travel restrictions on South Africa and other countries in our region. This follows an announcement about the detection of a new variant, Omicron, by South Africa.

To this end, South Africa aligns itself with the position of the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the travel bans. WHO has cautioned world leaders and countries to refrain from knee-jerk reactions in handling these matters.

We have also noted that new variants have been detected in other countries, and each of these cases have had no direct links with Southern Africa.

We have noted with great concern the inconsistencies in how the world has reacted to similar discoveries elsewhere.

Colleagues,

As we work towards the economic recovery of our respective countries, let us be mindful of the burden we face and ensure that the outcomes of the 10th BNC are directly linked to the challenges we face, and provide solutions.

Furthermore, our work must give impetus and complement the objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The recently concluded IATF Conference held in Durban, South Africa, was one amongst our key interventions and strategies towards economic recovery.

This was our own way of reassuring the world that all is not lost, and that South Africa is open for business. We were thrilled at the presence of H.E. President Buhari as strong testimony to his commitment to intra Africa trade and recovery.

It is therefore vital that we increase intra-Africa trade and investment as it is a vehicle towards economic emancipation.

Honourable Ministers,

As we strive to plant a seed for the future, the inclusion of our youth in our programmes is equally vital.

I am delighted that our Presidents will be launching the South Africa-Nigeria Youth Dialogue. I believe this Dialogue will create cohesion amongst our youth, and assist them in finding solutions to some of the challenges they face.

Programme Director,

We must also look forward to the launch of the Joint Ministerial Advisory Council on Industry, Trade and Investment (JMACITI).

This is a great platform to enhance relations and promote business acumen between our captains of industry.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As I conclude, please allow me to wish you all the best as we engage on issues of common interest and mutual benefit to our two countries.

I have great confidence in our collective wisdom and abilities to chart a way forward towards a future we can all be proud of.

I thank you.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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