Statement by Ambassador Jerry Matjila, Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations during the UN Security Council Meeting on Venezuela
26 January 2019
In any country, political parties choose the provisions on which to conduct elections.
Venezuela is no different and it held its Presidential elections on 20 May 2018, on the basis of its national laws governing such elections. These elections also took place in accordance on the Agreement of Electoral Guarantees that was signed by all political parties shortly before the elections. The elections were further overseen by Venezuela’s National Electoral Council.
It was on this basis that South Africa’s President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, congratulated President Maduro following his inauguration for a second term as President.
A founding principle of South Africa’s constitutional democracy, that we hold very dear, is the respect for the rule of law. We are therefore deeply concerned by what is a clear attempt, in Venezuela, to circumvent the country’s constitutional legal mechanisms which governs its elections.
Any grievances or disputes should be resolved in a peaceful manner through the proper mechanisms and processes provided for in the constitution of Venezuela and its electoral laws, without external influence. This is standard and indeed best practice, in all democracies that subscribe to the rule of law.
South Africa echoes the statement made by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres in Davos on 24 January 2019, where he urged a de-escalation of tensions to prevent violence.
We furthermore support the Secretary-General’s call for the “urgent need for all relevant actors to commit to inclusive and credible political dialogue to address the protracted crisis in the country, with full respect for the rule of law and human rights”.
South Africa thus calls on all parties to participate in a national dialogue process to ensure unity and reconciliation, and in furtherance of a political solution to the situation.
We would like to reiterate that any further action or grievance by either party should be resolved through the due legal processes of the country.
We are indeed also concerned about the humanitarian situation in Venezuela and the resultant migration that has taken place. We call on the international community, as well as the relevant UN bodies to work with the Venezuela government and its neighbours to assist those in need.
I wish to stress that South Africa is firmly against any attempts at undue or unconstitutional change of government in Venezuela. The Security Council should never be an instrument that validates unconstitutional changes of any Government.
Instead, this Council should promote avenues that create environments conducive to dialogue and cooperation that would ease the challenges and hardships faced by the people of Venezuela.
I thank you.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road