Deputy defence minister representing SA at Munich Security Conference


The deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Thabang Makwetla, was scheduled to represent South Africa at the Munich Security Conference Core Group Meeting currently underway in Egypt.

Makwetla was due to lead a South African delegation to the Conference, being held in Cairo, Egypt, between 27 and 28 October.

The Conference is a global platform for policy dialogue and offers possible solutions on security challenges facing the world, including regional security cooperation, human security migration and violent extremism.

Makwetla was due to represent South Africa and speak on the theme: “Areas of Regional Security Cooperation – The African Context”.

The Conference organisers noted that from Sudan to Syria to the Strait of Hormuz, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are experiencing more frequent and severe conflicts than any other part of the world, with grave consequences for the countries themselves and their neighbourhood, including Europe.

“Recently the situation in the MENA region has reached a new level of volatility,” said Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference (MSC). “The multitude of crises are not only threatening stability in the whole region – they also pose a major challenge for Europe. Our two Core Group Meetings [in Cairo and Doha] are a platform for dialogue between the region’s key players about tangible steps towards de-escalation. But they also raise the question: What role should Europe and other international actors play? The case of Syria has shown that watching from the sidelines is not an option anymore.”

The Core Group Meetings in Cairo and Doha will each bring together 60 to 80 senior political decision-makers, experts, and representatives of international organizations and civil society from the respective regions with counterparts from Germany, Europe and other parts of the world for frank, off-the-record discussions.

The meeting in Egypt is being co-hosted with the Government of Egypt and is supported by the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the League of Arab States. In Egypt, which currently holds the Presidency of the African Union Commission, discussions will revolve around issues of regional security cooperation, especially pertaining to the situation in the Horn of Africa and instability in Libya, Sudan, and the Sahel region, as well as common challenges for Arab and African states.

Among the many high-ranking decision-makers from the region to join the Cairo meeting will be President of Egypt Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi as well as Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry, Niger’s Foreign Minister Kalla Ankourao, Uganda’s Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa, Djibouti’s Foreign Minister Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, and Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. Among the participants from further afield will be a delegation of German parliamentarians including German Deputy Foreign Minister Niels Annen.

“Within our geopolitical security matrix, the Middle East and in many impoverished parts of Africa is where all such issues converge and form one difficult chain to break. Inaction in addressing such mounting challenges, in some instances coupled with provocative policies by certain powers in our region, exacerbate the status quo even more,” El-Sisi said in a message to participants of the conference.

He added: “Comprehensive solutions, rather than ad hoc measures, should constitute the crux of our common approach guided by the rule of law, mutual respect, while avoiding polarisation and power politics.”

Following the conclusion of the meeting, the MSC will convene a subsequent Core Group Meeting in Doha, co-hosted with the government of Qatar, on 28-29 October.