Statement: Media briefing by International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Pretoria


Media briefing by International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Pretoria

10 Mar 2011

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen

We thank you for joining us.

Here to follow is an overview of some of our international engagements over the past few days – and these include President Jacob Zuma’s successful state visit to France; our visit to India for SA-India Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) and the Trilateral India Brazil South Africa (IBSA) Ministerial Meeting; and, as we have committed to do on regular basis, give you feedback on a number of developments that are taking place at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – where South Africa has a seat as a non-permanent member since January this year.

A. President Jacob Zuma undertook a successful state visit to France from 2 to 3 March 2011.

Outcomes of the state visit to France

i) On the political front

We used the opportunity to:

  • emphasise the strategic nature and excellent trade relations between our two countries

  • share South Africa’s positions vis-à-vis African countries experiencing political and economic challenges, especially Ivory Coast and Libya; and last but not least

  • President Zuma used the opportunity of the occasion to condemn the violent nature of the clashes in Libya.

We were also encouraged by the general view of the French media that France saw South Africa as a “gateway to Africa” and more importantly that France sees Africa as a “continent of century”.

ii) On the economic front:

Significant outcomes were the signing of various French Development Agency Conventions, including:

  • with ESKOM on the wind farm project (100m Euro)

  • with Airport Company South Africa (ACSA) on expansion at Cape Town Airport (200m Euro)

  • with the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority for building of dam at Durban (70m Euro)

  • the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) signed a Letter of Intent with AREVA, expanding cooperation between AREVA and NECSA in nuclear fuel and other nuclear technology areas particularly in capacity building programmes.

iii) On the multilateral front

We were pleased to note that both countries share the same sentiments around the reform of the institutions of global governance, including the reform of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC):

  • Equally committed to the success of COP 17

  • South Africa committed itself to supporting France during its twin presidencies of the G8 and G20

  • Both presidents agreed to harmonise their positions, with President Zuma praising France for its intention to inject vigour into the G20, especially its proposal for innovative financing of development and measures to fight climate change.

B. South Africa-India Joint Ministerial Commission

The South Africa-India Joint Ministerial Commission took place from 6 to 7 March 2011.

iv) On the Bilateral Economic Front

We used the opportunity of our interactions to invite more Indian companies to come to South Africa to assist us – in the creation of jobs, especially investment in the tourism, mining, infrastructural development, green economy and agriculture.

We also used this opportunity to impress on our Indian counterparts that South Africa has embraced a New Economic Growth Path which is aimed at enhancing growth, prioritising value addition (beneficiation), creating employment and working towards the achievement of equity in all aspects of the economy. Republic of South Africa (RSA) targets the creation of five million jobs over the next 10 years).

On the Reform of Global Economic and Political Institutions, we reiterated our commitment to South-South relations and to working with India in the multilateral arena, including in IBSA, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS), the United Nations (UN), the G20 and the India-Africa Forum where both countries have a common vision and have sufficient consensus on a range of global issues and domestic challenges.

We also used the opportunity of our being in India, to thank the Indian government for its support of South Africa’s inclusion in BRICS.

On the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC), we agreed that it provides a platform for government-to-government interaction over a broad spectrum of issues with a view to further deepening and expanding our bilateral relations. We jointly reiterated that the JMC stands as a reaffirmation of our commitment to the strategic partnership that we have with India, based on our shared vision and common values – key amongst which aredemocracy, development, justice, respect for human rights and equity, and the quest for a better life for all our people in a just and peaceful world.

C. Tri-Lateral India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) Ministerial Meeting

The meeting took place, in India too, on 8 March 2011. Our work within the Trilateral IBSA Ministerial Meeting is structured in such a way that all the three countries commit their senior members to seven working theme-specific groups, which identify issues of mutual benefit and work towards their realisation, with overall guidance provided by the three Ministers. During this meeting, some of the issues discussed included the following:

1. Agriculture

The parties agreed to cooperate on four technical areas, i.e.:

  • Training in programmes on wine production

  • Training in soya bean production and beneficiation

  • Training in pest control; and lastly

  • Training in the diagnoses and control of trans-boundary diseases focusing mainly on foot and mouth diseases.

2. Trade and investment

The IBSA Working Group on Trade and Investment looked into their signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Standards, Technical Regulation and Conformity Assessment and agreed to do much more to advance their cooperative work. The Working Group also agreed that the standard bodies of the three countries will meet in May 2011, in particular, to devise a suitable framework for the structural implementation of the MoU. At the heart of this MoU, is the urgent need to facilitate trade amongst IBSA countries by developing common standards where possible.

At a more bilateral level, South Africa and India agreed to look into mechanisms of addressing non-tariff barriers impeding trade between the two countries. The work on the non-tariff barriers will be intended to complement ongoing SACU-India preferential trade agreement negotiations.

D. Latest developments at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

Most of the issues dealt with currently include some of the socio-political challenges that we are facing in the continent – in such countries as Libya, Somalia and the Sudan.

D.1 Libya

We would like to reiterate that South Africa has supported the positions taken by the African Union and the United Nations on Libya – and this included statements and resolution imposing sanctions on Libya. South Africa has openly condemned the loss of life and attacks on civilians and reported violations of human rights in that country. So there has never been any ambiguity on our part on this matter of resolving the crisis in Libya.

D.2 Cote d’Ivoire

Like all UNSC member states, we remain concerned about the deteriorating political situation in Cote d’Ivoire. Furthermore, we call on both parties to immediately end the acts of violence against the civilian population and call for an end to the obstruction of United Nations Operation in C.d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the removal of the siege around the Golf Hotel.

We also urge all the Ivorians to exercise maximum patience and restrain and to give the ongoing efforts by the African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) a chance to find a solution that is peaceful and respect the will of the Ivorian people, expressed at the run-off presidential elections of 28 November 2010.

D.3 Sudan

South Africa is of the view that a negotiated agreement had to be reached, and that there was no military solution to the situation in Abyei and that the African Union High-Level panel on Sudan is currently actively involved in reaching an agreement between the parties on the status of Abyei before the end of March 2011, and called for the Council’s full support for the work of the African Union High Implementation Panel (AUHIP). South Africa also called on the parties to the conflict in Abyei to recommit to an agreement signed in January, as well as to the Kadugli agreement.

Concerning the situation in South Sudan, South Africa expressed concern over the hostilities between SPLA George Athor forces in the Jonglei State. We also called for the negotiations in Doha to reach a successful conclusion sooner rather than later.

D.4 Somalia 

South Africa supports a comprehensive approach that addresses both the economic and political dimensions of Somalia. With regards to piracy off the coast of Somalia, my delegation supports the ongoing efforts to address this challenge. We are of the view that addressing the scourge of piracy would require a holistic approach which addresses both the underlying causes of the problem, promotes the economic opportunities and address the political and security dimension of the piracy. In this connection the development coastal income generation activities and the fishing industry and investigations into illegal fishing and toxic dumping allegations should assist in reversing this growing trend.

We remain convinced piracy is but a symptom of the insecurity challenges faced on land and that for this challenge to be addressed comprehensively, increased attention to the insecurity on land will have to be addressed. South Africa is still studying the proposals of the Special adviser in order to make an informed decision.

E. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Council of Ministers Meeting

Closer to home, the SADC Council of Ministers Meeting was held in Windhoek, Namibia, last week from 3 to 4 March 2011. The meeting was attended by all SADC Member States, with the exception of Madagascar given its suspension from SADC activities, pending the restoration of constitutional and democratic order in Madagascar. Most SADC Member States were represented at ministerial level. South Africa was represented by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Mr Ebrahim I Ebrahim.

Although the meeting discussed a number of critical issues, we will briefly concentrate on one of the most significant decisions arrived at – the decision on the proposed SADC-COMESA-EAC Tripartite Free Trade Area which basically moves us towards continental integration. The council noted that the second Tripartite Council and Summit will be hosted by South Africa in June 2011 – the exact dates are still to be determined.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Inter-regional Cooperation and Integration between Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and SADC was signed by the Chairpersons of the three RECs in January 2011, serving as a basis for the establishment of the proposed Tripartite FTA that will be officially launched on the occasion of the Second SADC-COMESA-EAC Summit to be hosted by South Africa on behalf of the SADC region.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you once again for joining us.

I thank you.

For further information please contact:

Clayson Monyela

Cell: 082 884 5974

Issued by: Department of International Relations and Cooperation
10 Mar 2011