REMARKS BY THE MINISTER OF DEFENCE AND MILITARY VETERANS, HONOURABLE LINDIWE N. SISULU AT THE OCCASION OF THE MEETING OF THE 10TH SESSION OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA AND THE REPUBLIC OF BOTSWANA JOINT PERMANENT COMMISSION ON DEFENCE AND SECURITY, WESTCLIFF HOTEL, JOHANNESBURG
21 OCTOBER 2011
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Directors General, and Permanent Secretaries;
Generals from both the South African National Defence Force and Botswana Defence Force;
Commissioners and police chiefs of both delegations;
Senior government officials of both delegations;
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen
May I take this opportunity and welcome you to South Africa and this 10th Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security between our two sister countries, which has been sitting here over the past two days – where our officials have been deliberating on various issues of importance for our countries.
The importance that we attach to your working visit is in informed by the continued engagement through the very Joint Permanent Commission between our two countries which we started in June 2000. This relationship has seen us holding 10 meetings of the Commission, informed by our long standing relationship which was forged during our struggle and further enhance by the official diplomatic relations established since 1994 at the dawn of our democracy.
As we endeavour to continue our political and economic relations it has become more than ever important to professionalise our defence and security services for us to realise our goal of creating peace and stability which will lead to economic development between our countries. In the course of the implementation of the provision of the JPCDS, we must establish effective channels of communication between the defence and security forces of our two countries, especially along our common borders to effectively deal with matters relating to cross-border crimes.
Transnational organised crime is a menace to our two countries and societies eroding human security and the fundamental obligation for the state to provide law and order. Combating organised crimes serves a double purpose of reducing a direct threat to the state and human security and also constitutes the necessary step in and effort to prevent and resolve internal conflict, combating the spread of weapons.
Combating such crimes requires better and organised regulatory frameworks and extended efforts in building our capacity as a state in the area of intelligence and crime prevention. Concerted efforts against the most obscene form taken by organised crime – human trafficking is also required.
Therefore we must facilitate the exchange of evidence amongst national judicial authorities, mutual legal assistance amongst prosecutorial authorities and the implementation of extraditions requests. I would be keen to hear what our officials will have to say in response to these and other issues during our deliberations.
Drug trafficking – one of the mainstay activities of organised criminal activities has serious security implications for both our countries. According to a United Nations report it is estimated that criminal organisations gain about 300 to 500 billion dollars annually from narcotics trafficking, their single source of income.
In some regions the huge profits generated through this activity even rivals some countries’ GDP, thus posing a serious threat to state security, economic development and the rule of law. There has been going evidence of a nexus between the increase of intravenous heroin use to the alarming spread of HIV/AIDS virus in some parts of the world. Surely we do not want that on our doorstep.
It is evident that increasingly organised crime is operating in very sophisticated fluid networks rather than the hierarchies. This form of organisation provides diversity, flexibility, low visibility and longevity. Connectivity amongst networks thus becomes a major feature of organised crime in recent times.
I want to venture and say that the agility of such networks stands in mark contrast to the cumbersome sharing of information and weak cooperation in criminal investigation and prosecution on the part of governments. As already stated above I would also be keen to hear what our officials have to say abut this matter.
On a positive note it is important to recognised that one of our environmental crimes – rhino poaching incidents for 2011 have declined compared to the two previous years by this period. The current number of poached rhino is 143 and 131 suspects have been arrested thus far.
The South African National Parks is currently working with all relevant law enforcement agencies in South Africa and similar structures in Mozambique in an attempt to combat this environmental crime. This must be commended but should not make us complacent because more work still needs to be done to deal with this gruesome crime to our environment.
Co-Chairperson, I have taken time to deliberate on the issue of crime because it is indeed a source of instability if given space to flourish. Allow me to continue on the same trajectory but looking at crimes committed on our seas and the effect thereof on our economies.
The maritime interests of South Africa are derived from it geographical location, geo-economic, structure and geo-political aspirations and obligations. South Africa has a coastline is along a major strategic international sea trade route, and is located far from its key trade partners whom it reaches largely by sea.
We have international obligations to provide safety of navigation for ships, ensuring freedom of the seas and security of shipping, as well as the protection of maritime environment. South Africa’s national maritime interests include effective cooperation arrangements with neighbouring states and territories within and beyond our region and continent for the management of its maritime domain and interests, our oceans management and good order at sea.
Initially, the threat of piracy seemed to be a remote and unrealistic concern for South Africa’s maritime security. However, as Somali pirate responded to international operations to counter their activities, they began extending their reach deeper into the Indian Ocean and into the SADC maritime zones. The SADC region now faces the threat f maritime piracy most dramatically illustrated by the seizure of a fishing vessel on December 2010, the furthest south that the pirates have yet struck.
Such threats of piracy are of particular concern to the region and in particular our two countries, whose coastline and shipping lanes are vulnerable. Southern Africa waters have increasingly become an alternative to the pirates who realised that there are large unprotected parts of the Indian Ocean that is extremely lucrative if exploited. Piracy and Maritime crime is negatively impacting on the economies of our states depend to a greater extend on tourism income.
We as South Africans are deeply committed to the promotion of peace, stability, growth, development, democracy and good governance across our continent, as is clearly demonstrated by our involvement in diplomatic initiatives and peace missions in our continent.
During the past two days a wide range of issues pertaining to Defence, Public and State Security were deliberated upon by our officials and progress made in the implementation of resolutions passed at the 9th Session of the Commission, which was held in Francistown, Botswana in 2010 was reviewed.
In this regard, I believe that we are satisfied with the progress that has been made in implementing these resolutions.
We want to use this opportunity to guarantee the people of Botswana that we will continue to dedicate ourselves to the principles of human solidarity and compassion. By ensuring that together we can find a very lasting solution to the troubles facing not only our two countries but the region and the continent.
Both our governments’ mission must be the continued creation of a very strong economic region in order for us to improve the lives of all our people. Our relationship must be treated as a mechanism for co-operation in various other fields of trade, safety and security and in particular economic development for not only our countries but that of the entire region.
We must have a relationship where we interact and depend on each other as can be witnessed by our defence and military relations. Sharing our experiences is a valuable exercise, bound as we are by common regional interests.
Our cooperation in this regard indicates that we are affirming and demonstrating the importance we attach to the relations between our countries and our commitment to the formation and development of our defence and security relationship.
I want to reconfirmed South Africa’s commitment to regional economic development through integration, investment and trade. Our government recognises that strong economic growth in a secure and stable region is the favoured way forward as such a context presents favourable opportunities to eradicate poverty and unemployment; improve food security; and promote infrastructural development.
In the course of our discussions it is my sincere hope that the priorities we identified and set ourselves, so that we can further build on what we have in common have receive the attention they deserve. I am sure that we will receive an update of the work already done by the officials since we last met in Francistown on that programme of action.
I trust that this 10th Session of the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security will reinforce already healthy relations between our respective countries.
We are humbled by your coming to our country and to continue to share with us your experiences in various fields in the defence and security sector. We wish you all the best as we work towards the consolidation peace and stability in region.
Allow me to declare this 10th Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security Plenary officially open.
I thank you.