ZAMBIA’S High Commissioner – Designate to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba on 15th September 2015 attended the International Relations Peace and Security briefing to Heads of Missions and Media by South African President, Mr. Jacob G. Zuma. The high profiled event held at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria, was attended by Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Ambassadors and High Commissioners as well as senior officials from Government departments and other institutions.
President Zuma’s brief, which was inclined to South Africa’s foreign policy, acted as a precursor as the world gathers at the United Nations headquarters in New York next week, for the historic 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, which will take place under the theme: “The United Nations at 70: the Road ahead for Peace, Security and Human Rights”.
The President pointed out that South Africa thought it important to give the briefing as it prepared to go to New York to attend the 70th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly.
HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM PRESIDENT ZUMA’S ADDRESS (IN DIRECT QUOTATION FROM HIS SPEECH):
South Africa will use her participation in the 70th Session to continue our relentless work to achieve the reform of the United Nations, specifically of the Security Council, which has a key role to play in promoting world peace and security.
We are also currently chairing the G77 and China. In this context, developing countries will also advocate for the reform of the United Nations System, to make it more responsive to the interests and needs of the majority of its Members, the developing countries. This is more so for Africa, a continent with more than one billion people, which is not represented in the UN Security Council as permanent members.
World leaders are also scheduled to adopt an outcome document titled; “Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” at the General Assembly.
This development agenda builds on the Millennium Development Goals and would be the guiding global development framework for the next fifteen years.
Last week a historic and landmark development took place when the UN General Assembly approved a resolution to allow the Palestinian flag to fly in front of the UN headquarters. This is a great victory for the Palestinian cause and the quest for peace worldwide.
We urge parties to the conflict to return to the negotiating table without any pre-conditions and engage in genuine dialogue.
Our view is that in order to make progress, the basic issues which have in the past proved to be stumbling blocks to a conclusive agreement need to be resolved as a matter of priority.
We further urge the UN Security Council to look into the questions of the respect for human rights and the illegal exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources.
We also welcome some positive developments in the world which augur well for the 70th anniversary, such as the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States after more than 50 years of tensions.
We reiterate our call for the immediate repeal of all legislation that maintains the Embargo against Cuba. We also welcome yet again the release of the Cuban Five who visited our country recently.
The impact of wars and poverty in the world is manifested through the expanding refugee crisis. The world has witnessed the horrific and deadly journeys by African and Middle Eastern immigrants across the Mediterranean, in search of a better life in Europe.
The painful human tragedy of over four million Syrian refugees has also reminded us of the need to find a lasting solution, which is to stop the war in Syria.
It took the painful drowning of a four year old Syrian child to shake the world into action. Attempts to shut the borders by some European countries will not assist the situation.
The international community must not support external military interference or any action in Syria that is not in line with the Charter of the United Nations.
Support for non-state actors and terrorist organisations that seek to effect a regime change in Syria is unacceptable.
As immediate relief for the refugees, we call on our European Union (EU) partners as well as Syria’s regional neighbours to assist the Syrian refugees, in full accordance and compliance with all Human Rights and Humanitarian laws.
We pledge our support to the EU as it grapples with this challenging situation.
In January and April this year, our own country was forced to confront the difficulties of migration when foreign and African nationals were attacked.
We have since then, been working hard with SADC sister countries to find solutions to this international challenge, especially the problem of illegal migration.
South Africa experiences a mixed migration flow comprising people who are genuine asylum seekers and those who flee to the country in seek of economic relief.
Another challenge within the SADC region exists where borders separate communities and families.
In some instances, the borderline does not effectively act as a barrier to these communities, particularly those that conduct normal day-to-day activities such as schooling, trade and medical care as they will keep coming each day.
This situation demands innovative solutions. We are partnering with SADC neighbours to ensure proactive facilitation of designated community crossing points. We will launch such an innovative project soon in Tshidilamolomo, a village situated on the border between South Africa and Botswana.
To combat illegal migration, we engage within SADC through the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security with Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania.
Joint immigration inspections are regularly held at selected ports of entry by officials from respective partner countries.
South Africa is also chairing the SADC Organ on Public Safety and Security Sub Committee, promoting the free movement of persons.
Currently, the Organ is discussing protocols related to a SADC UNIVISA, as well as a strategy on combatting illegal migration, smuggling and human trafficking.
South Africa chaired the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation until August this year. Work continues to implement decisions taken in relation to peace and security matters in the region, especially in the Kingdom of Lesotho, the Republic of Madagascar, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
To further promote African solutions to African problems, the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises has to be operationalized.
South Africa, on behalf of the SADC region, has offered to host the AMANI AFRICA II Field Training Exercise next month.
This will bring into operation, the African Standby Force as one of the pillars of the African Peace and Security Architecture.
With regards to Burundi, we urge the East African Community, through its mediator in Burundi, President Yoweri Museveni of the Republic of Uganda, to continue with the political dialogue, with a view to finding a lasting solution.
We reiterate our support for the signing of the Malian Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in May this year by the Malian Government, the Algiers Platform Movement and some groups of the Coordination Movement of the Azawad (CMA).
We call for the strict implementation of the Agreement, and the mobilization of the needed resources
The situation in Libya continues to be of serious concern. As such, we fully support the UN-led political dialogue. We also commend Libya’s neighbouring countries for their role in the search for a solution in that country.
South Africa stands ready to assist Libya in post-conflict reconstruction and development and to share experiences in reconciliation and constitution making processes.
We condemn in the strongest terms the various terrorist acts committed on the Continent by terrorist groups in Somalia, Kenya, north eastern Nigeria, Mali, the larger Sahel, as well as in North Africa. We will play our role through the AU Peace and Security Council to assist the affected regions.
In December, South Africa will host the Second Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Johannesburg.
During our tenure as co-chair of FOCAC, South Africa will continue to ensure that the principles of South-South cooperation are realised and that special attention is given to assisting in the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
Questions have been raised with regards to whether President Al Bashir of Sudan will be invited to FOCAC. The South African Government is aware of the order made by the International Criminal Court on 04 September 2015 requesting submissions from South Africa in relation to the case of President Al-Bashir.
We are currently studying the order. We will then make a determination as to the next course of action, if any. Our own courts are also still considering the matter of President Al-Bashir’s last visit to South Africa in June which makes this matter therefore sub-judice. It should however be remembered that Sudan is a member of FOCAC. As such, it is expected that the Sudanese Government will participate in FOCAC.
When the UN meets next week another success story of note is the significant progress made by Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone in combatting Ebola.