Foreign policy review panel begins work

The Ministerial Review Panel has convened the inaugural Foreign Policy Review workshop to engage on the reassessment of South Africa’s foreign policy.
“This workshop was well attended by academics, political analysts and civic organizations, together with members of the department.
“We welcome all the inputs we were privileged to receive at this meeting and look forward to receiving more from different stakeholders. Our intention is to construct a foreign policy that is inclusive and owned by all South Africans,” said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu on Thursday.
Sisulu, who addressed media in her monthly briefing, had announced the setting up of the panel in her Budget Speech earlier this year.
The purpose of the workshop was to gain insight from a range of people from diverse backgrounds on foreign policy in matters that are central to the South African foreign policy.
UNGA 73
Sisulu used the briefing to also reflect on the 73rd United Nations General Assembly session in New York, during which former President Nelson Mandela was honoured with a statue. A Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, which culminated in the adoption of a political declaration, was also held.
“The strategic focus framing South Africa’s participation was the promotion of the ideals and legacy of former President Mandela of working towards a peaceful, just and prosperous world,” Sisulu said.
With the declaration, Sisulu said UN member states committed to reinvigorate efforts to ensure the maintenance of international peace and security and set the course for the next decade.
In the General Debate, the Minister said President Cyril Ramaphosa covered important domestic and international issues.
“He highlighted the triple challenge that continues to plague the world, namely poverty and inequality, underdevelopment and environmental degradation,” said Sisulu.
FOCAC
Last month also saw South African officials attend the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing from 3 to 4 September.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Ramaphosa co-chaired the summit. During the summit, South Africa relinquished its co-chairpersonship of FOCAC and is succeeded by Senegal as the African co-chair for the period 2019 to 2024.
The salient outcomes of the summit were the eight new measures to be implemented during the following three-year period of the FOCAC (2019 to 2021). These include the industrial promotion initiative, infrastructure connectivity initiative, trade facilitation initiative and people-to-people exchange initiative.
Regional issues
Sisulu said the Southern African Development Community (SADC) facilitation team, led by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, visited Lesotho and engaged with the Basotho stakeholders on progress made in implementing SADC decisions on Lesotho.
“The issue of the withdrawal of the coalition opposition parties from the national dialogue, triggered by the suspension of the Chief Justice by the Prime Minister, as well as the strategic preparation for the start of the National Dialogue, is being attended to by the facilitation team.
“We are also happy with the stated commitment by all stakeholders to the national dialogue,” she said.
Sisulu said her department would continue to monitor and support all efforts towards regular democratic elections on the continent as Madagascar, Cameroon and the DRC prepared for elections.
“As is the norm, the AU and SADC send election observation missions to countries undergoing elections to monitor observance of electoral laws and continental prescripts,” she said.
RSA/DRC Bi-National Commission
President Ramaphosa will lead a South African delegation to the 11th session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) between South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) from 13 to 16 October 2018 in Kinshasa. The BNC was established in 2004 to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two States.
The two countries have over the years strengthened bilateral cooperation in various fields and 33 agreements have been entered into.
Heads of Mission conference
Between 21 and 26 October, South Africa will host the biennial Heads of Mission Conference.
“The heads of South African diplomatic missions abroad, including embassies, high commissions and consulates, will assemble in Pretoria to receive a briefing on the country’s priorities over the next few years.
“The Heads of Mission Conference will coincide with the Investment Conference convened by the President,” Sisulu said.
Indian Ocean RIM Association (IORA) Council of Ministers
Sisulu said the country is ready to host the 18th meeting of the Council of Ministers of IORA from 31 October to 2 November 2018 in Durban. South Africa is currently serving as the chair of IORA for the period 2017 – 2019.
Twenty-one Ministers from the Indian Ocean Region are expected to attend the meeting. Among them are ministers from Mozambique, Oman, Seychelles, Somalia, Tanzania, Thailand, Australia and India.

Source: South African Government News Agency

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