Closing Remarks by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Mashego-Dlamini, at the DIRCO-Hosted Africa Heads of Mission Conference, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria, 28 January 2020
Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Mr Botes,
High Commissioners and Ambassadors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for this rewarding exercise that opened up a useful platform for the sharing of strategic ideas as South Africa prepares to take up a challenging but deserved role as the Chair of the African Union in this coming term.
Unusually, South Africa has also been charged with concurrently Chairing the Africa Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the AU Committee of Heads of State on Climate Change (CAHOSOCC), which makes our work that much more demanding.
While this will be a difficult task, we must also rejoice at the opportunity, and in fact the privilege, of taking the African Agenda to a higher level.
We have had very useful discussions. These deliberations were well-grounded with key insights mined from historical experience in continental and global dynamics.
I am optimistic that what we have discussed here will stand us in good stead going forward, possibly beyond the horizon of our AU Chairship.
I am sure we are now in a position to assume our international responsibilities with gusto, confident in our high-level understanding of the character of the national challenges we face, including the current nature of Africa’s internal dynamics and the global state of play.
We have heard about the urgent need to silent the guns on the African continent, the desire for peace, stability and prosperity for all our people and the imperative to implement continental programmes, including the free trade agreement.
I wish to thank the President of the Republic, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, for an open, frank and comprehensive reflection on the state of the African continent at this point in history.
Such insights provide us with the necessary political framework on which to draw in our work as we take the Africa Agenda forward.
Secondly, I also wish to thank Minister Pandor for sharing an overview of the lie of the land continentally and globally.
Both sets of inputs have enriched our deliberations and will continue to provide the much needed guidance to help us discharge our continental responsibilities effectively.
Indeed, we live in a mutating world where global events change their character all the time and can be as unpredictable as the weather.
In terms of macro politics, there are always dominant narratives that frame global relations for which a clearer understanding anchored on our national, continental and indeed, the Global South’s abiding position, is of principal importance.
Among key highlights of this exercise today was the perceptible underlying relations between national, continental and global dynamics. We have received useful insights on these.
We are pleased that all of you have participated so effectively in this strategic moment, which seeks to equip all of us with the intellectual means to not only make sense of our world but, also, and critically, Africa’s place in this ever changing world.
What kept coming up in these deliberations are two critical issues: “silencing the guns” as the strategic vision of our term of office, as well as, on the domestic level, continuing the fight against poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Both are equally important imperatives that will tax our energies as a nation. The domestic level can take up a great deal of energy, even interfering with our international engagements, it will be vital to meet all our international engagements. Both have a legitimate right to claim government’s attention.
Understanding the intersection between the domestic and international, and especially continental, politics, is of immeasurable value, to the extent that progress in one area could be contingent on developments in the other.
We will need to pay careful attention to all areas of focus discussed today to assure we effectively execute our mandate of implementing the priority areas we have adopted.
Our task in this diplomatic space is not going to be an easy one. The reason is that international affairs which impact the Global South and the African continent are not easy either.
To succeed at this level presupposes a shared and pragmatic vision, whose agenda is driven by all stakeholders and historical actors in this massive task to bring about a better world. I am confident that success in this regard starts with an exercise of this nature, which has clearly defined the task at hand.
I thank for your kind attention.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
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