Opening Remarks by HE Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 10th Session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and the Arab Republic of Egypt, Pretoria, 19 April 2024

Opening Remarks by HE Dr Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of Republic of South Africa, on the occasion of the 10th Session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and the Arab Republic of Egypt, Pretoria, 19 April 2024


Your Excellency, Mr Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt,

Ambassador Ntsiki Mashimbye, South Africa’s Ambassador to Egypt,

Ambassador Ahmed El Fadly, Egypt’s Ambassador to South Africa,

Senior Government Officials of both Delegations,

Members of the Media,


Minister and Dear Brother, it is an honour and profound privilege to receive you and your esteemed delegation in our Capital on the occasion of this very significant 10th session of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) between our two countries.


I highly appreciate that you accepted my invitation to undertake your Working Visit to our country to hold discussions on matters that reflect the deep level of cooperation between our nations.


Minister, I am similarly appreciative of the fact that we also held a meeting earlier this year on the margins of the G20 Foreign Ministers meeting in Brazil.


Furthermore, our President, His Excellency President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, had a number of discussions with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt on numerous occasions. This is an indication of the fundamental relationship of partnership and solidarity that exists between our countries.


Minister, the relationship between South Africa and Egypt is underpinned by long bonds of friendship, solidarity and collaboration. Egypt’s support to the anti-Apartheid movement and the cause of oppressed South Africans during those difficult times was testimony to a commitment your country made to join the international community in isolating the unjust regime. This eventually led to the demise of the old order and the creation of a democratic and free South Africa. Egypt’s contribution to African history, heritage and global civilization is legendary and widely recognised. Inspired by the desire for freedom, justice and self-reliance, Egypt championed the cause of anti-colonialism and vigorously promoted Pan-Africanism and unity on the continent.


One of the great founders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963, is that great Egyptian leader, Gamal Abdel Nasser, who was a titan of continental African and Arab unity. As one of the original thirty-two (32) independent countries of the OAU, Egypt also played a key role in the transition to the African Union in 2001. Similarly, South Africa, Egypt, Algeria, Senegal and Nigeria were the original initiating countries of the New Economic Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and subsequently joined by fellow African countries in realising the expansion of this continental framework.


Minister, I provided this historical context to reaffirm South Africa’s conviction that a strengthened and expanded relationship with Egypt is necessary and strategic for the mutual interests of our respective countries and for the African continent. The depth and impact of our bilateral relationship is thus very important. The Cape to Cairo nexus should not only be one of our guiding lights but should highlight the importance of regional integration.


In this regard, I wish to once again express my appreciation that following your invitation, I led the South African delegation to the ninth (9th) session of the JCC held in your great country in May 2022, which we successfully co-chaired. I remember the warm welcome and hospitality we received. In that meeting, we were able to discuss a range of issues critical to enhancing cooperation. Therefore, this tenth session we are co-chairing today is intended to take stock of the number of areas that underpin our bilateral cooperation and to identify new areas of cooperation. We will also receive for consideration the report of the work done by our senior officials in the past two days in preparation for this session. This will also afford us as co-chairs the opportunity to provide strategic guidance on key areas that need to be focused on.


The framework provided by the JCC entails that the constituent committees cover a wide range of areas of bilateral cooperation. These include trade and investment, agriculture and agro-processing, infrastructure development, water resources management, health, financial services, tourism, transport, information technology, communications, women and people with disabilities, judicial matters, sport, arts and culture, people-to-people links and consular issues, among others. Measures are underway to conclude the necessary framework for cooperation in the Defence field.  What is also important is that in addressing these critical issues, our technical experts should continue to exchange technical visits, share views and experiences, undertake benchmarking exercises, and identify projects that need to be pursued. It is also essential that previous decisions made under the JCC be implemented. I, therefore, call upon the Officials to ensure that their work is also conducted within specific work plans to ensure effective implementation.


Furthermore, while work continues towards the finalisation of a number of Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs), I am pleased that a number of such instruments are expected to be concluded during this session.


Your Excellency, South Africa and Egypt need to exponentially increase trade and investment between our two countries.  In this regard, partnerships between our private sectors and state-owned entities are crucial. This also entails the need to formally establish and launch a Business Council. A decision has been taken to this effect. Once operational, this structure will go a long way in coordinating and galvanising trade and investment opportunities. Let us in this context take advantage of the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which will facilitate easier trade. As an important blue- print and contributor to integration, the AfCFTA lessens the barriers towards trade, promotes preferential trade and provides an enabling framework which will be mutually beneficial to both our two countries and the continent in general.


Minister, we are also reminded that we are meeting at a time of profound and worrying global developments. The state of global peace, stability and security is of utmost concern. The number of conflicts and wars that have erupted calls upon the international community to be vigilant and redouble its efforts to promote peace, stability and development. The United Nations, our premier guarantor of global order as enshrined in its charter, and the regional organisations, should remained seized and be decisive in addressing these matters. However, we are witnessing an attack on the global system of multilateralism and its institutions of governance. The world is seeing the rise of unilateralism and impunity that threatens to erode the very foundations of multilateralism, international law and the creation of a just and equitable world.


South Africa, like many other nations, is deeply concerned about the unfolding tragedy that has befallen the people of Palestine. The catastrophe that is happening before our eyes in the Gaza Strip, with the destruction carried out by the occupying state of Israel, and the humanitarian disaster therein, is a collective blemish on the moral conscience of the world. We should also not forget the unresolved plight of the Saharawi people, whose cause for justice and desire for self-determination remains regretfully deferred.


Minister, Silencing the Guns on our Continent is a pressing challenge that the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities should continue to address. Some of the armed conflicts on our continent threaten to escalate and inhibit prospects for development and thus undermine Africa’s Agenda 2063. In this context, South Africa reiterates the importance of dialogue, mediation and negotiations as vital for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.


In this regard, it is important not to further delay the reforms needed to transform the United Nations, particularly the United Nations Security Council, and for it to reflect the realities of today. In this endeavour, although North-South collaboration remains important, the Global South should remain united in ensuring that its voice is resoundingly clear. South-South cooperation is thus very important. It is in this context that South Africa welcomes Egypt into the family of BRICS nations together other equally important countries that joined the formation. This development further enhances the role the South plays in global matters.


Climate change is a present and immediate challenge that needs our attention and collective responsibility. Among others, the negative impact of climate change is being felt as rising temperatures and other factors have become more prevalent globally. This is also illustrated by severe weather conditions that have seen massive floods, heatwaves and other conditions. Furthermore, climate change presents immense danger to small island stands, whose existence is threatened by rising sea levels. In this regard, we commend Egypt for hosting COP-27 and for creating a platform for interventions in that regard and which laid the basis for the recent COP-28 held in United Arab Emirates.


In conclusion, I wish to affirm relations between South Africa and Egypt remain very strong. These relations are firmly guided by a spirit of friendly collaboration and mutual cooperation. Minister, I therefore, look forward as co-Chair with you, to the report on the deliberations of the Senior Officials Meeting of the 10th Session of the JCC and I am confident that we will have fruitful deliberations.


I would like to once again, Your Excellency, express my sincere appreciation for your acceptance of my invitation to visit South Africa.


Thank you!




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