Speech by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor at the Ceremony of her bestowal of the Grand Cross of the Order of Rio Branco, 17 May 2024, 14h00

Speech by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor at the Ceremony of her bestowal of the Grand Cross of the Order of Rio Branco, 17 May 2024, 14h00


Chargé d’ Affaires of the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil, HE Ambassador Ligia Maria Scherer,

DIRCO Senior Management and officials,

Members of the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil,

Beloved members of my family,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,


Good afternoon,


I wish to thank the Patron of the Order of Rio Branco, President Lula da Silva, the Chancellor of the Order, Minister Vieira, and the Government and People of the Federative Republic of Brazil for considering me for the prestigious award of the Grand Cross of the Order of Rio Branco, named after the Patron of Brazilian Diplomacy, the Baron of Rio Branco, José Maria da Silva Paranhos Júnior.


I am honoured to follow other distinguished South African recipients of the award such as former President Mandela, former Ambassador Sifingo and former Ambassador Zulu (the current Minister of Social Development).


It is also most delightful that another recipient of the Order, Amb Scherer, confers the order to me today.


I was moved to learn that the inscription on this Order is Ubique Patriae Memor:  Anywhere, I will always have the Nation in my memory.


This is a sentiment that inspired many during the long and difficult liberation struggle and continues to energise our democratic government as we continue to strive for a better South Africa, a better Africa and better world for all.


Your Excellency Ambassador Scherer,


It is a humbling privilege for me to accept this significant honour. The honour also goes to our Chief Diplomat, President Ramaphosa, the Government, and the people of South Africa on whose behalf, I am tasked with the execution of South Africa’s Foreign Policy.


The award is also a testament to the tireless work of my predecessors and countless officials in my department who have ensured that we build strong and mutually beneficial relations between South Africa and Brazil.


Distinguished guests,


Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and Brazil were established on the 31st of January 1948 through the “Agreement on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. On 13 December 2003, democratic South Africa and Brazil signed an agreement to establish a Joint Commission as a structured bilateral mechanism to a road map and give political momentum for the strengthening of bilateral and multilateral relations between our countries.


One of the significant milestones of our bilateral relations was the signing of the Declaration on Strategic Partnership and its Action Plan on 9 July 2010 during President Lula’s visit to South Africa. The declaration affirmed that the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and Brazil is anchored on shared democratic values, ideas, and approaches to global, regional, and inter-regional issues, particularly the desire to strengthen and deepen bilateral relations, South-South cooperation, multilateralism, and the establishment of a just and equitable global governance system.


Substantively, the declaration and its Action Plan mandated our countries to intensify cooperation in Political, Diplomatic, Public Administration, Governance, Economic, Trade, Socio-cultural, and other sectors.

I am, therefore, pleased that this award ceremony follows shortly after of my successful official visit to Brazil to co-chair the VII Session on the Joint Commission with my counterpart HE Foreign Minister Vieira. During the Joint Commission we appraised the good work done by the 10 sectoral working groups of the Commission and exchanged notes on regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest. Furthermore, we re-affirmed our shared commitment to global peace and security, the advancement of the development agenda of the South through IBSA, BRICS, G20 and the UN.


I am delighted that I had the honour of a courtesy meeting with the Patron of the Order of Rio Branco, HE President Lula da Silva, on the sidelines of the Joint Commission.


Ladies and gentlemen,


Africa remains the centre of our foreign policy and we commend President Lula’s commitment to intensify Brazil’s relations with Africa.


Notably, Brazil, with over 100 million Afro descendants, has the second largest population of the African diaspora after the United States of America. This shared identity and African heritage provides a strong foundation to build a deep and enduring strategic partnership. It is therefore no coincidence that Brazil will host the 6th region Africa diaspora meeting in August in preparation for the 9th Pan African Congress that will be held in Lomé later this year.


We encourage Brazil and all our partners to work with us to advance Africa’s development agenda as elaborated in Agenda 2063. Critically, Brazil’s reengagement with Africa presents significant opportunities for mutually beneficial trade, investment, and technical cooperation through the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.


This year Brazil holds the Presidency of the G20, the premier forum for international economic cooperation.  South Africa, as the next President of the G20 and a member of the Troika will continue to support Brazil during its Presidency. Brazil’s theme for its Presidency “Building a Just World and a Sustainable Planet”, enjoys our full support and mirrors our view of the world we want. We also look forward to work closely with Brazil and other like-minded countries as we prepare for the UN Climate Change Conference, COP 30 in Brazil in 2025.


Distinguished guests,


In 12 days, South Africans will cast their votes to choose the next democratic government that will be the 7th administration since the dawn of our freedom. We know too well that our freedom and democracy is also a product of international solidarity. We also know that we shall never be truly free until all peoples living under apartheid and colonialism throughout the world are free.


Thus, as we hold dear the sentiment of Ubique Patriae Memor, we do so knowing that our country is part of the global community of nations and that we want to be part of a truly just and peaceful world that upholds the everyone’s freedom to live in dignity.


Anywhere, I will always have the Nation in my memory, is why our government continues to champion the cause of the people of Palestine, including the end of Genocide in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the self -determination of the people of Western Sahara.


This award is a call to us, and like-minded countries to be resilient and continue to advocate for the development priorities of the South and a just and equitable global governance system.


Distinguished guests,


While this honour bears my name, I wish to thank members of my family for their support and President Ramaphosa for his encouragement.


Your Excellency, please convey my deepest appreciation to the Patron and Chancellor of the Order of Rio Banco for bestowing on me this most precious honour.


I thank you.




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