Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Dr Naledi Pandor says cooperation between African countries has become even more important as countries face the COVID-19 pandemic and economic challenges.
She was addressing an end of year media briefing on the department’s implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy throughout the year.
“South Africa is a strong proponent of African unity and solidarity. We believe that continental unity, peace and prosperity are best started at bilateral levels… when individual states reach out to other states and seek to forge closer bilateral ties. Stronger bilateral ties provide the foundation for greater Pan-African unity,” she said on Tuesday.
The Minister said the country had embarked on forging those stronger bilateral ties over the past year with President Cyril Ramaphosa hosting a State Visit by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta and the President embarking on visits to four West African countries.
The Minister said the department continues to engage countries that have imposed “unscientific and discriminatory travel bans on our country”.
“We are pleased that diplomacy is bearing fruits. Some of [the countries] have already begun lifting these restrictions that are inflicting so much harm on our economy and families. It turns out that the Omicron variant had long been in the backyard of most of these countries who rushed to close their borders,” she said.
Pandor said efforts to fight COVID-19 on the continent and the country has provided some funding into the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to provide vaccines to at least 26 African countries that may not have access to the vital resource.
“The main purpose of the [African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team] is to ensure that the African continent secures vaccines and has blended financing resources for achieving Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination strategy which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60% of Africa’s population.
“Our donation will provide some assistance – modest assistance – toward achieving that target,” she said.
Southern African Development Community
The Minister highlighted that South Africa continues to serve in many organs of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – including as Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security.
“Our responsibility [as Chair of the SADC Organ for Politics, Defence and Security] is to continue to support efforts aimed at achieving and maintaining security and the rule of law in the SADC region.”
The Minister added that instability and conflict in Mozambique remains of “particular concern” to the SADC nations and highlighted that the region had continued its efforts to assist the nation.
“The SADC region remains unwavering in its commitment to continue supporting…Mozambique in achieving peace and security. The leaders of our region have committed to contributing towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in the Republic of Mozambique,” she said.
Source: South African Government News Agency