THE BLOG

Right Of Reply: South Africa Is NOT Abdicating Its Role As A Stabilising Force In Africa

South Africa will also continue to promote peace, security and stability within the region and the continent.

11/01/2017 04:59 SAST | Updated 12/01/2017 13:55 SAST
Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images
(L-R) Phandu Skelemani, Foreign Minister for Botswana, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Zimbabwean Foreign Minister, and Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, South African Foreign Minister (R) chat at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Extraordinary Ministerial Meeting at Cape Town International Convention Centre on February 12, 2011, in Cape Town.

This blog post is a response to a Huffington Post SA story titled 'South Africa Is Abdicating Its Role As A Stabilising Force In Africa' - blogs editor.

During the course of the year 2017, South Africa will take over the leadership of two important institutions. We will assume the role of Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Indian Ocean RIM Association (IORA).

The 15-nation SADC strives to achieve development, peace and security, and economic growth, to alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration, built on democratic principles and equitable and sustainable development.

IORA is a dynamic organisation of 21 member states and seven dialogue partners, comprised of the states whose shores are washed by the waters of the Indian Ocean. The region is home to about two billion people.

That South Africa will be at the helm of these two organisations is very significant.

As a country, South Africa will also continue to promote peace, security and stability within the region and the continent. The country is fully aware that it is only through such stability that the objectives of regional economic integration, sustainable development and Africa's prosperity can be achieved. As such, South Africa continues to play a significant role in conflict resolution and the maintenance of peace within the region. It is playing such a role within the context of regional initiatives and not embarking on individual crusades like Peter the Hermit as suggested by Darius Jonker.

South Africa is fully engaged within SADC, the African Union (AU) and other regional initiatives as far afield as in the Sudan and South Sudan, as well as in Libya. As such, it is a member of both the SADC Double Troika and the AU Peace and Security Council.

A glance into some of the initiatives in our region and the continent would be of assistance, rebuffing Darius Jonker's assertion.

There has not been any steady withdrawal from our continent in general and Southern Africa in particular by South Africa. South Africa's engagement is always measured, consistent and taking into account regional and continental mechanisms and will never be expedient and at the behest of any other parties with strange un-African interests.

Regarding the situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho, South Africa has a direct interest in the political stability of the country and has, through the facilitation of Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, led the SADC Observation Mission in the Kingdom of Lesotho (SOMILES). In fact, Deputy President Ramaphosa remains the SADC Facilitator in the political crisis in Lesotho and progress continues to be made towards finding a lasting solution in that country.

Additionally, South Africa is a member of the Lesotho Oversight Committee which was established during the SADC Extraordinary Double Troika Summit meeting held in South Africa in July 2015 to provide assistance in the development of a country roadmap for Constitutional, Security and Public Sector Reform. In July 2016, South Africa also participated in the Lesotho Security Sector and Constitutional Sector Reform Workshop.

South Africa also has a long history of facilitating peace and stability in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) stemming from the mediation talks in the late 1990s, which eventually culminated in the year 2002 Pretoria Peace Agreement . South Africa's bilateral relations with the DRC hinge largely on facilitating the country's Post-Conflict and Reconstruction Development (PCRD) process, as well as offering on-going training and support towards political stability and development. The country continues to work towards maintaining peace in the DRC and has contributed approximately 1,000 troops as part of the United Nations Stabilisation Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) which is currently providing support towards a peaceful electoral process and strengthening the capacity of the country's national police.

South Africa is also currently involved in the mediation talks underway in Mozambique between the former rebel movement Renamo and the Frelimo Government. Former Ambassadors George Johannes, Mandlenkosi Griffiths Memela and Thanduyise Henry Chiliza form part of the mediation team led by the EU Heads of Mission in Mozambique.

On Zimbabwe, the bilateral mechanism, the Joint Commission for Cooperation between South Africa and Zimbabwe, is quite active and has met towards the end of 2016. All issues affecting the two countries continue to be addressed, including what is termed ructions in Zimbabwe.

In a nutshell, there has not been any steady withdrawal from our continent in general and Southern Africa in particular by South Africa.

South Africa's engagement is always measured, consistent and taking into account regional and continental mechanisms and will never be expedient and at the behest of any other parties with strange un-African interests.

Given all these responsibilities, it came as a complete surprise last week to see the see the article, "South Africa is abdicating its role as a stabilizing force in Africa", quoting some analyst by the name of Darius Jonker of Eurasia Group in London. It is puzzling to note that Mr Jonker is a former South African diplomat. For him to make such assertions about South Africa abdicating its role in the continent is quite disingenuous. Surely, he should be conversant with South Africa's work in the region and the continent as a whole.

Given the above facts, the so-called research by the Eurasia Group must be rejected.