7 December 2021

On behalf of my Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to thank you for inviting us to visit your beautiful country and for hosting us.

This visit takes place after the 7th International Dakar Forum on Peace and Security in Africa, where I was privileged to share our perspective on building resilience in the post COVID-19 era.

Your demonstration of support for South Africa at the Forum yesterday was powerful, forceful and deeply moving.

The travel ban imposed on South Africa and a number of countries in the region in response to the detection by our scientists of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, is both unjustified and unscientific.

To have the leader of Senegal, a powerhouse of the region, express your support on this global platform means a great deal to us.

It is in line with the sustained and principled solidarity Senegal has extended to South Africa over the years. So once again, thank you.

Our historic ties are rooted Senegal’s support for our liberation struggle.

The 1987 Dakar Conference would not have been possible were it not for the assistance of President Abdou Diouf, who allowed delegates to meet in his country, at a time when the liberation movements were still banned in South Africa.

We share a commitment to solidarity, mutual respect and a common vision of a Better Africa and a Better World.

Today we will be signing a number of Memoranda of Understanding as well as Agreements.

The Agreement on a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation emphasises the importance of our growing political, economic and social ties.

We are also signing an MOU on Political and Diplomatic Consultations, and an Agreement on Technical and Economic Cooperation in the Field of Fisheries and Aquaculture

Our work has just begun.

We need to consolidate the areas of cooperation that anchor our relations, explore new ones within the current state of global affairs and at the same time address challenges that will affect our people in the future.

We are committed to taking practical measures to address the imbalances in bilateral trade between our two countries.

As part of our contribution to intra-African trade, we should give preference to our state-owned companies and private businesses when bidding for significant procurement contracts in each other’s countries, instead of sourcing these from outside the continent. Both our countries have the know-how and expertise to benefit the other.

At a legacy and cultural level we look forward to the twinning of Robben and Goree Islands, which will increase tourism between our two countries.

Pockets of insecurity and conflict within countries and between neighbouring countries remain a challenge for our continent.

The Sahel is such a region that requires our attention.

We strongly reject and condemn any attempts at unconstitutional change of government, in particular in Mali and the Republic of Guinea.

We call on all the parties to engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue in good faith, and to restore constitutional order through the guidance of ECOWAS.

The reality is that much more still needs to be done to achieve the goals of last year’s African Union theme of Silencing the Guns.

We note for example the recent UN Security Council Resolution to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 31 October 2022.

South Africa is concerned at the endless delays in holding the Referendum, without which the people of Western Sahara will not be able to determine their destiny.

South Africa remains committed to global peace, security and stability.

The need for lasting peace and security on our Continent becomes more urgent with the operationalisation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement on 1 January this year.

As we seek to strengthen multilateralism in the cause of global peace and security, please be assured of our full support of your Chairship of the African Union.

We are meeting at a time of great distress and devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although there has been great progress in the development and distribution of vaccines, as well as acts of solidarity and cooperation across the world, the global response to the pandemic has been uneven.

It is of concern that the global community has not sustained the principle of solidarity when it comes to securing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

I am confident we can count on the government of Senegal in this regard by supporting our proposal to the WTO for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS agreement. As African countries we must stand as one on this critical matter, as we have done since the onset of the pandemic.

Your Excellency, in conclusion, I thank you once again for hosting me and my delegation here in Dakar.

I trust that we will have productive discussions on the current state of our bilateral relations.

The Diplomatic Informer
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