The scope of bilateral relations between South Africa and Canada is extensive with cooperation extending into the areas of development, energy, science and technology, agriculture, mineral resources, education, arts and culture, and transport.
The historic bilateral relationship between South Africa and Canada dates back from one of the most difficult times in our country’s history and is characterised by a generosity of good spirit amongst our two peoples. Canada supported the international campaign against apartheid and following South Africa’s democratisation, it assisted with reconstruction and development efforts. In recognising Canada’s role in the fight against Apartheid, the South African Government awarded former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney with the Order of the Companion of OR Tambo in Gold on 8 December 2015.
Bilateral cooperation is coordinated within the framework of a Declaration of Intent on Strengthened Cooperation, which was signed in 2003 and which laid the foundation for the Annual Consultations (AC). The AC is co-chaired by the Director-General of International Relations and Cooperation and the Deputy Minister of Global Affairs respectively. Under the AC the two countries meet annually (alternating between South Africa and Canada), and are convened at a Senior Officials’ Level.
Former President Nelson Mandela undertook a State Visit to Canada in September 1998. President Mandela was presented with Honorary Canadian Citizenship, one of only five ever, amongst them the Dalai Lama, Aung San Suu Kyi and Raoul Wallenberg and more recently, Malala Yousafzai. Former President Thabo Mbeki paid a State Visit to Canada in 2003. There was a reciprocal State Visit by the former Canadian Governor General, Michaëlle Jean, to South Africa at the end of 2006 which focussed particularly on socio-economic issues. This was the first ever visit by a Canadian Governor General to Africa.
President Cyril Ramaphosa undertook an Official Visit to Canada recently to participate in the G7 Outreach Summit held in Charlevoix on 8 and 9 June 2018. The President was accompanied by the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa. President Ramaphosa held a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the margins of the Summit. The meeting between the two Leaders was the second in 2018 as they also met briefly in April on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which took place in London. Former President Zuma had on a previous occasion met with Prime Minister Trudeau in the margins of the 2016 G20 Summit in China.
Other exchanged high-level visits include the visit of the former Governor General of Canada, Mr David Johnston to South Africa in May 2013 and the visit of former Deputy President of South Africa, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, to Canada in November 2013. Ministerial visits have been exchanged and are reflective of the broad spectrum of cooperation between the two countries.
- Visit of the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Gwede Mantashe, to Canada in March 2020
- Visit of the Minister of Transport, Mr Fikile Mbalula, to Canada in September 2019
- Visit of the Minister of Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, to Canada in June 2018 and September 2017.
- Visit of the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Matt DeCourcey, to South Africa in April 2018.
- Visit of the Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Godfrey Oliphant, to Canada in March 2018.
- Visit of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, Mr Ahmed Hussen, to South Africa in August 2017
- Visit of the Minister of Justice, Ms Jody Wilson-Raybould, to South Africa in March 2017.
- Visit of the former Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to Canada in September 2017.
- Visit of the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, Mr Michael Masutha, to Canada in September 2016.
- Visit of the former Minister of Higher Education and Training, Dr Bonginkosi Nzimande, to Canada in May 2016.
- Visit of the former Minister of Mineral Resources, Dr Ngoako Ramathlodi, to Canada in March 2015.
Canada’s Development Assistance to South Africa focuses on strengthening service delivery, HIV and AIDS and rural development. The Canadian Government has made available CAN $33 million to fund developmental projects, such as the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.
In what could be interpreted as a sign of Africa’s growing importance to Canada, Export Development Canada (EDC) opened their first African office in Johannesburg in October 2015. The office will service Sub-Saharan Africa.