Address by President Cyril Ramaphosa to Members of the Diplomatic Corps, OR Tambo Building, Pretoria

Friday, September 14, 2018

Programme Director,
Honourable Minister Lindiwe Sisulu,
Deputy Ministers Luwellyn Landers and Regina Mhaule,
Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of Continental and 
International Organisations,
Director-General and Management of DIRCO,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for joining us for my first interaction with the member of the diplomatic community represented in South Africa.

Yesterday, the world paid its final respects to a fallen giant of Africa, the former United Nations Secretary-General Mr Kofi Annan.

The world is indeed a better place for having entrusted him with leadership of the international community.

From the highest office in global diplomacy, Kofi Annan championed the interests not of political elites but of the most vulnerable people in global society.

For us, the passing of this extraordinary champion of a more inclusive and equitable world is an immeasurable loss.

May I kindly request that we rise and observe a moment’s silence in honour and remembrance of this son of our soil.

I thank you.

Your Excellencies,

Let me take this opportunity to express my deepest appreciation and that of our government and citizens for your presence in, and partnership with, our country.

Allow me to take this opportunity to acknowledge that, with the leadership transition that has taken place in South Africa, there has been a delay in finalising the agreement for some High Commissioners- and Ambassadors-Designate.

We are working to finalise these and to process the letters of credence for new Ambassadors and High Commissioners.

South Africa has worked hard, in a sustained and principled way, to ensure that we are at peace with the world and that we make a positive contribution to resolving issues that are of concern to the international community.

Our engagement with the world is informed by our own experience during the liberation struggle of international support and solidarity.

You are in South Africa because you have chosen to be our partners.

I wish to thank you all for the work you have done recently to help South Africa attain a position on the United Nations Security Council.

During our tenure from January 2019, we will remain true to the positions we adopted as we campaigned for this non-permanent seat.

South Africa is committed to working with its partners on our home continent of Africa and in all regions of the world to secure outcomes that serve our national, bilateral and multilateral interests.

We will continue to work in all the regional, continental and global institutions in a manner that reiterates the inescapable reality that the development of South Africa is inextricably linked to that of the African regeneration.

The advancement of the African continent is itself intricately connected to that of the developing countries of the South.

We live in a time when the world is getting smaller, when new technologies are enabling progress at an unprecedented pace.

This is a time when the means to eradicate poverty, unemployment and inequality appear to be well within our grasp.

South Africa is committed to work for a world where there is peace, security and prosperity for all the people of each and every nation.

We remain steadfast in our rejection of all acts of terrorism and aggression.

Since the advent of our democracy, South Africa has positioned itself as a force for good in the world and as a contributor to the forward march of humanity.

South Africa is an active participant in efforts to develop the Southern African Development Community and to ensure the implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

We are encouraged by the consolidation of democratic governance, peace, stability and security in most African states, and by the rapid changes in living conditions and infrastructure development.

The agreement on an African Continental Free Trade Area is a significant milestone along the path to economic integration.

Our continent’s development, however, is undermined by pockets of instability and conflicts.

South Africa has collaborated actively in bilateral and multilateral efforts to resolve some of the

Continent’s recurring conflict situations.

Included were those in our neighbouring Kingdom of Lesotho, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Republic of Madagascar, Burundi, South Sudan, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

We will also assist where possible to resolve the ongoing problems in Mali and Libya, so that all regions of our continent can finally experience peace and stability.

We will continue to play our part in conflict resolution, as illustrated by the deployment of some of our eminent citizens, such as Former President Thabo Mbeki and former Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, as Special Envoy to the Great Lakes Region and SADC Envoy to Lesotho respectively.

Your Excellencies,

Since taking office in February, I have undertaken several international missions and received a number of Heads of State and Government.

These engagements have further consolidated relations between our countries, politically, economically and in areas of trade and investment.

We are working hard to improve the investment environment in the country by ensuring policy certainty and consistency.

We are hard at work to improve the performance of our economy, strengthen government and improve the functioning of state owned enterprises.

Earlier this year, I announced an investment drive aimed at generating at least $100 billion in new investment over the next five years.

This drive will culminate in an Investment Conference in Johannesburg from 25-27 October 2018.

This Conference will bring together investors both from South Africa and other parts of the world.

We are grateful for all the support we have received already from Your Excellencies, and look forward to welcoming investors from all the countries represented here.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In the coming days, we will be joining other global leaders to attend the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The General Debate will be preceded on 24 September by the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, hosted by the President of the General Assembly in honour of the centenary of the birth of former President Nelson Mandela.

We would like to thank the AU and its Member States for endorsing this Peace Summit through its January 2018 Summit Declaration on the Centenary of Nelson Mandela.

As we go to this assembly, South Africa will strongly advocate for the comprehensive reform of the UN Security Council.

We are calling for the expansion in the permanent and non-permanent category of the Security Council from 15 to 26 seats.

For Africa to be fully represented at the Security Council, it should get no less than two permanent seats and a total of five non-permanent or elected seats.

South Africa is concerned about the rise over the last two decades of unilateralism in global affairs and the violation of national sovereignty.

This threatens global peace, security and development.

We need to work together to strengthen the multilateral systems of governance and collective global decisions.

South Africa hosted the 10th BRICS Summit in Johannesburg in July.

The Summit involved numerous African countries and other developing countries of the South in the BRICS-Plus format.

This is a very important development to ensure that the countries of the South continue to shape the agenda of every significant global formation.

One of the most significant achievements of the first decade of BRICS was the establishment of the New Development Bank and its Africa Regional Centre, which fills a critical gap in project funding.

Since its formation, the New Development Bank has disbursed loans totalling $5.1 billion, with approvals amounting to $1.7 billion this year alone. As we enter the second decade of BRICS cooperation, we are determined to further expand the Bank’s role in economic and social development.

Since joining BRICS South Africa has sought to strategically position Africa on the agenda of BRICS and will continue to garner support from the BRICS partners for African industrialisation and infrastructure development.

Programme Director,

South Africa has embarked on the redistribution of land process which has attracted a lot of attention in our country and beyond.

The reform process will be undertaken in an orderly manner that advances economic development, increases agricultural production and food security, and provides well-located housing for the poor.

Parliament is currently engaged in a process of considering whether Section 25 of the Constitution needs to be amended to allow for expropriation of land without compensation.

This is one of a series of measures that we are undertaking to accelerate land reform to correct a historical injustice and unlock the economic potential of this valuable resource.

In conclusion, allow me to once again thank you for joining us here today.

As we work together to advance the shared interests of the peoples of the world, it is important that we have regular engagements to better understand each other, to exchange views and to forge a common vision for global growth and development.

I thank you.