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President Cyril Ramaphosa: Opening remarks during official talks during State Visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya

23 Nov 2021

Opening remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa during official talks during the State Visit by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Union Buildings, Tshwane

Your Excellency, Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya,
Honorable Ministers,
Honorable Cabinet Secretaries,
Senior Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of my Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to welcome you and your delegation to our country. 

Your visit is another manifestation of the very strong and cordial bilateral relations between our two countries. 

Our historic ties are rooted in Kenya’s principled support for our struggle for liberation, racial equality and democracy. 

For this, we remain eternally grateful to the people of Kenya. 

Solidarity, mutual respect and a common vision of a better Africa and a better world form the foundation of our relations today and into the future.

This State Visit takes place after the successful inauguration of the Kenya – South Africa Joint Commission for Cooperation, which took place on 11 August 2021 in Nairobi. 

The Joint Commission for Cooperation provided an opportunity to take stock of our current bilateral relations while laying the foundation for more regular exchanges and meetings between our government officials. 

While relations between South Africa and Kenya are warm and constructive, it is time to elevate our ties to that of a strategic partnership. 

This would signify the importance of our political, economic and social ties and the leadership role we play in our respective regions. 

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

A good starting point are the economic ties between our two countries. 

Over the past five years bilateral trade has been constant, while investment has mainly been characterised by South African companies investing in Kenya.

Much more can and ought to be done. 

I am therefore most pleased that His Excellency has brought along a Kenyan business delegation that is currently participating in the Business Forum. 

As vocal advocates of Pan-Africanism and intra-African trade, South Africa and Kenya ought to set the example by increasing the volume and composition of our trade and investing more in each other’s economies.

We are committed to taking practical measures to address the imbalances in bilateral trade between our two countries, ensuring that South Africa becomes a ready destination for goods and services from Kenya.

I would like to request our respective Ministers to remove any unreasonable barriers or challenges that are stifling these efforts. 

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

Each of our countries has the indigenous knowledge and expertise to benefit the other.

These efforts to strengthen economic ties are not possible without the facilitation of movement of people between our two countries. 

In this regard, we are most pleased to witness the signing today of the Memorandum of Understanding on Migration Matters and the Agreement on the Return of Nationals Refused Entry and Illegal Entrants.

The strong foundation of our bilateral relations has ensured excellent cooperation and coordination of our positions on multilateral issues. 

South Africa and Kenya both seek to strengthen multilateral approaches to improve global peace and security. 

Please be assured of our continued support during Kenya’s tenure as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022. 

I congratulate Kenya for its successful chairing of the Security Council in October, when it strongly voiced the concerns of our Continent and emphasised the need for a rules-based multilateral approach to global challenges.

As a recipient of international solidarity in the struggle for liberation, we stand together with the rest of the international community in support of the people of Palestine and Western Sahara in their struggle for self-determination and nationhood. 

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

South Africa agrees with Kenya that it is important for the Security Council to support the work of the UN Mission and the reconvening of negotiations by the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy. 

Like Kenya, we remain concerned at the delay in holding the long-awaited referendum, which is necessary for the realisation of the right to self-determination for the people of the Western Sahara. 

We are also concerned at the inadequate protection of the human rights of the Saharawi people.

We commend Kenya for having undertaken to promote the Women, Peace and Security agenda during its tenure on the UN Security Council.
 
It is a concern that while most of the African Continent enjoys peace, democracy and stability, there are still pockets of insecurity and conflict within countries and between neighbouring countries. 

The reality is that much more still needs to be done to ‘Silence the Guns’ in Africa. 

In particular, we note with concern the recent conflicts and resultant suffering in our sister countries, Ethiopia, Sudan and Mozambique. 

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

We call on all relevant role players to work towards finding sustainable solutions to these conflicts. 

To this end, we will work closely with Kenya on all platforms to promote peace and security on the African Continent.

We fully support and align ourselves with the SADC position to support and assist Mozambique as directed by the 40th SADC Summit. 

We strongly condemn any attempt at an unconstitutional change of government in the Sudan and call on all the parties to engage in constructive, good faith and peaceful dialogue to restore the Sudan’s constitutional order.

We are most alarmed by the unfolding situation in Ethiopia and the consequences it may have for the stability of the country and the region. 

There is an urgent need for all parties to the conflict to commit to an immediate, indefinite, negotiated ceasefire and an inclusive political dialogue to begin the difficult work of forging a lasting resolution to the country’s ethnic and political divisions.

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

I wish to congratulate Kenya for being among the countries that have ratified the AfCFTA, which aims to accelerate intra-African trade and industrialisation, and which offers great opportunities for Africa’s economic integration and development.

We meet 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 a grave concern that the global community has not sustained the principles of solidarity and cooperation in securing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. 

While we welcome some of the recent developments in making vaccines more accessible, the strategic goal for both of our countries and others on the Continent should be to acquire and manufacture vaccines on the Continent. 

South Africa and Kenya have proven capacity and expertise in this regard. 

I am pleased to see that His Excellency’s programme includes a visit to Aspen Pharmacare in Gqeberha, which will provide first-hand experience of our capacity to produce vaccines and highlight areas of possible cooperation with your Government.

Your Excellency, in conclusion, I thank you once again for your presence here today. 

As is customary among close friends, I trust that we will have frank and fruitful discussions on the current state of our bilateral relations. 

I thank you.

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