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SA to assume greater conflict resolution role – Pandor

by Zahid Jadwat

Minister Naledi Pandor in conversation with Zaheera Bham. Conflict resolution is a priority for DIRCO, she says. [Picture: Wardah Wilkinson/Salaamedia]


South Africa will look towards playing a greater role in silencing the guns on the African continent and elsewhere. That was the word from international relations minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, on Thursday.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with Salaamedia in Cape Town, Pandor stressed the need for SA to facilitate peace on the continent. “Conflict is really a huge problem on the African continent. When you don’t have peace, you can’t focus on development,” she said.

She revealed that the department of international relations and cooperation (DIRCO) was preparing to establish a unit for the specific purpose of conflict resolution. This was in addition to ongoing efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Sudan.


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Conflict resolution

“We must continue our involvement and, in fact, up it. We are so involved in a range of conflict resolution initiatives, that we are intending to establish capacity within the department,” said Pandor.

She said “we will be creating such a unit” because “clearly, this is an area in which there’s a lot of work. It’s important to have experts who understand conflict resolution and negotiation”.

In recent months, the country has stepped up conflict resolution as part of its multilateral foreign policy.

In June, President Cyril Ramaphosa led a delegation of African leaders to Europe. The purpose of the mission, despite being mired by setbacks in Poland, was to discuss a peaceful solution to the war between Ukraine and Russia.

In December, it approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to get a ceasefire order against Apartheid Israel for its brutal War of Extermination in Palestine. This was viewed far more favourably than the Ukraine effort.

On the continent, it has intervened in DRC where SA troops are fighting off rebels. In that mission, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers were killed. Three others were wounded.

Referring back to the Palestine issue, Pandor said it was important to “just keep at it”. She said calls for a ceasefire should be coupled with a push for negotiation.

“As we argue for cessation, we must also push for negotiation towards a two-state solution so we resolve this as much as we can, once and for all. We don’t know whether it would bring lasting peace, but I think it would be a major step,” she said.

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