8 July 2011
South Africa will offer whatever help it can to establish and build Africa’s newest nation, International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said ahead of the inaugural independence celebrations of South Sudan.
President Jacob Zuma will lead a high-level delegation to Saturday’s celebrations, as oil-producing South Sudan declares independence from Sudan – a split approved in a referendum resulting from a 2005 north-south peace deal that ended two decades of conflict.
The agreement was brokered by an African Union panel led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.
However, with just days to go to independence, there is still fighting in the Kordofan region, which has displaced an estimated 73 000 people.
South Africa has called on the parties to resolve the underlying issues to the conflict through political dialogue, and to build on the framework agreement on political and security arrangements for South Kordofan, signed last week between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-North).
Briefing the media in Pretoria on Wednesday, Nkoana-Mashabane said it was South Africa’s desire to see peace, security and stability prevail beyond the declaration of independence of the South.
“South Africa views the restoration of peace, security and stability in the Sudan positively in the Horn of Africa region, and on the continent as a whole,” Nkoana-Mashabane said. “Any instability in the Sudan impacts negatively on the nine countries that it shares a border with.”
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa had already trained more than 1 500 South Sudan civil servants and diplomats through various programmes, and hopes to sign a memorandum of understanding on agriculture with the fledgling country.
A number of South African companies, including MTN, which has acquired a majority shareholding in local mobile operator Areeba, and SABMiller, which has established a brewery in South Sudan, are also showing interest in the new country.
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa would maintain a consistent balance at the onset of the separation of South Sudan from the North, indicating its commitment to good relations with both Sudan and South Sudan.