SA commended for peacekeeping role in Africa

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pretoria - United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has commended South Africa's continued role in peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction in Africa.

Speaking after a meeting with President Kgalema Motlanthe at the Presidential Guest House in Pretoria on Wednesday, Mr Ban said South Africa had an important role to play continentally as an economic powerhouse.

Mr Ban said he hoped the UN could count on South Africa's continued support in peacekeeping operations.

"South Africa holds a particular place in the United Nations family and South Africa is today an important partner in UN peacemaking and peace building. South Africa has about 2 000 troops helping the United Nations in the Congo and Sudan," he said.

President Motlanthe said South Africa was honoured to host the secretary-general on his first official visit to the country as part of his five country tour to Africa.

Items that were expected to be discussed between the two included flashpoints in Africa, humanitarian and peace keeping efforts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the newly formed unity government in Zimbabwe, Sudan and developments in Burundi.

The secretary-general said the UN welcomed the inauguration of the new unity government in Zimbabwe, but remained concerned about the arrest and detention of Movement for Democratic Movement (MDC) members.

President Motlanthe said he had spoken to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai who had given the assurance that all political detainees would be granted bail.

Mr Ban said the UN would be increasing support to Zimbabwe in order to deal with the cholera outbreak which has infected 83 000 people and killed about 3 000 people according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) report.

Senior Advisor for Humanitarian Affairs Catherine Bragg is currently in Zimbabwe. She met with President Robert Mugabe on Tuesday to discuss how the UN can mobilise more humanitarian aid for Zimbabwe.

South Africa has also been an effective advocate for climate change as well, said Mr Ban.

He announced that the UN, as part of initiatives to combat climate change, would be donating $11 million to South Africa's public transport infrastructure to ensure it utilises green technology, he said.

The UN secretary-general is visiting South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania and Egypt as part of his Africa tour.