SA, SADC partnering to combat piracy

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Pretoria - Government is looking at enhancing cooperation with its SADC neighbours along the Indian Ocean shoreline, especially the island states of Mauritius, Seychelles and Somalia, to safeguard the sea routes from pirate attacks.

"We firmly believe that the solution to this problem lies on land and therefore our enhanced political strategy on Somalia will seek to build capacity to find a political solution, while at the same time combating piracy, prosecuting perpetrators and establishing the necessary correctional institutions to deter such activities in future," International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.

Piracy seems to be growing in the Indian Ocean, which in turn hinders economic prosperity.
Last year alone, 24 ships where hijacked in 134 piracy incidents off the Somali coast, according to the European Union Naval Force.

Tabling her Budget Vote in the National Assembly in Parliament, the minister said the instability in Somalia has been the growing scourge of piracy.

Instability due to war and the absence of a functioning government have contributed to the worsening of the situation, while a lack of sustainable programmes for institution and capacity building also renders Somalia more vulnerable to natural disasters.

Nkoana-Mashabane used the speech to pay homage to South Africans being held hostage in Mali and Somalia.

"To Steven McGowan, Bruno Pelizzari, Deborah Calitz, and your respective families - I want to say, we are with you. Furthermore, finding and returning the remains of our late brother, Anton Hammerl, is still a priority for us."

Turning to matters of political stability around world, Nkoana-Mashabane reaffirmed South Africa's commitment the notion of creating a better and safer world.

Starting in the continent, she said the recent events in Mali and Guinea Bissau were a reminder of the challenges that lay ahead as democracy, peace and stability were still fragile in some countries.

She stood by the decision ECOWAS and the AU took in rejecting unconstitutional changes of government and secessionist tendencies.

With regards to Mali, she said South Africa would lend its support to that country to aid their process of transition, while in Guinea Bissau, she urged the military to allow its people to continue with the electoral process of electing a new president.

In the Horn of Africa, she said South Africa remained concerned about the tension between Sudan and South Sudan. She was hopeful that the mediation efforts by the AU High-Level Implementation Panel, IGAD, the AU Peace and Security Council, and the United Nations Security Council, would yield "positive results towards restoring normalcy in that part of our continent".

Turning to Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, Nkoana-Mashabane indicated that South Africa was ready to share its experience in transitional justice and constitution-making, among others.

She remained concerned with the issue of the status of Western Sahara, saying South Africa would continue to support the peace efforts of the AU and the United Nations on that protracted conflict.

Nkoana-Mashabane also pledged South Africa's solidarity with Nigeria in their struggle to defeat the menace of terrorism.

Closer at home, the minister said they would engage the authorities in Swaziland towards the resolution of their domestic challenges as well as working with the leadership and people of Zimbabwe for the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

She also touched on the situation in Middle East, especially Syria, Palestine and Iran - where she encouraged peaceful resolutions.