Parliament, Saturday 14 October 2017 - Ahead of the opening of the five-day 137th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in the Russian Federation city of St Petersburg, leader of the seven-member South African parliamentary delegation to the Assembly, National Council of Provinces Chairperson Ms Thandi Modise, held successful engagements with Presiding Officers of Russia’s legislature.

One of these was a bilateral meeting with her Russian counterpart, Chairperson of the Federal Council of the Russian Federation Ms Valentina Matviyenko.

South Africa and Russia enjoy rich historical and diplomatic ties forged over many years. The Soviet Union supported and fought together with oppressed South Africans in the liberation struggle against apartheid. The relations have continued to grow post 1994, through official strategic partnerships and cooperation.

Chairperson Modise, accompanied by South African Ambassador to Russia Ms Nomasonto Sibanda Thusi, told Ms Matviyenko that she was pleased with the strong relations between the two countries and their Parliaments, which have continued to deepen since 1994.

“As we celebrate the centenary of one of the fathers of our liberation struggle in South Africa, Comrade OR Tambo, we are reminded of his key role, together with other struggle heroes like Moses Kotane, in building friendship between the South African and Russian people.

“A few days ago, Freedom Park in Pretoria conducted a ceremony to honour and pay tribute to the heroes of Soviet Russia who contributed to the South African liberation struggle,” said Ms Modise.

Ms Modise said South Africa valued Russia as its strategic ally and, thus, appreciated that the governments of these nations were continuing to foster strong diplomatic, political and trade relations.

“We are happy about various exchange programmes and agreements in areas such as education, arts and culture, transport, science, energy and fisheries. But we are also mindful that it is through our Parliaments, by means of parliamentary diplomacy, that we ensure people-to-people relationship. The role of forums such as the BRICS Parliamentary Forum and the IPU – whose Assembly Russia is currently hosting – are key in advancing the necessary parliamentary diplomacy”.

Ms Modise said she was particularly pleased that the IPU Assembly was hosting the BRICS Women’s Forum. The forum serves to ensure that issues such as gender equality and racial integration continue to receive the necessary attention at platforms of world legislatures.

The strong diplomatic, trade and people-to-people relations between South Africa and Russia was further demonstrated recently with the scrapping of visa requirements between the two countries. Ms Modise commended this development.

She congratulated and wished Russia well as the host of the 137th IPU Summit.

In her response, Ms Matviyenko said Russia valued the relationship between the two nations and their Parliaments. The Russian Federation was committed to continue to strengthen diplomatic relations with South Africa, including through BRICS and the BRICS New Development Bank. She noted that South Africa will be hosting the 2018 BRICS Summit and assured South Africa of her country’s support.

Ms Modise also met the First Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, Mr Alexander Zhukov. The two Presiding Officers had fruitful discussions on a wide range of issues relating to diplomatic and trade relations, including strengthening friendly bilateral relations and cooperation between the South African and Russian legislatures.

Ms Modise will later today address the BRICS Parliamentary Forum meeting before attending the official opening of the IPU Assembly and Related Meetings. The BRICS Parliamentary Forum is comprised of legislatures of BRICS member countries. It is currently chaired by China.

Members of Parliament in the multiparty delegation from the Parliament of South Africa attending the IPU 137th Assembly, which Ms Modise is leading, are Ms MG Boroto, Ms DE Dlakude, Mr PJ Mnguni, Mr ER Makue, Mr M Waters and Mr LG Mokoena. Acting Secretary to Parliament Ms PN Tyawa is also part of the delegation.


Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo 082 370 6930