Today, 14 March 2017, high level delegations of lawmakers from Parliament of the Republic of South Africa and the House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria met at Parliament in Cape Town to discuss matters of mutual interest and means to consolidate diplomatic relations between the two legislatures. The delegations from the two sister legislative bodies were led by the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Lechesa Tsenoli, and his Nigerian counterpart, the leader of the Nigerian House of Representatives, Hon. Feni Gbaja Biamila.
The two institutions recognised that Parliaments globally, as the custodians of public dialogue, are increasingly assuming a critical role in strengthening diplomatic relations over and above traditional roles of oversight and law-making. In this regard, the meeting lamented the fact these two sister legislative institutions have not paid sufficient attention to strengthening diplomatic relationships at the legislature level.
Both South Africa and Nigeria enjoy close diplomatic relations bound by strong political history. The people of Nigeria provided unwavering support and solidarity to the people of South Africa to unseat the last bastion of colonialism in Africa and usher in freedom and democracy. Last year President Jacob Zuma was invited to address the National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In 2013 the then President of Nigeria His Excellency Goodluck Jonathan addressed the joint sitting the South African Parliament. This is indicative of the strong ties enjoyed by the two countries.
The crucial meeting took place against the backdrop of recent tensions between certain members of some communities and some foreign nationals in South Africa, a matter which featured prominently in the discussion particularly insofar as their impact on Nigerian nationals is concerned. The meeting was characterized by frank, robust but cordial engagement, focusing on both the recent and previous unfortunate clashes between local and foreign nationals that affected Nigerian nationals, particularly the Nigerian businesses.
The two national legislatures, while noting the prevailing depressed global economic situation resulting in the competition for scarce resources, denounced any form of criminality regardless of whom it is targeted. It was recognized that South Africans are generally a welcoming people, a fact that is evidenced by a great number of South African communities who continue to live side by side and peacefully with their foreign counterparts.
As the representatives of the two national legislatures met in Cape Town, their executive colleagues, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, and her Nigerian counterpart, Hon Geoffrey Onyeama, were also meeting in Pretoria. Recently, Home Affairs Minister Hon. Malusi Gigaba interacted with his Nigerian counterpart, Minister of Interio Hon Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau and the Nigerian Ambassador to South Africa.
The two institutions, as the largest economies in the continent, have committed to work collaboratively to continuously bolster existing relations and present a united front particularly in the context of economic challenges and rising global competition. The meeting agreed to further engage on issues of mutual interest within the ambit of their constitutional powers.
ISSUED JOINTLY BY THE DELEGATIONS OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN PARLIAMENT AND NIGERIAN HOUSE OF RESPRESENTATIVES
- Moloto Mothapo (Spokesperson of SA Parliament): 082 370 6930
- Hon. Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje (Spokesperson of the Nigerian House of Representatives): +234 802 3145668
LISTEN TO PODCAST
- In words ...”The idea of us meeting this way we agreed that having this press conference is to communicate our concern to our publics, to the people that we represent that good neighbourliness is the oil that makes good relationships across the board...”
- Out words... “The people to people relations will not succeed unless we attend to each others’ neighbourliness as a general approach which is our foreign affairs approach to good relationship.”
- Duration: 52 seconds