Belgrade – Serbia, Friday 18 October 2019: The South African delegation to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s (IPU) 141st Assembly in Belgrade-Serbia, says the Belgrade Declaration on Universal Health Coverage is a big cause for celebration by all peoples of the world.

Speaking after the closure of the five-day conference of 179 world Parliaments last night (17 October 2019), National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise said, South Africa’s long journey towards universal health care services for all, including the processes of establishing the National Health Insurance (NHI), has been affirmed by the decision of world’s Parliaments in Belgrade-Serbia this week. She described health as ‘an equalizer that should receive priority attention of legislators of the world who make legislation, approve budgets and oversee the work of the executive arm of government in executing legislation and policies.

“I am very happy that South Africa followed the lessons it learnt over the years. I am also happy that we laid the foundation since 1994. We rolled-out primary health care, we built clinics across South Africa, we made sure that children, pregnant women and old people had access to free medication. That was the beginnings of our long long journey towards universal health coverage….South Africa, we are on the right track”, said Speaker Modise, when welcoming the resolutions taken at the 141st Assembly of IPU.

Speaker Modise had a series of formal and informal engagements with many other Speakers from the continent, in BRICS and across the world. The IPU has described the 300 bilateral meetings between heads of the 179 delegations of Parliaments, on the sidelines of the IPU’s 141st Assembly in Belgrade, as historic.

Commenting on the value of these bilateral engagements, Speaker Modise said, when Parliamentarians work together, “they become richer, they become stronger, they become more resolute because they then realise that they are not alone when they take decisions that sometimes bring them into conflict with the executive.” Almost all proposed changes brought by the South African delegation on numerous draft resolutions of the IPU’s 141st Assembly were supported and adopted in various statutory structures of the IPU.

She also congratulated the Ministry of Public Works for winning a bronze medal for their engagement and empowerment of young people through its Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP), whose award was collected by Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet, at a special IPU ceremony. The overall winner of what the IPU President, Ms Gabriel Barron, described as the Youth Empowerment ‘Oscar” Awards, was won by Rwanda.

The South African delegation was composed of eight Members of Parliament that included the Deputy Chairperson of the NCOP, Ms Sylvia Lucas, House Chairperson for International Relations Mr Madala Ntombela, NCOP Chief Whip Mr Seiso Mohai, and members of Parliament, Ms Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi, Dr Anneli Lotriet, and Ms Nkhensani Bilankulu.

The Acting Secretary to Parliament, Ms Baby Tyawa, gave a presentation on “Assessment of public awareness on the work of parliament; results from a four year long independently commissioned study: Parliament of South Africa” to 123 Secretary Generals attending the IPU Association of Secretary Generals of Parliament (ASGP) that also meet on the sidelines of the IPU Assemblies to build relations among the administration, share best practices.

Speaker Modise was invited by a number of speakers to visit and build on the relations of South Africa and countries such as Rwanda, while the ASGP extended an invitation to Ms Tyawa to again come to present a paper on “how officials of parliament can be effectively assessed on targets derived from strategic plans of parliaments, a case for a balanced scorecard” in the next gathering.

Attached are audio clips of Speaker Modise for your convenience: Download link -

4 Audio clips on various matters of IPU

1. Speaker Modise Congratulates Youth Award Winner-EPWP of Public Works.mp3 896 KB
2. Speaker Modise on Bilateral engagements.mp3
3. Speaker Modise on International Law & Regional Inte.mp3
4. Speaker Modise's Audio on Belgrade Declaration.mp3

For media enquiries or requests for interviews with the Speaker and other delegates of South Africa to the IPU, please call or WhatsApp: Manelisi Wolela +381 66 560 5819 /0760622180 /

Issued by the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Enquiries: Moloto Mothapo