Ramaphosa off to UN in New York in first visit as SA president

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President Cyril Ramaphosa will join a number of world leaders in New York in the US as he leads a delegation on a working visit to the city for the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

“This marks President Ramaphosa’s inaugural participation in UNGA as head of state and government. [He] will participate in the annual general debate which is the occasion for world leaders to gather at UN headquarters to discuss global issues,” his spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said in a statement.

Diko said the president was expected to depart on Saturday for the session, which runs from September 25 to 27 under the theme: “Making the United Nations relevant to all people: global leadership and shared responsibilities for peaceful equitable and sustainable societies”.

He will be accompanied by international relations and cooperation minister Lindiwe Sisulu, trade and industry minister Rob Davies, defence and military veterans minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, finance minister Nhlanhla Nene and health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

“The theme is inspired by the commitment of Maria Fernanda Espinosa Garces, President of the General Assembly (PGA), to making the United Nations a more relevant, efficient, transparent and democratic organisation.”

The debate would take place after the unveiling of a statue of former president Nelson Mandela and the historic Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, a high-level plenary meeting in honour of the centenary of his birth.

“The Nelson Mandela Peace Summit will be an opportunity for heads of state and government to commit global support towards ending conflict in the world and on the African Continent in particular, in line with the African Union’s aspirations of silencing the guns by 2020,” Diko said.

Ramaphosa was expected to outline South Africa’s domestic and foreign policy goals and priorities in his inaugural address at the UNGA, including the country’s land reform programme aimed at fostering greater stability, inclusiveness and transformation within the South African economy, she explained.

“The president is further expected to lay out South Africa’s priorities for its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council from 2019 to 2020. While in New York, [he] will meet with CEOs of major global companies as part of the drive to attract foreign direct investment in order to ramp up the SA economy,” she said.

“This will form part of the build-up to South Africa’s International Investment Conference which will take place on October 26 and 27 with a focus on bringing investment of $100bn [~R1.43tn] into the South African economy over the next five years.”

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