5 March 2014
Cyril Ramaphosa, the deputy president of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), is in South Sudan to start mediation efforts aimed at finding a lasting political solution to the conflict in the war-torn country in northeastern Africa.
Ramaphosa, who is also the deputy chairperson of South Africa’s National Planning Commission, was named the country’s special envoy to South Sudan during President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address last month.
He will also visit some countries belonging to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development, an organisation of six eastern African countries focused on drought control and development initiatives. The grouping comprises Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda. He is expected to be back in South Africa by next week Thursday.
Ramaphosa’s appointment to the post came at the request of President Salva Kiir Mayardit for assistance in bringing about peace and reconciliation in South Sudan.
Since fighting broke out in December between the forces of President Kiir and former Deputy President Riek Machar, thousands of people are believed to have been killed and some 870 000 others have fled their homes – 145 000 of them to neighbouring countries and 75 000 to United Nations bases within the country.
South Sudan gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. Since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, South Africa has been actively supporting the African Union’s (AU’s) post-conflict reconstruction and development projects in Sudan, under the umbrella of an AU ministerial committee which South Africa currently chairs.
To date, South Africa has trained more than 1 600 officials from the government of South Sudan in areas such as policing, diplomacy, public service, justice, education, mineral affairs and correctional services.
Last year, South Africa and Sudan signed an agreement establishing bilateral relations between the two countries. They have also upgraded their diplomatic missions to ambassadorial level.