South Africa has called for an immediate end to hostilities and the unconditional provision of medical supplies and humanitarian aid as the conflict between Israel and Palestine escalates.
International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor, said this on Friday during her working visit to Zambia where she held talks with her counterpart Minister Stanley Kakubo in Lusaka.
She described the conflict between Israel and Palestine as “grave”.
According to various media outlets, the death toll of those killed since 7 October 2023 in the Gaza Strip has reached 4 127, including 1 661 children, while 13 162 people have been injured.
“The carnage and senseless destruction of property as well as the untold pain and suffering should be condemned unreservedly. These events remind us of our own suffering at the hands of apartheid machinery,” Pandor said.
The Minister said the relevant United Nations (UN) resolutions and decisions should now be fully executed to ensure peaceful co-existence between Israel and Palestine for sustained peace.
“In this regard, our struggle is not complete if the people of Palestine are not free.”
In the same breath, Pandor said leaders should take the opportunity to reinforce their support for the people of Western Sahara in pursuit of their right to self-determination.
“The immediate focus should be to ensure that the referendum is conducted in a free and fair manner. I am satisfied that we had an opportunity to exchange views on these important issues earlier on,” she added.
Meanwhile, Pandor told the Zambian delegate that government was inundated with requests from South African families for assistance in identifying the grave sites and repatriation of mortal remains of their loved ones.
“These are heroes and heroines of our struggle you sheltered during our dark days of apartheid.”
South Africa, she said, was looking forward to working closely with the Zambian government to accord these families closure.
“Whenever we touch down in this country, vivid memories of the support we received during the struggle against apartheid are evoked in our minds.”
According to Pandor, many of the freedom fighters either settled or transited through Zambia from as early as 1963 where the African National Congress (ANC) also established its headquarters in 1969.
“The Zambian people, within their means, provided security and shelter to our gallant fighters and their leadership, particularly OR Tambo whose leadership and resilience led to the intensification of our struggle in the 1980s,” she recalled.
She noted that South Africa and Zambia also remain strategic partners because of the shared history and vision to foster a stable, cohesive, integrated, and prosperous Africa.
“South Africa will continue to work closely with Zambia and our regional partners to deepen peace and stability in Southern Africa and beyond.”
Pandor said a peaceful and stable region will enable the two governments to collectively rebuild their economies following the devastation of COVID-19 and restore people’s dignity.
“We must take advantage of the regional value chain projects in our region and contribute towards the fruition of the SADC Integration Agenda as well as the full implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA).”
Both countries are currently in the process of preparing for the Inaugural Session of the Bi-National Commission (BNC) which will take place in Zambia.
The BNC launch, she said, is overdue as the nations have not convened since 2017.
“We therefore need to utilise the occasion of the BNC to review the implementation of the existing 23 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding signed between the two countries.” – SAnews.gov.za