President Tasks Heads of Missions to be Ambassadors for SA's Economy, Not Just the Flag
President Tasks Heads of Missions to be Ambassadors for SA's Economy, Not Just the Flag. Photo: The Presidency

President Cyril Ramaphosa has told Diplomatic Heads of Mission that they are tasked with leading the drive to promote South Africa abroad and champion the message that the country is open for business. Speaking at the SA Heads of Mission Conference in Pretoria on Thursday, the South African president also criticised the United Nations Security Council and said it needs an overhaul.

The President said the Russian Ukraine “conflict” (ie. Russia’s attack on Ukraine) has exposed the inability of the UN Security Council to fulfil its mandate of maintaining international peace and security.

He claimed the current formation of the UN Security Council is outdated and unrepresentative.

“It disadvantages countries with developing economies. The entire peace and security architecture of the United Nations needs to be overhauled.

“Decision-making needs to be democratised so that the Council can be true to its mandate and move beyond the paralysis brought about by a few member States,” he said.

The President said the conflict is having an extraordinary impact on global affairs and that these developments will continue to define international relations into the future.

While admitting the conflict has caused extensive destruction and immense human suffering, he said SA has urged Russia and Ukraine to pursue a negotiated political solution.

“As a country, we are committed to the articles of the United Nations Charter, including the principle that all members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means.

“We support the principle that members should refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of other States,” he said.

President Ramaphosa said the SA government has encouraged the country’s international partners to consider confidence-building measures that will bring the parties closer together, instead of adopting measures that will further alienate the parties and result in the escalation of armed conflict.

“We are deeply concerned about the broader implications of the conflict in the Ukraine for global economic recovery. It has disrupted global supply chains, driven up the price of essential commodities and plunged the world into a new era of economic instability and uncertainty,” he said.

“Be ambassadors not just for our flag, but for our economy”

The President told the gathered heads of mission: “You are tasked with leading the drive to promote our country abroad. In this period of reconstruction and recovery, our foremost responsibility is to foster grow and employment.”

South African representatives, the President said, are essential key players and actors on the global stage where the foundations of world diplomacy are facing an enormous shift.

“We want you to be ambassadors not just for our flag, but for our economy. You need to seek out new ways to grow trade and attract investment into South Africa. You need to pave the way for outbound investment into existing and new markets.

“We count on you to market abroad the immense opportunities that exist in the South African economy,” he said.

He said that some Heads of Mission have taken the initiative in recent years to bring business delegations to the Investment Conferences and to the country’s tourism and mining indabas, film festivals and aerospace shows.

“This is the type of initiative we want to see. Our Heads of Mission should look at the needs of our various provinces and understand the type of industries that we need to help lift people out of poverty. –