International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor at a breakfast reception in Cape Town. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo/African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor on Saturday hosted a prestigious breakfast reception for the many ambassadors and high commissioners accredited to Pretoria - her first interaction with the diplomatic corps following her appointment to the critical ministry by President Cyril Ramaphosa after the May 8 general elections.

"As Dirco [department of international relations and cooperation], we are convinced that our focus must consistently be our priorities, action to advance the development of the African continent, support for advancing human rights, promotion of respectful co-operative relations between nations, and active participation in achieving peaceful resolution of conflicts and of course support for measures to achieve increased robust and inclusive economic development," Pandor said at the event at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

"These are tough aspirations in a world that seems determined to be fractured and tense. I am certain that all the excellencies gathered here share the noble ambitions of Dirco and while I know we may not succeed in all of them, I am truly honoured that I have been charged to work closely with you to really try to achieve these ideals. I sincerely look forward to working with you to get your support in achieving as many of them as possible."

The former higher education minister said she relied on the diplomatic corps working closely with Dirco to advance the international relations goals of South Africa, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and the entire African continent. 

"After all, we enjoy freedom today due in large measure to the support many of you gave us during our hard fought struggle for freedom. The collaboration we secured then, the single-minded determination aimed at defeating apartheid, is required even more as we confront the issues of ensuring increased African prosperity, the education and skilling of our youth populations, the entrenching of quality for women, the creation of sustainable inclusive democracies, and respect for diversity and inclusion globally," she said.

"Our President Ramaphosa set out this government’s key priorities [in the state of the nation address] and it is my task to ensure our work in Dirco contributes to these and to especially give attention to our Agenda 2063 for the continent of Africa."

Pandor expressed gratitude to her predecessor Lindiwe Sisulu, who was reassigned by Ramaphosa to the reconfigured department of human settlements, water and sanitation last month.

South Africa hosts the second largest number of diplomatic missions after the United States. The breakfast event on Saturday was attended by hundreds of diplomats, including Dean of the Diplomatic Corps ambassador Bene M'Poko of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe's ambassador David Hamadziripi, Rwanda's high commissioner Vincent Karega, ambassador Issa Sherif of Egypt, and ambassador of China Lin Songtian.

Pandor was accompanied by her deputies Alvin Botes and Candith Mashego-Dlamini.

African News Agency/ANA