Almost twenty years after the ending of apartheid, South Africa still faces many challenges. Economic: the economy suffered as a result of the 2009 crisis and is struggling to return to strong growth. Social: in the face of massive unemployment and inequality, social tensions are rising. Political: on the strength of its historic legitimacy, the ANC is a people’s party with no rival, and any handover of power is decided internally rather than through any democratic process.
South Africa nonetheless remains Africa’s biggest economy by far (30% of the GDP of sub-Saharan Africa). As an industrialised country and a State governed by the rule of law, it is attractive to investors and represents France’s leading trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa (20% of French exports). As a member of the BRICS group and the G20, South Africa is a major diplomatic player in Africa with a voice that counts on the international stage.
A partnership in the process of consolidation
The visit of the French President of the day to the Republic of South Africa (28-29 February 2008), followed by the State visit to France by President Zuma (1-3 March 2011), did much to cement the bilateral strategic partnership, paving the way for closer consultation on major global issues: reform of the UN Security Council, innovative methods for financing development, tackling climate change. The discussions provided a platform for relaunching the strategic partnership created in 1997, and for establishing an annual programme of meetings (Forum for Political Dialogue, Joint Defence Commission, Strategic Defence Dialogue, Forum for Economic Dialogue).
Against this background, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs visited South Africa on 10 and 11 November 2011. Shortly afterwards, on 2 and 3 February 2012, the respective Secretary-Generals of the two Ministries of Foreign Affairs met in Pretoria at a Forum for Political Dialogue to follow up on the commitments made at ministerial level.
Keen to maintain the momentum of high-level political dialogue between the two countries, Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius met his counterpart, Mrs. Maïte Nkoana-Mashabane, on 29 May 2012. The two Presidents also met twice on 19 June on the margins of the G20 summit, and once again on 25 September at the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.
Updated on 29.01.13