South Africa pledges to help Somalia
The South African government has pledged to assist war-torn Somalia with capacity building of its civil servants. Speaking to Somali business leaders at a hotel in Bellville, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco), Marius Fransman, revealed government had allocated R100-million to provide capacity and institution-building to Somali government officials.
Fransman’s statement comes barely two weeks after government established diplomatic ties with the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG). The two countries recently agreed to exchange diplomats, a move analysts believe will advance their relationship. On a different note, the deputy minister advised Somalis to attend the upcoming Africa Day celebrations in Cape Town.
He also said government was greatly concerned about the threat posed by pirates along the coast of Africa, extending down to the Mozambican Channel.
Somali business leaders at the meeting thanked the minister and the South African government for establishing relations with their country. ‘‘We are very grateful to the South African government for establishing relations with our country because this will benefit us enormously,” Abdullahi Ali, a Somali businessman said.
He added that the local Somali community welcomed the new diplomatic relations. “People are hoping the new embassy will now enable Somali’s wishing to travel to South Africa to get direct visas which will make them enter the country legally,” he said, adding this will enormously boost business. Another Somali Nasir Ali said he believes the proposed diplomatic missions in Pretoria and Mogadishu will help strengthen relations between local South African citizens and Somalis living in the country as refugees.
International relations minster Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, said earlier this month that diplomatic relations with Somalia would afford SA an opportunity to closely assess the situation in Somalia. She proposed interventions in partnership with Somalis and other key players towards the realization of lasting and meaningful peace in Somalia.
South Africa is home to a large Somali community, which mainly operates in the small scale business sector. During the famine which ravaged Somalia in 2011, the South African government donated R8-million to help starving victims. Somalia has been without an effective government since the ouster of Dictator Mohammed Siyad Barre in 1991. Since then, the Horn of Africa country sank into deadly violence that killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands.(Hassan Isilow)