Zuma to campaign for SA's third turn as non-permanent member of UN Security Council

17 September 2017 - 16:16 By Bianca Capazorio
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President Jacob Zuma. File photo.
President Jacob Zuma. File photo.

President Jacob Zuma is due to embark on a “charm offensive” this week at the United Nations General Assembly as he campaigns for South Africa's third turn as a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

Zuma and his delegation‚ which includes at least seven cabinet ministers‚ are due to arrive in New York on Sunday for a busy schedule of speeches‚ meetings‚ and negotiations.

Deputy permanent representative for the South African mission to the United Nations Mahlatse Mminele said Zuma and the ministers of International Relations‚ Defence and State Security would be focusing on securing South Africa a seat on the Security Council for 2019/2020‚ which would be the country's third turn on the peace and security decision-making body since 1994‚ if the lobbying is successful.

“South Africa will be in a lobbying mood and will be going on some kind of charm offensive‚” Mminele said.

Zuma's first order of business would be taking part in a high level discussion of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by troops deployed in areas of conflict as peacekeepers‚ taking place on Monday.

Mminele said Zuma was one of a select few heads of state invited to attend the event.

South Africa is one of the top ten countries in terms of troop contribution‚ and has‚ in the past had some “challenges” in regards to incidents of sexual exploitation‚ with some members of the SA National Defence Force implicated in cases of sexual assaults in foreign countries.

“We have managed to turn a corner and have become a very good example‚” he said.

Zuma is due to address the general assembly late on Tuesday night. Also on Tuesday‚ Zuma will attend a reception hosted by Secretary General Antonio Guterres for heads of state and their spouses.

On Wednesday‚ Zuma will be one of 16 heads of state at a luncheon with United States President Donald Trump. All eyes will be on Trump‚ who will be attending the United Nations for the first time‚ and his strong “America First” message.

Guterres told media this week “all the efforts I've been making until now are in the direction of trying to create conditions for the relationship between the United States and the United Nations to be a constructive relationship. And I hope that will also be the message of President Trump‚ and I hope that‚ if that is the message that will be conveyed‚ that that message will be well received.”

Mminele said issues up for discussion with Trump include peace and security in Africa‚ and concerns about South Sudan.

“President Zuma will try and get his attention on key strategic issues around Africa‚" he said.

South Africa will also host a dinner honouring Oliver Tambo‚ to which anti-apartheid activists who knew him‚ like civil rights activist Jesse Jackson‚ have been invited.

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