INTERVIEW WITH THE CHARGE D’AFFAIRES OF SOUTH AFRICA TSHEPO RANAMANE


01/04/2021




South African Embassy Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: “Turkey is a strategic partner for South Africa"

In this part of our interview series with diplomats working in our Turkey, Tshepo Ranamane, the South African Embassy Charge d’Affaires, was the guest of The Diplomatic Observer.

We had a hearty interview with Mr. Ranamane about his life in Turkey, the relations between the two countries and the current situation and possible future of the Coronavirus outbreak.

We leave you alone with Mr. Ranamane's clarifying answers:

Diplomatic Observer: Dear Charge d’Affaires, I would like to congratulate all the people of South Africa for the Independence Day that you will be celebrating soon. As this beautiful day approaches, would you like to share a message for our readers?

Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: Travelling from home to office in Filistin Street is usually one of my best parts of each day of the week. By inhaling fresh air, seeing birds navigating the sky, observing trees sustaining harsh weather conditions, noting the litter free streets of Gaziosmanpaşa and also sharing the road with fellow users, my day starts with a positive spirit to achieve the objectives of the day.  Being a citizen of one country, while living in another country is a privilege. The exposure acquired, demystifies any circumstance. Although not many are fortunate to this extent, understanding the world and its beautiful cultures / traditions cannot be simply understood through a television and radio. A touch-and feel experience is always best.    

Each day comes with different observations and appreciation. While some of the observations and appreciations are inspirational, some are not. I have observed that the less cars on the road, as a result of the pandemic and its curfews, means that there is less carbon on the open sky. I suppose that less carbon is inspirational for nature, particularly birds which fly free from any kind of challenge that may be caused by humans. Unfortunately less cars imply that an economy and the people’s rights to benefit from the economy have become disadvantaged by this phenomenon.

The past 14 months were proof enough that both humans and the entire ecosystems need each other to leave in harmony, in order to enjoy the rights and freedoms provided by the respective governments.  As we slowly usher in a new season, we all need to thank God for keeping us alive, and we need to do as advised, in order to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. We also hope that with speedy vaccination, our normal life and livelihood will return back to normal, for us to do our work in the best interest of the nations that we serve.

Diplomatic Observer: Dear Charge d’Affaires, as known from history there are already relations between Turkey and South Africa. The Embassy of the Republic of South Africa was opened in Ankara on 27 February 1993, and Turkish Embassy was opened on 22 March 1994 in Pretoria. First of all, I would like to ask you the current state of relations between the two countries.

Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: Turkey is a strategic partner for South Africa. Bilateral relations between Turkey and South Africa remain cordial. Informed by the Protocol on Political Consultations that was signed in 2000, which mandates Annual Senior Officials and Foreign Ministerial Political Consultations, the structure and framework of the relations is currently at a Binational Commission. A regular exchange of high level delegations (even at a Presidential level) is one of the good indicators of the intension to strengthen relations. In 2019 a delegation of Senior Officials from our Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation travelled to Turkey to meet with their counterparts. Again in 2020, the South African and Turkish Senior Officials also met online to discuss the means and ways to deepen relations.

Our bilateral cooperation is strengthened by agreements that have been signed between the two countries, and some Ministries are currently exchanging draft agreements for consideration. I am delighted to mention that this bilateral cooperation have an education side of it and we have to nurture the intension for skills transfer, particularly in vocational and further education & training. The world icon, former President Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Over 128 South African students are currently studying in Turkey on South African government scholarships. We also wish to see Turkish students taking up available studying opportunities in South Africa as well. The fourth industrial revolution requires that we all accumulate appropriate skills. We are fortunate to have the Foreign Direct Investments in a form of companies, willing to rollout technology and innovation in some parts of South Africa.  Critiques of technology fear it but digitising services can make people’s lives better in terms of poverty alleviation.

Diplomatic Observer: Dear Charge d’Affaires, since December 2019, our world has been under the influence of a new virus epidemic and we have had to adapt to a new social order for about a year. Vaccines developed in various countries have now become a beacon of hope for the whole world. What is the current situation in your country right now?

Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: I don’t wish to enter the politics of vaccines but South Africa is one of the countries that experiences number of high positive cases in Africa. Fortunately such numbers are on a decline. 

17  March 2021

18 March 2021

 

 

Cases:                   1 530 996

Cases:                  1 532 497

 

 

Deaths:                      51 560

Deaths:                    51 634 

 

 

Recoveries:           1 458 001

Recoveries:          1 459 056

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since day one of the first case, South Africa embarked on serious COVID 19 response activities including the economic adjustment to support people and sectors of the economy, particularly Tourism. The involvement of several stakeholders (including law enforcement) is finally yielded desired outcomes, but to a larger extent people are complying with the rules and regulations. 

In Summary, the following is an interesting latest development regarding COVID 19 in South Africa.

Our vaccination programme is a priority in our fight to prevent the spread of the COVID-19.

New information that the AstraZeneca vaccine is less effective against the 501Y.V2 variant will not deter our roll-out efforts.

The planned phased roll-out of the vaccine continues with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in mid-February.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has proved effective against the COVID-19 501Y.V2 variant. Our frontline health care workers are the first to be vaccinated. Our vaccine rollout plan has not changed except that we will begin with the Johnson & Johnson instead of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The vaccine is administered in Phase 1 to more than 1.2 million of our frontline health care workers.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is approved for study use in South Africa and will be rolled out to health care workers as part of a research project.

We have also secured doses from Pfizer for phase one and we are continuing to engage all manufacturers to secure more doses. The fight against COVID-19 is dynamic. The mutation of COVID-19 means we have to consistently adapt to an ever changing situation. We thank our scientists who made the breakthrough finding about the efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the 501Y.V2 variant.

Diplomatic Observer: In connection with the question above, I would like to ask the following; If we bypass this epidemic as humanity, what kind of world awaits us both socially and politically? Will world leaders understand that we need each other to overcome the challenges after the epidemic is over; Or will the current tensions continue?

Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: We live in a global village. In other words, we live in a time of interdependence and sharing. Interdependence will only make sense if there is more convergence than divergence. What is important is that humanity should prosper. We can start doing this by protecting women and children including everyone who is less fortunate. Women and young people should gradually be fully integrated into the mainstream economy. I am aware that Turkey has been extending a great gesture of hosting many refugees. As a member of the global system, rules based world order; South Africa also aspire a better Africa in a safer world. I humbly borrow the words of a wise man and one of the greatest heroes, Mr Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, “peace at home, peace in the world”.

Under the theme of silencing the guns, during South Africa’s tenure as a chairperson, the African Union achieved the following outcomes, namely:

The establishment of the AU COVID-19 Response Fund;

The Africa Task Force for Coronavirus (AFTCOR);

The Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing in Africa (PACT);

The Consortium for COVID-19 Clinical vaccine Trials (CONCVACT);

The appointment of Special Envoys to mobilise the international support for the Continental fight against COVID-19;

The Establishment of the African Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP): a platform developed to assist the AU Member States to tackle issues on the supply side of continent’s response to COVID-19 and access to medical supplies and equipment;

The initiative of the Chair of the AU, President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa, to engage international partners and financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, European Union (EU), G20 Member States and others to support the issue of debt relief for African countries whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic;

Discussions on the development of the vaccine strategy for the continent; and

The establishment of the COVID-19 African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), in support of Africa Vaccine Strategy;

The adoption of the Declaration on the AfCFTA, which forms the basis of inter-trade agreement with effect from 1 January 2021; and

The adoption of the Declaration on Silencing the Guns, which extended the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps for Silencing the Guns in Africa for a period of ten years (2021-2030), with periodic reviews every two years and further decide to extend the commemoration and conduct of the Africa Month during September of each year for a period of ten years (2020-2030).

Diplomatic Observer: Dear Charge d’Affaires, I would like to congratulate all the people of South Africa for the Independence Day that you will be celebrating soon. As this beautiful day approaches, would you like to share a message for our readers?

Charge d’Affaires Tshepo Ranamane: Freedom day celebration, commonly known as National Day, is one of the most important activities in our calendar. Just as we finish Human Rights Month in March, we then enter the month of celebrating the struggle for freedom. Many people lost their lives for the nation to achieve a constitutional democracy. It is for this reason that we should honor the fallen heroes. The generation of Mandela, Sisulu, Tambo, etc have a lifetime legacy which we need to secure.

The devastation of the pandemic encourages us to use cultural diplomacy in order to pursue economic diplomacy. We hope to engage the Turkish economic stakeholders such as chambers of commerce and think tanks or academia to globalize the made-in-South Africa products. Amongst others, we plan to make a significant contribution to the global value chain through trade and investment seminars and participation at strategic fairs / exhibitions. Together with the SA Tourism, we will embark on roadshows for bring Turkey to South Africa and taking Turkey to South Africa. We are hopeful that the pandemic will not disrupt our plans.


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