United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Madam Ban Soon-taek arrived in Johannesburg in the late afternoon of Tuesday, 24 February, on his first official visit to South Africa.
The Secretary-General was greeted at Johannesburg’s O. R. Tambo International Airport by Buyelwa Sonjica, Minister for Minerals and Energy, and headed directly to Pretoria for talks with Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The next morning, the Secretary-General met for almost two hours with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and other Government officials. The Secretary-General and the President discussed a wide range of political issues, including Zimbabwe, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and South Africa's role in peacekeeping operations. The Secretary-General also stressed the leading role played by South Africa in engaging non-industrialized countries on the global threat of climate change.
In a jointpress conferencethat followed their meeting, the Secretary-General qualified the discussions as fruitful and constructive. He stressed the important political and economic role played by South Africa on the continent, its leadership on climate change and as a voice for the voiceless, since South Africa would be the only African participant in the upcoming G20 meeting in London.
On Zimbabwe, he said that the partnership between the Zimbabwean parties would need to be nurtured. He said that the United Nations is ready to ensure that the enormous challenges confronting the Zimbabwean people are effectively addressed. But he warned that he remains concerned about reports of arrests and detention of opposition activists and human rights defenders, and that he hoped that these people would be freed as soon as possible. He added that the United Nations would support nationally owned stabilization and recovery programmes to deal with the cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Ban met with United Nations staff in South Africa in a “town hall” meeting.
The Secretary-General and his wife later had a private meeting with former President Nelson Mandela at the Mandela Foundation in Johannesburg. At a later meeting, at the private residence in Johannesburg of former President Thabo Mbeki, he and the Secretary-General discussed peacekeeping and peacebuilding issues, including Darfur, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Secretary-General Ban later met with African National Congress (ANC) President Jacob Zuma at the party’s Johannesburg office. They discussed issues of mutual concern.
The Secretary-General travelled early on Thursday morning from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam in the United Republic of Tanzania. At the airport before departure, he met with Madagascar’s Foreign Minister, Marcel Ranjeva, and its Minister for Economy, Commerce and Industry, Ivohasina Razafimahefa. They discussed the political stand-off on Madagascar and the Secretary-General’s good offices and the mediation work of his Special Envoy, Haile Menkerios, for a more active United Nations role in dealing with the parties in the country. The Secretary-General assured them that a mediator has been appointed who would arrive in Madagascar shortly.