Ghana and South Africa have signed a Binational Commission Agreement and a joint communique during the one-day working visit of South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa.
The agreements are expected to make the relationship between the two countries more intimate, provide strategic partnerships and pave the way for more deliverables across a number of sectors.
The agreements were signed at the Jubilee House by Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, and the South African Foreign Minister, Dr Naledi Pandor.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his guest, President Ramaphosa, stood behind their foreign ministers to witness the signing.
After a closed-door meeting at the seat of government in Accra yesterday for bilateral discussions, the two leaders addressed the media where they spoke about a number of issues including how they intended to deepen their relationship and support each other at the continental and global levels.
The South African President assured the people of Ghana and the continent that his country was addressing the problem of xenophobia by raising awareness and consciousness among countrymen and women about how best they should relate to people from other nations.
They were also being conscientised about how to treat, respect and welcome foreigners.
The South African leader said South Africa had always integrated other people into its society, while many people from various parts of the world and the continent had found a home in South Africa.
Mr Ramaphosa expressed regret about the xenophobic incident which happened earlier in the year, which he said took the lives of some people, including South Africans, saying, “This was perpetrated by a minority of South Africans and some of them are through criminal intents.”
He added that: “What happened early this year in our country gave us a great deal of pain as South Africans and it was for that reason that I dispatched a number of envoys around the continent and to Ghana”.
“In the end, this is a matter which is part of the migration challenge the whole continent is facing and it just so happened that we handled the sharp end of it where people were killed and many of them, South Africans,” he stated.
The South African President described the situation as unacceptable, stressing, “We are totally against any form of violence that is perpetrated against people from other nations. South Africa is open to all people on our
continent to come, visit and to trade, do business and to live in,” he emphasised.
Mr Ramaphosa gave an assurance that “we are addressing this and as chair of the African Union (AU), I will be assuring the continent that South Africa is open to other Africans.”
“We have also started our own process of raising the level of awareness and consciousness among South Africans about how best we should relate to people from other nations, how we should treat them, respect them and welcome them,” he added.
The South African President said the situation was being addressed but “we need to improve people-to-people contact between South Africans and the rest of the continent.”
Touching on the relations between the two countries, President Ramaphosa recalled the support from Ghana during the period of apartheid and pointed out that Ghana had been home to many South Africans during their troubled period.
“South Africans found refuge and home here and it is for this reason that we continue to see Ghana as our home as well.
The South African President described Ghana as a citadel of democracy which “we hold highly and from which we draw inspiration and our bilateral relations are solidified by the pool that we have with regard to what Ghana stands for.”
Those, he mentioned, included good governance, respect for human rights, ethical type of governance, rule of law and fundamental freedoms, indicating that “for us this is what Ghana represents and it also represents progress on a number of fronts.”
Father of South Africa’s constitution
President Akufo-Addo described President Ramaphosa as the father of South Africa’s democratic constitution and said the purpose of his visit was to transform the relationship between Ghana and South Africa into something more intimate and stronger.
“We want to build a strategic partnership with South Africa. They are our second biggest trading partner on the continent and I believe it is time to enhance the conversation and relationship between the two countries and that is the purpose for signing a binational commission,” he said.
Explaining further, President Akufo-Addo said the commission was going to encompass work in several different areas such as investment in trade.
More importantly, he said: “We must stress the nature of cultural and sporting exchanges between our two countries,” adding that there was a strong basis for it, especially when Ghana was the home for South African icons such as Miriam Makeba and Hugh Masekela during the apartheid.
That, President Akufo-Addo indicated, provided the two countries with a link between the cultural communities of both countries.
“People to people exchanges and cultural linkages become a very strong force for promoting a sense of solidarity and good relations between our two peoples. In the same way, we know the pedigree of South Africa in sports; they are the world champions in rugby and we in Ghana can benefit from the structured relationship with South Africa, hoping it will be one of the things the binational commission will take on board when inaugurated next year,” President Akufo-Addo stated.