South African Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visits Sri Lanka
By Srimal Fernando, Global Editor - Foreign Exchange Diplomatic Society
The Deputy President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa who has been appointed as Special Envoy of President Jacob Zuma on Sri Lanka arrived for a two-day working visit to the Indian Ocean Island nation on 7 July 2014.
Ahead of the visit, Ramaphosa said that they are going to listen to the Sri Lankans. “We will also meet the opposition parties and we will travel to the north where the conflict was at its fiercest. We will discuss with people in the community. We will also try to help the Sri Lankans with the Truth and Reconciliation process, their own constitutional reform and make sure Sri Lanka does indeed become a stable country where they will enjoy human rights,” he said.
The two-day visit was Ramaphosa’s first trip to Sri Lanka as Special Envoy. The delegation was welcomed at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Sri Lanka by Nimal Siripala De Silva, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Management, South African High Commissioner Geoff Doidge, and Sajin de Vass Gunawardena, Member of Parliament. During this week's trip to Colombo Ramaphosa paid a courtesy call on President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees to deliver a message from President Jacob Zuma.
In the course of the two-day stay, Ramaphosa met with Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Professor G.L. Peiris, Leader of the opposition United National Party, Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe, the leadeship of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) and civil society representatives, and shared South Africa's experiences on lessons learnt from South Africa's truth and reconciliation commission as an integral part of South Africa’s negotiated political settlement.
He was accompanied on the two day visit to Sri Lanka by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo. The other members of his delegation included Mr. Ebrahim Ebrahim, senior government officials and members of South African civil society.
Earlier a delegation headed by Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva accompanied by Minister Douglas Devananda, was sent to South Africa in February 2014 to explore the possibility of using the South African mechanism for the reconciliation process in Sri Lanka. Later in April 2014 a senior delegation from the Tamil National Alliance (TNA) visited South Africa.
Ramaphosa held discussions with the Chief Minister of the Northern Provincial Council, Mr. C .V Wigneshwaran and the delegation toured Sri Lanka's former conflict zone on Tuesday where he met with the Governor of the Northern Province, Major General G.A.Chnadrasiri.
The delegation concluded the two day working visit to Sri Lanka on 8th July 2014.