The Southern African Development Community (SADC) region and Africa as a whole will remain a strategic foreign policy priority for South Africa in 2019, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu said on Monday.
"We believe that stability in the SADC region and the continent is the cornerstone for socio-economic development in our country and in Africa," Sisulu said in a Christmas Eve message.
She said her country will work with all in the region and continent to achieve an Africa free of conflict and to fast-track the implementation of the African Union's Continental Free Trade Area Agreement so that business people in the SADC region and the rest of the continent can do business easily with one another.
South Africa, Sisulu said, is striving to become the business capital on the continent and a transport and technology connection hub.
"Our sophisticated financial and modern transport sector is playing an important role in developing the SADC region's infrastructure," the minister said.
The SADC must be connected through road, rail and air transport, as well as technology and communications, for business to grow, Sisulu said.
Beginning from next year, South Africa will take its non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council for the next two years.
Sisulu said she will engage diplomats early next year to discuss her country's approach and the issues it should focus on during its tenure.
Among the issues are silencing the guns in Africa, addressing the scourge of extremism and terrorism; and protecting women, children and civilians in conflict situations, Sisulu said.
Reviewing the diplomatic achievements South Africa has made in 2018, Sisulu said South African diplomats across the world have done a great deal of work in promoting and protecting the image of their country.
The minister said the year of 2018 was an outstanding year for South African diplomacy, ranging from chairing various bodies and groupings such BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) to hosting the SADC Council of Ministers Meeting, the 10th BRICS Summit and the IORA Ministerial Meeting.
"As we approach 2019, our diplomats will continue to lead in mobilizing investment and promoting South Africa as an investment and tourism destination, thus contributing to job creation and poverty eradication," she said.
In 2019, South Africa will also continue to focus on development, peace and security on the continent, Sisulu said.