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South Africa and the Department of Defence and Military Veterans committed to IONS

12 April 2012
By Lufuno Netshirembe
Photos: Courtesy of Navy news

The Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu accompanied by Mr Thabang Makwetla, Deputy Minister of Defence and Military Veterans and Mr Sam Gulube, the Secretary for the Department of Defence and Military Veterans officially opened the 2012 Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS) in Cape Town on 11 April 2012.  This symposium is being held on African soil for the first time since its inception in New Delhi, India in February 2008.

IONS is one of the most important maritime conferences in the region, bringing together approximately 86 countries on the South African soil to achieve one main objective of promotion of constructive engagement and dialogue in order to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean and to promote areas of common interest and co-operation. The theme for the 2012 Symposium is Regional Maritime Security Initiatives aimed at reducing Modern Maritime Security Threats. Looking at the recent rampant illegal maritime activities (which includes, but not limited to piracy, human and narcotics trafficking, plundering of maritime resources and many other illegal sea based activities) this is relevant as acts of maritime security threats are becoming common place around the continent’s East coast including the whole Indian Ocean.

Minister Sisulu pointed out that the South African government and its citizens are committed to ensuring the outcome of the symposium would become top agenda item of security in South Africa and that of the region. “we commit ourselves to ensuring that we give you political support that you require in dealing with this clear and present and menacing scourge, so that you direct yourselves to the reduction of maritime security threats emergent in your respective environments”, said Minister Sisulu during her 2012 IONS official opening.

According to Minster Sisulu this commitment is very real as approximately 90% of our African economic trade is dependant on sea as the main transit area. The increasing maritime security threats becomes clear a menacing danger to the livelihood of not only Africans but also all the member states of IONS. As a result of this fast growing maritime threats, the South African Navy is patrolling the seas as per recently signed a trilateral agreement with Mozambique and Tanzania of cooperation to curb this threats. She encouraged that countries must act together to combat maritime insecurity and that collective cooperation would be mutually beneficial in obtaining solutions to regional maritime security.

“The Indian Ocean Naval Symposium holds the most remarkable potential. In your hands is the protection of a way of life, in your hands is a huge responsibility. Do me the honour of emerging from this symposium with historic responses. I eagerly await the result”, concluded the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu.

Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu arrives at the 2012 IONS held at Cape Town Convention Centre accompanied by Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, Chief of South African Navy.

On podium: Vice Admiral Johannes Mudimu, Chief of South African Navy welcoming the Minister to the symposium and introducing the seated panellist at the auditorium.


Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu address the 3rd IONS delegates in the auditorium at the Cape Town Convention Centre