The Speaker of the National Assembly (NA), Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, will lead a high-level parliamentary delegation at a virtual meeting with a Chinese delegation tomorrow, 22 October 2021. The meeting will discuss matters of mutual interest, such as fighting the Covid-19 pandemic and strengthening trade and economic relations.

The Chinese delegation will be led by the People’s Republic of China’s Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Mr Li Zhanshu.

The Speaker and the Chairperson, and the Deputy Speaker and Vice Chairperson will co-chair a session of the portfolio and standing committees of both sides. The session is expected to discuss strengthening Parliament-to-Parliament relations between the two legislatures, and practical cooperation between the standing committees and portfolio committees of both legislatures.

Speaker Mapisa-Nqakula’s delegation will include the House Chairperson on International Relations, Mr Madala Ntombela, and eight chairpersons of portfolio committees. The Chairpersons are: Mr Supra Mahumapelo, who is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Inkosi Zwelivelile Mandela, who is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.

Also joining the South African delegation are Ms Makhacani Maswanganyi, who is the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Finance; Mr Duma Nkosi, who is the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry; Ms Bongiwe Mbinqo-Gigaba, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education; Ms Nompendulo Mkhatshwa, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology; Dr Kenneth Jacobs, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health; and Chairperson Ms Beauty Dlulane of the Portfolio Committee on Sports, Arts and Culture.

South Africa and the People’s Republic of China enjoy a friendship dating back to the 1950s, when the Chinese people supported the struggle for liberation from colonialism on the African continent and elsewhere. The former Speaker of the NA, Ms Baleka Mbete, and the former Chairperson of the Standing Committee of the NPC, Mr Wu Bangguo, met in Beijing and signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the establishment of a Regular Exchange Mechanism on 25 September 2006.

According to the MOU, the Regular Exchange Mechanism shall consist of two delegations, individually decided upon by each side, chaired by the Deputy Speaker of the NA and the Vice Chairperson of the NPC. Furthermore, it will include a Member of the NA responsible for International Relations or Foreign Affairs appointed by each side, to liaise and maintain working contact between the NA and the NPC.

Meetings of the two sides shall be convened once a year, on an alternate basis, and the MOU shall be assessed and reviewed every five years. Since the signing of the MOU, visits have occurred between the leadership of NA and NPC, and at the level of NA committees to NPC committees.

These visits have strengthened friendly cooperation between the two country’s legislative institutions. They have also served as a basis to share experience on parliamentary process and to strengthen inter-parliamentary relations.

Exchange of official visits since the signing of the MOU are as follows:

  • 21-29 October 2010, the former Speaker of the NA Mr, Max Sisulu, led an official visit to China at the invitation of Mr Wu;
  • On 23-28 May 2011, Mr Wu visited South Africa accompanied by a Chinese delegation and addressed a sitting of the NA;
  • 23-30 October 2011, the former Deputy Speaker of the NA, Ms Nomaindia Mfeketo, led a delegation to China;
  • 24-31 March 2012, the former Vice Chairperson of the NPC, Mr Hua Jamini, paid an official visit to South Africa;
  • 6-9 April 2015, Ms Mbete led a delegation to China
  • 28 November-December 2016, Mr Qiangba Puncong led an official delegation on a visit to the South African Parliament.

Among other things, these visits serve to:

  • strengthen and develop the bilateral relationship, as well as China’s commitment to working with South Africa to implement and deepen the declaration on the establishment of a comprehensive strategic partnership, specifically in mineral resources, new energy, telecommunications, science and technology, finance infrastructure, and agriculture;
  • expand investment in priority areas identified in the new growth path;
  • encourage the importation into China of high-value-added items from South Africa and send trade and procurement missions to South Africa;
  • to promote people-to-people exchanges in the fields of culture, education, science and technology, media and tourism;
  • increase co-operation between Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) member states;
  • co-operate on the United Nations Security Council, the World Trade Organisation and Brics configurations in order to safeguard shared interests and shape a new world order, including support for South Africa’s hosting of the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP17), which was held in Durban.