President Cyril Ramaphosa decided last Thursday not to attend the formal opening of the UN General Assembly in New York on 23-26 September 2019. This, in my view, was the correct decision and for foreign policy as well as domestic reasons. Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Dr Naledi Pandor, will lead South Africa's delegation instead.
President Cyril Ramaphosa's explanation for remaining in South Africa was to "attend to the implementation of government's urgent measures on gender-based violence, the restoration of order and stability in areas affected by public violence, and to oversee initiatives to turn around the economy". These are all powerful issues for SA and widespread globally. Progress here in addressing them could also become a beacon of hope not only for South Africans but for our neighbours and beyond.
There could be some diplomatic grumbling over Ramaphosa's absence at the UNGA. SA secured Africa's backing for another two-year term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council (2019 and 2020) with the promise to champion African concerns, and then was elected to be the 2020 Chair of the African Union.
Minister Naledi Pandor is, however, a capable and credible representative and it is difficult to imagine...