PRETORIA– South African International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu faces a busy week ahead as she embarks on a number of continental and local engagements aimed at building and strengthening relations between South Africa and other countries.

These engagements include accompanying President Cyril Ramaphosa to the Extraordinary Summit of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Kigali, Rwanda, the Minister’s first meeting with Heads of Diplomatic Missions in South Africa since her appointment to the portfolio last month, hosting the Ubuntu Awards and hosting a meeting of the the Council of Ministers of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The summit in Kigali, scheduled for Wednesday, is expected to consider and conclude issues related to the launching of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and adopting the Agreement on the Establishment of the AfCFTA, the Deaprtment of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) says.

The FTA aims to create a single continental market for goods, services and free movement of persons and capital. Its objectives include boosting intra-African trade, contributing to the sustainable economic development and structural transformation, and facilitating industrialisation through diversification and the development of regional value chains and agricultural production.

On Thursday, Sisulu will host the fourth Annual Ubuntu Awards in Cape Town. The Awards will be held under the theme: Honouring Madiba: A Global Champion of Human Rights, Peace and Reconciliation.

The Ubuntu Awards were launched in 2015 to celebrate South African citizens who play an active role in projecting a positive image of South Africa internationally through diligent service in their respective fields.

On the same day, Sisulu is expected to meet Heads of Diplomatic Mission in South Africa to assess national, regional, continental and global trends and dynamics to determine a strategy to be implemented in line with South Africa’s foreign policy vision and mission.

The SADC Council of Ministers is scheduled to take place on March 26 and 27. The Council of Ministers oversees the functioning of SADC institutions and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented. The council consists of ministers from each of the 16 member states, usually from the ministries of foreign affairs, economic planning or finance, who meet twice a year.

During this meeting, the council is expected to discuss and take decisions relating to the functioning of the SADC Secretariat and the implementation of decisions taken at the last SADC Summit.