South Africa’s Chief Diplomat says the country has received unprecedented support ahead of the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, and that they will carry Madiba’s example into their work in the Security Council next year.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview in New York ahead of the Summit and UN General Assembly next week, International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu also reaffirmed the new administration’s position that it was reviewing its withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Among a number of issues touched on during the discussion, including what she called an unfortunate relationship currently with the United States.

Sisulu lauded the world’s embrace of their initiative to hold a Peace Summit in former President Nelson Mandela name and argued it was time for the UN and bodies like the Security Council to do things differently.

“We would like to use the symbol of Madiba, who made sure that at all times he carried everybody including his enemy. Those who may disagree with us, we want to use the opportunity to persuade them to our way of doing things, our way of seeing things might be the better way – not because we think that we’re better – but because we’ve been through the worst and we’ve survived it,” says Sisulu.

In Council, she said they would put the country’s national interests first, listen to our exchange.

“What will determine what we do is what is in our national interest, first and foremost. Secondly we are committed to ensuring that it is Africa first, whatever it is that will benefit Africa we will be there to support it,” She says.

Sisulu also appeared to again backtrack on decisions from the previous administration to withdraw from the ICC.

“We are discussing our own situation and reviewing our own position because we have opted out of the ICC, perhaps in a pique of anger, and we felt that we are actually better off in the ICC to transform it from inside rather than standing outside and hurling a whole lot of expletives from outside.  We are in the process of reviewing our position and we will inform you when we have arrived at a position,” Sisulu says.

She reiterated President Ramaphosa’s view that unilateralism was on the rise calling it an unfortunate situation in our time before turning her attention to the relationship with the United States.

“Well at the moment it seems to be an unfortunate relationship, we haven’t had the time to build a relationship yet, we are fairly new.  The Trump administration is fairly new, but I am confident that after meeting with my counterpart that we will be able sort most of these things out. There is a planned meeting for New York on the side-lines of New York and we have been in telephonic conversation and also written to each other a number of times so I’m comfortable with the way that we relate to the United States from my perspective,” she says.

Minister Sisulu urged the country’s diplomats globally to engage in greater economic diplomacy with President Ramaphosa expected to engage business leaders in New York next week as part of his multibillion dollar investment drive to rescue the country’s teetering economy.