Comments about SALO

We here at the Embassy of Ireland are very pleased to partner with SALO for this event, and although Women’s Month ended yesterday, women’s equality and gender rights are issues that we need to talk about and work on all year round. These issues are massively complex, they exist across the cultures and nations of the world. They’ve persisted for generations and they will take much more time and energy to resolve.
Paula Molloy, Deputy Head of the Irish Embassy
Public Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Gender-Based Violence and Hate Crime: South Africa’s Response to Violence and Crime Against Vulnerable Groups
1 September 2020

As I said, thank you once more SALO for a very brilliant initiative of bringing all of us together so as to look for common approaches to common challenges, especially those that affect the women both in the region [and] in the continent. For me, what is critical, all the panelists have indicated [that] we have common challenges, issues of poverty, issues of unemployment, issues of access to services, all of us are affected, maybe to [a] varying degree but you are all affected.
Miriam Saohatse, ANC IR subcommittee member
SALO Multi-stakeholder Dialogue/Human Rights and Human Security in SADC
11 June 2020

Today, SALO has brought together a panel of activists who have ensured, through their tireless work, that policymakers are more sensitive to the gendered impacts of the lockdown and the pandemic. The awareness that domestic violence will increase is down to their advocacy and campaigning, and as a result, additional resources are being made available to support women and children in these situations, but it’s not enough. More needs to be done. Policy cannot simply respond to victims of violence; it must be more agile in responding to the perpetrators and ensuring that justice is executed rapidly so that women can continue with their lives free from fear and inside their own homes.
Ambassador Fionnuala Gilsenan, Irish Ambassador to South Africa
SALO Multi-stakeholder Dialogue/Human Rights and Human Security in SADC
11 June 2020

“I would like to thank SALO for organising such a debate when we are celebrating Africa month, to debate on this issue of refugees and economic migrants who are in Africa, not just in South Africa. This is Africa month; we need to be speaking on issues relating to how Africa [can] develop as a unit moving forward. To see that no African is left behind when it comes to development.”
Thifulufheli Sinthumule, Director at CoRMSA.
SALO Zoom Multi-stakeholder Workshop on Zimbabwean migrants and COVID-19 responses
28 May 2020

Thank you very much to SALO for this opportunity. It really is critical that we sit down and discuss some of these issues because when we do, I believe solutions that can assist us can be found. Thank you
Diana Zimbudzana, Zimbabwe Exile Forum
SALO Zoom Multi-stakeholder Workshop on Zimbabwean migrants and COVID-19 responses
28 May 2020

Thank you SALO for organising this important session. I think from my side this has been a very enlightening conversation to listen in, and I think one of the things that is clear to me is the need to do more in arching the gulf between policy and the policy implementation. This is not only as far as migration policy is concerned, but even in other aspects around certain commitments to human rights issues that we often define as a challenge between what is pronounced at high-level and what actually happens on the ground.
Dr Showers Mawowa, Embassy of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.
SALO Zoom Multi-stakeholder Workshop on Zimbabwean migrants and COVID-19 responses
28 May 2020

Then-Ambassador Trine Skymoen, Royal Norwegian Embassy –  28 June 2018, Hate Crimes and Hate Speech Bill dialogue, Burgers Park Hotel, PTA

I will just use this opportunity recognise the convener of today’s dialogue – SALO. Now SALO has been such a close and highly valued partner, a friend of the Norwegian Embassy, for a long time.  I have been here now for four years and I am leaving in a week’s time, and it is especially appropriate that I spend one of my last working days here at a meeting convened by SALO, because I think at one of the very first meetings I attended and speeches that I made as Norwegian Ambassador to South Africa was at a SALO event. So the circle is complete, once again to have this opportunity to actually now listen to you – first of all to you, Deputy Minister, and then to what I think will be a very, very vibrant and robust discussion afterwards. I will listen attentively and I will take with me, back home to Norway, all the lessons that I will learn today.  But just one more word for all of you and this is also in connection with SALO. If you are planning an initiative and you are looking for a strong experienced and solid South African partner with an unmatched network in government, to diplomatic circles and civil society, bear SALO in mind.

Prof. Brian Raftopolous – 10 July 2018, Morgan Tsvangirai Legacy workshop, Burgers Park, PTA

This meeting of SALO’s is one of many that SALO regularly holds around dialogues on issues, political issues, economic issues in Southern Africa and one of many that is held of on Zimbabwe over the years – gatherings that have put together civic activists, politicians, state officials and representatives from foreign governments in what has been often very fruitful discussions; where we had very frank discussions around particular issues and so it is with great joy that I can say SALO was able to once again to bring people together

Ambassador Liam MacGabhann, Embassy of Ireland – 26 February, Community dialogue on LGBTI issues in Soweto, Naledi, Soweto

What I am trying to do and what I am trying to do all the time when talking to people is to share our experiences, share our own history, to say that these challenges can be dealt with and can be dealt with in different contexts in different countries so I would encourage you to keep on, I spoke to the deputy minister of social development this morning about these issues, another deputy minister that is extremely interested in helping SA to move forward on these issues and our objective in the embassy of Ireland, through the support of we provide to NGOS like SALO and others that work in the LGBTI area or gender-based violence area, is to influence change through the work that we do.

COSAS Deputy President – 26 February 2018, Community dialogue on LGBTI issues in Soweto, Naledi, Soweto

It would be important that SALO partners with COSAS so that we can lobby this programme nationally, so we engage with young people around the country. We can stop killings by educating the people to the importance of care, compassion and that violence is not the answer. Each one, teach one. That is most important route that we need to take.

Philmino Hosi, Acting ANC branch chairperson, Naledia Soweto – 26 February 2018, Community dialogue on LGBTI issues in Soweto, Naledi, Soweto

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak, because we hardly ever have opportunities to speak; we never get a chance to understand … [addressing participants in closing remarks], become champions of our own rights. SALO have provided the platform, so what comes out of here will be important in moving forward, in spreading the message across.

Irish Aid representative – 27 February 2018, post-workshop evaluation form, Are Free, Fair and Credible Elections Possible in Zimbabwe?, Burgers Park Hotel, PTA

Q:  Which aspects of the seminar did you find to be the most useful?

A:  “The discussions- very engaging” – Irish Aid representative

Q:   SALO’s main objective is to help build consensus and cooperation in the region.  Do you think SALO is achieving this objective? 

A:  “Yes, judging by the breadth of stakeholders that they were able to bring into the room – Gov of Zim, CSO’s, political parties, media etc” – Irish Aid representative


Marlon Zakeyo, Policy Dialogue Programme Manager at Southern African Trust (SAT) states:

“I think the key value addition that SALO brings and has brought is bringing together diverse groupings of individuals and organisations that would ordinarily not be able to be in the same room, to engage on issues in a constructive way. I think that has helped to enrich debate on various issues, not least on big development issues, such as the post-2015 agenda.  So, in my view, I think the impact has really been high and has been visible in the way that you see a top government official sitting in the same room with a youth activist or people that are coming from grassroots organisations or professors from top research institutes or women from various movements coming together. So, for me, this has really been something that’s been positive.”

Ambassador Roeland van de Geer, then-EU ambassador to South Africa (2015):

“You obviously are a think tank, and are also active in the field of what I would call policy preparation, in the sense that you are bringing together government, the NGO sector and the diplomatic community. So, yes, you are a think tank, but you are also very much an operator, bringing people together around certain things. It’s a small organisation to which there is a more practical side of things. You ask diplomats to speak, and to interact. So I would say a combination of a think tank, and a practical organisation. You are not… an organisation that goes in the field, and interacts with other countries in a direct way. You are also not an academic institution, but rather filling that space between them, and you are very active. Very often we are with SALO.”

 Dr. Charmaine Williams, SALO Board member and development policy specialist (2015):“They’ve [SALO] been very good in terms of relationships and interactions with government and obviously SALO is a South African organisation that informs South African international relations and development into the region. So, on that basis – if you consider it from that perspective – the government that they most need to be working with, in terms of engagements, is the South African government. And they have managed to build very good networks.”

Karin Johanson, the former Deputy Head of Mission at the Swedish Embassy (Pretoria) noted (2015):

“I think one area where you are quite a unique actor in the context here – Pretoria, Johannesburg – is the way you can bring together people from different organisations, institutions and so on, on the official South African side, the civil society and so on. The political party with the ANC links and then with the diplomatic community.” 

Mario Rui Queiro, EU Political Section (2015):  “One of the very valued sides of this type of activity of SALO is the timely calling of the workshops – that you discuss the right things at the right time. I think that’s very valuable.”

 As noted by former Norwegian Embassy official, Sondre Bjoviet: “SALO focuses on dialogue centred on consensus building amongst a broad spectrum of stakeholders. This is SALO’s comparative advantage.”

Thoko Matshe, Africa Regional Coordinator of the Olof Palme International Center stated:

“I would like to welcome you all to this SALO meeting again, I say again, because I have been to several of the meetings that SALO has arranged.  Again I would like to say to SALO, thank you, thank you, thank you very much for the space that you provide for the conversations that are necessary in this region of southern Africa in particular but I know some of the conversations go beyond.  Thank you because its space that is unique and that is very useful…. We find that SALO is unique in the sense that we can sit – we know ourselves, where we are coming from and whether its government and whatever, and trying to influence policy at this level and at the same time, in the communities talking issues of xenophobia, living together and refugee issues.  That is an opportunity, because these two levels don’t stay there.  That information that comes improves lives and makes a difference.”

Ambassador Nzapayeke, Ambassador Central African Republic, Pretoria, Former Prime Minister of CAR:

“I want to thank SALO for organizing this workshop. I am so happy to see that the Central African Republic, despite all our problems, has a lot of friends in this country. And as I said, never forget that while South Africa is the feet we are the heart of Africa, and the heart cannot exist if it cannot stand, if does not have feet.  So I would really like to thank SALO for organizing this, and to encourage also all institutions in South Africa to follow this example. I think we need to communicate and exchange views in order to understand each other better, and I do believe that South Africa has a very strong role to play in Africa, particularly to assist some of the fragile countries like ours. Thank you.”

Karin Johanson, former Deputy Head of Mission, Swedish Embassy (Pretoria) (2015):

“I think your meetings are perceived as a safe space where people, who would otherwise not come together to discuss critical matters, can meet and feel free in the way they interact with each other. So, I would say that there is a good foundation for an effective programme, to have an impact and for sustainability in the long run. Also, with regard to your links within the immediate administration but also outside, with key people who will continue to be important decision makers in South Africa, I think [this] is key to sustainability and long-term engagement.”

Ambassador Welile Nhlapo, South African President former National Security Advisor and former Chair of the Kimberly Process:


“SALO fills a gap by building consensus on a number of very pertinent issues that people might rather avoid – on peace and security, on issues relating to development, on some thematic and country-specific issues. But, through this format, people have been drawn from different streams to come together and interact with one another. You have government officials who don’t feel under stress if they come to SALO meetings. I used to do that when I was in government, because I knew that the purpose was to take advantage of the platform that has been created by SALO for government or other role-players to share information and to explain what government is doing – in the areas of mediation in particular, and on a number of peace and security issues.”

– and –

“I’ve had that opportunity to take advantage of the platform and the space that has been opened up to engage widely with all the constituents of the KP – preparations and outreach and clarifying what my role is and, as we saw, bringing other people together on a common platform who would not usually engage. We were able to get them under the same roof, within a programme that is organised by SALO, and include other people, who are interested from industry, academics and elsewhere, who then raise their own questions. But, of course, as the Chair, having to play a particular role, it also helped me to build and strengthen the relations with a different constituent element of the KP outside of what would normally happen between the Chair and the different committees, and also the Chair and the different constituent elements of the KP. So, that was a great advantage, which was provided for in those kinds of meetings. It provided great support. And with the concurrence of the South African government… they would usually be reluctant to be drawn in at the same level. However, it became a project for everybody – a project where each individual could speak freely.”

Shamiso Mtisi; KP Civil Society Coalition and Zimbabwe Environmental Lawyers Association; Harare; 3rd December 2014:


“To be honest with you, I started participating in SALO programmes in 2013, when South Africa was chairing the Kimberly Process. I found the meetings to be quite interesting in the sense of the ability of SALO to bring together different players in the diamond sector. It’s not easy to bring together civil society, industry and government in one room, and the chair of the KP. And those people have their different views. In fact, it was my first time to address such kind of meetings, where I was invited to share a platform with the chair of the KP. It was also quite interesting, though we differed on certain principles around redefining conflict diamonds and things like that. Also, the nature of the discussions were quite interesting because there were different views on these matters. The ability of SALO to bring together civil society, industry and government is something that was quite remarkable for me in the way of doing business. I also think that the emphasis on engagement is another plus for SALO.”

Bheki Sibiya former Chief Executive for the Chamber of Mines South Africa as of (1 May 2015)
“…We need to be saying we don’t want to have the resources curse, so the mining industry stands ready to say probably we think, like SALO, like NEDLAC, that the contexts or structures and the issues of the country need to be debated more thoroughly and, as it has been indicated, that we come up with the implementation project of the National Development Plan, so that it becomes a vision which is stated clearly – as we have been implored to do, and do well. The seventy-one members of the Chamber of Mines stand ready and are committed to do the best they can to ensure that they play their role, because it is here that we mine; we can’t mine anywhere else because the resources are here. Thank you very much.”

Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Mr Godfrey Oliphant

Hon. Godfrey Oliphant

“As a country, we are privileged to be a founding member and an inaugural chair of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. I wish to acknowledge SALO for the partnership we had during the Kimberley Process in 2013. The Kimberley Process (KP) is a joint governments, industry and civil society initiative to stem the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used by rebel movements to finance wars against legitimate governments.”

Mr Roger Baxter, former Chief Operations Officer of the Chamber of Mines of South Africa, now CEO of the Chamber of Mines SA

Roger baxter2

“…and I certainly think that dialogues like this create the forums to continue that debate, because it’s not only about debate, it’s about sharing ideas, and for us to understand better and for you to understand better, and for all the different stakeholders to work together off better shared platforms. Again, thank you to SALO for the work that you’ve done in putting this forum together.”

Deprose Muchena in a message to SALO – July 2014:

“Keep on going and please do not tire. A lot of people and civil society from the region rely on an actively engaged South African government, a South African foreign policy that respects human rights and a South African civil society which is engaged on the important regional questions of the day.”

Deprose Muchena - Director, Amnesty International Southern Africa Regional Office

Deprose is the Regional Director for Amnesty International -Southern Africa, whose offices are in Johannesburg. Prior to that, he was the Deputy Director of the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa (OSISA), where he worked with governments, civil society, media, and academics to foster human rights and democracy across the region. Before that, Deprose ran OSISA’s economic governance programme where he led the foundation’s work on socio-economic rights and programmes to address socio-economic inequalities. He has been a close partner of SALO for a number of years.

Address by the Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the Hon JH Jeffery, MP, at a Human Rights Day Policy Dialogue Event of the Southern African Liaison Office, held at the Burgers Park Hotel, Pretoria, 25 March 2014

Hon John Jeffery (MP) - Deputy Minister, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

Thank you for the invitation to the Dialogue event. I am always impressed at the work that SALO does in contributing to building peace and security through facilitating dialogue and consensus nationally, regionally and on the continent and it is therefore a pleasure for me to be part of this Dialogue.

Read full speech here: Speeches 2014_SALO Human Rights Day Policy Dialogue

Wandile Dludlu, Coordinator, Swaziland United Democratic Front (SUDF) (At a SALO Building Regional and International Consensus on SWAZILAND workshop, 9 April 2013)


It’s very encouraging to be here again to speak about the case of Swaziland that too often avoids the attention of the region and the world. We remain very indebted to the leadership of SALO and to all who support SALO for making sure that Swaziland is brought to the attention of the world. It really encourages us – we don’t take it for granted. 

 While we appreciate the good work and the move in the last conference of the ANC in establishing a task team on Swaziland, we are hoping that South Africa will get more concrete on its policy posture on Swaziland.We’re looking forward to making our inputs and we note that SALO has been very instrumental in the process. 

Thoko Matshe, Africa Regional Coordinator of the Olof Palme International Center.  (At a Building Regional and International Consensus in Southern Africa workshop, 30 January 2013)


 Again I would like to say to SALO, thank you, thank you, thank you very much for the space that you provide for the conversations that are necessary, in this region of southern Africa in particular, though I know some of the conversations go beyond.

We find that SALO is unique in the sense that we can sit together, trying to influence policy, and at the same time, be in communities talking about issues of xenophobia and refugee issues.  That is an opportunity, because information at these two levels doesn’t stay there – it improves lives and makes a difference.

Richard Saunders, PhD Associate Professor Department of Political Science York University (January 2013)

(Email to SALO) “Congratulations on convening workshops on such critical policy issues, and bringing together an unusual and impressive mix of researchers, experts, policy makers, political actors and donors. It is in these kinds of spaces that important future debates get their first airing.”

Itai Zimunya, Osisa Zimbabwe Programme Manager (October 2012)

(Email to SALO) “Many thanks for the platform in Pretoria. It is very important and helps regional and international actors nuance their engagement on our respective countries”

EU Ambassador to SA, H.E.  Roeland van de Geer (At the launch of the project to support the EU-SA Dialogue on Peace and Security, 3rd May 2012)

“So I hope that over the coming months we will see a very intensive SALO support programme of this EU-South Africa dialogue on peace and security; that we, as a group, will see each other regularly…and I do think that the recommendations that will come out of these meetings will be of direct benefit to policy makers both in Pretoria, in Brussels and in the capitals of the European Union. SALO: thank you very much for this opportunity, and I wish you all the best, and you can count on our continued support!”

South African President’s National Security Adviser, Ambassador Welile Nhlapo (At the launch of the project to support the EU-SA Dialogue on Peace and Security, 3rd May 2012)

“So it’s possible to engage on these issues, painful and difficult as they are, because that’s what dialogue is all about. It’s not about exchanging niceties and pleasantries, it’s about discussing even the most difficult of issues to try and find an alternative to an acrimonious relationship or solution that nobody would want to live with.  To move away from war and confrontation, that’s the best way that we can be able to do that…I can assure you, our European Partners, that through this dialogue … we always have some difficulties in the beginning, but in the end we find one another, as long as we are ready to do so. So dialogue for us is something that is certainly welcome and we encourage SALO to continue with this effort and wherever it is possible and practical, call us together…”

Deprose Muchena, Deputy Director Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (February 2012)

(Email to SALO) “Thank you for your wonderful work.  It continues to push the frontiers of open society and we love it!”

Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, International Relations Advisor to the SA President and a member of the SA/SADC Facilitation Team for Zimbabwe. (May 2011 Workshop Pretoria)

“I think before I get directly to the topic itself, I’d like to thank SALO for organising this workshop. I think that it is an important workshop and we believe as the facilitation team that such gatherings are very important for us… This dialogue in my opinion must not be the beginning and the end now. I think this dialogue must be continuous because the questions that I get from here help me as I go again to engage with the facilitators. As we go and engage, they keep ringing in my head: what about this? What about that? It’s not that we’ll think of everything, but if we continuously engage like this, I’m sure that we will get somewhere.”

(September 2011 Workshop Pretoria)  “I wish to thank SALO first and foremost  for arranging this meeting, also because, as I said  the last time I was here, the work that we are doing as the Facilitation Team – but also the work that everybody else is doing in trying to address the challenges that we have – needs to be communicated.”

Ms Isabella Matambanadzo,Zimbabwean Feminist Activist (30 July 2009 – BIC Zimbabwe meeting)

“I’m just going to speak from my heart and from the little bit of experience that I have, living and being a Zimbabwean. Firstly let me thank the organisers, I think over the years SALO has become a really critical platform for discussion and dialogue on matters of regional and international policy, and I want to thank all the effort that has gone into organising this event.”

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (May 2010- BIC workshop at which he was the main speaker.)

“Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to be with you today. In particular, I wish to recognize Ambassador Sten Rylander who has not only been a strong supporter of SALO, but has, over many years, proven himself to be a true friend of the people of Zimbabwe in their quest for a truly democratic society.”

Ambassador Sten Rylander (May 2010 BIC Workshop at which Prime Minister Tsvangirai was the main speaker)

“This will probably be the last SALO meeting that I attend during my fairly long stay as Ambassador of Sweden in Zimbabwe. I leave from here tonight for Sweden and will only be back in Zimbabwe some three weeks in August to bid goodbye more formally. As from 1 September a new Ambassador will be in place – continuing to build on the work we have done together over the last few years. Let me pay glowing tribute to SALO and to Joan Brickhill and her Board and staff for the excellent work they have done to engage in longer term bridge-building and dialogue regarding the sometimes very difficult situation that we have seen develop in Zimbabwe. Your strong commitment and dedication have made a difference – and also a deep impression on so many of us international partners, representing both governments and civil society”

Ambassador Sinika Antilla, Ambassador for Finland based in Lusaka, Zambia with side accreditation to Zimbabwe and Malawi – at the time; now Ambassador for Finland to Tanzania with side accreditation to Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo since 01.09.2011 (February 2010 interview)

“…I think the strength of SALO is the networks and contacts that SALO has to bring together partners with different backgrounds [to] discuss these very complicated issues together. So of course there comes a time depending on how things develop inside Zimbabwe, when we have to see how long we need these kind of discussions outside, but I fully agree that they have been very useful means of dialogue [ in reference to SALO’s BIC Dialogue forums].”

May-Elin Stener, Deputy Head, Embassy of Norway in Pretoria (February 2010 interview)

“My name is May-Elin Stener.  I am the Deputy Head of the Norwegian Embassy in Pretoria.  We have been supporting SALO for about two and half years both financially and been coming to meetings and trying to contribute our best.

On January 21, SALO hosted a meeting on Zimbabwe with the specific focus on the illegal trading diamonds which we were chairing together with my Finnish colleague.  It was a particularly well attended meeting.  I have never seen so many people at a SALO meeting before.  I didn’t count them, I don’t know how many but it was full.  It was a very interesting meeting.  There were lots of contributions from Zimbabwean government, from South African government, from civil society also in Zimbabwe and the government, also from the EU who has taken a particular interest in the Kimberley Process and it was a very thorough discussion on the issues related to diamonds in Zimbabwe.

Well those meetings or those dialogue forums that SALO provide for are very useful; they are very useful to discuss issues related to Zimbabwe and also other countries.  I know that Norway is mainly involved with the Zimbabwe issues.  It is useful to get together diplomats from various countries and they are able to get people from South African and Zimbabwean authorities which is also very useful and to talk with civic society.”

Southern Africa Trust (SAT) web page “partner link” to SALO:

June 11 2009:

The Trust gave US$250,000 to the project, The Zimbabwe Conflict: an obstacle to regional integration and development, which aims to bring attention to how the Zimbabwe issue is an obstacle to regional integration and development.

This project succeeded in stimulating policy dialogue and debate amongst a variety of regional and international stakeholders and SADC policy makers.