History of Relations
The Struggle against Apartheid
  • Jamaica was at the forefront of the international campaign against apartheid in South Africa. The first country to declare a trade embargo against South Africa, was Jamaica, as early as 1957 even while the island was still a colony of Britain and thus without responsibility for its external relations. Jamaica consistently and unequivocally opposed apartheid and supported all United Nations' decisions aimed at its elimination.
  • The struggle against apartheid was carried out on two fronts. Not only was it necessary to weaken the intransigence of the regime which enforced apartheid in South Africa; the major industrialised countries had also to be persuaded not to oppose the imposition and maintenance of economic and trade sanctions against that country. Jamaica played a crucial role in pressing the international community to limit foreign trade and investment in South Africa, with a view to creating economic dislocation which, coupled with the internal struggles of South Africans, would lead to the dismantling of apartheid. Ultimately, this came about in April 1994 when national elections were held on the principle of one man one vote and Nelson Mandela became President of South Africa. A Jamaican with a long record of service in the United Nations, Angela King, was head of the United Nations observer team which monitored the elections.
  • The effort to isolate the South African regime also extended to the field of sport. In 1968, the International Conference of Human Rights strongly recommended the exclusion of South Africa from the membership of international sports federations and associations because of its discriminatory policy in sports. Jamaica was among those countries which worked to bring the issue of apartheid in sports before the United Nations and was appointed to the ad hoc Committee set up to draft an International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. In December 1977, the General Assembly adopted the International Declaration against Apartheid in Sports, and finally, a decade later in 1987, the Convention.
  • Jamaica's role in the political and diplomatic process to end apartheid in South Africa has been internationally recognized. In 1978, Michael Manley, the then Prime Minister, was among a group of eminent persons awarded the UN gold medals for distinguished service in the struggle against apartheid.  He led the Commonwealth Observer Mission to South Africa in 1992 and 1993 and again in 1994 to observe the first democratic elections. Michael Manley also received South Africa's Order of the Companions of Oliver Tambo (Gold Award) for promoting the interests and aspirations of the Republic of South Africa at the higher levels through excellent cooperation and active expression of solidarity and support.
  • During the apartheid years, the Jamaican and other CARICOM governments awarded scholarships to several South African students to attend the University of the West Indies and other regional institutions.
Establishment of Diplomatic Relations
  • Jamaica and South Africa established diplomatic relations on 9th September 1994, following the election of a representative majority government in post-apartheid South Africa.
  • In 1999, South Africa appointed Ambassador T Luthuli-Qcbashe as first non-resident High Commissioner to Jamaica and the rest of CARICOM with residence in Caracas, Venezuela, while High Commissioner TH Chiliza based in Kingston assumed duties as the first resident High Commissioner in October 2000. The current South African High Commissioner to Jamaica is HE Mathu Joyini
  • Jamaica opened its High Commission in Pretoria in October 2006. In January 2009, Jamaica appointed H.E. Audley Rodriques as Jamaica’s first resident High Commissioner to South Africa.  High Commissioner Rodriques was reassigned in October 2010 and was replaced by HE Norma Taylor Roberts in May 2011.
  • The Jamaican Government has waived visa requirements for all South African passport holders, while regular holders of Jamaican passports may enter South Africa for a period of up to 90 days without the necessity of visas.
High Level Visits to Jamaica
  • Former President Mbeki paid a State Visit to Jamaica on from 30 June to 2 July 2003, which had included his attendance of the CARICOM Heads of State Summit in Kingston.   Other high level visits to Jamaica included:
1987 – OR Tambo gave the keynote address at the Peoples National Party Founders Day Banquet in July 1994;
1991 – Nelson Mandela paid first visit to Jamaica. An honorary doctoral degree was bestowed upon by the University of the West Indies;
*1997 - The Minister of Sport, Steve Tshwete, and Advocate Mojankunyane Gumbi presented South Africa's Olympic bid to the Caricom Heads of State Summit in Montego Bay;
*1998 - Former President Nelson Mandela visited Jamaica and received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies;
*1999 - President Thabo Mbeki and former Minister Lionel Mtshali visited Jamaica in February 1999 in their former capacities as Deputy President and Minister of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology respectively;

*2001 - Minister Ben Ngubane visited Jamaica in March 2001 in his capacity as Chairman of the Science and Technology Committee of the Commonwealth;
*2002 - Minister Dullah Omar, in his capacity as Minister of Transport, led a South African delegation to a Transport Seminar in Grenada and a fact-finding visit to Jamaica during January 2002. The aim of the visit was to explore the establishment of direct aviation and maritime links between South Africa and the Caribbean;
*2002 - Former Foreign Affairs Director-General Sipho Pityana led a SA delegation to Jamaica during November 2002;
*2003 - The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Dlamini Zuma, briefly visited Jamaica en route to Haiti during January 2003;
*2003 - The Director-General of Minerals and Energy, Adv Nogxina, led a South African fact-finding visit to Jamaica during March 2003;
2008 - Minister of Trade and Industry, Mandisi Mphahlwa, paid a visit in November 2008, to explore possibilities for trade and investments.
2009 - South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Lulama Xingwana, paid a visit to Jamaica in December 2009 and signed an Agreement for Cooperation in the Fields of Arts and Culture
2011- South African Minister of Arts and Culture, Paul Mashatile, paid a visit to Jamaica to participate in Jamaica Emancipation and Independence celebrations and to strengthen cultural relations.
High Level Visits from Jamaica
1998 - The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade visited as part of CARICOM Trade and Investment mission to South Africa
1999-   Prime Minister, the Most Honourable P.J. Patterson paid an official visit to South Africa
2004 – Minister of Information attended the celebration of the 10th anniversary of post-apartheid South Africa in April 2004
2009 – Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, the Hon. Olivia Grange participated in the 4th World Summit on Arts and Culture and held bilateral meetings with counterpart in Culture and Sports
Bilateral Cooperation
In terms of advancing bilateral cooperation, Jamaica and South Africa signed an Agreement for Cooperation in the Fields of Arts and Culture in 2009.
There are several draft agreements currently under negotiations. The pending agreements are:
  • Memorandum of Understanding on the Promotion of Defence and Security Cooperation between the Jamaica Defence Force and the South African National Defence Force
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Issues Related to Public Works
  • Bilateral Air Services Agreement
  • Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the field of Social Development
  • Agreement on Cooperation in the field of Sports and Recreation
  • Agreement on Scientific and Technical Cooperation
Jamaican High Commission, Pretoria, South Africa