Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Budget Speech, response by DA
20 May 2021
Budget Speech by Dr Naledi Pandor, MP, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation on 20 May 2021
Topic: Building back better, to advance the legacy of Charlotte Maxeke
Members of the Executive
Guests joining us today
We return to Parliament for this Budget Vote debate following an unexpectedly tumultuous financial year. While we have made every effort to act on the priorities we signalled in 2019, much of our work had to be adjusted to focus on supporting government in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. Adjustments also had to be made due to significant budget cuts.
2020/2021 was our African Union Chairship year and we had plans to advance our policy agenda of a better Africa and a better world.
The key focus for 2020 was the priority of silencing the guns in Africa and advancing the economic participation of women. We were also committed to ensuring implementation of all the steps necessary to give effect to the African Free Trade Area Agreement and further implementation of the APRM.
Our budget for 2020/21 was R6 850 179 000 in April 2020; it was reduced to R6 314 968 000. The DIRCO budget for 2021/22 was announced as R7 038 531 000 in the 2021 budget speech and was finally reduced to R6 452 372 000 for the current financial year.
The funding pressures we continue to experience have caused severe cutbacks in key areas. Low levels of economic growth and declining investment in South Africa and Africa are a severe constraint on our international ambitions.
South Africa is fortunate to have a dedicated body of DIRCO men and women who work very hard to ensure that we do achieve our objectives and who tolerate significant sacrifices to ensure we succeed. We have done even more to focus missions overseas on economic diplomacy as we must secure more growth and jobs in South Africa.
Chair, we observed the positive character of DIRCO officials in the COVID-19 crisis. Our Consular Services branch ensured the successful repatriation of thousands of South Africans stranded overseas. The department’s efforts benefitted from support of Portfolio Committee members and from the general public. I wish to thank all who played a role in the repatriation efforts.
With respect to our AU Chairship, President Ramaphosa gave sterling leadership to the Bureau, the AU Commission and our continent. The AU Chair ensured a coordinated African response to the pandemic, developed an Africa Strategy and secured the support of African leaders through an open consultative approach. Agreement that Africa should use its own resources to support the African Centres of Disease Control as the scientific adviser on our pandemic response was a critical factor in Africa addressing the pandemic’s effects. Furthermore, the decision of the Chair to create an African Medicines platform as a web-based platform for equal access to health equipment, treatment and diagnostics was innovative and impactful.
The role of Chair went beyond the health response and also focussed on the economic impact of the COVID virus. The economic envoys appointed by the AU Chair and the Commission engaged financial institutions and government leaders to secure debt relief and debt standstill for indebted African countries so they focus on the pandemic and have liquidity for focussed socio-economic recovery. We have not yet secured new funding sources to provide investment for growth on the continent. We continue to engage multilateral financial institutions to provide such new funding and not more debt loans. While focussing on our COVID-19 response, much was done to continue our engagements with the globe, including support to the President’s annual investment conference. The objective of securing recovery funding is still being pursued by President Ramaphosa and other leaders. The Financing Africa Summit in Paris focussed on the urgent need for the IMF to finalise the matter of Special Drawing Rights and the issue of vaccine production as well as the call for the WTO temporary waiver of TRIPS.
I am pleased to indicate that even in the worst effects of the pandemic, the one feature that was prominently confirmed was the vital importance of multilateralism in global collaboration. Faith was restored in multilateral institutions that had been confronting negativity for several years. COVID-19 revived and affirmed global cooperation. The multilateral and other regional bodies enjoyed a long denied prominence and leadership. This reality has assisted our long-held belief that multilateral institutions matter and are a more inclusive and equitable global option for managing global affairs. We have continued to engage in the UN and to uphold the rights of the people of Palestine to statehood, those of Western Sahara to self-determination and the need for the UN and the AU to assist Africa to finally achieve continent-wide peace and focus on development.
Our 2019/20 Annual Report and that of 2020/21 show the progress we have made in meeting our goals and objectives. They show that while our strength is diminished by inadequate resources, we continue to punch above our weight in international cooperation. We will seek even greater impact in 2021/22. We will do more to support Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt to negotiate an agreement on the GERD. We will also work closely with South Sudan and Libya to promote and support post-conflict reconstruction and finally much more will be done to achieve the gender agenda mandated by the AU adoption of 2020 – 2030 as the Decade of the Financial Inclusion of Women in Africa.
The impact of COVID-19 resonates strongly with the legacy we have inherited from Mama Charlotte Maxeke. She was a woman who believed that it is possible to build back better. In the unquenchable spirit of this great woman of Africa, it is imperative that we focus this year on building back better.
The negative impact of COVID-19 has clear directives for our future agenda. We will continue to promote the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in all our contributions in the UN and AU. Working closely with the AU special envoy on gender and the commission for peace and security, we will consult women leaders in post-conflict areas and work with them to ensure their full contribution to reconstruction and development in their countries.
We are pleased to be serving in the UN Peacebuilding Commission for 2021 – 2022 as this will help us contribute towards the maintenance of international peace and security just as we did during our term in the UN Security Council. Peace and security are extremely fragile or absent in many parts of the globe. The recent vicious attacks by Israel on Palestinian people and the forced removal of Palestinians from their homes are clear evidence of the absence of peace and security for millions worldwide. Sadly, we all watched as Palestine suffered more and more brutally. Greater effort must be exerted to achieve peace in the Middle East. Powerful nations must accept that we all depend on each other and even the most powerful will not achieve peace and security through unilateral actions and neglect of the poor, the oppressed and marginalised. We call on the UN and the Gulf Council to be more resolute in pursuing freedom for the people of Palestine.
Charlotte Maxeke was a bold agent of change. We must be as bold and determined in seeking concrete practical reform of the UN Security Council. I am pleased that early steps toward text-based negotiations are in motion in the UN. There is significant resistance to changing the status quo and we must continue to insist that change is urgently necessary. We need a representative and 21st century relevant UNSC responsive to today’s challenges. There were 51 member states in 1945; we have grown to 193, yet the most important mechanism of the UN remains untransformed.
Building back better also means we should utilise our global cooperation to secure Africa’s ability to effectively respond to complex challenges such as a global pandemic. We must increase our research and innovation capacity and be more ready to rely on our ingenuity, our products and our institutions in future. Charlotte Maxeke and all our great heroes and heroines believed in our innate abilities; let us use them to free ourselves from post-colonial dependency.
Honourable members, Africa lies at the heart of our international agenda. We firmly believe we should ensure Pan-African ability to determine our affairs and shape Africa’s future. We have begun a process of reviewing our Africa strategy in an effort to respond to the new realities on the continent through a new approach and consistent with Agenda 2063.
We have comparative advantages that can support and promote increased African success. We intend to build strategic partnerships and political alliances in a far more rigorous manner. We will strengthen bilateral relations and cooperation and build strategic partnerships with clear goals and objectives. We plan to begin in southern Africa, and to ensure that SADC plans are reinforced and concretely implemented.
Mama Maxeke did not limit her world to South Africa and as with our dialogue series icon, she was a remarkable internationalist. This is one of the reasons why we are robustly strengthening our trade cooperation and people exchange with Southeast Asia. We are thrilled that our portfolio committee recognised the exciting opportunities in the ASEAN formation and supported our entry into the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of the ASEAN.
In August, South Africa will assume Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Peace and Security. The organ has been deliberating on the extremist attacks in Mozambique and ministers of the organ have developed proposals for support to Mozambique that we hope will soon be adopted by the heads of state.
2020 was our second year as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. The feedback we received indicates that that the role of South Africa in the Security Council was deeply appreciated due to South Africa’s principled position on issues on the council’s agenda. This relatively independent position, together with a compelling commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes and a fair and balanced approach in engaging with member states, allowed South Africa to play a bridge-building role in a divided Security Council. During our tenure, we continued to advance UN and AU cooperation on peace and security matters, especially with reference to Libya, the Sahel region, and the transitional process in South Sudan. We note with hope the positive progress in Libya and further actions on the comprehensive Agreement in South Sudan. DIRCO will remain closely attentive to support for post-conflict reconstruction in South Sudan and we are in constant contact with the government there. We also welcome the efforts by various organisations in South Africa to assist Sudan in the transition and constitution-making processes.
President Ramaphosa also worked closely with G20 countries, with our BRICS partners and the EU to continue supporting South Africa and Africa in implementing our international agenda. We also directed efforts at addressing inadequacies in our department. We have adopted an audit action plan, which is intended to support DIRCO in achieving improved audit outcomes. There is a lot of work to do before a full clean audit is achieved, but we are making progress. Our skills need enhancement in the finance division and we must make changes as indicated in various portfolio committee reports. Action has also been taken following reports on the New York land project. We have confirmed that we will act when public resources are not used according to policy and regulatory requirements.
The budget cuts I referred to earlier resulted in changes in our operations. This and the continued economic impact of COVID-19 have led us to review South Africa’s diplomatic footprint globally. In an effort to reduce costs while ensuring a presence throughout the world, we are in the process of closing 10 of our 122 missions during the course of 2021. The missions in closest geographic proximity will provide diplomatic and consular services to countries that no longer host our missions. We plan to utilise improved information technology services to ensure efficient consular support to our citizens in these countries. We also intend to appoint honorary consuls to ensure we continue to have a presence and that we uphold established relations. I have been most grateful for the understanding shown by my colleagues in all these regrettable actions.
In addition to reducing our mission footprint, we have made concrete progress towards finalising our organisational structure. We plan to have a department structure that does not cause us to exceed our budget allocation while also ensuring we attract and retain talent within DIRCO. Our senior management team has worked tirelessly to develop a blueprint that we believe will soon be ready for submission to Treasury and the DPSA. The continuing decline in our Compensation of Employees budget has been a challenge for DIRCO and I am hopeful we will resolve this particular challenge. I do believe improved allocations need to be considered for international work, but I am fully appreciative of the constraints to growth that we all need to overcome together.
It is due to the need to support the economic ambitions of our government that we have directed increased attention the promotion of economic diplomacy through all our missions. We are also working hard to secure increased trade opportunities with our major trading partners. China is one of our most significant trading partners. Honourable Chair would be aware that our two-way trade with Asia and the Middle East region grew from R45 billion in 1990 to a staggeringR984 billion in 2020. COVID-19 caused a contraction of 1,6% in our trade with Asia and the Middle East but, importantly, even in this time our trade with China continued to expand. In 2019, two-way trade with China stood at R413 billion and grew to R437 billion in 2020. The agriculture sector has led this growth. This has resulted in more jobs, more small and medium sized business growth, more small commercial farmers and enhanced trade exchange. Most pleasing is that trade is beginning to be a surplus gain for our exporters with an increasing number of countries in the region.
Added to this welcome progress are the improved trade figures for South Africa in the ASEAN region. In 2020, two-way trade between South Africa and East Asia amounted to R119 billion. I have asked our missions in that region to help identify increased opportunities in the massive halal market and in citrus and other commodities. The statistics on current trade indicate significant growth in the ASEAN – a fast-growing region with a GDP of over US$3.1 trillion and a market of over 650 million people.
This evidence of progress links well with our progress in BRICS, especially in the work of the New Development Bank. Charlotte Maxeke was a team player who sought to benefit all in her circle. She did not shy away from a challenge as shown by the support to her choir when stranded in the USA. Similarly, we have been steadfast advocates of a vibrant active collaborative BRICS. We are hopeful of expanded bank membership this year and fully appreciate the US$2 billion we secured from the NDB to assist us in our response to COVID-19. We also secured a billion dollars for our non-toll road infrastructure programme in 2020.
Our trilateral IBSA Forum with India and Brazil has been a glowing example of a new blueprint for South-South cooperation. Since its inception in 2005, the IBSA Fund for poverty and hunger alleviation supported over 30 development projects in 22 countries of the global South to the value of US$32 million. In 2020, the fund approved new development projects in several African countries, including Senegal, the DRC, Benin, Uganda, Sudan, Mail, Niger and eSwatini.
Our focus in international relations includes our promotion of the values and ethos of our Constitution through advocating for human dignity, democracy and equality. We continue to stand in full solidarity with the people of Palestine and will work even harder to persuade the African Union and the United Nations to robustly pursue freedom for the people of Palestine. The cruel bombings and killings of the innocent we witnessed in the past two weeks are a sad testimony of the cruel impunity the world has granted to Israel. The international community must stop this impunity. South Africa should support the International Criminal Court in the planned investigation of the abuse of human rights by the Israeli Government. We hope sanctions and other measures to show the world’s offence at this brutality will soon be evident.
The people of Cuba also continue to be victims of an unwarranted blockade that should be finally ended by the new US Administration. We will continue to support Cuba and work closely with that solid friend of South Africa.
A better Africa continues to be the key foreign policy focus of South Africa. Working closely with Trade, Industry and Competition, we will support implementation of the AfCFTA. We must do everything possible to ensure successful implementation of the free trade area. For many African countries, the AfCFTA means more productive capacity, economic infrastructure and new trade opportunities. We must ensure evidence-based planning as we implement projects for increased African trade.
DIRCO has supported countries that held elections in 2020, providing expertise via the IEC or relevant non-government partners. The support to the Central African Republic supported an election that many judged as free and fair.
While pursuing our Africa Agenda vigorously, we will also build on the excellent trade relations with the United States of America, the European Union member states and the United Kingdom. These are also significant trading partners for South Africa and we plan to grow the trade, people and cultural links through our embassies. Several ambassadors have drawn my attention to the inadequacy of our cultural diplomacy. I am told Black Coffee could fill Wembley Stadium and profile South Africa, but when he performs overseas there is an insufficient association to his South African identity. We have immense talent in a range of fields and could mount international cultural events with a diversity of talents worldwide. This is an area of diplomacy I would like to focus on more as we begin to free funds from other areas of activity. I also hope we can work closely with Arts and Culture on this aspect of our work.
Finally, honourable members, I wish to assure you that we are working hard to build back better as Charlotte Maxeke expected us to. We must provide skills opportunities to young people, enhance our innovation and digital capabilities so we rank with the best and ensure we continue the work to build a South Africa, Africa and world that will be of service to humanity and responsive to the most progressive human development goals.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Statement by Ms Candith Mashego-Dlamini, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Budget Vote Speech of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 20 May 2021
Thank you, House Chair
Chair of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Mahambehlala
Ladies and gentlemen
Honourable House Chair
During this financial year, DIRCO will focus on the following objectives, in line with the Government’s Medium Term Strategic Framework for 2019 – 2024:
- increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into South Africa and Africa
- improve South African access to foreign markets
- contribute to increased tourism arrivals to South Africa
- improve investor confidence.
In our five-year strategic plan, we have said that we are striving towards:
- a united and politically cohesive continent that works towards shared prosperity and sustainable development
- enhanced regional integration with increased and balanced trade within SADC and on the continent by supporting the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area
- promotion of peace, security and stability on the continent
- using South Africa’s membership and engagements in various international forums to advance the African Agenda.
We are pursuing these objectives in a global environment that continues to grapple with the effects of COVID-19. We are making use of innovative ways, such as digital diplomacy, to achieve our objectives within a global environment that continues to grapple with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have taken serious note of the audit opinions presented by the Office of the Auditor-General on DIRCO, and we are attending to the matters raised. For example, we are working on a property management strategy to move away from rentals to developing properties on state-owned land for our missions abroad and the residences of our diplomats.
The department is working on a strategy, which focusses on developing, renovating and refurbishing the state-owned properties housing our missions abroad.
Honourable House Chair,
In his first speech to the United Nations as President of a free and democratic South Africa, delivered in October 1994, President Nelson Mandela said: “South Africa will help to create for themselves and all humanity a common world of peace and prosperity”. This is a mission we continue to pursue, especially on our continent.
In our own neighbourhood, we continue to focus not only on the situation in Mozambique, as Minister Pandor has said, but we also remain seized with the political and security situation in the Kingdom of Lesotho. We cannot over-emphasise the importance of a stable, secure and prosperous Lesotho. It is in our mutual interest as South Africans and Basotho that our neighbourhood is safe and secure.
You will recall that His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as SADC Facilitator to the Kingdom of Lesotho, appointed a Facilitation Team led by retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, assisted by three Deputy Ministers, to support him in his facilitation in the Kingdom of Lesotho as per the decision of the SADC Double Troika Summit, held in Luanda, Republic of Angola, in April 2018.
The 40th Ordinary SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government, held virtually on 17 August 2020, decided that the role of the SADC Facilitator, His Excellency President Cyril Ramaphosa, should continue.
The summit also recognised the important role played by the SADC Facilitation Team to the Kingdom of Lesotho, leading to the inauguration of the National Reforms Authority on 6 February 2020, which will manage, coordinate and lead the national reform process from 1 October 2020 until 30 September 2021, with a possible extension until 30 April 2022, if circumstances require.
The latest visit by the SADC Facilitation Team to Maseru in the Kingdom of Lesotho, took place from 11 to 13 March 2021. The objective of the visit to Maseru was to receive a status update on the implementation of the reform process since the last visit in November 2020. The current mandate of the SADC Facilitation Team to the Kingdom of Lesotho is valid until the next SADC Ordinary Summit of Heads of State and Government in August 2021, where the facilitator is required to report on the status of this processes.
Honourable House Chair,
In July, the Republic of South Sudan will mark 10 years of its existence. South Africa enjoys cordial bilateral relations with South Sudan and the two countries have a long-standing historical relationship that pre-dates South Sudan’s independence from the Republic of Sudan in July 2011. An agreement establishing official bilateral relations was signed in September 2012.
In 2019, South Africa committed to provide humanitarian assistance to the Republic of South Sudan through the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) in the form of food aid and medical supplies. These initiatives were intended to address socio-economic challenges facing vulnerable communities, including the refugees and internally displaced persons, comprising mainly of women and children who were negatively affected by the conflict in South Sudan. The last intervention we made was to send a consignment of food items donated by the South African Government to the people of South Sudan. This humanitarian aid package formed part of a series of other interventions by South Africa towards alleviating the humanitarian challenges facing the people of South Sudan.
At the request of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Honourable David Mabuza, Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa, in his capacity as the Presidential Special Envoy to the Republic of South Sudan, was invited to facilitate a series of meetings between the parties to the Revitalised-Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) to resolve the impasse. His mediation efforts significantly contributed towards an amicable political settlement among the signatories to the R-ARCSS.
On 22 February 2020, the parties to the R-ARCSS reached an agreement, which paved the way for the establishment of a Revitalised Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU). On 22 February 2021, the country marked the first anniversary of the RTGoNU.
Honourable House Chair,
The Middle East region is very important economically. Our trade with the Middle East for 2020 amounted to R122 billion. There has been export growth in a number of key areas, particularly in agriculture products such as live animals, citrus, nuts and vegetables. We are also exporting precious metals, iron, steel, aircraft and machinery to a number of countries in this region.
Honourable House Chair,
South Africa is intensifying its economic diplomacy efforts, and we are looking at some of the economies that continue to grow despite the difficulties associated with COVID-19. Some of these are found in Asia.
South Africa’s bilateral trade with India amounted to R108.7 billion in 2020. There are more than 130 Indian companies present in South Africa. Our strategic partnership has important dimensions beyond the bilateral facets, and also relates to multilateral institutions, of which both countries are members. These institutions include the G20, BRICS and IBSA.
Honourable House Chair,
I wish to conclude by appraising Parliament on the important work that DIRCO does to provide assistance to South Africans in distress abroad. Following the rapid spread of the COVID-19 pandemic early last year, we set up a Consular Incident Command Centre (CICC) in order to facilitate assistance to South African citizens who found themselves stranded abroad due to unforeseen circumstances and the ongoing COVID19 pandemic and the other instance was during the insurgence attack in Mozambique.
During the 2020/21 financial year, the total number of consular cases attended to were approximately 700. In dealing with South African citizens in distress abroad, it became evident that the concept of Consular Services was misunderstood by the South African society and many of our citizens are unfamiliar with the nature of assistance they can expect when stranded, destitute and distressed abroad hence the ongoing need to encompass consular awareness campaigns, especially for citizens travelling abroad.
The department has created an application for South Africans to register themselves during a major disaster, be it natural or manmade, so that an accurate data base of South African citizens globally can be maintained. This database will assist to expedite the process and time to render consular assistance to our citizens abroad. The training phase of this application will commence during the course of the current financial year.
These are some of the measures to ensure that we remain of service to South African citizens wherever they find themselves in the world.
Finally, let me say that South Africa is committed to remain an influential actor and partner on the international stage, while effectively contributing to the delivery of the country’s domestic priorities and advancement of the African Agenda.
I thank you.
Statement by Mr Alvin Botes, Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the Budget Vote Speech of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 20 May 2021
Minister of DIRCO, Dr Pandor
Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini
Chair of the Portfolio Committee, Honourable Mahambehlala
Ladies and gentlemen
The values that inspire and guide South Africa as a nation are deeply rooted in decades of struggle for liberation. As a beneficiary of many acts of selfless solidarity in the past, South Africa believes strongly that what it wishes for its people should be what it wishes for the citizens of the world.
Our foreign policy therefore draws on the spirit of internationalism and is intertwined with our pursuit of a better Africa in a better world.
As we celebrate 27 years of freedom, as a generation we should always be conscious that there is a dialectical relationship between our 27 years of freedom and the 27 years of imprisonment, which sought to break the resilient spirit of Nelson Mandela.
As we celebrate the silver jubilee of South Africa’s Constitution, we are conscious of the constitutional values reflected in the Bill of Rights. Our foreign policy aims should not conflict with the realisation of these rights. The right to self-determination, social justice and freedom are unalienable rights. Political freedom is at the apex of our envisaged vision for a just and equitable world, which errs on the side of the most vulnerable.
It therefore holds that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians (Nelson Mandela). The objective of global solidarity and to deepen South-South cooperation become an important attribute in our foreign policy repository.
Today heralds 119 years of the independence of Cuba from the Spanish Empire and the end of the first US military occupation on 20 May 1902. Cuba remains a historical and strategic partner and our relations continue to display a good model of South-South cooperation and human solidarity. South Africa condemns the continuation of unilateral sanctions against Cuba and will continue to support the annual resolutions in the UN General Assembly on the “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Blockade against Cuba”. On 23 June 2021, the United Nations General Assembly will again consider the resolution to put an end to the US blockade against Cuba, which includes the Helms-Burton Title III Extra-territorial Act and it is a resolution, which will receive South Africa’s support. We trust that the leadership of President Biden will be inspired by the US foreign policy initiative of 2015, when President Obama authorised a process of back-channel negotiations and normalised diplomatic relations with Cuba.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cuban people and Henry Reeves International Medical Brigades have been an inspiration to humanity with their commitment to support other countries in their battle against this deadly virus. Even before the pandemic began, Cuban doctors and health professionals were already providing medical support in 59 countries; during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba deployed 187 of her most skilled medical practitioners to assist the South African people in our fight against COVID-19; treated 239 411 patients; and performed 40 391 nursing procedures and 1 215 surgical interventions. They saved the lives of 1 423 patients.
The Cubans provide this solidarity and ask for nothing in return, because they believe in global solidarity, and possess a genuine commitment to make our world a better place for everyone. They are instinctively multilateralist and progressive internationalists.
We must reiterate our unwavering support for the people of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. We call on the USA to reconsider its stance on Venezuela in light of the report of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Sanctions and Human rights, Ms Alena Douhan. She published her initial recommendations in February 2021, which called for the lifting of US unilateral coercive measures.
Within the Western Hemisphere, the Americas and Caribbean span a vast geographical area that includes developed, developing and least developed economies as well as regional and global powers. Stark contrasts exist among these countries, inter alia, in terms of territorial size, populations, economies, technologies and military power. The diversity within this hemisphere necessitates a nuanced foreign policy approach and offers a wide range of opportunities for engagement that spans the whole spectrum of South Africa’s foreign policy priorities.
The United States is a strategic partner for South Africa and a major export market for value-added products as well as a significant source of foreign direct investment (FDI), technology transfer, development assistance and tourism. The bilateral relationship continues to grow, and we must regain the momentum that was lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic and policy shifts under the Trump Administration.
South Africa believes that agreements reached through multilateral forums must be implemented in good faith. We are pleased, therefore, to note that the new administration in the United States of America, under President Joe Biden, has taken steps to return to the fold of multilateral by rejoining the Paris Climate Accord and the World Health Organisation (WHO), and her leadership on negating the matter of vaccine nationalism. South Africa and the United States have extensive relations that cover a wide spectrum of issues, which are aligned to South Africa’s domestic priorities, including in such areas as health (PEPFAR), education, science and technology, water and the environment. The house should note that the PEPFAR allocation for 2021 to 2024 by the USA has been cut by 11%, but still amounts to US$465 945 195.00. The AGOA agreement continues to facilitate trade between South Africa and the USA and amounts to R173 billion. Our citrus exports increased by 30% in 2020 due to the international need for Vitamin C nutrients, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. South Africa will be using the opportunity to reset the bilateral relationship with the United States in pursuit of our national interests. South Africa is unequivocal on her view that the deepening of multilateralism is paramount to world peace.
In addition, contact with the African Diaspora in the region would serve to enhance relations with South Africa and the African continent, especially with respect to the Caribbean countries. The African Diaspora in the Americas, particularly in the Caribbean, continues to have significance for South Africa in light of their support for Africa’s liberation and a shared vision of an equitable world.
Honourable House Chair,
Canada remains a vital ally in helping address our national priorities, including support for our efforts to build a capable state. South Africa and Canada have a shared commitment to multilateralism, gender empowerment and building social cohesion. We are also seeing continued strong investments by Canada in the mining sector and will be strengthening this cooperation further in the areas of mineral beneficiation, value addition and support for junior miners.
We look forward to enhancing educational cooperation with Canada, particular in vocational training and capacity-building in areas related to Information and Communications Technology, aviation and the cultural industries. South Africa and Canada have been cooperating on issues related to the current pandemic, especially on the equitable availability of vaccines, through the Ministerial Group on COVID-19, which was initiated by the Government of Canada.
Similar to South Africa, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have a devastating impact in Latin America and the Caribbean with significant regional economic decline that has resulted in rising unemployment, poverty and inequalities and a significant loss of lives.
South Africa will build on the existing solid relations with the region to facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation in a number of areas such as agribusiness, biotechnology, blue economy, education and skills, energy (especially. biofuels and renewable energy), mining, health, pharmaceuticals, science and technology, water and waste management, human rights, South-South partnerships and multilateral cooperation to advance the development agenda of the South.
DIRCO will also partner with the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition to promote trade and investment opportunities in Latin America presented by the SACU-Mercosur Preferential Trade Agreement and the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement. We will strengthen cooperation with G20 countries in Latin America, such as Argentina, Brazil and Mexico to continue to coordinate and advocate for global coordination of the health and socio-economic response to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We congratulate Mexico on her recently election to the United Nations Security Council for the biennium 2021 to2022. South Africa will continue to strengthen cooperation with Mexico on UNSC issues of mutual interest, such as conflict prevention, the peaceful resolution of conflict, mainstreaming of gender in peace missions through UNSC Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, as well as UN reform.
Pan-Africanism remains an important cornerstone of our foreign policy. In this regard, South Africa and Jamaica will collaborate on a series of four webinars aimed at enhancing the relationship between Africa and the Caribbean under the theme, “Conversation with Africa”. One of the four proposed webinars is a webinar, which is planned for Africa Day, 25 May 2021, and to which the Jamaican Prime Minister has invited President Cyril Ramaphosa as the keynote speaker.
The countries of Western Europe are well-placed to support South Africa’s post-COVID-19 economic recovery. This applies both to our bilateral relationship with these countries, as well as to the South Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, which continues to serve as the main platform of engagement between South Africa and the EU and its member states. This region includes some of our major trading partners, sources of FDI and tourism and providers of development assistance.
In the year ahead, we will focus more on developing relations in those areas that will assist us to address our domestic challenges. These include the promotion of investment, skills development, promoting exports, protecting our market share and promoting our country as a preferred tourist destination.
We will be working with the countries of Western Europe to support the President’s target to attract US$100 billion in investment over five years starting in 2018. Total investment from Europe is estimated at around R1.4 trillion, which represents approximately 77% of total FDI in the country. It has made a significant contribution towards job creation and industrialisation in South Africa.
The apex event in terms of our relations with Western Europe will be South Africa’s hosting of the Eighth South Africa-EU Summit, which will revitalise the Strategic Partnership between South Africa and the EU. The strength of this partnership is based on shared values and interests, including effective multilateralism, the promotion of peace and security, human rights, democracy, the rule of law, free and fair trade and sustainable development across both regions.
We trust that in the new South Africa-EU Multi-annual Indicative Programme for the period 2021 to 2028, which will be under the EU’s newly-created Neighbourhood Development and International Cooperation Instrument, the EU’s development support for South Africa’s national programmes will continue. For us, the critical aspects to be considered by the EU and its member states in terms of development cooperation are the targets as expressed in our National Development Plan, and our recently adopted Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.
South Africa’s trade relationship with the United Kingdom continues unchanged after the UK left the EU and the country remains one of South Africa’s key trading partners. The strong and historic relationship that we have with this region will be an important advantage as we look towards rebuilding our economy and pursue our domestic, regional and international priorities.
The house should note that South African relations with the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) are undergoing an evolution. The organisation has undergone a reformation since the Revised Georgetown Agreement (Constitutive Act) came into operation as of April 2020. Membership of the OACPS affords South Africa the ability to be part of an organisation to further heighten South-South political solidarity, economic cooperation and social/cultural exchanges. Most importantly, countries from Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific jointly approach global governance, multilateralism and international partners with a common development agenda to achieve the SDGs.
The finalisation of the new OACPS-EU Partnership Agreement (Post-Cotonou Agreement) catapults relations with the European Union to a more structured, legally binding and mutually beneficial relationship. The African Regional Protocol will be region-specific and speak directly to EU support for the key pillars of Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.
We will be undertaking the necessary legislative and Parliamentary processes required for the ratification of the Revised Georgetown Agreement establishing the Organisation of Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), thereby replacing the former African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) grouping.
We will continue to consolidate our relations with regional partners in the Nordics, Central and Eastern Europe and a review of cooperation programmes for alignment with the post-COVID-19 realities. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, collaboration in health, science, innovation, research and development will be prioritised in our engagements with the countries of Eastern Europe. The countries of this region made a considerable contribution of testing kits (Russian Federation); ICU equipment (Czech Republic); PPE (Turkey and Lithuania), to mention a few.
The scope of cooperation with the Russian Federation, South Africa’s strategic partner in Eastern Europe, resonates well with the priorities of the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. These include industrialisation through localisation; strengthening agriculture through food security; support for the recovery and growth of tourism, cultural and creative industries; and energy security.
These will be pursued in earnest as we prepare to host the 16th South Africa-Russia Intergovernmental Trade and Economic Committee (ITEC) this year. We are also looking to consolidation of the Strategic Partnership with Turkey with a view to hosting the inaugural South Africa-Turkey Binational Commission in the near future.
Finally, House Chair,
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the Non-Alignment Movement (NAM). With its 120-member states, NAM is the largest grouping of countries outside of the UN, making it an important role player in global and multilateral affairs. Since its inception in 1961, the movement has played a crucial and highly visible political role in representing the interests of developing countries, particularly in the eradication of colonialism, supporting struggles for liberation and self-determination, the pursuit of world peace and the search for a more equitable and just global order.
The Republic of Azerbaijan took over the chairship of the NAM at the 18th NAM Summit in Baku, held from 25 to 26 October 2019. The Chairship of Azerbaijan coincides with the 65th anniversary of Bandung Principles (2020). It will be Africa’s turn to chair the NAM in 2022. In this regard, Uganda has been endorsed as the incoming Chair of NAM and it is expected that the 19th Summit of the NAM will take place in Kampala, Uganda, in 2022.
The AU theme of the year for 2021 was adopted by the AU policy organs as: “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building the Africa We Want”. Charlotte Maxeke posits that “cultural texts are necessarily ambiguous sites in the struggle to confer power over lived experiences … that we need leaders who will humble themselves, so that the nation may lift them up to be the stars of Africa for future generations. That is what Africa wants. That is what the women of Africa are weeping and praying for”.
We thank President Ramaphosa as the custodian of South Africa’s foreign policy and constitutional persona, and Dr Pandor, Minister of DIRCO, for her meritorious stewardship.