Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Budget Speech, responses by DA, ACDP, IFP, EFF
12 May 2022
Speech by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, on the occasion of the Budget Vote, 12 May 2022
‘Consolidating South Africa’s Foreign Policy Contribution to a better Africa and Better World’
Chairman of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Honourable Supra Mahumapelo,
Members of the executive,
Guests joining us today.
South Africa has continued to conduct its foreign relations in accordance with the values and principles set out in our Constitution. We strive to be a positive contributor to the global family of nations and to promote our aspirations for a peaceful, prosperous and united Africa in a just and equitable world. These are difficult goals to pursue, challenged by complex shifts in global relations and unprecedented global instability.
Some believe we are at an inflection point in history and that we have an opportunity to reshape and rethink global institutions and mechanisms. As honourable members would know COVID-19 has been a challenge like no other since the end of the Second World War, revealing our shared vulnerability and our connectedness. The shadow of COVID-19 is still with us as we debate this budget vote. The pandemic exposed poverty and inequality in our own society and worldwide. We must ensure that we continue to respond effectively and to prepare for future crises and new pandemics. Our country has been hit hard by the effects of COVID-19, but, we responded speedily as a nation and as government and this led to the saving of many lives.
The challenging crises that have affected South Africa since 2019, impacted negatively on our economy and lead to continuing low growth and inadequate productivity. The government had to adjust budgets and redirect funds toward the COVID-19 response and to respond to the effects of the riots of 2021. These changes have affected the resources available to us as DIRCO and government departments in this new financial year. We are allocated over 6.6 billion for this financial year, which is an extremely modest increase of around 1.3% from the 2020/21 allocation. As we have said previously, our department requires greater allocation of resources in order to carry out the assigned work in the 116 diplomatic missions in the 102 countries in which South Africa has representation.
However, we are aware that South Africa is constrained in terms of the availability of public finances and we have committed that we will ensure utilisation of this allocation in an efficient and robust manner.
I am pleased to report to the honourable members that we have made progress in advancing our foreign policy agenda and have worked hard at consolidating the progress achieved in the past two decades. South Africa is committed to using its foreign policy to contribute to a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world as stated in goal seven of our Medium-Term Strategic Framework. Our country showed this commitment through implementing a comprehensive strategic framework in combating the pandemic and its effects and sharing our programs and our experiences with the entire continent.
We also used our participation in the G20, the G7 and BRICS to secure practical actions to address the fallout from the pandemic. We were able to achieve important outcomes. One of these was an agreement that multilateral financial institutions would implement a yearlong debt standstill to provide liquidity for the economies of low- and middle-income countries and funding for businesses that experienced losses under COVID-19 restrictions. We also actively argued in these fora for Africa to be a vaccine producer to reverse inadequate vaccine access for Africa.
Today, six African countries are developing vaccine production processes and establishing facilities for this. This is a major advance for Africa and we are pleased that President Ramaphosa gave leadership on these issues and advanced Africa in its research and innovation initiatives.
In 2021, the UN Secretary General gave the global community new hope when he presented a global vision of inclusive and transformed multilateralism. He proposed adoption of a common agenda for humanity that will see us address climate change, conflict, poverty and insecurity in a manner that promotes inclusion, shared development and equality. He proposed that the United Nations and its institutions would serve as the strategic multilateral body supporting the globe in acting on this common agenda.
The 2021 General Assembly enthusiastically welcomed the Secretary General’s initiative and committed to his common agenda. We thus began 2022 with renewed hope for the global community.
The Russia and Ukraine war has severely eroded that hope and has divided the world once again and diverted us from the Secretary General's common agenda.
Despite our calls for a ceasefire, and for UN led negotiations, the war rages on, with millions displaced and thousands maimed and dead. We remain steadfast in our belief that war benefits no one and that all efforts should focus on peaceful settlement of disputes.
The United Nations Security Council has failed the world, proving that it cannot be relied upon to preserve peace and security. The ongoing conflict has starkly exposed the inadequacy of the UN system and highlighted the need for serious attention to our repeated calls for substantive reform of the Security Council and indeed, the United Nations. We look forward to working closely with new non-permanent members of the Security Council to urge them to initiate a genuine robust process of reform.
South Africa firmly believes that the Ukraine Russia war will only be ended through negotiations, and we urge the Secretary General to lead as the key negotiator to secure a cessation of hospitalities.
Drawing on our experiences in the past year, South Africa will give greater attention to member states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and work with them to ensure that we all actively contribute to shaping the reform deliberations within the United Nations system, as well as giving new content to the United Nations Security Council. The non-aligned movement member states have always worked hard to support multilateralism and have contributed extensively to the battles for an end to colonial oppression and abuse of multilateral institutions.
We continue to derive great value from the BRICS partnership. Our joint call with India, a fellow BRICS member at the World Trade Organisation for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights, so that COVID-19 vaccines and other new technologies treatments and diagnostics are accessible for developing countries was an important intervention in the fight against COVID-19. We are pleased that South Africa and India will also be collaborating on genomic sequencing to further research COVID-19 and its mutations.
We're thrilled that the virtual BRICS Vaccine Research and Development Centre was launched in March this year, and that it is one of South Africa's BRICS Chairship legacy projects. We look forward to leading further progress on BRICS initiatives once more, as we assume Chairship of BRICS in 2023. We are very heartened at the advances recorded by the New Development Bank. Last year its membership expanded to include Bangladesh, Egypt, Uruguay and the United Arab Emirates. We hope to expand the membership further next year.
We also remain committed to championing the interests of Africa within BRICS as the African agenda remains a cornerstone of our foreign policy.
Honourable Members, in terms of our priorities on the continent, we are ever mindful that there can be no development without peace and no peace without development. We had long hoped to silence the guns on our continent, but there is still much work to be done to achieve that.
One of the important priorities in the AU agenda, as well as in the Secretary General's common agenda is the maintenance of peace and the prevention of conflict. Member states have been encouraged to reshape their responses to all forms of violence and to engage in genuine peace building and conflict prevention. It is clear that much must be done to promote democracy and good governance on our continent. We welcome the efforts led by President Ramaphosa to strengthen unity and cooperation throughout Africa and plan to build on the foundation laid through successful visits to Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Senegal last year.
In August last year South Africa assumed the rotational chairmanship of the SADC organ on politics, defence, and security cooperation.
Our Chairship is focussed on the challenging political and security matters in the Kingdom of Lesotho, in Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as well as in the Kingdom of eSwatini.
President Ramaphosa’s facilitation on behalf of SADC in the Kingdom of Lesotho continues, and the national reform process is at a very critical stage. The constitutional amendments have now been tabled before the Parliament of Lesotho and are under consideration. We also continue to support the SADC deployment in Mozambique as part of our region's response to the fight against extremism and terror. We thank our men and women for their courageous efforts in the fight against terrorism.
South Africa welcomed the establishment of the Tanzania based regional Counterterrorism Centre in February this year. This is an important step towards strengthening our regional security architecture.
We are also promoting strong humanitarian efforts on the ground in Mozambique. This involves working with other SADC countries to alleviate the plight of internally displaced persons in the Cabo Delgado region.
The Mozambican government has specifically requested assistance for internally displaced families to be resettled. South Africa plans to make a contribution, through support for sustainable food production projects. Our efforts at promoting democracy and good governance in Eswatini are also underway. The SADC Secretariat has through the organ Troika prepared a Terms of Reference for an inclusive national dialogue in eSwatini.
These TORs have been submitted to the government of Eswatini and to His Majesty King Mswati III. We are hopeful that the kingdom will draw on our goodwill and convene a genuine dialogue.
We are deeply concerned that there appears to be a rise in unconstitutional changes of governments in other regions of our continent, as well as a rise in violent extremism. We believe this undermines our continents efforts to realise a peaceful and secure Africa.
We will work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and the African Union to combat these incidents of insecurity. Working with our partners on the continent we will redouble our efforts within the African Union, to hold governments accountable, to build a united front against terrorism and to prevent military interventions, as well as to stop negative foreign interference on our continent.
We must combat persistent instability caused by poverty, high unemployment, and violent conflict in Africa.
There are massive opportunities awaiting South Africa in promotion of African trade, African regional integration, and African industrialisation. In order to draw benefit from these opportunities, we must be seen as a country that is inclusive, that practices social cohesion and that is a home for all who live in it. Our Pan African dream of Africa's prosperity and development really relies on mutual African support and African interdependence. South Africa must boost intra African trade and reduce import of goods from beyond Africa and ensure that that which can be grown in Africa, is grown in Africa, that that which can be manufactured in Africa, is manufactured in Africa. We have developed a framework through which we can realise the benefits of intra African trade and we look forward to the full operationalisation of the African continental free trade area.
This will show our commitment to the joint prosperity and development of Africa. And it is our hope that the Free Trade Area implementation will result in a continental customs union robustly overseeing intra African trade. We are thrilled about the progress that has been made in the ratification of the tripartite free trade area, which consists of SADC, the East African Community, and COMESA. Only three more states need to ratify in order for the agreement to enter into force. The tripartite Free Trade Area has the possibility of creating a market of 29 countries with a combined population of more than 700 million. The challenge we face as South Africa is to trade within the continent beyond the SADC region, and to make sure we take up the enormous economic opportunities that exist in other regional economic communities.
We have worked hard as DIRCO to coordinate South Africa's economic diplomacy on the African continent and to have a coordinated approach to this. We recently launched the Coordination Mechanism for Economic Diplomacy (COMED) as a platform in South Africa to exchange information between government departments, the private sector, and civil society, on economic opportunities on the continent and to coordinate efforts for export promotion. We hope that COMED, as we call it, will assist us in ensuring a coherent South African response to economic opportunities. The common agenda of the Secretary General aspires that all of us will embrace global solidarity.
As DIRCO we are committed to providing humanitarian assistance as part of our global responsibility, particularly on the African continent, and in countries of the South. It makes no sense to us that we expect to receive grants and support from other nations of the world and yet as South Africa, we don't wish to give to others. The African Renaissance Fund (ARF) was set up for the purpose of humanitarian assistance. We receive requests from various partners on the continent for mitigating circumstances of extreme poverty and providing support in disaster relief. We will continue within our abilities to provide what we can to assist our fellow Africans on the path towards sustainable and inclusive development.
We believe this is an important obligation and South Africa as one of the nations of the world must honour it. We are also prepared and committed to act in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Cuba, as we cannot turn a blind eye to their plight while their economy is strangled by illegal blockades and sanctions. The Cuban economy has been brought to its knees after 61 years of draconian US economic sanctions imposed on that impoverished island nation. This is a nation that stood shoulder to shoulder with our combatants in the struggle for freedom and we must help if we can. It was Cubans who sent their sons and daughters to fight for the liberation of southern Africa. Of course, those who were never in the trenches fighting for freedom cannot appreciate nor know this history. Cuba played a pivotal role in turning the tide against our colonial oppressors. It would unjustified and unethical for us to turn our backs on them in the hour of their greatest need.
We also have an important obligation to consolidate our support for international solidarity. We continue to support the revolutionary causes of those who suffer under the yoke of colonial oppression. The last colony in Africa, Western Sahara – is still not free. Its resources are being plundered and the international community remains silent in the face of this long-standing injustice. We believe time has come to exert maximum diplomatic pressure to ensure that the promised referendum on Western Sahara’s self-determination is finally held.
Similarly, the people of Palestine who continue to struggle for human rights, dignity and self-determination in their own land, need our support. The situation on the ground for ordinary Palestinians has become unbearable in terms of the gross violations of their human rights and dignity. We hope that all members of the United Nations will combat the infringement of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Palestine and will ensure that as members of the global family of the United Nations, we are equally angry at the plight of the people of Palestine, just as we are angered at the conflict in Ukraine. The UN Secretary General has issued a call to action for human rights and his agenda calls for human rights for all to be placed at the centre of our global and national agenda.
We have also launched our campaign to return to the Human Rights Council in 2023 and the African Union has endorsed our candidature. We regard the Human Rights Council as an important multilateral body where South Africa can pursue its foreign policy objectives and promote the human rights enshrined in our Constitution. Given our dedicated commitment to multilateralism our presence in the council will provide an opportunity to argue for the transformation of the global system of governance from one based on power to one based on rules.
We also place women's empowerment and gender equality at the heart of our foreign policy. This year, we have assumed co-chairship of the Global Network of National Focal Points on Women, Peace and Security, and we are working to close the implementation gaps in our UN resolutions.
A major initiative that we recently launched as DIRCO, is the Charlotte Maxeke African Women's Economic Justice and Rights program. Me Charlotte Maxeke was one of our earliest ambassadors, a true internationalist forging relations across the globe and was one of the first women in Southern Africa to attain a Bachelor of Science degree in 1901. Her commitment to social justice at home and abroad should inspire a new generation of women ambassadors in diplomacy.
We have begun the implementation of our multi-year flagship programs, such as our Minister’s Annual Breakfast with women Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, as well as the African Women's Leadership Award, which will be held later this year. The Awards will recognise exceptional African Women leaders whose achievements have advanced Africa's development. We're also working on a project such as the Charlotte Maxeke Africa Future Leadership Program, a Women's Trade Fair and African Women's Scholarships.
Our Diplomatic Academy in DIRCO is also running an international women's capacity building program on Conflict Resolution, Mediation and Negotiation, a program that invites women from all over Africa. All of this is indicative of our commitment to the full participation of women in advancing and maintaining peace and security.
We are pleased to welcome DG Dangor and look forward to working closely with him to advance our Foreign Policy agenda.
As our first president of a democratic South Africa, President Nelson Mandela said during the Fifth Steve Biko Lecture in 2004: “One of the challenges of our time, without being moralistic, is to re-instill in the consciousness of our people, that sense of human solidarity, of being in the world for one another and because of and through others.”
That quotation illustrates our own platform of global solidarity.
I thank you honourable members.
International Relations and Cooperation, Budget Vote Speech, Deputy Minister Candith Mashego-Dlamini, 12 May 2022
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Honorable Mr Supra Mahumapelo,
Members of the executive,
Guests joining us today,
As the world continues to grapple with the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, governments around the world have had to confront dwindling budgets and do more with less. South Africa is no exception, as we have had to divert significant financial resources to combatting the pandemic which has translated into slashed budgets across the board. This has made it particularly difficult to deliver on our mandate.
The work expected of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation has increased substantially over the past year as economic diplomacy has become a critical priority if we are to achieve our domestic objectives and stimulate economic growth in our country. Our missions abroad have been expected to undertake a substantial increase in trade and economic activities at the same time as their budget allocations have been decreasing.
There are limited budgets for hosting trade or tourism seminars or events at our missions abroad, and our diplomats are having to come up with innovative ways of selling South Africa and our brand. What we need to do given the current constraints is to further develop digital diplomacy to implement budgetary savings and raise the effectiveness of South Africa in the international arena at a reduced cost. We commend our diplomats for their fortitude and commitment despite these challenging circumstances, and we hope that over time our budget allocation will improve so that we can more effectively carry out our mandate.
One of the most serious consequences of our severe budgetary constraints has been the inability to fill senior management positions at head office, and there are unfilled positions at the Chief Director and DDG level, which places inordinate pressure on the remaining senior managers to double up on their work responsibilities, with DDGs having to take responsibility for two branches instead of one. Chief Directors are critical posts in the department, as they not only manage our missions within a particular region, but they interface with Ambassadors posted to South Africa in strengthening our bilateral relations. We urgently need to fill a number of these posts, but we currently do not have the budget available to do so. These are challenges that need to be urgently addressed so that DIRCO is given the means to perform optimally and with the requisite skilled and experienced personnel.
The filling of vacancies in missions has also been delayed and done in a staggered manner, with only critical vacancies being filled. Unfortunately, the Department has also not been able to implement cost of living adjustments for Locally Recruited Personnel in our Missions abroad for the past three years and in some Missions for more than five years, due to the shortfall in the Compensation of Employees budget. This has a negative impact on the morale and service delivery of Locally Recruited Personnel, many of whom have been working in our Missions for many years and are exceptionally loyal to South Africa and what we want to achieve in their countries.
What is perhaps the most concerning development is that while the Compensation of Employees ceiling increased from R2.852 billion in 2021/22 to R 2.859 in 2022/23, representing a 0,27% increase, it is not sufficient to cover the existing salary bill of filled positions in the Department, as well as vacant critical posts. DIRCO has never faced such a dire financial situation and we will need to address this with the Treasury and DPSA in order to chart the way forward. The projected shortfall on Compensation of Employees for the 2022/23 financial year is R124 million. The shortfall obviously impacts negatively on human resource processes. In an attempt to manage the shortfall, all posts become unfunded once they become vacant. This has serious implications in terms of the capacity in the Department, and the ability to maintain a professional foreign service. Currently only critical and specialised posts are being identified and advertised in a staggered manner.
Approximately 58 percent of DIRCO’s budget is allocated towards bilateral and multilateral engagements and 12 percent has been allocated towards membership fees to international organisations.
The Department’s allocation of R166 million on the payment of capital assets increased from R156 million which is an average of 6.1 percent. This will allow the Department to make more effort in ensuring that all state-owned properties are utilised optimally. To this extent, a plan has been developed to initiate the processes for feasibility studies and design for the construction of prioritised state-owned properties. We have also prioritised the implementation of major refurbishment projects, for which we will conduct condition assessments to obtain recommendations for renovations in order to improve the state of the Department’s property portfolio.
Over the medium-term period, the Department has been allocated R796 million for the Foreign Property Management Portfolio, which consists of 127 state-owned properties abroad. The focus in 2022/23 will be on accelerated property renovations, repairs and maintenance. The works will be informed by the outcomes of the condition assessments on state-owned properties performed by those in Africa, followed by those in Europe, and then those in the Americas and Asia. Furthermore, the Department plans to build three properties on state-owned land over the MTEF period – in Luanda, Angola, New Delhi, India, and in Gaborone, Botswana to reduce the rental portfolio. In addition, 18 superfluous properties have been identified for disposal. In re-organising the Property and Facility Management Unit, the Department has employed a Chief Director, and a Director with relevant qualifications and skills.
In terms of the Department’s audit action plan, despite the noticeable progress made in 2021/22 with the implementation of the plan, the Department is continuing to promote the culture of compliance with relevant financial legislation. In the 2022/23 financial year, the Department has developed a roadmap to a clean audit which we intend to implement. The audit action plan will focus on addressing the root causes of the findings as per the recommendations of the Auditor General. The monitoring of the adequacy and the effectiveness of the controls implemented in addressing the root causes will be done by the Audit Steering Committee, the Audit Committee, and the National Treasury.
In terms of the other areas of our work, which is primarily focused on our relations with Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, our engagement with these regions is focused on capitalising on the immense opportunities that exist for growing trade and investment given their significant consumer markets. We are looking to exploit these opportunities through Structured Bilateral Mechanisms and Joint Trade Committees. South Africa’s total trade with the region amounted to approximately R1.2 trillion last year. With some notable exceptions, our concern is the widening trade deficits with the region.
Our relations with the Peoples’ Republic of China have reached new heights, and in a significant development earlier this year, our two countries signed a new 10-Year Strategic Programme on Cooperation (2020-2029), covering a wide range of bilateral fields with the intention of benefitting both countries. China remains South Africa’s largest global trading partner in terms of total volumes of bilateral trade. Increasing from less than R1 billion of trade in 1998, when diplomatic relations commenced, to R544 billion in two-way trade last year, total bilateral trade has grown exponentially. While the trade balance was heavily skewed in China’s favour for years, the trend over the last few years has been that South Africa’s negative trade balance is shrinking. Last year it shrank to R49,5 billion, implying that South Africa’s trade deficit with China decreased by R4 billion from R53,5 billion.
It is encouraging that trade between South Africa and India has continued to grow despite the COVID-19 pandemic, and that total trade has overtaken pre-pandemic levels. The growth, amidst a worldwide pandemic, is evidence of the strategic value of the bilateral relationship. India is also an important partner especially in terms of Foreign Direct Investment, skills development and technical cooperation. South Africa and India have also agreed to join forces to combat “vaccine nationalism” to ensure that vaccines are readily available in every country around the world. In this regard, South Africa and India’s initiative to call for the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights so that COVID-19 vaccines and other new technologies are accessible for developing countries is an important and noteworthy step.
South Africa has a positive trade balance with Japan and the Republic of Korea, with surplus gains for our exporters of R100 billion, as well as increased high-profile investments in the automotive and other sectors resulting in more jobs and business growth. This includes the launching of Toyota’s hybrid model vehicle, the Corolla Cross, produced on the production line at its Prospecton Plant south of Durban in October last year. The Corolla Cross is fuel and battery operated and will be exported to 40 countries across Africa. The introduction of the Corolla Cross has created 575 new jobs at the plant while more than 1200 direct jobs were created in the component supply base.
South Africa also has robust relations with countries of the Middle East. President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the United Arab Emirates in March this year, and the visit contributed significantly to realising the key targets of South Africa’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. South Africa’s participation at the World Expo in Dubai was highly successful in showcasing the South African value proposition through displays on sector specific trade and investment opportunities, as well as highlighting new emerging sectors.
Qatar will be hosting the FIFA2022 World Cup, and we look forward to strengthening our respective people-to-people ties further during this major event.
The long-standing occupation of Palestine by the government of Israel and the conflicts that arise from that permeate the Middle East. South Africa has been working actively for a peaceful ending of the occupation and for peace based on human rights and justice for all people in the region. We have also called for ceasefires and negotiations towards lasting peace in Syria and Yemen. Dr Riad Malki, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Palestine, undertook an Official Visit to South Africa last year in which discussions included efforts to support the struggles of the Palestinian people who have been facing a violent and oppressive occupation that is now more than 40 years old. We will continue to focus our advocacy and diplomatic efforts towards intensifying peace efforts in the region and advancing the Middle East Peace Process.
The former President of the Republic of South Africa, President Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote “Our struggle for freedom and justice was a collective effort. It is in your hands now to create a better world for all who live in it” close quote.
I thank you.
International Relations and Cooperation, Budget Vote Speech, Deputy Minister Alvin Botes, 12 May 2022
Honourable Mahumapelo, Chair of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation,
Honourable Minister of DIRCO, Dr Pandor,
Honourable Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini
This speech is dedicated to the foresight and fortitude of one of the penholders of the South African Freedom Charter, Professor ZK Matthews.
South Africa like all countries face a range of conflicting pressures when making and implementing foreign policy. Balancing these diverse factors is, inevitably, a difficult task. The White Paper on Foreign Policy is instructive in this regard by stating that ‘The business of national interest cannot be the purview of the state alone, but it can encourage an enabling environment of dialogue and discourse among all stakeholders to interrogate policies and strategies, and their application in the best interests of the people’.
The best interests of the South African people are international peace, and where this breaks down, internationally agreed peaceful mechanisms to solve conflict should be resorted too.
The numerous conflicts between the big powers over the last few decades are also an indicator of the myth of the end of the cold war. These conflicts, however, took place in the territories of others, with competing former cold war adversaries exploiting discontent in mostly developing countries, through arming and often instigating violent conflict as they sought to cement government’s support for their respective agendas.
The war in Ukraine is the latest instalment of big powers contesting for hegemony. This why we called it a proxy war. Like the war in Ukraine, much of the most recent wars were illegal. This includes the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, which was unilaterally done, without the decision of the UN Security Council.
Over the last few weeks some of the most disturbing statements we have heard, included suggestions by European diplomats, that the war in Ukraine was worse than other wars as it was an autocratic country, invading a democratic country. The inference was that other countries were perhaps deserving of being bombed and their people suffering because their governments were not democratic. These diplomats hardly noticed the racism implicit in these statements, as most of these so-called undemocratic countries were either in Asia, the Middle East or Africa.
We need to unequivocally restate SA Foreign Policy Imperatives, particularly Multilateralism and the centrality of the transformation of Global Governance institutions; with specific reference the United Nations Security Council, that has the pertinent and express mandate on Peace and Security. The Africa Common Position, as encapsulated by the Sirte Declaration and Ezulweni Consensus is an essential reference as South Africa seek to enrich UN Secretary - General’s Guterres Common Agenda entitled the “UN We Want”.
South Africa must continue to be firm on her foreign policy principles. We are born out of a nation which was beholden to conflict, and we must be the vanguard of our Freedom Charter, which states that There Must be Peace and Friendship.
We must remain non-aligned in conflicts, urging the application of Peace Diplomacy as the most potent instrument in conflict resolution. Ukraine’s bilateral relationship with South Africa is three decades old and we value this significant member of the United Nations community of states, including appreciating her rights to territorial integrity as a sovereign state.
Russia is an esteemed member of the UNSC’s P5 and has a special responsibility to maintain the World Peace and Security Architecture. It is for this reason that President Ramaphosa has called for the return to Mediation and Negotiations. We value the view express by French President Emmanuel Macron, who also holds the EU Presidency, who have pointed to the 2015 Minsk Agreement between Kyiv and Moscow as the blueprint for a breakthrough in the Ukraine crisis.
However, there are also domestic issues that have international implications and demand the State to use their foreign relations in order to address the domestic matters. An important responsibility of our foreign policy is to have a systematic focus on Economic Diplomacy. The Fourth South African Presidential Investment Conference took place on 24 March 2022, with announcements of R366 billion in new investment projects and investment.
Our strategic bilateral relationship with the United States of America is being fortified through the US’ improved foreign direct investment (FDI) in South African stock, which stood at $7.8 billion (ZAR 116 billion) in 2019, a 6.8% increase from 2018. South Africa is therefore looking forward to the formal announcement of the Biden Administration’s Africa Strategy, including information on the US support for the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the anticipated US-Africa Summit to be hosted by President Biden.
The total current investment stock from Europe is estimated at R1.4 trillion, which represents approximately 77% of total foreign investment in the country. It has made a significant contribution towards job creation and industrialisation in SA, through more than 2,000 European companies operating in South Africa, creating significant employment opportunities for South Africans.
South Africa’s relations with the Nordic region continues to deliver excellent results, and our recent regional tour resulted in a major positive surge in our relations. We continue to reap the benefits of committed partners on the multilateral and regional challenges we face though joint efforts on peace and security, the promotion of women and youth, the protection of our rules-based international system, as well as excellent growth in our bilateral cooperation, especially in the innovative and renewable energy space. We noted more than R20 billion of new investments announced from this region during 2021/22.
South Africa is committed to strengthened and comprehensive engagement with Latin America and the Caribbean. This includes South Africa’s foreign policy objective of South-South Cooperation and in pursuit of South Africa’s National Priorities, including standing in solidarity with Cuba and Venezuela. Nelson Mandela reminded us that we must always ‘admire the sacrifices of the Cuban people in maintaining their independence and sovereignty’. We thus urge the US to reconsider the extra territorial sanctions levelled *against the people of Fidel Castro. We further urge the US to support the Oslo dialogue process, which is aimed to bring about unity between the government of Venezuela and Opposition Groups.
South Africa will also continue to use its membership and bilateral and multilateral engagements with groupings of the South to support foreign policy objectives, advocate for strong, mutually beneficial South-South cooperation, advocate for focussed regional integration in fast-growing markets and strengthen regional cooperation in areas of interest with countries of the South. Groupings of the South include BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa); IBSA (India, Brazil and South Africa); lORA (Indian Ocean Rim Association); the Group of 77 (G77) and China; and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
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.
I wish to express a deep appreciation for the stewardship role, which Dr Pandor has played as Minister of DIRCO, and for the cordial working relationship between myself and DM Mashego-Dlamini.
On the occasion of the 54th Commemoration of the death of Zachariah Keodirelang (ZK) Matthews, we pledge to firmly remain non-aligned and that we will continue to be the vanguard of the Freedom Charter’s Peace and Friendship ideals.
I thank you.