Before embarking on the presentation of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) 2013/14 Annual Report, Members asked for a briefing on the recent events in Nigeria and Lesotho. The DIRCO noted that the bodies of those who had been identified as South African citizens who were involved in the building collapse in Nigeria had been identified, mostly using dental records, as far as possible and were being flown back to South Africa. However, he noted that although it had been assumed that 52 were South Africans, they were in fact not, but had been using South African passports to travel to Nigeria, and some were Zimbabweans who had family in South Africa. The families were being advised and would have to take a decision what to do when the bodies arrived. He noted that the matter had taken some time because the processes were in the hands of the Nigerian authorities, but DIRCO had tried to assist and counsel the families. He asked if the Committee could appeal to the Nigerian authorities to speed up the process. In relation to Lesotho, it was noted that the South African President, Deputy President and the Prime Minister of Lesotho were in talks on how to attempt to resolve the difficulties in that country, which he ascribed largely to the lack of economic growth and difficulties in the coalition government. Members were surprised to hear that the Lesotho Voters' Roll was held in Cape Town, and asked for more detail on responsibilities in Nigeria to be publicised by DIRCO.
DIRCO then presented its 2013/14 Annual Report, and set out statistics of the global and African trade patterns from 1994 to 2103, and the shares of exports. The staffing situation in DIRCO and employment equity statistics were also outlined. A major achievement and area of focus had been the Diplomatic Training, Research and Development programme, and a summary of its other programmes was also given, including new establishments in Lesotho. The DIRCO had overspent on its budget; it had spent 96% and 98% in two of the programmes, but 105%, 108% and 103% on the other three. Although Members asked how exactly this had arisen and how DIRCO intended to recoup, this question could not be answered due to shortage of time. It was noted that factors contributing to growth included global demand for commodities, improved regulatory frameworks and growth in the services industry. The value of continental trade had increased and Africa had the fastest-growing middle class in the world.
Members asked for more detail on the figures, wanted to know if the appointment of the Chief Operating Officer had caused major structural changes in the Department and felt it must pay more attention to employment equity. Members suggested that perhaps the Department had been putting too much focus on asset management, which was not a core function, and were also concerned about lending to entities that had not been budgeted for specifically, as well as the lack of indicators how these entities would be spending. They also asked what benefit South Africa was deriving from the various cooperation agreements.
A separate briefing on the performance of the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) set out the financial figures, the plans to deal with audit issues, and it was noted that ARF had funded projects in the areas of cooperation between South Africa and other countries,
Its focus lay in promotion of democracy and good governance, prevention and resolutions to conflicts and human resources development. The ARF awarded grants to the value of R41 million during this financial year, which was a decrease on past years and it continued to fund multi-year projects. Its reserves ran to R922 million. Members noted that this Fund was funded by transfers from other countries, and urged DIRCO to respond quickly when any discrepancies were identified.
Opening remarks: Nigeria and Lesotho issues
Mr B Radebe (ANC) asked the Chairperson if it was possible, before moving to the main part of the presentation, that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) could give the Committee a summary of what was currently happening in both Lesotho and Nigeria. In particular he wanted to know at what stage efforts were to repatriate bodies from Lagos, and a background to the political conflict in Lesotho and what South Africa and Lesotho were doing to try to resolve matters.
The Chairperson agreed and asked the Department to brief the Committee.
Mr Jerry Matjila, Director General of DIRCO, responded that the bodies of the South African citizens who were involved in the incident that took place in Nigeria were in the process of being flown back into South Africa, and being identified, although there had been severe damage to the bodies and this might be difficult, although both fingerprinting and dental records were being used. Media reports indicated that around 52 people involved were from South Africa, but it had subsequently been found that many of them were not South African citizens but had used South African passports to travel to Nigeria. For the moment he would not go into the question of how they had managed to access South African documents. The families would decide what they wished to do once the bodies had arrived and been identified.
He asked the Committee to bear in mind that Nigeria was a sovereign state and thus all the normal rules and procedures of a sovereign state must be followed. Many of the processes could not have been done much quicker, because this was outside the South African jurisdiction. He asked the Committee if Parliament could appeal with the Nigerian authorities to try to speed up the process, because DIRCO fully understood that the families of the victims were unhappy about how slow the process had been, and wanted to lay their family members to rest.
In relation to Lesotho, Mr Matjila noted that President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister Tom Thabane of Lesotho had held several meetings together to try to resolve the situation in Lesotho as quickly as possible. They had met eight times in the past, with mediator Cyril Ramaphosa, the Deputy President of South Africa, to try to reach resolution. He noted that from a financial standpoint, Lesotho had not grown and the people of Lesotho depended on the government as the main source of employment, and the lack of much development in the private sector could be one of the major causes to the conflict. The issue of a coalition government has also contributed to the conflict, along with the lack of Cabinet meetings and the fact that Lesotho's voters' roll was in Cape Town and not in Lesotho.
Ms M Moonsamy (EFF) said that she was not aware that Lesotho's voters' roll was in Cape Town and was worried that this could cause more conflict.
Mr Radebe said he was disappointed with the way in which South Africa and Nigeria were dealing with the issue because he thought that the two countries had a good working relationship. South Africa should also explain who was responsible for the collapse of the building more effectively to both the victims' families, to enable them to find closure, and to the rest of South Africa.
Ms T Kenye (ANC) asked whether the DIRCO planned on giving the victim's families counseling to try and help them deal with what had happened.
Mr M Lekota (COPE) asked exactly how many South Africans were killed in Nigeria, how many foreigners had travelled with fake South African documents, and from which countries they hailed. He also asked how South Africa, having identified them, would ensure that they were sent to their home countries after being brought to South Africa.
Mr Matjila repeated that some processes that would normally follow if this had happened in South Africa had not been done because Nigeria was a different jurisdiction with different rules, and for this reason he could not answer on some of the questions. After the incident in Nigeria, DIRCO opened up a 24/7 call centre to telephonically counsel some of the victim's families and help them with information they needed. He added that where the bodies had been burnt beyond recognition, the only way to identify them was through dental records. Many of the victims had been from Zimbabwe, but had family members in South Africa, who would need to decide what to do with the bodies.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) 2013/14 Annual Report briefing
Mr Matjila, by way of introduction, spoke to the global trade patterns in South Africa from 1994 to 2013, outlined its share of exports from 2000-2014, and compared its performance to the Continent (see attached presentation for full details).In 1994, Africa's global trade share was 8% and in 2013 it had increased to 21%. He noted that the increased focus on regional markets would increase manufactured exports. The total share was between 10% and 15%.
He then outlined the employment and vacancies in each salary band, from 31 March 2014 and the availability of skills. He also highlighted, as one of the achievements, the DIRCO's Diplomatic Training, Research and Development (DTRD) programme. Other programmes had also been implemented by the Department and he summarised these, as well as setting out the expenditure for them (see attached presentation for details) These included some new establishments in Lesotho.
In this year, the Department had overspent on its budget. On Programme 1: Human Resources, Corporate Services and DTRD, the Department's total expenditure was 96%. For Programme 2: International Relations, there had been expenditure of 105%. Programme 3: International Cooperation has a total expenditure of 98%. Programme 4: Public Diplomacy and Protocol, showed spending of 108% and Programme 5:International Transfers, showed spending of 103%.
He noted that Programme 3 consisted of sub-programmes dealing with Continental Cooperation, Southern African Development Community (SADC), South South Cooperation and the North South Cooperation.
He outlined that factors contributing to growth included global demand for commodities, improved regulatory frameworks and growth in the services industry. He cited an example of business technology, where consumer spending was anticipated to rise from US$ 860 billion in 2008 to US$ 1.4 trillion in 2020. The value of the continental trade had increased from US$ 27.9 billion in 1995 to US$ 148.9 billion in 2012.
He also noted that Africa had the fastest growing middle class in the world, and by 2060, the number of middle class Africans would grow to 1.1 million.
Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) asked if it was possible for Members to get training to understand the documents better, and, if the Department worked with Statistics South Africa, to get the figures that had been indicated in the report.
Ms M Moonsamy (EFF) asked if the appointment of the Chief Operating Officer (COO) caused any changes to the organisational structure of the Department. She also commented that some elements of the Employment Equity Act (EEA) had not been implemented to drive transformation.
Mr Radebe said the Department seemed to have focused too much on asset management, which was not its main function, and believed that this caused it to overspend on the budget. He asked how the Department intended to recover the money that had been overspent.
Mr M Lekota (COPE) said the Department had lent money to entities that were not part of the budget plans, and he was further worried that it had been given to them without a clear indication of how these entities were going to spend the money. He suggested that this was probably one of the major causes of overspending in the Department.
The Chairperson noted that not all of the questions could be answered in this meeting, because of time constraints, but asked the DIRCO to note them.
The Chairperson asked if South Africa was benefitting financially from all the cooperation agreements in which it was involved.
Mr Matjila responded that the appointment of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) had not caused organisaional changes but the appointment was done after an assessment was taken which indicated the need to have this appointment. The Employment Equity Act was being reviewed to identify barriers and measures for improvements, particularly towards empowering women, and DIRCO would seek to address transformation at all levels. One of the cooperation agreements that particularly benefitted South Africa was the use of new technology that had enabled South African's to communicate easier and for free through Skype; Skype was the result of a cooperation between South Africa and Denmark. He emphasised that cooperation agreements were important for political relations, especially when votes had to be made in the United Nations (UN).
African Renaissance Fund (ARF) 2013/14 Annual Report: DIRCO briefing
Mr Matjila then gave a presentation on the African Renaissance Fund (ARF), focusing on the income and expenditure for 2013/2014, the audit outcome for 2013/2014 and the status report programme on the audit outcome. During the year ARF had funded projects in the areas of cooperation between South Africa and other countries (particularly those in Africa). It was focusing also on promotion of democracy and good governance, prevention and resolutions to conflicts and human resources development. The ARF awarded grants to the value of R41 million during this financial year, and this represented a significant decrease when compared to previous years. It had released a further R229 million to multi-year projects that had started in prior years.
The approved grants for 2013/2014 totaled R41 300 000, which included:
- budget support to the Seychelles - R7 714 000
- support for the Madagascar election - 16 585 000.
The total available reserves were R922 588 000.
The status report on the audit outcomes indicated that the preparation of an operational manual detailing delegations of authority was under way. The Audit Committee, the Risk Management Committee and the Advisory Committee had continued to provide direction and assistance to the ARF in driving forward its legislative mandate. A separate unit dealing with financial management had been established.
Ms Moonsamy asked where the ARF received its money, how the funding was used and how it decided how the money would be spent.
Mr Radebe said this Department had to respond quickly to issues where someone had stolen money from the Department.
Mr Matjila responded that the ARF received its money from grants only, and those were given to it by different countries.
The Chairperson said the Committee would be having a joint sitting with African ambassadors, academics from universities, all the former presidents of South Africa and former president of Zambia, Mr Kenneth Kaunda and members of the Youth Development Agency.
The Committee would also be visiting provinces.
The meeting was adjourned.
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