Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty; Namibia Joint Committee Report; BRRR

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International Relations

24 October 2018
Chairperson: Mr M Masango (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Namibia Joint Committee Report & BRRR available once published in ATC
The Committee discussed its dissatisfaction at not receiving permission to attend the 2018 Heads of Missions (HOM) conference from 21 to 25 October in Pretoria. Only the Chairperson was allowed to attend. Members expressed concern about how implementation of the Parliamentary Oversight Model affected Committees’ ability to do their work. Possible recommendation for the Committee’s legacy report would be that members of the Committee should serve as alternate members in certain bodies, such as PAP (Pan-African Parliament), SADC-PF (Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum), IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union. Members remarked that the oversight model limited the Committee’s ability to perform its mandate outside the borders of the country. A recommendation would be included in the Committee’s legacy report. It was proposed that the Committee meet before the end of the term to engage in the role the Committee had to play. The legacy report had to go to the Chief Whip and House Chairperson, copied to the Speaker. The legacy report, which would be discussed last, would list the weaknesses the Committee had seen, to be discussed with the Chief Whip, with a copy to the Speaker and the House Chairperson.

The Department presented its submission of its recommendation that Parliament approve the proposed ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Committee adopted a report to the House that it had agreed to ratification of the TPNW.

The Committee considered the Joint Committee Report of the joint oversight on the status of state-owned properties in Namibia and implementation and execution of South Africa’s international relations policy in Windhoek and Walvis Bay. The Committee adopted it but resolved to discuss the report at the joint meeting with the Public Works Portfolio Committee the following week, so that the report could be considered jointly.

The Committee adopted its Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) based on the performance of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in 2017/18. The Committee made recommendations about recurring challenges which rendered DIRCO vulnerable. Recommendations included reference to negative audit outcomes for the department, serial findings raised in the Auditor-General’s report, especially on ICT, compliance with SCM requirements and asset management. Recommendations also referred to upgrading of ICT infrastructure, a skills audit in the Finance unit, stronger internal control systems, a credible asset register, the impact of foreign exchange fluctuations, the delay in finalising land acquisition for the construction of two properties in New York, compliance with section 7(1) of the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund Act; the delay in establishing the South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA), and permanent headquarters for the Pan African Parliament.

Meeting report

2018 Heads of Missions conference
The Chairperson referred to the invitation to the 2018 Heads of Missions conference from 21 to 25 October in Pretoria which the Portfolio Committee and staff had received from DIRCO, and said that the Chairperson of Committees had informed him that only the Chairperson would be allowed to attend. The Chairperson had expressed concern that the Committee was not allowed to attend, because the work of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation was not confined to South Africa. The House Chairperson informed him that the Chief Whip had said that Members of Parliament had to do constituency work on Mondays.

The Chairperson noted that there were issues about the signing of the host agreement for the Pan African Parliament (PAP). Prof Maloka, deployed in the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) as chief executive officer, said in a discussion that because the host country agreement had not been signed, SA might lose the hosting of the PAP, as two other countries were also working on it, namely Egypt and Morocco. It was said that in any case South Africa did not want it. Where did the Committee come in on this? The last time it was about R300 000 per month. If things were normalised the Committee members would serve on bodies such as the PAP, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Parliamentary Forum and BRICS forum. Someone had to sit in the secondary forum at the Pan African Parliament (PAP) to tell the Committee what happened there. Very soon the BRICS Parliamentary Forum would be established.

A recommendation had been made to include that in the legacy report as one of the weaknesses identified. Another important issue was the oversight model which limited the members to the country. The members could not be all over the world; the best they could do once a year was perhaps go to East Asia.

The Chairperson informed the Committee that he had been asked to make a presentation on implications of the Foreign Service Bill which was the first of its kind since 1994. If it became law, for first time the head of mission would be responsible on behalf of the country for all things that happened there enabled by law. For example,  in the case of Canada, a head of mission represented the prime minister of Canada. Likewise, if a Department of Health or Department of Trade and Industry official was declared persona non grata or committed misconduct that would harm the image of South Africa, the head of mission would return that person to South Africa. Labour issues would still be dealt with in South Africa. With reference to state property the Committee had made recommendations about all but one clause, namely clause 8. He had explained why the Committee had chosen to visit Namibia, what the Committee had found, and that the Committee’s recommendation on state property was that it had to move to DIRCO so that the heads of mission would be responsible for it. He explained that a checks and balances approach was needed, and quoted the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA) and the State Land Disposal Act. The ambassadors and high commissioners were happy with the progress that had been made. There were many questions and much interest, for instance why the Committee had not referred to the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) because he had said something about supply chain management (SCM) and the ARF, and proposed that some of their input had to be factored into the discussion on clause 8 on the Foreign Service Bill. The Chairperson noted that Ms C Dudley (ACDP) had attended the Heads of Missions conference at her own expense.

Mr S Mokgalapa (DA) agreed that the matters had to be included in the legacy report. There had been no movement with the oversight model. The Committee should not be negotiating about attendance at the Heads of Missions conference; it was one of the most bizarre explanations from the House Chairperson, and the reason did not make sense. Members of the Committee conducted oversight over the department and were not there for the luxury of being there. The Committee did oversight over the department and part of the work was heads of missions. The Committee used to be invited to the Heads of Missions conference, and attended. How else could the Committee do oversight? They could not go overseas because of the oversight model. The conference was the one place where the Committee could see all the heads of missions. One could not run the department from a desktop, and that was the problem; the head office ran the department from a desktop. Thus members of the Committee therefore supported the Chairperson on the legacy report. The Committee might have to wait for a change. Maybe sanity would prevail during the next term of Parliament. The Committee’s work was not just to receive presentations from senior management. Some were lucky because of the nature of the work they do in their political parties to be able to travel and do dual oversight, but not all colleagues in the Committee could do that to get a sense of what the issues were, what was discussed and happening with heads of mission and to network with those ambassadors. It was unacceptable.

The same went for BRICS. The Committee understood it was heads of state and government, but why was the Committee invited only to a cultural event? The Committee would rather to be put in the back as guests to hear what was discussed.

Ms D Raphuti (ANC) added that she also was not happy because she had been keen to attend. It was not for fun or to waste time, since attending would be part of constituency work, as members would be empowered to take the information to their constituency. Learning was not just to sit and hear what a lecturer presented; exposure was part of empowering a person. It was an administration issue, and the Committee could not blame the Chairperson, however, they were disgruntled. There were people who travelled all over. They were adults and also had their views and wanted to know why only a select few received permission to travel all over. She had spoken to the House Chairperson, who said it was an administrative issue and that the secretariat had submitted the application late on the Friday. She was disgruntled that she had been in Parliament for five years and she was just voting ‘’yes, yes, no, no’’.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) agreed. There was no word on whether permission had been denied whatsoever. She had to call the Committee secretary who said members had to go to their constituency offices. They were disgruntled to be treated thus by Parliament.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) added that the House Chairperson did not respect the Committee, and when someone had to be chosen to be sent to the African Parliament they picked someone else. He had phoned the House Chairperson personally and said to him it was an important matter. The House Chairperson told him to go to his constituency. Members of the Committee were disappointed. They had not been given a chance; they were supposed to go overseas at least two or three times. Other Committees went at least two or three times, but the Committee had not been allowed. He requested that the Chairperson convey their sentiments to the House Chairperson about what the Committee’s job was.

He had told the House Chairperson that the Committee was not allowed to go those countries, because they did not have money, and when these officials were in South Africa the Committee could not interview them to find out what the position was - because the Committee did not know. He thought the Speaker had to be told about the matter, to say what the position was. He asked what the point was of appointing them in the Committee, because the Committee had nothing to report in the end, and that they just got the report and went and voted.

Mr M Maila (ANC) agreed. They always referred to the oversight model, and then, when the Committee had a chance to interact with the heads of missions, it was denied. The Committee was almost at the end of their term, therefore, they were saying for the next term of Parliament that the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation had to be treated with the respect it deserved. He had heard about the matter at the airport when he was on his way to the conference on the Sunday. It was disturbing, and he requested that the Chairperson and ANC whip act as the Committee’s representatives in such matters, so that the Committee would not be dismissed without it putting up a good fight.

Dr R Lesoma (ANC) agreed, and proposed that the Committee find a space to meet before the end of the term, and express the views of the members without limiting themselves to the Heads of Missions Conference, but where they would engage in the role the Committee had to play. The legacy report had to go to the Chief Whip the House Chairperson, copied to the Speaker. Therefore the proposal was that the Committee had to communicate and convey their dissatisfaction in strong terms.

The Chairperson noted said he would be hesitant to go to the Speaker on the matter of all members not being allowed to visit Namibia. The Speaker had not been aware that the Committee had not received permission. The legacy report would be discussed last, listing the weaknesses the Committee had seen, to be discussed with the Chief Whip, with a copy to the Speaker and the House Chairperson.

Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW): DIRCO briefing
Adv Doctor Mashabane, DIRCO Chief Director: United Nations Political, Peace & Secuirty, accompanied by Mr Ernest Kgopa, Deputy Director responsible for non proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy, presented the submission of DIRCO's recommendation that Parliament approve the ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Adv Mashabane sketched a brief history of the subject, saying that the first decision of the United Nations, in 1946, pertained to the use of nuclear weapons. The Americans had monopoly on the atom, then other countries, such as the British, French, Russians, Chinese acquired the technology as well, which worried former US president Herbert Hoover, who addressed the General Assembly on the issue and spoke about Atoms for Peace. He proposed the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was then responsible for promoting the peaceful use of the atom.

Later there was a treaty to prohibit development of nuclear weapons, unfortunately the treaty that was adopted in 1968 and came into force in 1970 was called a non proliferation treaty. It only focused on non proliferation and peaceful use, but the nuclear states which had nuclear weapons at the time, were allowed to continue to possess nuclear weapons. This had been an issue. In the beginning of the 1990s the nuclear weapons in South Africa were dismantled and South Africa signed the non proliferation treaty, which meant SA could no longer develop nuclear weapons.

In 1995 the non proliferation treaty was up for review. The review was that the treaty had to be extended indefinitely, and there was something called a grand bargain which South Africa negotiated. The understanding was that the Middle East would be a zone free of nuclear weapons. It was agreed that a meeting would be convened to finalise the details, because it was known that Israel had nuclear weapons. The Israeli nuclear weapons programme was done in cooperation with the South African nuclear weapons programme as supported by the USA.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had three pillars: nuclear disarmament, non proliferation of nuclear weapons, and peaceful use of nuclear weapons.

The primary goal was to reinforce and promote South Africa as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of military items and advanced technologies in the nuclear, biological and chemical fields; promote benefits for international and regional peace and security - essential for sustainable socio-economic development, including realising NDP, and the key objective was to ensure that unwarranted restrictions were not imposed on rights of states to peaceful application of materials/technologies needed for development.

Challenges: In terms of the treaty it had to be reviewed every five years to identify gaps and a resolution had to be taken to strengthen the gaps. Decisions had to be taken by consensus. The issues that were a major divide in the world at the time was that the treaty was discriminatory, because it gave the five permanent (P5) members of the UN Security Council the legality to possess nuclear weapons. States such as India, Pakistan, Israel and Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) withdrew from the treaty to embark on development of nuclear weapons programmes. In addition to these four there was the P5, therefore there were currently nine states in the world that were known to possess nuclear weapons.

Israel had not ratified. Iran, in terms of the international verified report did not have nuclear weapons. Iran has ratified the non proliferation treaty. There was a debate about how people complied. Over time, it had become apparent that the interest of the P5 states was more in controlling the peaceful use of nuclear technology such as electricity generation, treatment of cancer and medical isotopes.

The developments in the preceding 10 years had been modernisation programmes, and there were approximately 18 000 nuclear warheads in the world, mainly amongst the P5, not counting the other countries.

The concern has been the geo-strategic security environment, if one looked at a standoff between the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the deployment and stationing of nuclear weapons, there could at any time be a mistake where nuclear weapons could be deployed.

As part of the international community, South Africa, together with five countries, including Nigeria, Brazil, Austria and Costa Rica, started leading the humanitarian impact movement which raised the concern that, with a standoff in the world geopolitically, if there was a deployment of nuclear weapon in the world – within the given geopolitics - it would have dire consequences, also for people’s way of life. Momentum gained, and in July 2017 there was a conference in New York, where it was agreed that the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons would be adopted. The treaty was adopted by an overwhelming number of members of the UN General Assembly and South Africa signed it in September 2017. The treaty was in line with existing treaties, including the Pelindaba Treaty which created a nuclear weapons threshold on the continent of Africa.

The preamble of the treaty stated that the political intention of the treaty was to stigmatise and delegitimise nuclear weapons. P5 states, which owned nuclear weapons, were called nuclear weapon states, so it was accepted that they could have them, and the other four were called nuclear weapon possessors, because the treaty did not permit it. The treaty said that those who currently had them could keep them, but that no other states would be allowed to have them. SA said fine, even without their cooperation, it had to go ahead to stigmatise and delegitimise the possession of nuclear weapons. The preamble recognised unequal resource allocation while large amounts are being spent by the P5 to modernise the weapons they have.

Under prohibitions the treaty prohibited states to develop, test, produce, manufacture, acquire, possess, stockpile; transfer or receive transfer; use or threaten to use; assist, encourage or induce to engage in prohibited activity; seek or receive assistance to engage in prohibited activity; allow stationing or deployment of nuclear weapons on territory. (Prohibition of stationing: States should not allow others to place nuclear weapons on their territory.) The treaty included declarations, safeguards and elimination details. All states had to submit declarations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the materials they had. It also referred to how those who had nuclear weapons would declare to the Agency.

Institutional arrangements: The treaty would come into force only after ratification by 50 member states. At the time of this briefing, 19 states had ratified and 66 states had signed. Gambia had deposited its instrument in September 2018 as first African state to ratify.

The organisational arrangements: The UN secretariat, the office on disarmament affairs, would be responsible, so that no new structure would be created. DIRCO officials in New York would continue to deal with the issue.

During adoption Africa delivered the highest number of votes for adoption, because of the Pelindaba Treaty which had been ratified by 40 out of the 56 African states, which created a nuclear weapons wall on the continent. It prohibited the placement or transiting of any nuclear weapons on the land surface area of the continent. DIRCO did not foresee universality on the continent in the near future, particularly because of the Middle East as it pertained to Egypt, which was geographically in Africa as well the Middle East.

DIRCO had gone through the administrative and executive processes, and had received a legal opinion from the Department of Justice and the State Law Advisers which confirmed that there was nothing new in the treaty which would violate policy or the Constitution.

The non proliferation treaty review conference was scheduled for 2020 and the concern of the P5 was that the non proliferation treaty would collapse once the prohibition treaty came into place. 2020 would be a presidential election year in the United States of America. US President Trump had sent his ambassador to Moscow to inform them the USA was withdrawing from their agreement on reduction of nuclear weapons. DIRCO noted a trend of USA withdrawing from international treaties. Part of their concern was that Russia was also expanding their nuclear weapons arsenal.

Mr Mokgalapa thanked the Department, Ministry and staff for their work towards ratification of the treaty. The country had been at the forefront in pushing for non proliferation. The DA supported the treaty and its ratification by Parliament.

Ms Kenye supported ratification, and inquired about Syria's position, the stance of the P5 on the prohibition treaty, since they had veto power, and whether the nuclear-possessing states were weakening them.

Mr Maila expressed support for ratification of the treaty. He asked if the treaty would make it possible for the nuclear weapon states to finally do away with nuclear weapons, or whether they would they just go the route of using their veto powers.

Dr Lesoma supported ratification of the treaty, and with reference to medical spinoffs, requested a simple explanation of envisaged implications with reference to medical aid. What mechanisms were in place for the African continent to respond to the transit of nuclear weapons through the continent's territory, as it was understood that some African states had their own agreements with the P5, and what influence did the African Union have to ensure that it did not happen?

Mr Mpumlwana supported ratification of the treaty. He asked about precautionary mechanisms against accidental launching of nuclear weapons, and the probability of the prohibition treaty influencing countries such as Pakistan, India, Israel and the DRNK, at least to ratify.

Ms Raphuti supported ratification of the treaty, and requested further explanation of the primary goals of the disarmament policy as referred to on the fifth slide: ‘’Primary goal: Reinforce and promote South Africa as a responsible producer, possessor and trader of military items and advanced technologies in the nuclear, biological and chemical fields.’’

The Chairperson said there was no time to discuss the politics behind the treaty, but the point of view of South Africa was correct. That was where SA had stood since 1994, and signing was part of the principle of supporting international peace and justice and the demand that South Africa had been making that there had to be a just world order. It could not have said something else.

Adv Mashabane replied that if South Africa signed, most of the countries on the continent would sign, meaning that SA had immense influence in the continent, and many would want to follow suit, but it was not the case in all instances. When SA canvassed the African state parties to make a massive withdrawal from the International Criminal Court, only nine were prepared to do it. Countries who did not withdraw explained their reasons. They had been told that if they withdrew, donors would not give them the money that they had given before. So far the operationalisation of Article 46 of was not being done, because only nine countries were prepared to act. It was bad for Africa. It was said that the ICC was a colonial court and Africa had to have its own, and operationalise its own, but out of the 54 states only nine were prepared to act. What it meant was that there could be war crimes or crimes against humanity and genocide with impunity, and the national courts which had to be the courts of first instance in some countries were not like South Africa - they did not work. Just to be fair to the continent, what one saw about the USA and the P5 and the other countries, they were following the American exceptionalism in all its other manifestations - whether one was talking about climate change because they had so many big industries, and emissions and environmental degradation - if these things were to affect American interests.  One of the things about the Americans was that while a soldier or a president of another country could be tried on American soil, for them, going back to the Monroe doctrine, they said they did not sign the ICC, because an American soldier could not be tried in another country. There were many areas where they supported international treaties and then stayed out of them.

The Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was a terminological inexactitude, a misnomer, in that it said prohibition of nuclear weapons, but it did not prohibit nuclear weapons for those who already had them, and prohibit those who did not have and wanted to have them. It allowed and recognised the nuclear states and recognised the nuclear possessors. And all those ganged up, unless it was an American friend, against anyone who was an aspirant possessor like Iran and Libya. They would smash to smithereens if one tried to have what they had, because they said that others were not responsible with those weapons, but that they were, even for purposes of using it against you. That was what it meant.

The Chairperson noted that Members had expressed support for adopting the treaty. The Committee Report would be debated in the National Assembly, and thereafter be referred to the other House.

Dr Lesoma proposed that DIRCO submit responses to the Committee's questions in writing, since the Committee supported the adoption of the declaration, and needed clarification for the purpose of the declaration.

The Chairperson proposed that Committee request a debate rather than a declaration, because the Committee was a sponsor. He had been advised that the Committee could consider issuing a statement that it had considered the treaty, had received a presentation, were in support, but that they condemned the fact that there were countries that possessed weapons. The Committee could paint in a statement how it saw the world and so forth.

Members indicated that they agreed.

The Committee adopted the Committee Report recommended that the House approve the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Treaty.

Joint Report: Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation & Portfolio Committee on Public Works on conducting joint oversight on the status of state-owned properties in Namibia and the implementation & execution of South Africa’s international relations policy in Windhoek & Walvis Bay
The Chairperson said that the Committee knew the content of the report very well. He wanted to make the Committee's work light, and summarised the context of the Committee's visit to Namibia.

The Committee had been accompanied by the Portfolio Committee on Public Works, its findings were contained in the report and it had made recommendations. The main reason for visiting Namibia was to check the state of affairs of South Africa's property outside South Africa so that the Committee could finally adopt, and make firm recommendations on clause 8 of the Foreign Service Bill. The Committee had completed its work on other clauses of the Bill except clause 8, since they were waiting for the report. The Committee had already expressed the view for the purpose of the Bill that state property outside the country had to be given to DIRCO, because they had the physical presence outside the country and could manage this, but that DIRCO should not have a carte blanche mandate; it had to be tied to what was obtained inside the country such as the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA), Act 19 of 2007, the State Land Disposal Act, Act 48 of 1961, and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), Act 1 of 1999.

As it was a joint oversight report one option was to meet jointly with the Public Works Portfolio Committee (PC) to adopt the report, however, that did not take away the Committee’s responsibility of adopting the report.

Dr Lesoma indicated that, since there were inaccuracies about when the draft report was circulated to members a few weeks before, it was suggested that members take the draft report to their political parties for input, particularly on the recommendations. The Committee secretary would assist in terms of which rule the Committee could proceed to adopt a joint Committee report, however, it was hoped that the two Committees would meet the following week to discuss the report. She proposed that the preamble to the Committee's recommendations state that the Committee had sat to deliberate and recommend to the House for adoption, but the Committee needed to insert a reference to the rule that spoke to that. She was aware that the Chairperson's office had consulted the Office of the House Chairperson, not the individual directly, in terms of other processes that could be employed, to make sure that the Committee also performed their intended oversight role about clause 8. She said there would be no fundamental changes, because the content adviser of the Committee and the Committee secretary of the Public Works PC had been exchanging notes on that point.

Mr Mokgalapa said he agreed with the proposal on how to proceed, however, exchanges between the secretariat and content adviser did not mean that there was political buy-in, because there were cross-cutting recommendations on which the two Committees needed to agree. There were things for which each Committee was responsible, for instance proposed amendments about maintenance might be in the domain of Public Works. The blurred, confusing responsibilities and roles between the departments was the primary reason for the Committee’s position. There was a need to agree on those matters and for clarification, however, the DA supported adoption of the report.

Mr Mokgalapa added that the only problem was the word ''joint'', because it was not only in the hands of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, but also in the hands of the Public Works PC, unless the report was separated according to what was applicable to each Committee.

The Chairperson informed members that he and the ANC whip had met the Chairperson and ANC whip of the Public Works PC outside Parliament and had informed them that the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation as ''lead'' Committee would proceed to consider, and adopt, the Namibia report on 24 October 2018, and had agreed with them that the Committees would meet jointly the following week to adopt the report. The Committee could therefore consider the report and adopt the report, and proceed to meeting with the Public Works PC the following week to adopt it jointly.

The Chairperson explained that the two Committees did not differ materially on what they saw in Namibia, but because of what they had seen there: on giving heads of the mission the day-to-day responsibility for managing property outside the country, whether a window cracked, or anything such thing happened, they could deal with it. Public Works differed with the Committee that it did not matter who was in charge, whether Public Works or DIRCO, the responsible party had to make sure that it was corrected, but Public Works was not accredited to be outside the country in terms of the Vienna Convention of 1967, ... [spoke in the vernacular]. The difference was that the ultimate goal for this Committee was to guide and inform clause 8 of the Foreign Service Bill.

The Chairperson asked for the Committee's input on the adoption of the Namibia report.

The Committee secretary noted that the Committee was also guided by Rule 169(5) of the National Assembly, in terms of which, ‘’if a Committee is unable to meet to confer with another Committee within reasonable time frames, the Committee may invite the other Committee to convey its views in writing’’. The Committee had done this when they met before constituency period and both Committees sat and went through the report and also responded to the question on the moving and adopting, because all the members who had been part of that meeting agreed with the content of the report and could also move for adoption. In terms of the NA Rules the Committee could adopt the report without meeting the Public Works PC as their views had been captured.

Ms Swazi Taitai, DIRCO parliamentary liaison officer, added that, for the sake of harmony in having the report adopted by both, if the Committee decided to proceed in terms of Rule 169(5) they could request that the other Committee submit its decision in writing. If the Committee felt that they would need the physical presence of the other Committee, they could still schedule a joint meeting

Mr Mpumlwana asked for clarification, since he had thought that Public Works did not oppose clause 8, but that their position was that the DIRCO Minister should not have free rein to sell the property, but it had to go through the Government Immovable Asset Management Act (GIAMA). He thought their problem was GIAMA, and in the meeting he heard them saying that if it was through GIAMA, then it was fine.

The Chairperson clarified that it was the International Relations Portfolio Committee (PC) that was saying that state property outside the country had to be given to DIRCO subject to GIAMA, the State Land Disposal Act, and - after his interaction with the ambassadors - the PFMA, because of the supply chain management issues. So it would be in terms of three Acts. The International Relations PC was saying that. The Department of Public Works did not want the sale and leasing of state property outside the country to go to another department - it had to stay with Public Works, but it had to be corrected. At the time an ambassador was given a limited amount, for instance R100 000, to deal with problems, but legally the department did not have that responsibility, and if this responsibility existed in the department in terms of law, as would exist after the Foreign Service Bill was passed, the Director General would then in writing confer responsibility to the value of more than R500 000 to the head of a mission. In other words, they could start building a new mission altogether. .. [spoke in Xhosa] …subject to approval. This meant that once the Act was in place, the Director-General could write to the Minister that new offices were necessary, or that land had to be purchased, thus obtaining permission to incur such costs, which was not the case yet. Therefore it was important to pass the Bill so that DIRCO could have original powers to delegate authority to heads of mission.

Mr Mpumlwana asked since the DIRCO Minister agreed with the Committee, there was a disagreement between the Minister and Public Works. The Chairperson had clarified that according to their study group meeting the Minister of Public Works was in support of taking property outside the country [spoke in his vernacular language]. The Minister had no problem, the Public Works Committee had the problem.

The Chairperson recalled from their engagement with the Committee that the officials of Public Works had a problem. There were two ways of dealing with the report. The Committee could adopt it at a joint meeting, or separately, and Public Works PC could send its record to this Committee, which was the lead committee.

The content adviser explained that the Department of Public Works held the budget for maintenance of properties outside the country and internally. The missions and departments were given R100 000 per item. This  impacted on foreign missions because of exchange rate fluctuation. The Committee might make a recommendation about the challenge at some point. The challenge was the exchange rate fluctuation posed for DIRCO as once converted to British pounds, for instance, the DIRCO was not able to pursue its maintenance plan. That was why it would be advantageous if it were DIRCO, and that DIRCO would then also be given the necessary budget to do maintenance beyond ‘’the use of rands’’. That was another problem. Locally everyone received R100 000 per item, so if DIRCO received the same amount it would be too little.

The Chairperson asked if it was material for a Joint Committee Report to be adopted by a Committee ''outside'' the other Committee in terms of being published in the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC) report and going to the National Assembly where it might be debated. If it was material the Committee could not do that, but if not, the Committee could adopt the report and meet with the Public Works PC. It would just be academic … [spoke in his vernacular language]. If the Committees adopted the report at a joint meeting it meant that members of both Committees would speak on the report if it was debated in the House. If the Committees did not meet physically, Public Works PC members would not be part of the speakers if a debate was required in the House, as the International Relations PC would have sponsored the report alone. The Public Works PC may want to report on state property in three countries and may want to complete those reports together. The Chairpersons of the both Committees had discussed practicalities which could and may have contributed to delays. The money had to follow the mandate, and the officials had since briefing the Committee not been willing to change their position...[spoke in his vernacular language]

Mr Mpumlwana motivated that the Committee had visited Namibia … [spoke in his vernacular language]… because they had wanted to finalise the Bill, and although the two Portfolio Committees had conducted the visit to Namibia jointly, their objectives were not the same. He agreed the Public Works PC would want to include their findings in a consolidated report, because they had visited a number of missions. The objective of the International Relations PC had been to establish whether clause 8 was relevant.

The Chairperson said the Committee would also refer to the report when they dealt with the Foreign Service Bill.

Mr Mpumlwana moved for the Committee to approve the Joint Committee Report.

The Committee secretary advised that if the report was ATCed, the Public Works PC might say that they were not consulted and their views were not taken into consideration. He proposed that the adoption of the Namibia report be deferred to the following week, but not beyond that. The Committee would have given the Public Works PC the opportunity to express their views, so that there would be no reason to say, when the report went to the House for debate, that the Public Works PC had not been consulted in writing.

The Chairperson said that the Management Committee had decided the previous day that he as Chairperson would write to the Chairperson of the Public Works PC that the Committee would consider the Namibia report on 24 October 2018. It had not been necessary to send the letter, because they discussed the matter shortly thereafter... [spoke in his vernacular language]… There were no fundamental differences in what was observed and recommended, other than the position on property.

The Chairperson indicated that the Committee could therefore say that it had considered the report of the Joint Oversight Visit to Namibia and decided that the report be referred… [spoke in his vernacular language]… to the Public Works PC for consideration, with a view to consideration (adoption) at a joint meeting.

The content adviser reminded members that the Committees had already considered the report when they met the week before. The Committee could discuss matters arising out of that, and the resolution is such and such.

Mr Mpumlwana…[spoke in his vernacular language]. He proposed that the Committee meet the Public Works PC the following week to adopt the Namibia report.

The Chairperson agreed. He requested that staff express clearly in their formulation that the report had been considered at a joint meeting and that the Committees requested further refinement by the secretariat. The report could then be considered jointly and adopted in the following week.

International Relations & Cooperation Budgetary Review & Recommendations Report
The Chairperson remarked that the report was long and comprehensive, and proposed that the Committee confine deliberations to the findings and recommendations.

The content adviser briefed the Committee on the findings and recommendations:

1. Under Findings the Committee did not have a problem with overall service delivery by the department, and also, the Auditor-General (AG) expressed the fact that generally their state of service delivery was good and healthy despite the international environment.
2. The second finding was that the department had received a qualified audit opinion with emphasis of matter for the 2017-18 financial year. The Committee expressed the view there that the regression was unfortunate and highly unacceptable because the issues involved were issues that the Committee had been discussing with the department over time.
3. AG also recommended steps to be taken by the department in terms of those serial challenges the department had, and the list included irregular expenditure patterns, ICT, asset management - the whole list that the Committee was aware of.
4. The fourth point dealt with the fact that the entity had received an unqualified audit opinion with findings and those findings referred to the ‘’non reimbursement’’ of moneys that were used by the entity into its bank account - the problem that the Committee was aware of.
5. Point 5 ’spoke to the irregular expenditure of around R374 million and that the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF) had recorded an amount of R600 000.
6. The content adviser proceeded that the 6th point under findings was that the Committee noted that there had been fruitless and wasteful expenditure of about R4 million during the period, and the reason for wasteful expenditure was due to the upkeep of vacant State properties abroad for the provision of cleaning and security, and also due to flight cancellations of DIRCO officials without reasons.
7. Here the Committee expressed appreciation for the openness by DIRCO on the root causes of their operational challenges and the fact that investigations were under way facing the former director-general and the chief financial officer with regard to supply chain management irregularities, especially with the New York acquisition of land project. The Committee said that it would like to be kept informed once investigations had been completed.
8. The finding under point 8 related to noncompliance with supply chain management prescripts where, in the same project in New York, the awarding of contracts to companies was regarded as irregular, and where the bidders had been awarded tenders on different evaluation criteria than what had been stipulated in the original invitation for bidding. ‘’Then the amount of R 117 720 000 that was already paid by the department on the design, the balance of it, the Committee would recall that the National Treasury has put the project on hold.’’
9. Point 9 referred to lack of contract management - issues which had been raised by the AG to say there was need for compliance with Treasury regulations and PFMA when dealing with projects in the department.
10. In 2016-17 there was an issue to the effect that Treasury and the department had been tasked by Cabinet to look into the reasons why the ARF (African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund) seemed to have a low disbursement rate, and that still was in the pipeline and appeared again in the 2017-18 report.
11. In point 11 it was noted that the department again delayed to disburse the money that was en route to the fund as required by the ARF Act (African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund Act, Act 51 of 2000) in spite of the strong caution issued by the Committee on 28 February 2018 that such practice should not recur.
12. The department did not have a good plan of action which both the audit Committee and the AG was saying was only released at the end of the 2017-18 financial year, and as a result did not serve its intended purpose, as it was meant to address root causes of recurring findings. Therefore, since it was released at the end of the financial year, they could not measure whether the department had turned the corner in terms of addressing those issues.
13. The Committee noted that South Africa had assumed the chairmanship of a number of organisations in the 2017-18 financial year; that of SADC (Southern African Development Community) in August 2017, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in January, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), in October 2017. South Africa had served as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council for two consecutive terms, from April 2014 to March 2016 and April 2016 to April 2018.
14. South Africa successfully lobbied for its candidature for a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council for a second term, 2019 to 2020, and the main message which South Africa was going to carry into Security Council this time was the primacy and centrality of multilateralism which addressed the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Change Agreement.
15. Point 15 was on the challenge DIRCO continued to have with containing compensation of employees within the ceiling declared by National Treasury owing to the fact that some employees had to be paid in foreign currency.
16. The Committee also noted that DIRCO had about 56 participants enrolled in the department's internship programme which had ended on 31 March 2018.
17. Point 17 referred to the financial statements of the department. The AG has raised a concern which had been a serial concern for several years; that DIRCOs financial statements contained mistakes and misstatements. AG expressed strong caution that either the department wanted to mislead the Committee or Parliament, the AG's offices and others concerned with monitoring financial performance, and made reference to a skills audit in the department, which the Committee had already recommended in three previous BRRR processes, and which had not been done.
18. The Committee identified the need for a dedicated session with senior management and political leadership of the department to make sure the Committee conveyed its concerns about the issues affecting DIRCO in order to be able to assist the department to divert from serial challenges.
19. Point 19 referred to serial matters which were raised by the AG.
20. Point 20 referred to the fact that the department reported that a new unit, the Trade and Investment Promotion unit, had been established in the office of the Chief Operations Officer (COO). The unit had already facilitated the development of an Economic Diplomacy Strategy which the Committee had been encouraging so that the department would have its own Economic Diplomacy Strategy to assist ambassadors and people in the missions on trends that South Africa wanted to pursue.
21. Point 21 dealt with the asset register, especially of movable assets. The AG had said that that the problems which DIRCO had experienced over time had resulted from an ineffective system of internal control over asset management. The Committee had noted that some of the assets listed in the asset register could not be physically verified and some assets on the ground were not recorded in the asset register.
22. Point 22. The department was still experiencing delays with the 30-day rule for payment of service providers owing to the time required to verify invoices. The Committee also highlighted a mini legacy assessment by the Committee indicating notable achievements in South Africa's foreign policy since 2014 by the department in terms of political work, and commended the work of missions abroad by which South Africa had gained recognition in its promotion of multilateralism, and was a respected global player. South Africa was also recognised for championing the aspirations of the developing countries, the agenda of Africa and the global South. The Committee also referred to operational issues that had posed a great challenge to DIRCO since 2014.
24. Point 24 referred to the asset register: For a short while in 2017 there was a web-based system which DIRCO had introduced. The service provider’s contract came to an end. It was one of the contracts for which payments continued after the contract had ended, but at least there was an improvement in terms of completeness of the asset register. Even the heritage assets were identified and evaluated, but the situation regressed after the contract had ended.
25. Point 25 was about the ICT deficiencies of the department which was linked to supply chain management, because every time the department would report to the Committee that they had a strategy or a framework to pursue the ICT infrastructure, but then supply chain discrepancies would affect it. Some suppliers would not have tax certificates from SARS, some would not have declared their interest, or some would have relations with officials of the department, therefore ICT had not moved since 2010, despite the fact that the Committee had raised concerns about security of information between the missions and the department, since, if the information was not secure, the country and officials who were expected to protect the information of the State would be exposed to risks.
27. Point 27: The Committee noted that, because the audit Committee had access to the Minister, he was able to understand what the problems were, however, the risk Committee did not have direct access to the Minister, but only to the director-general and deputy directors-general.
28. Point 28: The department had been reporting on the problem of finalising SADPA (South African Development Partnership Agency), but the issue of not migrating from ARF to SADPA has caused many problems, because the Committee had identified deficiencies in the ARF in terms of its governance and the way it operated, so in view of no movement towards SADPA the Committee had noted and expressed concern because Cabinet had decided on establishing SADPA in 2009.
29. Point 29: The fact that in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 report DIRCO reported that one of the ARF (African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund) achievements was on the completion of projects abroad. DIRCO had reported that the rice and vegetable production project in Guinea (Conakry) had been completed and closed, and that it had a closeout report. DIRCO also reported that it had been handed over to the people and the president of Guinea, however, in the 2017-18 financial year there was a disbursement of R1,17 million on the same project.
Point 30: The bulk of expenditure under Programme 1 was for operating leases, operating payments for municipal charges, and rental cost for the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), UN offices, New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), so the Committee noted that this issue had been there all along, because the host agreement for PAP was signed in 2004 and the agreement was that SA assumed an obligation to provide headquarters for PAP.
With reference to the Committee programme, the Chairperson requested that the Committee secretary issue a letter...[spoke in her vernacular language] ..
The Committee secretary intimated that since the briefing about the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons had been moved forward from the following week. all other items had been shifted, including the finalisation of clause 8 of the Foreign Service Bill.
The Chairperson requested that the Committee secretary refer to the minutes of the previous week, [spoke in his vernacular language] .. and then the agenda of the following week would include joint consideration of the Namibia report. He would only be able to provide more guidance late the following Monday. He said he had spoken to the Chairperson of international relations .. [spoke in his vernacular language] There would be a management Committee meeting and a joint Committee meeting. The other item depended on developments.

On the subject of the Committee’s BRR report the Committee noted that South Africa continued to support peace, security and stability on the continent, it had served in the AU Peace and Security Council for two terms, and had been supporting UN efforts at promoting peace. SA was also serving in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) under the United Nations banner and had been contributing to processes in SADC which aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region.

DIRCO had been asked to submit responses to some of the issues which the Committee had raised in writing, and officials were at the Committee meeting to present the responses to the Committee. The content adviser said that some responses gave rise to more questions, but the previous year the Committee could not proceed on the matters. For example, the reply to the rice and vegetable production project in Guinea which was supposed to have been closed, and for which the ARF had continued to give out money, was that it was for severance packages.

Mr Mokgalapa requested that the content adviser elaborate about recommendations of the Risk Management Committee and Audit Committee, which had been dealt with very economically. They made recommendations about matters about which they were quite concerned. The content adviser had summarised it in points 25 and 27, but it was not only about the need for them to have regular meetings, but also that the recommendations they had made were to be implemented. Another issue was the two reports: One was the Public Protector's report on which the AG reported, on the irregularities at the ARF, and the second was the misappropriation of sponsorship money which National Treasury was investigating, which were put by the Audit Committee.

Mr Mokgalapa requested that the content adviser just mention recommendations and issues of the Audit Committee and Risk Management Committee in terms of them not being followed through. He further requested that the content adviser include reference to a court case that was going around, perhaps about the ICT infrastructure.

Dr Lesoma said she was not comfortable with including the 2014 Public Protector report in terms of the findings. She requested that it be captured under general discussions, because it had been highlighted in the Committee's 2015-16 report. The only thing was the systems administratively to ensure that it was not repeated. Dr Lesoma said, in terms of ICT, the DG did say something was being done about that.

Mr Mokgalapa clarified that the Public Protector report he referred to had been reported and finalised in July 2018, therefore it was still current and formed part of the bigger investigations into the issues around the ARF that were being investigated. It was therefore contemporary. It was a finding, it was what the Committee heard coming to the Committee and so the Committee got to note what they heard. The process moving forward was subject to the internal processes of the department.

The content adviser proceeded to present the Committee's conclusions:
Overall performance by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in the reporting year had been commendable. The Committee was encouraged by the efforts undertaken to contribute towards a better life for all in South Africa, striving for a stable and secure continent, and creating a better world for all.

The Committee unanimously expressed satisfaction that the department had utilised its budget in accordance with its plans for 2017-18. The department was regarded as having demonstrated full accountability to Parliament and the people of South Africa on resources spent, both human and financial, and how it contributed in the achievement of South Africa’s national priorities. The department was commended for continuing to position South Africa as a respected member of the international community, with a dynamic and independent foreign policy that spoke to the country’s domestic priorities.

The Committee noted serial weaknesses highlighted by the Auditor-General. It further welcomed the acknowledgement and commitment by the department to improve on the scores of the department for good management practices measured against the standards set in the Management Performance Assessment Tool Framework (MPAT), (which was) issued by the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency.

The Committee had committed to a dedicated session with senior management in the department to discuss the recurring challenges which rendered the department vulnerable to audit. A similar meeting would also be held with the political leadership of the department.

The content adviser proceeded to read the Committee's recommendations. That the Minister:
1. Identify and hold dedicated training programmes for the officers responsible for financial statements, procurement, supply chain management and asset management, to ensure that serial challenges in these areas are addressed;
2. Conduct a skills audit in the Finance unit to determine whether there is appropriate capacity to address the root causes of recurring qualified audit opinions for the past four years;
3. Deal with serial issues raised in the Auditor-General’s report, especially on supply chain, ICT, asset management and consequence management, compliance with rules and legislation;
4. Upgrade ICT infrastructure of the department and missions abroad to avoid exposing foreign policy related information to related risks;
5. Liaise with the South African Reserve Bank, National Treasury, Department of Public Service and the Office of the Auditor-General on mitigation options to address the challenges brought onto the budget of the department by foreign exchange fluctuations;
6. Ensure that the office of the Chief Operations Officer (COO) has the necessary resources and delegated responsibilities to deal with serial issues even before they occur, and that the office act as an inspectorate in consultation with the Risk and Internal Audit Committees;
7. Investigate and report on the circumstances that led to incidences of irregular expenditure to the amount of R374 million;
8. Investigate and report on the circumstances that led to the delay in finalising the acquisition of land for the construction of two properties in New York;
9. Strictly comply with section 7(1) of the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund Act, Act 51 of 2000, in terms of which any money in the Fund which is not required for immediate use must be invested into ''its account'';
10. With the experience in the AU peace and security architecture consider establishing a data base of South African experts in mediation skills and leverage the skills as a tool of soft power in exporting South Africa's foreign policy;
11. Report on how the activities of the missions have marked the international programme of 2017-18 as the centenary of South Africa's first democratically elected president Nelson Mandela;
12. Compile a progress report on the circumstances impacting on the conclusion of inter-departmental negotiations relating to the establishment of the South African Development Agency (SADPA);
13. Review the audit action plan to address the root causes of serial operational challenges contributing to the negative audit outcomes for the department. The content adviser added that the AG had reported that the plan was presented late and it was not implementable, so the department needed to review it;
14. Compile a progress report on the processes relating to the provision of permanent headquarters for the Pan African Parliament;
15. Conduct investigations into the awarding of contracts in the pilot project for land acquisition in New York;
16. Conclude investigations and report on the outcomes into the allegations against the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) as well as the former director-general with regard to the SCM issues in the project for land acquisition in New York;
17. Establish a contract management unit in the office of the Director-General to guarantee compliance with SCM requirements;
18. Strengthen internal control systems in order to take reasonable care to prevent and detect irregular, fruitless and wasteful and unauthorised expenditure, and
19. Report on actions taken on all instances of irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure;
20. Consider reviewing the organisational structure of the department to align it to the current developments and new demands of South African foreign policy and government priorities;
21. Where criminality has been established, refer such cases to the law enforcement agencies;
22. Create and table a turnaround strategy on measures being put in place in order to have a credible asset register in place to avoid a regression on the audit outcomes;
23. Table a detailed plan on ways to reduce expenditure on the compensation of locally recruited personnel (LRPs);
24. Improve recordkeeping with regard to the requests for State Protocol Lounge (SPL) services, and keep an updated list of the VIPs (very important persons) processed through these lounges.

Recommendations to Parliament
Parliament should consider the importance of the oversight requirement for the Committee which is currently not favoured by the prevailing oversight model. There is a need for the Committee to conduct oversight, at least once a year, on South African Missions abroad. This would allow the Committee to monitor causes of irregular expenditure and noncompliance with supply chain management issues. The Committee should be allowed to attend the annual heads of mission conferences, in order to sharpen oversight on foreign policy trends and priorities discussed at these conferences. South African missions abroad were the implementing missions of SA foreign policy. Parliament should also allow the Committee as a whole to conduct state of readiness oversight visits where DIRCO was responsible for facilitating the hosting of international conferences with a foreign policy undertone. Further, the Committee should be allowed to attend international conferences held in South Africa in pursuance of South Africa's foreign policy.

The Chairperson referred to the recommendation that Parliament should consider that members of the Committee should serve in certain bodies, which would include forums such such as PAP (Pan-African Parliament), SADC-PF (Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum), IPU (Inter-Parliamentary Union), as alternate members.

The content adviser indicated that the reference would be included in the legacy report.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee wished to proceed with consideration of the BRR report, in view of the number of corrections that still had to be effected.

Mr Mokgalapa indicated that he would reserve his vote in view of the number of amendments proposed.

Mr Mpumlwana moved that the Committee adopt the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation’s Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report based on the performance of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in the 2017-18 financial year, with amendments. Ms Raphuti seconded the motion. Agreed to.

The Committee adjourned.

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