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FOREIGN AFFAIRS PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
4 April 2001
OAU and SADC: Briefing by Department
Chairperson: Mr E I Ebrahim
The Deputy-Director General of African Affairs in the Department briefed the Committee on the current status of South Africa's relations with the OAU and SADC.
All 53 African states have now signed the Constitutive Act of the African Union. 32 have ratified. The African Union should be declared in Lusaka in July 2001. The first African Union summit will be held in South Africa in 2002.
A SADC Extraordinary Summit was held in Namibia on 9 March 2001. Common priorities currently on SADC's agenda include economic growth, common political values and democracy, peace and security.
The DDG said the European Union has programmes with Africa, but no policy on African debt. The EU must take a principled position on African debt and contribute to the debate.
Organisation of African Union
Mr Nhlapo, Deputy-Director General of African Affairs in the Department, briefed the Committee on the current status of South Africa's relations with the OAU and SADC. There was an OAU Extraordinary Summit in early March in Sirte, Libya and a SADC meeting in Namibia, also in March.
All 53 African states have now signed the Constitutive Act of the African Union. 32 have ratified. South Africa ratified on 3 March 2001, although the document still needs to be deposited. DDG Nhlapo said the parliamentary protocol was adopted without major changes.
The African Union should be declared in Lusaka in July 2001. The first African Union summit will be held in South Africa in 2002.
Currently, each participating state will send five delegates to the Pan African Parliament. South Africa, however, is advocating proportional representation. This will be reviewed later.
The Extraordinary Summit in Libya endorsed the Millennium African Renaissance programme (MAP) created by Algeria, Nigeria and South Africa. However, Senegal had also created an "Omega" plan that is similar to MAP. Senegal has been invited to integrate its plan into MAP so that one common plan for Africa will go out to the world. The Foreign Minister of Senegal will soon visit South Africa to discuss integration.
The Conference on Security and Stability through Development and Co-operation in Africa (CSSDCA), part of MAP, has a summit in South Africa on its agenda.
There is a dispute between Libya, the UK and the USA around the Lockerby disaster and the terrorists involved. There is a movement to lift the United Nations sanctions on Libya.
Southern African Development Community (SADC)
A SADC Extraordinary Summit was held in Namibia on 9 March 2001 and chaired by Namibian President Sam Nujoma.
One of the concerns and challenges discussed for the continued collaboration of SADC was that participation in an association of states always means some erosion of sovereignty. In SADC, all states pay dues equally so that ownership is common. However, it is difficult for smaller states to pay. The DRC now does not want to pay since it is in conflict, but DDG Nhlapo pointed out that Mozambique and Angola always paid their dues, despite their internal difficulties.
Common priorities currently on SADC's agenda include economic growth, common political values and democracy, peace and security. The tribunal called for in SADC's mandate has not been set up yet. DDG Nhlapo said this process has to be speeded up or they will be a strain on the Secretariat. In addition, new directorates in SADC are being set up: trade, infrastructure, food and social welfare.
A new Executive Secretary for SADC has been appointed, Dr Prega Ramsamy, from Mauritius. He will serve for four years.
Dr Geldenhuys (NNP) asked why SADC had been silent on Zimbabwe. He also noted the four new directorates and that there is an organ for safety and security. He asked why there is not a directorate for safety and security.
DDG Nhlapo said the meeting was not "silent" on Zimbabwe; rather, the meeting was to look at the restructuring of institutions and how SADC functions as a collective. Zimbabwe itself had nothing to report and the issue was not raised by anyone else. The silence, therefore, was not deliberate.
Ms Hajaij (ANC) pointed out that, despite Mr Nhlapo's comment that the parliamentary protocol had been adopted without major changes, there was a major change. It was decided that one delegate from each country will be a woman. She asked why South Africa is not fielding candidates for OAU positions.
Ms Mahomed (ANC) asked what criteria there are for the five delegates. She said more women are needed. She also asked what early warning mechanisms are in place for areas that show signs of conflict.
DDG Nhlapo said the criteria depend on the expertise required for each particular post. He added they are encouraging more South Africans to work at the OAU. This is difficult, he said, since salaries there are not high. The packages should be competitive in order to attract high profile Africans. South Africa is trying to get people in on a secondment basis. As for early warning mechanisms, South Africa has a national early warning centre that is now fully functional. But sovereignty is a major obstacle to the effectiveness of this centre. Many countries do not want to allow intervention and assistance.
Mr Pheko (PAC) asked about the attitude of the European Union toward African debt. He also asked what sort of disputes the SADC tribunal would hear and if there would be any mediation aspects.
DDG Nhlapo said the EU has programmes with Africa, but no policy on African debt. He suggested the EU take a principled position on African debt and contribute to the debate. The EU cannot deal with broad issues on which it has no policy. Pressure must be put on the EU to develop a policy.
The SADC treaty has a provision for a tribunal. Its function is to resolve disputes over protocol interpretation. It has no purpose other than this. In addition, the tribunal has not been budgeted for although SADC has now made budgetary provisions for the tribunal.
The meeting was adjourned.
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