Hansard: Foreign Affairs : Debate on Vote No 3
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 13 May 2008
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Tuesday, 13 May 2008
TUESDAY, 13 MAY 2008
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room
E249 at 15:04.
The Deputy Speaker, as Chairperson, took the Chair.
Debate on Vote No 3 – Foreign Affairs:
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Madam Deputy Speaker, members of Cabinet, hon members of the National Assembly, members of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen, fellow South Africans, this year marks the 90th birthday of the great icon, hero and leader of our people, Nelson Mandela. Mandela continues to inspire hope in millions of our people as they struggle for a better life. In July, the world will join us in celebrating a life that epitomises the triumph of humanity over adversity, and the victory of the human spirit over the apartheid system, a crime against humanity.
Sizobe sithi, halala Madiba, khula uze ukhokhobe, uyibekile induku ebandla. Usibuyisele isithunzi somuntu omnyama jikelele. [Ihlombe.]
We continue to be inspired by his inaugural speech in 1994, following the democratic election. I would like to quote the following from that speech:
Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.
With that understanding, President Mbeki in his State of the Nation Address, under the theme "Business Unusual - All hands on deck to speed up change", committed all of government to "use the short period ahead of us further to energise our advance towards the realisation of the all-important goal of a better life for all our people", including the need to "enhance our focus on key areas in terms of our system of international relations, with a particular focus on some African issues and South-South relations".
Africa, in responding to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, replaced the Organisation of African Unity with the African Union, whose launch we had the honour to host. In its five years of existence, the AU indeed has made a lot of progress towards the political and economic integration of the continent. I will just mention a few examples.
The permanent home of the Pan-African Parliament will be completed in 2010 in our beautiful country. Our government and the public representatives will have to start with the consultations on the review of the protocol of the Pan-African Parliament. Of course, the major question in that review is whether it will remain a consultative parliament or whether it will have some legislative authority.
The AU has also developed its own peace and security architecture through the Peace and Security Council, whose responsibility entails the resolution of conflicts, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction, in conjunction, of course, with the United Nations. A common defence policy has been adopted, which includes a standby force with a nucleus of five brigades, one from each region of the continent. The Southern African Development Community brigade was launched in Lusaka in 2007.
The Human and People's Rights Court has been established and of course we know that one of the judges there, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, is a South African, and is one of the very first judges in that court.
The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa is being ratified and hopefully will be implemented soon. Of course, the Protocol on the Court of Justice is under way. Financial institutions will be developed in due course.
The socioeconomic programme of the AU, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, was developed with our President as one of the architects in that process. South Africa has also been very instrumental in the development of the Peer Review Mechanism, a unique system of review by African peers to ensure conformity and commitment to democracy, respect for human rights, socioeconomic development and good governance. Our country was indeed honoured to be among the first countries to be reviewed, and we hope to be able to implement the programme of action that came from that review.
Recognising that we are responsible for our own development, Africa has launched the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund, which was launched in July in Accra in order to be able to fund other African infrastructure development projects in the fields of transport, energy, water, sanitation and telecommunications.
Recently, an audit of the AU institutions, human and financial resources has just been completed, and this will assist in strengthening and improving the efficiency of the AU. Of course, the discussion of the AU government is an ongoing discussion and the heads of states will be discussing this in Arusha in the coming weeks.
Later this month, on 25 May, our people, together with the rest of the continent, will join in the celebration of Africa Day. A series of events and activities have been lined up by government, the private sector and civil society to celebrate Africa Day. Government has taken a decision that we have to popularise the AU through the AU anthem, the flag and other symbols.
South Africa, emerging from the era of apartheid and isolation, had to establish bilateral relations and activate participation in the international organisations. At the same time, we had to establish trade and economic links, and promote investment, tourism, and co-operation in many areas, whether it be science and technology, climate change and so on, hence our emphasis on economic diplomacy. Let me just give you a glimpse: We now have diplomatic relations with more than 180 countries represented by 121 ambassadors, High Commissioners and Consuls-General worldwide and, by the end of this year, we shall have 47 diplomatic missions on the African continent.
South Africa has also become a significant investor on the continent. According to the SA Reserve Bank's March 2008 Quarterly Bulletin, as at December 2006, the total investment by South African business and individuals amounted to R80 billion on the continent. Of the R80 billion, R59 billion represents direct investments, R5 billion represents portfolio investments, and R16 billion represents other types of investments.
Of course, South Africa, understanding that there can be no development without peace and stability, has spared no effort in conflict resolution and those peacekeeping missions in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Côte d'Ivoire, Sudan, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and so on.
We continue to be involved in the post-conflict reconstruction and development of the DRC through the Binational Commission co-chaired by our President Thabo Mbeki and President Joseph Kabila Kabange.
Our country has also been privileged to lead the AU's post-conflict reconstruction and development of Sudan. Early this year, we visited Sudan to assess progress in the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement and post-conflict reconstruction efforts. While there has been significant progress in the implementation of the comprehensive peace agreement, important challenges remain, unfortunately, including failure to implement decisions of the Abiye Boundaries Commission, slow progress in the redeployment of security forces, the North-South border demarcation, as well as the establishment of electoral institutions for the national elections to be held in 2009. We are concerned that failure to address these issues will impact on the outcome of the referendum scheduled for 2011. Of course there is ongoing concern about Darfur and what is going on there as well as in Chad. [15:15:34]
We were honoured by the visits of both President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, respectively, to appraise us of the progress being made in consolidating peace and stability, including the holding of elections later on this year in the context of the Ouagadougou Agreement. Of course we know that the foundation was laid by our President.
With regards to Burundi, efforts to bring the last rebel group - the Paliphehutu FNL - into the process are continuing. We are firm that the Paliphehutu FNL must join the peace process and return to Burundi if they are to retain legitimacy. Following the recent AU-mandated military operation on the island of Anjouan, it has now been decreed that elections on that island will take place in June this year.
Closer to home, after reviewing the situation in Zimbabwe, the SADC Extraordinary Summit held in Lusaka in April this year reaffirmed its support for the facilitation process undertaken by President Mbeki. Of course now, with the results of the presidential elections released, we hope and look forward to a peaceful presidential run-off. In this regard, we would like to call upon all parties to refrain from any acts of violence that could undermine the credibility of the forthcoming run-off elections.
AN HON MEMBER: Did you tell Mugabe this? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are also concerned about the economic situation and renew our commitment to work within the framework of SADC to contribute towards the socioeconomic development following the formation of their new government. Judging from the results, clearly, the Zimbabwean electorate wants the leadership of that country to work together for the reconstruction and development of their country.
HON MEMBERS: To change! Not work together!
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, you will have the opportunity to participate, but let us not try to rewrite the Minister's speech. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Thank you, Madam Speaker. Maybe we need someone to assist, because there seems to be a real obsession here. [Interjections.]
During the first decade of our democratic transformation, we had to establish anew our bilateral and multilateral relations to take our rightful place in the international community. We prioritised economic diplomacy and played a pioneering role in the establishment of South-South institutions such as the India-Brazil-South Africa Forum and the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership.
We operate in an ever-changing environment with the re-emergence of China, Russia, India and Brazil. We begin to see the outline of a multipolar world. It is therefore important that Africa and South Africa also strengthen their relations and consolidate co-operation with these countries. Having been integrated into the international organisations, we have endeavoured to honour our international obligations and to participate actively.
Given our history and the increase of racism in the world, we hosted and presided over the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in 2001. The Declaration enjoins member states to implement the Programme of Action, and seven years later the UN General Assembly has passed Resolution 61/39 for the convening of the Review Conference which will be held in 2009.
Naturally we express our serious reservations at calls for a boycott of this conference, which can only subtract from global efforts to eradicate racism and xenophobia. Those of us who were victims of centuries of racism in our country correctly must express our serious concerns at the global rise of racism and xenophobia, including recent developments in our own country. All of us have the responsibility to help devise strategies to uproot racism, xenophobia and other related intolerance in our midst.
In 2002 we hosted the World Summit on Sustainable Development, which was also the 10th anniversary review of the Rio Summit. The Rio Summit established the administrative and monitoring mechanism within the United Nations called the Commission for Sustainable Development. It meets annually to review progress on the implementation of the outcomes of the Rio and Johannesburg Summits. This commission is currently meeting in New York, discussing issues pertaining to Africa and other developing countries, such as agriculture, for example. Our Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe is attending that commission, hence her absence in the House.
South Africa has indeed entered its second and final year as a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. Our country will continue to be guided by principles rather than expediency, and at times, speak truth to power in the maintenance of global peace and security. Correctly, we stated our objective in the UN Security Council as the need to advance the interests of Africa in particular, and the South in general. Accordingly, we utilised our presidency in the Security Council in March 2007 to explore the relationship between the UN Security Council and regional organisations, and the AU in particular, in the maintenance of global peace. In April this year, during our presidency, we again built upon the theme we introduced in 2007. We adopted this approach in an effort to consolidate complementary themes relevant to Africa that are explored in the Security Council, while linking the topic of co-operation between the UN and the African Union to the issue of conflict resolution.
In pursuance of this objective, President Thabo Mbeki hosted a debate of the Summit of the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council in which it was agreed that the UN Secretary-General would appoint an AU-UN panel of distinguished personalities to formulate proposals on how to support regional organisations in general and the African Union in particular, and how we can provide concrete ways and make that support sustainable.
Again in April we convened a joint meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council and the UN Security Council at ambassadorial level on how to best maximise the relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council.
As part of our ongoing international work, we certainly will, together with the general membership of the UN, remain seized with the processes aimed at reforming the General Assembly, the UN Security Council and management. As part of our international obligations, the country will next month host the visit of the UN Counter-Terrorism Executive Director aimed at determining South Africa's ability to deal with threats associated with global terrorism. Our country stands ready to co-operate to the fullest extent with the Directorate, certain that measures we have thus far implemented are appropriate in our circumstances. We welcome constructive engagement on this matter.
South Africa has, together with the general membership of the UN, played a major role, as part of the process of reform of the UN, in the establishment of the Human Rights Council charged with the responsibility of pursuing the observance and respect of human rights.
We are of the firm view that none but this Council bears the primary responsibility for dealing with global human rights violations. Accordingly, during the month of April, we subjected our country to an external examination under the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review Mechanism. We express confidence that in its final report on our country, the Human Rights Council will indeed assist us in further strengthening our ability to stay the course we have chosen in putting the protection, promotion and advancement of human rights at the centre of our democratic state.
Of course, as a developing country in the South, we have also been active in organisations of the South. As you know, we chaired the Non-Aligned Movement, NAM, on the eve of the new century, which provided the movement with an opportunity to reflect on the many challenges facing developing countries. In this regard, we had the primary responsibility of promoting the sanctity of the UN Charter through outright condemnation of unilateralism. In this capacity, it was incumbent upon our country to help develop a cohesive political approach to the achievement of a number of developmental issues. In July this year we will be attending the NAM ministerial meeting in Iran which will look at the implementation of the decisions we have taken at the Summit in Havana.
Democratic South Africa also took its rightful place as a designated member of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors and had the honour to preside over its 50th anniversary conference in 2006. Through various programmes we have promoted close co-operation between African members and the agency. The 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference also decided to extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely on the basis of the South African proposal submitted by our late Minister Alfred Nzo. On the Board of Governors, we have been actively involved in discussing issues ranging from technical co-operation to benefit developing countries, to nuclear concerns relating to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran.
To further South-South relations we have been privileged to play a role in the formation of both the China-Africa Co-operation in 2000 and more recently the Africa-India Forum that was launched in New Delhi in April this year. These fora agreed to enhance co-operation in the economic, political, science, technology, research and development, social development and capacity building, tourism, infrastructure, energy and environment, media and communication fields.
We, together with Indonesia, were instrumental in the launch of the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership in Bandung in 2005. The summit of heads of state felt that we had to commit ourselves to closer co-operation, particularly in the economic field, between Asia and Africa.
South Africa initiated the establishment of the India-Brazil-South Africa Forum, IBSA, which was launched in 2003. These are three established democracies with cultural diversity from three different continents.
As part of preparations for the coming summit, we ourselves hosted this past weekend, an IBSA ministerial meeting in Cape Town. Coinciding with this IBSA ministerial meeting was the first-ever joint naval exercise in Cape Town by IBSA navies. President Thabo Mbeki will be in New Delhi in October attending the 3rd IBSA Summit under the theme, "Integrated Poverty Alleviation Strategy for IBSA".
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China. We have organised a series of events in China, beginning in April, to celebrate the establishment of these diplomatic relations. Equally, the People's Republic of China has also organised a series of events in South Africa marking this anniversary. At the centre of our approach to these celebrations is the need to forge a strategic partnership for development with China, ensuring export of our high value-added products and attracting investments. As part of the celebrations, President Mbeki will pay a state visit to China towards the end of 2008. [Interjections.]
Are you going to kill him? [Interjections.]
To sustain our marketing drive into China, we are finalising arrangements to participate in the Shanghai World Expo scheduled for 2010. We wish to take this opportunity to congratulate China on having taken the step to initiate discussions with the Dalai Lama group on Tibet. Whilst supporting China's territorial integrity, we wish them success in these discussions.
Young South African athletes will indeed be participating in the Beijing Olympic Games later this year. We hope that they will bring some medals back home and we wish China a successful hosting of the the Games.
In August this year, we will have the pleasure to host the SADC Summit. In this regard, our country will have the honour and privilege to chair SADC once more for a year. The process of integration will enter new heights with the launch of the free trade agreement. South Africa commits itself to serving and promoting the interests of SADC and its people and regional integration. Africa and the Diaspora will have the opportunity to meet at SADC level in October this year on our shores. The solidarity and co-operation between Africa and the African Diaspora is crucial for mutual benefits. There will also be a civil society component to the meeting.
This historic event will indeed be the first summit of the African, Caribbean, Latin American leaders and the Diaspora. Accordingly it is expected to lay the basis for the Diaspora to play an important role in the renewal of the African continent, while simultaneously cementing African-Caribbean-Latin American solidarity.
We were honoured earlier this year to host, as a country, the Pan-African Women's Organisation. The mobilisation of women of the continent for their emancipation is paramount and the revival of this organisation will add momentum to the women's struggle.
Coming to the issues of the Middle East, I will leave those to my able Deputy Minister to provide you with details of what we are doing in the Middle East.
Since 2001, South Africa has been at the forefront of advancing the interests of our continent through building strategic partnerships with countries of the North, including the G8 industrialised nations of the world. In addition, our country participated with other outreach partners in strategic engagements with the G8 within the framework of advancing North-South relations. Later this year, Japan will assume the presidency of the G8 and we look forward to working with our outreach partners in advancing Africa's agenda as well as the developmental agenda of the South, while ensuring that the annual Nepad consultations with the G8 are mutually beneficial.
We have also developed co-operation with countries of the North with a view to supporting the postconflict reconstruction and development programmes on the continent, strengthening safety and security, ensuring improved terms of trade and market access, and to improve the productive capacity of the continent. Later this month, we will participate in the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD IV, in Yokohama, having been part of ministerial preparations in Gabon in March. This forum will focus on trade, development and poverty alleviation between Africa and Japan.
South Africa has now become one of the USA's leading trading partners in Africa, with total trade increasing steadily. Direct foreign investment from the USA continues to grow significantly. We have also seen exponential growth in trade and investment with Canada. South Africa has always emphasised a need to consolidate economic diplomacy when engaging with Europe to advance our foreign policy. In this regard, high-level visits and bilateral mechanisms were utilised to strengthen political co-operation as well as economic ties.
South Africa participated in the EU-Africa Summit last year. The current challenge for us remains the need to monitor the implementation of the Joint Implementation Strategy of the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership, as endorsed in Lisbon. We have further witnessed the finalisation of the revision of the Trade Development and Co-operation Agreement, TDCA, the launch of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership and significant commitments by EU countries to support Asgisa and Jipsa.
The EU and its member states have emerged as the largest contributors to the Overseas Development Agency, not only in South Africa, but also on the rest of the continent. As we know, South Africa's engagement with the European Union is legally regulated through the TDCA.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Minister, I am giving you a few seconds to finish up.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: We are also involved in improving relations with the countries of former Eastern Europe, including the Russian Intergovernmental Committee on Trade and Economic Co-operation. And of course we would like to just extend our sincere condolences to the people of Myanmar after their devastating cyclone, which emphasised the need to deal with climate change. At the same time we convey our deepest condolences to the people of China following the earthquake in the Sichuan province.
I would also like to thank the portfolio committee, the chair, hon Job Sithole, the Deputy Ministers, the director-general and his team and all those who have co-operated with us: our Cabinet colleagues, the President and the Deputy President.
Allow me to conclude by again quoting from the great hero of ours, Nelson Mandela, when he, in his Long Walk to Freedom, expresses the fact that, as he climbs, he finds that after one hill there are more hills to climb and that what is important is that, as you walk you should try not to falter, you may make missteps, but the important thing is that you have to keep going, because the road to freedom is not a duty. Therefore I would like to pause here and look back and appreciate the vista that surrounds us. Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you very much, hon Minister. I know that when you close the debate you will thank the presiding officers.
Mr D J SITHOLE
END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
Mr D J SITHOLE: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister of Foreign Affairs, hon Deputy Minister, hon members, departmental officials present and heads of missions that are here today, today's debate of the budget presents us with the opportunity to evaluate not only the previous year but the years before.
I will first congratulate the department for consistently getting a good audit report from the Auditor-General. This suggests that we have a team that has been doing good work and has been able to live up to the standard.
However, I want to raise some concerns with regard to the role of missions in the inputting of the final budget of the department. This concern is based on the fact that missions are currently requested to cut down on their budgets, particularly small missions such as Ramallah that have been asked to cut almost all their operational budgets. They informed me that they have a budget of R1,3 million that has not been increased for the past six years, and that about two thirds of the budget accommodates core activities, including salaries of staff and all other things, and that they are left with only one third with which to work. Part of that one third has to do with the training of all the staff. They are expected to cut almost R150 000 out of that budget. That gives them absolutely nothing to operate on. This raises a concern because that means these missions are not going to function and they are not going to produce the goods that they are expected to produce. It gives an impression that in fact the staff at those missions are on holiday because they have no resources to deal with the issues they may want to deliver. Thus, to me, that raises a concern as to how can we trust in our own budget that has been consistently given a clean bill by the Auditor-General but that we are unable to utilize in funding our activities in these missions.
I appeal to you, Minister, that you should emphasize to the department, and particularly to the desk, that putting such a small mission in a volatile area like that under pressure to cut down on expenses is not in our best interests. I hope that their R1,3 million budget will be left to them to pursue the objectives they set themselves. They indicated to me that they have submitted their business plan and that it was accepted, and therefore they find it difficult that they are now expected to cut down on the budget they have submitted.
We have consistently raised the impact of the Foreign Service Institute specifically. How do we ensure that people we have deployed in foreign countries are of a high calibre and that they are able to articulate the country's foreign policy and political conditions? I will elaborate on this issue later, Minister, because it is a very difficult issue: who do we send outside our borders and what type of individuals do we send there?
The committee has raised the issue around the Africa Institute and we were assured that the matter is receiving consideration. We still await the outcome of such consideration as this will assist to attend to the difficulties that we observe of the policy unit. We have observed that the policy unit is very small and thin on the ground, and we think that if the Africa Institute is housed within the Department of Foreign Affairs it will give an advantage to this particular unit and ensure that this unit is able to effectively bring us new ideas and be able to analyse our mistakes.
Another issue we want to raise is in regard to Lesotho. We have consistently raised this issue with the department and were told a number of times that there were projects that had been agreed upon between the governments of Lesotho and South Africa. However, we have observed numerous times that we are unable to see those projects coming to fruition. I hope, Minister, that we should raise this particular issue again in your presence we can come back and say what it is that South Africa has done with Lesotho. We are raising this because we observed that until Lesotho is assisted to move from a less developed country it will continue to be where it is and it would be shame for us, being a developed country, to have at our doorstep Lesotho which is unable to develop its own economic and political systems.
Minister, we are citing the example of Lesotho because we believe that if we are not prepared to deal with that country's underdevelopment, somebody else will do that on our behalf. That has been demonstrated by the outcome of the economic partnership agreements. Sometimes one understands why smaller countries are quick to sign anything that is promised to them. It is because they hope that they will be given the advantage to develop. Therefore, I hope that we have learnt from that situation and we will be able to deal with the underdevelopment of countries around us. We have raised the issue that South Africa is an anchor state on the continent and therefore we should stop shying away from our responsibility to contribute to the development of the least developed countries on the continent.
Another issue that we consistently raised relates to the conditions of service of diplomats, particularly those who find themselves in left-hand driving areas. Those diplomats are unable to tap into the conditions of service that other diplomats are able to do because they find themselves in left-hand driving areas and therefore their conditions of service are somehow altered because of the fact that they have no control over them or the rules as set by our authorities. We believe that this matter could be dealt with and we believe that if the department applies its mind to this particular matter an amicable solution for such diplomats will be found. Minister, we believe that we cannot continue to treat this particular matter as a condition and a challenge for individual diplomats. It is a matter for our country: the conditions of service for all diplomats must be the same, and they should be able to tap the same privileges.
Minister, I now come back to the issue of the policy unit. We believe that this particular unit should also tap into the resources of cadets. We believe that if we increase our ability to deal with the cadets that we have, we should be able to actually extract good ideas from those cadets. It has been our observation that each time we are invited to participate in the pass-outs of these cadets, we observe what we regard as "pass-one, pass-all". In fact, we think that policy should change because not all the cadets are performing to their optimum. We believe that we have a very high calibre of cadets who could be utilised to do research and be able to offer us new policy options and new ideas. Therefore, we believe that it should be part of the cadets' work to generate such new policy options for us and to ensure that we are growing in the area of policy formulation and are able to utilize the new ideas that they bring along. We think that for cadets to continuously recite the South African foreign policy is not to our advantage and that is why we normally see mishaps in the field of work.
Minister, another section on which we also want to express our concern is public diplomacy. We think that this is an area that should be utilized very effectively to communicate our foreign policy and ensure that our foreign policy challenges are dealt with. Currently, we have everyone jumping on the situation in Alexandra. A few months ago it was in Pretoria. The question that may be asked is: What is the role of public diplomacy in explaining our foreign policy, particularly when these issues are coming out? Is it only the duty of the Department of Home Affairs to explain the issues of xenophobia? Or is it a question that touches on our foreign policy and therefore needs our Department of Foreign Affairs, and particularly the public diplomacy area, to deal with these particular issues?
The other issue related to that is the fact that a number of times we have hosted businesspeople in the portfolio committee and they have raised the fact that they would like to have a meeting at least once a year with the Minister where issues of foreign affairs and policy objectives and emphasis are articulated so that it can allow them, when they consider their investment options on the continent, to take up those issues. We think that the public policy section should be able to deal with those particular activities and be able to draw the larger public into the foreign affairs domain. We believe that the current work that they do, that of issuing press statements, while it should be commended, is not the only area of work they need to concentrate on. The budget allocation for this section is sufficient for them to expand their work and therefore they should not confine themselves to be press officers only. They should do more than that.
Minister, there is an issue that relates to our co-ordination, particularly with the Department of Trade and Industry. I think the economic partnership agreement process has exposed the fact that economic partnership agreements are not just a trade issue but represent a political agenda that is pursued by the EU. The question is: How do we respond to that? Do we continue to treat economic partnership agreements only as a trade-related matter or are we able to then respond to the ideological onslaught that underpins the economic partnership agreement? That will only be done if Foreign Affairs plays its role in ensuring that we make an input into these trade negotiations to ensure that the ideological aspects that drive trade are actually exposed for what they are and their intentions are exposed.
Another issue we want to raise relates to the role of provincial and local government in international affairs. We believe that we should improve our co-ordination in that particular area and ensure that twinning agreements that our provincial and local governments are signing are in line with foreign policy. In fact, in most instances we should have the capacity to veto those agreements if they are not in line with our foreign policy. That also relates to the role every South African should play, particularly in these international bodies. If we take the responsibility in international bodies, we should understand that we do not represent our individual constituencies - whether it is Parliament, the legislature or local government - but rather the country and that we should have the capacity at all those levels to articulate our foreign policy.
Minister, you will recall that I wrote you a letter with regard to the critical issue in regard to how South Africa voted on the UN Iran resolution. This matter has unfortunately not left my desk. Members continue to complain about the fact that they do not agree with the manner in which we considered our vote. They raise the fact that the consideration, as articulated in the documentation circulated to them, supports their view that South Africa should have considered, in all material facts, to abstain on that resolution and not to have voted in the manner we did. They believe that abstaining was the best option and that the explanation given should have caused us not to vote in favour of the resolution.
We are raising this issue, Minister, because we believe that as the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs we have the responsibility to do oversight of those bodies that we serve in, and therefore the UN Security Council cannot be an exception to our oversight responsibilities. We believe that when such votes are considered in future, South Africa should make every effort to ensure that all of us are informed of the considerations and that there is a general understanding of what the considerations are in voting either way.
Minister, I have been in contact with the Ramallah mission this morning. I have learnt with shock that amongst our staff we have staff members who said the following: "I cannot work with blacks"; "blacks are stupid, they cannot even operate a Hoover"; and "when blacks come here, they want curtains and fancy stuff, and their homes in South Africa do not even have window covers". [Interjections.]
If a staff member of Foreign Affairs at corporate service level says such things in a foreign country about us, Minister, I find it quite disturbing. In fact, when I asked the head of the mission about the situation, he gave me letters that had been sent to head office. He indicated to me that this matter had been raised with the chief director involved and that he had not received any response or acknowledgement of the fact that the matter had been attended to. That left me asking whether the chief director shares such sentiments. Why has he not acted? Why has he not dealt with this particular situation? I have a very serious problem, Minister, and I am asking your office to deal very firmly with this particular official and to ensure that we do not again send such officials who harbour racist sentiments to serve in our missions. [Applause.]
This situation has also created a security problem because I am told that this particular official discussed a number of issues that affect the mission with a lawyer and her estate agent. That puts the country's security at risk. I want to ask and urge the Minister please to do something about that. I do not believe that we need such an official in our service. I do not believe that we should keep that official in our service for one more day. I believe he must go, and must go now.
I also want to raise the fact that the chief director involved, having been informed sufficiently and having been given the report of what is happening, has not done what he should have done. He himself, I believe, should be dealt with to ensure that in future he acts with speed when such things happen. I submit to you, Madam Minister, that this director, if he is not warned, will continue to harbour staff who denigrate our people.
Another issue that I want to raise relates to Zimbabwe. It is my submission that we have to an extent dealt very well with Zimbabwe, although of course weaknesses have been exposed with the elections. However, Minister, the issue that is consistently raised is whether we regard the Zimbabwean problem only as an election problem or whether we regard it as a political problem. Is it just a human rights issue or is it a political problem? Are we dealing with the cause of the problem or are we dealing only with the symptoms? Is our intervention intended only to deal with the symptoms or is our intervention intended to deal with the particular problem that has put Zimbabwe in the situation where it is? I believe that we have only dealt with the symptoms and we need to come back and say: How do we respond to the crisis in Zimbabwe at a political level? It's not only an issue of human rights; it's not only an issue of a delayed election outcome announcement; it's more than that. Therefore, we need to deal with those particular issues. [Interjections.]
An HON MEMBER: Is there a crisis in Zimbabwe?
Mr D J SITHOLE: Madam Minister, the other issue relates to the DRC. We have been involved with the DRC for quite a long time and we have ensured that the negotiations and the outcomes of a peaceful settlement are acceptable. However, I believe that we have a responsibility to go beyond that and co-ordinate our intervention with the DRC. We need to assist the DRC to stabilise the deep areas because they threaten the stability of the DRC.
The other issue, Minister, related to this is the involvement of South Africans in international bodies. We have been informed that a policy has been formulated to deal with the participation of South Africans in these international bodies. We hope that this policy is coming to fruition and that the Minister and the department will share with us the outcome of such a policy to ensure that we are involved in these international bodies. We cannot continue to be the highest contributors in terms of the fees for these bodies and have no one to underwrite those contributions. As we contribute, we need to ensure that South Africans are participating in those bodies to articulate our interests and ensure that our interests are well understood by the world. I am not advocating for us to dominate the region or the continent. However, it is important for us to have staff that will be able to articulate our interests and the norms and values that we want to espouse; of course those are not the values as presented by the staff at Ramallah mission.
The last point that we want to raise relates to the Comoros. We have played a particular role in the Comoros and we have seen at the end the military intervention. I believe that in all areas where we intervene, we should seek to have a long-term policy and strategy to deal with both interventions of conflict and to robustly develop the economies of these countries. It is difficult for us to see how South Africa is able to follow up our interventions when we have secured peace. We see a number of forces coming into play when we have secured peace. When there is war no one wants to touch the area, but when there is peace we see everybody coming in to share the spoils and ensure that they position themselves better. We think that South Africa must do better in that regard.
The last issue - the very, very last one - Madam Minister, is Sudan. Sudan remains a concern, particularly with what has been happening in the Khartoum area. I believe that we need to take an interest to see what is happening in Sudan. It is clear to me that what would become a united Sudan is threatened by the possibility of the South moving out of that particular arrangement, particularly that the Sudan CPA provisions are not being implemented the way they are supposed to be. I think we need to take a robust role in ensuring that we contribute our utmost to ensure that Sudan remains one country and that Sudan is able to deal with . . . [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr A J LEON
END OF TAKE
Mr D J SITHOLE
Mr A J LEON: Madam Deputy Speaker, Minister, Deputy Minister, hon colleagues, the term "democratic recession" was recently coined by Prof Larry Diamond, a Stanford University political scientist, in his new book, The Spirit of Democracy.
The numbers tell us the story. At the end of last year Freedom House, which tracks democratic trends across the world, noted that 2007 was by far the worst year for freedom in the world since the end of the Cold War. Almost four times as many states, 38, have declined in their freedom scores as had improved – which numbered only 10.
Quite appropriately the hon Minister in her speech this afternoon quoted the words of President Nelson Mandela, in commemoration of his 90th birthday, which we are celebrating in July. Interestingly, President Mandela, in 1993, in a famous article in Foreign Affairs Magazine, declared: "Human rights will be the light that guides our foreign policy."
In theory, and on paper at least, the focus on human rights continues to enjoy primacy in our own Department of Foreign Affairs. The hon Minister confirmed that again in her speech this afternoon. Two of the principles which the Department of Foreign Affairs cites as guidelines in the conduct of foreign policy are, according to the annual report whose contents we are debating this afternoon, firstly, a commitment to the promotion of human rights and, secondly, a commitment to the promotion of democracy.
One of the reasons, Deputy Speaker, that South Africa has recorded such an impressive prominence in the international arena, has been as a consequence of the moral authority we command as a result of our own successful negotiated transition from apartheid to democracy. Indeed it is primarily this moral standing that has elected our country to the major platforms of influence in the world: particularly the United Nations Security Council and the UN Human Rights Council to which the Minister also drew attention this afternoon.
Yet the irony is that we have increasingly used these platforms to aid and abet regimes which too often typically typify exactly the opposite of our own reputation and that undermine the very commitments we proclaim to human rights and democracy. I think back in recent past times to our extremely cordial relations with the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, on which the hon Deputy Minister will be able to enlighten us, and the benefits certain ruling party politicians received from the UN oil-for-food programme.
The hon chairman, Mr Sithole, in a most refreshingly robust and independent speech this afternoon, on which I compliment him, drew attention to our vote on Iran – which in my opinion was the correct way to vote. Far more worrying to me was the statement made in August 2006 by Deputy Minister Pahad, who said of the nuclear ambitions of Iran - which is a lit fuse into a powder-keg situation in the Middle East - that actually there was something wrong with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, because he said it was "inherently discriminatory" as it "created two distinct groups: the haves and the have-nots". In high-conflict, highly volatile situations you actually want "have-not" nuclear regimes, not "have" nuclear regimes.
Paradoxically, it is our much coveted nonpermanent seat on the Security Council which has shown up in sharp relief South Africa's disturbing flirtation with dubious and rights-delinquent regimes across the world. The record reveals that too often we have temporised with tyranny.
Our first act on taking our Security Council seat was to join China and Russia in vetoing a Western-inspired resolution condemning human rights violations in Burma, one of the most repressive countries on earth. We followed suit by blocking debates on Zimbabwe. Instead of learning from our past errors – the hon Minister mentioned that today – we actually repeat and compound them. Instead of standing up for principles of basic humanity in Burma, Tibet and elsewhere in the world, we hide behind bureaucratic evasions to avoid our rights-based responsibilities. Only last week, on 8 May 2008, South Africa again blocked a UN Security Council briefing, this time on the cyclone in Burma – the very matter the hon Minister drew attention to this afternoon. Notwithstanding the deaths of 22 000 people, 40 000 missing persons and 1,5 million Burmese facing starvation, we chose, along with Russia, China and Libya, to avert the world's gaze.
Again, last year, South Africa's ambassador to the UN warned that any talk of sanctions against Sudan for its actions in Darfur would be "totally unacceptable". Quite how Ambassador Khumalo said this with a straight face, denying action against a regime perpetrating what many call genocidal politics, when in fact he is a leading member of a party – the ANC – which demanded the complete and utter isolation of the apartheid government, is not conveyed in the reports of his statement.
At a stroke, South Africa has used its high profile in the councils of the world to take a stand on human rights, or more precisely, a stand against human rights. These actions, in full view of the international community, are by no means isolated events; they form part of a larger pattern.
Human Rights Watch found that last year South Africa only voted in favour of one third of the human rights resolutions that came before the general assembly. United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organisation, records in a document published last week that South Africa's participation on the UN Human Rights Council has led to an equally negative result in terms of adherence to human rights. Viewing 32 key votes on the UNHRC, UN Watch scored each council member: Canada came in first; South Africa was third from the bottom in 17th place, behind such countries as France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, India, Madagascar, Angola, Mauritius, and Zambia.
This kind of schizophrenic approach to foreign relation is, I believe, undermining our international credibility and has all but obliterated the moral high ground we struggled so hard to achieve in our own transition to democracy.
The world, or at least some of the commentators, has taken note of the lowering of the high moral bar President Mandela set for our nation in 1993. For example, the deputy editor of The New Republic, Jamie Kirchick, wrote a devastating critique of what he terms "South Africa's squandered moral authority". Writing in the Los Angeles Times last year he concluded –
With the fall of apartheid, a window of opportunity emerged in which South Africa could have come to the fore as an unrivalled advocate for human rights around the world. Given its own struggle against injustice, the ANC is right to regard itself as having a special duty to stand with the innocent against authoritarianism, terrorism, and privation. Regretfully it appears that South Africa has decided to cast its lot with the likes of Robert Mugabe, the Mullahs in Iran, and the terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah.
The most glaring instance of this loss of credibility, I believe, is our dismal record on Zimbabwe. This, in simple words, is a foreign policy disaster which, I believe, will compromise whatever remains of President Mbeki's reputation to posterity. We must shoulder a lot of the blame for the meltdown in that country since 2000, because we have been Robert Mugabe's stoutest friend in an increasingly hostile world.
In March last year Mugabe's savage crackdown, torture, and assault of opposition figures in his own country was received without a word of protest from South Africa. We have long practised what has been called a policy of silent diplomacy. I believe it amounts, Minister, to quiet approval.
Our government would have us believe that this is a principled, but understated intervention in that country in the interests of resolving political or economic conflicts. In fact it is another Mbeki, Mr Moeletsi Mbeki, who actually put his finger on it. He said we see –
… an old-style African nationalist, the African nationalists who deplored multiparty democracy, who truly believed they had more wisdom than anybody else and therefore were entitled to rule, because they liberated the country from colonialism. Mugabe is one of the last of them … and I think my brother has become one of them.
We don't know what last Saturday's talks between President Mbeki and Mugabe will yield, but if past conduct is anything to go by, democracy and the people of Zimbabwe will be the losers. The Cosatu and SACP elements of the ANC are the latest recruits to an ever-growing chorus of critics and commentators who share my analysis of the failure of quiet diplomacy. They are dismayed by our continuing conniving with democratic suppression in Zimbabwe, our silence over the far-too-familiar repression, the green-lighting of dubious arms shipments, and the predictable political autism which has delineated our approach.
I believe we have one last opportunity in the run-off election to redeem our nation's honour and restore, through word and deed, our strong commitment to human rights and democracy. Instead of siding with Russia and China to prevent the dispatch of a UN envoy to report on post-election violence, we should be on the side of that dispatch. Instead of snubbing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's commendable attempts to internationalise the Zimbabwe issue, we should be on the side of internationalising it. We should start to translate our words into deeds; use our leverage to ensure that free and fair conditions for the run-off election prevail; and use the SADC protocols to interdict the violence and related matters. Then, indeed, we will be true to our human rights commitments. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M B SKOSANA
END OF TAKE
Mr A J LEON
Mr M B SKOSANA: Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers and colleagues.
Deputy Minister, you said it in your own words that sovereign nations and states, including South Africa, relate and operate within insecure international environments, often influenced by particular world perspectives: firstly, the politics of power and security emanating from the state-centric process of foreign policy formulation and expression, where the state and its leadership believe in the primacy ... [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon member! There are too many meetings taking place, and we would like to encourage them away from here. We will just give you a minute. All of you who would like to have private meetings, do not do that whilst the debate is on. Thank you very much, hon members.
Hon member, please continue.
Mr M B SKOSANA: Thank you, Deputy Speaker. We refer to the politics of power and security emanating from a state-centric process of foreign policy formulation and expression, where the state and its leadership believe in the primacy of power in world politics as the primary determinant of interstate relations. The axiom here is, "might is right". Secondly, we refer to the politics of dominance and dependence which locate the state within the global structure where the real actors with real power are the dominant social classes and economic interests – that is, the rich and powerful nations. This is an inequitable centre-periphery type relationship. The colonial and apartheid systems in South Africa have both exploited and impoverished rural peripheries. Thirdly, we refer to the politics of interdependence and transnational relations, where the state allows its foreign policy-making process to be penetrated and influenced by various state and nonstate actors. If this system is not well managed by the leadership, it has the potential to cost the state control of its territory and external sovereignty, as conflicting interests intervene to complicate the process.
South Africa has, since 1994, opted for this complex political process. International observers suggest strong vigilance against supranational actors and multinational corporations, whose tendency is to override state authority to infuse policies which entail diminution of state sovereignty. Some seem to think that the open-ended and unconditional process of Asgisa/Jipsa's external recruitments lends itself to this prospect.
Since the end of the Cold War, the world is again preoccupied with the questions of unstable global and national economies, regional wars, peace and stability, security, justice and socioeconomic order. It was against this canvas that South Africa was able to develop and navigate an inclusive foreign policy and commit leadership and resources to specific programmes to contribute towards a better world. This includes: strengthening relations amongst the countries of the South; consolidating the African agenda; the North-South dialogue; and global governance.
However, the pendulum of world affairs threatens to swing in an unusual direction. More difficult and complex challenges are gathering like a storm on the international horizon. This may undoubtedly require a partial but radical appraisal of our worldview and ideology, the character of our state and decision-makers, diplomacy, international objectives and power relations. For instance, Zimbabwe is going to remain a test for the leadership of South Africa, SADC and the African Union for many years to come. This is not only about elections and the new leadership of Zimbabwe, but it is also about economic relief, recovery and reform. This is beyond the political dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC only; it is now about the involvement of the entire Zimbabwean civil society and institutions to find a lasting political settlement in Zimbabwe. It is about the political and economic sovereignty of the people of Africa.
On the other hand, any further delays and human suffering in Zimbabwe may see the United Nations Security Council invoking its resolution on international humanitarian intervention, which overrides sovereignty and legal documents. Once this happens, South Africa and SADC will be rendered powerless.
Millions of the world's poor are knuckling under rising food prices and grinding poverty. By the way, this is the stuff that makes for revolutions. In response to this food crisis, the World Bank has proposed what they call a "new deal" to relieve the poorest nations. It is therefore incumbent on the leadership of South Africa, SADC and the AU to interpret the "new deal" and make it a reality for the people of Africa.
Just like poverty, Aids and international conflicts, global warming and climate change are threatening human annihilation on an unprecedented scale. Whatever the outcome, people believe that South Africa and its leadership should be seen to be among the nations that are waging the war to minimise the effects and impact of global warming, climate change and Aids on human and planet life.
A strong movement is afoot demanding that the parliaments of the world involve themselves in critical matters of world politics that hitherto have been the domain of the executive. For instance, international conflict resolution is often left to presidents and ministers. It is now opportune for the Parliament of South Africa to engage with the parliaments of Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Israel, Palestine, China, the Tibetan government in exile, Sudan, Morocco and Sri Lanka, among others, on specific matters of conflict resolution, human rights and peace building.
The aggressive expansion of the transnational markets of the United States, the European Union, China, India and Japan, particularly in Africa, calls for massive economic reforms on the part of Africa, including South Africa. A wide-scale participatory economic system should enhance these markets for the wellbeing of millions in Africa. The alternative here is foreign economic dominance, permanent underdevelopment and loss of sovereignty for the nations of Africa, including South Africa.
Like racism, xenophobia must not only be strongly condemned, but it is time that the Department of Foreign Affairs, together with the Department of Home Affairs, champion a tangible programme to deal with this issue. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Mr Skosana, your time has expired.
Mr M B SKOSANA: Let me conclude, Deputy Speaker, by simply ... [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! I am allowing you to conclude.
Mr M B SKOSANA: In conclusion, a possible change in the United States presidential leadership in November 2008 will not result in a significant shift from the fundamentals that inform the United States foreign policy, which are, primarily, national security, international peace, democracy and the free market. However, the new administration will alter the Bush doctrine and will present the world with a different international political terrain. The leadership of South Africa should therefore anticipate readily the implications ... [Interjections.] [Laughter.] [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon member! Thank you very much. [Interjections.] I gave you an opportunity to conclude. [Interjections.]
Mr M B SKOSANA: I wanted to thank the Minister. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! No, no! Hon member, please take your seat. I am sure there will be an opportunity hereafter to thank the Minister. I gave you an opportunity to conclude. I didn't know that you wanted to restart the speech.
Mr B H HOLOMISA
END OF TAKE
Mr M B SKOSANA
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Madam Deputy Speaker, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers and hon members, the UDM supports the Budget Vote.
Judging by the campaign amongst your fellow comrades, Madam Minister, there are chances that this will be the last budget that you present in this House. [Interjections.] The UDM would like to thank you, your Deputy Ministers and your department for a job well done. Hopefully, your successors will build upon the foundation you have laid.
In the remaining months before the next elections or before this
government is called on to resign, as the media speculates, the critical issue you need to address is xenophobia. The violent xenophobia we witness now could quickly undo all South Africa's endeavours, especially in African diplomacy, if it is not addressed speedily. It might help for your department and Home Affairs as well as the SA Police Service to meet urgently and compare notes with a view to solving the problem.
The UDM further takes note of South Africa's involvement in the Zimbabwe crisis. The campaign to involve international monitors under the auspices of the United Nations in the next round of Zimbabwean elections makes sense, as opposed to putting the burden on South Africa alone, as if we are the sole authority on electoral management.
The in-fighting amongst members of the ruling party plays into the hands of the doubting Thomases ... [Interjections.] ... who scoff at our international ... [Laughter.] ... programme, especially in Africa. Madam Speaker, I need protection! [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Holomisa, I must really protect you, but you should also try by all means to stay within what we are supposed to be dealing with. [Interjections.] We are dealing with the budget for Foreign Affairs, and you keep on going off the topic! [Applause.]
Mr B H HOLOMISA: You are biased. You don't know what I mean … [Interjections.]
Those sceptical of Nepad … [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Mr Holomisa, you have just said that I am biased. I would like you to withdraw that.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Okay, I withdraw it, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you. You may proceed.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: May I continue?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Yes, I said that you may continue.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Those sceptical of the New Partnership for Africa's Development surely have found an opportunity to say, "Look at them! What are they going to teach us? On democracy: They want to run for third terms. Others want power at all costs, even though they are facing serious criminal charges. On law and order: They disband the independent institutions that have the guts to say that the emperor is naked. On public institutions: They meddle and appoint cronies who will sing their praises." Add to that the current violence and xenophobia problems. With these incidents, the ruling party has squandered the legitimacy and respect that the government of Nelson Mandela brought for South Africa on the international stage.
Uyathanda awuthandi. [Whether you like it or not.]
After the next election, there is no doubt that we will need to pick up the pieces to put our country where it deserves to be. High on the agenda would be to identify what the interests are of South Africa abroad, especially where we intend spending millions of our taxpayers' money. It is just not acceptable, for instance, that in countries such as Côte d'Ivoire, where we were helping, former colonial rulers such as France and neighbouring countries were questioning our interventions. We should neither be seen as the policemen of the world, nor as Father Christmas.
When we discuss future foreign policy, this House – not technocrats – will have to seize itself with these matters to ensure that we properly identify our priorities. Yes, we accept that the Presidency has to play a role in the foreign policy of our country. However, there are strategic decisions President Mbeki had to make. When it comes to accountability, as a portfolio committee, we are often concerned with who should be held responsible for the foreign policy decisions that are made. Foreign policy has been driven from the Presidency and from the department, and at times it is uncertain how these decisions are taken and implemented. The classic example is South Africa's position on Iran at the United Nations Security Council meeting.
When the Minister and the director-general come to address the portfolio committee, they should joined by representatives from the Presidency ...
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Holomisa, unfortunately, your time has expired.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Can you give me another minute?
HON MEMBERS: No!
Mr B H HOLOMISA: You gave it to other members.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Just round off your speech then. [Interjections.]
Mr B H HOLOMISA: On things such as peacekeeping, certain UN positions and mediation efforts, we require the executive to account to Parliament. Similarly, many major international trade decisions also should form part of the ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, order, please! Are you done?
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Bayangxola aba bantu akho kwanto bayithethayo.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon Holomisa, are you finished with your speech? [Interjections.] Hon Holomisa, your time has expired. Can you take your seat, then? Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Hon Sithole, is there any problem?
Mr D J SITHOLE: Chairperson, on a point of order: I am worried that hon Holomisa is interested in the extra minute. He has been a dictator in the Transkei and did not allow others ... [Inaudible.] [Laughter.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): That is not a point of order. Thank you.
Mr B H HOLOMISA: Ngiyabonga. [Interjections.]
Mr J BICI: Chairperson, on a point of order: Is the hon Mr Sithole's statement parliamentary?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): We will look at that. Thank you. Can there be order in the House, please, so that we can proceed with a decent debate?
Mr L W GREYLING
END OF TAKE
Mr B M HOLOMISA
Mr L W GREYLING: Chairperson, hon Minister, the ID would firstly like to commend the Department on the work that it has done to improve its capacity to deliver on what is a highly ambitious and complex set of objectives. The high vacancy rate that existed at the department has been brought down, although more work obviously needs to be done in this regard. We also commend the department on having 46 missions across the African continent, and we trust that by 2010 we will have representation in all African countries. It is also clear to the ID that the department has succeeded in getting us a seat at the top tables of many of multilateral bodies, which includes the G8+5 and the chair of UN Security Council. In many respects we are punching above our weight on international relations and the department needs to be congratulated for that.
A seat at the top tables, however, comes with an enormous responsibility and it is here that the ID would like to see the Department do more to live up to this responsibility. The ID believes that we have not been sufficiently clear, nor have we communicated precisely what principles will guide our engagements with the rest of the world. We maintain that the time has come for South Africa to be outspoken about what we stand for and, more importantly, about what we stand against. Given our tragic history and the manner in which we brought about a new era of human rights in South Africa, the ID believes we need to be the leaders in pushing forward a global human rights agenda. We therefore need to be more forthright in our condemnation of human rights abuses wherever they occur, such as in Burma, Darfur, Zimbabwe and many other places throughout the world where people are looking to us to take principled stands.
On too many issues the department has had to explain the position after the fact, and our message and principles have been lost in a shroud of ambiguity. The ID firmly believes that we simply cannot afford to be ambiguous about the issue of human rights, even if we run the risk of making enemies in the process. Finally, Minister, the ID would like to reiterate its call that it made a few years ago for a corporate accountability convention that would regulate the actions of multinational companies in Africa.
As the largest investor into Africa, we believe that South Africa has a responsibility to lead the drive in the AU for such a convention, so as to ensure that action is finally taken against those corporations who abuse the human rights of our fellow Africans. To the ID, this would be a momentous step forward for the African rebirth and would send a signal to the world and corporations that we will not allow our people and our communities to be trampled upon in their quest to extract our continent's riches. I thank you.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad)
END OF TAKE
Mr L W GREYLING
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad): Chairperson, Minister, Cabinet colleagues, hon members of the National Assembly, members of the diplomatic corps, distinguished guests, as has been indicated by our Minister, our foreign policy is driven by our vision of an African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable, and our mission is a commitment to promoting South Africa's national interests and values, the African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all.
The Minister has outlined our multifaceted efforts to achieve our stated vision and mission. It is sad that some members of the opposition, even today, indulge in selective morality. The time does not allow me to deal with some of the misrepresentations that have been made. But let me just tell the hon Leon that it is dangerous to rely on sources such as Freedom House and so-called American experts, and that if he keeps relying on them, he will keep not understanding what international relations is about. [Laughter.]
Mr A J LEON: I look at the scorecard, that's what I look at. The interpretation is secondary.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad): However, some of the international interventions have highlighted the fact that foreign policy is not created in laboratories, but has to be carried out in a world order that is characterised by, inter alia, unprecedented globalisation, which has resulted in uneven development between and within countries; increasing marginalisation of many countries, especially in Africa; increasing polarisation of many countries; the failure of the development round of the World Trade Organisation talks; the failure to fundamentally reform the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank ...
Mr A J LEON: Why does Trevor Manuel use the Harvard Group if you are so against the Americans? [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad): ... the unprecedented international division of labour; unprecedented migration, both legal and illegal; and, more recently, the major international financial crises.
It is within this paradigm that, in the last few years, we have sought to carry out some major tasks.
Firstly, the challenge has been poverty alleviation and sustainable development in South Africa, Africa and the world. We are of the view that global poverty constitutes the deepest and most structural fault in the contemporary world economy and global societies. Therefore, in our foreign relations, we have sought to correct this structural fault of global poverty in conditions of the accelerated pace of globalisation.
Key characteristics of globalisation, as you should know, have been the liberalisation of international trade, the expansion of foreign direct investments, mass cross-border financial flows and the phenomenal development of information technology. This has resulted in growing interdependence, making us a global village in the real sense, which manifests itself in unprecedented political, economic and social interaction, all of which impacts on countries' economic, financial and political sovereignty.
What is now clear is that, while globalisation is creating immense opportunities for growth and wealth creation for some, it has produced an abundance of poverty for millions, and, increasingly, the world is being constructed in two camps, two global villages, one rich and one poor.
The Commission on Africa recently concluded, and I quote:
Growth and globalisation have brought higher standards to billions of men and women, yet it is not a wealth which everyone enjoys. In Africa, millions of people live each day in abject poverty and squalor …
And I believe that this can be said of much of Latin America and Asia. It is this reality that forced the 2000 United Nations Millennium Summit to resolve, inter alia, to halve by the year 2015 the proportion of the world's people whose income is less that $1 a day; to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by that time; and by the same date, to ensure that children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education.
It was also resolved to halt and begin the reverse of the scourge of HIV/Aids, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.
What is the stark reality today? In a world of six billion people, two billion people live on a poverty datum line of less that $2 a day and 700 million of them are classified as desperately poor, while 1,5 billion of our fellow inhabitants have no work.
In recent decades, the poorest 5% of the world's population has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power, while the richest increased its real income by 12%. The national per capita income of the 20 richest countries is 37 times larger than that of the 20 poorest, a gap which has doubled in size over the last 40 years.
In our subcontinent the situation is much more dire. Nowhere else in the world is the negative consequences of globalisation and underdevelopment so pronounced. It is characterised, inter alia, by the reality that: over 40% of sub-Saharan African people live below the international poverty datum line of $1 a day; 34 of the world's 41 highly indebted poor countries are in sub-Saharan Africa; and Africa, with almost one sixth of the world's population, accounts for only one fiftieth of global trade, and its share is diminishing.
It is true that, while the recent high mineral commodity prices and the discovery of new oil reserves have changed the big picture of some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, the sad reality is that the Millennium Development Goals aspirations will not be achieved. This is largely, I believe, because of a lack of sufficient political will by many of the developed countries to take the necessary measures to achieve the lofty ideals that they so loudly proclaimed at the United Nations.
It is therefore significant that the Minister tried to identify all the initiatives that we have taken within the international arena to develop South-South relations, in order to ensure and create more, better and equitable relations with the North. I hope you took note of all of that.
It is also imperative that South Africa's role in Africa and in the world must begin with our fight against inequality, poverty and underdevelopment. What is clear is what the Minister has said, that, in the 21st century, Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions. We are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of underdevelopment that afflicts Africa.
As the Minister indicated, despite all weaknesses, obstacles and challenges, there is a major transformation process that is taking place on the African continent that is anchored on key principles of African ownership and leadership, self-reliance and a new partnership with the developed and developing world that is based on mutual respect, responsibility and accountability.
I would ask the hon Minister not to look at the Freedom House statistics, but to look at other statistics which indicate the massive progress that Africa is making in relation to good governance, human rights and democracy. In fact, it would be good, sometimes, if the opposition were to challenge other violations of human rights taking place in countries that they are so close to. [Interjections.]
The second major challenge of the 21st century that we have to confront is peace, security and stability. It is clear now to everyone that the end of the Cold War saw the emergence of a hegemonic superpower, and there were no peace dividends in the post-Cold-War period. Today, very few people can deny that the world is more dangerous than it was during that period.
Mr A J LEON: Exactly my point.
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad): The terrorist attacks on the USA on September 11 2001 was yet another decisive moment. For your information, the USA National Security Strategy document of November 2001 introduced the concept of pre-emption and the willingness of the USA to attack any state that it considers supports or harbours, what it determines to be, terrorists. It also signals the decisive move towards unilateralism and the tendency to deal militaristically with the very complex problems that humanity faces.
We are now confronted with concepts such as I think, Tony, you have never heard of: Axis of evil, rogue states, clash of civilisations, religious crusades, Islamo-Fascism. It is this framework within which we have to try to implement foreign policy perspectives and as we try to deal with these complex challenges of peace and security, we are faced with the reality of the dominance of one superpower, and the absence of a balance of power in the global system; there is no common vision of global security; as I've said, there is a militaristic approach to dealing with complex problems; increasing disregard for the United Nations Charter and international law by some of the major powers; and the transformation of the very nature of war, as we witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are witnessing the unprecedented growth of anti-Americanism and the consequent unprecedented spread of terrorism and their potential links with weapons of mass destruction. [Interjections.]
We are also faced with the globalisation of crime and drug syndicates and their links to terrorism. Indeed, we are faced with, as everybody has talked about, environmental degradation, and the energy security and food crises.
However, we are happy to say that, as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, there are some positive and encouraging developments that we believe will have a positive impact on international relations. These are characterised, inter alia, by: the growing realisation, even by the major powers, that multilateralism is the best option to deal with the complex challenges humanity faces; the realisation that the growing political and economic power of China and India cannot be ignored; the realisation that the political and economic resurgence of the Russian Federation cannot be ignored; in this context, too, the expansion of the European Union and its deepening political and economic integration makes a positive impact on the unilateralist world order that we are experiencing now; but, most of all, as the Minister indicated a year ago, there is the increasing importance of the countries of the South, such as Brazil, Mexico and South Africa.
So, we are now involved in many areas - the Minister has dealt with Africa. Let me quickly go to the Middle East, which I believe is the region that is the most volatile and the greatest threat to regional peace and international security.
This year marks sixty years since the establishment of the Israeli state and yet, peace is as elusive as ever. Today, the massive destruction of property and infrastructure in occupied Palestinian territories continues and new Israeli settlements, against all agreements, continue to be built.
The UN Secretary-General recently expressed his concern over the government of Israel's approval of a resumption of construction of 750 housing units in the West Bank. He stated that any settlement expansion is contrary to Israel's obligations under the Road Map and international law. Let us hear you talking a little more loudly about such violations. [Interjections.]
Mr A J LEON: Well, tell us about the rockets from Hamas. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad): Also, the sad reality is that violence continues to escalate. The UN Secretary-General, while condemning Palestinian rocket attacks and calling for the immediate cessation of such rocket attacks against Israeli targets, said, and I quote:
While recognising Israel's right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children. I call on Israel to cease such attacks. Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise the utmost restraint. Incidents in which civilians have been killed or injured must be investigated and accountability must be ensured.
So, we are faced with a situation where a humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in occupied Palestinian territories. A report by the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, John Holmes, makes very sad reading. He says - and I don't have the time to go into all of it – almost 80% of Palestinians are now receiving food aid. Most industry and agricultural activities have collapsed, raising unemployment and poverty heights. Frequent and lengthy power cuts by Israel severely impact the functioning of essential services and infrastructure. Water quality is declining rapidly, where it is available at all. Inadequacies of the sewerage system are increasingly exposed. Medical and education systems are teetering on the edge of failure; lack of equipment, spare parts, qualified staff, and psychological strains undermine their function.
Children make up half of the population of Gaza and the statistics about the diseases that are increasing among the children of Gaza make horrifying reading.
Therefore, what we must begin to do, together, as the party in government and the opposition, is not to keep saying that we are taking one-sided positions but to accept the challenge that we have to deal with a situation that is a gross violation of all international and human rights laws. Everybody only talks of the Gaza strip. According to this UN report it is similar in the West Bank. The barrier wall continues to be built, the expansion of settlements continues, and there are about 487 checkpoints and blockages within the West Bank which fragment the community and seriously impact on the lives of those Palestinian people.
So, the report concludes – and I would like hon Leon to read it because this is not biased - that security cannot override all other concerns or justify so much damage to ordinary people's livelihoods and infringement of their human dignity and human rights. Israel has obligations towards the Palestinian population under occupation. [Time expired.]
Dr C P MULDER
END OF TAKE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr A G H Pahad)
Dr C P MULDER: Thank you, Chairperson, for the opportunity. Hon Minister of Foreign Affairs, members, colleagues, since 1994 a lot of good work has been done by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The department has worked tirelessly to promote South Africa's national interests and values and to break down all the negative stereotypes about us as Africans and our continent Africa – for that we say: Thank you very much.
The vision of the department also clearly states, and I quote:
Our vision is an African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.
However, it is the President of the Republic as head of state and his views that are seen and accepted by the international community as the face of South Africa's foreign policy. This brings me to the question: Who advises the President as head of state when it comes to foreign policy? Is it the hon Minister? Is it the Department of Foreign Affairs? Is it the Chief Directorate: International Relations in the Presidency? Or does the President formulate his own foreign policy? This is very important for me to know, because someone has to take responsibility for the damage that has been done to the credibility and image of our continent and our country.
When Mugabe became president in Zimbabwe in 1980, the inflation rate was 7%. By 1990 it had risen to 17%. In 2000, when the Zimbabwean electorate rejected Mugabe's proposals, it was already 56%. Since the defeat of the constitutional referendum in 2000, politics in Zimbabwe have been marked by a slow regression away from many of the norms of democratic governance, such as democratic elections, the independence of the judiciary, the rule of law, freedom from racial discrimination, the existence of an independent media, civil society and academia. Recent years have seen widespread violations of human rights in Zimbabwe. How did our country react to this? Somewhere somebody decided on a policy called "silent diplomacy", which eventually, after six, seven years now, has lead to tacit approval and, it even seems, implied support.
After the discredited 2002 elections, Mr Mbeki wrote in ANC Today that "the will of the people of Zimbabwe has prevailed". The inflation rate then already was 139%. But President Mbeki has continuously insisted that the problems in Zimbabwe had to be resolved in a peaceful and democratic way. When the MDC tries for ten years to do exactly this, President Mbeki prefers to give credibility to President Mugabe by stating that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. In this he is strengthening the hand of Mugabe and his undemocratic abuse of power, to steal, for the third time, an election. Nowhere in the world one has to wait for more than a month for the results of an election. If President Mugabe had won the Zimbabwean election, the announcement of the results would have been made known within a few days after the election – as has been the case in previous elections in Zimbabwe.
In 2002, the election was held between 9 and 11 March and all the results were known by 13 March, two days later, and by 17 March Mr Mugabe was inaugurated as president of Zimbabwe. Why? Because he allegedly won. This time, however, after more than four weeks a recount was ordered of results that had not yet been announced. What a joke. How do you recount things that have not been announced?
At present South Africa is suffering irreparable harm and damage at international level as a result of the disappointing and short-sighted handling of this issue by President Thabo Mbeki. There is absolutely no advantage for South Africa on an international level to try to politically prop up the totally discredited scoundrel Mr Mugabe. This whole tragic state of affairs says much more about us than it says about Zimbabwe and Mugabe. The world expected this from Mugabe but they expected South Africa to stand up and do the right thing, to be a beacon of justice and fairness. Our President who leads us in these matters failed us. The inflation rate in Zimbabwe yesterday was 164 000%.
Mr W J SEREMANE
END OF TAKE
Dr C P MULDER
Mr W J SEREMANE: Modulasetulo, go siame go akgola bontle e bile ke pateletso go kgalema bosula, bonweenwee le tshololo ya madi kwa ntle ga molato.
In general, our foreign policy can be proud of more than a few achievements, certainly worthy to write home about. Like all other government policies, our foreign policy has "all its ducks in a row", to use the cliché. It seems the fly in the ointment in some areas of the policy is in the implementation or the lack of will to reflect our commitment to promoting South Africa's national interests and values.
We have been to some of the hot spots of our continent in an attempt and to help to bring about amicable, peaceful resolutions to conflicts gripping these areas. Countries that come to mind are, on the one hand, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and on the other extreme end, none other than Zimbabwe on our very doorstep. Admittedly, the DRC issue is complex and elusive, with the role-players proving to be incorrigible and dodgy.
Coming to rands and cents: Have our budgetary inputs in our efforts been effective and justifiable in light of our local and internal economic and social challenges? Can we justify our inputs in these areas?
The Zimbabwean saga is a total blight on our foreign policy vis-à-vis the African agenda. This is one big denial syndrome that besmirches our noble intentions as envisaged in our foreign policy flagship, the African agenda. Insistence on the adherence to fundamental values and principles we as South Africans hold dear, the agreements and protocols agreed on by all and sundry, including ourselves, cannot be read as Afro-pessimism or encroachment on each other's sovereignty. All of us have to be each other's keepers for the common good of all – our country, our neighbours, SADC and the continent at large - lest we go down in history as having abetted dictatorships on the continent at large, especially in cases such as that of Darfur and Zimbabwe. If these two similar countries bleed, then South Africa cannot be immune to the pain.
We in the DA welcome the various voices that call for the swift and effective resolution of the Zimbabwean debacle. Batho Pele, as we say: the citizens of Zimbabwe should come first before the whims and qualms of those who lust for eternal power. When human rights are grossly violated, this is tantamount to acquiescence. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
RULING – THE HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela)
END OF TAKE
Mr W J SEREMANE
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Hon members, before we proceed to the next speaker, I wish to give a ruling on a point of order raised earlier in the debate. Mr Sithole contended that Mr Holomisa should not have been granted additional time to make a point as he had been a dictator while he was a ruler in the former Transkei ... [Interjections.] ... who never gave others a chance to express their views. In response, Mr Bici raised a point of order and asked the Chair to rule on this remark on the basis that it was unparliamentary, and I promised to come back it. I have since considered the matter and wish to rule that the remark by Mr Sithole amounts to a political description of the member, which is a matter of debate. The remark is therefore not unparliamentary. Thank you.
Adv Z L MADASA
END OF TAKE
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela)
Adv Z L MADASA: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Minister, my brief in this debate is to comment on two departmental programmes, which are the institution of the African Union, and peace and security.
This debate takes place during a most uncertain and unpredictable time in global politics. We see growing nationalism at the expense of a just, normative global order. This, in part, is instigated by the United States' problems of image and finance crisis. This has given an opportunity for other emerging powers to rise. This process has compromised the agenda of development. This is the background against which the African Union, as far as institutions are concerned, should approach the challenges.
We know the story of King David. We are given to understand that he was very powerful. He was powerful because, firstly, he believed in a cause; and secondly, he had a group of men who were specialists in understanding the times. This combination made his kingdom powerful. I think we can use this example to inspire the African Union to ensure that it analyses the times and understands them, and that its leaders pursue a cause for development rather than other issues.
I would also like to make a point which was made by a former defence Minister of the United Kingdom who was here in South Africa in 2003. He was asked in our meeting why they appeared to be preparing for war in Iraq. His response was that international relations were not an exact science and that sometimes nations made political decisions. That was quite telling to me. Recently, there have been reports that the Chinese are preparing to build airplane carriers to compete with Boeing and Airbus. The Chinese premier, in response to critics of the project and the costs involved, was reported to have said that the Chinese people wanted this, that Chinese people had two hands, and that if they could combine this with wisdom, they could achieve it. I think that the Chinese understand the times they live in and know what to do. This is the paradigm that both our government and the African Union need to appreciate.
We need to pursue the African cause of development with passion and sacrifice in the understanding that there is a cause to pursue. We must make political decisions where they need to be made, regardless of what is supposed to be international relations. We need to fight resistance to our development. The former president of the World Bank, Mr Wolfowitz, said at the Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting in 2006 in Geneva that, according to their predictions, Africa would, in seven years', become the destination of investment. This was news that was rather scary to me, because I knew that if this was the case - and it seems to be - there was going to be another scramble for Africa, and that it would take the form of modern times. This will probably mean more instability, unless the African Union takes quick measures to address these issues. I think this is the paradigm or context in which to call for union government. It does not matter to me who makes the call or what the motive is. I think the issue is that Africa needs such a government as soon as possible, in a form that is acceptable to all Africans. The decision cannot be delayed, because of the times and the things that are surrounding the continent. I understand that in the Africa Declaration, ministers were asked to look into the issue. We await the report.
Once considerable efforts have been made in the African Union to make all its organs work for the health of the total body, serious sicknesses in certain parts will need urgent attention. Without the maximum participation of the African people, through their representatives in Parliament and civil society, this progress will not be fast enough. The review of the African Union structures, in order to examine their functionality and recommendations, must be made public soon as something must be done urgently to correct any faults. There is no doubt that Africa must respond now to the stage that it finds itself in and the impending assault on its resources.
The former African Union commissioner did very well to put the African Union onto the political map. But it seems to me that there have been weaknesses as far as collective leadership and the absence of a hands-on approach are concerned. The executive council must also become inclusive during its work when dealing with sectoral matters. Sectoral ministers need to feel that they are taken seriously in their special areas.
The summits of heads of states need to focus more clearly on defined priorities that are few and manageable. This approach, I believe, will help the summit to realize measurable progress. The question still remains whether the African Union is ready to deal with new challenges. These are challenges, for example, of being spoon-fed democracy, as we have heard here today, as if this is the end; a discussion about democracy without development; economic growth that is not inclusive; and economic liberalisation that is not reciprocated by the powerful, and thus unfair. So, these are the prescriptions that we are given in order to develop.
Recently, two ministers of agriculture, from France and Germany, made the point that the EU needs to tighten up. We are calling for the removal of subsidies in agriculture. The two ministers of agriculture called for the tightening of protectionism in order to protect the EU. They used the excuse of health and so on. It has been proved in a report that their excuse is not well founded. This, to me, is an indication of what we are faced with. While I welcome one of the heads of state who came to our Parliament, who made a very wonderful speech about the impending end to colonial regimes within that country and the continent, when I read the report, I realised that the matter was much more complex than that.
We believe the African Union's Peace and Security Council has done very well. Conflicts have been resolved, by and large, as has been stated, butSudan, Somalia, the northern DRC - where there is the Lord's Resistant Army - and Burundi remain problematic areas. To me Darfur – I have made this point in another forum and people were not happy about it, but I would like to repeat it here - is caught up in a conflict of interests between some Arab and Western powers. That is why the issue is not going anywhere. The victims, as usual, are the poor Africans. A young music rapper from South Sudan sums it up for me in his song when he says: "My family was raped in my presence because of the oil."
Another issue that compromises security on the continent is the often disregarded aspect of weak political parties, weakened by lack of ideological development or absence of intraparty democracy, in some cases. We see the trend coming southwards. Without addressing these issues of strengthening political parties, we are going to face many problems in the future. We see people getting involved with regime change because they have been asked to do so, to remove the government, but they have no idea what to do with the government. They end up in corruption and so on. Then others must organise to remove them, and it goes on and on. So, without strengthening political parties, I think we might lose; we are going to be caught in a very vicious cycle. Without addressing economic development and institutional weaknesses, the continent is going to struggle and remain susceptible to renewed conflicts.
In our region, the potential for political destabilisation in Zimbabwe will further exacerbate the deteriorating humanitarian situation. I said to my colleague here, when I was listening to this debate on Zimbabwe, which has become a standard debate everywhere you go, that I accept the criticisms and concerns that people have. But something puzzles me, and I ask the chairperson to educate me. Let us say there is a problem in Germany, political issues, economic issues, etc: Then you ask the president of France, every time you meet with him, to tell you why this is happening in Germany; why he is doing nothing for the people in Germany. It puzzles me. [Interjections.] To what extent can a leader of a sovereign country really be expected to do beyond what has been done ... [Interjections.]
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order, please! Hon Madasa! I can't even hear the intervention here.
Dr C P MULDER: Is the hon member prepared to take a question now?
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! Are you willing to take a question now or at the end? [Interjections.]
Adv Z L MADASA: No, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr K O Bapela): Order! No question! He is not prepared to take a question. Hon member, you may continue.
Adv Z L MADASA: The way I look at these conflicts, it is simple. The Zimbabwean challenge, for me, is a microcosm of the bigger African problem, which is: What does a government, post-liberation, do to empower its people in such a way that it does not accept its former colonial powers? [Interjections.] If we look at the case of South Africa, for example, affirmative action, which is a constitutional rule of law arrangement, is already ridiculed. We are being ridiculed. [Interjections.]
My question is: What options do you have? I am asking a genuine question. I would like to get answers. What do you do when you have people to empower who have voted you into power, and you have these relationships? You are competing in the international economy, but you have people who ... [Interjections.] Whatever you try is a problem. So, what do you do? [Interjections.]
There is no doubt that the South African government's mediation is working in Zimbabwe. The ANC's position and the government's position are harmonious on the need to give this mediation a chance. But, unfortunately, there is a serious effort to undermine this mediation process. [Interjections.] Let us not forget that in the past, President Mugabe used to appoint members of parliament after elections. Today he is not appointing members of parliament. [Interjections.] He could have retained this prerogative because it was a national prerogative. But this is no longer the case. We have elections going on. I think the point that President Mugabe missed, if he wanted to stay in power for longer, was that he should have delayed the land restitution programme so that the people of Zimbabwe accepted it, and he should have agreed to be involved in a coalition with the winning who are fighting the war ... [Interjections.]
Adv Z L MADASA: He would have stayed much longer.
In conclusion, for the African Union to sustain peace and security, I believe that we need urgent common economic policies. I believe - the chairperson has said this before in a similar debate - that we need to identify states that can drive the process of the union government, not everybody, but the ones who have been in the forefront. I think the issue of stand-by forces in the region must be established and made to work. I believe that South Africa must contemplate more investment with other member states in its defence industry to meet the needs of the continent in disaster and peace operations. [Interjections.] I think we need more directed and co-ordinated corporate investment from South Africa into Africa. I think we need to follow the example of South African companies who have collaborated with doctors from Rwanda and are looking into building a world-class hospital in Rwanda. These are the efforts that ordinary South Africans are making to improve on inter-trade, development, infrastructure and ... [Interjections.] They are not doing what you are doing here. I think we should lead by example.
In closing, I would like to respond to Mr Tony Leon. I would like to answer Mr Tony Leon when he made the point that South Africa should align itself with the international community. Mr Leon, the national community is an international community. It is not a section of the international community. All the nations - the United Nations and everybody - are the international community. So, you can't say that if we do not agree with a portion that we are not aligning ourselves with the international community. I think it is important that I say that. Thank you very much. [Interjections.] [Applause.]
Mr P H K DITSHETELO
END OF TAKE
Adv Z L MADASA
Mr P H K DITSHETELO: Chairperson, in considering the budgetary allocation for the Department of Foreign Affairs, it is important to note that, over the years, this department has clearly reflected the increasing role South Africa has being playing in the sphere of international affairs.
The allocation for the 2008-09 financial year is indicative of South Africa's commitment to making a positive contribution to the development of the countries of the South, particularly in Africa, and to engage other global actors in order to create a better world. The activities identified in the 2008-09 financial year are in line with the strategic plan for 2008-09.
Parliament must, however, be kept abreast of progress being made in connection with land and property acquisitions, both at headquarters and in diplomatic missions abroad. It must monitor progress being made with regard to ongoing projects aimed at consolidating the Africa agenda, such as implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development priority projects.
Furthermore, Parliament must monitor progress to ensure the implementation of the commitment of opening up diplomatic missions in all African countries, as well as being kept abreast of the country's work in the United Nations, especially in light of South Africa's nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council. Parliament must be in a position to be fully and timely informed about decisions and positions taken by the government on various issues that are on the agenda of the UN Security Council as well as programmes that have been prioritised by South Africa during its term on the UN Security Council.
Owing to South Africa's increasing role in international affairs, there is a growing interest in the country's foreign policy positions. It is therefore essential that Parliament is not only informed about major decisions taken, but is able to play its part in further explaining and lobbying for these positions in order to complement government's foreign policy efforts.
It is important for us to revisit our "silent diplomacy policy", particularly with due regard to the Zimbabwe situation. Citizens were brutalised, others murdered and dispossessed of their land, and yet we are told that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe. [Time expired.]
Miss S RAJBALLY
END OF TAKE
Mr P H K DITSHETELO
Ms S RAJBALLY: Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister and colleagues, I take this opportunity to applaud the relations we have built and strengthened through the auspices of the Department of Foreign Affairs. We are indeed encouraged by your commitment and drive to advance South Africa and strengthen our position globally.
In view of the commitment, we are pleased to note that the department continues to participate in the forums of India-Brazil-South Africa and the New Africa-Asia Strategic Partnership.
It is extremely important that we continue to consolidate the Africa agenda to progress towards attaining peace and stability on the continent. Our roles in both the New Partnership for Africa's Development and the Southern African Development Community are crucial to the contribution we make in achieving this peace, stability and socioeconomic development.
The MF feels that the African Union needs to become more active in bringing stability to the continent by taking countries in contravention of human rights and democracy to task.
Our drive to increase dialogue between North and South, we agree, shall further represent the interests of Africa, and also place us on the map eventually with the big 8 economic giants such as those based in First World countries. The potential of our country is utilized when we advertise it and make use of it to the detriment of First World countries that need to be shown our greatness if we are to place ourselves as a great global competitor.
As for our role in the United Nations Security Council, we need, during the remainder of our time left on this seat, to push peacekeeping matters with the AU that will promote peace on the continent and advance us as an influential power to engage with in peacekeeping.
If we consider the increase, in real terms, in this year's budget allocation to this department, we note a decrease in the allocation. In view of the programmes under this department, it is evident that the limited allocation will affect its running and its primary responsibilities. In light of this, the MF expresses grave concern. We acknowledge that the department has great plans and projects on the way, and we worry whether the budget will allow these to be successfully completed and operated.
We as Parliament have an important role to play in overseeing the department's progress and I find it incumbent on us to also monitor whether the budget may hinder progress in completing projects such as finally constructing a proper Pan-African Parliament facility or embassies in various countries. We seek clarity in this regard.
We wish the department well. The MF supports Budget Vote 3. I thank you.
Dr S E M PHEKO
END OF TAKE
Ms S RAJBALLY
Dr S E M PHEKO: Chair, with my limited time, let me start by saying that the PAC supports this Budget Vote and wishes to express appreciation for the role the Department of Foreign Affairs is playing and has played internationally, continentally and, indeed, in the Southern African Development Community region.
Africa has demonstrated that when united on the fundamental interests of our continent, much progress can be made and the continent developed politically, economically and technologically. The role played by our country in the Democratic Republic of Congo's elections, in bringing order there, after years of instability, must not be taken for granted.
On Zimbabwe most observers have unanimously considered that recent elections have taken place in an unprecedented conducive climate. The credit for this must go to our country, SADC and the African union.
With the goodwill of the international community, Africa can soon enjoy political stability, economic prosperity and technological advancement; but some foreign powers, which saw weapons of massive destruction in Iraq which nobody else saw, defied the United Nations and brought bloodshed and destruction to Iraq, and still occupy that country even after losing over 3 000 American soldiers, and killing thousands of people in Iraq, and still come to lecture Africa about democracy, good governance and the rule of law.
In Zimbabwe, where our own President was asked by SADC to mediate, the same two countries that have been involved in the bloodshed in Iraq and are threatening Iran have imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe. How is mediation by President Mbeki expected to succeed in Zimbabwe when Britain and America are busy crippling this African country with sanctions? [Interjections.]
Jonathan Powell, Mr Tony Blair's long-time chief of staff, has not been ashamed to advise Britain to invade Zimbabwe to defend British interests, because, and I quote:
Intervening in another country no longer risks tipping the two superpowers into a global war - there is only one superpower, America.
[Time expired]. [Applause.]
Mrs S M CAMERER
END OF TAKE
Dr S E M PHEKO
Mrs S M CAMERER: Thank you, Chairperson. Hon Minister, Deputy Minister, hon members, South Africa has just entered its 15th year as a free and democratic country. Although our Minister Dlamini-Zuma has given the public assurance that there is no difference between the ANC and government positions on foreign policy, nevertheless we will soon be moving into a completely new phase, domestically, with the election of a new government that is likely to be very different from the first three administrations. At the same time, internationally, the global environment will present many uncertainties, and for this reason South Africa will have to assert its voice very clearly.
Firstly, we must ensure that South Africa's standing as a stable, reliable partner is sustained through a smooth transfer of power. Secondly, it is vital to uphold the integrity of our institutions and thereby strengthen South Africa's image as a state run accountably, respectful of fundamental principles of good governance and human rights. In this connection it is essential to ensure that independent voices from our country are also heard, whether it is as monitors of the Zimbabwean elections or in relation to any other international activity or in the media, or indeed in Parliament.
Thirdly, the quality of our policy implementation internationally should ensure that we are not seen as contrarian, but as builders on matters that require collaboration, whether through the African Union, the Commonwealth or the United Nations. Recently we have seemed to be somewhat out of step with our natural partners around issues like cluster bombs, trade with the European Union, human rights in despotic countries, and so on.
In this regard there are many challenges, particularly in Africa, where this year it has become clear that many countries in Africa will not achieve their Millennium Development Goals, and that the pillars on which the African Renaissance will need to stand have, indeed, weakened, for example in Kenya and Zimbabwe, something that the hon Madasa fails to understand. We must continue to be active in supporting and encouraging rules-based multilateral systems which are grounded on respect for the same rules-based system on an individual state level.
There is also the question the Minister referred to of how to deal with Africa's important suitors such as China and India. South Africa has an important role in galvanising co-operation between developing and developed states, and we must maintain our status as an active and respected partner. While we do not play in the premier league, we are an important emerging market and even an emerging power, and we will continue to take on regional, continental and global issues in a constructive manner. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr M P SIBANDE
END OF TAKE
Mrs S M CAMERER
Mr M P SIBANDE: Madam Deputy Speaker, it is important to reflect on the resolution of the ANC on the issues of communications and the "battle of ideas". The government needs to improve its own internal and external communication tools and strengthen its platform. Government must initiate steps to engage the output of the creative, media, academic and intellectual communities.
There are numerous examples, internationally, which demonstrate that the "battle of ideas" remains one of the issues requiring attention. For example, in spite of progress being made with challenges in countries such as Zimbabwe, the efforts by South Africa are still portrayed by the mainstream media as having failed to yield any desired results.
Also, complex challenges around issues of governance and democratic elections in some African countries are still reported by the mainstream media as another example of Africa's failure to grapple with issues of democracy. Thus, the mainstream media's coverage of the recent post-electoral challenges in Kenya have been dominated by the portrayal of the situation as nothing but ethnic bloodletting and tribal clashes, and in the process the key issues at stake are lost.
In fact, since the parties to the conflict signed an agreement, which was facilitated by former Secretary-General of the UN Kofi Annan, the mainstream media seems to have lost interest in reporting about such a positive outcome in Kenya. In spite of various commendable efforts to strengthen the African Union's peace and security capacity and the participation of African troops in various peacekeeping missions in Africa, the mainstream media still finds comfort in portraying the continental body as a futile organisation.
Therefore, it is paramount that progressive forces and government use public diplomacy to provide information that seeks to challenge those interests that portray Africa as a continent incapable of handling its own affairs.
Public diplomacy as a concept and as a programme plays a critical role in any country's foreign policy. It is through public diplomacy that government in general, and the Department of Foreign Affairs in particular, informs the public about its foreign policy options and choices, and about its decisions. It is also through public diplomacy that government may seek not only to inform, but also to influence national and international stakeholders about the policy choices it makes, and about important questions of international relations so that all stakeholders are properly briefed.
This is done so as to contextualise the importance of public diplomacy as a tool for information sharing and engagement with different stakeholders. This is followed by a discussion of the Department of Foreign Affairs' public diplomacy programme drawn from the strategic plan 2008-11 and the Estimates of National Expenditure.
Given the nature of the work entailed in public diplomacy, which primarily involves, among other things, the interaction between the Department of Foreign Affairs and the media in the country and internationally, it is important to clarify a political context under which such interactions occur in the country.
Sihlalo, kule Ndlu yesishayamthetho kunabantu emaqenjini aphikisayo abahlala benyukubele futhi benyuse izinhlonze sengathi badle isibhaha. Kuvame ukuthi kube nobhongoza abangongqoshishilizi ezindabeni zezwe laseZimbabwe abafisa sengathi udlame, indlala nezifo eziningi ezibandakanya i-HIV ne-Aids zingabhebhetheka kuhle komlilo wothathe eZimbabwe. Kufanele futhi labo bhongoza sibakhombise ukuthi abakaze babe nezifiso ezinhle ngezwe laseZimbawe.
Ngesikhathi beqala ukukwenza sengathi banozwelo nabantu baleli zwe elingumakhelwane, kwakungesikhathi ezakwadalawane zezwe laseZimbabwe zifaka amasongo kasigonyela futhi zijikijela kwalasha labo bantu abakhokhelwa ukuthi balwe impi engahlangene nabo ababephokophele ukuketula umbuso wase-Equitorial Guinea. Yilapho-ke okwaqala khona ubumayemaye ngesimo saseZimbawe. Thina njengenhlangano kaKhongolose besilokhu sibelesele ngokuthi okhethweni lwezwe laseZimbabwe makube ngabantu bakhona abazikhethela abaholi babo. [Ubuwelewele.]
Dr S M VAN DYK: Madam Deputy Speaker, could you ask the speaker to speak in English. There is no translation. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon members, there is no need for any excitement. Mr Sibande, please take your seat. Let us make sure that the English translation is available so that the hon members are able to follow the debate. [Interjections.] Hon members, the House is in session. The interpreters are there. It could have been a problem with the microphones, or maybe with the sound. [Interjections.] Order! Hon member …
… ake uqhubeke, baba. Ungathi sekulungile.
Mr M P SIBANDE: Thank you, Deputy Speaker.
Angazi noma isikhathi sami ngisazosithola yini.
IPHINI LIKASOMLOMO: Uzisithola sonke, baba.
Mnu M P SIBANDE: Thina njengenhlangano kaKhongolose besilokhu sibelesele ngokuthi okhethweni lwezwe laseZimbabwe makube ngabantu bakhona abazikhethela abaholi babo. Thina njengenhlangano ehola isizwe, asigqiziqakala ukuthi yiliphi iqembu elinqobile nokuthi yimuphi umholi odle ubhedu okhethweni kodwa okubalulekile ukuthi makube nokhetho olukhululekile lwentando yeningi olungenazo nezigigaba zodlame. [Ubuwelewele.]
IPHINI LIKASOMLOMO: Baba, ngiyaxolisa, baba. Utolika akekazwakali.
Dr C P MULDER: Madam Speaker, the hon member is reacting to the debate and the final speaker on the ANC side is talking about important things. We would like to hear what he says. Please. [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Speaker, if I may address you. It is not important what he is saying. Perhaps we don't need ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: I have not invited you to address me. Please take your seat. I wish not to recognise any speakers now.
Baba Sibande, sizovele sicele wena-ke ukuthi mhlawumbe utolike ngoba …
… there is no fault on our side. The interpreter is there and he thinks he is doing a wonderful job. There is a technical problem somewhere and his voice is not being transmitted. [Interjections.] We are not going to force him to speak in English. This country has 11 official languages. [Applause.] Hon members, I am not too sure that you'll be so happy with what I am going to say now. The choice we have is to adjourn and deal with the problems that are facing us now, and then ring the bells and come back and allow Mr Sibande to speak in his mother tongue. And then adjourn finally after the Minister has addressed us. The Minister is also responding in IsiZulu. So if Siswati is a challenge, we still have IsiZulu that you have to cope with. [Laughter.] We are now going to adjourn and fix the problem, and then reconvene, hoping that all the languages will be fairly and equally represented. Then we shall continue with the business of the House.
BUSINESS SUSPENDED AT 17:39 DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEMS AND RESUMED AT 17:57.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: We now resume the debate.
Mnr M P SIBANDE: Jy is besig om my te koggel. Jy wil nie luister nie. [Gelag.] Ek sal aangaan. [You were busy heckling me. You do not want to listen. [Laughter.] I will continue.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The English is on Channel 6.
Mnu M P SIBANDE: Sihlalo, kule Ndlu yesishayamthetho kunabantu emaqenjini aphikisayo abahlala benyukubele futhi benyuse izinhlonze sengathi badle isibhaha. Kuvame ukuthi kube nobhongoza abangongqoshishilizi ezindabeni zezwe laseZimbabwe abafisa sengathi udlame, indlala nezifo eziningi ezibandakanya i-HIV ne-Aids zingabhebhetheka kuhle komlilo wothathe eZimbabwe. Kufanele futhi labo bhongoza sibakhombise ukuthi abakaze babe nezifiso ezinhle ngezwe laseZimbawe.
Ngesikhathi beqala ukukwenza sengathi banozwelo nabantu baleli zwe elingumakhelwane, kwakungesikhathi ezakwadalawane zezwe laseZimbabwe zifaka amasongo kasigonyela futhi zijikijela kwalasha labo bantu abakhokhelwa ukuthi balwe impi engahlangene nabo ababephokophele ukuketula umbuso wase-Equitorial Guinea. Yilapho-ke okwaqala khona ubumayemaye ngesimo saseZimbawe. Thina njengenhlangano kaKhongolose besilokhu sibelesele ngokuthi okhethweni lwezwe laseZimbabwe makube ngabantu bakhona abazikhethela abaholi babo. Thina njengenhlangano ehola isizwe, asigqiziqakala ukuthi yiliphi iqembu elinqobile nokuthi yimuphi umholi odle ubhedu okhethweni kodwa okubalulekile ukuthi makube nokhetho olukhululekile lwentando yeningi olungenazo nezigigaba zodlame.
Ukhetho lwaseZimbabwe luhambe ngokukhulu ukukhululeka nangendlela ebesilokhu sifisa ukuthi luhambe ngayo. Lokhu kufakazelwe yiqembu le-MDC mayelana negalelo leNingizimu Afrika ikakhulukazi likaMongameli Mbeki. Iphindile futhi yabhuntsha imizamo yokugxambukela kobhongoza kwazise phela imizamo yabo ibingasho lutho kwabanye abantu. Ibizifanela nje nemizamo yomgodoyi wesimaku sikamesisi sona esingena endlini sikhangwe yiphunga lokudla, bese singena ngaphansi kwetafula abantu bebe bezihlalele bezidlela kamnandi sona bese siyabhodla ukuze abadlayo bezodikibala badube ukudla ngenxa yephunga elibi. Esikhundleni salokho, abantu bathukuthela bagane unwabu bese besifaka isibhaxu siphume endlini siklewula.
There is unsavoury response reaction to our country's interventions at the behest of SADC in Zimbabwe. Even in Zimbabwe and elsewhere, South Africa's stand is affirmed in resolving the tension and conflict in the country with the kind of diplomacy chosen by us in the interests not only of Zimbabwe and the region but also the whole of Africa.
Regime change, as postulated by certain Western powers and some tendencies within our own country, is not an option. The restoration of the democratic projects is the option. Peace and security, stability and social progress are the outcomes that we seek. This is the profile of our diplomatic option for both public and private.
Against this background, it is refreshing to note the MDC's position on the future of both Zimbabwe as a country and Mugabe as a leader. Working towards the objectivity of peace and stability in Zimbabwe, Mugabe must be accorded the honour of being the father figure of modernday Zimbabwe, regardless of the anticipated display by Britain in particular and some other tendencies that exist, including in particular those in our own country – South Africa.
We are fully aware that there are challenges in Zimbabwe – the socioeconomic problem in particular. The ANC Strategy and Tactics document further reflects upon the dominance of capitalism and how, through globalisation, the powerful actors, for example, developed countries and multinational companies, are able to exert their influence in the lives of many people and countries, especially in the developing world.
In pursuit of a myriad of economic and political interests, the dominant in the world, assisted by globalisation, engage in activities such as "the global war on terror" that may undermine global order and stability. The resultant negative effects of globalisation are found in the growing gap between the world's poorest countries and the world's richest countries. They are also found in problems such as the brain drain, where the developing world loses its skilled individuals to more developed countries. The system also deepens other challenges, such as the exploitation of female labour, trafficking in women and children, and poor representation of women in global positions of authority.
The nature of the international balance of forces is such that it fuels conflicts, exposes the people of the world to various forms of danger such as climate change, and also undermines the role of legitimate institutions such as the United Nations in fulfilling their mandate.
South Africa has no choice but to engage in this international system, informed by its history, which propels the country to seek to contribute to the creation of a better Africa in a better world.
In this climate of competing political interests and divergent views about how to solve the plethora of the world's challenges, the ability to effectively communicate one's foreign policy choices becomes paramount. This is equally important in the current juncture where access to information is easily made possible because of technological advancements, and it would often be those who possess the necessary economic means who may try to dictate the flow of information and influence international opinion on issues.
In this context, public diplomacy becomes an important tool to use to try and shape general global opinion as well as to specifically inform on foreign policy choices made. Importantly, public diplomacy is crucial in this context, as it enables the state to communicate on foreign policy choices, at times in the face of a hostile global environment.
Perhaps it would be a good thing for our Department of Foreign Affairs to embolden and sharpen the efforts for the establishment of a United Nations Parliamentary Assembly.
This would be complementary to our effort to give our public diplomacy added meaning. It would be people-centred and our public diplomacy would not be beholden to the national interests of nations or power relations between countries. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
END OF TAKE
Mr M P SIBANDE
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Let me thank Madam Speaker, Madam Deputy Speaker and all the presiding officers for the support and co-operation that we receive all the time, and in particular today. Let me also just raise my concern. It is not really possible to respond properly to all the various issues that have been raised in the time we have. If I had my way – but I don't have the money in my budget - I would suggest that we have a retreat with our portfolio committee and really discuss some of these issues in depth, because it is important for us to understand. Maybe we shall try at some stage to have a retreat.
Having said that, let me just start by responding to some of the sharp questions that were raised by the chairperson. Some of them, as I have already indicated, would belong to that retreat because they would need a lot of explanation and proper understanding.
But maybe just to take the Ramallah issue: I don't think it is accurate for our head of mission to say that they don't have operational funds. I have never received any complaints that they have run out of funds. If that is the case, we will remedy it. It is true that they might not have got what they asked for, just as I didn't get what I asked for, which is normal, but we will look at that.
I am also not aware of the racist pronouncements, because it has not been brought to my attention. So I will go back and investigate that. Clearly, government is a reflection of society. When there are racist people in society, you will find racist people in government as well. The point is, when it comes to our attention we must deal with it. Thank you for bringing it to our attention.
The last one that I will respond to - because we need more time to discuss the others - is the Iranian issue. Firstly, we must remind ourselves why Iran is in the spotlight, what had happened. We must also remind ourselves of our own policy. According to our own policy, we do not support nuclear weapons. We don't believe that any state should have nuclear weapons, full stop – whether it is the US, Iran, or whichever country. That is our policy.
Secondly, because that is our policy, for us it is important to know that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is adhered to, including nonproliferation, disarmament and access to technology for peaceful means. We have been defending the right of Iran to nuclear technology for peaceful means. That right always goes with obligations. We have been talking to Iran, saying that it is very important that they comply fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency, because it is only the IAEA which can tell us if there is no possibility of militarisation of the programme.
We have been telling them that it is very important to work fully with the IAEA. There was a time when they were not co-operating fully with the IAEA. We are therefore advising them to fully co-operate with the IAEA. This resolution was not the first one; it was actually a follow-up of a resolution that was passed last year. This time, yes, they has been more co-operation with the IAEA, which we welcome. But there are still unanswered questions, and we must also recall that this issue is where it is, because there was a time when Iran did not comply with the obligations towards the IAEA. Therefore, there is still a remaining question that needs to be answered so that everybody will be quite confident that that is a peaceful programme.
The chairperson said that we should have abstained. We did not think that abstaining was the right thing. Can I explain why, and you may agree or disagree?
We decided that we would like to influence that resolution, which we considered to be very critical. That resolution said that: "Once Iran has complied with all the IAEA obligations, then it must be treated equally like any other country." For us, that was important because if we didn't do that, they would not comply and everything would continue. For us, we were happy that once they have complied, they would then be removed from this watch list, if you like, and would be treated like any other country.
That is in line with our policy. It is not about whether it is for Iran or whichever country. It is our policy that we don't want nuclear weapons. We would like to support those who want to use nuclear technology, but they must adhere to the obligations that we all adhere to. That was the reason we voted for that resolution. As soon as they comply, you will see what we will do – once the IAEA says it is happy, we won't vote against Iran. That was our reason.
We did look at abstention. But if you abstain, nobody is going to take your amendment. If you want to influence things, you have to say, "OK, if I get this, then I can vote for the resolution." We thought it was more important for us to get that agreement that allows Iran to be treated normally, once they have complied, rather than to sit on the fence and wait for the Southeaster to shake us one way or the other. I thought I should just explain that one. If I had time, I would go through each one of them, but we don't have time. I could talk about cadets, public diplomacy, and all those things, but I think we will find time to talk about that.
I completely agree with you that we have to assist Lesotho. Government must assist Lesotho, I agree completely. If you look at our own record as Foreign Affairs, that's the point we have pursued. We will try and convince the rest of government to do so. We have no problem.
Commenting on cadets, and so on: we can take that on board, without going into details.
About the DRC, and so on, on the secondment, once government has approved the policy, we will let you know, not only because of your oversight responsibilities, but because we want all our citizens to know. It is not only government that can send people to those international organisations; other institutions can do so as well. Therefore, there should be a policy that is well-publicised.
Coming to the hon Leon, he did apologise that he had a book launch. We thought we would have finished by now. I did say to him that in terms of the briefings around the cyclone issues on Myanmar, there was no voting about whether there should be a briefing or not. The question was whether the briefing should be in ECOSOC, where all the UN membership can listen to it, or whether it should be in the Security Council, which would be exclusive.
So the majority felt that the situation in Myanmar is of interest to all the membership of the UN. Therefore, according to my understanding, the briefing did take place in ECOSOC on Friday, where all of the membership attended. I don't think we should come out of here thinking that we are as crazy as not wanting to talk about the cyclone in Myanmar. That's what it was.
On the question of human rights, I am very pleased that President Mandela, our hero, has been able to get the message to everybody about human rights. Even people who imprisoned him for 27 years for those views are now the priests of the crusade. I think it is "Viva!" to President Mandela and to the ANC that that had happened. [Interjections.]
I just wish that the concern about Zimbabwe was a genuine concern for the people of that country. I wish it was like that. If it was like that, I would really be with you. But between you and me, we know that it is not about that. [Interjections.]
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: It is not true. It is sincere. I'm telling you it is sincere. [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: If it was about that, even here in South Africa we wouldn't be sleeping. You would be knocking at our doors every day and asking why are there still people in plastics ... [Interjections.]
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: But, Minister, you are in government. We are not in government.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Yes, there are problems in Zimbabwe and nobody has ever denied that. [Interjections.] We have never denied that there are problems in Zimbabwe. [Interjections.] Are you going to listen, Sir?
Mr W J SEREMANE: Yes, I am listening.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Okay. [Interjections.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order, hon Minister! I think from the both sides of the House, we can do better than what we are doing. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: My daughter said to me: "Mommy, is it right for Members of Parliament to behave worse than us at school?" [Laughter.] [Interjections.] That is what they say.
Moulana M R SAYEDALI-SHAH: You are questionioning our motives, Madam Minister.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: What I was saying was: Nobody denies that there are problems in Zimbabwe. There are serious problems in Zimbabwe – the economy is experiencing serious problems and so on. I don't think anyone on this side is saying there are no problems. But I have not heard from that side, what you would do to solve the problems. I have heard about quiet diplomacy – something we have coined. Diplomacy by its very nature is quiet. But anyway, I have not heard any real solutions, saying, "Okay, Minister, let's sit and discuss. What should be a real solution?"
The people of Zimbabwe have gone to elections ... [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, is the hon Minister prepared to take a question? [Interjections.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I will take a question when I've finished what I want to say.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Okay. I just didn't want the members to answer on you behalf, because I'm sure you are able to do so! [Laughter.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: When I've finished what I have to say, if you still have a few moments ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Which I don't have, actually.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Then, the call is yours.
I am saying that I have never had a constructive discussion to say that we should do a, b, c, d.
Mr M J ELLIS: I have been asking if we could have a constructive discussion.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: But I hear through your apologists of Zimbabwe that we should be acting. I don't know whether we should be mobilising our army or something. I don't know.
Mr M J ELLIS: Will you give us that opportunity for a constructive discussion?
Mr W J SEREMANE: [Inaudible.]
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Because ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Seremane, you are not recognised. Minister, please conclude.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: If the opposition had real answers, they would have shared them with us. We are always here. Even this afternoon, I heard the complaints; I didn't hear suggestions. You have every opportunity to share them, and you didn't. [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: Madam Deputy Speaker, is the hon Minister sure she won't take questions?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, she doesn't have time to respond to any questions.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Madam Speaker, if I take a question, he must tell me how much profit he's got from the coffin business! [Laughter.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Well, that also I won't allow because it's not relevant to the budget. [Interjections.] The hon Minister has one minute to finalise. [Interjections.] Mr Ellis, please take your seat.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Hon Ellis, I worked with you very well in the Department of Health. I told you that I will answer at the end. Now, he is disturbing me, so what does he expect me to do, Madam Deputy Speaker?
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: And now you have less than a minute!
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: Well, if I have less than a minute it means they are poorer in getting their answers.
Let's talk about a proper meeting, not in this public gallery with media and everything else. We can then just sit and really talk and discuss, and maybe understand and get ideas. So, instead of answering here, I'm just giving you that responsibility between you and the director-general. He's looking down because I'm putting him into it! [Interjections.]
Mr M J ELLIS: We would welcome the opportunity.
The MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I would really love that. Thank you very much: I heard everything that was said, and we will discuss it at the directorate. Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon Holomisa, take you seat.
The Committee rose at 18:26.
END OF TAKE
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