Hansard: Appropriation Bill : Debate on Vote No 3 - International Relations & Cooperation (Foreign Affairs)
House: National Assembly
Date of Meeting: 17 Jun 2009
No summary available.
EPC – COMMITTEE ROOM: E249
Thursday, 18 June 2009
THURSDAY, 18 JUNE 2009
PROCEEDINGS OF EXTENDED PUBLIC COMMITTEE – COMMITTEE ROOM E249
Members of the Extended Public Committee met in Committee Room E249 at 14:01.
House Chairperson Mr M B Skosana, as Chairperson, took the Chair and requested members to observe a moment of silence for prayers or meditation.
Debate on Vote No 3 – Foreign Affairs
The MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION: Chairperson, members of the National Assembly, hon members of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation and the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations, members of the diplomatic corps, Acting UN Resident Representative, Dr Stella Anyangwe, comrades and friends, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen and fellow South Africans, in his state of the nation address, President Zuma identified the priorities of our government.
In that context, our President also articulated a vision of South Africa's role, taking cognisance of the fact that working together with the rest of the world we can do more to bring about global peace and prosperity. Our mandate as the Department of International Relations and Co-operation is to contribute to the realisation of this agenda.
I table this Budget Vote two days after the 33rd anniversary of June 16, 1976. Its heroes and heroines were inspired, amongst other things, by the vision of the Freedom Charter, whose 54th anniversary we will celebrate next week. This was motivated by what the Freedom Charter declared: "There shall be peace and friendship!" Thus, the presentation I make before you today is an attempt to contribute towards the realisation of this vision of the Freedom Charter.
Today we present the budget of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. This important decision of our government to change the name of the department speaks of the need for us to focus on partnerships and sustainable relations that will advance the interests of our country, contribute to the development of Africa and make the world a better place.
We have made a commitment that this will also be manifested soon through the creation of the SA Development Partnership Agency, Sapda. Work has started towards the realisation of this goal. We want the creation of this agency to take our work on development co-operation to greater heights in terms of its focus and its depth.
It is our firm conviction that South Africa's destiny is inextricably linked to our mother continent, and that working together with the sister people of the continent we will contribute towards a better Africa and a better world. Thus, as we begin this term of our government, we are called upon to redouble our efforts to seek peace, security and development for Africa. We believe that these are interlinked as we cannot hope for development without peace and security.
Ke ka gobane lešako la hloka thobela ke mojano. Ebile ntlo ya lerole ga e tswale kgoši. [This is because people take advantage if there is no established authority. And people don't think highly of people who fight all the time, or those who don't work together.]
We therefore wish to take this opportunity to stress the following pillars for our engagement with Africa.
The first is the strengthening of our regional integration. From the experience of other regions of the world, we have witnessed the benefits that come from strong regional integration where successful, regional integration has been closely associated with peace and development amongst other things. We seek the same for our beloved mother continent.
It is therefore imperative that we focus on the development and strengthening of SADC and the AU. Regional economic communities such as SADC are also key pillars for the broader continental integration. The AU cannot be strong if Africa's regional economic communities are weak. It is this perspective that forces us to work for greater cohesion and a stronger economic integration in our region. We have made advances in this regard, as evident from the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area in South Africa last year.
Of course, we know that the path to get into a fuller integration is not going to be smooth and easy. The challenge we are confronted with at the moment is the Economic Partnership Agreements, EPAs, that some of our regional members have signed with the European Union. We will continue to engage with EU countries together with countries in our region to see if we cannot focus on forging stronger economic integration rather than dividng ourselves through these EPAs.
We shall, on the other hand, continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe on the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement. We pledge to step up efforts to promote bilateral co-operation between our two countries. We also call upon the international community to lift sanctions and fully engage the government of Zimbabwe and help respond to the calls for help from the people of Zimbabwe to help them rebuild their country.
As SADC, we are also seized with the situation and challenges faced by our sister country, Madagascar. Tomorrow South Africa, together with the SADC Organ, will host the Troika, which is made up of Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola. This will be followed by an extraordinary summit on 20 June 2009, specifically to focus on how to restore durable peace in Madagascar.
At a continental level, we will continue to be fully engaged in the strengthening of the AU. We are prioritising our contribution to the important discussion on the question of the union government. This debate is drawn from the long-standing vision of some of our forebearers like Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and others, who wished to see a deeper unity on our continent. These forebears believed that the strength of Africa lay in our unity.
Tau tša hloka seboka di šitwa ke nare e hlotša. [We cannot achieve anything if we are divided.] It therefore behoves our generation to continue on the path of our forebears to work together to fight the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment on our continent.
We will also seek to enhance the work we have started in bringing closer alignment between SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Comesa, and the East African Community, EAC.
The stabilisation of our continent needs to be anchored in visible programmes of socioeconomic development. In this regard, we recognise that Nepad remains a key mechanism for the achievement of this socioeconomic development. Nepad programmes on infrastructure and food security, amongst other things, remain a priority for South Africa and African countries. Therefore, it is for this reason that we believe the implementation of Nepad programmes at all levels needs to be enhanced.
The second pillar for our African Agenda is to support peace, security, stability and postconflict reconstruction initiatives. We know from our own experience that the achievement of peace and stability can be a painstaking effort requiring patience and perseverance. However, we also know the dividends that come with peace. It is this understanding that has informed our co-operation with the sister countries of DRC, Burundi, Sudan, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Cote d'Ivoire and many others, as they seek to bring peace to their own countries. The peace dividend that all these countries seek is economic growth and development. We are enjoined to play our role in continuing with this important work.
South African men and women continue to serve in peacekeeping missions in various parts of our continent. We are proud of the role these patriots play. Thus we need to ensure that operations of the SADC Brigade, the strengthening of the regional peacekeeping training centre in Harare and the launch of the regional early warning centre in Gaborone also receive our focus.
The third pillar of our continental strategy is the strengthening of bilateral political and socioeconomic relations with countries on our continent. We enjoy strong bilateral relations with all the countries of the African continent. Through these partnerships, we wish to foster stronger political relations, people-to-people solidarity, trade, investments and tourism as we integrate our people. The department is doing an audit of these partnerships in order to identify ways in which we can strengthen them, focusing particularly on interventions necessary to promote intra-African trade in mutually beneficial and sustainable ways.
The evolution of our international relations policy has ushered in an era of trilateral co-operation, whose practical expression is also found in the developmental projects that South Africa is undertaking in various countries. We have several projects we are undertaking in third countries like Guinea-Conakry and Vietnam. These are very noble projects. We have the project of rice production for the population of Guinea-Conakry, and many others, that we are doing with India-Brazil-South Africa, IBSA, on other parts of the continent, including the Cuban Medical Brigade in Mali.
Of significance in 2009 is that South Africa and Nigeria will celebrate 10 years of our diplomatic relations. This is an important opportunity for us to evaluate the road travelled so far and seek together how we continue to strengthen these very important relations.
There can be no lasting peace on the African continent as long as the people of Western Sahara continue to suffer and live in conditions of occupation. We are convinced that urgent steps should be taken to cease colonisation in this sister country in line with UN processes.
As we seek more co-operation and the integration of our continent, we are convinced that Africa cannot only be defined by geography, but that we should also come together around a set of values that define our humanity. For this reason, the promotion of democracy, the respect for human rights and the improvement of governance are vital for our success as a continent. Indeed, we see progress being registered in all these areas throughout the continent.
In our own region, South Africa and Malawi have just concluded very successful democratic elections. These values are also supported by the principles of the AU, such as the continued rejection of unconstitutional changes of power. In this regard, another important structure on which we should focus is the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM. We will continue to popularise these progressive values to enhance the wellbeing of our continent.
During his address, the President of the country reiterated a need to work together with countries of the South, emphasising the importance of South-South co-operation. Our commitment to South-South co-operation is not only driven by our need to pursue stronger political relations with countries of the South, but by also focusing these relations towards advancing our domestic priorities.
This is about expanding the horizons of opportunities for our country. As we do this, we are also aware that there is growing recognition that emerging economies of the South will be key catalysts of global growth as we emerge from the current financial and economic crisis. We have to seek out and grasp opportunities that these countries of the South offer to our country.
We will be strengthening and consolidating our relations with the countries of IBSA. In October 2009, we will participate in the 4th IBSA Summit in Brazil. We will be working towards the implementation of the 20 bilateral agreements already signed in this trilateral initiative. Through IBSA, we plan to further increase the levels of trade to the target of US$25 billion by the year 2015 and to finalise modalities for IBSA outreach to other third countries.
We also have very special relationships with the countries of IBSA, in particular India and Brazil. With India we share strong historical ties, spanning through every stage of the evolution of the modern South Africa through the 20th century. Ours has been a relationship steeped in politics and struggle – satyagraha and ahimsa.
That is why we wish to congratulate the people of India for the manner in which they conducted their recently concluded elections, thereby once again confirming and entrenching the place of India as the largest democracy on earth. We owe it to our forebears to continue to enhance these very important relations. India also continues to work with us as we strive to train our youth for the challenges we have in skilling our youth for modern economy. We once again want to say to India, "Dhanyawaad". ["Thank you".]
Bilateral trade with Brazil, on the other hand, is also on the increase. Of course we are quite aware of the structural imbalances in the current trade with Brazil. It is tilting very much in their favour and it is for us to sit back and see how we correct this. But Brazil, on the other hand, has the largest concentration of Africans second only to Nigeria. It is a logical partner of our continent. We are encouraged by the increasing realisation of this fact by government and the people of Brazil.
Beyond IBSA, we are broadening our political and economic relations with countries of the South in general - Asia, Middle East and Latin America. It is from these expanding relations that South Africa seeks also to leverage support for our domestic priorities. For us to emerge out of these challenges of the global economic meltdown, we think we should look to south. Already some of the bigger investments in South Africa come from countries of the South.
We have also formed structured, bilateral relations using joint commissions with these countries, particularly Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. The countries of the Middle East in particular, in spite of the global economic crisis, continue to be a source of foreign direct investments, FDI, which we can access by leveraging huge resources in their sovereign wealth funds.
In 2008 we completed a successful celebration of our diplomatic relations with China. We will continue to engage with this very important partner to enhance both our political and economic ties. We will also be participating in the Shanghai Expo that will be taking place next year.
At the political level, our relations with countries of the South are critical. In addressing some of the global challenges we face today, we will continue to enhance these ties. Because of this reason and because of some historical reasons, we will also be attending the nonaligned summit in Egypt in July this year. South Africa will send a strong delegation to continue to work with the Non-Alignment Movement to seek to enhance political solidarity with countries of the South for the resolution of challenges faced by the world today. We shall do the same with the Group of 77 countries.
The second Africa-South America Summit is to be hosted by Venezuela in September 2009, which will also be a key event in the context of our pursuit of South-South co-operation. The summit aims to expand knowledge amongst countries of South America and Africa and to continue to work together to see how together we can work towards the alleviation of poverty in our countries and encourage the exchange of information and experiences, as well as work collectively on matters of mutual interest, especially in the fields of sustainable development, and exchange the technological know-how in science, technology and culture.
South Africa remains extremely concerned with the lack of progress in the Middle East peace process. We would want to reiterate, once again, that we think the solution to this lies in the two-state solutions. We are also encouraged by the statements made by President Barack Obama and also his overtures to the two-state solutions, thus reiterating our long held view on the correctness of this approach.
We've also stated the importance that our government attaches to our relations with the developed countries of the North. We believe that we remain a key catalyst, if not a bridge, between North and South. In September 2009, we will host the South Africa-European Union Summit. This is the second summit since the launch of the strategic partnership between the EU and South Africa. It is important that our European partners should support the development focus of our regional integration. Therefore, we'll make use of this opportunity to reiterate our concerns around the Economic Partnership Agreement processes.
This year marks the centenary relations celebration with Japan. This affords us an opportunity to reflect on how to better focus on our partnership in trade, development and investment. We shall continue to strengthen our bilateral relations with Russia through our structured co-ordination framework of Itec.
Our bilateral relations with North America and the US, in particular, is key. In this regard we will continue to explore ways of deepening the political relations between South Africa and the US. We have noted the various policy pronouncements by the new administration in which they express an intention to engage with the world, ourselves in South Africa, but also with the challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe. South Africa welcomes this trajectory.
Our foreign policy will always be informed by our strong belief in the multilateral systems of global governance. It has been through the multilateral system that we have always come together to address the many challenges that confront the world today. At no time has this co-operation under the multilateral system been more important than it is today. Nations of the world have to come together to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis. We have to take action with others to address climate change. Indeed, these are among the urgent priorities that we will address this year in our multilateral engagements.
We shall do so in the all the other forums we will be attending, including the G20. The G20 Summit taking place in September hopefully will be an occasion of taking stock of progress in implementation of all these processes.
We also support the actions taken by the UN to address the financial crisis. We believe that the UN will allow all other nations of the world, who are not necessarily members or part of G20, also to have an avenue to participate and voice their opinions on the global crisis.
The international community will gather in Copenhagen in December 2009 to look at steps that need to be taken to address climate change. We will participate vociferously in this because we believe that Copenhagen should be able to address the concerns of our people. We will have an opportunity to address these issues through an engagement also with the G8 Summit taking place during the course of this year.
South Africa has been a member of the UN Security Council. We have alluded to all these other important organisations that we are members of where we'll be enhancing South Africa's international stature.
We want to take this opportunity to say that we'll continue to enhance our diplomatic work abroad, depending on the men and women our diplomats posted around the world, to work for a better South Africa.
We will participate vociferously in enhancing and propagating Mandela Day and all our missions will take a lead in propagating this day and doing something good for humanity on that particular day.
I wish to take this opportunity to pay tribute to both my predecessors, the late Minister Nzo and Minister Dlamini-Zuma for the sterling work they did in strengthening and putting down good foundations for our country around the world.
I also want to take this opportunity to thank my two deputies, hon Ebrahim Ebrahim and Sue van der Merwe, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation, hon Gamede, the Director-General and all the team, International Relations and Co-operation and in particular, my family.
I would like to make a call to nonstate actors - all South Africans, business, analysts and journalists - to join us in building brand "South Africa", outside South Africa. Working together with all our people we can do more. I therefore present our Budget as tabled. Thank you.
Mr T W NXESI / END OF TAKE
The MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Let me remind the members of this long-held convention that we need to respect. That is, we are not allowed to cross the line. In this case, I refer to the space between the Minister and the Chair or it could be Mr Ellis on this side. Generally, it means that if there's a speaker, the Chair does not cross that space. Therefore, we don't allow the crossing of the line. I'm just reminding members to abide by it since it happened earlier on.
Mr T W NXESI: Thank you, Chairperson.
The HOUSE CHAIRPERSON (Mr M B Skosana): Hon member, just hold on. Do you have a chair there? Can you sit down, hon member. Can you continue, hon Nxesi.
Mr T W NXESI: Chairperson, members of the Cabinet, hon members of the NA, the members of the Portfolio Committee, members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen and fellow South Africans,
let me start by congratulating the Minister of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, Dico, for a comprehensive and a forward looking speech that sets the ambitious agenda for the coming session and beyond. But before I move on, allow me to digress for a moment.
As a new member of this House and, specially since I'm nominated as the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, I have been asking these questions: What is my role here? What is the role of the portfolio Committee in relation to the department? Yes, I'm aware of the oversight role we are to play and I'm inspired by the injunction from President Zuma to hold ministers to account. But what does that mean in practice?
For enlightment, I turned to the Sunday Times newspaper, particularly an analysis of the state of the nation address in the City Press on 7 June 2009 which quotes the political analyst, Chris Landsberg, on foreign affairs, and I quote:
It's an institutionalised strategic and policy legacy; even if you want to change it radically you can't.
Now, I'm worried - no radical change is possible? A commentator I greatly respect, Professor Sipho Seepe, supports this view by saying, "Differences, now, are about style and not policy."
As hon members of this House, I think we need to question this conclusion; otherwise we will become the rubberstamp that President Zuma warned against. To this end, I'm going to make two propositions which I table for debate and comments: Firstly, Parliament and the Portfolio Committee, in particular, need to play a role in facilitating a debate on foreign policy issues to foster public understanding and awareness and to provide a platform for solidarity and civil society to raise issues of concern.
Secondly, our understanding of international relations will be enriched by the greater knowledge of the social structures of the countries that we interact with so that we assume a departure away from international relations being the strict preserve of the ruling elites, academia and diplomatic community, and that we integrate other interested parties and stakeholders.
This needs to be democratised and transformed. For example, we all hailed Nepad as a progressive policy, which sought place Africans in charge of their own economic destiny. It was a massive step forward from the neoliberal dependency model that preceded it. But the South African and the African trade union movement raised questions: Where was the input from the civil society organisations and labour? The economic model underlying Nepad looked uncomfortably close to that of neoliberalism. We never debated that and today neoliberalism is in crisis.
It has been noted, albeit with great concern, that African development initiatives, including Nepad tend to rely heavily on assistance from external partners that do not have an obligation towards the AU. This means that such initiatives may suffer should the partners decide to shift their priorities. Assistance from our international partners is welcomed provided that it does not come with conditions. Our aim should be to avoid the legacy of the disastrous policies akin to the structural adjustment programmes that left many African countries poor and with weak governing structures.
As South Africans we benefited greatly from the solidarity of the rest of the world who were appalled by the racist oppression that prevailed under apartheid. Anti-apartheid movements, the trade unions, faith and civil society organisations moved by our common humanity and pressured their government to take a progressive stance. In this way, they were often assisted by the political parties, legislatures and parliamentary committees in other countries. I think we have been sometimes been slow to show the same kind of solidarity – that is, basic humanity – that we benefited from. I definitely see a role, here, for the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation in promoting what I call a mass-based, activist approach to international relations and international solidarity.
Let me also say that it is dangerous to exclude the masses from our debate on international relations. Yes, economic deprivation was a root cause of the xenophobia outbreak last year. Yes, delayed responses in managing the influx of foreign nationals was a contributory factor. But I also feel that the absence of a public debate and understanding on immigration set the scene for the xenophobic catastrophe last year.
In raising these debates, the portfolio Committee has an important to play in combating racism and xenophobia and the implementation of the recommendation from the World Conference against Racism, Xenophobia and other forms of Discrimination.
Let us start right now by celebrating the decade-long interaction between the workers of South Africa and the rest of the sub-continent, which underpinned the mining industry and the economic development of South Africa. Let us remember that the leader of South Africa's massive Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, ICU, in the 1920s was Clement Kadalie. He was a Malawian.
My second proposition is that South Africa's foreign policy since 1994, crudely stated, was short on class analysis. Let me pause and pay tribute to the principles that have guided this country's foreign policy since democracy.
We have boldly stated a progressive position, anti-imperialist and anticolonialist; support for the nonalignment and noninterference; respect for the sovereignty of nations and an agenda for the African empowerment and development. But if we don't recognise the social divisions within nations, we run the risk of siding with the elites against those who are oppressed.
Let me give an example I'm very familiar with as the President of the Education International, the worldwide teachers' body. In Ethiopia, today, 200 000 teachers are denied the right to join they trade union of their choice. The Independent Ethiopian Teachers Association, Eta, formed in 1949, has been systematically repressed since 1993. Its assets were seized and handed to a progovernment group. Leaders and members of the Eta have been imprisoned, tortured and assassinated. Despite complaints from the ILO, there has been little protest from the African leaders. Currently, two individuals are still detained, Wubit Legamo and Meqcha Mengistu. During the torturing process, Wubit lost her five-months-old foetus.
Hon members, African countries must openly embrace the African Peer Review Mechanism and strictly abide by its recommendations. We cannot go into conferences and conventions and we sign them, but it becomes an irony of on what is happening in our countries. This will eventually allow for open debates on where the headquarters of our continental organisations should be.
It is our duty to raise these uncomfortable questions even with our own executive. Our Constitution is founded on the principle of respect for human rights. We need to empahsise that workers' rights are also human rights. Let me take forward this train of thought: As a result of South Africa's relatively strong economic position on the continent, South African companies have expanded rapidly into the rest of the continent, bringing jobs and investment.
A less charitable interpretation is that South African capital acts as a sub-imperialist power on the continent in pursuit of profit at any cost. Can I suggest that this house needs to be developing a code of conduct for such companies, so that they respect labour and human rights while acting in partnership with other countries to promote sustainable and socially responsible development.
The Shell company was recently embarrassed by its activities in Nigeria. South African companies should learn from that.
As this Legislature, I believe we have recently come down heavily on the side of promoting peace and democracy on the continent. Let me quote from the ANC 2008 briefing document on foreign affairs:
In reality, a symbiotic relationship exists between armed conflicts and economic poverty. Where armed conflict is widespread, economic poverty is exacerbated and sustainable development becomes impossible. In countries where poverty increases, the risk of instability and violence grows which means that poverty and underdevelopment are nothing less than a threat to democracy, peace and stability. This is because these economic realities generate conflict between individuals, communities and even countries.
Let me quote from the concluding remarks of President Obama's recent speech in Egypt, when he said:
The Talmud tells us: "The whole of the Torah is for the purposes of promoting peace."
The Holy Bible tells us: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."
However, we will not be able to move towards finding lasting peace throughout the globe under the current global governance. It is our duty to ensure that we foster a world where there is universal respect for human rights; where international security, development and adherence to international law are actively promoted.
The debate, as you correctly said, Minister, on the reform of the UN and in particular the UN Security Council, has been going on for a while now without any significant movement. It is understood that it is a great challenge to force change from above as countries that hold the veto power in the UN Security Council are reluctant to change the rules of the game.
Hon members, I thank you for your indulgence as I've digressed long enough. To return to the Minister's speech, let me comment briefly on the proposed SA Development Partnership Agency, which is crucial, I believe, to strengthening the African agenda.
As South Africans and Africans, for too long we've been passive recipients of aid, often with conditions attached. It is with pride that I look forward to the day that, as South Africans, we become net exporters of development aid.
I believe that this development reflects our commonly held belief that the economic wellbeing of this country is inextricably linked with the development of the continent at large. In particular, I believe that we have an obligation to assist in the development of the Frontline States and the neighbouring states, which sacrificed so much in the fight against the apartheid regime.
Let us remember those who died; let us remember the raids launched from this country by the racist apartheid army on Lesotho, Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Mozambique, during which innocent people were butchered in their sleep. Those countries suffered in defence of our cause, even economically.
The agency, clearly, has a role to play in expediting the implementation of the co-operation agreements, not only with our neighbouring states, but also with the rest of our development partners, especially in the South. We hope that this will lead to the wider regional development and contribute to sustained peace that will be the foundation for building democratic societies.
South Africa should broadly seek to strengthen bilateral relations with the African states at all levels of interaction, including at grassroots level. South Africa should seek to build bridges with the fellow African states and work with other countries to mitigate the effects of the food crisis that has been exacerbated by the global economic meltdown.
In this regard, government should forge strong partnerships with the country's nongovernmental organisations, particularly those that work in the humanitarian sector and engage them on the ways to lend assistance to other countries by, amongst other things, forming alliances with their counterparts in those countries.
Government is obliged to work with civil society through commitments made under Nepad and the Peer Review Mechanism. I'm very concerned by the R10 million cut in the programme for public diplomacy. This country needs to continue promoting its values, policies and image. This has become even more necessary during the current economic crisis with all its attendant political risks.
Since 1994, this country has been prominent in the call for the support of international peace and multilateralism. The signs are positive. Obama's presidency has sent out clear signals that it wishes to turn away from the unilateralism of the previous administration.
There's a new spirit abroad; a respect for the peoples of the different cultures and faiths. As South Africans, I believe we can identify with this spirit and we need to support these developments. Of course, we should always be mindful of the continuing threat from corporate elites that dominate the world economy.
Our role must be anchored, I repeat, in human rights, solidarity, peace and democracy. It should also be based on mutual respect and human rights, not just expanding markets and profits.
I want to send out a word of caution to those who have objections to relations between South Africa and China. Our co-operation with China is underpinned by our commitment to strengthening South-to- South relations and to the consolidation of the African agenda. China is also a partner in efforts ...
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Hon member, unfortunately, your speaking time has expired.
Mr T W NXESI: With those words, I want to recommend, on the basis of the Minister's speech and her programme, that we vote for this budget. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Mr K S MUBU / END OF TAKE
Mr T W NXESI
Mr K S MUBU: Chairperson, hon Minister, hon Deputy Ministers, members of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation and hon members present here, since 1994 South Africa has become an increasingly important player on the international stage. This is thanks to our wonderful Constitution, which promotes respect for human rights and the rule of law.
That our foreign policy is premised on this is certainly not by accident but a deliberate effort to reflect this internationally-admired Constitution in all our international dealings. This, therefore, means that the promotion and protection of human rights should be the cornerstone of all our international relations. Their advancement should be the fundamental guide in determining who should be our diplomatic partners.
In 1994, former President Nelson Mandela observed, and I quote:
South Africa's future foreign relations will be based on our belief that human rights should be the core concern of international relations.
He added that -
South Africa will not be indifferent to the rights of others. Human rights will be the light that guides our foreign affairs.
However, hon Minister, our foreign policy has sometimes come under serious scrutiny because we have allowed ambiguity to set in in its interpretation. The Dalai Lama issue and the continuing Zimbabwe saga are some of the examples.
When we allow these mixed messages to go out that we do not walk the talk, we therefore put our international image and reputation at risk and we lose the admiration of those nations that have come to hold us in high esteem for our respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Why is it, therefore, that we have failed to speak out loudly on the abuse of human rights in some of the countries with which we enjoy diplomatic relations, like China, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and Sudan? Is this for political or economic reasons?
Under the previous administration, South Africa's foreign policy systematically shifted away from the core purpose of protecting and promoting human rights, to excusing those who undermined them and protecting those who abused them.
The recent proposal, for example, by President Jacob Zuma to grant amnesty to African dictators and despots in exchange for their stepping down raises the question of the principle of accountability by African leaders.
It is unfortunate that President Zuma has not used the opportunity to draw a line in the sand and set down a marker – just as President Mandela did – that South Africa will strive to be the champion of human rights in Africa and abroad and that we will do everything in our power to ensure better democratic practices on our continent is observed.
Furthermore, our role at the UN has been tainted by a number of decisions which blocked the international condemnation of countries that are known to abuse the human rights of their own people - the four examples that were given earlier.
Chairman, over the years we have seen a worrying trend whereby our citizens have been caught on the wrong side of the law in foreign countries, particularly while dealing in drugs and other illicit activities.
This has rendered our travel documents to be viewed with scorn, disrespect and suspicion in many countries. As a result, many genuine South African passport holders when travelling abroad are met with hostility, particularly in the Northern Hemisphere countries.
It is therefore important that we safeguard our international reputation and image among the international community of countries by protecting our own national travelling papers.
Chairman, another worrying trend has been the recent reports of simmering tensions between South Africans and immigrants in some communities. Just over a year ago, we saw disturbing images of foreigners being attacked, chased from their homes and their possessions destroyed in what has come to be known as xenophobic attacks.
As we get close to the 2010 World Cup, we cannot afford to have a repeat of these shameful events that made many of us hang our heads in shame. In just a year's time South Africa will be host to thousands of visitors. If we allow this to happen again, we run the risk of many people thinking twice about visiting our wonderful country. We should not forget the hospitality that many of our people, including some of our leaders, received in many African countries during the dark days of apartheid.
Chairman, it is also common knowledge that South Africa has become a hiding place for some international criminals and fugitives who are on the run from their own countries and from the long arm of the law. I think that we have a responsibility to co-operate with international law enforcement agencies in other countries to hand these criminals over to the authorities in their countries so that they can face the full might of the law.
Some of these people have brought their ill-gotten wealth to our country and have invested in plush homes and properties in this country. Among those who have snapped up prime properties in this country are known African dictators and tyrants who have purchased these properties with stolen funds. Here again we have a responsibility to require that these people do account on how they acquired the funds they are investing in this country.
South Africa has one of the best universities on this continent – I say this because I am also from that background. It is therefore natural that we attract thousands of students to our shores.
However, among those students are children of some of Africa's dictators who come here at the expense of their own people. While their own educational systems are falling apart because of underfunded higher education institutions, these children come here to enjoy and receive first-class education funded by ill-gotten funds.
With regard to our African Agenda, hon Minister, we have noted with pride the very important role our country has played and continues to play in conflict resolution, postconflict reconstruction, peace-keeping and economic development support rendered to many countries on our continent. Of course, a lot still needs to be done in this regard.
At the same time, we have also noted the contribution that our country still continues to make to the AU, the SADC and other regional initiatives. In a number of cases, South Africa has in fact made much more significant contributions to many of these initiatives than any other country on the continent.
This is clearly understood; in view of the fact that, of course, we are relatively in a better economic position than many countries on the continent. But, Madam Minister, we should be careful not to fall into the trap of being regarded as Big Brother on the continent and to suffer from the Big Brother syndrome in our efforts to contribute to these initiatives.
Finally, we would like to see a more open and coherent foreign policy that is applicable in equal measure among all our diplomatic partners, regardless of what the ruling party or the government might be deriving out of such a relationship. We should not shy away from condemning the blatant violation of human rights wherever this might be happening. I thank you. [Applause.]
Mr L S NGONYAMA/ END OF TAKE
Mr K S MUBU
Mr L S NGONYAMA: Chair, hon Minister, members of the House, members of the Diplomatic Corps, and South Africans, South Africa's foreign policy has had an impressive start from 1994. With clear principles and norms underpinning our regional and global relations, some of the most notable achievements include contributing towards the establishment of the African Union and its socioeconomic programme, namely the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Nepad, commitment to economic development through regional integration in the Southern African Development Community, SADC, region, as well as within the context of the Southern African Customs Union, SACU, the establishment and the sourcing of the Pan-African Parliament, commitment to peacemaking and conflict prevention, promotion of international peace and security, democratisation within the continent and the role that South Africa played in various multilateral fora.
Recently, there are two distinct elements that have emerged strongly within the South African foreign policy: the Africa Agenda and South-South co-operation. Underpinning this focus is recognition that South Africa cannot enjoy prosperity whilst surrounded by a sea of poverty in its neighbourhood, as was articulated by the first Minister of Foreign Affairs in South Africa, the late Alfred Nzo. The Congress of the People believes that contributing to Africa's development is an expression of the so-called enlightened self-interest in that it generates mutual beneficial outcomes and creates conditions for balanced development. In the long run, growth and development in Africa will provide an important market for South Africa. The political ties that we have cultivated in the continent during the past 15 years need to be nurtured and strengthened. Thus, COPE is of the view that the Africa Agenda should be the centrepiece of our foreign policy.
However, Madam Chair, there are gaps that we have observed. First, there is no clear sense of prioritisation, within the context of the African Agenda, of countries in the department as to how the Department of International Relations and Co-operation sets out to pursue the African Agenda. It is not immediately evident where South Africa intends to make the most impact. South Africa cannot continue to spread itself thinly throughout the continent. It has to identify strategy partners and countries so that it can leverage its support and ensure that it pumps in its resources around those strategy partners within the continent.
The second one is the African Agenda. It seems to be devoid of a sharply pointed commercial strategy that delineates South Africa's economic interests as defined by our domestic development framework and industrial policies. There is a very strong emphasis on political relations at the expense of meaningful commercial engagement. We are calling for a balanced approach between those two areas.
So much energy has been spent by South Africa on ensuring that we build peace within the continent and in ensuring that we reconstruct countries during the postconflict period. However, we have failed to capitalise on our political investments for commercial gain for fear of being rendered as hegemonic or neocolonialist. Instead, other external countries are benefiting at the expense of our sweat and our labour.
Yes, I agree entirely with the hon Minister on the question of the Economic Partnership Agreements, EPAs. It is, indeed, a very important and a strategic question that we need to address as South Africa. However, we must address it as a matter of priority, because it is weakening the political influence of South Africa within the region. It is also weakening South Africa's influence in so far as the major markets and within the continent. Therefore, it is important that the department comes up with a clearly worked roadmap in this regard; a roadmap which sets out regional integration and major important areas that we need to focus on in ensuring that we remain a very strong player within the region.
The third area is engaging within the SACU context. Our view is that South Africa needs to forestall this possibility by engaging the countries that have signed the EPA: Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. It is clear that these countries are now drifting towards the European Union, EU, and its influence, and we have to find a way of engaging with them and to solidify and ensure that the goals of the regional integration are not missed.
We have to send a very strong message to the EU. South Africa needs to send this about the aggressive manner in which it has negotiated the EPA and which has opened up deep divisions in the region and placed SACU on the brink of collapse. We have to find a way of ensuring that, and we send this message very clearly. Perhaps it may be necessary for us to start engagement within the context of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Comesa, to strengthen our position.
On South-South co-operation, South Africa has also made the correct observation that the new gravity of power lies with major developing powers such as China, Brazil and India. Given the dynamic changes in the global economy and the challenges that these pose, one would expect that by now there would be a well-defined strategic approach to engaging with these countries.
Accordingly, Cope would like to note the following points. There is a glaring omission on how we should engage with China, given its economic weight and the potential threat that it poses, both in our domestic economy and in contesting the African markets. We believe that there should be a differentiated approach to the South. Such an approach should take into view different countries' economic weights and commercial interest. We cannot afford to enter these relations blindly.
We believe there is a need for well-defined linkages in the South-South strategy and the African Agenda, which, at the present moment, is not well articulated. We agree with the department and the Minister on the issue of Zimbabwe that we need to be much more vocal on our call for the lifting of economic sanctions by Western countries against the government of Zimbabwe, to enhance speedy recovery from the socioeconomic crisis that is threatening the stability of the region.
On the issue of Sudan, we are of the mind that we need to give support to the AU Panel on Darfur that works for peace and to a genuine two state solution in the Middle East. We are of the view that the Western Sahara issue is a long-standing issue that has to be dealt with as a matter of priority, because this has been put on the backburners of international debates. This is really very important. Thank you. [Applause.]
Mr M B SKOSANA/ END OF TAKE
Mr L S NGONYAMA
Mr M B SKOSANA: I would have given the hon member injury time. Chairperson, hon Ministers, hon members, the IFP congratulates Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the honour bestowed upon her by her appointment as the Minister in the new Department of International Relations and Co-operation. In the same breath, we welcome the two Deputy Ministers and also the new chairperson of the portfolio committee.
Due to my long association with the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, I am tempted to say, Minister, you have also inherited an excellent team of men and women who have always endeavoured to be the best in what they do. The hon Minister recently indicated to this portfolio committee that the international financial and economic contraction was making a huge impact on the delivery capacity of the department on pronounced governmental priorities, as articulated in the state of the nation address of 2009.
A serious plea from some of us is that the African Agenda be spared any significant cuts. South Africa has a historical and moral obligation to assist in the culmination of the Third World Project, bequeathed to Africa through the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900, the League against Imperialism and Colonialism in Brussels in 1927, the Bandung Principles of 1955 and the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity in Cairo of 1957.
The Third World agenda was, and still is, the pursuit of freedom, justice, peace, democracy and development. Therefore, this African liberation project is not complete.
Hon Minister, the IFP welcomes Programme 3 on Public Diplomacy, in particular the focus on the domestic sphere. Too often when it is mentioned that the President was responsible for South Africa's foreign policy, the public is left with the impression of a state-centric foreign policy dictated exclusively by the President and a small elite. Therefore, diplomatic workshops, conferences and public meetings are absolutely necessary to involve the South African public in the process of foreign policy formulation.
Often, Minister, in international trade relations, countries that wield the most economic muscle write the rules of trade. That is a fact. It is like the dictum that the one who controls the economy and the finances controls also the political state. It was, therefore, not accidental that South Africa shared the same predicament with the Republic of China, when it came to the visit of the Dalai Lama to South Africa. It was a classic case of the dictates of economic dominance and dependence. Here exists, Madam Speaker, a vexed universal question: that of promoting the culture of human rights within a chaotic atmosphere of relations between States.
In conclusion, while the US and the quartet led by the former Prime Minister of Britain, Mr Tony Blair, work to persuade Israel to accept and actively support a truly independent and sovereign Palestinian state, South Africa should concentrate on bringing about the unity and the co-operation of the Palestinian people. At the moment, Madam Minister, they are in disarray. This factionalism is an impediment to successful political negotiations with Israel. The IFP supports this Budget Vote. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION / END OF TAKE
Mr B M SKOSANA
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION(Mr Ebrahim Ismael Ebrahim): Hon Chairperson, hon members of the Assembly, members of the Diplomatic Corps, it has often been said that foreign policy is the art of the possible, which makes foreign relations the means by which we intend to achieve our goals. Our approach to international relations over the next five years will be driven by the need to deliver to the masses of our people what is at the core of our national interest.
Given that the gap between the rich and poor is wider in our country than in any other, it is all the more imperative that our foreign policy priorities reflect our domestic agenda. While actively pursuing our national interests, we will also place greater emphasis on human rights issues and the promotion of political solutions to violent conflicts around the world.
To achieve these objectives, the main priority of our government in implementing its international relations will be the consolidation of the African agenda. We will focus on deepening political and economic continental integration, strengthening bilateral relations with strategic countries, resolving civil conflicts peacefully, and preventing gross violations of human rights. Beyond the African continent, our foreign relations will focus on strengthening South-South co-operation by building on our strategic alliances with India, Brazil, and China.
We will capitalise on the good relations we have with countries of the Middle East to bolster trade, while at the same time supporting the motive forces in the region seeking democratic change and justice for the Palestinians. We will also continue to further North-South co-operation, particularly within the context of the G20. As committed multilateralists, we will sustain our robust engagement in multilateral forums, while pushing for the reform of the UN and the international financial institutions.
As a department we owe a debt of gratitude to our former Foreign Affairs Ministers, Mr Alfred Nzo and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and her Deputy Mr Aziz Pahad, who over many years laid a solid foundation for our international relations, and positioned our country as a significant regional power and an important member of the global south. Without their leadership and foresight we would not be the force on the international stage that we are today.
Under the experienced stewardship of our President Jacob Zuma, and our new Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, we intend to capitalise on the gains made and steer our country towards new heights in the pursuit of a moral foreign policy that makes a better life for all South Africans its first priority.
In order to build an environment in which socioeconomic development can take place, both in South Africa and the region, we need to ensure greater levels of human security for our people. Our understanding of human security is the freedom from want and the freedom from fear. One of the ways to address the pervasive lack of human security on our continent is to promote peace and stability by resolving ongoing violent conflicts.
Confronting the tragedy of our continent's conflicts brings a certain image to mind – that of a little girl in Darfur. She walks hand in hand with a doctor from Doctors Without Borders, her naked body so thin and frail that she can barely support her own structure. She hasn't eaten for days, she has been raped and her family destroyed after her village burnt to the ground after the effects of a scorched earth policy had been exacted. This is the reality of our children, our African children, in some of the most neglected corners of our continent. It is such children that wait very patiently for us to say something, do something, while we talk of the African Renaissance.
As South African policy-makers we have made these sacrifices out of our commitment to reverse the image of Africa as a continent fraught with endless bloodletting. We have made these contributions as we believe that Africa is the place of endless possibilities, a continent rich in human potential and untapped natural resources, a continent rich in culture and history, a place that can regain its soul once the guns fall silent.
Ultimately we have witnessed the dividends of peace in Burundi; we have watched a new democratic dispensation emerge in the DRC that has developed new levels of co-operation with its neighbour Rwanda.
Peace agreements between North and South Sudan still hold as the country prepares for national elections early next year. Our efforts, and those of other peace-loving nations within the AU, have borne fruit. We will strive to consolidate peace and postcolonial reconstruction in those countries emerging from war, and assist the AU to forge new and sustainable peace processes where peace has so far been elusive, such as in Darfur and Madagascar.
South Africa's central involvement in the resolution of the long-standing conflict in Sudan will continue in order to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, CPA. We also need to play a more direct role in bringing peace to Darfur, a conflict that does not fall within the parameters of the CPA.
The ongoing human rights violations being committed against civilians in Darfur and the worsening humanitarian crisis are of such a magnitude that we cannot afford to dissociate ourselves from this ongoing conflict. Failure to address the root causes of conflict in Darfur could ultimately lead to the unravelling of the CPA.
We cannot confine our conflict resolution to Africa alone. As our Freedom Charter of 1955 stated:
We strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of international disputes by negotiations not war.
Many warring parties around the world have sought, and continue to seek, South Africa's assistance in bringing protagonists to the table, and sharing with them the South African experience in conflict resolution.
Some of us have responded to the calls for intervention in places like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Kosovo, Bolivia, Northern Ireland, and Palestine. It is an honour to share our lessons learned and make suggestions as to how our experience can be adapted to different conflict theatres – this is part of our progressive internationalism. We must continue to play this role internationally as it is part of a unique niche that we have carved for ourselves, emanating from our specific historical experience.
The conflagration in the Middle East is of particular concern, as tension continues to escalate between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its neighbours. The situation on the ground has dramatically deteriorated, and we are now facing a situation where there is an escalation as opposed to a scaling back or dismantling of illegal Israeli settlements.
Palestinian water sources and agricultural land are being annexed at an unparalleled rate. The recent disproportionate use of force by the Israeli security forces against the civilian population of Gaza has only served to further inflame the passions of those seeking to establish a Palestinian state.
While the region welcomed the statement made in Cairo by President Barack Obama, which advocated forward movement on the peace process, the recent statement by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has destroyed the hope of many in the region for a speedy resolution to the conflict.
We acknowledge our limited ability to significantly alter the conflict dynamics, but we will continue to advocate for an immediate return to peace negotiations that is inclusive of all stakeholders ... [Interjections.] [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr H T MAGAMA/ END OF TAKE
THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
Mr H T MAGAMA: Chairperson, hon members, hon Minister and Deputy Ministers, directors-general and your delegations, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, indeed I stand here today daunted by the prospect of delivering, what I understand from the old guard, to be my maiden speech, an experience in intensity only second to the feeling of gratitude, honour and privilege of serving my people in this Fourth Democratic Parliament.
Africa is my home, Africa is our home, and consolidating the African agenda is our responsibility. The ANC proceeds from the premise that there can be no prosperity and stability in South Africa when there is strife, abject poverty, war, conflict, instability and underdevelopment in Africa.
Former Foreign Affairs Minister Ntata Alfred Nzo warned the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs on 14 May 1994 that the notion that South Africa could go it alone, separate from the rest of the continent, was outright hazardous. Furthermore, it has been established that a self-sustaining and parasitic relationship exists between economic poverty and armed conflict. Where armed conflict is indeed widespread, economic poverty is entrenched and sustainable development becomes impossible, as alluded to by my chairperson earlier. Thus, instability and violent conflict undermine development, destroy infrastructure, reduce trade and investment, and spread malnutrition and disease.
Spending by a country in conflict is actually diverted away from economic and human development to security and armaments. Lack of stability and security lead to disinvestment and what is termed "the flight of capital" which, in turn, results in unemployment, poverty and underdevelopment.
To this end, the ANC, consistent with its internationalist traditions derived from the Freedom Charter, which provides that South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and to settle all international disputes by negotiations, has indeed committed itself to working together with other countries, especially in Africa, to fight the scourge of hunger, disease, conflict and underdevelopment.
The principles and policy positions articulated in the department's strategic plan for 2009 to 2012 aptly capture this strategic task in the following manner, and I quote:
We are committed to promoting South Africa's national interests and values, the African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all.
It is within the broad confines of this mission statement that our international relations policy on Africa must find practical expression. Consolidating the African agenda correctly remains at the top of the department's strategic plan, as articulated in the President's state of the nation address.
This, then, concisely sums up South Africa's perspective of herself and how she relates to Africa in particular and the world in general. We are South Africans, Africans in the first instance and members of the global community of nations.
The ANC has consistently stated that without peace, stability and prosperity in Africa, South Africa could never be at peace. This is a necessary precondition for our long-term sustainable development. In this context, South Africa has made various contributions to processes that are aimed at bringing about peace, democracy, security and economic development within the spirit and mandates of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, with specific reference to the preamble, and to articles 3 and 4 of the Act.
The mainstay of South Africa's engagement in the resolution of conflict is premised on multilateralism, and we make our contribution through multilateral fora, such as the African Union, the United Nations and other regional bodies collectively and severally. It is therefore important that we continue to support and further strengthen forums, such as SADC, and consolidate our strategic alliances such as SADC, Comessa, and the East African Community Tripartite Alliance.
The fundamental contradictions of Africa's backwardness, abject poverty, disease and superexploitation of both human and material resources, as articulated in Nepad, remain the grim reality of our continent.
The ANC therefore remains committed to the reversal of Africa's fortunes. It continues to be a struggle, albeit in different terrain, which must be waged with relentless ferocity with the same vigour, zeal, zest and oomph with which we defeated the apartheid monster.
Central to the attainment of our noble objectives of advancing the African agenda, is indeed the popularisation of Nepad and it's being rooted amongst ordinary South Africans. This will go a long way in supporting other initiatives, which seek to defeat xenophobic tendencies, whose effects we saw not so long ago.
Indeed, it is with trepidation that I note the incident, though isolated, in which Somali nationals received anonymous threatening letters during the course of last week. It therefore remains critical that a deliberate and conscious campaign is undertaken amongst our people to prevent incidents of xenophobia and ensure the integration into our communities of all those who are resident in our country.
In our elections manifesto, the ANC committed itself to the following: The ANC government will –
… spare no energy in our efforts to find lasting solutions to the situation in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Western Sahara, Somalia and other countries.
The department has clearly set out its key priority areas and outcomes. While most of the deliverables will remain as work in progress for the foreseeable future, we hope to set clear timeframes in some of the areas articulated.
The developments in the Southern African Customs Union are a source of concern and inevitably raise serious questions, amongst other questions: How does the lofty ideal of regional integration stand up to the overwhelming urge of some of our sister countries to secure themselves individual access to European markets and at what cost, given the practical realities of subsidisation of farmers and protectionism? Furthermore, what will be the impact on our own economy?
More than ever before, the elevation and celebration of Africa Day on our calendar has become more relevant than ever. The celebration of this important day by one or two cities in our country does not do justice to its significance. If we are to advance at least the elements of the Lagos tradition – to borrow from the hon Ben Turok – and begin to engender collective self-reliance, a common African identity and a sense of shared destiny, then Africa Day must indeed be elevated to its rightful place.
Hon Minister and Deputy Ministers, in fulfilling our constitutional mandate and living up to the expectation of positioning ourselves as an activist Parliament, we will indeed hold you accountable, but we will do so without being antagonistic. We will ask questions and render critique when warranted to do so. But when we do so, it will be for no other purpose than to assist you to play your role even better and support you in delivering on our collective commitment to the people. You can be assured of our continued support.
In conclusion, the fundamental objective of African unity and our unmitigated support for the advancement of the African agenda is not merely the fact that we occupy the same geographic space, nor just the data about GDP growth or its decline, or our national interests at the expense of our African brothers and sisters. It is about the fundamental issues that affect every African child, woman, man and youth; it is about bringing an end to the endless suffering of Africa's children; it is about Africa's self-reliance in resolving its own problems; it is about silencing the guns in Darfur, Sudan; it is about the restoration of democratic government in Madagascar; it is about peace and stability in the land of Joshua Nkomo in Zimbabwe; it is about an end to the conscription of children to fight in armed conflicts; it is about an end to the senseless murders and rape of vulnerable civilians in the Great Lakes region and elsewhere on the continent. It is indeed an end of ceaseless strife, poverty, malnutrition and underdevelopment in Africa.
African unity, therefore, is about socioeconomic advancement. Indeed, it is about the betterment of the lives of Africa's children. The ANC supports the Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Rev K R J MESHOE/ END OF TAKE
Mr H T MAGAMA
Rev K R J MESHOE: Chairperson, with the few minutes I have, I would like to raise two issues of concern. Firstly, Programme 2 on foreign relations that received the biggest slice of the Budget deals with, among other things, promoting relations with other countries in line with South Africa's national values and foreign policy objectives.
Under "Strategic Overview", the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has stated that their overall mandate was, among other things, to communicate government's policy positions. What was strange though was that government, which claimed to be committed to promoting human rights on the continent, seemed to be shifting positions regarding human rights in favour of other considerations.
This policy shift was evident in the way government failed for years to stand up to crimes against humanity, taking place in Southern Sudan. When the UN Security Council wanted to impose sanctions against President Mugabe and his cronies, South Africa rushed to his defence objected. When the International Court of Justice issued a warrant of arrest for the Sudanese President, South Africa, jointly with AU, objected to the decision, saying that there should be a hold off on the warrant of arrest until there was some peaceful resolution.
Rather than helping the people of Southern Sudan by facilitating the arrest of Al Bashir, they allegedly informed Sudan that their President would risk arrest if he came to South Africa. The ACDP is calling on for government to show more commitment and consistency, when promoting and defending human rights on the African continent in line with our national values.
Secondly, we are wondering why the department has done so little in promoting the utilisation of the Registration of South Africans Abroad, Rosa, and marking its usage by citizens travelling abroad. It is sad that such a valuable service was not even utilised. [Time Expired.]
Dr G W KOORNHOF/ END OF TAKE
Rev K R J MESHOE
Dr G W KOORNHOF: Madam Chairperson, Minister, Deputy Ministers, senior officials from the department and members of the diplomatic corps and hon members, in the limited time given to me, I will not respond to Rev Meshoe. In two minutes you could not list too many complaints! I am going to leave it to the Deputy Minister to react to the many complaints that he lodged.
It is an honour and privilege for me to participate as a novice to this portfolio committee on behalf of my party, the ANC, to participate in this Budget Vote of the newly named Department of International Relations and Co-operation. I would like to wish the newly appointed Minister, her two Deputies and the Director-General and all staff members of the department, all the best in striving to fulfil the vision of this department, during this fourth term of our Parliament. This vision states, and I quote:
An African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.
I am confident that, we as the portfolio committee, under the chairmanship of Comrade Thulas Nxesi, will maintain effective oversight of the exercise of the executive authority in a manner that is fair, and if needed, robust. I would like to believe that his portfolio committee should function on the basis of what is in the best interest of our country, continent and the world, and that all political parties represented in this committee will use this as a point of departure.
In the limited time available to me, I want to focus on two of the four strategic priorities of the department, namely, the strengthening of North-South Co-operation and the strengthening of economic relations. The ANC 52nd national conference in Polokwane in December 2007, called for the intensification of economic diplomacy which should, amongst other issues, create possibilities for equitable and balanced North-South relations.
While the 2009 Manifesto of the ANC states that economic and political co-operation with other countries could improve the lives our own people, we are going to continue working towards a better life for all, a better Africa and a better world, without hunger, disease, conflict and underdevelopment. This is the bedrock of our international relations policy.
It is important that our government should continue to strengthen bilateral relations with the developed North during this term of Parliament by continuing to engage with the G8 and the G5 outreach programmes to promote the African agenda, which the Minister has highlighted, and by contributing to the development of a more equitable system of global governance.
As we all know, this needs to be done against the background of a world economy in crisis, mainly a crisis of the developed world caused by loose credit extension and a rise in debt of households and governments alike, which have become unsustainable.
In a globally interconnected world, national and international leadership will be tested. Central in this scenario would be common principles of reform and a co-ordinated international approach to the financial sector. In this regard, our government must continue with the promotion of the agendas of Africa and the South, and emphasise the importance of multilateralism in global governance.
The prioritisation of Africa on the agenda of EU, G8 Commonwealth and other organisations of the North is, and remains, a key objective.
In this regard, there are at least five North-South partnerships which are of high importance where we should be promoting the African agenda. The first is our engagement with the G8, where the aim is to strengthen G8 relations with Africa. These engagements will be successful if political commitments by the developed countries relate to measurable projects on the African continent.
The second important partnership is the Tokyo International Conference on African Development, Ticad. It provides a platform for African countries to interact with one another and the international community to find African solutions to African problems. Ticad is based on three pillars, namely the consolidation of peace, human-centred development and poverty reduction through economic growth. Again, the final test will be the implementation of a plan of action.
The third strategic partnership is between Africa and the EU, where the focus should be on the implementation of priority actions outlined in the plan of action. The EU remains South Africa's largest, single trading partner and the main source of foreign direct investment. A key priority will be the implementation of the joint action plan of the SA-EU Strategic Partnership, which was established two years ago.
The fourth partnership is with the UN, where the UN should ensure that Africa continues to remain on the global development agenda, pursuing Nepad objectives. The challenge will be to overcome the co-ordination problems. The continuous search for finding solutions to the current global financial and economic crisis, which also affected developing countries, should not be limited to the G20, but should be discussed by the General Assembly where all 192 countries can participate.
The final partnership is between the UN and the AU, with special emphasis on peace and security on the continent. A case in point is the joint UN-AU peace operation currently in Darfur in the Sudan, Unamid. It is important that our government ensures that the above-mentioned partnerships convert political commitments made by the developed North to Africa, into measurable projects on our continent.
The second pillar of our strategic priorities is the strengthening of our political and economic relations with the developed North. North America has been one of the largest foreign investors in the South African economy since 1994, with strong support for Nepad initiatives and the implementation of infrastructure development projects. These relationships and investments should continually be strengthened.
Europe remains a strategic partner for South Africa. The Eastern Europe region possesses strategic minerals that are of vital importance to the economy of South Africa, and therefore our economic ties with this region should be expanded.
The seven Central European countries forming the EU is a key strategic partner for South Africa, and therefore we should not only maintain, but also strengthen, the existing political and economic relations with that region. Western Europe consists of the EU, members of the G8 and the G5, and it requires that multilateral and bilateral interaction at all levels should be announced.
Western European countries remain key trade and investment partners of South Africa as well as providing major sources of tourism in South Africa. As a developed region, Western Europe is a crucial partner for South Africa to achieve success.
North-South co-operation and the strengthening of political and economic relationships with the North provided strategic opportunities. Let us use these opportunities effectively in promoting the African agenda! The ANC supports the Budget Vote. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms M N MATLADI/ END OF TAKE
Dr G W KOORNHOF
Ms M N MATLADI: Thank you, Chairperson. The UCDP supports the reduction of the departmental budget from R5,5 billion to R5,3 billion for this financial year. The focus should remain on the department's core activities. That is why the departmental allocation to the programmes responsible for these activities has increased. With the upgrading of the departmental information, communication and technology infrastructure and the occupation of the department's new head office campus, we expect improvement in service delivery as well as savings for this department.
We quote President Zuma in his state of the nation address when he said, and I quote:
Working with Africa and the rest of the world, we will pursue African advancement and enhanced international co-operation. We will ensure sustainable resource management and use.
We, therefore, would like to applaud South Africa for strengthening the AU, for ensuring the success of the Nepad, for promoting regional integration through SADC, and its representation in the Pan-African Parliament, PAP, as well as the hosting thereof.
Nevertheless, we believe the building of the head office for the Pan-African Parliament is also going to take a big slice from the budget of this department, and we believe monitoring could help in order that any delays shouldn't spell out an escalation in extra budget for this project.
As we look into this department, we also want to say that it is the department in which many activities will be taking place, activities that are international, and we would like the communication promoting these events to be looked into as well as minimising whatever budget that could be used for it.
With these few words, we would like to applaud this department for having a quite unqualified audit opinion from the Auditor-General, and we support this Budget Vote. I thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Ms M E PILUSA-MOSOANE/ END OF TAKE
Ms M N MATLADI
Ms M E PILUSA-MOSOANE: Chairperson, Minister and Deputy Ministers, hon members, invited guests, comrades and friends, as we all know, we are living and experiencing a constantly evolving world order. As I speak, the global order is being reshaped by new trading relationships, new technologies, services and diplomatic ties, and much of this dynamism is fuelled by developing-world nation states in the South; and in the process these nation states are expanding their horizons on the front that I have mentioned and, hence, bypassing the rich Northern states.
In so doing, the nations of the South started to look and find appropriate low-cost and sustainable solutions to their problems, rather than looking to the rich North. It draws on clear examples of alternative opportunities. For example, if Africa needs boreholes to access water, it should make sense to access India's huge pool of expertise, rather than to recruit expensive European water engineers.
Speaker, this ANC-led government's policy with regard to international relations and co-operation should be seen against the backdrop of what I have just sketched. And it is a policy that is informed by that seminal liberation instrument, the Freedom Charter, which states unequivocally that there shall be peace and friendship.
This credo was given further expression in the 2009 elections manifesto, which pledged, and I quote:
The ANC believes that economic and political co-operation with other countries can improve the lives of our own people, and we will continue to work towards a better life for all, a better Africa and world without hunger, disease, conflict and underdevelopment.
Furthermore, in 2007 in Polokwane at our 52nd national conference, we have resolved, amongst other things, to join hands and collaborate with progressive forces and develop a common agenda with the objective to realising a just and better world. Such a world order must be characterised, inter alia, by greater security, peace, dialogue and greater equilibrium between poor and rich nations.
Also, as the ANC, we are guided by the principle of a better Africa and a better world. Speaker and hon members, South Africa has played a significant role in advancing the development agenda of the countries in the South through its leadership roles in the UN Conference on Trade and Development, UNCTAD, the Non-Aligned Movement, G77, China and the steering committees of Nepad, as well as co-operation pacts between Asia and Africa, since we joined the family of nations.
We have contributed and are contributing with the conviction that South-South co-operation is not an option, but an imperative to complement North-South co-operation, in order to contribute to the achievement of internationally agreed-upon developmental goals, including the Millennium Development Goals. We believe that South-South co-operation is about the tremendous force of solidarity with which we can overcome the biggest challenges.
However, Chairperson, just like the world revolves constantly so does the challenges in the South; hence the need for the drivers of co-operation to further strengthen it in different areas, such as communication, technology, trade, investment, finance, debt management, food, agriculture, water, energy, health and education, as well as in North-South-related issues. In this regard, we must enhance and expand the exchange of resources, experiences and expertise in these areas to make South-South co-operation contribute to economic growth and sustainable development.
So, Speaker, we are saying that only through collective endeavours are we able to play a more effective role in achieving development objectives and shaping international relations. South-South co-operation does not mean isolation from the countries in the North. In fact, both the Marrakech Declaration that was adopted in 2003 and the Havana Programme of Action provides for an interface between the modalities for North-South and South-South co-operation. In this regard, there shall be a convergence in the search for the same development objectives, for example, the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. In other words, South-South co-operation should be the instrument to contribute to the achievement of the internationally agreed-upon development goals.
Speaker, in pursuing these objectives, we are mindful of the fact that the experiences of developing countries vary widly. Some developing countries have demonstrated strong achievement in various domains of development, while in others setbacks have been registered in different economic and social spheres. Also, we recognise that South-South co-operation has experienced successes and failures, which are linked in a broad sense to the external international environment, which influences development policies and strategies.
In the 1950s and 1960s, South-South co-operation has been evolved and developed in the concept of common struggle of developing countries to reach development and growth. As a consequence, institutions for the South-South Co-operation were developed and evolved, including the G77 and Non-Aligned Movement. It is these and other multilateral organisations including UNCTAD, the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP, and other institutions of the UN system that helped to formulate and articulate Southern needs and concerns and provided a framework for a fruitful North-South dialogue and a mutually beneficial relationship.
In this context, Speaker, we could do well to enhance more direct co-operation between the Group of 77 and the Non-Aligned movement, in order to the promote South-South Co-operation through concrete initiatives and projects in all fields of interest for the countries of the South.
Speaker, the economic growth in several developing countries, and the strengthening of their domestic capabilities, can have strong impact on the scope and effectiveness of the South-South Co-operation. It is common knowledge that several developing countries have diversified economies and rely on well-trained human resources.
Moreover, current trends in international trade and investment liberalisation, as well as the increasing regional and economic integration offer new opportunities and challenges for the South-South Co-operation. Also, several developing countries play an active role in the transfer of knowledge and experience, as well as in the creative expansion of technologies and increasing productivity and competitiveness.
On this score we are aware that the South has both the desire and the potential to move South-South co-operation within and beyond regional and subregional boundaries. A case in point is, of course, the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum. Market proximity, similarity in products and processes and business cultures affinity can offer investors from developing countries greater opportunities for a new wave of South-to-South trade and investment. Thank you. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Mr S MOKGALAPA/ END OF TAKE
Ms M E PILUSA-MOSOANE
Mr S MOKGALAPA: Chairperson, the fundamental principles that underpin our foreign policy include, amongst other principles, a commitment to the promotion of democracy, a commitment to justice and international law and a commitment to economic development in a global and integrated world.
As we battle with the scourge of the global economic meltdown, it is imperative that our budget reflects this reality. Our foreign relations programme consumes almost 60% of the department's budget. This means we need to make sure that we invest our resources in programmes that add value to South Africa. We need to review our obligations to avoid contradictions. Some of the programmes yield very little or no results at all.
Let me refer to the department's Strategic Plan 2009-2012 which highlights the following objectives. When it comes to strengthening North-South relations, we have in recent years dented our image and relations with the EU as a result of our foreign policy contradictions and stance. We need to reaffirm our commitment to democracy, development, peace and good governance and our record as a champion of human rights. We need to be clear and align our approach, based on the guiding principles of our Constitution, and to build bridges. We need to reactivate our leading role and work together with the EU and the G8 to ensure accountability.
The other programme is to participate in the global system of governance. As we participate in the UN and all of its agencies, our conduct should be beyond reproach. Our conduct in recent times in this forum has been driven by negative controversies based on some of our foreign policy options. We must support the resolution of "Responsibility to Protect" that allows action by the UN where states fail to act in their countries.
We must hold countries and their leaders accountable and not offer patronage and solidarity while the people suffer. We must also keep in mind that we are signatories to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. We must support its actions and role to ensure democracy, international law, justice and accountability.
The programme on strengthening South-South relations must be handled with care, and we need to ensure that we establish the rules of the road so that we keep our values and norms in mind and do not compromise them, hence selling our soul to the highest bidder.
The other important programme is that of public diplomacy. In this regard I want to agree with the chairperson of the portfolio committee on the need for mass-based foreign policy. This programme is most essential in ensuring that civil society is brought to the table when discussing foreign policy. This programme should make an impact on the ground to inform, educate and engage our stakeholders in business, civil society and ordinary citizens on foreign policy issues. South Africans should know and form part of our foreign policy decision-making processes. Taking the Dalai Lama saga as an example, we should be transparent and open. We must look at putting more resources into this programme.
The department's annual report for 2007-08 highlights the following challenges as we strive to strengthen our economy and political relations in the world and Africa. In Africa it is still a zero-sum game with ongoing conflict and little conflict resolution still at the top of the agenda. There is little movement on the continent in achieving development goals, peace, democracy and development.
Asia is an emerging beacon of hope. As relations with these countries begin to take shape, there is a window of opportunity which must be handled with care.
Europe remains our biggest trading partner that needs to be focused on. We need to sign the economic relations agreements as their economies are beginning to revive. We need to learn from both their mistakes and corrective actions and remain true to our principles and values.
Lastly, the US will also be a big partner in finding solutions to the problems of the world. We need to work with them in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect to realise the African dream.
In conclusion, our foreign policy should promote governments and states that are characterised by institutions that are held accountable by an independent judiciary, by a free media and by a vibrant civil society. We must use aid and trade to encourage growth and the spread of democracy. We must avoid the trap of closed patronage and solidarity and realise the bigger picture which is world peace and democracy.
We need to invest our resources wisely and avoid wasteful expenditure. We need to support programmes which make a difference in the world and to be bold in not supporting those programmes that do not make a difference. We should focus on the achievement of our national trade interests and not on ideology or narrow political party interests. Our moral obligations should be our priority. I thank you. [Applause.]
Ms K R MAGAU/ END OF TAKE
Mr S MOKGALAPA
Mme K R MAGAU: Modulasetilo, ke a leboboha, Letona le Matlatsatona a mabedi, ...
... hon members, good afternoon. South Africa exists and operates in a global environment that is dominated by Western countries, and this situation has to be fundamentally changed in the interests of poor people and developing countries. Hence our country has entered into a global discourse with a clear reform agenda, with the view to promoting democracy, international co-operation and stability – a reform agenda necessitated by the global reality of the skewed distribution of political and economic resources, as a result of which certain sections of the international community are poor and underdeveloped.
It is a reality that a symbiotic relationship exists between armed conflict and economic poverty. Where armed conflict is widespread, economic poverty is exacerbated and sustainable development becomes impossible. In countries where poverty increases, the risk of instability and violence grows. This means that poverty and underdevelopment are nothing less than threats to democracy, peace and stability because these economic realities generate conflict between individuals, communities and countries.
History tells us that the international community, especially the African continent, has for many decades been subjected to armed conflict, mass violence and genocide which have claimed millions of lives. This has to change.
In most, if not all, countries foreign policy is grounded on the commitment to promote and protect the interests and values of the country's citizens. While taking into account the interests and values of South Africans, our foreign policy reflects the ANC's commitment to the security of the people, stability, peace and sustainable development.
The ANC's quest for a better Africa and a better world derives content from the internationalist tradition with its origins in the Freedom Charter, which charter provides that South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and to settle all international disputes through negotiations and not war. Thus far we have done well and still can do more, working together with other progressive forces in the world.
The ANC has stated unequivocally that without regional and continental peace and stability, South Africa will never be at peace. It is in conditions of peace and stability that democracy grows to majority, and this is so because peace and stability constitute the necessary foundation for sustainable development in South Africa, the continent and the world. Hence national and regional continental security is expected to take into account the political, economic and environmental dimensions. As the portfolio committee, we believe that the budget allocated for such activities is the right thing to do.
Within the context of democratising and stabilising the continent and the world, the government has made contributions to processes aimed at promoting security, democracy, stability and peace, as well as economic development. With the help of the South African government, some African countries have managed to establish the democratic institutions and mechanisms which are required to promote these values and human rights in their respective countries.
Driven by the desire to encourage and promote bilateral relations, the ANC has resolved to improve co-operation among countries of the South in terms of economic relations, social and political programmes and efforts to ensure peace and equitable global relations.
Accordingly, the South African government has entered into bilateral relations with many countries in the South - the Minister has already alluded to these countries – to promote trade relations and economic development. Co-operation between countries such as India and Brazil has improved tremendously and more needs to be done to strengthen co-operation with other like-minded countries, such as Chile, Uruguay and Argentina, in a number of fields.
We have to say that as the portfolio committee we have noted that there is poor co-ordination in political economic diplomacy. However, we welcome the training of diplomats in economic diplomacy which is under way, according to the briefing by the department. We believe this will help in addressing some of the co-ordination problems.
With the identification of economic diplomacy as one of the key priorities, the economic capacity of South African missions will have to be strengthened so as to enable foreign missions to assist South African businesses to access business opportunities available on the African continent and beyond. Without any doubt, the focus on developing the economic capacity of our missions derives content from a maxim that there can be no peace without development, and no development without peace.
There are gains which have been noted, and we would like to say that these gains have been secured in terms of promoting peace and security on the African continent and in the world, and they need to be consolidated and sustained. In essence, this means that more financial and other resources have to be expended in respect of diplomatic and military efforts and aimed at resolving the remaining threats to international peace and security.
The expenditure trends need to indicate to us the extent to which the democratic state has engaged in diplomatic and other processes to promote peace and security on the African continent, pre-elections or beyond.
Between the 2004-05 and the 2007-08 financial years, departmental expenditure grew at an average annual rate of 19,8%. This growth is as a result of increasing contributions to the AU and the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund which funds the extension of peacekeeping initiatives and operations on the African continent.
While South African contributes significantly to the budget of the AU, we have seen reluctance on the South African side to take a position in this structure and we would like to make the plea that this has to be addressed.
Expenditure over the medium term is expected to increase at an average rate of 6,2%. However, in the 2009-10 financial year expenditure is expected to increase at a rate of about 89% owing to expenditure in respect of foreign travel and the construction of PAP.
With the current overall expenditure trends, the department seems to be on course in promoting development, preventing conflicts and ensuring rapid resolution of conflicts where they occur, especially in Africa. Even the Freedom Charter requires that South Africa forge co-operation with the peoples of Africa in maintaining peace and stability, and we applaud the department for doing that.
Owing to its belief that without peace and stability on the African continent South Africa will never be at peace, the ANC has committed itself to consolidating advances made in promoting peace, stability and democracy in Africa and to further capacitating and strengthening the Department of International Relations and Co-operation. For this reason, the government has allocated funding so as to enable the democratic state to further advance the processes which are aimed at stabilising and democratising Africa in the world.
Being informed by the ANC international strategic tradition, the democratic government has indeed made a commitment to contributing towards the initiatives aimed at resolving challenges that continue to confront the African continent and the world.
The department has received additional funding that is earmarked for PAP. Moreover, the department has also received additional funding for South African missions, especially in Africa, for refurbishing existing missions. Surely these additional funds will even cater for the strengthening of the capacity of South African missions to do more, working together with other forces. In fact, this demonstrates the commitment of the democratic government towards strengthening economic diplomacy on the African continent and beyond.
While promoting South Africa's national values and relations with foreign countries and international institutions, it may, in effect, contribute to promoting peace and stability. Appropriations made in respect of promoting interstate relations may not have a direct impact on continental and global peace and stability.
The department goes beyond this portion of the budget to accommodate foreign relations. This shows government's commitment to enhancing South Africa's system of international relations, with a particular focus on South-South relations. This confirms the position of the ANC to the effect that a democratic South Africa stands firmly as a country of the South and will play an active role in the development and strengthening of multilateral forums which empower the nations of the South.
There seems to be a general agreement that South Africa is playing a leading role in promoting and advancing the interests of developing countries. In promoting these relations with countries of the South, the government has to ensure that funds are channelled into the attempts to develop these continental and global institutions of governance. In particular, the department has to pay special attention to the efforts aimed at supporting regional peace initiatives and postconflict reconstruction and development in its participation in global systems of governance.
To enhance its effectiveness in the global discourse, the government needs to populate the empty offices of South Africa in the UN, and maybe also ensure that we have staff in the AU and the SADC that will advance our South African interests.
In the recent past, South Africa was entangled in controversies because of its positions on certain issues, and I have heard a lot of members raising these controversies. The so-called controversial positions South Africa took with the UN Security Council were, in fact, not controversial but positions based on principle. They were intended to protect the UN from making interventions that would undermine regional efforts in resolving conflicts and issues that we were related to.
There are other issues – that of Myanmar and Zimbabwe. The UN Security Council was called upon to intervene, whereas regional structures were still dealing with such matters. While these positions appear to have been correct, controversy surrounded them due to the inability of the government to effectively communicate such positions to citizens, opinion-makers and outside audiences. We would like the department to deal with this adequately in future. Instead of promoting sustained engagement, officials are accused of merely releasing statements. I have already said that the department has to do a lot in this area.
We appreciate that there is significant funding for public diplomacy. However, this funding has to be further devolved to ensure that a substantial portion goes towards improving interaction with opinion-makers, interlocutors and purveyors of information and knowledge. Whereas interaction or engagement with intellectuals has improved since South Africa joined the UN Security Council, there seems to be an inadequate budget for this engagement when South Africa leaves the nonpermanent seat it occupies on the Security Council.
Chairperson, with the time that I still have, having an opportunity of coming from an organisation that has a lot of time in Parliament I would like to address the hon Smuts Ngonyama from Cope. Just by way of advice from one parliamentarian to another, I want to tell him that the platform for engaging in Parliament starts in the portfolio committee. The issues the hon Smuts Ngonyama raised here, which he requested the Minister to respond to – well, it's up to the Minister to respond to those issues – have been adequately dealt with in the portfolio committee whose meetings he has not attended. [Interjections.]
I would like to ask the hon Mubu of the DA how many citizens of the USA, the UK, France and Germany and other countries in the North have been arrested as mules for drug cartels. Is it 10, 20, 30? Well, I think, in Brazil they talk about something between 80 and 100, but maybe this is an assignment that we can finish in the portfolio committee with him.
On behalf of the ANC, we would like to support this Budget Vote. Thank you. [Applause.]
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION (MS S C VAN DER MERWE) / END OF TAKE
Ms K R MAGAU
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION (Ms S C van der Merwe): Chairperson, Minister, Deputy Ministers, hon members, excellencies, ambassadors that I see here today, members of the diplomatic corps, this year we find ourselves at a very difficult time in modern history.
Across the globe, families are in distress as jobs and livelihoods are lost. We are not immune to this here in our own country and it will be our challenge to mitigate the effects of this crisis for our people.
President Zuma said in his inauguration address:
The dreams and hopes of all the people of our country must be fulfilled. There is no place for complacency, no place for cynicism, no place for excuses.
We in the international relations field have our own important part to play in the fulfilment of these dreams and hopes. The work of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the past administration, now the Department of International Relations and Co-operation, is premised on the principles and philosophies articulated in our Constitution. These principles arise from our history and have been forged and honed by great leaders of our movement, the ANC. These principles still guide our work today and are anchored in our belief in human dignity and the assertion of universal human rights.
In the introduction to a book entitled Legacy of Freedom: The ANC's human rights tradition the then secretary-general of the ANC and the current Deputy President of our country, Kgalema Mothlanthe, wrote the following:
As demonstrated by the Africans' Claims in South Africa document, the ANC has always linked national unity and international solidarity. Today our commitment to multilateral participation in the international arena is evident in our efforts to advance the AU, Nepad and the vitality of the UN.
He continued to write:
Of the AU, formed during the year of the ninetieth anniversary of the ANC, it can truly be said that it seeks to live up to the outlook presented to our people more than 90 years ago by Pixley ka Seme when he said: 'There is today among all races and men a general desire for progress, and for co-operation, because co-operation will facilitate and secure that progress.'
He further wrote:
We are convinced that we share this vision and value system with the overwhelming majority of the African masses everywhere on our continent.
The ANC tradition to advance human dignity and opportunity for all South Africans underpins our work to this day.
I remind us here today of this history so that we do not forget the great and extraordinary leaders of our movement who begun nearly a century ago to craft and frame our country and our world. The ANC founder, Pixley ka Seme, as I have mentioned, attempted as early as 1923 to formulate a Bill of Rights. Others, extraordinary people and ordinary people in our country, have continued with this work.
So South African history is replete with examples of how our ANC leaders saw us as integrally linked to the international community, how we see ourselves not as greater or lesser than other people of the world, but linked as one humanity. I continue to be inspired by the vision of our leaders in this regard.
I say all this now as I believe that the writings and thinking of our extraordinary leaders can serve to guide us, like a thread, through all the difficult challenges that we face at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
The Minister has mentioned the economic integration of our region. She has underscored the importance of building our region into a cohesive political and economic block. This is both necessary, if we are to compete in the world, and desirable, if we are truly to share the values and principles our leaders fought for.
We have deep political and historical ties with our neighbours in SADC. The ongoing work to harmonise our economic infrastructure and planning is key to our advancement as a region.
Last year we launched the Free Trade Area at the SADC summit and the next steps are more intricate, but not unattainable. It is our belief that these next steps should be based on developmental imperatives that should strengthen the region as an economic bloc for trade with the rest of the continent and the world, and should strengthen co-operation amongst the countries in the region as people with a common history and a common destiny.
Regional integration is also the basis for future continental unity, a dream of our leaders throughout the decades.
The Minister has alluded to the difficulties that have arisen in the negotiations around the Economic Partnership Agreement between SADC member states and the EU. This is a complex process, and it goes to the very essence of how we as South Africa, and indeed, how we in SADC, see our future together as an integrated region.
The FTA, to which I have alluded, needs to be substantially implemented as part of the process towards a full SADC customs union, which will involve, amongst other things, the setting of a common external tariff among countries with vastly differing profiles.
We believe that we need to prioritise sectoral co-operation and infrastructure programmes, including human resource capacity, as essential elements of creating conducive conditions to advance the integration agenda.
We believe we need to set realistic timeframes in our plans and continue to harmonise and implement those common policies that are already in place, such as the Protocol on the Facilitation of Free Movement of Persons.
In other words, we favour a developmental approach to integration, including, importantly, the implementation of infrastructure projects in association with Nepad and other international investors and donor agencies.
We plan, in the coming weeks and months, to take up this debate with our neighbouring countries in the SADC family. This will take place in a robust, open and transparent manner, in order to thrash out our common vision for our region and to move the debate into an active phase, where we can consolidate the gains we have made and move towards a sustainable and cohesive region - one of the building blocks for eventual continental union.
It is unfortunate that, despite the good intentions of the European member states, the EPA negotiations have had the opposite effect.
Those negotiations have tended to divide us as a region and have, we believe, set our integration agenda back.
We therefore, together with our SADC colleagues, also plan a robust engagement with our partners in the EU in this regard.
Linked to this, and as part of our pursuit for a more cohesive and integrated region and continent, is the development of the SA Development Partnership Agency, as described by the Minister. Already South Africa's foreign policy approach has been to align our domestic priorities and interests with our work with neighbours on the continent.
This is not altruism; this is purposeful fulfilment of those hopes and dreams of our people of which President Zuma spoke. As we work with our sister departments to give life to this agency we will remember that this is another stage, not only in fulfilling the dreams and hopes of South Africans today, but in realising the dreams of our leaders in the ANC, past and present.
The agency should therefore be responsible for the implementation of South Africa's international development co-operation and partnership policy. It will involve co-operation with developed and developing countries and will focus, although not exclusively, on our work in Africa. It will articulate South Africa's objectives in joint programmes with countries of the South, and will seek to strengthen our relationship with Northern partners. Again, the thread of our history will be drawn through in this process.
We will seek also to build capacity through this agency in areas including education and health.
Over the next three years, the African Renaissance Fund is expected to expend over R1 billion and this is provided for in our MTEF. How we align the work of the ARF with the new agency will be a matter for discussion and decision over the next few months.
During the course of this year, the work of developing the agency will be taken forward by our department as lead department, working together with our sister departments. The details of its functions and modus operandi will be articulated more fully by the end of the financial year.
In these difficult times, we remain committed to the fulfilment of the hopes and dreams of our people. We believe this can be achieved through the broadening of our international co-operation efforts
As I have the privilege to return to this position, having served for five years in the previous administration, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those I have worked with during these past five years.
To former Foreign Affairs Minister Dlamini-Zuma and Deputy Ministers Pahad and Hajaig, I thank you for your wisdom and guidance. I learned an enormous amount from all of you.
And to the dedicated and resourceful officials of the department, led by our exceptional director-general, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, I owe them a debt of gratitude for all their professionalism over the past five years. I am delighted to be working with them again.
As the President has said, there is no place for complacency, for cynicism or excuses. We have work to do and with guidance of Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and Deputy Minister Ebrahim, and the support of the director-general and a dedicated and resourceful staff in our department, I am sure we can achieve our goals. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
The MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION/ END OF TAKE
The DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION (MS S C VAN DER MERWE)
The MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND CO-OPERATION: Hon Chairperson, let me once again say I am really quite humbled and enriched and believe I am a better person now, after having participated in these robust debates on our Budget Vote.
Listening to the contributions made by all the members from the ruling party to the opposition, I now firmly believe that working together we can do more.
To hon Nxesi through the Chair, it was due to time constraints that we could not elaborate on the items and points we wanted to share with the hon members in this august House.
One of the issues that I am very passionate about, being a former ambassador, is to work with ordinary South Africans to help them to understand and appreciate the role that international relations play in contributing not only to the core values of that which South Africa stands for, but also to the items that have been identified by the President of the ruling party as our focus areas for the development of this country.
There is no way South Africa could reach its aspirations without working with the countries of the world. By the way, Chair, South Africa is a product of international solidarity.
So we are going to go out as a department, together with our lieutenants seated here on my left, to all the provinces of South Africa to talk to South Africans and listen to what kind of international relations policy they want us to build. We will do that through izimbizo; and we think as we do that it will also help us remove this Afrophobia - not necessarily xenophobia.
While South Africans are a product of international solidarity, we are basically insular people and we always tend to look around, maybe because of the pain inflicted on us by apartheid. We tend to want to look somewhere else for the solution to our problems instead of wanting the solution together with other people. Once again, we want to take this opportunity to urge our citizens to stop these barbaric acts of xenophobia.
We will strive not to disappoint hon members, and particularly members of the portfolio committee, in systematically implementing the agreements and protocols signed by our country. In fact, of the 400 agreements signed by this department with the international community in the past 15 years, we are in the process of reviewing all those agreements and making sure that we focus on the ones that would really help us advance our cause.
I really cannot agree more with the hon members who have urged our business community members that when they are advancing to Africa, taking advantage of the opportunities created by our relationships, that they please carry the good name of South Africa and ubuntu with them; that they continue to focus and adhere to the code of good business practice and treat people outside this country with humility wherever they are going to be engaging in business.
With regard to the hon member, now Chair of this sitting, hon Skosana, I really cannot agree with you more that as much as we would want to focus on national interest, having been urged to do so by other members, South Africa has a historical leadership role bestowed on it by its history in Africa as much as we want to advance our own national interest and make money out of our gains and the dividends of peace.
Still, our priority will be to build sustainable peace, and business and other peace dividends will always come second.
With regard to the hon Mubu through the Chair, Zimbabweans say there was no other alternative except the Global Peace Agreement, hence we all have to work with them to make sure that that agreement which they all are geared towards works, and we support them in hoping that it works.
With regard to members concerned about Myanmar, I was just want to reiterate the statement I made about our condemnation of what is going on in Myanmar and the continued detention of the opposition leader there.
On the issue raised by hon Meshoe about the peace process in Sudan, this coming week starting on Monday, I will be in Washington together with other members who are interested, or who have claimed the midwifery role in attaining the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan, and will work together with them and Madam Hillary Clinton to see to the fullest implementation of all the elements of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement of Sudan.
Hon Koornhof, indeed, there is no source of soft relations without the consolidation also of the North-South because the world is about the global village today.
Hon Matladi, indeed, we shall make good use of the new building where we are going to be housed as International Relations and Co-operation and we shall invite members for the official opening of the building.
With regard to the hon Pilusa-Mosoane, I would want to say, malibongwe, but I say that knowing you know I know that you are passionate about issues of functional technologies. Having lived in India, I know exactly what you mean. But sometimes South Africans and South Africa spend a lot of money on technologies that we cannot use. We look forward to working more with countries of the South in accessing these functional technologies for our own rural development programmes.
On the budgetary constraints, there is very little we can do now because of the financial crisis that South Africa and the world is confronted with. But we can assure you that we shall strive to make use of our limited resources to continue to sell the brand, ``South Africa''.
On co-ordination of our economic diplomacy, we will continue to work with the Department of Trade and Industry to align our strategies to make sure that we take full advantage of the benefits that we should be accruing from our international relations work.
In fact, as we decide which countries should be our focus areas as we deploy cadres for economic diplomacy, we will work together with these departments through our cluster.
There is one organisation that I could not get an opportunity to talk about, which is very much a pillar, if not an integral unit of the organs of the AU, and that is the Pan African Woman's Organisation.
South Africa hosted a conference on the Pan African Woman's Organisation last year and still has a responsibility to host the very important organisation of the AU.
As a department, we are going to work together with the department responsible for women's affairs to see to the realisation of a new home for the Pan African organisation in this country.
Once again, I want to call upon all members and members of society in South Africa that we cannot move faster in our advancement of international relations policy if the nonstate actors of South Africa continue to consider us to be "Foreign Affairs". [Ditaba tsa ka ntle.]
We are about building relations. Therefore, we need to work with all of them in partnership and working together we can build a strong international relations and co-operation policy. I thank you. [Applause.]
The Committee rose at 16:31.
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