ATC100420: Report Department of International Relations and Cooperation Annual Report for 2008/9
REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION ON THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2008/9, dated 20 APRIL 2010
In pursuit of its oversight mandate over the Executive, as outlined in Section 42(3) and 55(2) of the Constitution (No. 108 of 1996), the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation set aside time to interrogate the 2008/9 Annual Report of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, following a briefing by the department on 14 October 2009.
The briefing was aimed at ascertaining the expenditure trends of the department as reflected in the annual financial statement, report of the auditor-general; statement of accounting policies and related matters.
The Annual Report, which addresses the period 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009, dealt with the period only a month prior to the national elections. A number of significant programmatic changes within the new term made it clear that some of the programmes referred to in the Annual Report would undergo changes in line with the fresh configuration in the Cabinet and priority functions.
The purpose of an annual report is to reflect policy implementation and the efficient use of resources for effective service delivery, as well as outputs in line with the organisation’s strategic plan and outcomes in line with its policies.
Oversight on Annual Reports takes into account significant changes in policy direction and any valid impediments to implementing targeted outputs as stated in the Strategic Plan. Thus, the Committee took into account the decision to reconfigure Cabinet and the change in name of the Department as putting more emphasis on cooperation. The comments, conclusions and recommendations of the Committee reflect its position within changing environment.
2. Department’s delegation
The department was represented as follows:
Director- General: Dr A Ntsaluba
DDG Multilateral: Amb G Nene
DDG Africa Bilateral: Mr M Nkosi
DDG Asia & Middleast Amb Matjila
DDG State Protocol: Amb L Makhubela
DDG Corporate Services: Mr A Moodley
DDG Human Resources: Ms M Joyini
The Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr A Ntsaluba, presented the departmental overview which highlighted the following achievements for the period under review:
a) The Headquarters Campus building was completed and it was reported to have provided a fully furnished office accommodation for the full head office staff complement. The building was reported as subject to a 25 years management contract.
b) In pursuance of the African Agenda, the department reported that it had ratified the AU Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The Charter has the potential to serve as a guide and reference point for sustained and on-going political reform in the continent.
c) The Host Country Agreement for NEPAD offices was concluded in October 2009, to positively contribute to the strengthening of the institution.
d) Two diplomatic missions were opened in Africa during this period, in line with the stated commitment to establish diplomatic relations with all African countries.
e) Departmental procurement processes were streamlined and implemented, with effective Bid Adjudication Committees in place at headquarters and missions.
f) The department received an unqualified audit report from the Auditor General for the financial year 2008/09.
g) In May 2008, ‘ROSA’ was launched as an on-line registration of South Africans travelling or residing abroad.
h) The department accomplished its organisational culture change through interventions which focussed on employment equity. This brought about increase in both women at senior management level and people with disability.
i) Through encouragement from the Employee Wellness programme, VCT uptake increased by 200%.
j) It was reported that 21 out of 27 disciplinary cases were finalised since March 2009, and 20 out of 28 grievances resolved.
k) A Host Country Agreement for APRM office in South Africa was concluded in October 2008, and the first implementation Country Report presented.
l) South Africa hosted the 5th IBSA Ministerial Trilateral Committee in 2008.
m) FIFA communication strategy as a public diplomacy programme was concluded and it was in its implementation stage.
4. Overview of financial performance
4.1 The Director-General, Dr Ntsaluba, presented the overview of the financial performance. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation received an allocation of R5, 569 billion for 2008/09 divided amongst its programmes as follows:
· Programme 1: Administration R 1 731 067.
· Programme 2: Foreign Relations R 2 653 271.
· Programme 3: Public Diplomacy & Protocol R 152 623.
· Programme 4: International Transfers R 1 032 826.
4.2 The Department was reported to have spent only R 5.4 billion which amounted to 98,3% of the allocated budget. The under expenditure was attributed to capital works projects relating to the Pan African Parliament building and the fees to International Organisations. The Department received an unqualified audit report.
The Department is required, within three months following the adoption of this report, to provide a written report on the measures taken in response to the following recommendations.
a) In 1994, South Africa emerged into the world arena as a direct product of international solidarity and a result of resolve by the international community to demonstrate its respect for the principles of international law. As a consequence, it could be argued, post-apartheid South Africa’s foreign policy is built on high moral principles including human rights, racial equality, African Renaissance, to name a few. There is a perception emerging that South Africa is disengaging from the human rights basis for its foreign policy. The often quoted incidents are the Myanmar, Dalai Lama and Zimbabweissues. The Committee determines that there is a lapse of the public diplomacy strategy and national democratic accountability. The audiences both at home and abroad are not sufficiently informed why the country would take such positions.
The department must communicate to the Committee strategies it will pursue to continuously engage the public and non-state actors, and as to what other methods of communication it will use other than press releases. Accessibility of information about the department and available personnel to articulate the policies is crucial.
b) It is in the Committee’s interest to establish whether ‘soft power’ as a resource and a core concept in public diplomacy is being used effectively by the department. DIRCO must submit a comprehensive qualitative and quantitative report on the degree to which South Africa’s cultural assets, political ideals and policies inspire respect or affinity on the part of others. It is important to understand whether DIRCO has developed tools of listening and conversation; and what tools of persuasion are put in place to achieve this.
c) The Committee supports the principle of deepening relations with countries in Africa through opening of diplomatic missions in all African countries. However, DIRCO should provide the Committee with a report on the measures that can be developed to identify countries in Africa with which South Africa can foster strategic partnerships for development, with the aim of pursuing mutual benefit and realisation of domestic priorities.
d) During the Budget Vote briefing in 2009, the Committee raised a concern that not enough focus was given the protocol and public diplomacy programme. DIRCO’s report reflect a lot of activity being geared towards the protocol leg of the programme, for example, hosting conferences, speech writing, protocol services etc, and there is still limited public engagement in issues around the Department’s mandate. DIRCO must submit a report on the strategy to be engaged in seeking to foster understanding of these goals through dialogue with individual citizens and other groups and institutions, to mainly inform the domestic audience on South Africa’s foreign policy.
e) The Department has identified lack of capacity in economic diplomacy among its personnel and indeed in other government departments as well. In present day global shift towards closer cooperation in economic development, it is crucial that personnel are adequately empowered to effectively represent the country in global economic engagements. The Department should submit a short matrix report relating to whether the program has been piloted, how many internal staff members have undergone training in economic diplomacy, how many from other departments have done the course, and what are the future projections on this kind of training and how many from other departments have done the course.
f) It is now common cause that the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) forming the unity government in Zimbabwe is a fragile process. It is imperative that the necessary momentum is kept high to ensure continued commitment to the resolutions undertaken by the concerned parties. Another consideration is that the crisis in Zimbabwe is heavily influenced by the involvement of the military in politics, and this has militarised the political context. DIRCO should submit a synopsis of their strategy which will enhance SADC mediation efforts through the good offices of President Zuma towards the reform of the security sector.
g) In the light of persistent lack of access to information and dialogue on foreign policy issues, it will be prudent for the Department to examine the wisdom of having an independent, multifaceted, scholarly group assisting in dissemination and engagement of different sectors of our society on foreign policy issues. The USA has the Council on Foreign Relations formed in 1921. It is an independent, non-partisan membership organisation. It is a think tank and publisher, dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators, students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the US and other countries. The Committee would like a synopsis of the Department’s thinking in relation to such a model institution in the future.
h) The creation of SADPA will fill a gap around the effective centralised coordination of economic engagement with the outside world. Before the finalisation of the White Paper on SADPA, DIRCO should submit an analysis on the future relationship between SADPA and ARF.
i) Participation in, hosting or organising international conferences, on their own should not be a measure for performance. Of great importance is the impact South Africa has through hosting and participating in such conferences. Further, of what benefit to South Africa and Africa such gatherings are. As a result, the Department should submit a report on its impact assessment emanating from its participation in international conferences during the period covered by the Report. What influence did South Africa have on the outcome of such conferences and how national interest was infused into the final product to ensure it maintains playing a prominent role in global governance.
j) There is a wave of negative reporting about South Africa and President Zuma’s administration is under attack from local and international media houses. There must be a deliberate program to curb this perception, through an aggressive public diplomacy programme. What initiatives are in place to address this persisting problem?
k) There are visible shifts taking place in the global South space. South Africa participates in IBSA, and BRIC has emerged. The Committee will like to get feedback as to the strategy to be taken in order to still advance national interest in IBSA, while closely monitoring the real interests being pursued by Russia and China in BRIC. Will South Africa be watching developments in BRIC from the sidelines, what future plans exist about South Africa and this formation.
l) Furthermore, is South Africa ready to advance a strategic intervention to set the agenda rather than mere participation in the global power structures like the G20 and G8? Does the Department take advantage of polarisation in the world politics and act as a moderator, engaging soft power tools to surface as an alternative emerging power, while keeping momentum for the promotion of the African Agenda and contributing to developing a more equitable system of global governance.
Report to be considered.
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