ATC200717: Report of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation on the 4th Quarter 2019/20 Expenditure Performance of the Department Of International Relations and Cooperation and the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund, Dated 16 July 2020

International Relations




The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation (the Committee), having considered the 4th quarter 2019/20performance and submission to National Treasury, of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (the Department), and the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF) on 26 June 2020, reports as follows:


1. Introduction


1.1 Mandate of the Committee


The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation is a committee of Parliament mandated by the sections 55 and 92 of the Constitution of South Africa,[1] to oversee and ensure accountability in the formulation and conduct of South African foreign policy. Consequently, the Committee conducts oversight on activities of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, and its entity, the African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF), on policies, financial spending patterns, administrative issues, and it holds the Department and entity accountable for their operations and functions. The Committee is an important mechanism for ensuring oversight over the conduct of South Africa’s international relations and cooperation policy.


1.2 Purpose of the quarterly performance report


The quarterly performance report is a building bloc towards the Committee’s annual Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). In accordance with section 5 of the Money Bills Procedures and Related Matters Amendment Act 2009 (Act No.9 of 2009), the National Assembly, through its committees, must assess service delivery performance of each national department and submit the BRR Report for each department, for tabling in the National Assembly. The process allows the National Assembly to evaluate the effective and efficient use and forward allocation of resources; and may make recommendations on forward use of resources. These reports will be considered by the Standing/Select Committees on Appropriations and Finance respectively when they make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).


In compiling this report, the Committee based its assessment of the Department and its entity, on tabled service delivery plans as outlined in the Annual Performance Plans 2019/20 of both; and the 2019 State of the Nation Address. The Committee linked domestic priorities to the Department’s Strategic Plan 2015 – 2020 and aligned the information to priorities and measurable objectives as set out in the National Development Plan (NDP).


The Committee also examined the expenditure report as published by the National Treasury. These reports are commonly known as section 32 Reports[2].


The report furthergives an overview of the presentations made by the Department and its entity, focusing mainly on its achievements, output in respect of the performance indicators and targets set for 2019/20 and the financial performance. The report also provides the Committee’s key deliberations and recommendations relating to the performance of the Department and its entity.


1.3        Mandate of the Department


The overall mandate of the Department is to work for the realization of South Africa’s international relations policy objectives. In terms of the provisions of the Constitution, the President of the Republic of South Africa bears the overall responsibility for the country’s foreign policy and international relations[3]. However, the Department is entrusted with the formulation, application and implementation of South Africa’s foreign policy which is derived from South Africa’s domestic priorities[4]. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation (the Minister) assumes overall responsibility for all aspects of South Africa’s international relations, albeit in consultation with the President. The Minister also liaises and consults with members of the Cabinet on overlapping issues and on the priorities and programmes of other departments that bear an international relations element. In the same breath, other Cabinet ministers are required to consult the Minister on their international role.


1.4        Measurable objectives of the Department


The Department had identified the following strategic objectives for implementation during the reporting quarter, aimed at responding to the domestic priorities as announced by government for the reporting year as follows:

  • Provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department,
  • promote relations with foreign countries,
  • participate in international organisations and institutions in line with South Africa’s national values and foreign policy objectives, and
  • communicate South Africa’s role and position in international relations in the domestic and international arenas as well as to provide Protocol Services.


2.         Performance of the Department in general

The quarterly report reflects the high level highlights of a number of diplomatic activities carried out by the Department including its Missions abroad. At the time of reporting, South Africa’s representative drive had grown from 34 in 1994 to 125 diplomatic missions in 2019, situated in 109 countries throughout the world.


True to the fact that the Department operates in an ever changing international landscape, its work during the 4th quarter was influenced by these events. The international turbulence was due to the rapid weakening of the rand against major currencies; the resultant impact on the global economic outlook,the plummeting oil prices and the advent of the Coronavirus pandemic.


Theactivities of the Department remained structured into the five programmes as elaborated in its Annual Performance Plan 2019/20. These are as follows:


  • Programme 1:  Administration
  • Programme 2:  International Relations
  • Programme 3:  International Cooperation
  • Programme 4:  Public Diplomacy and Protocol Services and
  • Programme 5:  International Transfers


2.1        Non-financial performance of the Department per programme: Achievements


2.1.1     Programme 1: Administration: It is aimed to provide strategic leadership, management and support services to the Department.


Within this programme, the Department was able to extend consular services to South Africans in 199cases reported to the missions abroad. These includedassisting citizens in distress; visiting new detainees/prisoners in places of detention; facilitating the repatriation of mortal remains; assisting in locating the whereabouts of missing South Africans; assisting in the recovery of children under parental abduction; and facilitatingextraditions where requested.


In terms of compliance with the 30-day payment period for service providers, the Department achieved 78.82 per cent. Delays were ascribed to documentation which could not be processed in time. This was said to have been exacerbated by the fact that it was towards the end of the reporting period, followed by the lockdown restrictions, which impacted negatively in achieving the target set for the 4th quarter.


It was also reported that21Continuous Professional Development (CPD) training sessions were targeted in line with the Foreign Service Training Strategy. However, only and nine (9)weredeliveredin part due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa.


The Department highlighted that all requests(348) for legal services, advice and assistance were provided.These comprised144 requests for legal services, policy advice and assistance provided on international law; and204 requests for legal services, policy advice and assistance provided on domestic law.


Five (5) Training programmes in line with the Workplace Skills Plan (WSP) were targeted and seven (7)were delivered.


2.1.2     Programme 2: International Relations


The programme is aimed to promote relations with foreign countries to strengthen South Africa’s political, economic and social relations with targeted countries. This is achieved through the outcomes of structured bilateral mechanisms and high-level visits reflecting national priorities, the African Agenda and the Agenda of the South. These remain important vehicles for cooperation and promoting South Africa’s national priorities. The national priorities of government as well as the needs of Africa (such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as espoused in the National Development Plan (NDP), are also pursued in bilateral relations. Focus is also placed on the strengthening of economic diplomacy initiatives undertaken by Missions for the promotion of South Africa’s trade, investment and tourism potential and opportunities.


During the reporting period,South Africa continued to accelerate its Economic Diplomacy initiatives. Through the Department’s diligent work in this area, South Africa is reported growing the regional, continental and global trade and investment.


It was reported that the Economic Diplomacy and image building activities undertaken by South African Missions abroad wereaimed at promoting, amongst others, the country’s economic interests. They were also exploring investment opportunities, tourism promotion, skills development and cultural exchanges.


Tourism promotion events and meetings held by Missions abroad, were aimed to boost tourism into South Africa and also to promote South Africa as a preferred tourism destination for business and leisure.


A multi stake-holder colloquium was organised on Generation Equality where the 25thAnniversary of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action on Gender Equality was discussed.The Department planned10 programmes and projects to advance gender mainstreaming, youth development and access for people with disabilities were planned.However, the annual target was not achieved, as only eight (8) were held.


The Department concluded the three (3) targeted structured bilateral mechanisms to promote national priorities, the African Agenda, the Agenda of the South and to discuss various bilateral and multilateral international issues of interest.

The countries were as follows:

  • Bi-national Commission with Germany (videoconferencing) (Ministerial)
  • Joint Cooperation Commission with Netherlands (incoming Ministerial)
  • Joint Ministerial Commission with India (incoming Minister)


The Department has also conducted four (4) targeted high level visits for the reporting period.Focus of discussions centered on the promotion of South Africa’s national interests and areas of mutual interest, including an exchangeofviews on a wide spectrum of bilateral and global issues with particular focus on:

  • Strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation and issues of mutual interest;
  • Political and security situation on the Continent also discussed.
  • Regional and continental issues;
  • Political, diplomacy, defence and security, economic and social cooperation.


Out of the 20 targeted trade and investment seminars, five (5)were hosted and participated in, to showcase South African products and services and business seminars hosted on the ease of doing business in South Africa.

It was reported that some meetings were cancelled due to unavailability of stakeholders and due to international developments, including COVID-19. Discussions centred on the following sectors:defence products and technology, trade and investment, textile industry, footwear production, clothing, the beverage sector, renewable energy, aquaculture.


With regard to engagements with chambers of commerce,seventeen (17) of 20 targeted engagements with chambers of commerce were held to identify trade leads and to promote business-to-business connectivity. However, it was reported that some meetings were cancelled due to unavailability of stakeholders and international developments, including COVID-19.


It was reported that 15tourism promotion events were targeted, and 21 were hosted, promoting South Africa as a preferred tourism destination for business and leisure, utilising Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events/Exhibitions (MICE.


Seven (7) SADC structures and processes were to be engaged in to promote peace and stability and socio-economic development.However, only five were held during the reporting period.


2.1.3     Programme 3:International Cooperation


Through this programme, the Department participates in international organisations and institutions. This was reported as in line with South Africa’s national values and foreign policy objectives. The programme assists the Department to enhance international responsiveness to the needs of developing countries and Africa. This is achieved through negotiation and influencing processes in the Global Governance System; towards a reformed, strengthened and equitable rules-based multilateral system.The Department continued to participate in various multilateral meetings to influence the outcomes of such meetings and remain an active member of the international community as espoused by the NDP.


The Departmenthad one (1)multilateral meeting targeted and achieved. South Africa advanced its positions in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC) negotiations at the 25th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCC (COP25). It did this in its national capacity, as a member of the Africa Group of Negotiators (AGN), the G77 and China, as well as the Brazil, South Africa, India and China group (BASIC).


It was highlighted that as Chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), South Africa pressed for all three of the pillars of the Paris Agreement to be advanced with equal speed and determination. South Africa played a leading role in the adoption of a gender action plan and in the incremental progress achieved in a number of work streams.


It was also reported that at the end of March 2020, the number of positions occupied by South Africa (at country, expert and appointment level) stood at 65.These positions are in identified multilateral bodies.


In pursuit of peace and stability, socioeconomic development, good governance and democracy in Africa, South Africa had targeted two (2) events and they were achieved. These were:


  • Assembly of the Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU)

The Summit deliberated on, inter alia,institutional reform and financing of the continental body; peace and security on the continent. The other issues was ondevelopments related to the African Continental Free Trade Area; and negotiations for a new cooperation agreement between the African, Caribbean and Pacific developing countries and the European Union Post-2020.


  • AU Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) Session

The AUPSC presented its reports on its activities and the state of peace and security on the continent. It also presented its 5th report on the implementation of the AU Master Roadmap (AUMR) of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns in 2020.


Two National Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) structuresdid not meet as the structure has been discontinued and theannual target is therefore notachieved. Its terms of reference enabled it to assess South Africa’s positions ahead of the BRICS summits.


Four (4)high-level engagements with strategic formations of the North were planned for the reporting period. Two (2)such engagements were not achieved, namely:

  • 14th South Africa-EU Ministerial Political Dialogue (MPD) and;
  • 8th South Africa-EU Summit.


2.1.4     Programme 4: Public Diplomacy and Protocol Services


pin international relations in tperiod. uedt would ageonal Cooperation Fund (ARF)

The programme is meant to communicate South Africa’s role and position in international relations in the domestic and international arenas. It is also aimed to provide protocol services.


Public Diplomacy

Three (3)opinion pieces were targeted and achieved; and they were on the following topics:

  • “SA backs UN probe into Hammarskjold’s death”
  • “South Africa’s agenda as Chair of the AU is to create the Africa the Continent wants”
  • South African and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA)”


Protocol Services

Within this programme, the Department provided protocol services per requests that were received.It processed14 state visits (6 outgoing and 8 incoming) through the State Protocol Lounges. During the reporting period, no requests were received for international conferences.




2.1.5     Programme 5: International Transfers


Spending under the International Transfers programme has decreased however, mainly due to lower spending on goods and services. Transfers were made to the ARF and also to international organisations to which South Africa is a state party.


3.         Financial performance of the Department


The Department reported that the total expenditure for the 4th quarter amounted to R1.615 billion, or 114% of the projected expenditure of R1.414 billion. Expenditure was reported 14% higher than the projected expenditure for the period.


The high spending on Programme 2 and Programme 3 was on Compensation of Employees (CoE) expenditure, which was also influenced by the high exchange rate experienced in the 4th quarter.


The high spending on Programme 5 was reported due to the payment of the outstanding balance from April 2019 for the Southern African Development Community(SADC) membership contribution. The payment was effected in March 2020, after receiving National Treasury’s approval for virement of funds from Programme 1, Programme 2 and Programme 4.


4. African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund (ARF)


During the 4thquarter of the 2019/20 financial year, the African Renaissance Fund, was expected to:


  • Ensure cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and other countries, inparticular African countries.
  • Promote of democracy and good governance.
  • Ensure promote prevention and resolution of conflict
  • Socio-economic development and integration
  • Humanitarian assistance; and human resource development


During the 4th quarter reporting period, the ARFprocessed a four emergency project proposals for funds to be contributed as follows:  to the Special Fund for COVID-19; towards the Africa Centre for Disease Control(African CDC); for the Military Ombudsman Project; and for assistance for Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR).


Two disbursementswere processed to support democracy and good governance as follows:

A payment of R 2 721 871, 10 was processed forSouth African Intervention and Contribution to the Kingdom of Lesotho Peace Process; anda payment of R 121 747, 21 was processedfor South African participation in the Election Observer Mission (Mozambique, Botswana and Malawi).


The ARF also approved disbursement to support humanitarian assistance as follows:

A payment of R 85 747, 00 was processed for the humanitarian assistance to South Sudan; a payment of R 470 900, 00 was processed for the Namibia drought relief project.


In the following instances, the ARF only approved two of four disbursements to support humanitarian assistance:

A payment of R 740 857, 50was processed for the Namibia drought relief project; and also payment of R 227 257, 70was processedfor the Namibia drought relief project.

One of two disbursements were approved to support capacity-building processes as follows:

A payment of R 1 744 328,50 was processedto support capacity-building (Human Resources Development for the African Ombudsman Research Centre (AORC).


One other disbursement was approved to support Prevention and Resolution of Conflict (PRC) as follows:

A payment of R 1 439 622, 00 was processed for South African Intervention and Contribution to the Transformation Initiative to the Central African Republic.


5. Findings by the Committee


After due deliberations on the contents of the 4thquarter report for 2019/20of the Department and its entity, the Committee made the following findings:


5.1.1     It was noted that the Department still struggled with payments to service providers within 30 days’ rule. The Director General was asked to report on the root causes of this practice and report by August 2020.


5.1.2     It was noted that South Africa should be promoted as an investment and tourist destination.Clarity was sought on which missions have been most effective in this regard.


5.1.3     The Committee sought details on the African Renaissance Fund drought relief projects in Namibia.


5.1.4     The Committee was concerned about the Department’s obsolete ICT infrastructure, as the ‘new normal’ situation brought by the COVID- 19 pandemic requires modern and well capacitated ICT infrastructure. The Committee gave the Department three weeks to produce a progress report on the ICT modernization project.


5.1.5     The Committee further instructed the Department to prepare detailed list of 65 South Africans occupying strategic positions abroad, together with the international organisations they are working for.


5.1.6     On Zanele Mbeki foundation payments, clarity was sought on its achievements.


5.1.7     The Committee noted that issues pertaining to women, youth and people with disability needed more attention in the Department.


5.1.8     The Committee noted that a separate engagement is needed on the African Renaissance Fund and that as an entity, it should be engaged as a stand-alone item in the future.


5.1.9     The Committee noted that the Department would be called upon to answer on findings of the Committee on New York oversight visit.


5.1.10   The Committee cautioned the Department that it would be closely monitoring the Department on on-coming audit outcomes.


5.1.11   The Committee requested a written response on why the South African mission in Israel is not yet closed.


5.2 Responses by the Department


5.2.1     Hon Deputy Minister Mashego-Dlamini took note that in the future, the African Renaissance Fund will report separately from the Department. The Director General also agreed to it, saying the ARF has its own secretariat to report on its activities.


5.2.2     After the insightful remarks by the Chair, the Director General undertook to investigate, once and for all, why the Department was not able to pay service providers within the 30-days rule; and report within the stipulated time.


5.2.3     The training on professional development, which was planned for 16 March, could not be completed due to the requirement of social distancing necessitated by COVID-19 pandemic.


5.2.4     The Chief State Law advisory includes giving legal opinions, advice, legalisation of South African documents and all matters related to domestic and international law in the Department.


5.2.5     The Department would endeavour to prioritise gender mainstreaming, youth development and enhancing access for people with disability.


5.2.6     The 2020-2025 Strategic Plan was a living testimony that Department has moved away from reporting in numbers. It is engaging in a scenario where national interest would be best served through assessing whether participating in international forums is deriving any benefit.


5.2.7     The targets of holding trade and investment seminars were not met due to the unavailability of stakeholders.


5.2.8     The target for the sessions of the National BRICS Forum was not met as it has since been discontinued. It was a body which would assess South Africa’s positions to the policy meetings of BRICS.


5.2.9     Remaining within the stipulated ceiling for compensation of employees has been a challenge. However, the sentiments of the Committee would be taken on-board. The Department was engaging with National Treasury to agree on a strategy that would allow the Department to stay within the ceiling.


5.2.10   The Foreign Policy Review Panel was dealing with Foreign Policy review. Its recommendations are in the implementation phase. It would be shared with the Committee at the appropriate time.


5.2.11   The Missions have different challenges, and there could be inherent setbacks and the performance of Missions would be closely monitored.


5.2.12   A strategy has been submitted to Cabinet on ensuring that South Africans, especially the youth, get interested in working abroad. A list of 65 South Africans in strategic positons abroad would be shared with the Committee.


5.2.13   The ICT deficiencies would be vigorously pursued. The Ministerial Task team including experts have done a good job in reviewing ICT governance in the Department. For the short term, the team identifiedquick-wins to expedite the refresher, secure data and bought tools of trade like laptops and computers. A digital strategy has been completed and requires implementation.


5.2.14   The movements of funds within a programme were made due to a shortfall caused by the foreign exchange fluctuations. The virements were approved by the National Treasury.


5.2.15   All suppliers that the ARF identifies, are paid much later. Rand Water is monitoring the implementation of funding projects. Election observer missions are paid from ARF funds if they are part of the South African observer team.


5.2.16   The White Paper on People with Disability recognises the importance of accessibility of the disabled. The concerned members of staff have been given suitable computers and there are facilities enabling them to access the building.





6. Conclusions


The Committee is of the opinion that overall the Department has performed according to the goals it had set itself for the 4th quarter of 2019/20 reporting period. The 2019/20 budgetary allocations of the Department were generally aligned to the national strategic priorities outlined in the 2019 State-of-the-Nation Address, as well as its strategic direction in terms of its Medium Term Expenditure Framework.


The unpredictable foreign exchange portfolios and the ceiling on compensation of employees have been negatively affecting the operations of the Department, especially in the Missions, where the bulk of its activities take place. The Department has accordingly operated within a tight budget despite its growing responsibilities.


7. Recommendations


In order to further assist the Department to enhance its performance, the Committee recommends that the Minister ensures that the Department implements the following and report to the Committee within one month of the adoption of this report by the National Assembly:


7.1.1     Fast-tracking the modernisation project of the ICT infrastructure and related matters to minimise the risk to security of information, and to respond to the virtual demands of the ‘new normal’ necessitated by the advent of COVID-19.


7.1.2     Investigating the root causes for the non-payment of service providers within the required 30-days rule. SMMEs are unfairly disadvantaged by this practice.


7.1.3     Expediting the coming into force of the Foreign Service Act, and prioritising the development of a property management strategy.


7.1.4     Reviewing the structured bilateral mechanisms entered into by the country with its counterparts, to ensure they advancenational interest and address domestic imperatives.


7.1.5     Consider using Candidature Diplomacy as a conscious ‘soft power’ strategy to get value-for-money and also address the needs of our country including giving exposure to our youth for internship and future employment opportunities in international organisations the country is party to.


7.1.6     Developing, in consultation with National Treasury, a strategy with a detailed implementation plan, to find a workable solution to stay within the ceiling on compensation of employees without compromising service delivery.


7.1.7     Increasing representability in the Department of the previously disadvantaged group catering for gender mainstreaming, youth development, women and access for people with disability.


7.1.8     Consider leading the implementation and domestication of the region’s blueprints in the country, including the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2015-2020.


7.1.9     The Committee recommends that the 4th quarter performance report be passed.


Report to be considered.



[1]Constitution of the Republic of South Africa 1996

[2] Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) 1999 (Act 1 of 1999).


[3]Department of International Relations and Cooperation Annual Performance Plan 2019/20

[4]Department of International Relations and Cooperation Strategic Plan 2015-2020 p17


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