Issue 327 | 16 May 2018
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The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu, delivered the Budget Speech of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation on Tuesday, 15 May 2018, in Parliament, Cape Town.
The speech outlined the priorities and programmes of the department for the 2018/19 financial year and provided details on, among other things, strengthening South Africa’s position as a leading member of the international community.

As part of the activities linked to the Budget Vote Speech, Amb Anil Sooklal delivered a public lecture focusing on South Africa’s hosting in July 2018 of the 10th BRICS Summit on Monday, 14 May 2018, at the University of the Western Cape.

A Pre-Budget Vote Speech media briefing was held by Minister Sisulu on Tuesday, 15 May 2018, at the Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament, Cape Town while a Post-Budget Vote Speech breakfast was held on Wednesday, 16 May 2018, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Delivering the Budget Vote of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Minister Sisulu said that in celebrating the centenary of the world icon, Nelson Mandela, we should once again use the space created by Madiba to leapfrog into a future that we all dreamt of.
“It is an especially important year for us as we invite the world to focus on the example we have set for the rest of mankind.  We need to drive this celebration of the man who not only led us into this democracy, but one who captured the world’s imagination on what is possible. We had the most fertile ground on which to build further on the immense work done by Oliver Tambo in our international relations. Mandela picked up the baton and charted our foreign policy in the new dispensation and we remember him for what he bequeathed to us: freedom, peace and forgiveness. And the world opened its arms to us.

“We once were a giant in the world and our reputation was well known, because of what we represented. The world was richer for having given us support and for us having given them the miracle of 1994. In Mandela’s memory, in his honour, we have a responsibility to regain that stature that he left for us. That stature that allowed us to punch above our weight and succeed. We’ll regain that stature and put all out efforts in making sure that we make the world a better place for all. We should not be in a world where our children will inherit the ruins of Syria. Our children should not live in fear of extremist militants. Our children should not die at the hands of heavy-handed soldiers. Our children should not die of poverty.”

Refering to the new dispensation of the Fifth Administration, Minister Sisulu said this new era, colloquially known as the New Dawn, was a period of renewal, of change, of adherence to good governance and responsiveness to our people.

“It is a time for re-energising our foreign policy, which is anchored in our Constitution and driven by our domestic policy, the two as you know having a symbiotic relationship.

“We want South Africa to be once again a moral compass and a voice of reason in a world increasingly overcome with selfish, narrow interests. We want to be the hope for all in times of despair.

“Our foreign policy has evolved over many years, crafted by Oliver Tambo as he sensitised the world about the struggle of South Africa; crystallised and given expression by Nelson Mandela as he put South Africa firmly on the international stage."

Major principles of South Africa’s foreign policy

“Our Constitution determines that our foreign policy must be driven by seven major principles:
  1. fundamentally transform and achieve sustainable growth of the economy to empower the people and create a better life for all
  2. deal with the legacies of apartheid colonialism
  3. maintain the stability and security of South Africa, including its constitutional order and institutions
  4. develop a peaceful and prosperous integrated southern Africa
  5. develop a stable and prosperous African continent, which is not marginalised in world affairs
  6. resolve conflicts by negotiations
  7. develop a multipolar just and equitable world order.
“South Africa’s approach to and implementation of our foreign policy must be based on an understanding of the current regional and global political and economic realities.

“This defines our response to the United States of America (US) when it took a unilateral decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA) between Iran and the P5+1. The JCPoA is of great significance in that it upholds the integrity of the international non-proliferation regime and eliminates the prospects of a nuclear attack across the Middle East.

“Essentially, this plan limits Iran’s nuclear capability by restricting uranium enrichment, the stockpiling of enriched uranium and the technology that may be used in its facilities and imposes strict international monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency in exchange for lifting multilateral and unilateral economic sanctions. We have been an active part of creating this environment and have expressed our deep displeasure at the possible erosion of the work done.

“We believe in a global system that has been developed and structured to ensure that never again will we experience a war. This system is established to ensure that we never again slide to the levels of destruction we have had over so many years."

The African continent

Minister Sisulu said that the fundamentals of South Africa’s foreign policy were based on human rights, peace, equality, freedom from oppression and racism and freedom from poverty.

“This is our focus; first and foremost on the African continent. We remain an important player on the African continent and our role has been aptly described as pivotal, and we intend to keep it that way.

“The renaissance that we dreamed of is still possible in our lifetime. In fact, the African Renaissance remains a key objective of the African National Congress (ANC), confirmed at its 54th National Conference. However, our importance as a role player depends on getting ourselves out of the problems that surround us right now. A country mired in its own problems can hardly expect to make any impact on the world stage.

“Our potential to influence for good is enormous, based on our history. We can continue to be the moral compass of the world and we need to. We continue to fight against injustice, because we have to. We who have suffered so much, can ill afford suffering in any part of the world.

“Our global reality presents an unpredictable, dangerous environment. An eminent US opinion-shaper, the Atlantic Council, predicted in 2016 that between 2020 and 2030, the world would be characterised by spiraling inequality and perpetual war and insecurity. This world will be ‘marked by breakdown of order, widespread violent extremism and aggressive larger states. The world situation will be driven by unpredicted and unpredictable events, including the possibility of a nuclear exchange.’ This lays the foundation of what we should avoid.

“Today, we are witnessing manifestations of such predictions. The growing tensions between the US and China, the growing tensions between NATO and Russia, the escalating war in Syria, the growing tensions with Iran, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; all could lead to a nuclear confrontation between major powers, which threatens the very essence and existence of humanity as we know it.

“It is within this unpredictable, highly volatile environment that we have to constantly recalibrate our foreign policy, but never lose the central thrust of peace, human rights and equality. Driven by this desire to moderate extremes, we have opted to stand for the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council, through which we hope to collaborate with all countries committed to the objective of peace and security. We do not do this out of vanity, but pure rugged, brutal necessity and the willingness to lend a hand to keep peace. Our track record when we held this position previously speaks for itself."

Review panel

The Minister said that she had established a Review Panel, consisting of very experienced former members of the department and other experts.

“The basic premise of our foreign policies remains as is articulated above, endorsed in the National Development Plan, and confirmed by the ANC. But it needs intermittent review because the world is not static. It is ever-changing, characterised by periods of potential crisis and power dynamics. In this turbulent world, we need to sharpen our tools to ensure that we respond to this from the basis of our own conviction to ensure a better world to live in. In short, we will review our policies as and when the world changes.

“The Review Panel has already started working on the review of our policies and will be assisting me in various forms. They have the requisite experience and it will be our loss not to use what we have invested in them.

“The President has chosen as a focal point for both our domestic and foreign policy the issue of economic revival. South Africa has one of the highest unemployment figures in the world. The number of unemployed is estimated at just less than six million, even though over the past decade, the public sector has invested R2,2 trillion in economic and social infrastructure. Government’s consolidated spending in 2018/19 for social development alone is R259 billion, up from R234 billion in the previous year.

“Yet our unemployment figures remain stubbornly high and have the potential to derail socio-economic stability, making it non-negotiable that South Africa needs to create jobs to fight high unemployment.  To stimulate skills development and entrepreneurship requires us to simultaneously ensure that people outside the economy are brought back into productive activity, and empower people to help themselves.

“Out of this realisation, the President has decided to host an Investment Summit, to which he will invite major trade partners, key investors and heads of state. We intend to make this the defining feature of this administration.

“The trust that South Africa has enjoyed as an investment destination has been eroded over time. This has been seen in the decline in ratings by two prominent ratings agencies to sub-investment grade, or “junk” status. However, over the past few months, we have made great strides to create an environment in which our investment partners feel we are a dependable partner. Ratings agency Moody’s in March 2018 revised upwards South Africa’s credit outlook to stable from negative, and affirmed the country’s credit rating as investment grade. This is a sign that we are once more returning to the right path. We have to work harder to support our economic recovery.

“The President’s target is to raise R1 trillion in investment over five years, which we will not only use for South Africa, but also on the African continent. We believe that if we can create a stable Africa, we can unleash its potential. The resources of this continent are enormous and properly tapped will change the fortunes of the whole continent for generations to come.

Minister Sisulu emphasised that South Africa continued to be committed to keeping peace.

“We stand for peaceful solutions whenever there is conflict. Our track record of keeping peace on the African continent is unchallenged by any one country. Our efforts in creating dialogue are a hallmark of our foreign policy. We have had great successes in the past on the continent and we will continue to put this at the apex of our interventions.

“South Africa adheres to the general principles of international law, including among other things, respect for territorial integrity of other states, especially in resolving interstate challenges. We take a cautious approach on country-specific issues, in respect of matters of human rights, preferring rather to promote dialogue in resolving disputes, including in situations of human rights violations.

“The President will be co-chairing a meeting of the High-level Global Commission on the Future of Work of the International Labour Organisation with the Prime Minister of Sweden this week. They want to send a specific message to the world that we should endeavour at all costs to keep peace in our lifetime. Destruction of life and property that has been the hallmark of human interaction at odds with each other does not define us. For, against all provocation at the height of our struggle, we chose peace and we’ll use every resource and space available to us to preach peace."

Departmental matters

The Minister said that DIRCO operated within an ever-changing environment that compelled us to be responsive in order to deliver on our strategic objectives and plans.

“Because of the cost-containment measures, the organisational structure is one of the key mechanisms that we have to concentrate on. It is thus imperative that the departmental organisational structure be designed to put the department in a better position to achieve its foreign policy objectives within the economic climate we operate in. Therefore, the department will be reviewing its organisational structure to align to current developments, challenges and changes in order to deliver on South Africa’s foreign policy and government priorities.”

“I have called a Heads of Mission Conference from 2 to 5 June 2018 and will inform them how we are restructuring the department to be responsive to their needs, understand the peculiarities of every situation they face, and make them feel that their problems are being dealt with immediately and within set time frames so that no Head of Mission should complain about non-responsiveness to their problems.

“Our diplomats need to feel that this transformation that they are yearning for happens in their lifetime. They complained that they are not being served properly and I believe that the resources and intellectual capacity in the department is sufficient to do just that. Every diplomat wants to know that their position is important for the department.

“I have also had complaints from the career diplomats in the department who feel that they are stifled and that they are not getting appointed to serve abroad. I have therefore decided that it will be my goodwill that the June 2018 appointments will only consist of career diplomats.’

Minister Sisulu said that matters had been raised by the Auditor-General and there would therefore be drastic changes to the administration of the department.

“It is necessary and it is our responsibility to make sure that we respond to that which is highlighted as a weakness. We adhere to the prescripts of the laws that bind us and we follow through on any irregularities. There has to be consequences for wrongdoing.

“I shall report back to the Portfolio Committee in three months’ time on how we are dealing with all matters brought to us as being of concern and that could be cause for a qualified audit report. This would require forensic investigations.

“The centre must hold and a strong administration must be in place. Non-compliance must not be tolerated and we envisage an anti-corruption unit to track investigations. We’ll also track satisfaction levels in the department and under our diplomats and ensure that good work is rewarded as opposed to favouritism, which is another regular complaint."

Africa Month

“In conclusion, we meet in the month of May that has been designated as Africa Month. It was in this month in 1963 when the Organisation of African Unity was born on 25 May. On that occasion, African countries came together to craft a strategy for the liberation of Africa. This month resonates with the deep-seated quest to bring to the fore issues that still plague Africa. I wish to remind you of the advice that Haile Selassie gave in his address to the inaugural conference of the OAU in 1963: ‘If we permit ourselves to be tempted by narrow self-interest and vain ambition, if we barter our beliefs for short-term advantage, who will listen when we claim to speak for conscience'."

“That is what we stand for.”
In his address at the 2018 Departmental Budget Vote Speech on Tuesday, 15 May 2018, in Parliament, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Luwellyn Landers, said it was an honour to address the house on this important occasion, which took place during Africa Month.
“On 25 May, we commemorate the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union (AU).

“This year, we also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the milestone document in the history of human rights. The declaration sets out fundamental human rights to be universally protected. Sadly, while we are celebrating this document, there are numerous countries which continue to violate the human rights of its citizens."

On South Africa’s multilateral relations

“In 2018, South Africa assumed the Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). We will continue to focus on building our political and economic integration of SADC states. We will continue to strengthen peace, security, democracy and development.

“South Africa’s membership of and role within international organisations that include India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA); Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS); and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) comprise an integral component of securing South Africa’s foreign policy objectives. They serve as a force multiplier in positively influencing the global economic and governance structures. They place people at the centre of the global development agenda and focus on addressing the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.

“South Africa assumed Chairship of BRICS on 1 January 2018 and will conclude this role on 31 December 2018. As such, the 10th BRICS Summit will be chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa from 25 to 27 July 2018 in Gauteng under the theme: “BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution”.

“South Africa’s approach to its Chairship is grounded in the intention to ensure programmatic continuity for BRICS, and is committed to executing approximately 100 sectoral meetings, reflective of the expanded BRICS architecture. It also intends to bring a specific focus to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Furthermore, cognisant of our national interests and priorities, South Africa will once again seek to highlight the African Agenda during its Chairship.

“In October 2017, South Africa assumed the Chair of IORA and will continue to do so until October 2019. Thus, we have been honoured to lead this pre-eminent regional body linking Africa, the Middle East and Australasia via the Indian Ocean.

“Importantly, it is our intention to create and enhance the institutional mechanisms necessary to advance important priorities for South Africa and the region, such as women’s economic empowerment, maritime safety and security, the Blue Economy and Tourism."

Western Sahara

“Mindful of the significance of 2018, we will renew our commitment to the struggle against subjugation and deprivation of our fellow Africans, particularly the people of Western Sahara. Our continent cannot be free while these fellow brothers and sisters continue to yearn for their freedom and self-determination.

“It was anticipated that the readmission of Morocco into the AU would expedite the resolution of this dispute. On the contrary, the Moroccans are utilising their membership to undermine the people of Western Sahara by denying them a referendum to determine whether they are in favour of self-determination in keeping with several United Nations (UN) resolutions. To this end, we will continue to lobby all AU members and the broader international community to expedite the resolution of the Saharawi question."


“At the AU High-Level Committee Meeting on Libya, held in April 2018, a report was received from the UN Secretary-General’s Representative to Libya. It was reported that there were at least 20 million illegal weapons and firearms in Libya that contributed to the ongoing conflict.

“It was also reported that a sea vessel had been detained in Greece carrying a cargo of weapons destined for Libya. This incident is evidence that outside forces have absolutely no interest in seeing a peaceful, prosperous, democratic Libya emerge from the ashes of a devastating war. As members of the AU, it is our responsibility to expose and stop these forces, which undermined our approach and belief of dealing with conflict through multilateralism."

30th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale and Cuba

“This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which was a turning point in the struggle to free the continent and our own country from the colonialism and apartheid.

“What come to mind when we recall this battle are the sacrifices of the Cuban Revolutionary Army officers and commanders who fought together with African liberation movements and people for our cause.

“Madiba himself confessed that: ‘The Cuban people hold a special place in the hearts of the people of Africa. The Cuban internationalists have made a contribution to African independence, freedom, and justice, unparalleled for its principled and selfless character’.

“The 2012 Health Cooperation Agreement with Cuba has reached its conclusion. Engagements are underway towards the renewal of the agreement.

“Given our continued revolutionary friendship with the people of Cuba, we reaffirm our solidarity with Cuba and call for an immediate end to the Economic Blockade by the United States (US)."

Bilateral trade with MERCOSUR states

“We will continue to explore more cooperation opportunities, particularly increasing our bilateral trade with MERCOSUR states under the Preferential Trade Agreement of 2016.

“These endeavours will be complementary to our ongoing beneficial trade relations with countries of the North such as the US and Canada. Irrespective of the recent tariff regime announcement, we are confident that the principles of rule-based free trade multilateralism will prevail.

“Equally, while we remain committed to strengthening our trade relations with the US, we will not be intimidated by the recent threats of the US to cut their aid to countries which vote against them at multilateral institutions. We remain committed to an independent and principled approach to foreign policy."

Human rights

“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 25th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action.

“At the recently concluded High-Level Segment 37th Session of the UN Human Rights Council, we reiterated the call for the council to take a balanced approach to human rights. We called for the observance of the Vienna spirit of indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights.

“We advocated and will continue to advocate for the adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons in order to guarantee the right to life and people’s well-being in the world. As such, nuclear-weapon states must honour their undertaking to eliminate nuclear weapons rather than creating justifications for exploring further options in this regard."


Deputy Minister Landers said that 2018 marked the centenary of the son and daughter of the African soil, Nelson Mandela and Nontsikelelo Albertina Sisulu.

“This Budget Vote policy priorities for 2018 attempt to pay tribute to their lifelong beliefs and principles. These priorities are underpinned by the principles of Pan-Africanism, international solidarity, human rights and multilateralism as a means to deal with conflict and build a safer world.

“We will continue to build South-South solidarity, while maintaining North-South cooperation and strengthening African political and economic integration, democracy, peace and security.”
In her address on the occasion of the 2018 Budget Vote of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) on 15 May 2018, the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Reginah Mhaule, said to fittingly and appropriately celebrate the centenary year of our founding farther, President Nelson Mandela, we must recommit to fight alongside all those who are yearning for their freedom, justice and prosperity.
“This is also the year where we celebrate Mam Albertina Sisulu under the theme ‘A Woman of Fortitude’. She was undoubtedly a woman of courage and resilience who advanced women’s rights throughout her adult life.

“We must also utilise the occasion of this centenary to re-energise the Pan-African Women’s Organisation (PAWO). For almost 56 years, PAWO has been at the forefront in mobilising women to fight for their liberation and it must remain a strong voice for women in Africa and the world. I can attest that Mme Sisuslu would have loved to ensure that this organisation remains relevant and championing the course of women at all times.”


“In this regard, we take this opportunity to join the Palestinians as they observe the Nakba Day, which signifies the beginning of a painful journey that has entered its 70th year. It was on this day, 15 May 1948, when the creation of the State of Israel resulted in over 700 000 Palestinians being forced out of their own territories and therefore losing their birth right.

“It is therefore important that when we continue to support the Palestinians in their quest for self-determination, statehood and freedom, we impress further to Israel and its allies that their continued oppression and subjugation is unjust and a human rights violation. In this context, let us draw inspiration from Tata Madiba’s stance expressed during the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, in Pretoria in 1997, when he said: ‘When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine’.”

Middle East

“We will continue to express our displeasure in regard to the volatility in the Middle East and call upon all parties to expedite the Middle East Peace Process. Our assessment is that prospects for peace are persistently shunned by the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory. Furthermore, the decision of the United States of America (US) to relocate its Embassy to Jerusalem exacerbates the already protracted conflict and by extension further hinders efforts to find a peaceful solution as witnessed yesterday.

“As you are aware, in December 2017 at the 54th National Conference of the African National Congress, a resolution was adopted to downgrade our diplomatic representation in Israel. This is a matter that is currently receiving our careful consideration following government’s regulatory frameworks.”

Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)

“We also would like to reiterate our deep concern about the withdrawal of the US from the JCPOA, which seeks to ensure Iran utilises its nuclear capabilities for human development as articulated by the President’s statement as he join other world leaders.

“Such action undermines international mechanism and will have implications to fostering peace and stability in the Middle East and far afield. It must further be that the agreement was unanimously endorsed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Resolution 2231, which establishes a binding legal framework to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme. It is our hope that the remaining four signatories to the JCPOA will honour their commitment.”


“In a similar vein, we do believe that international interference and aggression will never bring about lasting peace in Syria and on the contrary, will only further contribute towards increased loss of life and displacement. We wish to reiterate our position that the use of airstrikes conducted by the countries in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic are contrary to global governance and international law.

“To this end, the alleged use of chemical weapons in Syria cannot be a justification for military airstrikes in a territory of a sovereign state without the authorisation of the UNSC.

“We also condemn in strongest possible terms any possible use of chemical weapons by any party in the Syrian territory. We remain steadfast in our principled position that the issue should be resolved in the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the UNSC.”

Economic and trade ties and peace and stability

“The Middle East characterises both emerging threats and emerging opportunities. To this end, our diplomacy should promote our values and our interests, from both a political and an economic approach. Thus, we attach great value to our strong economic and trade ties with countries in this region and believe that they are critical to world trade, especially in the area of energy security.

“This is demonstrated through the recent accelerated growth in export trade with the Gulf region. Peace and stability are required in the region so that our missions can increase their engagement with potential investors in pursuit of the investment targets leading up to the Investment Summit.

“On a separate but peace- and stability-related matter, we are encouraged by the recent rapprochement between the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. It is our strong conviction that it is only through dialogue and continued engagement that all parties involved in the Korean Peninsula can resolve their differences.

“With regard to Asia, in April 2017, we successfully launched the South Africa-China People-to-People Exchange Mechanism, which has further added significance to the already existing strategic relations between the two countries.

“In addition to the already existing government-to-government engagements, this initiative has created an opportunity for non-government entities across academia, business and civil society to interact more frequently through organised structures. During the launch, the co-hairs witnessed the signing of six agreements and memoranda of understanding in various areas of cooperation.

“Furthermore, since October 2017, South Africa has become the first African country to export beef to China. You will indeed agree with me that this an indication of progress in leveraging our international agreements for domestic benefits and opening markets for our products.

“The Pan-African Parliament (PAP) has just elected new President, Vice Presidents and members of the legislature from various regions and countries, including our very own parliamentarians. It is our considered view that efforts must be directed towards strengthening institutional capacity and accountability to enable this august body to discharge its mandate. We must expedite its transformation towards a legislative body so that the PAP can further entrench democracy, good governance and transparency on our continent.

“We have a role to play to ensure that we create conditions within which our private sector can contribute to the general well-being of our people. The recent launch of the Japan-Africa Public-Private Economic Forum bears testimony to this undertaking. We will accelerate public-private partnerships and create more opportunities among Japanese and African companies.

“We were pleased by Japan’s pledge during the launch to invest $30 billion into the continent over the next three years. While efforts are underway to integrate African markets, this is an opportunity to integrate Africa’s economy into the global sphere. This was underscored by President Cyril Ramaphosa during the launch when he stated: ‘For Africa to grow and for its people to flourish, its economies need to be more effectively integrated into the global economy’.”

DIRCO and economic diplomacy

“We are conscious that we shall contribute to the growth of our economy, Africa’s development agenda and a better world by expending the limited resources in our disposal. In an effort to remain within the compensation ceiling of employees as set by National Treasury, the department will continue with the process of rationalising its personnel establishment at missions, where it will not affect service delivery adversely.

“We have also frozen the filling of non-critical posts at Head Office and in missions abroad, and will continue to do so during the 2018/19 financial year.

“We are also doing our best to realise youth empowerment and capacity-building. In essence, we have prioritised the implementation of internship and learnership programmes since these were initiated in the Public Service.

“In the past financial year, 60 youth participated in the internship programme, with representation from all nine provinces. The next batch of interns from diverse backgrounds will be joining the department at the beginning of June 2018 for their internship in this current financial year.

“The department will continue to position our Diplomatic Training and Development as a centre of excellence on the African continent. It is my view that this resonates perfectly with our objectives of equipping African diplomats with skills to optimally advance the continental developmental goals and Agenda 2063 in particular.

“We have identified the intensification of Economic Diplomacy Training as a strategic priority for this financial year. This will contribute effectively to the Investment Indaba and will bolster the work of the Investment Special Envoys as envisaged by President Ramaphosa.”
During the media briefing, held before the Budget Vote Speech, Minister Sisulu condemned "in the strongest terms possible" the latest violence in Gaza which she labelled as “violent aggression”.
Minister Lindiwe Sisulu with Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers and Deputy Minister Reginah Mhaule during the Pre-Budget Vote Speech Media Briefing, Imbizo Media Centre, Parliament, Cape Town, South Africa, 15 May 2018.

Pictures: Jacoline Schoonees
The Minister said the use of lethal force by the Israeli Defence Force against Palestinian men, women and children on the Gaza Strip was "unacceptable."

The South African Government on Monday, 14 May 2018, announced its recall for its Ambassador Sisa Ngombane with immediate effect following Israel's deadly attack in the Gaza strip.

Minister Sisulu said they had to “think carefully (about) the action (they) are taking in Israel” and as such, they consulted President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinians who were protesting against the provocative inauguration of the United States (US) Embassy in Jerusalem. This latest attack has resulted in many as 58 people reported to have been shot dead, including six children, and more than 2 700 have been injured after being fired on with live ammunition by Israeli snipers.

On learning about the attack, Minister Sisulu called her United States (US) counterpart, Mike Pompeo.

“My request to him was to ask if there is a possibility, can they consider putting the inauguration of the US Embassy in Jerusalem on hold. His response to me was he was unable to because it was a decision that has been fixed by the US Government. So, what we are seeing now was the possible reparations that the US Government has taken.”

The Minister reiterated that South Africa’s view was that the Israeli Defence Force must withdraw from the Gaza Strip and bring to an end the violent and destructive incursions into Palestinian territories.

"We were informed that the people of Palestine were preparing for more marches today. We hope that we can persuade the Israeli Defence Force to be a little more cautious.

“It is possible for them to protect themselves if they wish with any other means but deadly means, which they used yesterday. It is unacceptable and we join the rest of the world in condemning this."

The Minister was of the view that the violence in the Gaza Strip would stand in the way of rebuilding Palestinian institutions and infrastructure.

The routine actions of the Israeli armed forces present yet another obstacle to a permanent resolution to the conflict, which must come in the form of two states, Palestine and Israel, existing side-by-side and in peace.

SA Embassy in Tel Aviv

With regard to the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Tel Aviv as per African National Congress (ANC) Resolution, the Minister said they had not yet worked out modalities of downgrading it.

The decision taken at the ANC’s National Conference in December was for DIRCO to downgrade the South African Embassy in Israel to a liaison office.

This was a way of practical expression of support to the oppressed people of Palestine, especially after US policy change which recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

“They [ANC] instructed us to downgrade the embassy. We were still mulling over this when this transpired. We are working on this and once we have come to some sort of finality we will inform you,” the Minister said.

South Africa urges US to reconsider Iran nuclear deal

Meanwhile, Minister Sisulu has urged the US Government to reconsider the decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

“We wish to urge the US to reconsider its position and seek to implement the Iran Nuclear Deal.”

The deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was signed between Iran, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) – China, the United States, Britain, France and Russia – Germany and the European Union in 2015.

It froze the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual normalisation of economic and political relations with the international community and the end of sanctions.

The agreement was unanimously endorsed by the UNSC in Resolution 2231, which establishes a binding legal framework to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme.

Minister Sisulu said the US decision showed re-emergence of “rabid unilateralism” and was “self-seeking” as it was taking the world backwards and into the brink of conflict and tensions.

She added that the JCPOA represented a major achievement in nuclear non-proliferation and diplomacy and had contributed to regional and international peace and security.

– Source:
As part of the activities linked to the Budget Vote Speech, Minister Lindiwe Sisulu hosted a Post-Budget Vote Speech breakfast on Wednesday, 16 May 2018, at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Minister Sisulu with three of the essay-writing competition winners  

Post-Budget Vote media interviews

Ambassador Anil Sooklal, South Africa's BRICS Sherpa, addressing students at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, 14 May 2018.
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