Statement by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at the Department of Foreign Affairs Budget Vote, 13 May 2008

Madam Deputy Speaker
Minister Dlamini-Zuma
Cabinet Colleagues
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee of Foreign Affairs
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests
Our foreign policy is driven by our vision of an African Continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable and our mission is a commitment to promoting South Africa’s national interests and values, the African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all.
Minister Dlamini-Zuma has outlined our multi-faceted efforts to achieve our stated vision and mission.

Sadly the Honourable Leon continues to be selective in his inputs on morality, human rights etc.

I would like to advise him to stop depending on sources such as the Freedom House and American “experts”. He should rather have listened to the input of the Minister, to get a better sense of the progress that Africa has made in the area of good governance, democracy and human rights.

Happily, some of the inputs have highlighted the reality that foreign policy is not created in laboratories but has to be implemented in a very challenging and complex world order that is characterized by :

  • Unprecedented globalisation which, has resulted in uneven development between and within countries.
  • Increasing marginalisation and increasing poverisation of many countries
  • Failure of the development round of WTO talks
  • Failure to fundamentally reform the IMF and the World Bank
  • Unprecedented international division of labour
  • Unprecedented migration (legal and illegal)
  • And more recently a major international financial crisis.

It is within this international paradigm that we have identified three major challenges that drive our foreign policy perspectives:

Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development in South Africa, Africa and the world

President Mbeki speaking at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June 2003 said, “We must recognize that global poverty constitutes the deepest and most structural fault in the contemporary world economy and global societies … logically it means that the correction of the fault has to be at the centre of politics, policies and programmes of progressive thinking.”

We have sought to correct this “structural fault” of global poverty in conditions of the accelerated pace of globalisation. Key characteristics of globalisation have been the liberalisation of international trade, the expansion of FDI, mass cross-border financial flows and the phenomenal development of information technology. This has resulted in growing inter-dependence, making us a global village and this has manifested itself in unprecedented political, economic and social interaction. All of this impacts on every countries economic, financial and political sovereignty.

Whilst globalisation is creating immense opportunities of growth and wealth creation for some, it has produced an abundance of poverty for millions and increasingly the world is being constructed into two contrasting global villages.- one rich and one poor.

The Commission on Africa concluded that “Growth and globalisation have brought higher standards to billions of men and women. Yet it is not a wealth, which everyone enjoys. In Africa millions of people live each day in abject poverty and squalor.

Resolved to, inter alia, halve by the year 2015, the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day; and half the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and, by the same date;  halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water;  by the same date to ensure that,  children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education;

That the maternal mortality is reduced by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two-thirds, of their current rates.

To have, halted and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV and AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.

What is the stark reality we face today?

  • In a world of 6 billion people, 2 billion people live on the poverty line of less than $2 a day and 700 million of them are classified as desperately poor.
  • 1, 5 billion of our fellow inhabitants have no work.

In recent decades the poorest 5% of the world’s population has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power, while the richest increased its real income by 12%. The national per capita income of the twenty richest countries is 37 times larger than that of the twenty poorest, a gap which has doubled in size over the last forty years.
Despite recent studies showing improved economic performance in Sub-Saharan Africa, no-where else in the world is the negative consequences of globalisation and under-development so pronounced. It is characterised, inter alia, by the reality that:

  • Over 40% of Sub-Saharan African people live below the international poverty line of US$ 1 a day.
  • 34 of the world’s 41 highly indebted poor countries are in Africa.
  • The cost to Africa of servicing its foreign debt of US 349 billion in 1997 amounted to 21.3% of its earnings from the export of goods and services.
  • Africa with almost one-sixth the world’s population accounts for only one-fiftieth of global trade- and its share is diminishing.
  • While the recent high mineral commodities prices and the discovery of new oil reserves have changed the bleak picture for some countries.

The sad reality is that the MDGs aspirations have proved to be elusive largely because of the lack of sufficient political will by many of the developed states to take the necessary measures to achieve the lofty ideals they so loudly proclaimed at the United Nations.

It is therefore imperative that South Africa’s role in Africa and the world must begin with our fight against inequality, poverty and underdevelopment.

In the 21st Century, Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions. We are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of under-development that afflicts Africa.

As the Minister has indicated, despite all weaknesses, obstacles and challenges, there is a major transformation process that is taking place on the African continent that is anchored on key principles of African ownership and leadership, self reliance and a new partnership with the developed and developing world that is based on mutual respect, responsibility and accountability.

Madam Deputy Speaker

The second major challenge of the 21st is:

Peace, Security and Stability
The End of the Cold War saw the emergence of a hegemonic super-power

  • No peace dividends in the post Cold war period
  • Today world more dangerous

The terrorist attacks on the USA on Sept 11, 2001 was yet another decisive moment

  • USA National Security Strategy Doc (Nov 2001) introduced the concept of premption and the willingness of the USA to attack any state that supports or harbours “terrorists”. It also signalled a decisive move towards unilateralism and the tendency to deal militaristically with very complex problems.

 

We are now confronted with concepts such as:

  • “ Axis of Evil”
  • “Rogue States”
  • “ Clash of Civilisations”
  • “Religious crusades”
  • “Islamo- Fascism”

As we seek to deal with the complex challenges of peace and security, what then is the reality that we have to face presently?

  • The dominance of one superpower and the absence of a balance of power in the global system
  • No common vision of global security
  • Militaristic  approach to deal with complex problems
  • Disregard for the UN Charter and international Law
  • The transformation of the very nature of war as witnessed in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Space war” is also becoming a reality.
  • The unprecedented growth of Anti-Americanism and the consequent unprecedented spread of terrorism and their potential links with weapons of mass destruction
  • Globalisation of crime and drug syndicates and its links to terrorism
  • Environmental degradation, energy security, the food crisis, HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases. All of which increasingly impacts on peace & security.

However as we enter the 2nd decade of the 21st century there are some positive and encouraging developments that will positively impact on the international relations. This is characterised by:

  • The growing realisation that multilateralism is the best option to deal with the complex challenges humanity faces
  • The growing  political & economic power of China and India
  • The political and economic resurgence of the Russian Federation
  • The expansion of the European Union and its deepening political and economic integration.
  • The increasing importance of countries of the South such as Brazil, Mexico, South Africa

Madam Deputy Speaker
The Minister has already indicated the extent of our involvement in conflict resolution and post-conflict resolution in Africa.

I wish to deal with some issues that we have been seized with in the Security Council.

Middle East
The Middle East region is the most volatile and the greatest threat to regional peace and international security.

This year marks the 60 years of the establishment of the Israeli State and yet peace is as elusive as ever.

Today the massive destruction of property and infrastructure in Occupied Palestinian territories continues and new Israeli settlements continue to be built.

The UN Secretary-General expressed his concern over the Government of Israel’s approval of a resumption of construction of 750 housing units in the West Bank.  He stated that any settlement expansion is contrary to Israel’s obligations under the Road Map and international law.” (10/03/08)

Violence continues to escalate and the UN Secretary General while condemning Palestinian rocket attacks and calling for the immediate cessation of such acts, said:

“While recognising Israel’s right to defend itself, I condemn the disproportionate and excessive use of force that has killed and injured so many civilians, including children.  I call on Israel to cease such attacks.  Israel must fully comply with international humanitarian law and exercise the utmost restraint.  Incidents in which civilians have been killed or injured must be investigated and accountability must be ensured.” (01/03/08)

Madame Deputy Speaker

A humanitarian tragedy is unfolding in occupied Palestinian territories.

Report by John Holmes, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator
“Conditions for the people of Gaza are grim and miserable, and far from ‘normal’.  Eight months of severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people following the Hamas take-over in June 2007, have taken a heavy economic social toll, coming on top of years of difficulty and economic decline.  Only about 10% of what went into Gaza in January 2007 was allowed to enter in January 2008.  In October, Israel started to reduce the flow of industrial diesel used to operate the single power station in Gaza.  In February, the amount of electricity supplied to Gaza from Israel was also reduced.  Since June 2007, the movement of Palestinians in and out of Gaza became virtually impossible.

Almost 80% of Palestinians are receiving food aid;  most industry and agriculture activities have collapsed, raising unemployment and poverty heights;  frequent and lengthy power cuts that severely impair the functioning essential services and infrastructure;  water quality is declining rapidly, where it is available at all;  inadequacies of the sewage system are increasingly exposed, medical and education systems are teetering on the edge of failure, lack of equipment, spare parts, qualified staff and psychological strains undermine their functioning.  Children make up more than half of the population of Gaza.  October 2007 the number of children under the age of three diagnosed with diarrhoea increased by 20%, and anaemia up by 40%.  Today the situation is worse.

Whatever the provocation and illegality of the rockets, the effective Israeli isolation of Gaza is not justified and amounts to collective punishment contrary to international humanitarian law.   Only those who want to see further radicalisation can be happy with the present situation.

Conditions of West Bank of no less fundamental humanitarian concern.  Continuation of the Barrier Wall, the steady expansion of the settlements, all still illegal, and 580 separate check points and blockages within the West Bank is fragmenting communities.  It seriously impairs the access of tens of thousands people to their land and to essential services, not least medical services.  Severe restrictions on the movement of goods and people are affecting economic growth, as well as increasing poverty and food insecurity, reducing health standards.  Viability of a future Palestinian state is being threatened.

The report concludes,  Israel has legitimate security concerns and a right and duty to defend its citizens.  Security cannot override all other concerns or justify so much damage to ordinary people’s livelihoods and infringements of their human dignity and human rights.  Israel has obligations towards the Palestinian population under occupation.

Madame Deputy Speaker

After the Annapolis Summit which the Minister attended, there were great expectations that a peaceful negotiated two-state solution could be achieved. The reality is that no real progress has been made since the summit.

Our goal remain to end to the occupation of Palestinian land that began in 1967 and to achieve coexistence in peace and security of the State of Israel and the State of Palestine, and a comprehensive regional peace, in fulfilment of relevant UN resolutions 242, 338, 1397 and 1515, and the Arab Peace Initiative.

South Africa believes that for progress to be made in the talks the Palestinians need something tangible to convince them that a negotiated peace can lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state.  Confidence building measures are therefore absolutely necessary, inter alia, the dismantling of roadblocks, the halting of building of new settlements, the end to the military actions of the Israeli Defence Force, an end to Palestinian rocket attacks, the release of Palestinian political prisoners and Corporal Shalit.

Iraq
Let me remind the Honourable Leon that our involvement in Iraq was to prevent a non-UN sanctioned invasion of Iraq because we were convinced that Iraq did not possess weapons of mass destruction (a pretext for going to war agains Iraq) and we were also acutely conscious of the tragic consequences of such a war.

Does he deny that today everybody accepts that Iraq did not possess WMD and that today the carnage continues and the security and humanitarian situation is deteriorating. We believe that a military solution is not possible and conditions must be created for the Iraqi people to end the bloody sectarian violence and seek unity.

The Iraq crisis cannot be resolved without the involvement of all its neighbours including Iran & Syria.

Lebanon
Lebanon is continuing to experience a severe political crisis, largely due to the failure to elect a President of the Republic, despite efforts of the Lebanese and regional and international players. The Arab League Summit (29-30 March) urged “Lebanese leaders to accomplish the elections of consensus candidate, General Suleman and agree on the basis for the formation of a National Unity Government.” In the last few days, serious violence has broken out, resulting in many deaths and casualties.

Iran – Alleged nuclear weapons programme
We welcome the progress made in the context of the IAEA –Iran work plan to clarify outstanding issues in relation to Iran’s nuclear programme and hope that the outstanding matter of the alleged weaponisation will be clarified soon.

Ayatollah Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Iran’s Expediency Council has recently said that Iran is ready to resume talks with the EU over its nuclear programme, without pre-conditions if a “friendly and rational situation is established.” Iran has announced that it will present a new package to the P5 +1 group to resolve this matter.

We welcome these announcements and look forward to constructive dialogue to resolve this issue.

In the 21st Century other challenges to peace and stability are gaining centre stage:

The World Bank estimates food prices have risen to an average of 83% in the past three years, and warns that at least another 100 million people could be tipped into poverty as a result. 

We are experiencing a vicious cycle whereby our need for accelerated development is contributing to climate change and global warming, which in turn affects food production and food prices.  The irony though is that these negative consequences tend to affect the developing and developed countries disproportionately. 

Madam Deputy Speaker

The third major challenge of the 21st century is the restructuring of global governance:

This must extend to political, economic, social and military spheres

We seek to restructure the global exercise of power in a unipolar world order characterised, inter alia, by:

  • Unilateralism
  • Networks and alliances based on specific issues (e.g. “coalition of the willing”)
  • Narrow National interests superceding adherence to international law and common interests.
  • Growing influence of non-state actors in international relations e.g. trans-national corporations, NGOs, think-tanks

The then UN Security Council, Secretary –General, Kofi Annan (Sept 2006),
“We face a world whose divisions threaten the very notion of an international community upon which the UN stands for. The events of last 10 years have not resolved but sharpened the challenges of our unjust world economy, world disorder and contempt for human rights and the rule of law”.

Madam Deputy Speaker

  • The challenge facing Africa and the South is how do we make the UN the “most universal and representative organisation” so that  “right is might & might is right”.
  • We need a  fundamentally transformed UN to achieve the promotion of economic and social advancement of all peoples; A world in which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained; to ensure that equal rights for men and women and of nations are, large and small; which does not confer unilateral rights to the rich and powerful nations to rule the world using the technological advantage and their economic and military right.

 

  • To be meaningful in the 21st century, the Security Council must also become more transparent, democratic and representative

Madame Deputy Speaker
To successfully confront these challenges, we must have the necessary organisational and human capacity.

Our Strategic Plan 2008-2011 enjoins us- within the context of Business Unusual-All Hands on Deck to speed up change- to Strengthen Organisational Capacity to meet obligations arising from our rapidly expanding relations and the growing complexities of international relations over the last 15 years. We have seen the opening of more new diplomatic missions in a number of countries abroad following the re-integration of our country into the world of community of nations. Accordingly, we have had to increase our human resource capacity to meet these growing demands.

This requires that the Department further strengthens its system of recruitment and in particular, explore creative ways of attracting new talent while developing strategies to retain its staff complement. As part of these efforts, the Department will consolidate its Talent Management Strategy for all staff, including the cadets. We will also be introducing a Masters Degree in Diplomacy to strengthen the senior management level.

As further advancing our overall objective of Consolidating the African Agenda, we have embarked on a process of consolidating our former Foreign Service Institute and the Policy Research unit into a Diplomatic Academy to enhance our capacity to respond more effectively to the dynamic nature of international relations with immediate focus on important issues such as energy, security, climate change and economic diplomacy. Simultaneously, work is already advanced in building a single Foreign Affairs Headquarters in Pretoria, which we hope to occupy during 2009. A related challenge has been our ability to interact dynamically with our missions abroad. Accordingly, we have now rolled out a world-wide ICT infrastructure, which will among others assist in enhancing our Internal Communications capacity.

The Department will continue to work with other government agencies including GCIS, SA Tourism and International Marketing Council with a view to promoting a positive image and marketing the country abroad and to ensure that more and more visitors to our country can feel the warmth of our people.

We will continue to render whatever assistance we can offer as we have previously done to South Africans in distress abroad through our Consular Services. In this regard, we have now introduced the Registration of South Africans Abroad (ROSA) software to enable South Africans travelling abroad to register with the Department while allowing us to locate South Africans abroad particularly during disasters.

Yet we have been conscious of the need to be prudent with public finances and thus continue to give effect to provisions of the Public Management Act (PFMA) and other relevant laws and prescripts in whatever work we undertake in advancing our foreign relations.

We will continue to accord the world-class Protocol Services to visiting foreign dignitaries including our own dignitaries visiting countries abroad. We have recently opened the new State Protocol Lounge at OR Tambo International Airport. We are in a process to further upgrade the Protocol Lounge at the Cape Town International Airport, while working closer with the Airports Company of SA to build another lounge at the new King Shaka Airport in Durban.

We are conscious that the long walk is not over but we are confident that we are on course to achieve a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better World.

Thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

13 May 2008

 

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