Address by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane to the National Assembly on the occasion of the DICO Budget Vote, Thursday, 18 June 2009

Honourable Speaker
Honourable President Jacob Zuma
Honourable Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe
Honourable Members of the National Assembly
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations and Cooperation and the Select Committee on Trade and International Relations
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Acting UN Resident Representative Dr Stella Anyangwe
Comrades and Friends
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Fellow South Africans

In his state of the Nation Address President Jacob Zuma identified the priorities of our government.  In that context the President also articulated a vision of South Africa’s role; taking into cognisance that working together with the rest of the world we can do more in bringing global peace and prosperity. Our mandate as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation is to contribute to the realisation of this Agenda.

Honourable Members

I table this Budget Vote, two days after the 33rd anniversary of June 16, 1976 whose heroes and heroines were inspired amongst others by the vision of the Freedom Charter whose 54th anniversary we celebrate next week. I mention this because the Freedom Charter declared that “There shall be Peace and Friendship”. Thus, the presentation I make before you today, is an attempt to contribute towards the realization of this vision.

Today we present the Budget of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.  The important decision of our government to change the name of the department speaks of the need for us to focus on partnerships and sustainable relations that will advance the interests of our country, contribute to the development of Africa and make the world a better place.  We have committed that this will also be manifested soon through the creation of a South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA).  Work has started towards the realisation of this goal. 

We want the creation of this Agency to take our work on development cooperation to greater heights in terms of its focus as well as its depth.  It will be recalled that in 2008 Cabinet requested the Minister of Foreign Affairs, in consultation with the Minister of Finance, to develop a policy framework on development assistance by South Africa. The Agency is therefore located within that context and will be the key vehicle for the delivery of development cooperation.

Honourable Speaker

It is our firm conviction that South Africa’s destiny is inextricably linked to our Mother continent and that, working together with the sister people of the continent; will contribute towards a better Africa and a better world. Thus, as we begin this term of our government we are called upon to redouble our efforts to seek peace, security and development in Africa.  We believe that these are interlinked, as we cannot hope for development without peace and security.    Ka gobane –Tau tsa  hloka thobela ke mojano. Ebile ntlo lerole  gae  tswale kgosi.

We therefore wish to take this opportunity to stress the following pillars for our engagement with the continent. 

First, the strengthening of regional integration.  From the experience of other regions of the world we have witnessed the benefits that come from strong regional integration. When successful, regional integration has been closely associated with peace and development amongst others.  We seek the same for our beloved continent. 

It is therefore imperative that we focus on the further development and strengthening of SADC and the African Union. Regional Economic Communities, such as SADC, are also key pillars for the broader continental integration.  The African Union cannot be strong if Africa’s regional economic communities are weak.  It is this perspective that forces us to work for greater political cohesion and a stronger economic integration in our region.  We have made advances in this regard, as evident from the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area in South Africa last year. 

Of course, we know that the path is not going to be smooth as evidenced by the current differences we have amongst ourselves on the question of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). But we are firmly of the view that none of these challenges are insurmountable as long as we act guided by the undisputable reality of our interdependence.

We shall continue to work with the people of Zimbabwe to support the implementation of the all inclusive agreement. We call on the leadership of Zimbabwe not to waiver and implement fully the letter and spirit of the Global Political Agreement. We pledge to step up efforts to promote bilateral co-operation between our two countries on a wide range of areas. We also call upon the international community to lift sanctions and fully engage the government of Zimbabwe and help respond to the calls for help from her people.

Through SADC we are also seized with the situation in Madagascar and we hope that we can contribute to bring normalcy to that country. Just tomorrow, the leadership of the SADC Organ Troika (Swaziland, Mozambique and Angola) and South Africa will meet here in our country ahead of an Extra Ordinary SADC Summit on Saturday, 20th June 2009, specifically to focus on how to restore durable peace in that sister country, Madagascar.

At the continental level we will continue to be fully engaged in the strengthening of the African Union.  We are prioritising our contribution to the important discussion on the question of the Union government.  This debate is drawn from the long standing vision of some of the illustrious leaders of Africa such as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere and others, who wished to see a deeper unity of our continent.  These forebearers believed that the strength of Africa lay in unity, Sepedi sa re Tau tsa hloka seboka di shitwa ke nare e hlotsa.

It therefore behoves our generation to continue to work towards this vision.  Our generation, however, has to engage in this debate fully cognisant of the position and the place of our continent today.  We have the benefit of learning from the history and the experience. We also need to be guided at all times by the fact that the integration of our continent is not an end in itself but rather a basis to help address the myriad of challenges facing Africa, at the centre of which are the scourges of poverty and underdevelopment.

We will also enhance the work that we have started in bringing closer alignment between SADC, COMESA and the East African Community (EAC). 

The stabilisation of our continent needs to be anchored in visible programmes of socio-economic development.  In this regard we recognise that NEPAD remains a key mechanism for the achievement of this socio-economic development.  NEPAD programmes on infrastructure, food security and others would address priority challenges faced by African countries.  The underdevelopment of infrastructure limits the chances for Africa’s development and also delays even the closer integration of our economies.  It is for this reason therefore that we believe that the implementation of NEPAD programmes at all levels needs to be enhanced. 

Second, support for peace, security, stability and post-conflict reconstruction initiatives. We know from our own experience that the achievement of peace and stability can be a painstaking effort requiring patience and perseverance.  However, we also know the dividends that come with peace.  It is this understanding that has informed our cooperation with the sister peoples of the DRC, Burundi, Sudan, Comores, Zimbabwe, Cote d’Ivoire and many others, as they seek to bring peace to their own countries.  The peace dividend that all these countries seek is economic growth and development.  We are enjoined to play our role in continuing with this important work.

South Africa’s men and women continue to serve in peacekeeping missions in various parts of our continent. We are proud of the role that these patriots play. Thus, we need to ensure that the operationalisation of the SADC Brigade, the strengthening of the Regional Peacekeeping Training Centre in Harare and the launch of the Regional Early Warning Centre in Gaborone receive our focus.

Honourable Speaker

The third pillar of our continental strategy is the strengthening of bilateral political and socio-economic relations with countries of the continent.  We enjoy strong bilateral relations with countries in the African continent.  Through these partnerships we wish to foster stronger political relations, people-to-people solidarity, trade, investments and tourism.  Our relations with the countries in the continent find expression through various bilateral political agreements and commissions that we have entered into.  The Department is doing an audit of these partnerships in order to identify ways in which we can strengthen them, focusing particularly on the interventions necessary to promote intra-African trade in mutually beneficial and sustainable ways.

The evolution of our Foreign Policy has ushered in an era of Trilateral co-operation whose practical expression of these is also found in the developmental projects that South Africa is undertaking in various parts of the continent. These, among others, range from the electricity generation project in Guinea-Conakry, the rice and vegetable production project conducted jointly with the government of Vietnam in Guinea-Conakry, the IBSA Livestock Development and Agricultural project in Guinea-Bissau and the Cuban Medical Brigade in Mali.

Of significance in 2009 is that South Africa and Nigeria will celebrate 10 years of formal diplomatic relations.  This is an important opportunity to evaluate progress made and identify further areas of cooperation between our two countries.

There can be no lasting peace in the African continent as long as the people of Western Sahara continue to suffer and to live in conditions of occupation.  We are convinced that urgent steps are needed to resolve this last case of decolonisation in our continent in line with UN processes.

As we seek more cooperation and the integration of our continent we are convinced that Africa cannot only be defined by geography, but we should also come together around a set of values that define our humanity.  For this reason the promotion of democracy, the respect for human rights and the improvement of governance are vital for our success as a continent.  Indeed we see progress being registered in all these areas throughout the continent. In our own region, South Africa and Malawi are the latest countries who have just held democratic elections.  These values are also supported by the principles of the African Union such as its continued rejection of unconstitutional changes of power.  In this regard another important structure on which we should focus is the African Peer Review Mechanism.  The APRM holds the potential to enhance the popularisation of these progressive values in our continent.

Honourable Speaker and Members

During his address to the nation, President Zuma reiterated a need to work together with the countries of the South within the framework of South-South Co-operation.  Our commitment to South-South cooperation is driven by our need to pursue stronger political relations with, countries of the South but also to focus these relations towards advancing our domestic priorities.  It is about expanding the horizons of opportunity for our country.

It is now a reality that the global economic geography is changing; with growing importance of the emerging economies of the South as contributors to global economic activity. There is also growing recognition that the emerging economies of the South will be key catalysts of global growth as we emerge from the current economic crisis. We have to seek out and grasp these opportunities. This is both good in the short term but also importantly helps us strategically diversify our economic partnerships so as to be able to withstand both the current and future economic shocks.

In October 2009 we will participate in the 4th IBSA Summit to be held in Brazil where the emphasis will be on finding ways of enhancing the implementation of the twenty bilateral agreements already signed in this trilateral initiative.  Through IBSA we plan to further increase the levels of trade to the target of US$ 25 billion by 2015 and finalise the modalities for IBSA Outreach to other countries.  IBSA has indeed become a strategic mechanism for linking our three continents. We are convinced that the implementation of the agreements we have entered into should elevate these links further, including through air and sea.

In addition to our partnership through IBSA, we will continue to strengthen our strategic bilateral relations both with India and with Brazil. With India; we share strong historical relations spanning through every stage of the evolution of modern day South Africa through the 20th century. Ours has been a relationship steeped in politics and struggle. That is why we wish to congratulate the people of India for the manner they conducted their recently concluded elections, thereby once again entrenching the place of India as the largest democracy on earth. We owe it to our forbearers to continue the current encouraging trend of increases in both trade and investment between us. We recognise and appreciate the role played and commitment made by India to help us train our youth for the challenges of the modern economy. 

Bilateral trade with Brazil is also on the increase. Of course we have to attend to the structure of the trade which currently is tilted in favour of Brazil. Brazil, having the second largest concentration of Africans - second only to Nigeria - is a logical partner of our continent. We are encouraged by the increasing realisation of this fact by the government and people of Brazil.

Beyond IBSA we are broadening our political and economic relations with countries of the South in general, in Asia, Middle East and Latin America. It is from these expanding relations that South Africa seeks to also leverage support for our domestic priorities.  Amongst others, we believe that our focus should be on investments, two-way trade as well as tourism opportunities with these countries of the South.  Already some of the bigger investments in South Africa come from countries of the South.  We have also formed structured bilateral relations using joint commissions with some of the countries in Asia, Middle East and Latin America. The countries of the Middle East in particular, in spite of the global economic crisis, continue to be a source of FDI which we can access by leveraging the huge resources in their Sovereign Wealth Funds. 

In 2008 we completed a successful celebration of the 10 years of diplomatic relations with the Peoples Republic of China.  Part of the focus was to ensure the visibility of our two countries in each other’s territories but also enhance people-to-people relations.  We believe that we achieved the objectives we had set ourselves.  This has also set the stage for our preparations to participate in the Shanghai Expo next year.

At the political level our relations with countries of the South are critical in addressing some of the global challenges that we face.  Therefore our continued partnership with these countries in the context of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77 remains important.  In July we will participate in the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Egypt wherein we shall seek to enhance the political solidarity of the South as a force for the resolution of some of the challenges facing the world today.

The 2nd South America-Africa Summit to be hosted by Venezuela in September 2009 will also be a key event in the context of our pursuit of South-South cooperation. The Summit aims to expand the knowledge among the countries of Africa and South America and to encourage the exchange of information and experiences, as well as to work collectively on matters of mutual interest, especially in the fields of poverty alleviation, sustainable development, science and technology and cultural exchange.

Honourable Speaker

South Africa remains extremely concerned with the lack of progress in the Middle East peace processes.  The establishment of a viable Palestinian state existing side by side in peace with Israel, as well as to Israel’s withdrawal from other occupied Arab land, such as the Syrian Golan Heights is our request. We have during our tenure as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, strongly condemned the Israeli air and ground assault on Gaza. We therefore call on all parties in the peace process to refrain from any acts of violence and counter violence which could further impede the peace process and also for the inclusion of all key role players in the process on non-ideological grounds. The challenge of the time for the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships is the immediate resumption of the negotiations as the only basis for stable peace. We also welcome President Barack Obama’s overtures on the two state solution thus reiterating our long held view on the correctness of the “two state solution” approach.

Honourable Speaker

We have also stated the importance that our government attaches to our relations with the developed countries of the North.  We also participate in trilateral partnerships with some countries of the North in support of peace and development in the African continent.  Our focus in the coming period will be to place our government’s strategic priorities at the centre of our relations with the developed countries of the North.  The various cooperation mechanisms that exist with these countries will be structured to achieve this objective.

In September 2009 we will host the South Africa-European Union Summit.  This is the second Summit since the launch of the Strategic Partnership between the European Union and South Africa.

It is important that our European partners should support the development focus of our regional integration.  It is regrettable that the discussions and plans for the EPAs have so far tended to move contrary to this spirit despite our best efforts.  We reiterate again that this process could have major ramifications for the unity and economic development of our region.

This year, marks the centenary of our relations with Japan. This affords us the opportunity to reflect on how to better focus our partnership in trade, development and investment.

We shall continue to strengthen our bilateral relations with Russia through our structured coordination framework, ITEC.

Our bilateral relationship with North America and the United States in particular to us is key. In this regard we will continue to explore ways of deepening the political relations between South Africa and the United States. We have noted the various policy pronouncements by the new American administration in which they express an intention to engage with the world on Zimbabwe in different terms.  South Africa welcomes this trajectory.

Our foreign policy has always been informed by a strong belief in the multilateral system of global governance.  It has been through the multilateral system that we have always come together to address the many challenges that confront the world today.  At no time has this cooperation under the multilateral system been more important than it is today.  Nations of the world have to come together to deal with the effects of the global financial crisis.  We have to take action with others to address climate change.  Indeed these are among the urgent priorities that we will address this year in our multilateral engagements.

Through the Group of 20 a framework has already been set for common responses to the global financial meltdown.  We all have to commit ourselves and show political will to the implementation of the decisions of the G20.  The next G20 Summit in September should hopefully be an occasion for taking stock of progress with implementation.

We also support the actions taken within the United Nations to address the financial crisis.  We believe that the United Nations will allow all nations of the world and those that are not part of the G20 process an avenue to participate and voice their opinions on this global crisis.

The international community will gather in Copenhagen in December 2009 to look at steps that need to be taken to address climate change.  This is an immediate and pressing problem for all countries.  Numerous studies show that Africa will be one of the most vulnerable regions as a result of climate change.  We therefore expect a balanced outcome from Copenhagen that will address the needs of all States.

We will have an opportunity to address these issues also through our engagement with the Group of 8 (G8).  The 2009 Summit of the G8, under the Presidency of Italy, will prioritize the global impact of the financial crisis, climate change and biodiversity, illegal immigration and food security, Africa’s development co-operation and commitments made by the G8 through the African Action Plan.  The Summit will further receive a report on the Heiligendamm Dialogue Process. As a member of the G5 countries, South Africa will prioritise the implementation of commitments from the Kananaskis and Gleneagles Summits and pursue a more inclusive process within the G8, based on partnership, equality and mutual respect.

South Africa’s experience as a member of the United Nations Security Council has redoubled our commitment and sense of urgency towards reform of this institution. South Africa is actively engaged in the negotiations on Security Council reform that are currently underway in New York under the auspices of the United Nations General Assembly.  In this context we have stressed our commitment to the broader reform of all the institutions of global governance.  We will therefore work with other countries to realise these reforms in order for these important institutions to be able to respond to the many challenges that currently face us. 

Honourable Speaker and Members

It is also important for us that we should continue to build on the partnerships we developed during our tenure as a non permanent member of the Security Council.  This will help us to advance specific initiatives such as security sector reform and the enhancement of cooperation between the United Nations and regional organisations.  The UN Security Council remains a critical institution for South Africa and Africa in general given its mandate of the maintenance of international peace and security.   Its agenda is still largely focused on challenges in our continent.

The UN Durban Review Conference which took place early this year in Geneva was a success in the struggle against racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerances. We will continue to play our part on the international front to rid the world of the scourge of racism. At the same time, our Department will deepen its collaboration with civil society and other players to implement our National Action Plan in the fight against racism, xenophobia and all intolerances.

In the field of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control South Africa will continue to actively pursue and promote the importance of co-operation; assistance and equal access to advanced technologies for peaceful purposes.  This includes access to adequate renewable sources of energy to underpin sustainable development, including access to nuclear energy for all States, consistent with South Africa’s domestic energy policies and programmes.  In our interaction in multilateral fora, we will also continue to strive to identify, together with our African partners and other developing countries those areas where they have implementation challenges in terms of their international obligations and undertakings.

Our government took a decision to support the candidature of Ambassador Abdul Minty for the position of Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).  We are convinced that Ambassador Minty is eminently qualified for this position given his background and experience.

Honourable Speaker

The name change presents us with an opportunity to reposition our brand as the Department of International Relations and cooperation, here at home and abroad. In this regard we will continue engaging on massive imbizo with our people, stakeholder, organs of civil society and the mass media.
 
The nature of international relations work means that the success of the Department of International Relations depends on its people.  These are the fine South Africans who serve our country both at headquarters as well as in our many Embassies, Consulates and High Commissions abroad.  Our three-year human resources strategy launched in 2007 is focused on developing a cadre of “People who are committed to making a difference for South Africa”.  It places emphasis on people issues and the facilitation of the achievements of our foreign policy objectives.  The focus of this Human Resource strategy is aimed at creating a conducive work environment that enhances performance and nurtures talent and retains it for now and the future.

South Africa’s increasing role in international relations also calls for a capable and committed cadre of diplomats.  The expansion of our representation abroad, particularly in Africa, necessitates that we increase our capacity in terms of numbers, and deepen our skills in various areas of Diplomacy.  Therefore we have continued to increase the capacity of our Diplomatic Academy.  It has become the strategic nerve centre for the training of our diplomats and for the provision of broader ongoing training programmes including with the participation of SADC and AU countries.  Our Diplomatic Academy has also partnered in the training of the diplomats of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Kinshasa, Western Sahara and Sudan. 

We are convinced that the launch of a Masters in Diplomacy Degree with the University of Pretoria will increase the knowledge base of our managers and generally contribute to higher standards of professionalism in our international work.

In line with the President’s call for “the creation of decent work”, DICO is consolidating its Cadet Programme which recruits and grooms young graduates to be future of South African diplomats. To date, almost 95 young South Africans have been trained and absorbed by DICO. 

As we continue to expand our work and with the growing importance of our country – we continue to witness high levels of both outgoing and incoming visits, as well as increasing activity by the diplomatic community accredited to our country. We shall continue the work of strengthening our protocol services, including our hospitality services, namely our Diplomatic Guesthouses and the Protocol Lounges, both at OR Tambo and here in Cape Town. This is necessary to project our spirit of Ubuntu and ensure that our visitors at all times feel welcome on our shores.

A key area of focus in the coming years is the need to anchor our policy perspectives and approaches among our people. The work we do must be connected to our people in very concrete and visible ways and they must not only understand, but be able to find their bearings in the midst of confusion that is sometimes deliberately meant to discredit our policies and create divisions amongst us. This we believe will also help avoid the recurrence of the xenophobic incidents of yesteryear. In addition, guided by our belief that indeed Working together we can do more, we commit to enhanced partnership and cooperation with non-state actors (business, labour, research institutions, academia and so forth) to advance our international relations framework and better position our country in the world.

All of this unfortunately requires resources. We say this mindful of the current challenges and the competing needs facing our country in these difficult times. But we have to say that a number of requests we made during the budget process could not be met, thereby putting pressure, especially on our operating budget. We are also apprehensive about the impact of the economic crisis on exchange rate volatility since a significant part of our budget is spent abroad and is, therefore, very sensitive to these fluctuations. We shall, however, work together with our Parliamentary Committees to share information on an ongoing basis.

A major milestone our department will achieve this year is the housing of our cadre ship at the new campus in Tshwane. This process has already commenced. I wish to thank our government for this significant investment and pledge that under our watch we shall ensure that all of us fully appreciate that, as servants of the people, we are expected to honour this product of their sweat, their tears and their blood.

We also commit to play our role to ensure that the ongoing Confederations Cup becomes a resounding success. This will be our building plank as we join all South Africans in inviting the world to our shores for the 2010 FIFA World Cup – which will be the greatest ever spectacle that will indeed affirm that Ke nako – AFRICA’ s time has come.

This year, 2009, marks the 91st birthday of our great icon, hero and leader of our people: Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, who continues to inspire hope in millions of our people as they struggle for a better life for all.

As President Zuma indicated, that on the 18th of July, each year, our people, together with the rest of the world, will have an opportunity to do something good to help others” In this regard we call upon all our missions abroad to propagate ubuntu. Working together with the Nelson Mandela Foundation, the Missions will dedicate time to participate in humanitarian causes that honour Madiba‘s legacy.

With all humility, I take this huge responsibility assigned to me by our government and our people, to thank President Jacob Zuma, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and our leadership collective for this expression of confidence.

I also wish to pay tribute to my predecessors – one; an outstanding son - the other; an outstanding daughter of our people. To both comrades, the late Alfred Nzo and my sister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – I say thank you for the work you have done to position our country where it is today – a respected and principled member of the global community of nations.

My appreciation also goes out to Deputy Ministers Ebrahim Ebrahim and Sue van der Merwe for their unwavering support, Mr T Nxesi, Chair of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Co-operation; and Mr GD Gamede, Chair of Select Committee on Trade and International Relations for their oversight role and guidance in our work. I would also like to thank the DG, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, and all managers and officials of the department for their hard work and continuous readiness to serve. To all of them, I say let’s walk and work together as; Working together we can do more.

Honourable Speaker, it is our hope and wish that the house will approve the Budget of the Department of International Relations for this financial year. The budget allocation for the 2009 MTEF Budget Allocations is as follows:

1.         Administration                                                 :    993 100
2.         Foreign Relations                                             : 3 128 000
3.         Public Diplomacy &Protocol Services                 :    215 300
4.         International Transfers (UN, SADC, ARF, AU)     : 1 000 000
.                                                           Total             : 5 337 000

Ndo livhuwa
Kea leboga
Ni khensile

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