Address by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman to the Inaugural Ma-Holo Foundation Lecture on the topic of “Achieving a permanent representation for Africa in the key International Institutions” – Friday, 26 November 2010, Cape Town


Ladies and Gentlemen;

Walter Rodney in his well known book ‘How Europe underdeveloped Africa’ said and I quote: “To be colonised is to be removed from history, except in the most passive sense. A striking illustration of the fact that colonial Africa was a passive object is seen in its attraction for white anthropologists, who came to study ‘primitive society’. Colonialism determined that Africans were no more makers of history than were beetles objects to be looked at under a microscope and examined for unusual features.” How far we have come since, is reflected today in the very topic of this Annual Ma-Holo Foundation Lecture: “Achieving a permanent representation for Africa in the key International Institutions.”

Let me start by thanking the Ma-Holo Foundation, in conjunction with Nedbank, for inviting us to participate in its inaugural lecture series and say that the journey for our continent of Africa has been a long and hard fought one. One in which Africa has paid with the lives of many sons and daughters. Understanding the dynamics and underlying drivers that have brought us to this junction; and more importantly understanding the imperatives required to quantum leap us forward is the very essence of our task as the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO). For this reason we identify with the mission of the Foundation, especially as it relates to providing African leaders the necessary research support to craft African solutions through public participation.

An intrinsic part of this process of public participation has been the Outreach Programme, under the capable leadership of Minister, Ms. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane who has undertaken several interactive sessions to at least five provinces in the past year. During this time, the Minister delivered lectures at Universities, attended Imbizos in communities and interacted with the various Provinces’ political, business, academic, NGO and civil society leadership – in an effort to popularize our foreign policy and explain the mandate of our Department. We therefore welcome this opportunity here this evening to constructively engage and give expression to our public participatory mandate.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen

I want approach my topic this evening “Achieving a permanent representation for Africa in the key International Institutions” by quoting what President Jacob Zuma said on the occasion of the 64th session of the General Sitting of the United Nations General Assembly in September 2009 when he said and I quote: “If the UN Security Council is not reformed, and does not have permanent representation for Africa, the legitimacy of the Council's decisions will continuously be questioned.”

 I want to venture further today and say by implication that what President Zuma said of the Security Council applies equally to other multilateral institutions; that unless these institutions become fully representative and Africa finds a full expression of its voice and place in these institutions, they will lack legitimacy.

At the root of this crisis of legitimacy for all international multilateral institutions lies the central theme of power and ability to shape global debate, discourse and decisions. Africa has come a long way and understands the importance of being located at the nexus of power be that structural or relational power. In their ground-breaking book on International Political Economy, Professors David Balaam and Michael Veseth provide us with the basic understanding of the concept of power. They differentiate between what is termed relational and structural power.

Relational power, they say, is the power to get another player to do something (or not to do it). It is the kind of power that involves “sticks” to punish and “carrots” to persuade. The hard power sticks are the large military forces and dangerous weapons at their disposal, whilst the soft power carrots relate to access to attractive market opportunities and their valuable technological or natural resources.

On the other hand, structural power is defined as “the power to shape and determine the structures of the global political economy within which other states, their political institutions, their economic enterprises and (last but not least) their scientific and other professional people have to operate”.

By its very nature, structural power is less confrontational and therefore unlikely to produce retaliation – critical though, is that it is well positioned to influence countries. The clearest example to the demonstration of structural power is inherent/within the countries that control the functioning of the IMF, WTO and the World Bank. Just to illustrate a point - in the case of the IMF, those in power within this institution control who has access to money, how and on what terms. That basically describes how certain resources are allocated and distributed among nations.

With the technical descriptions and definitions of power, it should not be hard to understand why the African continent, in the form of the African Union collective would endeavour or pursue opportunities for representation within institutions of global governance (IGG). The common practice though, has been that individual countries, often-times supported by their regions and consequently their continents, tend to pursue the goal of ensuring African representation in some of these IGGs.

For South Africa, membership of the G-20 and non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council is a point in case - noting of course that Ghana and Nigeria also feature as non-permanent members of the UNSC.

South Africa has in line with its Foreign Policy goal of Consolidation of the African Agenda pursued representation of Africa in key International Institutions. This has taken the form of seeking to ensure that the needs of Africa are noted and realized in these fora as a means towards charting a path towards the development of the continent.

In this regard South Africa has remained a champion of Africa in the various multilateral institutions that it participates in. This includes within International Financial Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, as well as in informal groupings such as the Group of 20 (G20).

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen

Please allow me to briefly touch on South Africa’s participation and often-times presence in the Institutions of Global Governance (IGG).  These Institutions of Global Governance are your World Bank, IMF, United Nations and G20 – for a start.

World Bank

South Africa was at the forefront of negotiations towards the reform of the Bretton Woods Institutions through the agreement of, Phase I: Enhancing Voice and Participation of Developing and Transitional countries (DTC) in the World Bank, which included the realignment of International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) voting power.  The World Bank agreed to voice reforms increasing the voting power of developing and transition countries by 3.13% to 47% and the creation of an additional chair for Sub-Sahara Africa on the World Bank Board.

This also saw the election of an African (a South African Dr. Renosi Mokate), to the Board of the World Bank Group. Her election delivered on the promise of a third seat for Sub-Saharan Africa on the World Bank Board and gave developing countries a majority of seats on the Board. South Africa continues to push for country-led development assistance; and the need for a more complete body of experience-based knowledge to make development policy more effective; and greater accountability among donors, development agencies and recipient countries.

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

South Africa has lobbied for the reform of the Fund within the organisation as well as through other fora such as the United Nations and the G20. The country has advocated for the appointment of the Heads of the IMF and World Bank based on merit, without regard to nationality and gender. Furthermore, we have called for the strengthening of the IMF’s staff diversity in all its dimensions, including nationality, gender, and developing country experience; equitable representation on the IMF Board to reflect appropriate regional representation which could be achieved through the increasing of the size of the Board as was done in the World Bank.

We have also called for the reconfiguration of the IMF Board to ensure that no country represents more than 15 IMF members, while recognising the benefits of regional representivity and the sovereign choice of member countries to belong to the constituency of their choice. In this regard the agreement reached by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors and endorsed by the G20 Leaders is in line with South Africa’s goals for IMF reform. South Africa also supports quota reform that will not see emerging and developing countries, particularly those in Africa, lose any quota share after redistribution.

At the recent G20 Summit in Seoul the Leaders agreed to a package of reforms for the IMF which will transfer quota shares, read voting power, to under-represented "dynamic" emerging economies (EMDCs) like China, India, Brazil and Turkey, and to underrepresented countries, of just over 6%, while protecting the quota share of the poorest, including African countries. The G20 committed to work to complete the shift by the IMF Annual Meetings in 2012.

South Africa welcomes steps by Europe in demonstrating leadership and a spirit of compromise by agreeing to give up two of their Executive Director Chairs on the IMF Board. It is the view of South Africa that at least one of these chairs should be allocated to Sub-Saharan Africa. South Africa is currently focussing on using its allies in the G20 to lobby for a third Chair in the IMF Board. As the largest economy in Africa, South Africa has been and continues to be the largest contributor of all the African countries to the IMF and World Bank resources.

Group of 20 (G-20)

As indicated in the beginning, South Africa participates in the G20 in its national capacity, but remains ceased with and mindful of the concerns of developing countries and the special challenges that are faced by Africa.  This was done without receiving any formal mandate from African countries, but because of the importance that South Africa attaches to its foreign policy priority areas of the Consolidation of the African Agenda and the promotion of South-South Co-operation.

These are some of the cornerstones of our foreign policy and continue to guide our participation in the work of the G20, the United Nations, the Group of 8 Outreach Process, as well as many other bilateral, multilateral and global engagements. It is for this reason that South Africa has advocated for better representation of the African continent in the G20 Summits, a move which has resulted in the invitation of the Chairpersons of NEPAD and the AU Commission to all the Summits since the London meeting.

In addition to promoting the interests of the African continent, South Africa has also attempted to ensure that African Finance Ministers are fully briefed on the work of the G20.  South Africa has hosted meetings of the Committee of Ten (C-10) in 2009 and 2010 discussing issues such as the impact of the crisis on African countries and the recovery from the crisis, as well as participated in the Meetings of the G24 pushing for developing country interests in pursuing a recovery.

South Africa, through the G20 Sherpa’s office, has also engaged with African Ambassadors to present the G20 agenda and the development working group‘s work programme. Although the African countries welcomed the engagement, numerous countries expressed reservation over the approach and focus taken by the Working Group, expressing their preference to aid-based development partnership.  South Africa would prefer that African leaders speak in one voice on the development matters and more importantly call for the prioritisation of measures enabling growth in developing countries including Africa.

Going into the G20 Summit in Seoul (Republic of Korea), South Africa had set itself the goals of promoting Africa as a new “growth pole”, while noting the importance of resource mobilization to support growth and development and the need for more ‘creativity’ with respect to financing for development. Furthermore, we sought to advance African interests in general and of the Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, in the current round of the IMF reforms.

At the Seoul Summit, the Leaders introduced a new commitment to support Africa in its efforts to break down internal trade barriers, in support of regional integration in Africa. The Leaders also endorsed the development agenda for the G20, meaning that future Summits will now have on the agenda the monitoring of implementation of agreed strategies to support economic development in developing countries and in low income countries in particular, including African countries. 

As a country, we have been entrusted with co-chairing two of the most influential standing bodies in the G20, i.e. the IMF Reform Working Group and the Development Working Group, in addition to the SME Finance Sub-Group of the Financial Inclusion Experts Group. South Africa’s participation in these working groups provides an effective platform to promote our objectives in the BWI’s in a manner that would not have been possible in the IMF Board (where South Africa currently does not have an effective voice, as South Africa’s quota is relatively small compared to other countries), including ensuring that Africa is not disadvantage by the Reform process.

United Nations Security Council (UNSC)

On 12 October 2010, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) with 182 votes out of a possible 190 elected South Africa, as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for a two year period (2011-2012) beginning on 1 January 2011. Colombia, Germany, India and Portugal were also elected to serve on the Security Council during the same period.

Preceding the UNGA vote, the African Union endorsed South Africa’s candidature for the vacant seat reserved for the African continent in the United Nations Security Council for 2011-2012 term. South Africa also secured endorsement from the South African Development Community (SADC) as Southern Africa’s candidate for the 2011-2012 UNSC election.

Our vision is of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable. Membership of the Security Council would present South Africa with an opportunity to promote the African agenda and South Africa’s national priorities, as well as to advance the maintenance of international peace and security for socio-economic development to prosper.

We remain convinced that membership of the UNSC would also afford South Africa an opportunity to significantly contribute to the promotion and protection of multilateralism and the respect for international law. Membership in this major body of the UN would also heighten the profile of our country as a champion and agent of change towards making our continent and the world better.

South Africa will also continue its efforts aimed at bringing greater alignment to the work of the Security Council and that of the AU, especially the AU Peace and Security Council of which South Africa is currently a member. Concerted and dedicated efforts will be made to achieve stability and security in our Continent and all other regions of the world.

This would be a continuation of South Africa’s firm resolve of strengthening effective partnerships between the UN and regional organisations, in particular the African Union in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as the intensification of the work South Africa had already undertaken in conflict prevention, resolution, management and post-conflict reconstruction and peace building in African countries such as Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi, the DRC and elsewhere.

South Africa will again endeavour to utilise its 2011-2012 membership in a manner that would add value to the work of the Council. In this context, South Africa will play an active role in the activities of the Security Council committees, working groups, commissions and other structures. Furthermore, South Africa will endeavour to contribute to the maintenance of international peace and security by inter alia participating in the Council's conflict resolution and post-conflict reconstruction agenda.

Crucially, the country’s strategy will also entail promoting a culture of collective responsibility and collective responses in dealing with challenges of the contemporary world.  South Africa will underscore and strive for enhanced Security Council cooperation with regional bodies and other relevant institutions in the realization of its mandate. South Africa will also work with other like-minded member states towards improving the working methods of the Security Council to make it a more legitimate, representative and effective body in order to make it more transparent and accountable.

Ladies and Gentlemen: On the 23rd September 2003 then UN Secretary General told the world that we have come to ‘a fork in the road, a moment no less decisive than 1945 itself (when the UN was founded)’: this statement is often seen as the rubicon of UN Reform on which we premise a broader call for true multilateralism in which Africa takes its rightful place as a permanent member. We have come a long way since then but we have no illusions that there is a still a steep road ahead and a long struggle awaits. For the sake of the progress of our continent and the daily struggles of millions of our people for dignity and a life free of poverty and disease. For the sake of Africa taking its place in the global family of nations, not as a step-child but as a permanent member in its own right- we say: forward until final victory. 

I thank you!

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 2 December, 2010 1:59 PM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa