Budget Vote Speech by the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, H.E. Ms N. Mfeketo, National Assembly, Cape Town, 21 May 2015

Honourable Chairperson; Honourable Members; Your Excellencies Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of International Organizations; Distinguished guests; Ladies and gentlemen;

If the world must be a better place and if we are to realise the vision of the Freedom Charter for peace and security for all, then the world’s efforts must be in the Middle East where developments in Yemen, Syria and Iraq in particular, leave millions of citizens yearning for peace.

The Palestinian quest for statehood within the framework of the two state solution remains unfulfilled and elusive as Israeli settlements continue to encroach and expand. Terrorism and extremism are also escalating significantly.

As we focus on, and pursue peace in Palestine and elsewhere, we should not lose sight of the economic opportunities that we can stand to reap from good relations with the countries of the Gulf Co-operation Region (GCC). 

Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Members

Our Asia strategy for this year, considering the economic strength of that region, is to actively pursue wider access to the fast growing Asian markets, to secure more beneficiated exports to that region and vigorously seek increased Foreign Direct Investment. The region holds huge opportunities for increased tourism.

Honourable Members

Our membership of IORA provides us with an opportunity to participate meaningfully in exploiting the untapped potential and benefits of the ocean economy. Members of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) represent two billion people and hold one third (1/3) of world’s ocean, coastline.

They produce goods and services worth over one trillion dollars whilst intra IORA trade is about seven hundred and seventy seven billion US dollars.

During our tenure as the Chair of IORA in 2017-2019 we will prioritise SADC and Africa agenda whilst focusing on the ocean economy, maritime security, engagement with Dialogue Partners and civil society participation. It is expected that we will use our Phakisa strategy as we dedicate efforts aimed at fast tracking and prioritising offshore oil and gas exploration, aquaculture and marine protection services, and governance.

Honourable Chairperson

Our bilateral engagements seek to enhance existing relationships. They are aimed at reaffirming our commitment to breaking new ground and working together with our partners in Asia, but also showcase the potential we have as a preferred investment and tourism destination.

In the Middle East region where conflict has raged for years, South Africa will continue to persuade all the parties to appreciate that there can be no military solution to the conflict and that political dialogue remains the only way through which sustainable peace can be achieved.

We remain ceased with the pursuit of peace in the Middle East through the mechanism of the efforts of the President’s Special Envoys to the region. South Africa continues to affirm the two state solution in Palestine in spite of all the challenges that this policy faces.

Honourable Chairperson

We are encouraged by the collective condemnation of the xenophobic attacks by political parties, the faith-based community, non-state actors and ordinary South Africans.

We must continue to educate and remind our people that this continent stood by us in an unwavering show of solidarity, as we fought for our liberation.

Attacks against foreign nationals do harm to the country’s reputation and no good can come of its continuation. These actions have a potential to undermine our efforts aimed at fighting poverty, unemployment and inequality because they threaten our on-going efforts of attracting trade and investments to the country through economic diplomacy.

It is evident that South Africans are generally not xenophobic. If they were, we would not have such a high number of foreign nationals who have been successfully integrated into communities all over our country, in towns, cities and villages.

There is a lot of work to be done to ensure that the socio-economic drivers of migration are addressed by all of us in the continent. We need to do this work so that we can eliminate the struggle for resources which is often one of the consequences of migration.

Honourable Chairperson,

Our Public Participation Programmes (PPP’s) are our vehicle to explain to our people our international work.

In engaging with the people, we constantly educate them to appreciate connections between government goals and their lived realities. We must enable our people to understand the cost to South Africa when such shameful actions as the xenophobic attacks are undertaken.

Through our on-going engagement we must enable South Africans to learn from each other’s experiences, knowledge and skills as Africans. Our people must have the possibility to exchange experiences through people to people exchange programmes.

Honourable Chairperson, Honourable Members

The African Union (AU) has declared this year as the year of Women’s Empowerment and Development. In driving the AU’s aspirations it is critical that women and the girl children be placed at the centre of all that we seek to achieve above. As we pursue our dream of a continent at peace with itself we must deploy women to carry out peace mediation in environments where peace is lacking.

In conclusion, we must consciously attend to the economic empowerment of women in all spheres if we are to achieve the aspirations of Agenda 2063 on Women Empowerment. In this regard we look forward to the deliberations in the forthcoming AU Summit whose theme is ‘Women Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063’.

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

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