Remarks by Deputy Minister L Landers on the occasion of the DIRCO Provincial Roadshow to the KZN Provincial Cabinet, Provincial Legislature and Provincial Government, 8 June 2016
Honourable Members of Provincial Executive Council
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Heads of Departments from the Provincial Government
H.E. Ambassador Mxolisi Nkosi
H.E. Ambassador Losi- Tutu
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to lead the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) team on this occasion of the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Roadshow. This is the second Provincial Roadshow following the one we undertook to the Free State Province in September 2015.
We want to complete the remaining series of planned roadshows to all provinces within the 2016/17 financial year.
DIRCO is the custodian of our country’s foreign policy. Our mandate is to formulate and implement South Africa’s foreign policy. This mandate enjoins the Department to provide support to the President and all spheres of government in pursuit of South Africa’s Foreign Policy objectives. However implementation of foreign policy objectives is not only the prerogative of DIRCO. In fact it cuts across all government departments and across all 3 spheres of government as well as the private sector and civil society. DIRCO role is rather to co-ordinate the development and implementation of our foreign policy in an integrated and seamless manner.
Foreign policy cannot be separated from our domestic imperatives. In this regard, we utilise our international engagements to contribute towards attainment of our national goals which are encapsulated in the National Development Plan (NDP) vision 2030.
As you are aware, all our provincial administrations and municipalities are at the cold face of our collective efforts to address the triple challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment.
It is important to bear in mind our responsibility to satisfy regional, continental and global obligations while pursuing our domestic goals. During the Budget Vote Speech on 03 May 2016, the Minister of International relations and Cooperation, alluded to the translation of the NDP goals into our foreign policy strategic programme. This strategic programme is predicated on our inherent national values and principles and seeks to:-
- Sustain political, economic and social relations;
- Strengthen political and economic integration and development of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC);
- Consolidate the African Agenda;
- Strengthen and consolidate South-South relations;
- Leverage relations with the North in advancement of national and continental priorities and agenda of the South; and
- Advocate for the reform and strengthening of the global system of governance.
The above mentioned commitments are informed by our foreign policy orientation as a developmental state. In this regard the White Paper on Foreign Policy provides an important context for our foreign policy and states:-
“South Africa recognises itself as an integral part of the African continent and therefore understands its national interest as being intrinsically linked to Africa’s stability, unity, and prosperity. Likewise, the 1955 Bandung Conference shapes our understanding of South-South cooperation and opposition to colonialism as a natural extension of our national interest”.
Evidently, our commitment to a Pan African vision of a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa is unwavering. We are forever grateful to the people of the global South and all peace and justice loving people across the globe for their solidarity during our struggle against apartheid and colonialism.
The Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which was founded in 1963 established a Coordinating Committee for the liberation of Africa to coordinate liberation struggles on the continent. Last Month we proudly joined our fellow Africans on the continent and the diaspora in paying homage to the founders of the OAU.
Ladies and gentlemen
At regional level, the people of Southern Africa withstood the brutality and aggression of the racist, apartheid regime in support of our liberation movements. During the 50th meeting of the OAU’s Coordinating Committee for the liberation of Africa, OR Tambo expressed our appreciation to the then Front Line States and said:-
“We would also like to take this opportunity to salute the rest of the Frontline States which have similarly withstood Pretoria`s aggression, remained steadfast in their opposition to the apartheid system and supremely loyal to the decisions and objectives of the OAU, despite the very high price they have had to pay for taking these positions”.
I emphasise our African roots to further demonstrate that we are not just Africans by our geographic location. The dawn of democracy meant that we had to begin in earnest with the reconstruction of our country and the Southern Africa region. At the same time, we took it upon ourselves to promote the interests and the aspirations of our fellow Africans on the continent.
As a constitutional democracy, it is necessary to emphasise that our foreign policy is predicated on the country’s constitutional values and principles. In this regard, the year 2016 marks 20 years since the adoption and the signing of our constitution which enjoined us from the onset to occupy our rightful place in the world. This is a milestone for our country and its foreign policy.
We have made great strides in responding to this constitutional injunction by increasing our global footprint and earning ourselves a respectable global stature. We are indeed proud of the progress our young democracy has made in the past 22 years. However a lot of work still needs to be done to consolidate these achievements.
We remain conscious of the changing global environment and the emergence of new economic growth poles in the form of Asia and Africa. We have been responsive to these global dynamics hence our membership of new formations such as the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa (BRICS) formation.
Our membership of BRICS compliments South Africa’s relations with countries of the North, particularly the European Union (EU) which is our largest trading partner.
Furthermore, strategic partnerships such as the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) remains beneficial to South Africa and the continent. The FOCAC summit which was held on our shores in December 2015 resulted in concrete outcomes. China pledged US$60 billion to support the continent’s infrastructure, industrialisation and skills development efforts.
With this injection, the continent shall undoubtedly intensify its endeavours to change the paradox of a rich resource continent, while the majority of its' people remain poor.
To this end we need to diversify our economies while at the same time building infrastructure to increase our continental economic connectivity.
Since 2010, South Africa has been leading the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative (PICI) on the continent. We are convinced that the PICI will assist us to increase intra-African trade. Currently, only 11% of trade is conducted between and among African economies. (However, South Africa’s continental trade has increased from 7% in 1994 to approximately 20% today as a result of our focus on international relations and trade).
This is part of our economic diplomacy strategy which is an important component of our foreign policy. South African missions abroad have been urged to sharpen their focus on undertaking trade and investment activities and deepen existing economic relations in order to increase Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
To this end the Department is in the process of operationalizing a trade and investment business unit to assist national, provincial and various stakeholders in their economic diplomacy activities. This business unit was established in the Office of the Chief Operations Officer (COO).
We must maximise and leverage the opportunities which are presented by the changing nature of diplomacy through a coordinated and holistic economic diplomacy strategy.
We are awake to the reality that our national economic growth is sluggish due to unfavourable global conditions. It is however heartening to note the progress that we are making in implementing the government’ nine-point plan. I can confirm that we are on course to boost our economic growth through concerted efforts involving government, labour and business.
As you may recall, the President established an Inter-Ministerial Committee on the economy in January 2016. This forum has provided a platform to collectively develop strategies and action-plans to bolster our economy growth.
Similarly, the Big Fast Results Methodology borrowed from Malaysia is also yielding positive results. It was conceptualised into South Africa’s operation Phakisa that was launched by the President in June 2014 to speedily address challenges identified in the NDP.
Permit me to underscore that provinces are at the forefront in the implementation of government’s nine-point plan as well as Operation Phakisa. The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government has been steadfast in the implementation of operation Phakisa.
I would like to commend the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Government for pursuing its international relations engagements with a view to address our domestic challenges. I can confirm that all Cooperation Agreements which provincial stakeholders have entered into with their counterparts are within the ambit of our foreign policy objectives and the government’ nine point-plan.
I know that some of these agreements are dormant while others have been successfully implemented. It is however important to continue exploring more areas which will enable us to further contribute towards the realisation of the nine-point plan I referred to earlier.
We are conscious of the proliferation of non-state actors in international relations. Thus often multinational companies and civil society organisations do not require our endorsement to undertake certain international activities. This cannot be an excuse for us to negate coordination and streamlining of South Africa’s international engagements.
In this regard, it has come to our attention that different spheres of government are not leveraging DIRCO’s availability and expertise when conducting their international activities. Some government entities enter into international agreements with their counterparts without seeking legal advice from the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor (OCSLA).
The most conspicuous challenge is when our delegates meet in international conferences without prior knowledge of one another’s presence and role.
Ladies and gentlemen
We are here today to further intensify our collective efforts to ensure improved coordination and cohesion of South Africa’s international engagements. This is an important opportunity to impress upon our provincial stakeholders to adhere to the provisions of the Cabinet approved “Measures and Guidelines for the Enhanced Coordination of South Africa’s International Engagements”.
I must emphasise the central role of DIRCO and by extension all South African Missions abroad in assisting provincial governments and stakeholders to engage fruitfully in international relations.
I am accompanied by a dedicated DIRCO Team that will provide you with detailed presentations. They will later interface with you during our stay in the province and beyond.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road