Budget Vote Speech of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation delivered by Deputy Minister Alvin Botes, Cape Town, 11 July 2019

Honourable Chairperson,
Minister Dr. Pandor
Ministers,
Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members,
Our Director General,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors, High Commissioners, members of the Diplomatic Corps and Representatives of International Organisations,
Leaders and Members of civil society
Distinguished Guests,
Comrades and Friends

We are Proud of our Past, and Confident about the Future!

We are proud of our freedom fighters, who did not flinch, who did not submit, and who prosecuted our freedom struggle for a just South Africa and a noble world order.

Today we salute the Rivonia Trialists,  Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Govan Mbeki, Raymond Mhlaba, Ahmed Kathrada, Lionel Bernstein, Bob Hepple, Arthur Goldreich, Andrew Mlangeni, James Kantor, Dennis Goldberg, Harold Wolpe and Elias Motsoaledi, some of whom were arrested on this day 56 years ago, in 1963.

The Rivonia Trialists made a choice to fight for the achievement of the provisions of the Freedom Charter, which contains a clause stating that, There Shall be Peace and Friendship!

The Freedom Charter argued that:

  • South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of nations
  • South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of international disputes by negotiation - not war.
  • Peace and friendship amongst all people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all.

Our constitution, as well as Chapter 7 of the National Development Plan, envision an activist, developmental state, with an over-arching foreign policy architecture premised on

  • Pan Africanism; which in its simplest form means the political and economic liberation of Africa;
  • Progressive Internationalism and Human Solidarity with countries of the South,
  • A Human Rights centred foreign policy and respect for international law;
  • Multi-Lateralism and an International Rules Based Order to resolve conflict peacefully; and
  • Economic Diplomacy  

The Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s mission is to promote South Africa's national interest and values and the African Renaissance, and to create a better world for all.  Our national interest is to eradicate poverty, to confront joblessness and to reduce inequality. Our value proposition is to construct a better African and a noble world… a new world order.

When we pause to reflect on What Needs to be Done, we recall Nelson Mandela who inspired us that ‘we owe it to all the peoples of the sub-continent to ensure that they see in us, not merely good leaders waxing lyrical about development, but as the front commanders in the blast furnaces of productive investments and visible change’.  African unity and International Solidarity is integral if we wish to accelerate our economic diplomacy. Moreover, Patrice Lumumba, was unambiguous in asserting that African unity and International Solidarity are no longer dreams. They must be expressed in decisions’.

Our concrete expression of South-to-South solidarity, is through the African Renaissance Fund, whereby we committed more than R770 million for projects that are currently under implementation from previous financial years.  These projects include amongst others humanitarian aid, conflict resolution, peace keeping, post-reconstruction and development projects. Countries that have benefited included Namibia for drought relief, emergency food assistance to the Kingdom of Eswatini and emergency humanitarian assistance for the Saharawi refugees. Furthermore, we have supported peace keeping missions, conflict- mediation, promotion of democracy and good governance in both the kingdom of Lesotho and Madagascar. The establishment of the African Ombudsman Research Institute and South Africa’s participation in the African electoral observer missions of Zimbabwe, Eswatini, DRC, Mauritius, Madagascar and Comoros, were also supported.

In 2019/20 the African Renaissance Fund has committed a further R138 million to new projects. The new projects commitments include humanitarian (disaster) assistance to Zimbabwe (R50 million) and Mozambique, deployment of a border boundary expert and humanitarian aid to South Sudan to the tune of approximately R115 million and the African Women in Dialogue (AWID) leadership programme which brings to together one thousand women leaders from the continent. We will continue to support electoral observer missions in the forthcoming elections across the continent, and strengthen electoral training support; strengthening democratic institutions and good governance.

We draw inspiration from Che Guevara, when he defined what a revolutionary and a comrade is, he said ’If you tremble with indignation every time that an injustice is committed in the world, then you are a comrade of mine’ To solidify our posture on progressive internationalism and revolutionary solidarity we approved in 2015, an amount of R350 million economic assistance package to the people of Cuba.

South -South Co-operation (Latin America & Caribbean) Bilateral, Multi- lateral and Regional Organisations Co-operation

We will continue to strengthen our bi and multi-lateral co-operation with Cuba which includes amongst others, skill transfer, development assistance and trade. We will continue to increase our trade with the regional economic organisations. We remain steadfast in our call to end the unjust economic blockade by the USA against the people of Cuba.

We also remain concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. We call for a peaceful solution to the crisis and that development assistance provided must be through internationally recognised humanitarian organisations.

We will continue to ensure that the African Continent and the Global South remain on the agenda of BRICS, India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) partnership and the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). Our national (economic) interests and the interests of the Global South remain the driving force behind our membership in these formations.

Co-operation with formations of the North- Americas and Europe

’The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart’ (Kwame Nkrumah).

Through our bi-lateral, regional and multi-lateral relations we will work with our European Counterparts to address mutual geo-political global challenges. This includes the rise of:

  • extremism;
  • terrorism ;
  • right-wing populism;
  • narrow nationalism ;
  • neo-fascism ;
  • xenophobia;
  • racism;
  • anti-Semitism and
  • migration.

We believe that these challenges are not unique to Europe and are instead the effects of the failure of neo liberal internationalism that has taken root over the past 3 decades globally.

We will work with and build an alliance with like-minded countries in the North to push back:

  • the threat to multi-lateralism;
  • climate change denialism and
  • political interference in the sovereignty of countries, particularly of the south by those countries who seem to want to revert to unilateralism and a unipolar world.

There are more than 2,000 companies from the Americas and Europe operating in South Africa, employing South Africans, enhancing their skills and investing in the economy. Many countries in the Americas and Europe allocate significant funding to technical exchanges, collaboration in the fields of science and technology, as well as vocational training. There is significant potential and interest in collaboration on the Fourth Industrial Revolution programmes.

Whilst we believe that our future economic growth opportunities are in the South (Middle East and Asia in particular), currently (as the Minister indicated earlier) the EU countries collectively still remains our largest trading partner. Therefore, we require equal commitment to both the north and south. 

South Africa will continue to engage with North America, as an important region for trade, investment, tourism, technology transfer, education and health cooperation, in pursuit of the country’s national priorities. The United States of America is South Africa’s most significant economic partner, with R76.7 billion in South African exports to the United States in 2018, with R73.1 billion in imports, supplemented by investments worth R129 billion in South Africa.

There will also be continued focus, working with partner Departments and our friends and partners in the US, on removing the impediments to South Africa’s value-added exports to the United States under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The attraction of higher level of FDI from the United States will be a key focus to secure increased support for the President’s investment drive, including for the follow-up investment conference to be held in November 2019.

Aligned with the national objectives identified by President Ramaphosa in the SONA, South Africa will receive in excess of US$ 915 million (approximately R12.8 billion) in development cooperation from the United States in 2019, geared towards medical research, education and youth, environment and energy, agriculture and trade.

In the area of health, the funding allocation from the USA, will amount to US$730 million to support anti-retroviral treatment (ART).  We believe this will contribute significantly to the Government’s efforts to reach the UN 90-90-90 treatment target and to meet the promise made by the President to place an additional 2 million people on antiretroviral treatment by December 2020.

South Africa will continue to enhance cooperation with the United States in the areas of education, training and capacity building, including developing skills for the digital economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

South Africa’s diplomatic Missions in the Americas and Europe will increase their tourism promotion efforts in collaboration with South African Tourism, Brand South Africa and South African Airways. In 2018, six of the top ten sources of overseas tourists were countries from the Americas and Europe, contributing 2.2 million of the 2.7 million overseas tourists that visited South Africa last year.

The current negotiations on the future of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) after the Cotonou Partnership Agreement expires in 2020 are crucial. South Africa is participating in the negotiations on the restructuring and reshaping of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States’ relationship with the European Union, with the objective of ensuring that the ACP remains focused on its three core mandates – trade and investment, development cooperation and political dialogue.

Economic Diplomacy

To illustrate the strategic and significant role our missions play in the reconstruction and development of our country, I wish to cite the work of our German mission. Our economic diplomacy has resulted in the increased of South Africa’s exports from R125m in 2017 to R133m in 2018, translating in an 11% increase.

We have increased our export orders for beverage, fine food and meat to R893m and R372m in orders for fruit and vegetables in 2018.

In the automotive industry Germany, through BMW, Mercedes Benz SA and VWSA have been able to increase Human Capital Development to enable SA to produce high quality vehicles, parts and accessories to the same standard of Germany. Importantly we are now part of the Global manufacturing supply chain, which make SA an exporter of high quality products.

I want to thank our dedicated Ambassador Stone Sizani for his excellent work in this regard. Our appreciation is also extended to all our heads of missions and staff for their commitment and devotion to promote our country abroad.

Youth Empowerment

President Ramaphosa has been unequivocal that ‘the current generation of youth has therefore chosen as its mission the attainment of economic freedom’. We should be confident that we have the capacity to break inter-generational poverty and maximise the democratic youth dividend. Our young people remain the future of our country and continent. This is why we remain committed to implementing the African Youth Charter (2006) which serves as a strategic framework that gives direction to youth empowerment in our country , region and on a continental level. Our own legislation and policy architecture for youth development and empowerment is aligned to the charter.

In a globalised world our youth require the necessary skills to become ‘’global’’ citizens. To this end our department has been actively working with our sister departments to secure more scholarships, exchange programmes and other training opportunities for our youth to study abroad. In addition we will continue to host our youth conflict resolution programme which has been in existence since 2017. We will also continue to support youth leaders to attend the forth-coming annual Global Forum For Young Diplomats in Russia, the 20th International Youth and Student Festival and the 5th BRICS youth summit.

We currently have more than 1600 students on scholarship in Cuba, China, Turkey, Hungary, Ireland, US and UK to mention but a few. In Cuba alone we have 1200 medical students, this excludes the 600 medical professionals, who have just completed their studies and returned home.

We are committed to expose our young people to the diplomatic world, and will announce a pragmatic programme in this regard on United Nations’ International Day of the Youth, on 12 August 2019.

We will continue to provide consular services to our vulnerable youth who because of their socio-economic conditions becomes exploited by drug traffickers and end up in foreign prisons particularly the girl child, in line with the Vienna Convention.

Conclusion

Our future is inextricably linked to that of our region, continent and the world. The challenges we face both domestically and globally, requires us to work closer with our partners in our region, continent and the world in search of solutions for shared and inclusive prosperity.  Thus, our diplomats will continue championing the African Agenda through all the international forums as we work towards realising our vision of “a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world”.

The President of the Republic of South Africa, Honourable Ramaphosa detailed his vision for a better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world, and was inspired by Dr. Mae Jemison, first African-American female astronaut, who inscribed that we should never be limited by other people’s limited imaginations.

We will continue to re-imagine a world free from hunger and poverty; to re-imagine a world wherein mutual respect is cardinal, to re- imagine a world of peace, free from hunger.

Thank you for your attention!

ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION

OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road
Rietondale
Pretoria
0084

 

 

 

 

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