Budget Vote Speech of the Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Honourable Marius Fransman, to the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Wednesday 25 April, 2012
Honourable Chair of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation;
Honourable Members of the Portfolio Committee of International Relations and Cooperation;
Your Excellencies Ambassadors, High Commissioners and Representatives of International Organizations;
Ladies and gentlemen;
Fellow South Africans ; and
Comrades and Friends
Two days ago on the 23rd April we commemorated the 19th Anniversary of the death of Cde OR Tambo, one of Africa's, if not one of the world's finest diplomats. He was not only a formidable leader but also a visionary that understood and articulated the nature and character of struggle and what is imperative for the liberation of Africa and the oppressed people's of the world.
On the occasion of this DIRCO Budget Vote 2012 I want to share what he said to the NAM Heads of Government Conference in Havana in 1979 and I quote: " Within the context of the struggle for the democratic restructuring of international economic relations, our peoples are fighting to put an end to their dependent and subordinate status; (and) to regain sovereignty over their natural resources." Close quote.
Last month on the 16th March 2012 during the New Age Presidential Breakfast President Jacob Zuma reiterated this imperative when he said; and I quote:
“Government has committed the next 20 years to strengthening economic development and transformation in South Africa”.
The President said this with the greatest confidence because he knows that the foundations of our domestic priorities and government’s commitments are now mirrored by a very strong and formidable foreign policy. A foreign policy that no longer only focuses on regional, continental and international peace and stability,democracy and international human solidarity alone, but one which seeks to include and balance it with our domestic economic policy priorities. The link between our foreign and domestic policies cannot be overemphasised – the two are inextricably linked. It is by no means a coincidence that we have utilised our diplomatic relations and partnerships to respond to, amongst others, the question of unemployment through the promotion of economic diplomacy.
In this regard, our country’s foreign policy articulates a grand vision of a harmonious world in which our national interest that includes economic development is the driver of our external relations. This is a foreign policy juxtaposed with our domestic priorities. It is for this reason that within our foreign policy trajectory lies a very important developmental imperative that promotes economic development. Economic development that should benefit all South Africans and the poor and the marginalized in particular.
We are still concerned about the alarming rate of unemployment and the challenges this phenomenon creates for our people and our country. At this stage, the rate of unemployment in the fourth quarter of 2011 stood at 23.9 percent. Furthermore, figures show that from 2000 until 2008, our unemployment rate averaged 26.38 percent reaching an historical high of 31.20 percent in March of 2003 and a record low of 23.00 percent in September of 2007.
In trying to navigate solutions to unemployment through economic diplomacy, we must link this effort with questions such as: what intervention mechanisms do we need to put into place in order to attain the desired economic growth in our country? How do we utilise our missions abroad in a way that they contribute to the creation of decent jobs, for our people - young and old?
If we are unable to achieve these core objectives then by and large our Foreign Policy will remain foreign to the very people it should benefit i.e. the poor and marginalised communities.
It is therefore critical that our country must produce the kind of diplomats who possess the requisite skills and developmental paradigm to utilise diplomacy in a way that helps to promote trade and investment between us and other nation states in order to benefit Africans and South Africans in general and the poor and marginalized communities in particular.
In this regard, during the last financial year, DIRCO, in partnership with the DTI, the Department of Tourism, SA Tourism, Brand South Africa and all the nine provinces, made an effort to develop an economic diplomacy toolkit. Subsequent to this, the first economic diplomacy workshop was held on 5-9 March 2012 with political line function officials in the Europe region. This was a major milestone in our endeavours to build economic diplomacy capacity in DIRCO, and more workshops will be rolled out in other regions in the current financial year.
Clearly, the success of economic diplomacy will determine the extent to which South Africa can achieve its domestic priorities. For our country to meet these domestic priorities, our economy must be able to participate in the global market place. Our economic diplomacy must include the creation of sustainable jobs and scaled up investments in employment intensive sectors. Accordingly, the creation of larger markets through regional integration will be instrumental in improving our global competitiveness.
In order to demonstrate the extent of our commitment to job creation, our foreign policy trajectory is also reflective of South Africa’s various growth plans and strategies such as: (1) The New Growth Path (NGP), (2) The National Industrial Policy Framework (NIPF), (3) The Industrial Policy Plan (IPAP2); and (4) The Trade Policy and Strategy Framework (TPSF).
All these represent our overarching economic development policy framework which seeks to accelerate GDP growth. But what should be of importance about these frameworks is how we link them to our present day challenges in such a way that they can respond to the question of unemployment and promote economic development. These frameworks and other trade strategies must leverage the new opportunities arising from more integrated global and regional markets to support the country development objectives. This can only be achieved if we utilise opportunities arising from our association with emerging economies, especially those developing nations of the South.
As you are aware, the shift of global power is pointing towards stronger developing nations such as India, Brazil, China and Russia. Honourable Chairperson, for this reason, we are proud to be associated with countries whose economies have grown significantly in the past decade. The shift of this global power is in our favour. We will continue to leverage new opportunities, using our back to back membership of both BRICS and IBSA to advance the course of our foreign policy and the advance of our national interests. Recent reports have shown how South Africa brings into IBSA a larger African market of a billion people. We validate these reports as a true reflection of how committed we are in putting Africa’s interests first. We therefore must continue using this membership to ensure that dividends of IBSA are felt directly by other developing nations – in Africa and elsewhere.
Our association with IBSA as well our strategic membership of SADC continues to provide us with the necessary space to strengthen our support to countries such as, amongst others, Madagascar, Somalia and Palestine.
As Minister has aptly indicated earlier in her budget vote speech, South Africa remains seized with efforts to strengthen SADC’s mediation efforts in Madagascar. Our commitment to the mandate bestowed on us by SADC has shown some commendable signs of progress. Our task therefore, as the Organ Troika (comprising of South Africa as Chair, Zambia and Tanzania) was to actively engage and persuade the Malagasy political stakeholders to sign the “Roadmap for Ending the Crisis in Madagascar” as a matter of urgency in order to return the country to constitutional normalcy.
I stand before this house fully motivated to announce some of the achievements of SADC in Madagascar, these are as follows:
- A strategic mission was undertaken to Madagascar in September 2011 to consult with the Malagasy political stakeholders in order to finalise the process of the signing of the Roadmap; this was followed by consultations with key stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, the Head of the High Authority of Transition and the Heads of the Armed Forces;
- It was agreed that the High Transition Authorities (HTA) shall allow all Malagasy citizens in exile, for political reasons, to return to the country unconditionally. This included Mr. Marc Ravalomanana. Subsequently, the HTA undertook to provide the necessary security and safety to all Malagasy returnees and also develop and enact the necessary legal instruments such as an amnesty law to ensure that the political freedom of all Malagasy citizens in the inclusive process of the transition, towards free, fair and credible elections is secured.
These achievements paved the way for continued Inter-Malagasy dialogue towards the formation of transitional institutions and processes contributing towards a conducive environment for the holding of peaceful, credible, free and fair elections.
More importantly, the Implementation Framework spelled out key performance areas, responsible agencies, timeframes and actions to be undertaken towards free, fair, transparent, neutral and credible elections in Madagascar. When SADC called for the establishment of a liaison office in Madagascar, we were amongst the first to honour this request. We have since complied and deployed an official to the liaison office in Madagascar, and the office stands fully operational.
The African Union is the overarching custodian for the implementation of peace and security measures and strategies in the continent. For this reason, I felt honoured to have an opportunity to brief the African Union Peace and Security Council (AUPSC) and the International Contact Group (ICG) on developments in the Madagascar mediation process. In view of this commendable progress, the AUPSC took a position to fully support this process and mobilise the international community to provide support to the transition process in Madagascar.
Deeply concerned, moved and disturbed by developments in Somalia, our government responded to the call by SADC to extend humanitarian assistance to the people of Somalia. In partnership with Angola, Namibia, Mozambique and Tanzania, we offered pledges and contributions in a form of, amongst others, food aid. Our Department of International Relations and Cooperation remains seized with outstanding work towards coordination of all SADC pledged for humanitarian assistance.
Moving on to South-South cooperation, it may be recalled that the IBSA Fund was created in 2004 out of the IBSA Dialogue Forum which is a Head of State-level initiative to enhance cooperation among the three developing countries, India, Brazil and South Africa. Its purpose is to identify replicable and scalable projects that can be jointly adopted and implemented in interested developing countries as examples of best practices in the fight against poverty and hunger. In this regard, this fund initiated the successful construction of a Multi-purpose Indoor Sports Hall project in Ramallah. The completion of the Ramallah multi-purpose indoor sports hall is testimony to what can be achieved if the hands of friendship are extended to other counties in need.
Without any doubt, this is the first step in what we trust will be a valuable and worthwhile initiative towards our contributions to developmental initiatives.
Much closer to home, yet on the same terrain of development. I am convinced that our view of development, as a country, is anchored upon firm foreign policy principles to ensure a more just, free and equitable Africa and world at large. These principles continue to provide guidance in the work we do – at home and abroad. They is an important source of reference in our conduct of global affairs, especially on issues of development and partnership with our neighbours. We are, therefore, committed to ensuring the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Aid (SADPA) agency becomes a success. In principle, the successful establishment of this structure will see our country counted amongst countries that contribute towards development of other nations.
The South African government recognises the importance of using its development cooperation funding efficiently and effectively to address the challenges of poverty alleviation, underdevelopment and marginalisation of Africa, in particular, in the South. It is recognised that these challenges simultaneously reflect South Africa’s own interests for security and development, and reflect its solidarity with the plight of people elsewhere.
The Draft Bill for establishing the Partnership Fund (to replace the ARF) and the Business Case for creating SADPA have been completed and is under evaluation by DIRCO management and the relevant partners departments. Work is underway to develop the operational policy, systems and tools for operationalising SADPA. Accordingly,
In the management of the Department, we continually strive to adhere fully to the Government approved Governance Framework which also includes the Public Finance Management Act, the Treasury Regulations and the Minimum Information Security Standards. We continue to asses business and operating processes to ensure that these are updated and also improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Measures are being introduced to improve the turnaround of payment to creditors. Furthermore, significant improvements were made to the Department’s fixed asserts.
Whilst we have made considerable progress in stabilising the Department’s ICT infrastructure, improvements on this area will continue in order that the Department operates in a more efficient and effective manner. We are also required to provide the necessary facilities for the Department to conduct its operations at Head Office. In this regard, we are currently in discussions with the national Treasury to consider alternative models for the accelerated acquisition of properties, especially Chanceries and Official residences.
In 2008, the Department launched ROSA (Registrations of South Africans, Abroad). This is a system that allows South Africans who are travelling abroad to register their details with our Department. In the event of emergencies, the Department will then be in a position to identify and make contact with South Africans abroad. I therefore Once again urge all South Africans travelling abroad to utilise this facility when travelling abroad.
The year 2012 marks the 100 year anniversary of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, and the world - the African National Congress (ANC). Therefore It may be recalled that Cabinet had since issued a statement that noted that these Centenary Celebrations were National celebrations, and therefore not exclusive to the ANC.
It is for this reason that these celebrations provides our Department of International Relations and Cooperation and diplomats across Africa and the world an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the liberation movements not only in South Africa but on the entire continent over the past 100 years. Particularly in relation to international relations, diplomacy and the ANC's role there in.
Since the ANC's inception in 1912, international diplomacy was the key tool used to challenge the colonial and subsequent Apartheid regime, eventually becoming 1 of 4 key pillars of the struggle for a democratic and free South Africa. It is this movement ... of Pan-African philosophy, international human rights and international human solidarity with the oppressed poor and marginalized, that has today informed South Africa's constitutional, legislative and policy platform for international relations. A policy platform that is principled and of which all South Africans can be proud of. One which seeks to ensure that we become a more free, fair, just, equal, on racial and non- sexist society in Africa and the world at large.
To this end, we must, therefore, use this year to celebrate the heroes and heroines of Africa and South Africa in particular, for it is these heroes and founding fathers that have imbued the principles for foreign policy today. We must sing praises of those whose tireless fight for our independence in the last century led to the end of colonialism and oppression throughout the continent. Let us take a moment and celebrate their great sacrifices and contributions to the people of South Africa, Africa and the World.
In particular I want to make special mention of 4 extraordinary patriots in this regard, one who was born in the month of April and 3 who died in this month, and all of whom were unable to witness the fruits of their sacrifice.
Firstly, Josiah Tshangana Gumede, the 3rd ANC President and tireless fighter for democracy. Although it is argued that his greatest legacy was to build a closer alliance between the ANC and the working class, he was from the outset a diplomat as well one who used his skills tirelessly in the fight for equal rights of Africans in general and South Africans in particular.
Secondly, Oliver Reginald Tambo, the longest serving ANC president and arguably South Africa's greatest diplomat whose contribution to democracy, international relations international human solidarity still reverberates today. Finally, Soloman Mahlangu and Chris Hani.
These patriots Tambo, Hani and Mahlanagu died in this month of April and were unable to witness the fruits of their sacrifice of a free and democratic South Africa.
In conclusion honourable speaker, let me conclude by quoting what OR Tambo said to the International Conference in support of the liberation movements of Southern Africa and in Support of the Frontline State then in Lusaka, on the 10 April 1979 when he said: ''We are moved to recall the words of our late President Chief Albert Luthuli when he opened the 42nd Annual Conference of the ANC in 1953: 'Our interest in freedom is not confined to ourselves only. We are interested in the liberation of all oppressed people in the whole of Africa and in the world as a whole... Our active interest in the extension of freedom to all people denied it makes us ally ourselves with freedom forces in the world."
I thank you