Orientation workshop on South African Foreign Policy: 11-12 August 2009
South Africa (SA) is operating in a dynamic environment where ideology is no longer the binding instrument for forming alliances; where there are emerging powers (including Brazil, China, India and Mexico) and a growing realisation that the power of United States America (USA) is gradually diminishing, thus losing its status as the sole remaining superpower in the world. Nonetheless, the USA still remains the most powerful nation by virtue of its superior economic status, its unassailable military strength and its political influence. What is being observed however is the beginning of a multipolar dispensation, where multilateral ism is starting to gain favour as the most effective way to engage in international relations and the USA recognizes this as well.
In this scenario SA has the opportunity to use its comparative strength. Traditionally SA depended on soft power, with high reliance on persuasion, cooperation, partnerships. This will not change. However, the state will vigorously seek to promote collaboration in place of confrontation and also to put less emphasis on competition, but rather promote cooperation and long lasting partnerships..
The current dispensation is seeing the increasing importance of non-state actors, including business and humanitarian non-governmental organisations. Chequebook diplomacy is beginning to be the norm and SA finds itself having to operate within that space. For example South Africa is to embark on a visit to Angola and the President is accompanied by a business delegation of over 100 persons.
The biggest challenge for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DICO) is coordinating the work of all the national stakeholders that partake in international relations in the name of the Government of South Africa. Hence a Consultative Forum on International Relations has been mooted, in order to deal with the issue of coordination among different role players, including Parliament. It has been observed that often the Department is not informed when Ambassadors from other countries make appointments with South Africa's public officials and therefore it becomes difficult to ensure that proper information is disseminated. Ambassadors must go through the Department.
Another challenge is how to build stronger partnerships in Africa to give effect to the African Agenda. This is a challenge of economic diplomacy. Intra-regional trade is low and this problem can be related to the issue of connectivity, as the trade routes still reflect the picture of the olden days of colonialism, when the local infrastructure was only suited to transporting primary goods to the ports where they could shipped off to the colonial empires.
There appears to be a need for common understanding between states. SA's role in international forums is contested, and this has been observed with respect to SA-EU relations and SA's participation G-20. Senegal is most outspoken on SA's participation in this latter forum and has been questioning the merits upon which qualifies to be a participant.
Change of emphasis envisaged in Policy Priorities:
How to adjust SA's expression of national interests
How to ensure that foreign policy is rooted in domestic priorities and that the South African public is brought on board in order to support DICO in its work.
How to make sure that private sector support the objectives of South Africa's foreign policy.
The proposed South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA) is set to give effect to the emphasis on long lasting partnerships. This agency must not be used in same manner as the agencies from the north have traditionally been used (as proxies for leveraging power in the developing world).
CONSOLIDATING THE AFRICAN AGENDA
The African continent is in the middle of a process of integration that is set to undergo several stages. However, recent developments suggest that some want to fast track the process in order to arrive at what is said to be the United States of Africa. But, SA's perspective on integration is informed by a Gradualist approach. It is the view of the state that to build strong foundations for strengthening unity this gradualist approach must be followed. The proposed Union Government of Africa (UGA) must be a union of sovereign independent states, as it is not envisaged that states in Africa will want to give up a significant measure of their sovereignty to an entity that will have the sole preserve to decide on critical matters, such as the distribution of resources for instance.
There is a quota of positions within continental structures that SA must fill, yet there are key positions as well that could be filled, although they are not earmarked for South African personnel per se. For example, there is the vacant position of Secretary to the Pan African Parliament (PAP).
It is also crucial for SA to identify a suitable candidate for the vacant position of Deputy Executive Secretary for SADC, because the incumbent in this position will drive the economic development agenda of the SADC.
There is now generally a worldwide emphasis on forming Strategic Partnerships.The international environment has changed and longer puts a premium on political solidarity. Instead, the current trend is that of forming economic partnerships. It is therefore imperative to engage both the North and the South on key strategic issues, such as development for instance. It is also important engage the Diaspora, which has been identified as a key catalyst for Africa's development.
NEPAD - There are plans to align NEPAD to the AU Commission on international Trade and Development. This means is a danger because this programme cannot be subordinated to a Coordinator. The importance of NEPAD may be diminished if responsibility is removed from Heads of State and Government.
African Renaissance Fund (ARF) -The Facility has been involved in a number of development projects throughout Africa and in other parts of the World. These include the Manantali Dam Project, (Hydro power project), involving Mali, Senegal and Mauritania.
The ARF has in the recent past wrote off debts owing to it to the tune of R6 million. There is an ongoing debate on the repositioning of the ARF. There has been an idea of SA using the ARF as an instrument of foreign policy as it is common practice with Northern countries with respect to their development agencies. The policy shift in the Department however points in another direction. There is currently an emphasis on the need to build strong relations and partnerships and using the ARF as an instrument of foreign policy may not serve this objective.
EPAs have divided Africa into three trading blocs: the south, east and central trading blocs. Namibia has initialled, but not signed. Angola, which is classified as an LDC, is currently the fastest growing economy in Africa, but is not party to EPAs. This therefore brings about the question as to whether it is really necessary to have these EPAs. There are opportunities to engage Angola on key strategic issues and the state has opened itself to possibilities.
Intra-African trade accounts for 20% of all trade that Africa has with other regions.
There are plans to embark on an infrastructure development project involving Tanzania and Mozambique and Malawi. The objective of the project is to develop links between southern African countries to give effect to the African Agenda.
DRC - CNDP (Nkunda's) and FDLR - concerns that the two want to form an alliance. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is considering bail for Bemba and certain countries may host him, albeit with specific conditions.
Zimbabwe- Tsvangirai came to SA to raise issues around non-implementation of the Global Political Agreement. At the crux of the dispute is the distribution of power, where it seems ZANU-PF is not living up to the end of its bargain. In dispute is the distribution of Ambassadorial positions, as there is an agreement that awaits implementation.
SA is to sign a bilateral investment protection agreement with Zimbabwe in order to protect local investment in what remains to be an uncertain business environment.
Some of the immediate objectives that have been identified include strengthening relations with Botswana; continual engagements with Swaziland; and supporting the stabilisation work in Chad.
Libya has displayed considerable influence on the decisions of the AU - based on GDP per capita, Libya has three times the economic strength of Dubai. But it faces major challenges in infrastructure. Libya is host to Community of Sahel Saharan African countries (otherwise called SENSAD). It is active in West, Central, East and North Africa. But it is not an active structure. Libya uses petro-dollars as leverage for influencing these countries. Libya is aggressive in multilateral diplomacy.
With regard to the EPAs and their impact on economic integration, it was noted that for SA, while it is not a signatory to the EPAs, the TDCA is however supposed to play the role envisioned for the EPAs and be instrument of integration. The major issue why SA did not sign the EPAs is objection to trade chapter and rules of origin proposed by the European Commission (EC). For SA these are non-negotiable. SA seeks a trade agreement that is mutually beneficial and the EC's insistence on including a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) clause will cause SA to apply strict rules of origin rules that may prove to be very costly.
On the question of measuring the impact of bi-national commissions in attaining SA's objectives it was pointed out that the Department is looking at launching quantitative and qualitative assessment. The immediate task is to identify "anchor states" (strategic partners) for the African Agenda. It was pointed out by the Department that the bi-national commissions not all of them are functioning optimally and therefore they are due for review.
The different regions produce different variations of fossil fuels and therefore the refinery technology is adapted to the different variants. This means there would be an added cost to building new refineries that would process oil from non-traditional sources. This means in the short term it would be more expensive to import oil from Angola than it is to import from SA's current main source, the Gulf region.
SOUTH-SOUTH AND NORTH-SOUTH COOPERATION
It was noted that the South possesses great potential of overcoming global finance crisis faster than the North. There are interesting developments in Latin America -with sign of a shit leftwards. The USA is hence showing greater interest in that region.
For SA the key strategic partnerships of the South are: ASEAN, NAM, G-77, as well as the ACP. There's the possibility to extend IBSA to other influential countries of the South. There are ongoing discussions involving Brazil, China, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Indonesia and Malaysia.
SA receives 15 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA). SA is learning from other countries how to use land reform for economic development. Some of the other ongoing projects are those exploring ways and means of creating decent jobs and how to deal with immigration.
With regard to SA's engagement with the Diaspora a fact was mentioned that there are 780000 SA citizens currently residing in the United Kingdom (UK). These qualify as the Diaspora.. Overall SA receives remittances from 115000 expatriates with an estimated value of over US$2 billion a year. It is therefore obvious the value that such people have to the country's economy and to the African Agenda.
Zimbabwe SADC Tribunal - President Mugabe holds the view that its decisions are inconsequential. The Tribunal is an adjudicating mechanism focussing mainly on legal issues. The poser therefore is how to take account of political issues, which raises the question as to which carries more weight between peace and justice. There is thus a difficult balancing act to be made with both Tsvangirai and Mugabe digging in their heels trying to secure more power, whilst the situation is complicated by their supporters that have a lot at stake in securing power for their respective sides.
Russia - it was pointed out that it is clear the Russians have identified specific sectors in which they have interest. They have shown particular interest in having secure access to uranium. This critical mineral can be found in Namibia, SA and Niger amongst others. There seems to be a great contest with China, as both countries are growing economic powers in their own right and having secured access to the required resources will greatly assist in achieving the objectives that these countries have set for themselves.
Madagascar - it was mentioned that SADC is in control of the process and is providing leadership. Former President of Mozambique Chissano has played critical role in this process.
SA private sector in Africa - SA conglomerates that operate in Africa, non-state actors should have standards that they are held to in efforts to ensure that business subscribes to norms that SA has set for itself in its foreign policy, such as the protection and promotion of human rights. However, the crucial aspect to consider is that constraints should not be imposed on business in efforts to have them subscribe to the norms that SA swears by. It was pointed out that labour relations laws are different across jurisdictions and therefore sometimes it is difficult to ensure that SA business subscribes to the standards in SA, as the situation is quite different in the rest of Africa and some adaptation is required as a result. For instance, human rights standards are lower than in SA in many African countries. However, it was an emphatic general agreement amongst the workshop participants that there should be consensus on non-negotiables.
SA & Venezuela are building solid economic relations. However, PetroSA has been slow to act on undertakings between the two countries. Part of the delay has to do with the fact that SA's refineries are not suited to processing oil from Latin America. SA is to establish an office in Caracas. The Coega project is to assist in the oil processing.
Angola and Nigeria and two critical key strategic players that SA needs to engage. With respect to Nigeria there is a 10 year diplomatic relations celebration planned which is intended to raise profile of the relations between the two countries. But, the President of Nigeria has not been fit to engage in diplomacy hence a lull in relations.
PAP - the Department seeks engage in a project involving Members of Parliament (MPs) of the PAP in which the MPs would be exposed to other dimensions of the country while they are in SA during the PAP sessions. The aim of the project is to influence the MPs to see SA in different light so as to use SA as benchmark in most of their work on enhancing democracy in Africa.
A related project is that of lobbying for SA to fill the vacant position of Secretary of the PAP. , but what did not come out of DICO's presentation is that they would liaise with the SA parliament in order to push the idea.
The USA has identified several countries in Africa as key strategic partners in order to counter-balance its diminishing power.
AI Bashir - there has been a realisation that there is a price to pay for peace. Proposal is to defer arrest for one year in accordance with ICC statute. Now that Bashir is an international "fugitive" it has serious implication for diplomacy. For example, how does a person of the stature of Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General relate to a fugitive of the law? Also, how do ambassadors present credentials to a fugitive? SA laws are clear and categorical in as far as such matters are concerned. Therefore there is no doubt that international warrants of arrests shall be executed regardless of international standing of persons. But, there is a need for proper alignment between different government departments so that SA's position is well understood.
Middle East Peace Process - Support for Palestinians versus relations with Israel. Various forms of support offered to Palestinians. Yet, SA maintains good relations with Israel. There is a multiplicity of actors & SA is not a major player, but it is a "trusted friend". Jewish Lobby in SA uses economic leverage, while Palestinian lobby uses political leverage. It is therefore a balancing act. Skosana made proposal that SA must elect envoy at the level of the Quartet in order to focus on issue of uniting the Palestinians, because this is exploited by Israel. DG raised the question of in future debating economic relations with Israel as a principle issue, because in the past, economic relations with Israel was not a big issue, but recently it has been coming up very often.
SA's MULTILATERAL AGENDA
To put it in context SA's multilateral engagements place a responsibility on the state to manage 191 national positions of the individual UN members geographically placed in different time zones, faced with their own unique challenges that require unique responses. SA's multilateral approach is favoured by the South, with criticisms from the North, and some local stakeholders. However, the Obama Administration's affinity towards multilateralism creates opportunities for SA.
Human rights are used as a political tool by others.
Most of the work on the Israel-Palestine issue is done outside the UN at the wish of Israel and its supporters in the UNSC that carry veto power. SA is known to be in favour of the Palestinian cause and therefore an envoy elected to participate in the Peace Process might not enjoy support of Israelis due that fact alone. Hence a two-track approach has been identified at the best one to follow in this current juncture.
Group dynamics are a big factor in multilateralism. Voting patterns are influenced by a number of factors, and therefore certain countries are not inclined to be consistent in their voting patterns for different intents and purposes.
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), NEPAD, nuclear weapons non-proliferation, South-South Cooperation, reform of the UN, UNSC and Bretton Woods institutions continue to be key issues for SA to pursue through multilateral forums. The unbalanced composition of executive boards in key international financial institutions is in favour of countries that hold veto power and this is a matter that SA seeks to address in its multilateral engagements.
UNSC reform process is informed by the Ezulwini Consensus, which is Africa's position. Ezulwini consensus was adopted in 2005 by the AU on the reform of the UN.
There seems to have been some confusion over SA's stance on Zimbabwe during its tenure as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. It was clarified that in the first place the UNSC never wanted a resolution on Zimbabwe. But it wanted a hearing to which SA never had objections to. Regrettably the media interpreted the matter otherwise.
It was pointed out that that SA qualified to participate in G20 because of work on African Agenda, not because of its economic status and neither the conjecture that it was nominated by G77.
SA advocates for a shared vision on climate change. To implement key mitigating measures Africa will need advanced technologies that it cannot afford. Moreover, Africa is not a significant producer of C02 emissions and therefore the industrialised countries have to take the lead in mitigating efforts to avert the problem of climate change.
G5 - there is an ongoing discussion on the expansion of G5. This is not a closed matter. But, a solid partnership based on direct dealings with the G8 is said to be in place. The question therefore is how to support the work that has been already done without setting back the progress that has been achieved.
It was posited that under the current climate in which the world is still grappling with the financial crisis, efforts at development cooperation and poverty reduction will be undermined. SA is faced with a limited humanitarian aid budget (R17 million), yet there are increasing responsibilities. The situation is set to be exacerbated by disasters and conflicts that are unfortunately projected to wreak havoc on the continent.
With regard to Extended Continental shelf Claims that are governed by the Law of the Sea and UN it was pointed out that for areas that are not claimed by the 2009 deadline, all "potential ownership and rights" to the seafloor will be lost and offshore acreage will revert to the International Seabed Authority's jurisdiction. SA is claiming areas around the mainland and around South Africa's Prince Edward/Marion islands in the southern ocean.
National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC) - Orders for military hardware are processed through the department. This occurs at the ministerial level. The NCACC functions alongside a scrutiny committee and the process of referring cases to the NCACC is said to be rigorous.
A thorough study is required to deal with the question whether ICC is biased towards targeting Africa. This is not a clear cut matter as there have been Europeans that have appeared before the court, including Slobodan Milosevic, who unfortunately died before his case could be settled.
Mandate Creep is a big issue in UNSC. Any issue in the world can be linked to peace and security so long as the members agree that it is an issue. The P-5 use Veto power to discard issues they are sensitive to. They expect the 10 other members to rubber stamp their decisions. SA was first country not only to vote against, but also the first to make amendments to a UNSC resolution. But the challenge is the P-5 make effective use of the Press, what in the USA is referred to as "transparent diplomacy".
Some of the country reports to the UN have been delayed. Coordination amongst government departments is an issue, because message must be well coordinated. Therefore certain countries will use this as a way to lambast SA, since they' cannot get it on paying its membership fees that are always paid on time. Mission is to discredit SA.
The geopolitical position of Egypt creates difficulties of sustained consistent relations because sometimes they align themselves with Africa and most of the time their interests are focussed elsewhere.
Integration of immigrants is policy of SA and is in line with international law.
No certainty that Public Diplomacy possesses enough leverage to influence international issues.
SA has good relations with UN country teams. Thus SA is used as an example for a country study on how to promote relations between the UN and countries on development issues.
The President of the UN General Assembly took the issue of the reform away from the plenary and into special ambassadorial committees. The issue is set to come back only when there is some form of general common understanding on how to proceed with the issue.
300 million grant to Zimbabwe - guided by National Treasury. The grant was directed towards the rehabilitation of infrastructure. It was also intended to revive the credit line for business in order to support the private sector in giving impetus to the rehabilitation of the economy, and there indications of progress in this regard. It is an added benefit that the SA currency is being used. This has assisted in making commodities more available. The grant to Zimbabwe has been used also for Agricultural support. The agreement that has been signed is for the money not to flow through the Zimbabwe Reserve Bank. A special facility has been set up for the transfer of funds. R100 million was held back because of conditions that needed to be met.
Budget for vacancies was negotiated with National Treasury to transfer funds to support operational capacity.
Renting for purposes of accommodating diplomatic missions has in the past and continues to be a problematic issue because landlords reserve the right to escalate rental fees at a moment's notice, and because SA is bound to remain due to various reasons, is often found wanting and thus having to pay the required fees. Hence the emphasis on buying property oversees.
Foreign exchange - the adjustment estimate has been main tool to deal with budget. The global finance crisis has exposed the weaknesses of using this measure alone. DIGO is thus working with National Treasury to explore other options that may be pursued and a report is due to be tabled in the near future.
PEACE AND SECURITY CHALLENGES - ACCORD
The international environment is undergoing fundamental changes that serve to change the manner in which the international community relates. The world is witnessing the emergence of a "normative international society," driven by norms, such as respect for human rights, democracy, responsibility to protect, etc. This is driven by the tragic events of the last decade where war and genocide in countries like Rwanda and the Former Yugoslavia radically affected the conscience of the world and became a rallying point that the world should not just sit and watch while an unfolding disaster can be prevented.
The world is seeing the emergence of multilateralism as the preferred form of engagement.
There will be increased debate on the juncture at which intervention can be considered legitimate. Not only that, additional questions will revolve around aspects such as: the nature of situation and appropriateness of any form of intervention; the means of intervention; the overall purpose of intervening; as well as exit plans following intervention.
Population increase and increased urbanisation are seemingly most important drivers of change and countries' policies revolve around these matters.
Growth in per capita income is second driver of change. There are resource limitations (water; energy) and increasing demand for services. It was only in 2007 when for the first time in history 50 percent of the world's population lived in the urban areas. Therefore, a failure to satisfy the needs of the expanded urban population could lead to conflict, especially when the cause of conflict is linked to other traditional causes such as extreme inequalities. The evidence currently shows that there are increasing pockets of poverty in Africa.
Incapacity to respond to natural disasters will be key problem in future.
Nigeria's instability can spill over into West Africa. The situation threatens the country's position as a regional power. The weakening of Nigeria could throw the region into, turmoil, as it is absolutely necessary for a region to have a stable hegemony, and the same is true for West Africa.
Separation of Sudan is drawing in the entirety of the region. Garang was a uniting force. Now there are new divisions. The parties in Sudan are not interested in solving Darfur.
Total Disposal income of SA and the region is not good enough to attract investment as compared to India, Brazil etc.
Land distribution will in future become an even more serious problem and could be the major cause of conflict if not properly addressed.
The outlook is negative. There is need for proactive and outward foreign policy.
Interplay of demographics and disease will play out in Africa. Domestic problems are set to negatively affect SA and Nigeria's hegemonic status and thus constrain their abilities to act as centres of influence within their respective regions. On the watch should be the respective ability to deliver services to citizens in the face of limited resources and escalating prices.
SA in AFRICA - SAIIA
SA business is projecting image of dominating Africa, suggesting that SA seeks to be a hegemony. Another concern is the observance of human rights by SA business in Africa thus highlighting the need for an accountability tool.
1999 ushered new era of Africa's Renaissance. OAU transformed, new institutions set up.
AU Charter on Democracy has been ratified by only one country, Ethiopia. This is seen as a sign of the need for more engagement on the normative values that bind African countries. 12 out of 33 countries in Africa have backtracked on democracy commitments made in the 1990s.
With respect to the Democratic Republic of Congo it was mentioned that the state's reach in the eastern provinces is highly limited with no significant presence of social, economic and political institutions of the country there. The illicit trade in mineral resources continues. However a shifted has been observed in trade patterns and the commodities that are traded. For instance, the illicit trade in Coltan (a primary mineral resource used in cell phones and computers) is no longer as rife as it used to be. This is mainly due to the drop in price in the international market for this commodity.
It was said that there is a wide perception throughout Africa of ARF as some kind of black a "black box". The funding mechanism does not seem to have a clear link with SA's foreign policy. It was noted that the ARF can be refined into a clear, predictable and transparent development framework making full use of SA's missions. Need for clarity on its modalities. Need to link it with APRM principles.
There's a need for clearer understanding in Africa on the AU's developmental agenda.
Robert Kaplan "The Coming Anarchy".
Robert raises the issue that when Africa needs to resolve its problems, the suggestion that is often made countries should hold elections. They must democratise. Democracy is about who gets to decide on national concerns. Is it the citizens of a privileged select few? The AU Commission staff is said to be hardworking, yet overstretched.
With regard to engaging Angola that has been identified as a key strategic partner for SA, the advice given was that Angolans appreciate assistance and suggestions, so long as promises are backed up by action. They do not like being dictated to and are sensitive. But, there are signs of a dictatorship.
263 Million rand alone was committed to DRC to support 2006 elections and therefore SAIIA figures about ARF are not accurate.
It was pointed out that there is a pervasive lack of understanding amongst countries on basic foreign policy issues, e.g. many do not understand SA's policy towards China, and the fact that the state maintains strong relations with EU.
It was noted and an observation was cited that Africa suffers from a weakness of the civil society movement. Also, it is apparent that there is growth in trepidation by Africa's leaders and this has fact has made itself obvious at AU meetings.
SA has not defined its national interest. Therefore there is no one single universally agreed point of departure for SA to engage with Africa and the rest of the globe. There used to be an ideology (largely based on normative values) driving national programmes, but now it has become outdated and irrelevant.
Strong hegemonic parties are required to hold democracy together for stability purposes. Elections are fractious in Africa and hence cause conflicts when disputes arise.
Rwanda is working because of flows of donor AID. International community is interested in seeing Rwanda work.
DA Y TWO
All departments are supposed to have independent audit committees, but the reality is that in most departments these committees are not well capacitated. Reasons: scarcity of skills and competition with private sector. The audit committee is supposed to meet four times a year. The DG is supposed to sit in on the audit committee. But the internal audit system is supposed to be well functioning in order to proactively identify red flags so that the DG can act on those.
National Treasury has got a programme to recruit talent from" the tertiary institutions and the commensurate working conditions have been created within Treasury to develop the talent and retain skills.
There is a possibility of moving the function of monitoring the monthly expenditure of departments to Parliament. The Money Bills Amendment Act makes it possible to do so. It is matter of crafting the appropriate policy and this is an issue that is already under discussion.
Virements and hedge funds, while they are effective in dealing with immediate financial challenges are however not sustainable, not to mentioned.
Plays key role in oversight and strengthening democracy.
Aim is to achieve the production of monthly financial statements. The objective is to limit time on correcting errors and moving more towards adding value on departmental expenditure.
Mandate of AG is limited to public opinion, which is different to that of public sector. The AG's role is to test the credibility of financial reports supplied by accounting officers. AG does not have provision for punitive measures. But can arrange for hearings along with SCOPA. Section 5 of the PFMA Act provides for investigations.
Another role for the AG is to provide donors with reports of how funds distributed to public administration were used.
There is a thin line between being proactive and reactive. The AG prefers to be reactive in order to maintain independence and credibility.
On the question of the relationship between the Internal Audit and Audit Committee, It was noted the latter should provide leadership and indicate risks and action plans to monitor those risks (in the form of a one-page summary).
Environmental auditing are technical assessments done by technical experts not AG.
In terms of value for money is related to political objectives which are difficult to determine and is out of ambit of AG.
Remedial measures - intention is to interact more with accounting officers and ministers
SUMMARY KEY POINTS
SA is operating in an environment where there are emerging powers and a realisation by the USA that its power is no longer what it used to be, thus we are seeing the beginning of a multipolar dispensation. This means there are opportunities and challenges that must be confronted.
SA can pursue its objectives through a multilateral approach and expect to yield results. Its main tools at disposal are persuasion, cooperation, partnerships. Hence the name change, international relations and cooperation is appropriate because it projects the impression that SA is truly seeking to build relationships instead of the traditional approach of international relations where the operative term is "no permanent friends but only permanent interests".
The international environment has changed emphasis from political solidarity to economic partnerships.
Need build stronger partnerships in Africa to give effect to the African Agenda.
However SA power is highly limited and one has to be realistic about what they can achieve.
The biggest challenge for OICO is coordination of all the national tributaries that partake in international relations, because the objective is to give similar consistent messages.
This relates to the issue of Consultative Forum on International Relations in order to align and define the roles of multiple stakeholders.
There is challenge of economic diplomacy. Intra-regional trade is lower than is desirable, only 20%. Problems of Connectivity, legacy of colonialism.
Need for common understanding between states. SA role in international forums is contested, e.g. EU relations, G-20. Senegal is most outspoken on SA's participation.
Gradualism is the premise of SA's approach to integration. This entails that the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) will form the building blocs towards the total economic integration of the continent. There is a strong belief in building foundations for strengthening unity.
South Africa sees itself as a developmental state located in Africa that is part of the South and its foreign policy needs reflect the ideals and aspirations of the countries of Africa and the South.
Cooperation and Partnerships have therefore been identified as the best approach to pursuing the objectives set in foreign policy.
ISSUES FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE SPEAKER'S OFFICE
On the project to lobbying for SA to fill the vacant position of Secretary of the PAP, what did not come out of DICO's presentation is that they would liaise with the SA parliament in order to advance this objective.
On the issue of a Consultative Forum on International Relations, that will deal with the issue of coordination among different role players, including Parliament, it is critical that more information is garnered on the work that has already been done and the discussions that have taken place. The Consultative Forum will assist with International Parliamentary matters, especially during this period when the Fourth Parliament is gaining momentum and becoming more familiar with its mandate. It is important in the sense that the various administrative and political bodies dealing with international relations at Parliament should be able to work in tandem with DICO and other national stakeholders in order to ensure that there is common understanding on the country's foreign policy and interpretation thereof.