Questions emanating from the briefing to the Portfolio Committee on the Departmental APP 2013-2014
Exports of finished products – do we not have the capacity or to do the value added on products?
South Africa has shown in the past that it has the capacity to beneficiate raw materials, examples of which are SASOL, the steel industry and the automotive industry.
The Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), the latest version of which was recently released by the dti, aims to broaden South Africa’s manufacturing base. Economic Diplomacy in support of this important objective is now part of the core business of DIRCO and as such has been captured in the Annual Performance Plan for 2013/14. The consequence of this is that all South African missions abroad are tasked to fully engage in Economic Diplomacy.
Tourism does DIRCO work closely with the other role players in promoting our tourism potential, e.g. SAA
At Departmental level, DIRCO and the National Department of Tourism cooperate closely to promote South Africa’s tourism strategy and policy in international organizations.
At mission level, South African diplomats promote tourism to South Africa in cooperation with the Marketing Section in DIRCO, SA Tourism and SAA.
Selected locally recruited personnel dealing with tourism at South African missions are afforded the opportunity to attend the annual Tourism Indaba in South Africa.
DIRCO Quarterly report page 13 – the Committee should do oversight to see if money is spent on priorities as highlighted by DIRCO?
Oversight visits by the Portfolio Committee are welcomed and guidance and advice from the Committee has proven valuable in the past.
Building of PAP page 26 – is this development still on track?
The Government’s implementing agent for this project is the Department of Public Works. Construction on the Midrand site, next to the DBSA, has not proceeded due to environmental issues. Given the project’s budget escalations as reported by DPW, National Treasury has advised that alternative procurement methods such as a PPP be considered.
DIRCO has escalated the lack of progress via its principals to the political leadership of the responsible department.
The total financial implication for DIRCO to host the Fifth BRICS Summit is R 50 150 546.00. DIRCO facilitated the acquisition of Venues & Facilities for both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Development Bank of Southern Africa. Both amounts are included in the above-mentioned total.
No additional funds were required to enhance South Africa’s relations with the BRICS countries as it was absorbed within the existing budget baseline.
Africa Multilateral & Branch Asia & Middle East
There is a Cabinet decision that SA should open Missions in each and every African country. The UK is opening more trade offices in India. SA in comparison opens offices everywhere, but not according to our economic priorities?
It is still DIRCO’s intention to open missions in all African countries and a process is underway to identify posts in developed countries that could be transferred to new African missions.
South Africa’s missions are fully aligned to our economic objectives; however, the attention should now shift to the new wave of developing economies emerging, such as the CIVETS countries. The Department, in this new financial year, is engaging in an Organisational Functional Assessment (OFA) with the DPSA, the aim of which is to ensure a closer fit between organizational structure and strategy.
Tourists, do we do analyses on which tourists spend the most money in SA?
Branch Multilateral is of the opinion that the National Department of Tourism would be better placed to respond to this question.
Statements on page 22 under continental cooperation (actually international cooperation) lists inputs but no outputs. Were there any results?
Due to the unpredictable nature of Multilateral work, it is difficult to define desired outputs in advance.
The Multilateral Quarter 4 Report is attached to assist in this regard.
Which Government properties abroad are not used and also not sold yet?
4 staff houses in Walvis Bay, Namibia
In terms of the State Land Disposal Act, only the Minister of Public Works is mandated to dispose of state-owned properties.
Given the lack of cooperation received from the Department of Public Works in this matter, DIRCO will initiate a transparent and competitive bidding process and submit the results thereof to the relevant Minister for approval.
Does DIRCO have an indication of which missions are not performing?
DIRCO missions are closely monitored on a quarterly basis on their performance and as such there are no missions that are not performing.
During the previous financial year, all the Heads of Mission, the Seconds-in-Charge at missions and Corporate Services Managers were trained in the new performance information management requirements, which would assist in better environmental analysis and focusing on delivering on South Africa’s foreign policy objectives, inclusive of economic objectives.
All the missions have also now been trained in economic diplomacy and this is now embedded in all training modules of the Department and Annual Performance Plans of missions.
DGO / Corporate Services
When will Portfolio Committee members get language training?
DIRCO needs to meet the Portfolio Committee to do a “needs analysis” on the language training that is required by the Committee.
The Portfolio Committee is requested to submit:
the names of the members who would like to attend language training;
the language/s they wish to study, (DIRCO offers in-house language courses in French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and English for Diplomatic Purposes with Mandarin being in the process of establishment as an in-house language);
the time/duration they have available to attend language training, number of hours per day and when in the day (time);
Why does DIRCO make a distinction between international relations and international cooperation? Can we motivate the split?
Given the broad scope of DIRCO’s mandate, the considered view was that splitting the budget programme structure between bilateral and multilateral relations would facilitate better planning and budgeting in the department. For this reason, International Relations now focuses on bilateral relations and International Cooperation on multilateral relations.
What consultants will DIRCO appoint on 2013/17 as indicated in the Strat Plan?
DIRCO will appoint consultants mainly:
To undertake feasibility studies for infrastructure projects;
ICT services; and
To provide training services for the Department’s Training Institute.
Public Facilities Management:
Building professionals will be appointed to assist DIRCO in executing construction and renovation projects as listed in the Infrastructure Plan
ICT will appoint the following consultants.
SITA - to assist in the finalization of projects;
Microsoft - infrastructure re-design and implementation;
Dimension Data - support of network and security infrastructure;
Gen2 – provide support on mission financial system
Has DIRCO received any indication that BRICS must play a huge political role in certain events/countries?
No, DIRCO has not received an indication that BRICS “must play a huge political role in certain events/countries”. BRICS Leaders have, however, pronounced on political issues, notably re-affirming its commitment to promoting international law, multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations, as well as conflict situations in Syria, Mali, Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo, as contained in the eThekwini Declaration. The BRICS leaders also referred to the situation in Afghanistan, the Iranian nuclear issue, combating international terrorism and the admission of Palestine as an observer state to the United Nations. BRICS common positions are pronounced on the basis of consensus.
Asia and Middle East
It is high time that we look at the economics of our participation in many organisations - how do we manage to end poverty in our country – do we really need to belong to the Commonwealth?
Historically the Commonwealth played an important role in the fight against apartheid with condemning statements against the previous regime and the atrocities that took place in the pre-1994 South Africa. It also provided a platform for the Frontline States to contribute to the fight against apartheid on the international arena.
South Africa rejoined the Commonwealth in 1994 seeing it as a natural step in realising the economic, political, cultural and sporting benefits of membership. South Africa has since interacted closely with the work of the Commonwealth contributing politically, financially and in terms of capacity and expertise to the work of the organisation.
The biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM) and annual Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Minister Meetings (CFAMM) are both attended at the highest levels while the Minister also serves as Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Meeting on Guyana (also held in September) as mandated by the 1999 CHOGM to monitor “further developments in respect of the existing controversy between Guyana and Venezuela”. Other Ministries also take part in Commonwealth ministerial meetings related to health, law, finance, youth, women’s affairs and education.
The South African High Commission in London actively participates in the meetings of the Commonwealth’s governing bodies i.e. the Board of Governors and Executive Committee.
Interaction between South Africa and the Commonwealth also takes place on a national level. In 2013, The Presidency hosted the first Commonwealth Conference on Education and Training of Youth Workers (CCETW). The Conferencewas held in collaboration with the Commonwealth Secretariat, the University of South Africa and the National Youth Development Agency (NYDP) and took place from 18 to 20 March, 2013 at the University of South Africa. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Conference will also be held in Cape Town in August 2013. Mr. MJ Mahlangu, Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) is currently the CPA President.
South Africa consistently uses its membership to promote the African Agenda and to monitor the implementation of the mandates given to the Commonwealth Secretariat by the Heads at the Heads of Government Meetings (CHOGM). Commonwealth Heads of Government will next meet in Colombo, Sri Lanka, from 15 to 17 November 2013. Commonwealth Foreign Ministers will also meet in Colombo on 13 and 14 November 2013 for the Pre-CHOGM meeting.
South Africa also actively participated in the reform process of the Commonwealth through its participation in Commonwealth processes such as the Ministerial Task Force, as well as nationally through consultation processes with the Inter-departmental Working Group on the Commonwealth (IDWGC) to provide inputs on the recommendations made by the Eminent Persons Group (EPG), the Commonwealth Charter and the New Strategic Plan. This reform process is aimed at revitalising the Commonwealth and increasing its impact and relevance in member countries.
During the Heads of Mission meeting held from 9 to 12 April 2013, a decision was taken to conduct an evaluation of South Africa’s involvement in international organisations, including the Commonwealth.
On 25 April 2013, a national consultative process was launched with the circulation of a survey to members of the IDWGC as well as Commonwealth associations. The purpose of the questionnaire is to :
Establish the level of South Africa’s interaction with, and benefit from, the Commonwealth; and
Consider ways in which South Africa can better utilize its membership to promote its national priorities and foreign policy objectives.
DIRCO will convene a workshop to analyse and discuss the results of this survey and to assist in the development of a policy directive on South Africa’s involvement with the Commonwealth.
Money spent on the renovation of the Mission in Washington. Does this indicate the importance we see in our relationship with the US?
The two major factors relevant to the issue of the upgrade of the Embassy in Washington are first, the importance of relations with the USA, and second, the need to refurbish an aging building whose infrastructure was starting to collapse. The building was erected in 1935 and has never had a major upgrade or refurbishment in the 78 years it has been standing.
The USA is a major export market as well as a major source of FDI, tourists and technology. Ties are strong and are growing, particularly as the Strategic Dialogue leads to new areas of cooperation. As part of the phenomenon of growth, staff and space needs have grown as well.
The age of the building is also a factor, and a major refurbishment was necessary for the following reasons:
All the Electrical and Mechanical systems in the building were starting to fail, to the extent that the equipment could no longer be maintained because spares were virtually unobtainable due to the age of the equipment. The cooling and heating systems were functioning only intermittently and could not cope with requirements anymore. To only replace the faulty and aging systems would not only have been costly and inconvenient for the occupants, It would also have exposed the occupants to even more health and safety risks. This is because investigations carried out prior to the commencement of the project showed that there were high levels of asbestos, toxic PCBs, mould and fungi present in the building which, if not dealt with soon, would have exposed officials at the Embassy to unacceptable health risks. To have tried to replace or upgrade these systems could also have disturbed areas where hazardous materials were present, exposing officials and other workers to these substances.
The overall performance of the building was also not at optimum levels and by modernizing it, better use would be made of the space and introducing more efficient systems would reduce energy and operational cost over the long run.
AS a result of the expansion and strengthening of relations, the Chancery also did not have sufficient space to accommodate all the staff members in the Mission. Office space has had to be rented in another building (the Van Ness building) for the overflow of staff at a cost of $23 504.23 per month (approximately R210 000-00). Besides the cost, it also adds to the operational cost of the Mission in the sense that services have had to be duplicated and costly arrangements made to distribute and collect mail and supplies to and from the building. Staff have also had to commute between the two buildings to attend meetings, wasting time and money in so doing. It also made it difficult for the HOM to control and manage the activities of the Mission.
When the refurbishment is completed all of these issues will be addressed and will result in cost savings in terms of operating cost over the long term and a work environment that will allow the Mission to operate effectively and efficiently.
Finally, the refurbished building will provide a fitting symbol for the importance of our bilateral relations.
DIRCO, DTI and SAT have been coordinating and cooperating closely to closer align each department’s responsibilities in order to promote South Africa’s trade and investment and tourism profile effectively abroad, taking into consideration the changing dynamics in the world’s political economy.
Do we have a strategy in place with China or is it a one-way street? What is the economic value that we can get for Africa?
A Cabinet-approved South African strategy regarding its engagement with China is in place. In 2006, Cabinet approved the “Towards a China Strategy”. Since its adoption, Cabinet approved the SA-China relationship as a test case for a three-pronged approach towards its strategic bilateral engagement in international relations: co-ordination, marketing and economic diplomacy - hence South Africa’s participation at the Shanghai 2010 World Expo.
In August 2010, SA and China signed the Beijing Declaration on the Establishment of a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. This Declaration set out the two countries’ intentions to strengthen economic cooperation by encouraging the Chinese industries to stimulate mineral beneficiation, value-addition, increased procurement missions to South Africa and market access in both countries.
Since the strategy is a broad framework, there are other specific instruments being utilized refining its engagement with China, namely:
The Bi-National Commission (BNC), at Deputy President’s level, established when the Pretoria Declaration on the Partnership between South Africa and China was signed in 2000,
A Strategic Dialogue, at Ministerial level, which was launched in January 2008.
The Joint Inter-Ministerial Working Group on South Africa-China Cooperation, the specific purpose of which is to unblock any obstacles that may arise in the implementation of agreements with China. This mechanism will hold its first meeting in June 2013 in Beijing.
Within the context of China and Africa, the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) exists as a strategy of mutual and equal benefit for both sides. South Africa currently Co-Chairs this partnership, on behalf of the African side, together with China. At present the partnership is driven by the Beijing Declaration and the Beijing Action Plan (2013-2015), adopted at the 5th FOCAC Ministerial Conference in July 2012.
With regards to economic value for Africa, the Chinese side in July 2012 pledged a US$ 20b credit line to African countries. Furthermore, China pledged to assist Africa in the following areas:
Expand cooperation in investment and financing to support sustainable development through the $5 billion provided through the China-Africa Development Fund (CAD-Fund);
Increase assistance to Africa to bring the benefits of development to the African continent (which could include skills transfer, training and exchanges between the two sides);
Support the African integration process and help enhance capacity for overall development, including support for regional infrastructure development, specifically through project preparation, financing and development support;
Enhance people to people friendship to lay a solid foundation of public support for enhancing common development; and
Promote peace and stability in Africa, and create a secure environment for Africa’s development.
Trade, investment and tourism between China and South Africa and China and Africa have boomed since the inception of FOCAC.
Yearly statistics from 2000 to 2009 show that bilateral trade rose from 10.6 billion USD to 91.07 billion USD. While China's investment in Africa increased from 220 million USD to 1.44 billion USD, Africa's investment in China increased from 280 million USD to 1.31 billion USD.
During 2009, 26 African countries increased imports from China while 27 saw a decrease. China's top five African export destinations were South Africa, Nigeria, Egypt, Algeria, and Angola. China's exports to South Africa stood at 7.37 billion USD, accounting for 15.4 percent of China's total exports to Africa.
China accounted for 5.3% of overseas tourists to South Africa in 2012.
Asia and Middle East
The Middle East Peace Process, does DIRCO have a strategy on this?
South Africa’s strategy regarding the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) is aligned to UN agreed actions and international efforts aimed at the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, existing side by side in peace with Israel within internationally recognised borders, based on those existing on 4 June 1967, prior to the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Asia and Middle East
The Quarterly Report states 100% spending, but concern is about administration where there is under spending. Why is this?
The underspending was mainly due to:
Slow progress of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) related projects.
Procurement of property in New York – negotiations to acquire a property were initiated, but not concluded before financial year-end.
Renovation projects in Washington and Tokyo were delayed due to unforeseen structural changes (reinforcement) that had to be made before continuing with the renovations.
The unspent funds amounting to R59.854 million have been recommended for roll over to the 2013/2014 Financial Year to finalise the projects.
Public Diplomacy and Protocol indicate they got R55 million less – will this create problems?
Based on the actual expenditure of the 2012/13 State Protocol budget, the Branch anticipates overspending on International Travel that can be attributed to unforeseen though unavoidable expenses.
The obligatory funds for municipal tax and rates increase annually and will further increase, due to the continuous purchasing of new property by Foreign Missions that could not yet be factored into the MTEF.
The BRICS Summit was held at the end of the financial year, 26-28 March 2013, which caused payment of some items to be deducted on the new budget putting further pressure on the 2013/14 budget.
The 2014 Presidential Inauguration will be held in the 2014/15 financial year, although majority of the planning will happen in the 2013/14 financial year impacting on the already tight budget.
Expenses for travel and accommodation for the recipients National Orders is currently paid by State Protocol which further impacts the already tight budget
State Visits was requested to deploy a team of protocol officers to facilitate Heads of State/ Government attending the National Orders, which also impact on the budget.
According to the ENE input that was finalised during the Mid-term Review, Public Diplomacy’s estimated budget for the Financial Year 2013/14 is R62 545 608 and the Branch was therefore not subjected to any cuts.
Public Diplomacy & Protocol
Would like to receive a list of current ARF projects and what was spent on each project and for what purpose?
Please see the attached Project Matrix.
New projects have not been added to the matrix as these have not yet been accepted by the ARF Advisory Committee and thus have no status as ARF projects.
The fact that SA hosts so many institutions such as NEPAD Secretariat, PAP and wans to host the BRICS Development Bank. Is it not wise to undertake a review of these bodies to determine their value to us?
As a technical body of the African Union (AU), the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD Agency) is critical not only to the dignity of the Continent, but it articulates the Continent’s position on development. It is the only African regional initiative that has been institutionalised within the AU structures for driving the implementation of key socio-economic development projects and mobilizing resources in this regard. Its’ core mandate to facilitate and coordinate the implementation of regional and continental programmes is always being reviewed and a restructuring process is currently underway. Its value to South Africa and the Continent cannot be overstated, therefore. The Continent’s own institutions need to be supported so that they can develop and mature. Its’ presence in South Africa gives voice to our position as a country leading in the support of our broad continental aspiration of regional integration for instance. SA has always been a leader in the context of NEPAD and needs to continue to be so.
The hosting of the BRICS Development Bank would assist the African side in particular, and would allow SA to be in a strategic position regarding the allocation of funds to Africa’s priority cross-border infrastructure development projects when in operation. In addition, it will introduce a new paradigm in reshaping the global system of governance, particularly of the financial sector, with new like-minded partners, such as the BRICS.
DIRCO must prioritise the posts that SA should fill in international bodies but are we currently filling them?
As a UN member state, South Africa competes with 192 other UN member states for positions (elective process) on various mandate-forming bodies of the UN system and other Treaty bodies. At present, South Africa is represented in 43 international bodies (at country and expert level, as well through appointments at secretariat level).
Within the Multilateral system, South Africa operates within the group system (Africa, G77 and NAM). In the Africa Group context, South Africa accepts that in order to serve South Africa's interests, the interests of the sub-region and of Africa as a whole, we promote the principle of rotational representation; support the most suitable candidate from the region; and promote the candidacies of AU identified/ endorsed member states. The effectively means that South Africa shares these representative duties so that others in the region should also have chances at serving.
In term of the Candidatures Policy, South Africa does undertake an annual consultation aimed at identifying positions that South Africa could pursue in future.
The issue of elections should not be confused with secondments. In terms of South African representation in the UN secretariats, the UN system is geared at promoting equity in representation amongst its member states. South Africa is currently within ‘the desired range’ of the United Nations, meaning that the current level of representation of South Africans employed or appointed in the UN system is exactly where it should be. The UN Secretary-General is required to report annually to the UN General Assembly on the composition of the UN staffing structure. The perennial (secondment) problem for South Africa remains the filling of quota positions allocated to South Africa at the AU and SADC Secretariats (a process resorting under Branch: Africa Multilateral)
Is it wise to have the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Section within the DG’s office? In other departments this has become a superstructure?
The current Planning and M&E unit comprises four officials who coordinate and oversee the departmental inputs for planning, monitoring and evaluation.
The major portion of the planning, monitoring and evaluation work is being done at branch and business unit level.
The Planning and M&E unit is located in the DGO as recommended by the DPME in the Presidency.
How does DIRCO coordinate the Provincial and Local Government involvement abroad?
DIRCO coordinates the provincial and local government involvement abroad through the Consultative Forum on International Relations (CFIR).
CFIR meetings take place twice a year, involving all government departments, provincial government and the metros.
These meetings are utilized to brief the participants on major foreign policy developments and to exchange ideas.
To further strengthen coordination, DIRCO is in the process of developing an electronic database in conjunction with SITA that will be linked to all departments, provinces and metros, where all planned visits will be registered. This database will assist in preventing duplication of visits, allow for timeous preparation by missions and sharing of information in the common interest of all concerned.
The technical aspects of the database have been finalized and it is now in the design phase. It is foreseen that the database will be fully operational by early 2014.
Japan’s central bank has promised to unleash a massive programme of quantitative easing worth US1,4tn that will double the country’s money supply in a drastic bid to restore the economy to health and banish deflation that has dogged the country for more than a decade. As part of a new set of policies known as Abenomics, formulated by Japan’s new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will buy Y7tn of government bonds each month using electronically created money with the aim of rekindling demand and pushing up prices and wages.
Quantitative easing is an unconventional monetary policy used by central banks to stimulate the national economy when standard monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying financial assets from banks and other private institutions, thus injecting a pre-determined quantity of money into the economy. This is distinguished from the more usual policy of buying or selling in order to keep market interest rates at a specified target value.
Asia and Middle East
Are SA peacekeeping efforts in Africa having an impact?
Yes, SA peacekeeping efforts in Africa do have an impact. We may recall our first mission after our freedom in Burundi, where South Africa set a trend on operations and stabilization tactics, especially the VIP Protection Unit, which the UN, though it could not absorb, requested South Africa to let it continue after rehatting from AMIB to UNMIB. The AUPSC felt obliged to support this force due to its positive impact on the peace initiative. The VIP Protection Unit of SA gave impetus to further missions and the operations of the AU. In African Mission in the Sudan, Darfur, it is South Africa’s effort pledge of force that saw the Government of Sudan agreeing to the Mission that it was not ready for. The efforts of the South African Contingent have led to both the UN and the AU requesting South Africa to field candidates for critical Command and Control Posts in these Mission as a vote of Confidence. Our forces excel in human rights issues, rule of law, which talk to Formed Police Units and Individual Capacities needed to bolster International Law and the Rule of Law. South Africa carried the position of the Commissioner of Police repeatedly in this Mission. Their participation brought afore the elements of community policing and gender issues in peacekeeping and the UN and the AU commended SA officers. This has placed SA deployments in a good standing amongst TCCs in the Sudan. Discipline and adherence to international and human security issues including protection of civilians from our military also gave SA contingents accolades within the AU and the UN. This has seen SA being requested to conduct capacity building, especially in the Security Sector, e.g., DRC, CAR, South Sudan as well as Community/Social networks that talk to nation building and stabilization in the refugee camps in Darfur. Thus, SA contingents do make a difference in Peace Missions where they are deployed, especially where they are in Command like in Burundi and Sudan/ AMIS. In both AMIB/UNMIB as well as AMIS/UNAMID SA has better carried the Protection of Civilian Mandate in their camps and areas of operation. All this has in the overall presented SA as TCC of choice both at AU and UN levels. This, of course is being said against the background that, the professionalism which SA contingents come with presents itself as an accolade and a threat as some TCCs compete for space and the legitimacy that comes with this professionalism, e.g. AMIS/UNAMID incidents between SA and Nigerian contingents.
What will DIRCO do to expedite the filling of vacant posts?
DETAIL OF INTENDED IMPROVEMENTS TO ADDRESS SHORTFALLS IN THE VACANCY RATE AND THE TURNAROUND TIME TO FILL VACANCIES
The department is at the stage of exploring the development of an online recruitment system to assist with response handling.
HR has included the turnaround time of 4 months for filling of vacancies as a strategic objective in the Departmental & HR Branch APP for 2013/14.