Download logoThe Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation received the performance reports on quarters 1 and 2 for the 2021/22 financial year from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The committee urged the department to ensure that in future it reports more on the attainment of targets and results instead of events.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected diplomatic operations across the world. It has been observed that the multilateral collaboration that was evident at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, has slowly been replaced by narrow national self-interest and protectionism of vaccine availability in the midst of a global pandemic.
The engagements undertaken during the reporting period, centred on the promotion of South Africa’s national interests and areas of mutual interest, the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as exchange of views on a wide spectrum of bilateral and global issues of concern.
‘It is important that economic diplomacy and image building activities undertaken by the South African missions abroad are aimed at promoting, amongst others, the country’s economic interests, exploring investment opportunities, promotion of tourism, skills development and cultural exchanges, to address the wrongs of the past,” said the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Supra Mahumapelo.
The committee urged the department to keep its finger on the pulse when it comes to conflict flashpoints, especially in the Southern African Development Community region. Political conflicts in Lesotho, Eswatini and the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, needed to be addressed to yield peaceful and lasting resolution of these conflicts.
The committee noted that the African Renaissance Fund has continued to be an important instrument in pursuit of South Africa’s foreign policy, particularly the African Agenda. In this spirit, South Africa will fund the procurement of 2 030 400 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines for 26 African countries. The committee has noted this significant contribution by South Africa to the fight against covid19 on the continent.
The committee heard that Cuban government has also requested South Africa’s assistance to address the shortage of food and medical supplies. “We support this gesture, as this is exacerbated by the unilateral United States economic sanctions on Cuba,” said Mr Mahumapelo.
He said that the African Union summit will be held this coming weekend. “In line with its theme for this year, it is our hope that the AU will take bold steps to address the already dire situation of food insecurity and malnutrition on the continent, before it gets worse,” added Mr Mahumapelo.
“I am concerned by the rise in unconstitutional changes of government (coup de tat) and the threat of terrorism on our continent. Finding ways towards peaceful solutions will be a crucial test for the African Union as it marks its 20th anniversary this year,” he continued.
Mr Mahumapelo saw the decision he referred to as controversial by the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, to grant observer status to Israel, as incomprehensible for the AU to recognise and grant an observer status to the state of Israel.
He expressed his hope that South Africa would ensure that the AU handles this matter with the sensitivity it deserves.