The interests of the African continent plays a key role in South Africa’s foreign policy, said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.
The Minister made these comments when she recently tabled her department’s Budget Vote in Parliament recently.
“The African continent remains central in our foreign policy, and this approach forms the basis for our friendship, cooperation and peace efforts all over the world. We stand for cooperation and partnership, instead of competition, in global affairs.
“Our country’s entry into its third decade of freedom coincides with the emergence of distinct global trends which demand that we creatively navigate and find opportunities, working together with our people at home and friends and partners abroad,” she said.
The Minister added that trade with other African states was at the top of government’s agenda.
Since 1994, trade with Africa has increased 35-fold to about R400 billion.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said over the next three years, South Africa’s priority would be:
- Consolidating political, economic and social relations with the countries of the world.
- Participating in the global governance institutions.
- Enhancing operational capacity by strengthening policy and coordination in relation to ongoing South African development cooperation.
- The implementation of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which is a call for action and a roadmap to achieve the continent’s development goals to see Africa being economically integrated with a bid of stamping out poverty as well as creating jobs and stability.
- Review of the current legislative framework governing the department’s operations abroad.
- Embarking on various infrastructure projects, and implementing the property management strategy.
“Our foreign policy is continuing its upward march, adapting and innovating, from frontier to frontier, beginning in our SADC neighbourhood, across the entire Africa for the implementation of the African Agenda, into the South to strengthen our co-operation there, to the North where our partners value a relationship with us, and in multilateral organizations where South Africa’s independent voice continue to be heard and respected,” said the Minister.
She described Africa as a growing giant, which South Africa is an important part of.
Peace and stability
The Minister said while “Africa is a giant on the rise”, it will remain underdeveloped if its core challenges of governance, sustainable development and peace and security, are not overcome.
“As Chair of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, South Africa is leading peace building and security efforts in the region. In this regard, we led no less than six SADC Electoral Observation Missions which were peaceful and credible,” she said.
“The realisation of the Africa we want requires peace, be it in the SADC, Great Lakes, the Horn, or in North Africa.
“Peace shall remain a dream if the continent continues to experience setbacks such as the recent coup attempt in Burundi. We reiterate our strongest condemnation of unconstitutional change of government and reaffirm our support for regional initiatives towards the restoration of political normalcy in Burundi.”
The Minister said to deal with these, a rapid response team for crises situations had to be operationalised as one of the tools for solutions to African problems.
“We must silence the guns! Africa must be at peace with itself!
“We will have the opportunity to contribute more in this regard when we chair the AU’s Peace and Security Council later this year,” she added.
Economic, political, international ties
The Minister said while Africa is a key area of focus, South Africa must sustain its bilateral relations with the countries of the South and North and in multilateral organisations.
While South Africa remains committed to the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) partnership the Minister said government’s strategy was to pursue wider access to fast growing Asian markets.
“This strategy will allow us to secure more beneficiated exports to that region and vigorously seek increased Foreign Direct Investment and tourism opportunities.
Other regions that South Africa will continue to strengthen economic and political relations with include Latin America and the Caribbean, Europe, USA and Canada, among others.