Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Sandy Kalyan MP, during the Budget Vote on International Relations and Co-operation.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation (DIRCO) places economic growth and investment as a priority.
However, on reflection, we have strayed very far off that course.
DIRCO raves about its 125 missions worldwide. But, is it financially sound to have Embassies in countries where the trade and investment potential is poor?
There are Missions in 23 countries that are of little strategic importance to the countries’ interest and Foreign Policy. These represent 18.4% of missions abroad and closure could lead to savings of R2.2 billion.
What is the average age of South African diplomats?
It is well known that most Ambassadorial postings are given as a reward for service in the struggle, jobs for pals and of course, nepotism.
DIRCO supposedly has a Placement Policy in place. The recent run of embarrassing events at some of our Missions casts doubt on South Africa’s integrity. Let me give a few examples:
- Take for example Ms Mohau Pheko. She who claimed to have a PhD. Only for it to be revealed that she lied;
- What about Ms Francis Ngubeni? A convicted drug trafficker appointed to the position of High Commissioner in Singapore;
- Then there is Mr Obed Mlaba, who openly used Government letterheads to source business for his daughter’s company; and last, but not least; and
- Ambassador elects to Japan, Thulani Dlomo, who has a dubious background and has been accused of corruption.
These are the type of people the Department is deploying to represent our country.
I suppose it is fitting if you take into account who is running our country.
Given the history of our country, President Mandela stressed the absolute need for human rights to underpin both our Constitution and Foreign Policy.
Our track record at the UN is a poor reflection of our commitment to uphold human rights.
Some prime examples:
- South Africa voted to deny the Committee to Protect Journalists observer status;
- We initially abstained from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) vote. Why? Equality, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation, is enshrined in our Constitution. Yet we were initially swayed by the African block. While we eventually voted in favour, our flip-flop approach seemed highly questionable and unacceptable; and
- We also recently voted against the UN decision on the promotion, protection and enjoyment of internet freedom.
What is going on, Minister?
South Africa is a member of the AU and the host country to the Pan-African Parliament (PAP). The Annexures to the host agreement and the relocation of the Parliament to more permanent quarters must be sorted out as a matter of urgency. Approximately R32 million is paid in rent to Gallagher Estate.
A Member of Parliament in this House is a major shareholder in Gallagher and one wonders whether the delay in moving to a permanent facility is in actual fact all about guaranteed income for one of the friends.
Also of concern is the apparent violation of the quota for employment of South Africans at PAP. During the last sitting, persons from Egypt were employed to do basic housekeeping tasks. Why?
South Africa has not ratified the Protocol to make PAP a legislative body. I’m happy that this is the case as there are some unintended consequences which may need Constitutional amendments. Mostly, I wonder why legal opinions are not sought before Protocols are signed, as was the case in your failed bid to withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
As a Member of PAP since 2009, I feel that our Parliament does not take it seriously. Reports and resolutions are not tabled and debated in this House. In the last sitting, I submitted a motion to amend the rules to include the Principle of Rotation of the Presidency. The motion was unanimously adopted.
While South Africa was not in favour of the motion to readmit Morocco to the AU, we have to be more vocal about their compliance of AU instruments and reiterate our support for the UN motion to allow Western Sahara independence.
As a country, we have a duty to look at the implications for diplomacy. DIRCO has been largely silent on BREXIT and the impact on SA-EU relations. Maybe that could be due to the Minister’s response on national television where she showed her complete lack of knowledge on her portfolio.
DIRCO has failed dismally and employed a bunch of criminals. Yet, today we offer voters an alternative. The values of equality, liberty, non-racialism, global and regional integration and a government for all citizens are very much alive within the DA and we urge every South African to vote for these values come 2019.