Africa Day: South Africa must take the lead in advancing the African reform agenda

As we celebrate Africa Day today, we must confront the fact that South Africa has ceded its leadership role in the continent. South Africa is now a laggard in measures of accountability, openness, competitiveness and economic growth, where we should be leading the way.

Our reputation on the global stage has suffered great harm over the last decade. We have befriended despots, supported autocrats, and protected murderers. We have turned away from our friends and harmed relationships. We have abandoned the human rights based foreign policy of the Mandela government, and have harmed our national interests in doing so.

There is now an opportunity to put all of this behind us, and to reclaim that role as leader on the continent. We can go from laggard back to leader.  To do so, we must stand as an example of democracy and the rule of law for all by doing three things now.

President Ramaphosa could restore South Africa’s leadership role on the continent by doing the following:

1) Abandoning plans to leave the International Criminal Court. Far from leaving the institution, we should be recommitting ourselves to full participation and helping to strengthen it by sending our best jurists. We should be committed to a policy of respect for human rights, and doing everything we can to support justice for the victims of humans rights abuses and crimes against humanity on our continent.

2) Ensuring equality before the law, no matter your position or political power. We can send a message to the continent and the world that if you are corrupt, you will be prosecuted, no matter how powerful you are. President Ramaphosa should abandon the illegitimate deal for the state to fund Former President Zuma’s legal fees. He should appoint a truly independent and professional National Director of Public Prosecutions, with a mandate to go after corrupt senior politicians first.

3) Using our seat in SADC, and as the regional power, to guarantee free and fair elections in Zimbabwe later this year. Our leadership role in the continent began its decline when we allowed the theft of elections in Zimbabwe, and national elections there later this year present an opportunity to put right that injustice and ensure truly open democratic elections.

In 2016, Opposition Parties from across the SADC region formed the Southern African Partnership for Democratic Change (SAPDC). And I remain very proud to have had the privilege of serving as the Chairperson of the SAPDC since its inception. The All Basotho Convention in Lesotho, Rally for Democracy and Progress in Namibia, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe, Civic United Front in Tanzania, Movement for Multi-Party Democracy in Zambia, Convergencia Ampla de Salvacao de Angola-Coigacao Eleitoral in Angola, United Democratic Movement in Swaziland and Democratic Alliance in South Africa are all members of the SAPDC.

The SAPDC will meet to map out a bold agenda for democratic reform in Southern Africa in the coming weeks. I very much look forward to discussing this agenda with all SAPDC leaders and leaders of other strategic regional partners and arriving at a consensus on our way forward.

This agenda should include but not be limited to:

  • showing support in Lusaka for the Leader of the United Party for National Development (UPND), Haikainda Hichilema’s recent efforts for the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu, to be impeached;
  • meeting with our SAPDC partner and Leader of the MDC, Nelson Chamisa, in Harare in a show of solidarity with the opposition in Zimbabwe ahead of their general election; and
  • joining the call by the opposition in Kinshasa for 17-year President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Joseph Kabila, to step down ahead of their general election in 2019 and to speak out against atrocities in the Eastern DRC.

If President Ramaphosa does these three things in Africa, South Africa’s leadership role on the continent can be restored and our reputation on the global stage can be revived. And if the SAPDC are able to successfully implement this agenda in the coming months, Southern Africa will be able to stand tall as a region that proudly advances democratic change beyond borders.

Opportunities for enhanced regional trade and economic growth are in abundance. And we should choose to focus on the pursuit of these opportunities and not the perceived risks that stand in the way of this boom.

This change is possible.

Zambian Police forcefully prevent DA Leader Maimane entering Zambia on Africa Day

DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, a Constitutional Office Bearer of South Africa, has this evening been forcefully prevented from entering the Republic of Zambia, by Zambian Police who boarded his arriving SAA flight upon touchdown.
The DA Leader was arriving in Zambia, on Africa Day, to attend and observe the treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema tomorrow at the Lusaka Magistrate’s Court. Mr Maimane was en route there to show support to Mr Hichilema who is being unduly persecuted by his government, and to show the DA’s commitment to a human-rights based foreign policy.
Mr Maimane had strongly denounced the trumped up charges against Hichilema, and had condemned the ANC government for not yet taking a stand against his treason charges.
Upon arrival Zambian Police boarded the aircraft, aggressively confronted Maimane, and have taken his private cell phone from his possession.
We have taken this matter up urgently with the Ministry of International Relations, and we expect that they will dispatch South African Diplomats to Kenneth Kaunda airport immediately.
The South Africa government has the right and the duty to issue a demarche, or diplomatic order, and we expect that they will do so.
It is a deeply shameful day for the Republic of Zambia, when a Leader of the Opposition from South Africa cannot pass freely into the country – especially on Africa Day. But we will not be deterred.
The Republic of Zambia is a regional partner of the Republic of South Africa and their treatment today of our country’s Leader of the Opposition flies in the face of these relations on Africa Day.
DA Leader Maimane will address the media on his return to South Africa. It is unclear at this stage at what time he will return.
A press briefing will be announced imminently.
This will not deter the DA from our objectives of fostering a culture of democracy and human rights in South Africa and in the region.
The DA is committed to seeing improved protections of human rights for all. Until every person has the same protections in terms of the law, we will not be free on the African continent.

Human rights need to be the guiding principle of our international relations

Note to editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by the DA’s Shadow Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Stevens Mokgalapa MP, during the Budget Vote on International Relations and Co-operation.
Today, as we mark the 54th anniversary of the AU, we salute the founding fathers and visionary leaders of the African continent. Happy Africa Day.
Agenda 2063 contains the blueprint for a paradigm shift in Africa’s future that aims to create an environment of inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. It strives for an integrated continent with shared values, good governance, democracy, rule of law, justice and a peaceful and secure Africa.
We want to acknowledge and commend the hard work done by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) programmes that seek to facilitate Africa’s renewal and reshape its future. Unfortunately, the current crop of leaders are working hard to reverse the noble deeds of our forefathers and in the process, are tainting the legacy of our continent. Africa is still ravaged by civil wars, conflict, underdevelopment, unemployment, power-obsessed dictators, undemocratic regimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
The current global environment is volatile, as the rise of populist, nationalistic and extremist movements are posing a threat to global security and undermines international order, which brings fear and mistrust among people and states.
This trend has led to many states adopting a narrow nationalistic approach as opposed to globalisation to foreign policy. For example, the presidential election in the USA and BREXIT.
This trend is compounded by growing expectations and disappointments, as well as demographic shifts and migration.
All of this leads to a scramble for scarce resources due to jobless economic growth which contribute to unemployment and poverty. National interests become the focal centre of a state’s approach to foreign policy. States are pursuing a zero-sum game through a narrow nationalistic focus in trying to outsmart each other for the maximum benefit of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
Globalisation and urbanization are a twin reality which must be managed by states, as non-state actors are intensifying their role and involvement in the foreign policy space.
Chairperson, allow me to address you on some of the Department’s programmes:
Programme 1: We are concerned about the ill-discipline of the staff and urge the Minister to take steps against the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) immediately.
Programme 2: International Relations addresses the core business of the Department with a budget of R3.6 billion. This programme still remains a source of concern with 126 missions abroad in 107 countries and 160 resident in South Africa. This is unsustainable and hurtful to the fiscus under the current economic conditions.
It is prudent under these circumstances to follow the National Development Plan (NDP) and National Treasury’s advice to consider rationalization of our missions and to cut expenditure on foreign infrastructure projects.
It is also important to consider the reduction of maintenance costs on foreign leased properties, as over 1000 properties are leased at a cost of R575 million.
Economic diplomacy is still lagging behind the number of high level visits and bilateral commissions still yield little in terms of value for money. We need quality outcomes, not quantity in number of visits. This requires a concerted effort in skilling and equipping our diplomats as economic diplomats to market and sell our country abroad.
Our current crop of diplomatic cadets are a shame as they serve personal interests rather than public interests.
Some are criminals, others are dishonest by faking their academic credentials.
We need more vigorous vetting processes to ensure that these cadets are beyond reproach and are people of integrity, ready to serve with pride, dedication and patriotism.
This is the reason why the DA supports the finalization of the Foreign Service Bill to professionalise and regulate our foreign service and eliminate the dumping ground syndrome.
Programme 3: This provides an opportunity for South Africa to play a meaningful role and take leadership in global politics by influencing the multilateral agenda through its constitutional values.
However, South Africa is failing dismally in multilateral forums when it comes to promoting our constitutional values and principles and championing human rights. This is evident from our failed withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC) and our relationship with dictators like Mugabe, al-Bashir, Nkurunziza and Kabila.
We cannot afford to be quiet when opposition leaders are persecuted and on fabricated charges as is the case in Zambia with Hakainde Hichilema. That is why DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr Hichilema in Zambia tomorrow to offer him our full support.
We must also use our chairmanship of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to address this serious issue. In a seemingly democratic country like Zambia, the intimidation and suppression of opposition parties should be strongly condemned.
Programme 4: On public diplomacy, we are happy to see an increase in the allocation to this programme. We would like to see this programme provide early warning systems on major international events and we suggest organising a national dialogue on South African foreign policy and national interests to ensure participatory diplomacy of non-state actors and civil society in foreign policy matters.
Programme 5: We need to evaluate our participation and commitment to international membership. We also need to ensure that we respect and uphold our constitutional values in the global arena.
The DA is concerned about the recurring and serial adverse audit opinions. For three consecutive years, the Department has received a qualified opinion. This raises serious concerns in the Department and we hope that these issues will be addressed urgently.
We have abandoned our moral high ground to stoop low to a slippery slope. If South Africa is to realise its vision of a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better world, we must shape up and be counted or ship out and lose all credibility in the global arena.
We must be vocal and speak out against wrongdoings and also be bold to challenge our allies when they do wrong. The days of failed quiet diplomacy are over. We need to redeem ourselves by ensuring that our voting patterns in the multilateral forums are consistent with our values.
In conclusion, Chairperson, the DA foreign policy is centred on three key pillars of constitutionalism, human rights and economic diplomacy. Under the DA government, we will not roll out a red carpet to dictators and mass murderers. We will respect international law and institutions, we will speak out against wrongdoings, we will ensure our diplomats are well trained in economic diplomacy and are assessed on what value they add to FDI.
Human rights will be the guiding principle in our international relations as we aim to promote intra Africa trade and prioritise regional integration and trade. In 2019, South Africans can choose more racial nationalism, populism and division on the basis of race, or we can choose progress towards an open opportunity society for all. Our country’s national interest consensus will be defined clearly and pursued in all our international relations for the benefit of the people and not only the connected elite.
I thank you.

DA Leader Maimane to attend treason trial of Zambian Opposition Leader Hakainde Hichilema

Tomorrow, Friday 26 May 2017, Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, will attend the treason trial of Mr. Hakainde Hichilema, the detained President of Zambia’s largest opposition party – the United Party for National Development (UPND) – in Lusaka, Zambia.
As we celebrate Africa Day, the leader of the opposition in Zambia faces trumped up criminal charges brought against him by a government intent on reversing the gains of democracy in Zambia and in Southern Africa.
Six weeks ago, Zambian Police arrested Hichilema and charged him with treason whilst he was on route to a ceremony in the Western province of Zambia. The initial “crime” he is alleged to have committed, is that he attempted to block Zambian President Edgar Lungu’s motorcade which was travelling on the same road.
However, when the state prosecutors failed to substantiate that charge, they amended the charge and alleged that Hichilema and 60 others had conspired to declare Mr Hichilema the President of Zambia, and therefore charged him with treason. Treason is a non-bailable offence in Zambia, with a minimum jail term of 15 years and a maximum sentence of the death penalty.
The violent nature of his arrest, and the inhumane treatment that Hichilema has received in detention, confirms the political motives behind these charges. The arbitrary arrest of political opponents is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes, which seek to systematically eliminate any potential threat to their rule. Hichilema has suffered injury in detention, and attempts we have made to visit him in prison have been blocked by the Zambian government. Even Zambia’s founding President Kenneth Kaunda was stopped from visiting Mr Hichilema in prison.
The circumstances which led to Hichilema’s arrest are an affront to democracy across the region, and point clearly to a political motivation. The South African government has maintained a deafening silence in this matter, despite our calls for President Zuma to intervene to stop this outrageous political trial. President Zuma and the ANC’s silence says much about their disregard for democratic values and principles on the continent.
The Democratic Alliance will not be silent. We will stand up for democracy and the rule of law on the African continent and we will be there in person to show our support for Mr. Hichilema. We also call on the Zambian government to drop these trumped up charges against the Leader of the Opposition, and release him from prison.
The ANC will be out of government in 2019. Authoritarian leaders in the region must know that South Africa’s post-ANC government will stand up for democracy, freedom, and the rule of law.
The DA is unequivocally committed to the advancement of vibrant, competitive, multiparty democracy, the rule of law, and the entrenchment of human rights and free speech across Africa. The persecution of Mr. Hichilema goes against these values, and as such we must stand in solidarity with those who are fighting for true democracy on the continent.
In this light, the lack of action by regional bodies and other African nations is a great cause of concern. There has been not one word of condemnation by the South African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU). This silence from the regional bodies responsible for fostering democracy and unity across Africa is unacceptable. We once again call on these bodies – and other African states committed to democracy – to condemn the actions of the Lungu administration.
The DA will re-establish South Africa’s leading voice on the continent for the entrenchment of democracy and the upholding of human rights on the continent, a role we surrendered after the Mandela presidency.  In this light, I will be making contact with African leaders, including Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and Mr Tendai Biti, in order to establish a plan of action on the way forward in entrenching democratic values and the rule of law in Africa. We must not cease in our efforts to liberate Africa from the stranglehold of “big man politics”. Indeed, opposition parties have a role in realising this through cooperation.
The Democratic Alliance stands by Mr Hichilema and we offer him our full support, and will attend his trial tomorrow to demonstrate our support. We call on the Zambian government to stop this ludicrous trial.
The details of the trial are as follows:
Date: Friday, 26 May 2017
Time: 11:30
Location: Magistrate Court Complex, Hibiscus Rd, Lusaka, Zambia