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.

SOEs a strain on public funds

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Erik Marais MP, during the Budget Vote on Public Enterprises.
House Chairperson, today we debate the budget vote for the Department of Public Enterprises.
As we all know the objective of the National Development Plan (NDP) is to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030, which is a mere 13 years away.
After 23 years of ANC rule, there has never before been a bigger need to rescue our beautiful country. South Africans have been left with empty promises, lip service, and hopelessness.
If we continue to allow the ANC to hijack South Africa at every opportunity available to them, what will the state of our Nation be in 13 years’ time?
It is a chilling realisation and I can confidently say, the people of South Africa have had enough and are not as ill-informed as the governing party believes.
More and more of our people are realising that the DA is the only party to reignite hope and inspiration and has the will to build a better future for South Africans. The Western Cape, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg have already become testament to this.
The aim of the Department of Public Enterprises is to drive investment, productivity and transformation in the state-owned entities (SOEs) in order to unlock growth, propel industrialisation and most importantly, to create jobs and develop skills.
House Chairperson, how prosperous would South Africa be if the ANC government placed as much effort into proactively achieving this essential aim as they do in protecting the personal pockets of a select few?
It is crucial that this Department functions optimally to stop the misappropriation and misuse of taxpayers’ money once and for all.
House Chairperson, can the ANC in this House truthfully and in good conscience tell the people of South Africa that the R266.7 million allocated to this Department for the 2017/18 financial year will be constructively used to give effect to the NDP ‘s objective of creating jobs and providing skills development?
I pose this question because this is the nature of interrogation from our constituents and because the DA believes in shared prosperity for all South Africans.
We have a constitutionally mandated duty to answer them, as millions of South Africans see the DA as the only alternative to the ANC.
House Chairperson, it is stated that clear transparent governance combined with stable leadership will enable SOEs to achieve their developmental potential.
However, this has not been the case.
Look at Denel for example. It came to light in April 2016 that the suspended CEO of Denel had been officially fired, despite not being found guilty of any misconduct.
The timing of his discharge is suspicious and lends credence to the notion that his dismissal was linked to his refusal to broker arms deals with the politically connected Gupta family.
The CEO, Mr Saloojee, the CFO and a group company secretary were suspended in September 2015 while the board examined a number of allegations related to irregular acquisitions.
However, it is widely speculated that the suspension of these three officials was related to the creation of the new company, Denel-Asia, and the proposed joint venture with VR Laser Asia, a Gupta-linked firm.
Denel has been in hot water for this dodgy joint venture which has direct links to Duduzane Zuma and the Guptas.
Treasury has finally put this deal to bed after many months of back and forth between Treasury and Denel. However, Denel is appealing this decision.
House Chairperson, if I may, I also urge Minister Lynne Brown to be mindful of her oath, the plight of the most vulnerable South Africans and the urgency with which we have to collectively rescue South Africa.
Our country is suffering at the hands of a select few, protecting one. The world has lost confidence in our once great rainbow nation and we find ourselves in a national despondency.
While still in a position to bring about real positive change, I ask you to prioritize the over 55 million South Africans Suffering due to patronage politics.
I thank you.

Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation does not serve the public, it serves ANC cronies

Note to Editors: The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by DA Shadow Minister in the Presidency, Sejamothopo Motau MP, during the Budget Vote on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation.
Honourable Chairperson,
The budget allocated to the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the 2014/15 financial year was a mere R208.2 million.
In a short three years, that budget has ballooned to R923.4 million for 2017/18 – a mere whisker short of the R1 Billion target the department seems to have imposed on itself.
This allocation includes R442 million for National Youth Development and R54.5 million for National Planning Coordination.
This is a substantial amount of money. For this reason, during a recent portfolio committee meeting to discuss the department’s annual performance plan, officials came under severe criticism from the DA.
The committee expressed the view that the country was not getting value for this huge amount of money and questioned the need for the existence of the department.
This echoes the previous sentiments expressed by the DA.
The DA is of the view that most of the work done by the DPME could be done by line function managers in their various departments.
The committee also finally acknowledged that there were overlaps and duplications between the DPME and the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). These overlaps will now be investigated. There should be coordination and where necessary they must be eliminated as they are costly.
The DA has warned that the rapid expansion of the DPME smacked of empire building and would only serve to deepen the ANC’s network of cronyism by opening up further underserved opportunities for cadre deployment. This indeed seems to be the case.
We now learn from a newspaper article titled, “Government policy change on the cards,” by Sunita Menon (Business Day, 11 May 2017), that the executive authority of the DPME, Minister Jeff Radebe, is compiling a Budget Priorities Report to align the 2018/19 budget and the National Development Plan. The report is to be presented at the mid-year Cabinet lekgotla.
According to the article, “The department and the Presidency would create a paper outlining the priorities for the coming fiscal year, and the Treasury would lead the standard allocation”.
However, the DPME’s acting Director General, Tshediso Matona, was reported as saying that “the compilation of the document marked a significant policy shift for the government”.
What is going on here?
Could this be the real reason why former Finance Ministers Nhlanhla Nene and Pravin Gordhan and former Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas were so viciously purged by President Jacob Zuma from National Treasury?
Was the ill-considered firing done to have a pliable Finance Minister at Treasury, so that the Presidency, that is President Zuma, would have a free hand to determine budget allocations, as per his “presidential prerogative”?
Honourable Minister Radebe, this Parliament and the people of this country want to know: Is there a state policy shift with regard to the budgetary process? Is this part of capturing National Treasury by President Zuma?
The DA wants to warn that invoking the National Development Plan (NDP) to justify such a policy shift will not save South Africa from a fate worse than a down-grade to junk status by the international rating agencies, if the intention is for the President to interfere in budget allocations to suit his whims.
National Treasury and this Parliament must resist any such interference to protect the economy and the people of this country.
As indicated earlier, the DA remains unconvinced about the need for a Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation. Eliminating the DPME would go some way towards rationalising the bloated Cabinet and cutting costs. Of course, when the DA takes over national government, most of the unnecessary departments would disappear. Billions of rands will be saved in this way.
Which leads to a question that the DA has asked before: What role does the National Planning Commission have in facilitating the implementation of NDP 2030 to achieve the set targets?
There are about 13 years left before we reach the target date, and hardly any of the set goals are likely to be achieved. The country is nowhere near the target of 11 million jobs by 2030. We are nowhere near achieving the target of a five percent annual economic growth, social cohesion and nation building are floundering.
What cost benefit will the country derive from the R54.5 million set aside for National Planning Coordination?
All we see is Ministers and officials holding co-ordination imbizos and talk shops that provide a platform for ANC political speeches. This is a zero-for-money exercise.
Honourable Members, while the DPME receives budget allocations, the department should remain lean, efficient and productive – and deliver bang for the buck.
In this regard, the department should assert its role in assisting the President to assess the performance of Ministers, as the portfolio committee has urged.
In reply to a question I asked him about the performance and delivery agreements signed by Ministers and the President, Minister Radebe, replied, in part as follows:
“There is no legal framework for performance agreements between the President and Ministers….The way in which the President deals with unsatisfactory performance of his Ministers is a matter between him and the Ministers.”
In plain English, this means that the President can do as he pleases in this regard.
This was demonstrated during the recent midnight Cabinet reshuffle by the President. Clearly, merit and performance were not considerations in his bizarre decisions, with one or two exceptions.
Such Presidential recklessness is unacceptable as it seriously jeopardises the stuttering economic growth plaguing this country.
More than 9 million unemployed South Africans are poor and desperate for work. “Presidential prerogative” should not be allowed to gamble with their economic lives and the future of their children.
Unless this situation is meaningfully changed so that Ministers and the President can be truly held accountable, these performance agreements will remain but a sham.

BOKAMOSO | The National Development Plan is gathering dust, not momentum

The ANC released its policy discussion documents this week ahead of the party’s mid-year National Policy Conference. ANC policy is ideologically incoherent, reflecting the war inside the ANC at the moment. Much of the policy is based on the National Development Plan, which is a widely supported blueprint for achieving the society envisaged by the writers of our Constitution. However, many of these policies are opposed by the powerful Zuma faction which is in charge. They are not interested in sensible policy that will grow the economy and create jobs. They are interested in policies that facilitate further state capture and looting. Opposed to this faction are those who do have an interest in real reform and renewal, and who hate what the ANC has become. But they are in the minority, and will soon have to choose between the ANC and South Africa.
The fact is that today’s ANC lacks the capacity, the unity of purpose and the political will to effectively implement policy. By the ANC’s own admission, “deviant conduct has become deeply entrenched; and arrogance, factionalism and corruption have been identified by large sections of society, including ANC supporters, as dominant tendencies within the movement. It warns that: “Internal squabbles, money politics, corruption and poor performance in government all conspire to undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the broader public. 
The policy document seeks to increase state control and size. But the ANC is incapable of implementing this interventionist, developmental state agenda. They have failed to create a capable state. By President Zuma’s own recent admission, ANC local government destroyed the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. “We ruined it for years, bit by bit. Now the opposition is in charge. We cannot say we are surprised by that.” Their disastrous policy of cadre deployment bit by bit replaced competency with corruption.
The ANC clearly recognizes that it faces the very real prospect of losing its majority in the next national elections in 2019. It states the need to “prepare itself for the complicated relationships involved in coalition governments. It correctly recognises the urgent need to renew the organisation, and to make rapid inroads into fighting poverty and inequality if it is to retain its majority. But realistically, organizational renewal is extremely unlikely, because corruption is so deeply entrenched and because much of the party itself is captured by private interests.
In the real world where it matters, the ANC cannot rapidly improve the lives of South Africa’s poorest, because the Zuma faction has adopted the cause of “radical socio-economic transformation” to justify policies designed to accelerate large-scale corruption. This is why the many admirable policies contained in this document offer cold comfort. “Nuclear power generation should be… based on the requirements of affordability, procedural fairness and transparency.” While we welcome this statement, it is hard to be reassured by it when the actual nuclear deal process has been conducted in secrecy and looks set to bankrupt the country. “The Constitution’s commitment to ‘just and equitable’ compensation for the acquisition of land for land reform purposes should be codified“. But back in the real world, we have a President calling on “black parties” to unite to enable expropriation without compensation.
We all agree that “social grants must be defended and run efficiently”. And yet Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini has been absolutely incompetent at ensuring that they will in fact be paid to 17 million poor South African on 1 April 2017. She has treated the poor and those who care about the plight of the poor with arrogance and disdain, and she has done so with impunity. In Parliamentary question time on Wednesday, Zuma denied that Dlamini should be held accountable for the grants crisis.
The fact is that the ANC rejects the notion of accountability within the state. A free media is an essential cornerstone of democracy precisely because it enables society to hold government accountable.  And yet the ANC policies in the communications document seek to steer South Africa away from a free media and towards a controlled media. South Africans must fight for media independence and reject the media appeals tribunal which seeks to control what editors can and cannot publish, and the Hate Speech Bill which seeks to deter and even criminalise criticism of the government.
Evading accountability is also at the heart of the drive to vest more power in the presidency. “The presidency must be strengthened as the strategic center of power in the state.” This is a very, very bad idea. Zuma’s presidency has already delivered conclusive and devastating evidence of the dangers of over-centralisation of power. By enabling Zuma to capture elements of the state and grow a massive patronage network, it has done great damage to South Africa. And it has also done great damage to the ANC. All of which is why the National Development Plan is gathering dust rather than momentum.