International Relations: A Just World and a Better Africa is a Possibility
30 March 2007
The situation in our world has changed radically over recent years. More and more people than ever before live in democratic societies. In many of the African countries the guns are silent and mechanisms towards peaceful resolution of conflict are in place and peace is being realised. This situation gives us more confidence and hope that we are on the right path towards a possible "Just World and a Better Africa" for humankind. We can today, proclaim that a "Just World and a Better Africa is a Possibility".
The move to create a better international climate will need resources, capacity and well-equipped structures both at party and state level. We need to build capacity if we are to remain relevant as a force to be reckoned with as one of the power centres in the continent and still enjoy worldwide respect and influence.
The release of resources should be calculated on the analysis of the benefits and the costs. There are greater benefits in the long term if we succeed in the consolidation of our African Agenda, if we embraced new approaches and forge strategic alliances with global forces to satisfy our own interests and those of the continent.
The broad thrust of the ANC policy on International Relations as defined in the Strategy and Tactics and elaborated in the 2002 Stellenbosch 51st national Conference and the at the 2005 National General Council, remains valid and relevant.
Our strategic approach as ANC is to achieve on international order with greater security, peace, dialogue and greater equilibrium between the poor and the rich countries. We are guided by the ANC principles of "a better life for all and vision of a just world and a better Africa".
Our country's security and prosperity is linked and co-exists with the consolidation of the African Agenda. We need to address inequalities between the poor and rich countries, with increasing poverty and the marginalization of millions of people, the globalisation of terrorism, unilateralism and militarism of big powers, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and organised crime; and an increasingly threaten environment and the resultant climate change. All these challenges are complex, interconnected and affects all humanity.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), all of the eight (8) goals will not be achieved by developing nations and in particular by the Sub - Saharan Africa by 2015. The Rich nations have contributed to the failures by not honouring there commitments to MDG's such as cancelling the debt in the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs), implementation on aid programmes, making available 0.7% of their GDP to poor countries, continuing subsidies on agricultural and the non agreement on a free, fair, just & sustainable trade regime by rich countries and slow pace on the implementation on good governance, fighting corruption and economic reforms on the other hand by the affected developing nations.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What policies we need to pursue both on the continent and internationally to meet some of the aims of the MDG's? What role could South Africa play in encouraging the Development countries to meet there commitments for the MDG's?
ENCOURAGING DEV ELOPEMENTS
The move by many countries is to integrate their regional economies under programmes, such as Regional Economic Integration Communities (RECs), creating alternative trading blocks in a Free Trade Agreements, increasing inter-trade amongst countries in the South and developing initiatives such as the India, Brazil and South Africa known as the IBSA initiatives which must be encouraged and supported.
POLICY CHALLENGES, CHANGES AND CONSIDERATIONS:
As we prepare for the policy conference, we are called upon to reflect on some of our international policies, their imperatives, relevancy, and whether they are to be changed, adjusted or reviewed.
It is also at this conference where an opportunity presents itself to make proposals for new policy considerations to bolster our resolve for a just world and a better Africa. Policies for consideration:
Introducing New Policies for consideration:
The African Union Govern: Towards a United States of Africa:
The African National Congress is called upon to engage in the debate taking place in the continent on the establishment of the United States of Africa.
Background to the debate: "Following a proposal on the creation of Ministerial posts within the African Union from Libya which was brought to the African Union Summit in Abuja, in July 2004, a committee of Ten under President Museveni was formed to reflect deeper on the issue and made a presentation in Sirte (Libya) in July 2005. Based on the presentation given to the Summit in Sirte by President Museveni, a Committee of Seven was formed to look at the notion of the African Union Government. During the Summit, the Heads of State and Government reaffirmed that the ultimate goal of the African Union is full political and economic integration leading the United States of Africa. In this regard, A Committee of Heads of States and Government under the Chairmanship of President Obasanjo was established with a specific mandate of facilitating a deeper reflection on the content and thrust on the report presented by President Yoweri Museveni.
The ANC is thus called upon to debate these issues raised and to make a meaningful contribution.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
Is the time suitable for the establishment of a United States of Africa?
Can such a move succeed in the present continental and international climate?
What form should a continental government take?
Development Aid; South Africa though still very much part of the developing world could introduce and make history by contributing a percentage of its annual GDP Revenue towards a development aid. The percentage could be confined between 0.2% - and 0.5% for a foreseeable future and will be readjusted in later years. The aid is known as the Overseas Development Aid or Foreign Development Assistance, which rich nations vote to assist countries in need.
The development aid, to be known as the South African International Development Agency (SAIDA), should be located in the Foreign Affairs or the Treasury, though many nations have created a department or ministry such as the Ministry of International Co-operation.
In its initial stages the aid should only or in the main focus on continental challenges and help those countries emerging from conflict or war and assist in the post war/conflict programmes, and to weaker states that are reforming and showing signs of building democracy. Like other ODAs or FDAs, such assistance will have conditions to be met by a country concern to be a recipient.
Should we move in this direction, it will give us as a country an urge to pursue our International relations, which are resting on three main pillars, i.e. Consolidation of the African Agenda, South -South Cooperation and solidarity and the North-South dialogue and partnership.
Embracing the principle of Strategic Partnerships
South Africa is regarded as influential partner and as a strategic role player due to the strategic role it plays in the internationally. We have in the interests of humankind being providing strategic interventions such as in peacekeeping, our believe in multilateral approach to resolve tensions on issues as the proliferation of the nuclear weapons and others, as an influencer in trade negotiations and as legitimate voice on issues affecting the continent and south developing nations to mention a few. This gives us the credibility and we are seen as the voice of reason. South Africa has earned the status as one of leaders of in the developing world.
As a result, South Africa is being approached for strategic partnerships, and the current proposal by European Union (EU) could be a classical example. The EU has such strategic partnerships limited to a few countries and regions such as USA/North America, Russia, China, India and Brazil. Should South Africa agree, it will be the sixth country to be a beneficiary and will be the first African country to have such status.
Due to our correct and strong belief that all countries in Africa should be treated equally and our belief in collective leadership and collective solidarity, would such a move antagonise other African countries that may view us as having preferential treatment?
However, other countries are already benefiting from such a relations in terms of economic spin-offs, access of their goods to markets and bolstering their status as global influential.
Our proposal is that we need to develop a policy and embrace the new concept of international relations, the strategic partnership principle, as proposed and as already functioning in other parts of the world regions. This give us the needed impetus to play a more positive role in Africa, however caution should be taken that we do not become bully, arrogant and antagonistic to our continent.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
Should South Africa enter into a strategic partnership with the EU?
How will such partnership affect our role in the AU and on the continent generally?
Political Parties Foundations Funding
Most advanced democracies in the world have in their budgets allocations a vote for their political parties foundations. As South Africa, we are also recipients of some of the foundations monies such as the FES and Anker Foundation of Germany, the Westminster Foundation of United Kingdom, the Netherlands Multiparty Democracy, Olaf Palme Foundation of Sweden, and many others.
Political Parties in South Africa could also benefit to develop their own foundations, using the same principles as other nations and should investigate and introduce a law that allows for such foundations and the allocation of budgets for such an innovation and programme.
Introducing Economic Diplomacy and Parliamentary Diplomacy.
The two concepts are evolving as a result of globalisation. As our economy expands it overgrows its market size and goes offshore.
South African Business, in Africa and the world is moving across into new areas. Since the advent of democracy a number of retail, mining, construction, and engineering, communication services and others are expanding in Africa and other parts of the world. While this is good and welcomed, it brings with it new challenges. Already many countries are raising issues of dominance, destifling and shutdowns of their own retail business, which cannot compete with South African goods, about arrogant behaviour by some companies, disrespect of labour practices and lack of local partnerships.
While on one hand the onus is in those countries to reform their laws of investment by insisting on local partnership, and others, we should also engage as South Africans and be ambassadors of our country and of good business practices, respect of labour rights and sourcing agricultural goods produced in those countries.
There is already a view to develop a code of doing business in Africa for our South African companies and we need to engage on the proposal. If agreed on a resolution to develop the code of good business practice in Africa is urgently needed, and legislation to this effect should be passed.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
Will a business code of conduct for South African business operating abroad lead to good market practices?
How do we enforce such codes on our business community?
Could this be used as a diplomatic vehicle that profiles our values and mission of our foreign policy?
Secondly, within the economic diplomacy we should beef up our embassies to have active economic divisions, not only in developed countries but also in every country we have a mission to ensure our businesses take opportunities that exist and for our goods to enter local markets at the same time, to encourage those countries who have goods of quality to also take advantage of our growing market and economy.
Parliamentary Diplomacy, historically, parliaments have had scant involvement in international affairs. This was hardly surprising in the days when international affairs were largely confined to one country's relations with others, which were handled by the executive branch of government.
Parliaments role in the area has always been confined to ratifying of the agreements that emerged from such diplomatic efforts but matters were left there.
At the First Conference of the Presiding Officers of Parliaments held in New York United Nations Headquarters in 2000; it declared as following:
That the parliamentary dimension (to international cooperation) must be provided by parliaments themselves first of all at the national level in an interconnected way. This included:
Building capacity of oversight for the Portfolios/Select Committees, responsible and assigned with such a function in overseeing executive action in those international bodies.
Active participation in Regional, Continental and World parliamentary structures, forums, bodies, associations and unions as part of influencing role of parliaments and representing the voters as public representatives.
In addition to the established regional parliaments such as the SADC Parliamentary Forum, which is in the process of transformation to become a Regional SADC Parliament, the continental Pan African Parliament, which is in its first five years of its initial development and should encourage and support the transformation process of it becoming a Legislative body of the African Union, and the other parliamentary unions, associations, forums, should develop and move towards the creation of the Non-Aligned Movement Parliament and to strengthen the African-Caribbean and Pacific - EU Parliamentary Joint Assembly, therefore need a package of policy perspectives and resolutions to effect the aspirations.
Consolidation of relations with former liberation movements in the region, continent and in the world; as already initiated by our organisation, we need to develop a resolution encouraging continuity, acceleration and ongoing programme of meetings, seminars and interaction of the former liberation movements in the region as the basis for the growth of the Progressive movement in Africa. In consolidation of the move, we need a policy perspective and resolution and to craft it to include working with other progressive parties/movements in the region and in the continent.
Contribute in the Rebuilding of the Associated bodies of the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), and the new institutions and bodies of the AU, such as the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO), the Pan African Youth Movement (PAYM), and the recently agreed AU bodies, which will provide us with additional space to debate, engage and reach consensus on a number of African challenges and for African solutions. In doing so, should release resources where mandated and support initiatives towards rebuilding, strengthening and creation of continental bodies. Included will be civil society groups under the ECOSOC and also creation of South African Chapters of such bodies. Therefore need a policy and a resolution expressing itself on the desirability on the issues.
Religion and politics:
The world is becoming divided on the basis of religion and we see forms of discrimination occurring in the name of fighting terrorism. While terrorism is the new threat to peace and stability and has to be defeated including its fundamental causes, we need to take extra care that we do not antagonise people on the basis of religious intolerance and discrimination.
A resolution to be crafted together with the Religious Affairs of the ANC.
Current Policies that require Review, Strengthening and Reinvigoration:
The Refugee and Migration policies, the world is experiencing an unstoppable movement of migration from poor countries into the developing areas and into rich countries.
The pattern is the same, people vote with their feet to look for prosperity, better life and possibilities of opportunities where there is economic growth and prosperity. Closing of borders, erection of fences and barriers, tightening of the laws are restrictive measures used by many to control the mass movement of the people.
Within the people migrating are those who are refugees running away from conflicts, and persecutions, others are stateless people, which number according to the United Nation is growing, majority are what is termed "economic refugees" - people who are looking for opportunities of employment.
South Africa is one of the countries experiencing the phenomenon of migrants, whose majority are illegal, or undocumented. The responses by our people is xenophobic but also because with this new phenomenon are new challenges, such as scarce resources having been expanded and illegal activities of crime increasing.
However, there are also positive developments where new skills enter our job market, new businesses are started and there is employment creation and our goods demand is on the growth path.
The Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and the Trade and Industry, should work to review our Migration laws based on the policies and resolutions that will emerge from our Policy conferences. We are also expected by SADC to have engaged on the integration of our region that includes waiving visas, allowing for the mobility of labour and movement of people as happening in other parts of the world.
Twinning of Provinces, Cities and Municipalities; we need to develop a policy, which has not happened since resolving at the Stellenbosch 20002 Conference, which may necessitate the creation of a law to govern and regulate the twinning of provinces, cities and municipalities in the world.
Still there is no co-ordination of the activity, there is over subscribing on certain cities and regions of the world, such as Brazil, and certain cities in China. The Foreign Affairs need to have a Desk established with a data of the twinning agreements, with advice capacity and research to inform municipalities and provinces before agreements are entered into and also to keep records of agreements.
Also, the twinning agreements need to be informed by our Foreign policy and the Trade and Industry policy, to utilise such agreements for the advancement of our own interests.
Therefore, need to review the resolution and give it the urgency it deserves.
We should also add the Provincial Legislatures who are also entering into some form of agreements.
Building a progressive Movement in Africa and the World. Though work has started in this area, we need to develop a policy and resolutions giving impetus to the initiative. In addition to the Socialist International for which we are active affiliates, we still need a world body that will have every progressive movement participating in it. A policy perspective and resolutions will have too the develop in this area.
Redefining the South Africa's Foreign Policy, while this is not new, we need to however redefine our Foreign Policy as a country. South African Foreign policy since 1994 has been one of the contested parts. There are those who favour more engagement with the external world as a way of promoting the national interest and exporting the country's constitutional norms and values to other parts of the globe. The applicability of our values in parts of Africa and the world has projected South Africa as a beacon of hope for the rest of Africa and the developing world. As a result we are seen as having 'assumed leadership" on a number of issues and unfortunately or fortunately this has put more pressure on us to provide more and expectations have grown.
However, there are those on the other hand who have isolationist instincts and some among them are even becoming xenophobic. They argue that domestic socio-economic challenges should be addressed first than wasting time and scarce resources on issues that have no bearing or direct and immediate connection.
We need to debate the Foreign policy to engage on the two contesting views. While the Foreign policy in its doctrine says, "Foreign policy is in the final analysis, is an articulation of domestic policy. It should be a means to an end - this end being a better life for all South Africans at home and beyond. What are these "South African Interests?" How are they benefiting our people? "What we do and say is the advancement of the South African domestic interests, but is it obvious, and how to we make it simple for the ordinary South Africans?
While the prominent features of our Foreign policy is about peace, conflict resolution, peacekeeping activities, partnership, multi-lateralism, development agenda, pursuant of the NEPAD programme, building institutions in the continent and the reform of others, influence in political global issues, and striving for a better Africa and a just world, we should build consensus and a partnership with our people on foreign policy.
We need to debate with a view to close the gap on the two contesting views, agree on a set of national interests in which South Africa will indeed benefit for the good of its people.
The resolution of the Middle East and in particular Palestine: We need to strengthen the resolution as already done at the NGC of 2005 on the resolution of the Middle East question and the Independence of Palestine, coexisting along side peaceful Israel. We have to re-look at the resolution in relation to the new developments in the Middle East and forging strategic links with Iran and Syria, and others towards developing common approach on the matter, for just solutions on the matter.
Western Sahara Solution:
Need to congratulate the Government for the recognition and diplomatic relations with the Western Sahara authorities. However, the independency of Western Sahara and its self-determination of the area still unresolved.
We need to establish effective links with the African Diasphora who have the potential to play a positive role in the development of NEPAD and also to advocate the African Agenda in International Fora.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What steps needs to be taken to establish the African Diasphora
Should South Africa take the lead in this respect
Affirmation of the NGC of 2005 resolutions after reassessing them as following:
Consolidate Reform of Global Governance structures,
Democracy, Good Governance and Human Rights,
Millennium Development Goals,
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
Affirm NGC Resolution on Group Eight (G8).
To affirm the NGC "Make Poverty History Campaign.
Reaffirm the 2002 National Conference Resolutions:
Most of the resolutions from the Stellenbosch ANC Conference in 2002 are still valid and relevant as most are work in progress and others is due to lack of resources hence are not fully implemented.
We need to review them in line with the new changes that have occurred in the world and adjust them accordingly.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
What policies should South Africa pursue as a member of the United Nations Security Council for the next two Years?