The International Relations and Cooperation Portfolio Committee received the performance reports for quarters 1 and 2 for fiscal year 2021/22 from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The committee urged the department to ensure that in the future it reports more on the achievement of goals and results rather than events.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected diplomatic operations around the world. It has been noted that the multilateral collaboration that was evident at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic has slowly been replaced by a narrow national interest and protectionism of vaccine availability in the midst of a global pandemic.
Engagements made during the reporting period focused on promoting South Africa’s national interests and areas of mutual interest, the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as exchanging views on a broad spectrum of bilateral and international issues of concern. global.
‘It is important that the economic diplomacy and image building activities undertaken by South African missions abroad are aimed at promoting, among others, the economic interests of the country, exploring investment opportunities, promoting tourism, skills development and cultural exchanges, to address the mistakes of the past”, said the Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Supra Mahumapelo.
The committee urged the department to stay on top of its game when it comes to hot spots, especially in the Southern African Development Community region. The political conflicts in Lesotho, Eswatini and the insurgency in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique needed to be addressed in order to achieve a peaceful and lasting resolution of these conflicts.
The committee noted that the African Renaissance Fund has continued to be an important instrument in the pursuit of South Africa’s foreign policy, in particular the African Agenda. In this spirit, South Africa will fund the procurement of 2,030,400 doses of Johnson and Johnson vaccines for 26 African countries. The committee has taken note of this important contribution of South Africa to the fight against covid19 on the continent.
The committee heard that the Cuban government has also requested assistance from South Africa to address shortages of food and medical supplies. “We support this gesture, since it is aggravated by the unilateral economic sanctions of the United States against Cuba,” Mahumapelo said.
He said that the African Union summit will be held next weekend. “In keeping with his theme for this year, we hope that the AU will take bold action to address the already dire situation of food insecurity and malnutrition on the continent, before it gets worse,” added Mr. Mahumapelo.
“I am concerned about the increase in unconstitutional changes of government (coup d’état) and the threat of terrorism in our continent. Finding paths towards peaceful solutions will be a crucial test for the African Union as it celebrates its 20th anniversary this year,” he continued.
Mr. Mahumapelo viewed the decision he referred to as controversial by AU Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat to grant observer status to Israel, as incomprehensible that the AU would recognize and grant observer status to the state of Israel. He expressed his hope that South Africa will ensure that the AU handles this matter with the sensitivity it deserves.