South Africa’s African Renaissance and International Cooperation Fund has provided R268 million in the last financial year in foreign aid and assistance to 19 countries, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation says. But the opposition Democratic Alliance wants to know if that is money well spent.
The remaining funds were allocated to Sierra Leone (R24 million) to fund 20 Cuban doctors to offer medical services and to the African Research Centre (R3 million), which serves as a focal point for ombudsman offices in Africa. In 2010/11, a total of R4 million went to cover the AU’s Observer Mission to the elections in Sudan. A further R141 million was recommended for other projects, but these were only followed through in the next financial year.
Davidson notes that in terms of the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund Act, the objectives of the fund are to enhance:
(a) co-operation between the Republic and other countries, in particular African countries;
(b) the promotion of democracy and good governance;
(c) the prevention and resolution of conflict;
(d) socio-economic development and integration; and
(e) humanitarian assistance and human resource development.
“In May this year, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry also approved a R350 million economic assistance package to Cuba – to be funded through the ARF. Cuba has clearly become one of the chief recipients of South African aid. Our government is maintaining a very expensive friendship with Cuba and it is not immediately apparent how this massive investment in Cuba’s economic recovery will promote the objectives of the ARF.
“Given its proximity to South Africa and the potential upside of a prosperous Zimbabwe for regional stability and economic development in the SADC region, the R300 million investment in Zimbabwe’s economy appears to be more sensible. We do, however, need more details on what exactly this R300 million was spent on.
“Questions must also be raised around the R126 million allocated to elections in the DRC. The contribution was most likely aimed at achieving the objective of promoting ‘democracy and good governance’. Most international observers, however, called the November 2011 presidential election in the DRC ‘seriously flawed’,” Davidson said.
“The objectives of the ARF are admirable and as a member of the international community South Africa should certainly contribute to the socio-economic and political development of vulnerable countries. DIRCO must, however, give us assurances that our R740 million investment in international aid has been money well spent.”