Foreign policy WP on way to Parliament

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A white paper outlining the principles and framework of South Africa’s foreign policy has been approved by Cabinet and will now make its way to Parliament.

Briefing the media following Cabinet’s regular fortnightly meeting, spokesman Jimmy Manyi said yesterday the white paper “emphasised South Africa’s human rights posture and strengthened the conceptual framework to advance South Africa’s economic interests and development.”

Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane in June said the White Paper would outline the principles and framework of South Africa’s foreign policy. “As mentioned during my previous budget vote speech, DIRCO will be presenting a Draft White Paper outlining the principles and framework of our foreign policy – after an extensive consultative process that has seen the department interact with business, academia, labour and broader civil society.”

However, Cabinet approved a draft White Paper for submission to Parliament in November last year and agreed that it should reflect South Africa’s interests as they relate to South Africa’s role in the global geopolitics. Then-government spokesman Vusi Mona said once the parliamentary process was finalised, the consolidated White Paper would be submitted to the Cabinet Committee on International Corporation, Trade and Security for further consideration. It’s not clear why Cabinet approved the document twice.

Nkoana-Mashabane in her budget vote in June added South Africa’s “task as a nation emerging from a troubled past has always been to create the political, economic and social spaces to address the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation.”

South Africa will “continue to focus its foreign policy on promoting the integration of the SADC, the unity and the renewal of the African continent, South-South cooperation, North-South dialogue, and working with other countries for a global system of governance that is democratic and responsive to the interests and aspirations of developing countries, she added. “Using bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, our programmes on the continent and the world have been aligned to our national priorities.
“Next year we will be celebrating ten years of the African Union which was launched in Durban in 2002. Ten years on, we should assess the progress the AU has made since its establishment; and prioritise the establishment and strengthening of the AU organs to ensure that it effectively executes its mandate.
“It is with this in mind that South Africa has been instrumental in supporting the AU audit report and the 2009-2012 Strategic Plan of the Commission. The audit report outlined measures that are needed to ensure that the AU is able to deliver on its mandate. We will continue to utilise our concurrent membership of the United National Security Council (UNSC), AU PSC and the SADC Organ on Peace and Security to work towards a peaceful and prosperous Africa in a just world,” she avered.

Cabinet yesterday also noted the 2009/10 report on publicly-funded scientific and technological activities. Regular funding of the public investment into the science system was recommended in both the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology as well as in the 2002 National Research and Development Strategy. The findings of the report point to the need to evaluate the levels of public investment in the science system, the effectiveness of the current model of public funding for science and technology and its impact on the socio-economic outcomes.

Cabinet approved the process to begin to review the current model of the public funding for science and technology and noted the need to increase South Africa’s focus on research and development with the view to being globally competitive.