Ne­go­ti­a­tions key to for­eign re­la­tions

The Star Late Edition - - INSIDE -

QUES­TION 1:

If SA suc­ceeds in get­ting a seat as a non-per­ma­nent mem­ber of the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, what is­sues would it like to pri­ori­tise on the coun­cil?

An­swer:

We will not be rep­re­sent­ing SA, we will be rep­re­sent­ing the con­ti­nent. We go on be­half of the con­ti­nent and we are man­dated and sup­ported by the con­ti­nent.

What we bring to the ta­ble is our ex­pe­ri­ence and our con­cerns about how we re­solve what we con­sider are boil­ing points. We are cur­rently the chair of SADC, we would want to start with the is­sues that con­cern SADC the most.

As a coun­try we are con­cerned about the sit­u­a­tion in the Mid­dle East, so we would like to pri­ori­tise the Mid­dle East as that for us is the next big­gest break­down of the en­tire global sys­tem.

Q2:

US am­bas­sador to the UN Nikki Ha­ley has said that the top 10 coun­tries least likely to vote with the US at the UN (which in­cludes SA) will have their aid cut. What is your re­sponse to these types of US threats?

A:

The US has to find a way of ne­go­ti­at­ing more than is­su­ing threats – it is not the most con­ducive way in which we con­duct in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, be­cause peo­ple vote for var­i­ous rea­sons, and a puni­tive mea­sure taken against them does not solve the world’s prob­lems.

We have on oc­ca­sion voted against the US when we felt we did not agree with a par­tic­u­lar pol­icy. We voted against them on the Iraq sit­u­a­tion a long time ago, and we have been proved to be cor­rect.

I haven’t had the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with my coun­ter­part and share my views and to find out why they would come up with such a threat, how they in­tend to monitor votes, and why they have taken such a stri­dent position.

Q3:

Some mem­bers of the me­dia have sug­gested that the Ramaphosa ad­min­is­tra­tion is at­tempt­ing to strengthen re­la­tions with the West and is less fo­cused on the Brics part­ner­ship than the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion. Is there any truth to this?

A:

There is no truth to that at all. One of the rea­sons why the pres­i­dent is reach­ing out to ev­ery­body is pre­cisely be­cause he is con­cerned about the econ­omy and the job­less­ness of our youth.

A stable econ­omy cre­ates a stable environment within which our poli­cies can reach max­i­mum ben­e­fit to all. He has in­di­cated that his pri­or­ity is the in­vest­ment sum­mit that he is plan­ning to host in Oc­to­ber.

The first sum­mit that he will be host­ing in SA is the Brics sum­mit, which is an in­di­ca­tion of his com­mit­ment to con­tinue the re­la­tion­ship with Brics, and is not at the ex­pense of any other re­la­tion­ship. I don’t know why there is the per­cep­tion that he is more in­ter­ested in the West.

Q4: What are SA’s pri­or­i­ties in terms of the out­comes at the up­com­ing Brics sum­mit in July?

A:

Our pri­or­ity is to make the sum­mit a spec­tac­u­lar suc­cess. What we have tried to do which is dif­fer­ent in this par­tic­u­lar sum­mit is to in­volve civil so­ci­ety and labour, as we are avoid­ing a sit­u­a­tion where we are not seen as in­clu­sive.

We will have a mini sum­mit for civil so­ci­ety and a mini sum­mit for labour in or­der to al­low their voices to find ex­pres­sion in the Brics sum­mit it­self.

In terms of out­comes, we must see how to har­ness the fourth in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion and use it to leapfrog into the fu­ture, as the po­ten­tial it has for us is enor­mous, and we want to part­ner with those who have ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies.

Q5:

SA has com­mit­ted it­self to a strate­gic part­ner­ship with China, par­tic­u­larly in the con­text of FOCAC. How do you fore­see strength­en­ing our re­la­tions with China? Can SA pri­ori­tise the is­sue of mov­ing for­ward on the ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion of our own min­er­als at the up­com­ing FOCAC Sum­mit in Bei­jing in Septem­ber?

A:

We have pri­ori­tised our re­la­tions with China be­cause we have found that they have in­no­va­tive ways of deal­ing with matters.

You your­self have re­ported on China’s in­ter­est in our eco­nomic zones, and we would be in­ter­ested in get­ting as­sis­tance from China in these zones.

We have taken a de­lib­er­ate de­ci­sion to ben­e­fi­ci­ate our own min­er­als but we haven’t gone as far as we should have as we don’t have the nec­es­sary tech­nol­ogy or in­fra­struc­ture.

We won’t leave this is­sue only to FOCAC, but will also dis­cuss it at the Brics Sum­mit. We are so look­ing for­ward to FOCAC as it will be the first time that our pres­i­dent is in China on a state visit.

Q6:

For­mer pres­i­dent Nelson Man­dela said in 1994 that he wanted hu­man rights to be “the light that guides our for­eign pol­icy” . As min­is­ter, are you pre­pared to make hu­man rights a cor­ner­stone of SA’s for­eign pol­icy once again as Man­dela had en­vis­aged?

A:

Yes­ter­day when I put to­gether my bud­get speech I was very care­ful to send that par­tic­u­lar mes­sage – hu­man rights and peace – as that is what we in­her­ited from Madiba.

The rea­son why it is so im­por­tant and dear to us is be­cause we come from a very long and brutal strug­gle.

We have been try­ing to get South Africans to un­der­stand that hu­man rights are ab­so­lutely es­sen­tial.

It re­mains a cen­tral point in the ANC’s for­eign pol­icy, and it re­mains the ba­sis of our for­eign pol­icy. It is what drives us when we in­ter­vene on is­sues that have to do with the vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights of the Pales­tini­ans, or any other sit­u­a­tion.

Q7:

What has Dirco done to date to down­grade SA’s re­la­tions with Is­rael in keep­ing with the ANC res­o­lu­tion at the De­cem­ber pol­icy con­fer­ence?

A: In be­tween the pass­ing of that res­o­lu­tion and where we are now has been a tran­si­tion; a lot of ad­just­ment has gone into that. We have not had the op­por­tu­nity to sit down and work out how we op­er­a­tionalise some of the resolutions that were taken at the ANC’s 54th na­tional con­fer­ence. We have re­called our am­bas­sador from Pales­tine to find out from him the facts of what is go­ing on in Pales­tine, and there­after will take the nec­es­sary de­ci­sion. We will also be dis­cussing with the ANC sub­com­mit­tee on in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions. The SA Jewish Board of Deputies is keen to meet with me, and I would like to meet with them sooner rather than later. My only re­quest is that they should re­late to me as a fel­low South African.

Q8:

The hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in Bu­rundi con­tin­ues to de­te­ri­o­rate, with Hu­man Rights Watch doc­u­ment­ing how Bu­run­dian se­cu­rity forces and gov­ern­ing party mem­bers have com­mit­ted se­ri­ous hu­man rights abuses with im­punity lead­ing up to this week’s ref­er­en­dum. Is SA go­ing to raise its voice in call­ing for Bu­rundi to ad­here to African and in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights con­ven­tions?

A:

We would be. We have spent no less than five years in as­sist­ing the peo­ple of Bu­rundi to move from a sit­u­a­tion of war to one of peace.

We did it be­cause we be­lieved they de­served to have a bet­ter fu­ture for them­selves, and be­cause we be­lieve in ba­sic hu­man rights.

Bu­rundi was in a ter­ri­ble sit­u­a­tion when we got there. It was in the time of Man­dela, and he very quickly de­cided that we would in­ter­vene and sup­port the Bu­rundi peace process.

It there­fore is a re­spon­si­bil­ity that we would like to take on, hav­ing spent so much of our re­sources and time and given so much of our sup­port to cre­ate an environment where there is democ­racy. It would be a re­ver­sal of every­thing we put there if there is a re­ver­sal of the sit­u­a­tion in Bu­rundi.

When we pulled our troops out of Bu­rundi it was be­cause we thought Bu­rundi had adopted demo­cratic pro­cesses, and we thought they were on a path of democ­racy and peace. We will cer­tainly raise our voice around this is­sue.

Q9:

You have ex­pressed a de­sire for SA to play a greater lead­er­ship role on the con­ti­nent. With re­gard to South Su­dan, how do you per­ceive SA be­ing able to make a mean­ing­ful im­pact on re­solv­ing the po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence that con­tin­ues to plague the coun­try?

A:

In Bu­rundi we were in­vited to come in and as­sist. In South Su­dan we have not been in­vited in the same way, and I am con­vinced that South Su­dan doesn’t want in­ter­fer­ence.

We wouldn’t mind do­ing that be­cause we have ex­pended a great deal of our re­sources in putting our forces in South Su­dan to keep the peace there, and if we can find a way of solv­ing the con­flict, the sooner the bet­ter.

We do have peo­ple in our coun­try whose pur­pose is to as­sist govern­ment and cre­ate an environment where there can be di­a­logue and ne­go­ti­a­tions. It helps us a lot as they are the fore­run­ners of govern­ment.

There is a team who are on their way to Mada­gas­car and we have given them sup­port to go there as there is a brew­ing prob­lem there, and we would like to push them to­wards a peace­ful elec­tion.

PIC­TURE: JACKIE SCHOONEES / DIRCO

POL­ICY: In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Co-oper­a­tion Min­is­ter Lindiwe Sisulu says hu­man rights are a cor­ner­stone.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

THREATS: US am­bas­sador to the UN Nikki Ha­ley.

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