/ 30 May 2013

South Africa’s moneyed diplomacy

South Africa's Moneyed Diplomacy

By opening its purse, it hopes it has given the country a loud voice to sell its foreign policy.

The country has become one of the big contributors on the continent keeping the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community in business. 

In 2011, South Africa contributed R312-million to the AU (15% of its budget), R328-million in 2012, and is due to pay R183-million this year, making it the contributor of 15% of the organisation's budget.

A smaller player in the United Nations compared with some Western powers, South Africa takes care of 0.385% of the UN's budget. This amounted to R81-million in 2011, R79-million last year and the country has already paid R94-million this year, making it the highest contributing African country in 2013 so far.

In regard to the SADC, South Africa contributed 20% of R70-million for the 2012-13 financial year and will fund the body to the tune of R138-million for the 2013-14  financial year.

According to her prepared speech for her budget vote on Thursday, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa attached great importance to promoting multilateralism.

"Since re-entering the world stage in 1994, South Africa has taken up many international positions of responsibility,” she said. "Often, the task was daunting, but through the innovative hard work and dedication of our people, we have consistently recorded resounding successes. Today we are an influential global player.”

Promoting the national interest
Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa sought to utilise its memberships in the international forums "to promote our national interests and advance the African agenda”.

The UN has provided a bigger stage for South Africa to pursue this agenda, which includes the promotion of a democratic continent with political and economic freedoms.

Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa's election to the UN Peace-building Commission, just after the country was elected to the UN Security Council, was "testament to our continued commitment to global peace and security”.

South Africa is often accused of punching way above its weight, but certain actions have established it as one of Africa's leaders. The government spent R126-million to assist the Democratic Republic of Congo with its 2011 election and it is also the largest developing country foreign direct investor in Africa, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development's world investment report.

African voice
South Africa plans to use its participation in different international bodies to speak louder on issues that affect Africa.

Said Nkoana-Mashabane: "Building on G20 [the premier forum for international co-operation on the most important issues of the global economic and financial agenda] reforms of the international financial architecture and the Bretton Woods institutions, we should intensify our advocacy and diplomatic work on the transformation of the global governance system. The expansion of the UN Security Council in the permanent and nonpermanent category should be a priority.”

Africa wants two seats on the UN Security Council and South Africa and Nigeria are lead contenders for the seats.

South Africa is also leading efforts to end the culture of governance by coups in Africa, a policy position adopted by the AU.

"The decision taken by the recent AU summit, at the initiative of South Africa, on the urgent establishment of the African Capacity for Immediate Response to Crises is historic and indeed a leap towards the operationalisation of the African Standby Force,” Nkoana-Mashabane said.

One of South Africa's biggest tasks this year will be to assist Zimbabwe to hold credible elections, taking into consideration the SADC's mediation framework. 

Democratic Alliance international relations spokesperson Ian Davidson said that in the 14 years he had been in Parliament, the glowing report delivered by Nkoana-Mashabane was "well deserved” and her departmental officials should be given credit.