By Hon. M. Hlengwa Spokesperson on International Relations and Cooperation
Delivered at Parliament in E249
15 May 2018- 14:00 am
Vote 06: International Relations and CooperationHonourable Chairperson, South Africa has increasingly become an integral part of the global agenda through participation in numerous forums exerting pressure and influence wherever we could pursuing trade, justice, freedom, peace and global social-cohesion to advance our domestic interests and the African agenda. Along the way we have made serious and grave mistakes but also achieved significant successes. We in South Africa understand the burden of oppression having had to bear the brutality of colonialism and apartheid for over 300 years. What we went through we do not wish on anybody else anywhere in the world and justly so whenever the violations of human rights manifest or where a people are denied their universal suffrage we, as South Africa, must stand on the side of the people, not the oppressor. In this regard Chairperson I rise today in solidarity with the oppressed people the world over and importantly to challenge the South African government to not sacrifice human rights and social justice at the altar of trade expediency. The opportunity cost of our international diplomacy, friendship and comradeship cannot be the oppression of people. I rise today in solidarity with the people of Tibet and Taiwan who are at the receiving end of Chinese intimidation and oppression through the illegitimate One-China Policy. The absence of democracy in China grinds against the grain of the core tenets of our Constitution which must be the yardstick of our global cooperation. We can never proclaim freedom in its wholesomeness here at home when we actively cosy up to those who perpetuate oppression elsewhere around the world. The instability and absence of lasting peace in the Middle-East is of grave concern, and we must not escalate tensions with antagonistic policies. We must be a Nation in its diplomatic outlook which endeavours to be a solution to problems and not a problem to solutions. Hence, the calls to downgrade the South African Mission in Israel is regrettable. Rather, we must more aggressively advocate for the realisation of the Two-State Solution wherein Israel and Palestine live in peace side-by-side. Equally, our pending withdrawal from the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court is myopic and selfish in the face of gross human rights violations around the world. The People of Sudan deserve our solidarity and not Omar al-Bashir. We dare not stand on the side of those who repeat the actions of those who oppressed us. We must seek to give the African Union teeth to bite and ensure that its decisions are binding and also build up the capabilities of the Pan African Parliament towards legislative powers and functions. In the same spirit, we must continue exerting pressure on the United Nations to reform its structures, including the Security Council, to reflect the world of today and not that of 1945. As the world changes whether through Brexit or the revised United States inward looking and misguided agenda or through the progress in the Korean Peninsula or the increase of leadership and government changes on the continent, South Africa must carefully identify its strengths and opportunities in these changes and exploit them constructively to take this country and the world forward. Chairperson, the pragmatic diplomacy approach, guided by our Constitution and National Interest, will enable South Africa to capitalise on the promises of the fourth industrial revolution and fundamentally we must use our international relations as a jobs driver. We must work with our global partners to grow our economy and create jobs for South Africans here at home and abroad. Ultimately Chairperson, our international relations, cooperation and global diplomacy must not be history centred and be more future driven. We support this budget Vote. I thank you.