Phathekile Holomisa. Photo: Supplied
PRETORIA – We exist in an environment where multilateralism is facing major challenges. In fact, multilateralism is under threat.

Our organisation, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), is configured differently from all other UN bodies wherein tripartism is foreign to their existence. They simply seem not to appreciate its value; nor do they embrace or support it, as borne out by the recent issues under discussion.

In the ILO we are concerned about the emerging erosion of the role of the governing body.

Our observations are pointing to emerging challenges which are blurring the reporting lines and intended responsibilities. This clearly is visible from the proliferation of issues decided elsewhere and which this organisation is expected to implement without tripartite engagement. There are huge inherent risks which should be acknowledged. Because of these, tensions are visible in the organisation.

The question I am raising is what role are we, as the Africa region, playing in this process?

As a non-regular, I am observing a group that lacks coherence as opposed to the one engaged in the Regional Rules debate. I see a group that reflects a lack of trust in one another. This is very sad. I believe we need each other more than ever because no individual country or delegation can make gains that we can achieve as a collective.

For us to register gains for developing countries and specifically for Africa, we need to strategise better, agree to disagree on certain aspects but, most importantly, we should vociferously rally behind positions that we adopt, something I find sadly lacking in this group when participating in plenary. We do not have the voice of all our member states.

Let me emphasise and reiterate that our positions must be informed by our unique and diverse priorities and we should not be ashamed to advance them at any given time. We should tread carefully when consulting and lobbying other groups to avoid the dilution or weakening of our positions as adopted by the region.

Consultation in this process is sacrosanct. If our spokesperson is not sure, he or she should request the opportunity to consult the group. One last concern: I have observed that our presence in the plenary seems to decrease as the time of the day progresses. We are almost half the delegates when there are evening sessions. I must point out that this is dangerous as critical decisions could be taken in our absence. We, therefore, need to improve in this space.

I am just raising these observations, intent on ensuring that we remain united as Africa but, importantly, that we pursue vigorously positions taken in our region in pursuance of our interests in this House.

Phathekile Holomisa is the Deputy Minister of Labour.

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