International Relations and Cooperation, Minister Naledi Pandor. PHOTO: GCIS
Minister for International Relations Naledi Pandor has articulated the fundamental basis of South Africa’s foreign policy as the need to work towards a more just world order with a human face. Pandor laid out the country’s foreign policy priorities during her budget vote in Parliament on Thursday.

“I’ve been pleased that our statements and voting pattern in Geneva and New York reflect our support for a more just world.

“Our work must always reflect this commitment to return the privilege of international solidarity with attention to the plight of those who seek refuge, democracy, freedom and peace,” Pandor said.

At the top of South Africa’s priorities is solidarity with those struggling for freedom and self-determination like the people of Palestine, South Sudan, Cuba and Western Sahara.

The need to ensure freedom and justice in these areas was mentioned both at the beginning and end of Pandor’s speech, highlighting their importance in South African foreign policy.

“Palestine is still occupied and not free, South Sudan has internal conflict, Western Sahara is still occupied and not free, and Cuba remains blockaded,” Pandor said.

She said that a major challenge was that powerful forces of economic bullying sought to alter the established multilateral world order.

“We reject uni-polarity and the neglect of the poor and marginalised,” Pandor said, as she credited President Cyril Ramaphosa for his efforts within the multilateral forums of the G-20 and G-7 to push for a fair and inclusive world trade environment.

Pandor highlighted the centrality of Africa to South Africa’s foreign policy, and argued for stronger links with Nigeria, Egypt and Kenya as anchor countries that can work towards achieving sustainable development.

She also highlighted that South Africa enjoyed a strategic partnership with the US and the EU.

Relations with the BRICS countries were emphasised, most notably their potential to change the global political and economic outlook.

Pandor pointed to the effectiveness of the BRICS New Development Bank (NDB), particularly the Contingency Reserve Arrangement and the Africa Regional Centre which is making funding available for infrastructure development. In April the NDB announced loans of $790million (R11billion) for three projects in South Africa.

Half of the funding will go to Eskom to stabilise the national grid, and an additional $180m will go towards integrated renewable energy projects.

Conflict resolution remains a core part of South Africa’s foreign policy.

“We have a rare opportunity to place this goal [silencing the guns in Africa] on top of the agenda of the UN Security Council when we assume the presidency of the council later in the year,” Pandor said.

“We repeat our call for a total ceasefire in Libya and the pursuit of an inclusive national dialogue led by the AU. On Sudan, we deplore the recent violence and deaths and welcome the agreement reached by parties there.”

Pandor said South Africa was ready to assist, given its experience in conflict resolution.