New name outlines department's mandate

Thursday, May 21, 2009
By: 
Chris Bathembu

Johannesburg - The change in the name of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation will help clarify the mandate of the department and streamline coordination.

"The name should reflect the new focus that our government wishes to place on partnerships and co-operation for development. This will also allow us to streamline the work that is currently done by different departments on development cooperation into a coherent and systematic framework," said International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

The minister addressed members of the diplomatic corps on Wednesday night, accompanied by her two deputies, Sue van der Merwe and Ebrahim Ebrahim.

She said while the department would continue with its previous work, there would be some shift in focus in some areas.

"Our view is that for development co-operation initiatives to be effective, co-ordination and coherence are paramount," Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said.

The minister told the more than 150 leaders of foreign missions who attended the event that South Africa had partnerships with other countries of the south with which it shared similar challenges.

She said since 1994, one of the defining features of South Africa's foreign policy was the promotion and well-being of the people of Africa. "In this regard, we recognize that important progress has been made in the continent by many countries."

The minister said global partnerships were needed for countries to overcome the current economic crisis.

"We know that the global financial and economic crisis is going to delay progress towards the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals.

"In countries around the world, and here in South Africa, we have observed a number of job losses due to the closing down of business enterprises affected by these factors," Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said.

The minister revealed that discussions in government had started on the possibility of creating a development agency.

"We believe that once created, such an agency would give effect to much needed organizational and institutional systems and also enhance the effectiveness of development co-operation in general," said Ms Nkoana-Mashabane.

Democratic Republic of Congo's ambassador to South Africa Bene M'Poko also addressed the event on behalf of the diplomatic corps.