SA foreign policy to remain the same - Nkoana-Mashabane

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa will continue to build new relations with countries abroad and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in pursuit of a developmental agenda for the continent.

This was an assurance from newly appointed Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Maite Nkoana-Mashabane.

Speaking during her first media address on Thursday, Minister Nkoana-Mashabane said under her leadership South Africa's foreign policy in relation to other countries will not change but the department will continue to prioritise human rights issues.

President Jacob Zuma announced his cabinet on Sunday, naming Ms Nkoana Mashabane as the new minister for the department of International Relations and Co-operation, formerly known as the department of foreign affairs.

Ms Nkoana Mashabane replaced Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who has held the position of foreign affairs minister since 1999.

"We will continue to prioritise Africa because we are in Africa. We will continue to engage with African countries, including Zimbabwe, in pursuit of Africa's development," Ms Nkoana-Mashabane said.

Regarding the department's name change, the minister said the new name was in line with international trends.

"There was a need to give greater clarity on the mandate of the department. In this regard, over and above its normal functions, the department will also engage in dynamic partnerships for development and cooperation," she said.

The name change moves from the premise that foreign policy was based on the advancement of domestic priorities at an international level, added the minister.

The new minister said forging peaceful resolutions to Africa's problems and building strategic partnerships with other African countries were among some of the priorities for her department.

"In pursuit of these objectives, South Africa recognises that its destiny is inextricably linked to that of the developing world in general and to the African continent in particular," the minister said.

She further said as South Africa sought to attain its foreign policy objectives, the country should pursue a developmental agenda both in the continent and the world.

"This development agenda can only succeed to the extent to which strategic and mutual developmental cooperation is built with countries of the continent, the developing and the developed world," Ms Nkoana-Mashabane explained.