South African’s National Liberation Movement

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National Conference​

Discussion Documents

International Relations

30 August 2002

Overview of ANC policy
  1. Our approach to international relations is contained in Ready to Govern, the Reconstruction and Development Programme, Strategy and Tactics documents and Conference resolutions. In addition, the ANC also adopted a detailed ‘Foreign policy Perspectives in a Democratic South Africa’ in 1994.

  2. The Foreign policy perspectives list seven principles, which informs our approach to international relations:
    • A belief in, and preoccupation with human rights which extends beyond the political, embracing the economic, social and environmental;
    • A belief that just and lasting solutions to the problems of human kind can only come through the promotion of democracy, worldwide;
    • A belief that justice and international law should guide the relations between nations;
    • A belief that international peace is the goal to which all nations should strive. Where this breaks down, internationally, agreed peaceful mechanisms to solve conflicts should be resorted to;
    • A belief that our foreign policy should reflect the interests of the continent of Africa;
    • A belief that South Africa’s economic development depends on growing regional and international economic cooperation in an independent world;
    • A belief that our foreign relations must mirror our deep commitment to the consolidation of a democratic South Africa.
  3. The 50th National Conference of the ANC (1997) placed the African renaissance at the centre of our international relations. This is reflected in the Strategy and Tactics, when it says: “our starting point therefore is the obvious: that South Africa is an African country.” National Conference thus elaborated our vision of the African renaissance, including its motive forces and the tasks facing the ANC and government.

  4. The Strategy and Tactics also situates our transition to democracy and our transformation process in its international context: “The liberation of South Africa is both a local expression of a changing world and part of the catalyst to renewed efforts aimed at attaining international consensus on the most urgent questions facing humanity. Our transition was an element of a dynamic political process of a world redefining itself with the end of the Cold War. To the extent that the new global situation has not resolved the contradictions within and among nations between poverty and opulence; to the extent that ethnic, religious and other tensions continue to ravage parts of the globe; to the extent that some of these contradictions find bold expression in our own society; to this extent and more, the transformation taking place in our country is closely intertwined with the search for a new world order.”

  5. It sets out the tasks of the ANC as taking an “active part in shaping this order, both in the context of its relations with other parties and movements, and as the leading organisation in government. In both these areas of operation, it will pursue the same objectives. Yet we do recognise that, in their detail, party-to-party aims will not always translate into inter-state relations. This is not to imply that inter-state relations are devoid of principle. Rather, it is to underline that, in government, the implementation of our principles will be tempered by the realities of the world diplomacy and conventions governing inter-state relations”.

  6. The 1997 National Conference and the National General Council in 2000 therefore adopted resolutions on International policy and priorities, on party-to-party relations, on solidarity with Western Sahara and Palestine, on the transformation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and on the arms exports.
Overview of Implementation
  1. The ANC has been active in the implementation of policy on international affairs, based on our foreign policy perspective and resolutions of the 1997 National Conference

  2. The NEC International Affairs Committee has overseen the re-establishment of the International Affairs Unit at headquarters, which is headed by a full-time NEC member. However, the structure does not have sufficient capacity to respond to the many demands in this area.

  3. African renaissance: The Strategy and Tactics document notes that the African renaissance is both a strategic objective and a call to action: “It must be underpinned by the mobilisation of the people of Africa to take their destiny into their own hands.” Much of the focus of the ANC´s international work has been to build relations with progressive forces in Africa, strengthening relations with our historical counterparts in southern Africa – SWAPO, MPLA, FRELIMO and ZANU-PF – and building ties of cooperation with other African countries.

  4. The NEC identified the following immediate tasks of the African Renaissance: ending military rule on the continent ; ending military conflict on the continent; strengthening democracy in SADC, particularly in countries that are newly-democratised or recovering from war, and eradicating poverty and promoting economic development.

  5. The ANC has played a particularly active role in Southern Africa. The number of parties in the region wanting to meet with and develop relations with the ANC is an indication of the high expectations of the ANC and the government to play a leading role in the region. It has hosted and attended meetings of the Southern African former liberation movements.

  6. The Unit has also played an important role in helping to build capacity around peace on the continent by engaging with parties in the DRC, Rwanda, Burundi, the Sudan and so forth.

  7. The NEC and NWC on a regular basis received briefings and discussed developments on the continent. Key amongst these have been preparations for the launch of the African Union and the process towards the development of the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). [NOTE: These issues are discussed in more detailed in the paper on the ANC and the challenges facing the African continent]

  8. Party to party relations: Work of the International Affairs Unit at headquarters has also focused on the development of party-to-party relations. To promote links and dialogue with other political parties and formations at an international level, the NEC Committee and headquarters unit has met various ambassadors and party representatives. It has also attended various party congresses or other party activities.

  9. Interaction has taken place with parties from China, central, southern and west Africa, the Caribbean and Europe. We have also met with representatives of unions, women’s organisations, parliamentarian groups, international institutes and multi-lateral organisations.

  10. The ANC has joined the Socialist International, opening the way for closer interaction with over 140 socialist, social democratic and labour parties and organisations from all continents.

  11. These interactions have indicated the high esteem in which the ANC and its leadership is held and the expectations that exist for the ANC to assist in the resolution of national, regional and international conflicts and in pursuing a progressive international agenda.

  12. These interactions have opened the door for greater cooperation around solidarity work, information sharing, election campaigning, cadre training and party organisation, and financial and material assistance

  13. Solidarity: In accordance with our Conference Resolution on Palestine, there have been several meetings with representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to receive briefings on the situation in the Middle East and to look at strategies to find a speedy resolution to the problem. There has also been interaction with the Polisario Front and the Moroccan ambassador on the negotiations and scheduled referendum on the decolonisation of Western Sahara. This process is ongoing.

  14. The activities of the Department of Foreign Affairs during this period have included:
    • involvement in the process to reform the SADC Secretariat
    • ongoing efforts to secure political stability in Lesotho
    • disaster assistance to Mozambique and Tanzania
    • leading the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) process to find a solution to the Comoros situation
    • supporting the efforts of cde Nelson Mandela in the Burundi peace process
    • working with the UN and other interest groups in finding lasting solutions to the Angolan civil war
    • involvement in efforts to take the peace process in the Democratic Republic of Congo forward
    • playing a supportive role to the Rwanda peace process, and in efforts to find a solution to the Sudanese conflict
    • engaging Zimbabwe and other actors around land redistribution and political stability
    • preparations for the launch of the African Union and the implementation of NEPAD.
  15. The ANC has supported a programme in support of regional peace and security by developing economic partnerships particularly in the areas of transport and energy with countries in the southern African region and further afield on the continent. The partnerships that Eskom, Transnet and other state enterprises are building with Ghana, Nigeria, Namibia and Uganda gives material reality to the process of African development. Another visible manifestation of the Renaissance and regional integration is the establishment of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park between South Africa and Botswana and progress being made on the more ambitious Gaza-Kruger-Gonarezho Transfrontier Park between South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

  16. Work has continued throughout all the regions of the world to promote South African interests and to further the agenda of Africa and the South. This has included the further development and strengthening of relations with the European Union through the free trade agreement and visits at an executive level, including bi-lateral commissions and forums.

  17. South Africa continues to play a leadership role in the South through our chairpersonship of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Commonwealth. We have also worked consistently to further the economic interests of the South through the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Seattle process and UNCTAD.

  18. South Africa has been a vocal proponent of improved South-South relations, which was demonstrated by the role played by South Africa at various international fora. We have also been active in efforts to decisively address the problem of debt in developing countries, particularly initiatives around the Highly Indebted Poor Countries.

  19. The ANC continues to motivate and lobby for the reform of the United Nations (UN), including the restructuring of the UN Security Council, so that it is more representative and is better equipped to respond to the needs of the developing countries. This work takes place through our participation in multilateral fora including the UN; through interaction with other governments, political parties and groupings; and by raising the issue in the public arena.

  20. The government is also centrally involved in efforts to democratise and ensure greater accountability of the IMF and the World Bank. One of the challenges that the organisation faces is to interact and participate more centrally in the several national forums working on matters of international significance. This challenge goes to the heart of the ANC´s ability to be at the centre of transformation not only in South Africa, but also on the continent and in the world more broadly.

  21. Provincial international affairs structures: Involvement in implementing the ANC international programme has largely been limited to headquarters and to the Department of Foreign Affairs and other national departments such as Trade and Industry, Defence, Finance and Public Enterprises. Provincial governments have also been involved in the development of intra-governmental and trade relations, not only with neighbouring countries with whom they share a border, but also with countries further afield with which they have established cultural or economic ties. Several local councils have also built relations with counterparts across the world.

  22. Despite a resolution to this effect, the International Affairs Committee at a national level has not been replicated at a provincial level, except in Limpopo and KZN provinces. The ANC Women´s League has been active in international affairs. The League is the secretary of the Pan African Women´s Organisation (PAWO) in the southern region, and is involved in the process of restructuring PAWO and defining its role in relation to the tasks of the African Renaissance. The League participates in the Socialist International Women and is a member of the Women´s International Development Foundation (WIDF).

  23. The Youth League has been elected as Africa Coordinator of the International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) and participates in its activities. The League has been working with the Southern African Youth Forum to build a strong youth movement in Africa. The League also does solidarity work with the Swaziland Youth Congress and UJUSARIO (Western Sahara).
New challenges and issues for discussion
  1. Characterisation of the international situation: Since 1997 Conference, there are new developments and challenges in the world, which we should reflect on as we discuss the international situation. These include:
    • The coalition against terrorism: how do we define global terrorism, what are the root causes and what are our strategies to address these;
    • The launch of the AU and adoption of NEPAD have taken our vision of the African renaissance to a new qualitative level. This has implications for the movement and our responsibility as the first chair of the AU, and host of the NEPAD Steering Committee.
    • We must continue to sharpen our analysis and understanding of globalisation, its impact on developing countries, the forces at play, and their relations and the ideology or theoretical content and outlook influencing globalisation; and
    • Assess progress in efforts to ensure a more just and equitable global order, and the forces we need to mobilise in support of this vision.
  2. Twinning of cities and municipalities: Approaches and relations develop among the world municipalities, between cities, towns and provincial governments in the world that leads to twinning agreements. South Africa did not benefit much from this long-standing practice during the apartheid era, due to its exclusion, sanctions and international isolation in the international body politic. With the democratic changes in our country and our integration into the world community, many of the cities, towns, municipalities and provinces have entered into governance cooperation or twinning agreements in areas of economic development, exchange programmes in arts, culture, science & technology, development, education, human resource, sports, safety & security (policing), etc.

  3. The ANC is the majority party in most of these cities and municipalities, yet we have no policy on this matter. There are mechanisms in Foreign Affairs that govern these relations, but they tend to be procedural. We therefore need to develop a policy on this matter, within the context of our broad foreign policy objectives. Such a resolution should also take forward the Mafikeng resolutions on coordinating international work at provincial and local levels.

  4. Refugee Policy and Legislation: South Africa is receiving an increasing number of refugees from mainly Africa. Our laws are inadequate to deal with this matter, nor do we have adequate infrastructure to receive and host refugees. Amongst the issues that a refugee policy and legislation must address include the stringent applications and renewal rules and regulations and the protection of the human rights of refugees whilst in our country.

  5. The policy should also elaborate on matters such as a qualification criteria. At the moment, our legislation makes provision for refugees from countries at war. Should we broaden this to include refugees from countries not at war, e.g. where citizens are subjected to detentions without trials?

  6. Although new legislation (Immigration Act of 2002) was passed, which repealed the old Aliens Control Act, it still does not sufficiently deal with the plight of refugees to enable South Africa to play a leading role in the resolution of the problem of African refugees. We need to revisit and review the legislation and align it to the UN High Commission for Refugees (UN HCR) and other international agencies, policies on refugees, enforcement mechanisms, their rights and limitations, human rights, control mechanisms, movements, their protection and legality.

  7. We should also acknowledge that the problem of political refugees will be resolved through the ending of wars, conflicts, dictatorship, coups and the entrenchment of good governance, democracy, growing its economy and development as outlined in NEPAD and other agreements.

  8. Party to party relations and our participation in international bodies: Policy guidelines on International Policy, International Cooperation and Responsibility should be developed. These must define in the main the ANC approach on party-to-party relations informed by its policies on non-racialism, non-sexism, and economic prosperity as characterised by the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), the building of a progressive movement in the region and the continent, membership of the ANC into international bodies such as the Socialist International and OSPAAL in solidarity work and shaping/creation of a better Africa and the world, establish links with parties, governments and solidarity organizations across the globe and creating structures in the provincial level and building cadres who will understand international politics at all levels.

  9. Such Guidelines should amongst other things include policy imperatives such as:-
    • Promotion and Protection of the Foreign Policy of South Africa, for all parties;
    • Party to party relations, which must include solidarity work, information gathering, sharing perspectives, information on election campaigning, messages, methodologies and strategy, cadre development and training, party building, financial and material assistance where possible for fraternal parties,
    • Promotion, popularisation, mobilisation and engagement on the African Union and NEPAD – its vision and programmes, in particular the ending of military regimes, conflicts on the continent, strengthening and entrenching democracy and good governance, eradicating poverty and promoting peace and stability and the economic development;
    • Promote South-South cooperation in addition to North-South interaction;
  10. Review and amending of our Foreign Policy perspectives: The review and amendments should take account the new developments in the world and on our continent, in particular in Southern African and the launch of the African Union and NEPAD.

  11. It may also be necessary to update specific aspects of the document, such as the sections on the Middle East, Asia/Oceanic, Western Europe, Central and Eastern Europe, North America and Latin America and the Caribbean.

  12. Other sections such as on International Economic Relations, the Environment, International financial institutions, and so forth should be reworked to reflect current realities and the work we have done in the last eight years and the changing global situation.

  13. We should also expand Policy on South Africa’s Foreign Representation and on the Diplomatic Service.