Bill set to improve SA’s Foreign Service
26 January 2017
Pretoria – A number of stakeholders in the international affairs sector have given their inputs into the Foreign Service Bill, which is aimed at enhancing South Africa’s standing in the global arena.
Former ambassadors, think tanks, academics, experts in the field, non-governmental organisations and business representatives, among others, met at a seminar organised by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation. The session was held in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The Foreign Service Bill is crafted to improve the efficiency, accountability and cost-effectiveness of exploring and developing the opportunities that exist abroad to advance South Africa’s foreign policy and developmental agenda.
It provides for a single Foreign Service system and creates an enabling legislative framework through which the current Foreign Service will be managed and regulated by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
The bill will be operationalised in the context of the Constitution, existing legislation applicable to the Public Service, security services and departments that work with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation. The bill is also aligned to the National Development Plan (NDP) to enhance service delivery.
Participants at the seminar alerted the committee to a number of issues that the bill needs to address, including the calibre of diplomats, role of youth and overlapping roles with other departments.
The chair of the South African Council on International Relations and former Deputy Minister at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad -- who gave the keynote address at the seminar -- described the bill as “an important instrument for effectively implementing SA’s foreign policy, whose success hinges on the ability of the Department [of International Relations and Cooperation] to enhance public diplomacy, economic and trade diplomacy and ensure that SA continues to be an influential global player”.
The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee, Siphosezwe Masango, said consultations on the bill will continue.
“The committee is extremely satisfied with the work that has been done so far, especially that the bill is the first of its kind since the democratic dispensation.
“The work now will be taken to sister departments that the bill will impact on, like Economic Development, Trade and Industry, and Home Affairs,” said Masango. – SAnews.gov.za