Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Fifth Report

Conclusions and recommendations

1.  We conclude that, while there remains a number of difficult challenges to be faced, the prospects for the South African economy are generally very positive. If it is to deliver the employment and increased national prosperity the country needs, however, a significant increase in direct foreign investment will be needed. We recommend that the Her Majesty's Government continue to strive to stimulate and encourage private investment in South Africa. (Paragraph 15)

2.  We commend the South African Government for its work in tackling so boldly the lack of economic opportunities experienced by many black people in the country. We recommend that the British Government continue to work with its South African counterpart to promote a better understanding of 'Black Economic Empowerment' among British investors, and potential investors, and to assist them in seizing the opportunity that it represents. (Paragraph 21)

3.  We conclude that the British Government is playing a key role in the fight against the scourge of HIV/AIDS in South Africa, and throughout the world. As always, though, more could be done and we recommend that the Government maintain an active dialogue with the South African Government on this subject in order to assess what further assistance could be given. (Paragraph 28)

4.  We conclude that the fight against crime, especially violent crime, is one of the most serious, and difficult, challenges facing South Africa at this time. We recommend that the British Government continue to offer significant assistance to South Africa in this field, and that co-operation projects currently in place are strengthened and improved, particularly those relating to improving the professional training of police officers. (Paragraph 32)

5.  We conclude that, at this time, the South African Government appears to be pursuing a sensible and considered policy of land reform, that seeks to address the historically unequal distribution of land in the country. However, we consider it is critical to South Africa's future prosperity that any moves towards land expropriations similar to those seen in Zimbabwe are firmly resisted. (Paragraph 37)

6.  We are pleased to conclude that, in general, South Africa and the United Kingdom enjoy excellent bilateral relations on a very broad front of activities and interests. We recommend that the FCO, in its Response to this Report, sets out how it considers bilateral relations between the United Kingdom and South Africa could be strengthened further in the future. (Paragraph 40)

7.  We recommend that, within the constraints imposed on it by the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, the British Government should do more to make clear its commitment to opening up trade to the developing world and reforming the CAP at all opportunities. (Paragraph 48)

8.  We conclude that the reputation of the United Kingdom in South Africa has undoubtedly been seriously weakened by differences in the two countries' approach towards Iraq. We recommend that the Government seek to repair the damage done to the relationship by this disagreement, at every possible opportunity. (Paragraph 51)

9.  We recommend that, in its response to this Report, the Foreign Office sets out how the cut in DfID's assistance to middle-income countries will affect the Foreign Office's work in South Africa, and whether alternative sources of funding will be available to carry on some of the very valuable work being done there. We further recommend that the FCO set out what inter-departmental consultation took place prior to the re-allocation being announced. (Paragraph 54)

10.  We recommend that the Government ensure that the United Kingdom, while respecting the rights of individuals, does not denude South Africa of its much-needed skilled professionals and continue to monitor developments in this area. (Paragraph 57)

11.  We conclude that South Africa has played a crucial and very welcome role in its conflict resolution work across the continent. It has brought new energy and focus to attempts to settle long-running disputes such as those in Burundi and the DRC. We recommend that the United Kingdom continue to offer every assistance to South Africa to strengthen its work in this vital field, while remaining fully involved in the continent itself. We further recommend that, in its response to this Report, the FCO set out how it sees further co-operation in the field of peace-keeping work and training of regional forces developing in the long-term. (Paragraph 68)

12.  We conclude that SADC has the potential to play a very valuable role in helping to solve many of the challenges facing its region. If it is to realise this potential, however, and to be taken seriously as a respected international organisation, it must be willing to recognise the failings of member states whose behaviour does not meet the expectations placed upon them by SADC's high aspirations. (Paragraph 74)

13.  We recommend that the British Government continue to work with South Africa, as a key player in the organisation, to support SADC's work generally and encourage it to take seriously its role in promoting good governance and respect for human rights. (Paragraph 75)

14.  We conclude that: (Paragraph 96)

a)  South Africa and the United Kingdom unquestionably share the same objective for Zimbabwe—the return to a fully-functioning and economically vibrant democracy that respects the human rights of its citizens; (Paragraph 96.a)

b)  South Africa is acting in the manner it sincerely believes to be the most effective and the most likely to bring about the desired goal identified above; (Paragraph 96.b)

c)  the situation of the Zimbabwean people will continue to deteriorate unless effective pressure is brought to bear on the Government of Robert Mugabe to change its disastrous and self-seeking policies, and South Africa is the best placed external force to stimulate that change; and (Paragraph 96.c)

d)  South Africa, and the region more generally, will continue to suffer from Zimbabwe's plight until such a change takes place, not least by deterring much-needed foreign direct investment. (Paragraph 96.d)

15.  We recommend that the British Government: (Paragraph 97)

a)  continue to maintain the strongest possible pressure on the Zimbabwean Government to respect the human rights of its citizens and to call free and fair elections, especially through multilateral means; (Paragraph 97.a)

b)  recognise the importance of South Africa in achieving a long-term solution to the severe crisis affecting Zimbabwe; (Paragraph 97.b)

c)  seek the closest possible co-operation with South Africa on achieving the mutually desired outcome of a peaceful and democratic Zimbabwe; and (Paragraph 97.c)

d)  seek to promote a greater understanding of its genuine concerns about Zimbabwe in South Africa, and elsewhere on the continent, and the facts about the land reform issue. (Paragraph 97.d)

16.  We conclude that the African Union holds the potential to deliver significant improvements in the standard of life for Africans, and should be fully supported by the United Kingdom and the EU. The recent creation of an African court of human rights and the agreement on a continental peace-keeping force are to be particularly welcomed, demonstrating, as they do, a commitment to tackle some of the most fundamental problems facing Africa at this time. South Africa has played a crucial role in all these developments. (Paragraph 106)

17.  We recommend that the Government continue to work with South Africa, and all its African partners, to assist the AU in realising the impressive ambitions it has set for itself. (Paragraph 107)

18.  We conclude that South Africa plays a crucial role as a leading member of the Commonwealth, actively supporting the organisation's aim of bridging the gap between the developed and developing worlds and supporting global respect for human rights. The recent disagreements over Zimbabwe at Commonwealth meetings—the issue that "poisons everything it touches"—should not be allowed to damage the organisation's very valuable work, nor the UK's working relationship with South Africa within the body. We recommend that the British Government seek every possible opportunity to restore any damage done to inter-Commonwealth relations by the recent disagreements at the Abuja CHOGM, while maintaining the organisation's tough stance on Robert Mugabe's continuing human rights abuses. (Paragraph 113)

19.  We conclude that the role South Africa has played at the UNCHR to prevent even the discussion of resolutions that address the appalling human rights situation in Zimbabwe is deeply regrettable, especially in light of the very positive involvement it has with the rest of the UN's work, and could be damaging to South Africa's wider interests. (Paragraph 116)

20.  We conclude that the arguments for reform at the United Nations, particularly at the Security Council, are undeniable. We also conclude that were there to be an 'African seat' on the Council, South Africa would be amongst the strongest African candidates, filling nearly all of the criteria for such a position. We recognise, though, that this will be a matter for African nations themselves to settle when the time arises. (Paragraph 121)

21.  Given the evidence that we have seen during this inquiry, we conclude that NePAD has the potential to deliver significant, and important, changes within Africa and to its relationship with the rest of the world. Both sides of the Partnership, though, need to understand fully both the challenges and the opportunities that it presents. African nations have to recognise that good governance and respect for human rights are central to their development prospects, and to how they are perceived by both foreign governments and potential private investors. The G8, in turn, needs to see beyond the confines of the peer review mechanism and recognise the progress that African nations have already made in delivering on their commitments. (Paragraph 140)

22.  We recommend that in partnership South Africa and the United Kingdom work together to ensure that it is not simply left to 'wither and die' as so many previous programmes have been. The British Government needs to impress upon South Africa, and its fellow AU members, the importance of a rigorous peer review mechanism for spreading good governance in the continent, and for attracting much-needed foreign investment. At the same time, it should use every opportunity, especially its forthcoming Presidencies of the G8 and the EU, to ensure that the developed world delivers on its commitment to support genuine African growth and development. Mutuality is the basis of the relationship. (Paragraph 141)

23.  We conclude that South Africa has an important role in the war against terrorism, especially by helping to prevent international terrorists using the continent as a base for their activities elsewhere in the world. South Africa has a particularly crucial role to play, as an influential African nation in disseminating best practice in anti-terrorism activity across the continent. We recommend that the United Kingdom continue to offer substantial assistance to ensure that South Africa can both combat international terrorism within its own borders and act as a catalyst for improving Africa's ability to respond to the threat. (Paragraph 149)

24.  We recommend that, in the light of the importance of the United Kingdom's relationship with South Africa and the crucial work being done by the Post there, the level of staffing and resources allocated to the United Kingdom High Commission in South Africa be at the very least maintained, if not increased, in the long-term. (Paragraph 152)

25.  We recommend that UK Visas continue to monitor closely the demands on staff and resources at the United Kingdom High Commission in South Africa resulting from the increasing numbers of entry clearance applications being received there. We further recommend that, in its response to this Report, the FCO set out what extra resources and personnel have been allocated to visa entry clearance work in South Africa since 2003. (Paragraph 159)

26.  We conclude that the trade and investment section of the High Commission in South Africa is performing to a high standard in assisting British businesses to operate there and exploit new opportunities. (Paragraph 165)

27.  We conclude that the British Council is carrying out very important work in South Africa, both in promoting a deeper relationship between the two nations and in providing crucial educational support to the South African Government. We are also convinced that the Chevening scholarship scheme is a vital part of the British Council's work, and a very important way in which the United Kingdom can influence future decision-makers. We recommend that the FCO give serious consideration to increasing the number of scholarships available to South Africans in the near future. (Paragraph 171)

28.  We further recommend that the British Council continue actively to support civic organisations and to train their leadership. (Paragraph 172)

29.  We conclude that the BBC World Service's Bureau in Johannesburg is carrying out excellent work in producing high-quality and informative programmes for both radio and television. We recommend that the Bureau continue to be given the funding it needs to carry on this important work. We further recommend that the BBC World Service give serious consideration to increasing the resources it allocates to its Swahili service in the future. (Paragraph 179)

30.  We strongly recommend that the FCO does not repeat the gross error it has made in so many other locations of exchanging a valuable and appreciating property—the High Commissioner's Residence in Cape Town—which is clearly greatly assisting the promotion of United Kingdom interests, for rapidly depreciating ICT assets. (Paragraph 181)

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2004
Prepared 18 May 2004