Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Update to FCO memorandum on UK-South Africa Relations

  This document refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's memorandum for the inquiry of 30 September 2003.

Paragraph 3. Elections

  President Mbeki announced on 9 February that the 2004 general election would take place on 14 April. A short sitting of Parliament will follow the election to appoint the President and his Cabinet. The new President will be inaugurated on 27 April, ten years to the day after the end of apartheid and the 1994 general election.

Paragraph 9. Development Partnership

  Hilary Benn announced in January 2004 that DfID's programme of work in the middle-income countries of Southern Africa (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland) would reduce from £35 million in 2004-05 to £25 million in 2005-06, in compliance with DfID's commitment to spend 90% of its resources in low-income countries by that year. The EU development budget for South Africa is set at around EUR120 million per year until 2006. DfID will contribute some £16 million per year to the EU's programme in South Africa.

Paragraph 10. Peace Support Partnership

  Exercise AFRICAN SHIELD, a UK/South Africa joint Command Post Peace Support Operation took place from 6-26 November 2003. Around 850 personnel drawn from both countries participated and it was the largest ever bilateral military exercise on South African soil. The objective of the exercise was to practise the command and control of a peace support operation in Africa. The exercise scenario concerned a fictional country abutting South Africa, riven by civil war, needing a Chapter seven mandated coalition of the willing to turn a fragile cease fire agreement into a permanent peace. For the British side it was a chance to hone skills developed in Sierra Leone, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq and to share these skills with a South African military which has already conducted peace support work in Lesotho, the DRC and Burundi. The exercise was a model which afforded scope for the South Africans to provide a reciprocal transfer of expertise.

Paragraph 12. EU/South Africa Trade Agreement

  Since the original memorandum, three more European Union members have ratified the bilateral Trade, Co-operation and Development Agreement (TDCA) with South Africa, bringing the total to 14. South Africa has not yet done so. The UK ratified the Agreement in early 2003. The TDCA has an unspecified duration.

Paragraph 18. Zimbabwe

  The issue of Zimbabwe's continued suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth dominated the agenda of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja between 5 and 8 December 2003. President Mbeki argued strongly in favour of Zimbabwe's readmittance, but was supported by only a small number of other countries. Commonwealth Heads of Government finally agreed, by consensus, to maintain indefinitely Zimbabwe's suspension. The decision was made after a committee of six Commonwealth leaders (Australia, South Africa, Jamaica, Canada, India and Mozambique) had considered the Commonwealth's approach to Zimbabwe.

  The Prime Minister and President Mbeki had discussions during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

  Following Zimbabwe's decision to withdraw from the Commonwealth, President Mbeki visited Harare on 18 December. He had two meetings with Mugabe and one with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Following those discussions, President Mbeki indicated that a formal process of dialogue between ZANU (PF) and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would shortly start and that an agreement between the parties could soon be announced. According to the MDC, that process of formal dialogue has yet to begin.

Paragraph 34. AU Peace and Security

  The centrepiece of the AU-NEPAD Peace and Security Agenda (APSA) is the AU Common African Defence and Security Policy. Implementation at regional and continental levels should lead to a defence and security architecture, including the establishment of an African Standby Force. The protocol to establish the AU Peace and Security Council came into force in December 2003 after being ratified by 27 of the 53 member states. Its mandate will include promotion of peace and security on the continent, peace-making and peace-building interventions, co-ordination of efforts to prevent international terrorism, developing a common defence policy and promoting democratic practices as part of efforts for preventing conflicts.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

February 2004



  Thank you for the supplementary memorandum on South Africa, which has now been circulated to the Committee. Following its visit, the Committee have asked me to request clarification on two further issues related to its inquiry:

    1.  Could you provide further details of the BRUF scheme?

    2.  What will be the implications of DfID's re-prioritisation of assistance to middle-income countries in Southern Africa for the two projects seen by the Committee in Soweto and Alexandra.

  Were it possible to receive a reply to these two points by Wednesday 10 March, I would be most grateful.

Geoffrey Farrar

Second Clerk of the Committee

February 2004



  Thank you for your letter of 25 February seeking clarification of two points that arose during the Committee's visit to South Africa.

  The British Undergraduate Fellowship Training Scheme (BRUFS) began in 1987 with the aim of sending young, disadvantaged black South Africans to the UK for their final year of schooling, followed by a degree course. Unlike the present Chevening Scholarship Scheme, which sends South Africans for a maximum of one year (on a post-graduate course or to gain a post-graduate qualification) beneficiaries of BRUFS typically stayed in the UK for four to five years. The last scholars under this scheme returned to South Africa in 1994. The scheme was a programme which aimed at giving training to those disadvantaged under apartheid.

  On the question of future funding for two projects visited by the Committee, I will deal with each separately. UK support to the HIV/AIDS Hospice in Soweto is funded from the Small Grants Scheme (DfID funding administered by FCO). Funding has been in place for the past five years, and will continue in the coming financial year. But the future of the Small Grants Scheme beyond March 2005 is uncertain. We will be working with DfID to look for funding and will encourage the project to look for other sources of funding to achieve sustainability.

  The twelve-month secondment of Detective Superintendent Steve Dennis to the South African Police Service will end as planned this month. DfID is re-examining its approach to work in the justice field, within the wider context of involvement in Middle Income Countries. However, DfID is planning to continue working in the justice field in South Africa, and will be working, inter alia, on violence against women and children.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

March 2004

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