Trim the “fat” but that’s not our principal foreign policy strategic challenge

It is commonly held that foreign policy is an extension of a country’s domestic policy. Small wonder then that it is hotly contested as domestic policy.

States endeavour to protect their sovereignty and territorial integrity, promote their economic well-being and national image, among others.

Foreign policy is therefore nothing but the name we give for a country’s domestic political, economic and, in the widest sense, ideological image of itself. It is this broad context within which foreign policy specifics are fashioned that Mzukisi Qobo misses in his article: “SA should trim excess fat from many embassies,” (Business Day, September 21 – ).

He argues that South Africa should close down diplomatic missions from whence there is no “demonstrable increase in investments, growth in export markets and an upturn in employment.”

Economic diplomacy is and should be one of our strategic tasks. This has in fact exercised strategic levels of government in the last couple of years. It was noted that since 1994, South Africa has done well in political diplomacy but not as well in economic diplomacy. One of the least known facts is that thanks to our success, we are host to the second largest number of diplomatic missions in the world after Washington.

Acknowledgment of our success and failures, relative and absolute, did not imply, as it could not, perceiving foreign policy in cost accounting optics. Rightly or wrongly, it took it for granted that government is morally, politically and legally obliged to be prudent in its uses of public resources, including the all-round productivity of foreign missions assessed as part of on-going review of everything it does.

Admittedly, it is not prudent to assert that there will not be much “demonstrable increase in investments, growth in export markets and an upturn in employment as an outcome of our diplomatic relations” with many of our SADC neighbours and much of the continent for a long time to come.A cursory glance at the underlying logic of the Southern African Customs Union’s (SACU) equal share of customs revenue among SADC member states suggests that though unstated, South Africa is in fact a provider of development aid to the region. Were each one of our countries in the region to receive their due, South Africa would doubtlessly benefit the most.

But the model is not without good reasons. Our development efforts would be unsustainable if the rest of the region (and continent) remains underdeveloped. This is why South Africa’s contribution to the development of the region and continent has continued to be and must remain part of our foreign policy objectives. Besides self-interest, there is, after all, a principle of “solidarity” in the system of international relations, according to which you lend a helping hand to your neighbours and others further afield.

Consistent with another and antithetical paradigm, Qobo is doing something more than advice government to “trim the fat” and close down missions from whence there is no “demonstrable increase in investments….” This is the corporatization and “rightsizing” paradigm of the state, a cost accounting purview which perceives government and governance exclusively in terms of financial loss and benefit.

This view does not appreciate the social and political side of foreign policy which does not easily lend itself to the precision of an accountant. At times to its own and largely to society’s detriment, it defines the “national interest” in extremely narrow terms and often ends up being all things to everyone.

Soon, the protagonists of this school of thought will demand the closure of South Africa’s mission to the United Nations in New York because it has no “demonstrable increase in investments, growth in export markets and an upturn in employment as an outcome of our diplomatic relations,” or so it assumes.

The strategic foreign policy challenge is not, as Qobo and others would like to have us believe, the R10bn or so we spend annually on our missions or that 60% of missions are headed by politicians or people who are not career diplomats, a non issue if historical and contemporary domestic and global lessons mean anything.

Relative to the totality of what it earns the country, the money spent on our diplomatic missions must also be assessed in terms of government spending as a whole. We have, for example, rightly or wrongly increased the political wage bill by more than R1bn a year after the 2009 general elections with the increase in cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and departments.

The larger issue with respect to our foreign policy is its strategic political orientation!

Mukoni Ratshitanga, September 25, 2012.


30 thoughts on “Trim the “fat” but that’s not our principal foreign policy strategic challenge

  1. I think Mukoni’s piece is a good contribution in taking the much needed debate on RSA’s foreign policy forward. At the onset let me state that in my opinion the efficacy of diplomacy can never be measured by rands and cents and that unlike other departments at the domestic level whose performance can be measured by a set of deliverables, foreign policy making and by extension DIRCO does not fit this neat configuration since its deliverables are not tangible like housing, education, public enterprises and so forth. Therefore to perceive of this area in a strictly cost-benefit purview is both narrow and reductionist because of its failure to take into consideration other intrinsic values such as people to people contact, soft power such as culture, solidarity, symbolism which is huge in diplomacy as well as prestige which is also very important among nations.

    It is also easy to understand the seduction of the suggestion and the reasons advanced for advocating the trimming of diplomatic missions because some of the policies and the individuals who eventually fill up diplomatic postings are of a questionable variety.

    My comments are located somewhere in the middle in the sense that while I agree about the notion of trimming fat, I however locate this fat not in the missions themselves or 460 Soutpansberg Road. Rather I see this extra layer being added from somewhere in Sauer Street in the form of political appointments that do not add value in RSA’s foray in foreign policy. At the dawn of our democracy, what was designed as an effort at recalibrating the then DFA to both reorient our foreign policy as well as bring on board a number of changes including personnel especially heads of mission (ambassadors) seems to have gone horribly wrong somewhere in the process.

    By not putting some kind of a sun set clause or a ceiling on the number of political appointees destined for our missions abroad, an opportunity was missed by the political masters to turn DIRCO around into a vibrant, knowledge based institution with professional ethos and most importantly respect and admiration for diplomacy as a craft. Political appointments are supposed to add prestige to the sending country and not to get rid of perceived problematic characters or boost faltering careers. These are supposed to be upstanding members of society who do not have corruption cases or any other blemish for that matter over their heads.

    The floodgates were opened and everybody from failed politicians to erstwhile combatants in the liberation movements, mainly MK feel entitled to diplomatic postings often with no qualifications except being a cadre of the movement. These people with questionable morals and work ethics unfortunately bring these negative externalities with them and sooner rather than later they start showing up everywhere in the system. It is also well known that diplomatic postings for these failed senior politicians and aging former liberation fighters have become their retirement homes as they add very little on the substantive side of diplomatic representation except for the obligatory photo shoots and regular cocktails. In contrast, diplomatic counterparts from other countries both young and old are really hard working people who always take notes and report to their headquarters diligently.
    The point is that this practice is not only a RSA phenomenon, however other countries use utilize political appointments sparingly and this has a morale boosting effect as career diplomats have a clear and predictable career development plan that is not dependent on the dictates of party political bosses who do not always know what they are doing.
    In conclusion, it is very important to bear in mind that if this can be done correctly as other countries do even the penny pinchers who always worry about whether we do get value back for our hard earned rands and cents, they would have one less reason to complain.

  2. Mukoni, what an eye opener on foreign policy? our foreign policy is realy in need of total overhaul and better understanding of what foreign policy entails with a clear understanding of strategic objectives of domestic policies.

  3. Thank you for this piece Mukoni.
    Something that struck home for me in your article is the notion you expressed so eloquently: “Our development efforts would be unsustainable if the rest of the region (and continent) remains underdeveloped. This is why South Africa’s contribution to the development of the region and continent has continued to be and must remain part of our foreign policy objectives. Besides self-interest, there is, after all, a principle of “solidarity” in the system of international relations, according to which you lend a helping hand to your neighbours and others further afield.”

    That in my mind should be a valid enough reason to keep South African foreign missions in Africa open regardless of it’s ability to generate economic benefits to South Africa. It’s a shame that whenever institutions and ideas don’t favour a certain group the immediate call is for it’s destruction. Shouldn’t the focus rather be on the representatives that South Africa deploys for such diplomatic missions? Shouldn’t we rather set clear goals and objectives for each foreign mission some tangible and intangible ones which would include the success of economic benefits to South Africa? We should instead measure the performance of all those deployed in South Africa’s foreign missions.

    We have to learn as Africans that we do not always have to do away with an idea or institutions just because we’ve identified one problem with it. It may help us all to look inward to find sustainable solutions to the problems which Mzukisi Qobo addresses in his article. That is the only way we can grow and develop as countries in our continent. Let’s not throw the baby out with the water.

  4. In a corporate boardroom the discussion will be on different business units-those that are profitable and those that are not.Like true Capitalism,the weak business units-the one’s that are not profitable enough will be chopped and discarded like an old toupee. This is how I understood Mr. Qobo’s view on “Trimming our Fat”.To discard countries deemed “unstrategic” will be the same as our Foreign Policy/Socio-Political relations and Economic Diplomacy committing suicide,via self starvation.We will be starving ourselves in crucial matters of intelligence gathering,economic diplomacy,cultural exchange and understanding amongst a cosmic number of things.There are many ways to skin a cat,and many ways of “trimming our fat”.From the top of my simple mind I can name a few,but would never dream of sacrificing foreign policy.I agree with you here.I think Mr. Qobo based all on “resource allocation” at the expense of “socio-political allocation”.

  5. In his 2008 State of the Nation Address, President Thabo Mbeki remarked that “Let us ensure that all hands are on deck to address the turbulence that has hit us, inspired by the approach that our circumstances call for Business Unusual!”

    Although the president made this call for other reasons, I feel it remains relevant and important for government business in general. Foreign policy is an integral part of government business, and to implement it – the state requires massive resources in the form of personnel and money. It is noble of different commentators to state that there is no need to assess our foreign policy “in cost accounting optics.” But, the fact is that the global economic situation calls for change of strategies by many countries.

    South Africa is a developing country, which means that it does not have endless resources, in fact nobody does, to incur all expenditures aimlessly. It is rather confusing that every government in the world talks of austerities but South Africans are mum on this subject which threatens to devour societies world over. South Africa appears to operate in its own space.

    I therefore think that Dr. Qobo’s article sought to highlight some of the important aspects of how the DIRCO could improve its management of resources and issues.

    From time to time as a country with serious socio-economic problems and service delivery backlogs to address these, we need a reality check. We must eliminate to the inefficient use of public resources, and release those resources to be used in far hard pressing issues like health, housing, education or social welfare. If our foreign policy is important, then we must check if we aren’t wasting public resources in unproductive or marginally productive activities. The international economic crisis has forced better-resourced countries in the UK, the US, Canada and others in the EU to shut some of their foreign operations.

    Therefore, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Qobo’s call to trim the “fat” – because other countries are already doing it. Recently, Ottawa and London have opted to operate joint embassies and consulates at selected locations around the world.

    Our foreign policy programme can only improve if we are willing to do some of the things differently.

  6. My reading of Dr Qobo’s views, if correct, has an underlying tone that seems to suggest that our African diplomatic relations are a cash drain, as if we took a decision since 1994 to build relations with African states purely on the basis of a “return on investment” in financial terms.

    I would have expected Dr Qobo, if he is genuine on the economic reasons he advances for closure of some of our diplomatic missions, to recommend that we start with western powers that are a direct cause of the “economic turbulences”, instead he wants us to cut ties with victim states of these turbulences. Surely the western states have left all of us in limbo and we are yet to recover.

    My understanding of an investment is that of one simply devoting one’s energy to an undertaking with the expectation of a worthwhile result. The question should therefore be whether is it worthwhile to keep relations (I say relations given that closure of diplomatic mission will amount to closure of relations with any country that Dr Qobo has in mind) with some of the states, as there are no tangible benefits (i wonder if peace and stability are tangible).

    But our assessment should not be on Financial terms. I can only assume that it would be expensive to set up diplomatic missions, given that few or non existed prior 1994. I am yet to see any organisation whose administrative and salary costs do not make the bulk of its operational expenditure. It is unfortunate that he quotes Tony Leon (whose views have always been centred around reducing human capital in everything that we do) to make a point about the costs of running these diplomatic missions.

    I want to believe that he is referring to Africa because it is still that Dark Continent where aide is in dire need, such that our relations with most African States will always be positioned around our contribution to the region.

    But we must not forget that it is not by accident that we are in this state of affairs and we must not be apologetic.
    We took a decision when Alfred Nzo was still heading our international relations, when he once told the portfolio committee on foreign affairs that “the promotion of economic development of the Southern African region is of paramount importance as the economies of the countries in the region are intertwined to such an extent that, for South Africa to believe that it could enter a prosperous future in isolation without taking neighbouring countries with her, would be unrealistic and hazardous”

    Perhaps the above can also explain why keeping diplomatic relations with countries like Lesotho is important to avoid a Marikana situation (they also lost some of their nationals during the strike).

  7. I fully agree that we need to cut ties with countries that dont add any value in terms of South Africa development, be it political and economically.The current minister Maite has done exceptionally well we since she took over and has articulated the country foreign policy very well however it doesnt help us to have second most foreign missions in the country as it opens doors for those countries citizens free pass in SA while our own dont REALLY travel there especially the Syria.With Nkosazana taking over at AU maybe she will help to ease tensions of the south with the north of africa

  8. The problem dat we face as a country is NOT about the number of diplomatic missions but rather the strategy currently being employed. We do not have basic support from Africa & dat is a direct reflection of our current foreign policy, point to note is da struggle for Dlamini Zuma to get da nod to head AU. South Africa as a state is compromised by da mixed signals that our government regularly sends through its action or lack of. One cannot look for support from someone that he/she be-littles…point being, we can have less diplomatic missions to be lean but what is da objective of that? If it is to conserve our resources then we are basically admiting that we have lost the plot….if other states see it fit to set up diplomatic missions in South Africa, then what is it that we have that they want rather than what is it that we are doing right for them to be here…. We have lost the plot because our industry is now lagging behind even less developed nations. We cannot compare with India


  9. Thanks Mukoni your article is very interesting and educative more especially where you touch on the importance of South Africa’s contribution to the sustainability, economic growth, stability and propsperity of the region and the continent respectively. Yes indeed South Africa has done well in area of political diplomacy after 1994 and it was a must do job- now lot of work is being done to promote or pursue the economic diplomacy-but on “Trim the Fat” i am not sure which Embassies are less important”””’

  10. we cannot compare with India or Brazil in terms of production & yet we want to stand toe to toe with them & be counted as equals yet the reality is that we are importing more from them than exporting. We have become a net importer rather than an exporter….Our diplomatic missions are NOT the source of our problems. Our problems are far more basic, ie, domestic. Our produce cannot compare or match that from abroad & our culture has shifted significantly from production to service industry. In lay man’s terms….we are just as good as a window shopper! Going back to the point of diplomatic missions, what can they sell? the point is, we need more diplomatic missions now more than ever. They need to to spin doctor our home situation but we need to justify that spin when people get here otherwise it is useless spin. I sadly dont think we have the right calibre or spin doctors in our diplomatic missions because how do you justify sending someone who vigorously opposed you locally to be your top diplomat?

  11. Again this shows poor decision making from government as a collective. If the plot was to weaken local opposition then it has backfired by weakening our substance on offer at the diplomatic missions. Rather than cuting the fat in the missions to save our resources, I would actually change the personel in those missions & inject real patriotism in the missions. Economic diplomacy needs smart minds & not minds that were hell bent on protecting the little they had left at whatever expence.

  12. Finally, I do agree with you unreservedly on the points you raised. I wish there was a way to hear the counter arguement from the subject author because his views are as narrow minded as 1 + 1 = 2. We all know that society is not as cheap as that & I can now boldly state that those in our government now know just how hot the plate is… compromised are they left, right & centre….& now here goes the learned author prescribing another disaster for us, eish madoda, eish

  13. My view on this as well as many aspects of life as a citizen is that WE as SOUTH AFRICANS should be using our diplomatic missions to access markets and to reach out to other parts of Africa etc. We should STOP seeing government as a mother bird that feeds but rather as a gatekeeper that opens the gates in the morning and closes it in the evening (provides the legal framework) so that we can enter and get the things done that we as a nation wish to achieve.

    The notion that Government must DO everything is ancient, misplaced and disempowering to us as citizens. We should grasp the MANY opportunities available to us and make our dreams and aspirations for ourselves and our communities, our country and our continent a reality!

  14. The article seems to be imploring us to trim the “fat” because there is no “fat” in certain countries. I was hoping the article would mention the countries in question so we can know exactly what we are talking about and make our own assessment on “fat”.

    Fat or no fat I think we need to step boldly on the international arena and raise our flag high. Where there is no way we must make one. We cannot afford to retreat into our cocoons and hope to be taken seriously by those who look beyond planet earth to hoist their flags. Coca-cola did not become a world-wide phenomenon by selecting to trade in affluent surbubs only. You’d find a Coca-cola sign in the heart of Bundus and hence almost everyone can relate to Coke. And I think Coke has made more friends than enemies. We can do with more friends in the UN and elsewhere.

  15. It is fallacious to reduce South Africa’s national interest in the international system to “demonstrable increase in investments, growth in export markets and an upturn in employment.” There are also intangible determinants of foreign policy- such as prestige, diplomacy and ideology, which play a crucial role in defining the multilateral nature of the country’s national interest. In most cases if not all, South Africa’s national interest is defined by the way the international community views or perceives us and vice versa, and the factors listed by Qobo are subject to these realities or perceptions.

  16. Mukoni,interesting view.Foreign policy cannot be treated as with ROI. I am inclined to push for trimming the fat from other quarters than from agencies/missions.

  17. The first problem I have with Mzukisi Qobo’s input is his quoting of some Tony Leon’s cost per foreign mission office. How did he get this cost? What were they discussing? Could he not get this information from somebody else except the politically dodgy Tony Leon who is a permanet enemy of African Development? Coming to the core of his argument,my fear is that with our diverse interests and views in South Africa,we end up only looking at various aspects with our political views (remember when some were so perssimistic about the world cup preparations and how the tournament would fail in Africa including the ACDP? We are still waiting for their apology on their error of judgement). For some South Africans ,the issue of African development is a non-issue. For some the emergence of South Africa as a dominant player in international relations is a setback. Some would love to see South Africa and the rest of the continent crumbling down on an international stage.

    After 1994 ,we emerged as a dominant player in international politics. We opposed the attack on Iraq outside a multilateral platform from a position of strength and we had all the moral highground around us given how we emerged out the deep crisis that benefitted those who would naturally complaign of costs on everything we seek to do. We would have not been able to host the world cup if we did not take the decision to be a major player in international relations for the benefit of our our country and the continent. That kind of spectacular achievement would have not been possible if we did not take a conscious decision to consolidate and expand our presence in various countries and to ensure our interests just like America’s interest (albeit the progressive nature of ours) are advanced. Some of the people like Mzukisi who do not see the bigger picture are merely and narrowly looking at costs than our duty to contribute to world peace and development which is directly linked to our presence throughout the world.

    When Oliver Tambo addressed the ANC conference in 1991 and reported on the ground the ANC had covered in having foreign mission and office that surpassed the racist apartheid government in a relative short space of time in pursuing international solidarity against apartheid,it was electrifying! This was because we understood that getting the international support on our side in confronting apartheid was crucial in our struggle. Similarly with the momentum we have built in elevating South Africa from a racist state to a progressive international partner in search of peace and development,many states -big and small are bound to support our positions be it on the UN transformation,Africa’s development,etc.

    As we facilitate peace in Sudan ,DRC and elsewhere,the ground work we have already done in cementing relations with our African brothers and sisters including countries where there is no “return” on investment,play a key role in getting a buy-in because we are known to be a nation of peace and a friend of the struggling nations of the world. In a nutshell,those who do not care about peace except in their yards and immediate neiboughood,will find it difficult to understand what we are about as long as the cost is alarming but how much is the price of bringing peace in the DRC ,in Sudan and throughout the world? He must ask those who have survived both world wars of the horrible consequences of allowing war lords like Hitler and America (remember the search for weapons of mass destruction was an instrument used to influence foreign policy between Iraq ad the US using war) to dominate the world.

    Mzukisi’s assertion should therefore be located within this context. This is the context that wants to clip our wings as a powerful player in world politics and commercialise our world outlook in favour of running international politics like business units which unfortunately is not the case. South Africa if anything,should consolidate its international presence and become a dominant player by having diplomatic missions in many countries regardless of the cost as we seek to ensure Africa develops to its potential without wars,hunger and diseases.In the process jsut like any other government business,we should strive for efficient and maximum use use of resources at our disposal including the fight against abuse of funds and ensuring the deployees to foreign missions are capable and deliver on the outcomes that have been set for them in various missions.

  18. firstly, i should say thank you to mzukisi for sharing his thoughts, rightly or wrongly as his perception about foreign policy is. he gave an opportunity for thought and experienced leaders like you mukoni to share your views and extend the scope of the discussion beyond what the naked eye like those of mzukisi are able to see.

    secondly, i hope, mzukisi as the author of of the “trim fat” open letter or piece appreciate the gravity of the response which you mukoni brings to this discussion.

    in your response, you said “Economic diplomacy is and should be one of our strategic tasks. This has in fact exercised strategic levels of government in the last couple of years. It was noted that since 1994, South Africa has done well in political diplomacy but not as well in economic diplomacy. One of the least known facts is that thanks to our success, we are host to the second largest number of diplomatic missions in the world after Washington”.

    i hope the above qoute is read by those like Mzukisi to understand that the diplomatic mission is and will remain a two legged mission which is economic and political. the later’s important should never be understated because in a simplistic view of cost v return at a larger scale it might seem less important. but let me take the opportunity to illustrate a few things below.

    in the recent past, i wrote a note on facebook about the pronounce loud and clear the foreign policy with regard to our african counterparts. the need to write the note had come from the distaste i had in xenophobia directed to our african brothers by my south african people, more so those i meet in corners of the street in the townships. which, sometimes one understand why this section of the group in our country will have a myopic view of their relations with our brothers, because theirs is a view engineered from no broad information of any sort.

    in total contrast with the above group, Mzukisi falls within the group of middle class in south africa which i expert to be a bit more informed and will interogate issues like the ones he is raising before putting a pen on a paper. stripping the issues of economic benefit should be done at a much broader level, i.e. a diplomatic core in zimbabwe might not have tangable economic benefit that an ordinary men on the street can tell, but if we manage to help them in conflict resolution, in a long run it could create the opportunity for those that flew their country due to the imparse they had and thereby reducing the conflict like those of xenophobia and spaces in the job market which our brothers would have occupied in our country. the economic benefits thereof can be immeasurable and yet it would have come from those politacal diplomacy which may have looked yo lack economic benefits that those amongst us are unable to see.

    in the same breath also, i hope Mzukisi doesn’t take the response from mukoni as an attack but an eye opener to expand our discussion.

    similarly, i hope Mukoni’s response was not driven by need to defend the rulling party’s position of sending/deployment of people who are not playing the correct role which the diplomats out there are expected to do but a need to encourage debate and giving information to misinformation which have catastrophic effect of unrest when unsuspecting consumes the information as raw as it is.

    lets continue to engage south africa

    lutendo mulalo phaswana

  19. Value of diplomacy…an old lady from deep rural area in Limpopo or KZN advocating on her grand child importance of education…what impact that will have in future both in that specific area and national of not internationally …value of advocating strong policy position rather than value of rands and cents

  20. Very interesting article. The disease of measuring everything in monetary terms will make us lose our shared value of Ubuntu! We are because of Africa.

  21. It is strange that a person can actually go out and advocate economic imperialism. it cannot be that a country like ours should focus more on economic benefits and solidarity is left as an issue for museums. The history of humankind has repeatedly shown that human solidarity has always triumphed over many ills of this world. i agree with you there is basically not much money to be saved in shutting down missions. if one is to be blunt we might end up spending more visiting the same countries where we closed such missions. one cannot help but note that a classical example of how an economic forein policy can go wrong is the US itself. because the America’s quest to dominate the world has had its cost in both human life and monetary. They ended up spending a lot of dollars on unnecessary wars and installation of new unwanted governments

  22. Ii did have a suspect that there’s. Lot of fat need to be trimmed as you have stated as our country has focused too much on creating friendship that building our own country from my observation is that the country from west and the east we create diplomacy they have mision of getting economic advantage to strengthen their own domesting economy that will help their own country man ,I hope we have to open our eyes there

  23. I am going to confine myself to the narrow approach Qobo has used to arrive to his erroneous conclusion. It is refreshing to realize that Mukoni has explicitly and successfully explained this foreign policy issue. It’s very unfortunate that Qobo is attempting to judge a long-term investment using narrow and short-term results. Building solid international relations is not that much different to establishing a top class brand. You would have to market your brand, establish and maintain good relations with relevant stakeholders and that would not come cheap nor does it always bear fruits immediately. Firstly one needs to just look at Zimbabwe to realize the side-effects of badly managed international relations. Zim was once a bread basket of the region but international relations gone sour has created an economic nightmare for them and SADC.

    Living in a global village means that we must continuously; Win friends, keep them and be able to influence them. It doesn’t mean we must always do as they want but we need to be open to explaining some of the decisions we don’t on. That’s were diplomacy comes in compatriots. We not only need their money but we also should remain an influential role player in promoting peace and influencing world bodies’ policies development for the benefit of developing countries of the world, Africa, SADC and our own benefit. There is no prosperous SA in a struggling, SADC or even Africa. So to over simplify the role of creating diplomatic ties for the purpose of over-night investment promotion is misleading and unfortunate.

  24. I truly enjoyed reading your article, @Mukoni. Thank you. It’s well written & makes a great deal of sense. It’s true, we need to assess the performance & effectiveness of all our missions in foreign lands. This with a view to establishing if they meet the objectives for which they were established, identify gaps, address weaknesses & maximise gains. Closure of some of them is not an option, to start with! How would we influence the thinking & behaviour of other foreign countries if we don’t maintain our diplomatic presence in those countries?

  25. The disservice that i being done might be related to the inability to communicate the roles of diplomatic missions hence citizens are bound to be misled by narrow comparative analysis of number of missions in relations to the foreign direct investment we are able to attract.There is a need to intensify the public education component in ensuring that the department of international relations strategic focus and mandate are intimately known by South Africans. We can’t afford to delegate the protection of sovereignity and territorial integrity, monitoring of international developments, the cordination and aligning of South Africa international relations abroad, creation of enabling international environment for South Africa usiness including the assistance of South Africans abroad based on the narrow cost analysis. You can’t attach monetary value to the role played by dilomatic missions. May be we need to change the name of the department to that of Diplomatic Relations which might add more credence to the roles.

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