Sandile Gregory Gwexe (South African Embassy Berlin)

17.06.2010 - Interview conducted by Peter Hanley

Q1. You mentioned in your speech how South Africa cannot afford to be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty. Is further regionalization necessary, and what are the challenges for South Africa regarding foreign policy over the coming years?

If you talk about South Africa not having to be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty beyond the rhetoric, then we have actually taken significant steps with these initiatives. We must ensure to bring about stability in our neighbours, and of course other conflict hot spots within the continent.  It is our firm belief that if you talk about the rise of Africa, it is important to have peace and stability before you can talk about attracting investment and bringing about economic development, as there are still high levels of unemployment. Lesotho is a good example as it is one of the LDC's least developed countries, and then you have Mozambique, which is recovering from a conflict situation. If you look at Mozambique now, it is one of the pace-setters in terms of economic recovery. The average economic growth in Mozambique far surpasses our own as it averages around 8%, while South Africa's is around 4.5%, so this is one of the successes within our own backyard. When looking at Lesotho, South Africa has taken a conscious decision to remove Lesotho from its current status. There are specific projects that the South African government is involved in Lesotho to ensure that these projects are helpful for both countries such as tourism and health projects. At the bilateral level, we are up scaling the engagement between the two countries so that they meet our principles and that every year in the permanent structure of the Joint Permanent Commission we should take stock on the conditions of the bilateral commitments that are being undertaken by the principles. These are just some of the examples within the region, and in Southern Sudan and Burundi, which are gradually returning to normal. In Southern Sudan, the South African government is also supporting capacity building programs in the area of changing the magistrate, and beefing up their judiciary system along with their police, which is of course done in conjunction with other trilateral partners, Germany being one of them.

Q2. The World Cup will undoubtedly bring short-term economic benefits to South Africa. People hope that this leads to long-term social, political, and economical reform as well. What are these perceived benefits of hosting this event?

In my presentation, apart from the social and economic benefits that are associated with the World Cup, my hopes are that it will once and for all change perceptions about the continent of Africa as a continent of instability, poverty stricken and riddled with conflict, to a continent of stability where tourism and investment occur. In order for Africa to realize progress, we really need that investment.