Deepening North-South partnerships

  • SA – EU  (South Africa – European Union) and member states
  • SADC – EU (Southern African Development Community  – European Union) and Member States
  • AU – EU (African Union – European Union) and Member States
  • Other OECD member states

SALO focuses on building effective communication and information exchange about countries in crisis between Southern actors (including the South African government, other African governments and African civil society) with the North, particularly European embassies. The aim is to increase levels of mutual trust and understanding and to enable all actors to take informed decisions regarding crisis interventions. This is achieved through regular shared public fora as well as through dedicated bilateral briefings, policy briefs and background reports.

While Africa and, increasingly, other voices promote the cause of Africans being committed to African resolutions to African issues, (as articulated in “Ireland and Africa”, 2011), there is also the self- evident reality that Africa is a strategic part of the geo-political global configurations. Hence Africans are or need to be cognisant that the achievement of African goals cannot be done in isolation from global goals.

Interestingly, the Peace and Security Department of the African Union Commission recently launched the African Solidarity Framework that does bring together the strands of co-operation between the African and the global by stating that the Framework exists “to further unlock Africa’s potentials by promoting a paradigm shift, which centre-stages African self-reliance driven by the ‘Africa helping Africa’ conviction, in complementing efforts by development partners.”

In addition to African Union concern, the European Union/OECD and their Member States are paying increasing attention to the threat posed by states in crisis. It is important to note that there is multi-lateral and European commitment to a mutual negotiation around architecture of human security and peace. The EU-Africa and EU-SA Strategic Partnerships have indeed focused on the most important peace and security issues of mutual concern. These multi-lateral groupings around continental international relations are more effective in supporting states in crisis. It is therefore important to respond both bilaterally and multi-laterally, with such resources as can be dedicated, to create an enabling environment for these states to generate options for their democratic-led development.

It is within a perspective of Africa-Africa solutions, in alignment and partnership with European and other global partners, that SALO as a civil society role player facilitates strategic and catalytic engagements. Working with civil society and government stakeholders through dialogue and knowledge resourcing, SALO informs South African policy positions around critical issues affecting these crises and conflicts . The importance of keeping these issues on the global agenda is achieved, through similar processes (including collaboration and engagement), with SALO’s regional and international partners.

SALO’s strategy of ensuring that relevant voices engage in dialogue around solutions to crisis situations has been appreciated by European partners for several years. The access and facilitation encouraged by SALO for these partners, with South African policy makers, regional and international ambassadors and civil society, has enabled dialogue to reach new conclusions and clearer insights, with the intention of more effective decisions ultimately being taken on policy and action for crisis situations.

SALO has a particularly close relationship with the Nordic countries, based in part on their historical support for Southern African liberation struggles.  SALO is engaged in  a major project to provide support for Norway-SA cooperation on peace, security and human rights, and a similar project with Denmark will start in 2013. In addition Sweden and Finland have been key partners of SALO in building international consensus in Southern Africa, in particular on Zimbabwe.

The same applies to another important partner, Ireland, which was the first supporter of the consensus-building dialogue that started in 2005. SALO’s co-operation with Ireland and other EU member states takes place both bilaterally and through an important 18 month project (2012/13) in support of the EU-SA Dialogue on Peace and Security, in which SALO is in association with the SA Presidency.

Based on a foundation of support to SA-­EU relations, SALO is well constituted now (under the Strategic Partnership Umbrella) to provide its particular substance to the EU’s “comprehensive, coherent and coordinated long-term framework for political cooperation with the Republic of South Africa… mindful… of its role as an anchor country in the region and of its unique position on the continent and on the global scene.

This project covers African countries in crisis and issues selected by the partners for discussion. The topics are selected in an on-going informal dialogue between the EU, SA and SALO, with the SA Presidency being represented by the President’s advisors on International Relations and National Security, Ambassadors Lindiwe Zulu and Welile Nhlapo. During the first year of this project (2012) the following workshops were held, among others:

  • Swaziland and Zimbabwe in Cape Town on 23 Feb, 2012. The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, the Honourable MP, Hargreaves Magama, delivered the keynote address. Amb. Zulu spoke from the floor.
  • Project launch: May 3rd, Pretoria. This event marked the official launch of SALO’s engagement with the EU and was attended by 105 participants primarily from the diplomatic corps based in Pretoria as well as SALO’s regular long-term supporters in their network.  It was addressed by EU Ambassador to S.A., H.E. Roeland van de Geer and S.A. Ambassadors Lindiwe Zulu and Welile Nhlapo, the S.A. President’s advisors on International Relations and National Security respectively.
  • Cape Town, on May 29th, 2012. In-depth discussions between civil society and policy-shapers: the focus of this dialogue was the ANC’s draft discussion document on foreign policy. Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu and Hon. MP Hargreaves Magama (Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations) addressed the forum. Members of the ANCYL; YCL and ANCWL, students, Cape Town diplomatic corps were present, as well as representatives from non-governmental organisations such as SAIIA, the Institute of Justice and Reconciliation and the Open Society Foundation.
  • Sudan/South Sudan, in Pretoria, 27th July, 2012. SALO’s first Building International Consensus workshop on Sudan/South Sudan was held on the occasion of the visit of the EU’s Special Representative for Sudan/South Sudan, Ambassador Rosalind Marsden was the keynote speaker alongside Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, who spoke on the role of external actors in conflict resolution. Ambassador Welile Nhlapo spoke from the floor. The event was attended by 83 participants from a range of sectors including, the ANC, ANCYL, diplomats from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, representatives of faith-based organisations, local, regional and international non-governmental organisations, and the South African Government (namely, DIRCO and the Department for Trade and Industry)
  • The DRC, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, in Pretoria on 3 October, 2012. This workshop featured keynote speaker Advocate Pansy Tlakula, the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa and a Commissioner of the African Union for the Commission for Human and People’s Rights. It also included other speakers, namely Ambassador Aldo Dell’Ariccia, who is the Head of Delegation of the European Union in Harare, as a key speaker on Zimbabwe. Ambassador Lindiwe Zulu, International Relations Advisor to the SA President/member of the ANC NEC’s IR Sub-Committee was due to speak but Ambassador Welile Nhlapo, National Security Advisor to the SA President stood in for her, and responded to the Ambassador’s points while additionally providing the South African point of view on Zimbabwe. Solly Mapaila, 2nd Deputy General Secretary SACP, National Chairperson of Swaziland Solidarity Network and Itai Zimunya, Zimbabwe programme officer, OSISA, were also speakers. Hubert Tshiswake, Programmes manager, regional and international advocacy for the DRC for Osisa, also spoke. This workshop was chaired by Bishop Rubin Phillip, chair of the SALO board and Dean of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa and Isabella Matambanadzo, Zimbabwean feminist, civil society leader. There was active engagement from the floor.

SALO has a familiar and respected model that delivers results – to engage around critical issues interms of states in crisis – and the familiarity of that model attracts people who are aware of the valuable networks and knowledge generated by it. As the EU ambassador to SA put it when chairing SALO’s first Building International Consensus meeting on Sudan/South Sudan:

“it is clear that there is expertise and engagement in the room.”

Ambassador van der Geer was referring to contributions from representatives of both countries’ embassies and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement of the North. SALO’s work has been acknowledged by Northern and Southern partners as contributing to more informed and harmonised policymaking and peacebuilding interventions. At the launch (on 3rd May 2012) of the project to support the EU-SA Dialogue on Peace and Security,  EU Ambassador to SA, H.E.  Roeland van de Geer said:

“So I hope that over the coming months we will see a very intensive SALO support programme of this EU-South Africa dialogue on peace and security; that we, as a group, will see each other regularly…and I do think that therecommendations that will come out of these meetings will be of direct benefit to policy makers both in Pretoria, in Brussels and in the capitals of the European Union. SALO: thank you very much for this opportunity, and I wish you all the best, and you can count on our continued support!”

Ambassador Nhlapo also spoke at the launch of the project:

“So it’s possible to engage on these issues, painful and difficult as they are, because that’s what dialogue is all about. It’s not about exchanging niceties and pleasantries, it’s about discussing even the most difficult of issues to try and find an alternative to an acrimonious relationship or solution that nobody would want to live with.  To move away from war and confrontation, that’s the best way that we can be able to do that…I can assure you, our European Partners, that through this dialogue … we always have some difficulties in the beginning, but in the end we find one another, as long as we are ready to do so. So dialogue for us is something that is certainly welcome and we encourage SALO to continue with this effort andwherever it is possible and practical, call us together…” (South African President’s National Security Adviser, Ambassador Welile Nhlapo)