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Former Justice minister takes over international relations

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By Lee-Yandra Paulsen

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his new cabinet over the weekend, featuring significant changes such as merging some departments and separating others. Notably, Ronald Lamola, the former Minister of Justice and Correctional Services, is now the Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

VOC Breakfast, on Tuesday spoke to Dr Oscar van Heerden, a scholar of international relations who focuses on international political economy with an emphasis on Africa and SADC, to understand what this means for South Africa’s international relations.

Van Heerden expressed some surprise at Lamola’s appointment, saying, “I was a bit surprised that they didn’t bring Naledi Pandor back. But she indicated earlier, prior to the elections, that she wanted to retire, though she was asked by the African National Congress (ANC) to come back on the National list. I assumed this was because they wanted her to continue in the role.”

However, he suggested that Lamola’s appointment might be a consequence of “the talks of the coalition and accommodating everyone,” with the president deciding to appoint Lamola instead.

Van Heerden believes that Lamola’s previous role as Minister of Justice is seen as relevant to the DIRCO position, as “justice itself has a very large international component dealing with international law enforcement, Interpol.”

He explained that the ANC’s overall approach to international relations is focused on “multilateral systems and supporting the multilateral systems and subscribing to international law,” and that they will insist on consistency when addressing violations of human rights and humanitarian law.

Looking ahead, Van Heerden expects that the coalition government will need to engage in dialogue to flesh out the statement of intent a bit more and address any policy inconsistencies or policy divergence on the international front. He sees coalition politics as the new normal in South African politics and believes this will require the governing parties to “manage themselves in relation to policy consistencies.”

In terms of how South Africa will be perceived on the international stage following the formation of the GNU, Van Heerden is optimistic. He notes that “This is the norm internationally and that the maturing of our democracy is being recognized, as there are very few democracies where a particular party is dominant.”

Overall, the article provides a nuanced analysis of the implications of Lamola’s appointment as the new DIRCO minister, highlighting the potential continuity in South Africa’s approach to international relations, as well as the challenges and opportunities presented by the new coalition government.

VOC News

Photo: Pixabay

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