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What could South Africa’s foreign relations be in a GNU?

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By Daanyaal Matthews

The Government of National Unity continues to be scrutinised as theories arise on how ministerial positions would be divided among political parties. These concerns are exacerbated in conversations on international relations, in particular relations between the Republic, Israel, and Palestine, especially given the difference in rhetoric between the African National Congress and the Democratic Party , the two largest parties in the Government of National Unity.

For Dr. Oscar van Heerden, a scholar of international relations who focuses on international political economy with an emphasis on Africa and SADC in particular, this is an important issue, but he theorises that the ANC won’t allow certain ministerial positions to be taken by other parties, including the position of Minister of International Relations and Cooperation.

“I suspect international relations and corporations are one of those simply because, you know, foreign policy is an extension of our domestic policy. It is an extension of what the Presidency is wanting to achieve internationally,” said Dr. van Heerden.

In times prior, the position of Minister of International Relations and Cooperation would usually be occupied by a seasoned ANC politician, with it previously being held by Naledi Pandor. However, rumours have brewed that Ebrahim Rasool, who previously served as ambassador for the Republic to the United States and as Premier of the Western Cape, will continue her position given her experience in the role.

“I suspect what’s going to happen is that, for the sake of continuity, the President is likely to invoke that clause and reappoint Naledi Pandor as the Minister of Foreign Affairs.”

This decision, however, would be somewhat surprising, even though she is presently the most qualified, due to the Minister consistently hinting that she might retire. Dr. van Heerden argues that she may have been convinced to remain in her position to oversee important projects.

“Next year we are hosting the G20; it’s a big event. We wouldn’t want to be seen as failing on that front, and so a steady hand that’s already had the levers under control at DIRCO is what is required,” said the scholar of international relations.

Photo: GovernmentZA Flickr

*This post has been edited

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