SA spends big to build image

2012-02-25 17:20

By 2015 South Africa will spend more than half a billion rand on paying dues to organisations and helping countries in trouble – to build its international image.

In the next financial year the country will spend R450 million on membership of international organisations including the African Union, Group of 77 countries and the United Nations.

South Africa is an influential member of these organisations.

Over the next three years this will rise to R505 million.

These figures were revealed in budget documents tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan this week.

South Africa’s support for the Democratic Republic of the Congo cost R120 million, which was the biggest expense of the African Renaissance and International Co-operation Fund.

This was the biggest single-ticket expenditure by the department on foreign ­assistance – the Sudanese had to make do with a mere R4 million which South Africa donated to their elections.

The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad) drew the short stick – its funding was cut dramatically to R7.5 million. In the 2008/2009 ­financial year it received ­R31 million but its funding has steadily ­declined since then.

A senior official at the international relations department said the new agency planned by the department, called the South African Development Agency, would take over some of Nepad’s projects.

The Pan-African Parliament is also wholly funded by the department of international relations, while the African Court of Justice will start operating this year with South Africa’s financial assistance.

The hosting of COP17 cost the department R200 million, which came from a special Treasury transfer.

South Africa donated seeds and fertilisers to Zimbabwe to the tune of R300 million.

Some of the money was on ice, for when assistance with elections was needed.

More than one-third of the fund’s budget was used for the Pan African Women Organisation project.

The department also earmarked R3.4 billion over the next three years for building, renovating or refurbishing of dozens of embassies around the world.

Some of this work had already started.

New ­offices were being built in New Delhi, Lilongwe, Kigali, Riyadh and Dakar, while new official residences would be built in Bamako, ­Madrid and Gaborone.

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