‘Nobody dictates SA foreign policy’

2011-10-13 13:27

No country, lobby group or individual dictates South Africa’s foreign policy, President Jacob Zuma said in Pretoria today.

Speaking at a public lecture at the University of Pretoria, he said: “Our foreign policy is independent and decisions are informed by the national interest. We are not dictated to by other countries, individuals or lobby groups within our own country.”

Zuma made the comment after highlighting that South Africa’s recognition of a one-China policy abided by international norms.

Zuma’s government has come under criticism over the manner in which it handled the planned visit of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama for Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations last week.

It has been accused by many of bowing to pressure from China not to allow the visit.

Zuma would not be drawn on the Dalai Lama’s visa application.

“The Dalai Lama is an individual who applied for a visa to come to South Africa. It would be very difficult to sit here and discuss details of what happened at immigration. I wouldn’t want to guess.”

He said Africa and the Southern African Development Community were the cornerstones of South Africa’s foreign policy.

Zuma said the partnership between the world and Africa, especially the African Union, had come under strain during the crisis in Libya.

“For the African peace efforts to be effective, the AU and sub-regional bodies [in Africa] need the support of the UN and international bodies as a whole.”

He said that the resolution passed in the United Nations in support of curbing Libya’s airpower had been abused by Western powers. They exercised their military mandate beyond simply preventing Libya from using its airpower against civilians.

This had in turn prompted the government to exercise caution when voting on a resolution calling for sanctions against Syria. It abstained.

Referring to the UN, he said it was unacceptable that the UN Security Council did not have permanent members from Africa and South America.

“Africa and Latin America are not represented as permanent members on the Security Council. This is a serious anomaly, which reflects negatively on the UN system.”

Reform of the UN and its structures was needed, Zuma said.

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