SA to close 10 diplomatic missions after budget cuts

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Naledi Pandor (File, Daily Sun)
Naledi Pandor (File, Daily Sun)
  • Ten South African diplomatic missions abroad will be closed.
  • International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor told Parliament the closures come amid the country's weak economic growth.
  • On Thursday, Pandor delivered her department's budget speech in Parliament.

South Africa is set to close 10 diplomatic missions overseas amid the nation's economic constraints, exacerbated by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The missions, including embassies, high commissions and consulates, are to be closed during the 2021-2022 financial year.

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On Thursday, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor detailed the plans to reduce the country's overseas missions while delivering her department's budget speech in Parliament.

"This decision is deeply regretted, and South Africa expresses its confidence that the excellent diplomatic relations with these countries and regions will continue through the non-resident missions and the diplomatic missions represented in South Africa.

"We wish to assure South African citizens resident abroad, businesses and tourists that a smooth transfer of civic and immigration services to non-resident missions is underway," she said.

Pandor said all affected stakeholders should check with the affected embassies and consulates-general on the exact dates of termination of services.

Further details will be on Dirco's websites, the Department of Home Affairs and the affected missions.

The missions earmarked for closure are:

  • Minsk, Belarus
  • Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
  • The Holy See, The Vatican
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Milan, Italy (consulate)
  • Muscat, Oman
  • Suva, Fiji
  • Bucharest, Romania
  • Lima, Peru
  • Chicago, USA (consulate)

Pandor also touched on the recent Israeli-Palestinian violence.

A week ago, the violence shocked the world as both sides fired rockets at each other, with the death toll rising to over 200.

Dozens were also injured on both sides.

Pandor said greater efforts needed to be made to resolve the conflict.

"Sadly, we all watched as Palestine suffered more and more brutally. Greater effort must be exerted to achieve peace in the Middle East.

"Powerful nations must accept that we all depend on each other and even the most powerful will not achieve peace and security through unilateral actions and neglect of the poor, the oppressed and marginalised. We call on the UN and the Gulf Council to be more resolute in pursuing freedom for the people of Palestine," she said.

Pandor also described the bombings and killings as a "sad testimony" of the cruel impunity the world had granted to Israel.

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"The international community must stop this impunity. South Africa should support the International Criminal Court in the planned investigation of the abuse of human rights by the Israeli government," she said.

Speaking on the department's budget, Pandor said the budget for 2020-21 was R 6 850 179 000 in April 2020, and had been reduced to R6 314 968 000. 

The 2021-2022 budget was R7 038 531 000 in the 2021 budget speech, and was finally reduced to R6 452 372 000 for the current financial year.

"The funding pressures we continue to experience have caused severe cutbacks in key areas. Low levels of economic growth and declining investment in South Africa and Africa are a severe constraint on our international ambitions," she said.

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