ANC NPC discussion document: On foreign policy

Party has not been able to build a global progressive movement as it had hoped to achieve after Cold War


In Pursuit of Progressive Internationalism in a Changing World


The ANC, our Alliance partners and the Mass Democratic Movement (MDM) are once again gearing themselves in preparation for the forthcoming National Policy Conference. Following a long tradition, it is important that our cadres appreciate the centrality of international relations in advancing the National Democratic Revolution (NDR), a better Africa and a better World. Indeed international relations will continue to play a central role in enabling South Africa’s development, affecting all policy areas of the ANC. This discussion document, with its analysis of the international balance of forces, and how it will impact on our own specific concrete material conditions as a country and continent.

The African National Congress holds firm in its progressive internationalism, an approach to global relations anchored in the pursuit of global solidarity, social justice, common development and human security, etc. It notes that progressive internationalism ‘envisages a just, equitable, non-racial, non-patriarchal, diverse, democratic and equal world system.’ A bold and militant advocacy is required for the fundamental transformation of the global balance of forces, a radical restructuring of global governance, and a progressive global movement. These are the principles that have informed the stance of the ANC in its history as a liberation movement since its formation in 1912 and affirmed at successive conferences.

The 54th National Conference in 2017 took place in a period that saw a Republican presidency in the United States that drove an “America First’ policy, igniting a sustained trade war with China and impacting global supply chains. This strained global economic recovery as the two economies competed for rare earths and in semi-conductor production. It was a period that saw increased divisions among the permanent five members in the UN Security Council leading to stalemates on ways to respond to various international conflicts and a weakening of cohesion in the global South. Competition between the two largest world economies has ignited debate on decoupling and the dominance of the dollar in global trade. It has ignited debate about the ‘second cold war’ and the possibility of a third world war with states reviewing their positions on important treaties such as the open skies treaty and treaties on the development of certain categories of dangerous weapons.

Africa is in the throes of political and economic difficulties including the rise of armed conflicts involving rebels or terrorist groups, deepening poverty and widening socio-economic inequalities. Africa continues to be on the margins of the global economy, with a large infrastructure gap, limited access to global supply chains and limited benefit from the extractive economy. But Africa was buoyed by the adoption of Agenda 2063 and acceptance of the AfCFTA. The world was energised by the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.

In the period since the 54th National Conference, many of these challenges have continued to shape the international situation. The Covid-19 pandemic displayed the world’s failure to achieve solidarity when it was most needed, and as well as under- preparedness for future pandemics. The rise in right-wing extremism, authoritarianism and illiberalism globally present a threat to the pursuit of a progressive international agenda including such goals as the strengthening of global and African multilateralism, the reform of institutions of global governance and the search for a just and fair world order. These challenges, and growing geopolitical tensions have been exacerbated by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine as South Africa and other non- aligned countries to the conflict call for dialogue and addressing the root causes of the conflict.

Some sanity did eventually prevail for collective action to contain the Covid-19 pandemic including both therapeutic and non-therapeutic measures. Vaccine nationalism and hoarding that characterised the early efforts have made way for increased production and the establishment of state of the art vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa. This development still awaits the much needed TRIPS agreement for its full benefit. Our involvement in vaccine production and the end of the state of disaster boosts the already promising signs of a post-Covid economic recovery.

In responding to these developments in the global environment, the ANC needs introspection to reflect on its policy processes and resolutions. Resolutions that will become policy need to reflect on o this progressive internationalism. This includes discussion at branch level, through to regional, provincial, and national discussion at the National General Council (NGC) that reviews policy implementation and performance midway through national conferences, the National Policy Conference (NPC) that prepares and proposes policy and National Conference (NC) that resolves on policy. It needs to reflect on the role of International Relations (IR) in the ANCs renewal effort and the reflection on values and domestic imperatives on foreign policy and the kind of IR department required.

The Covid -19 pandemic has imposed alterations to the normal schedule of the ANC. The NGC could not sit as was intended. The Policy Conference provides an opportunity to review progress made towards the implementation of the resolutions of the 54th National Conference and in the run-up to the 55th National Conference. This will assist in the consideration of policy responses that must guide the ANC and government for the next five years. In between conferences, the NEC IR sub-committee has done well to monitor progress in the implementation of conference resolutions on international relations.



The ANC’s commitment towards a better Africa in a better World has historically translated recognised the centrality of the African continent to its international relations and foreign policy. At its forthcoming National Policy Conference the ANC will once more place Africa at the centre of our international relations. In order for South Africa to strategically navigate the changing geopolitical landscape, there is need for an assessment of the party and state’s capacity and the diplomatic tools available for implementing foreign policy priorities. This will enable a coordinated approach to international relations, especially on the African continent. This means ensuring that the manner in which the country’s social, political, and economic resources are deployed aligns to the strategic objectives of the country.

Despite an economy faced with various challenges, South Africa still possesses various diplomatic assets to drive its overall foreign policy objectives. However, in order to increase the impact of the various diplomatic tools available, there will have to be better coordination at the national and sub-national levels, including how the country uses its development finance instruments through structures such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the African Renaissance Fund (ARF) and various other government departments and agencies. It will also have to better coordinate the international relations work of provinces, cities, and various state agencies. This requires an approach that proactively works with non- state actors operating at track two and track three diplomacy to ensure that foreign policy and the strategic orientation of the country is discussed with a broader section of society.

The balance of forces on the African continent and the Southern African region is intricately linked to the conduct of the governing parties in the region. Just as the strengthening of historical relations among liberation movements in Southern Africa is important for the region’s dynamics, their evident weaknesses also explain such dynamics as slow implementation of regional aspirations. The ANC has shown weaknesses in galvanizing the region and continent to maintain a progressive posture in Africa. It is important to note that the progressive movement is relatively weak amongst mass political formations and the Governments on our Continent. The same is also true with regard to practical commitment to Pan-Africanism.

The ANC thus sets itself the strategic task of working with others on our Continent to strengthen the progressive, Pan Africanist forces to help ensure the achievement of the goals set in Agenda 2063 as well as the African Unity and Renaissance the AU Assembly called for as Africa celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the formation of the OAU’.

The pursuit of a prosperous and peaceful Africa and Southern Africa remains strategic and principal. To this end, the commitment to strengthen the African Union (AU) and Southern African Development Community as platforms for a progressive African agenda is key. This has given rise to efforts to reform the AU, strengthen the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) agency, implement the African Common Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and achieve the African Agenda 2063. The signing and formal launch of the AfCFTA marks a major milestone towards a R50 trillion market for intra-African trade and investment. 54 countries are signatories, and the start of trading under the AfCFTA Agreement began on 1 January 2021, although no trade has as yet taken place under the AfCFTA regime. By April 2022, 41 of the 54 signatories (76%) had deposited their instruments of AfCFTA ratification.

Our commitment to the AU Agenda 2063 as an expression of the aspirations of Africans is central to the view that the silencing of guns on the continent is as much a security matter as it is a governance and development imperative. In this context, the full operationalization of the AfCFTA; the further strengthening of NEPAD and the operationalization of the tripartite free trade area between SADC, COMESA and EAC; and the presidential infrastructure initiative as an industrialization catalyst are crucial manifestations of the dream of an African renaissance that remains deferred. The strengthening of links with the African diaspora as the 6th region of the AU should continue unabated, especially given the International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024), which was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in a Resolution adopted on 23 December 2013.

Yet, the impediments to the renaissance of Africa remain. The political economy of the continent has changed very little. The harmful effects of the global pandemic and the geopolitical tensions seen through the conflict in Ukraine will make it more difficult to address the challenges of jobless economic growth marked by skewed income distribution, the volatility of national economic situations, fragmentation and uneven development across regions, resource dependency, political instability, and insecurity. No impediments matter more than widespread poverty, unemployment, inequality and underdevelopment, which rise to violence, despair and uncontrolled migration. The inadequacies in capacity development, health care, housing, access to technologies and innovations, and entrepreneurial opportunities undermine the ability of the continent to convert its demographic dividend in the form of a large youthful population into real economic value.

Under these conditions, African youth swell the numbers of those involved in internal and external migration. While this contributes to the world-wide circulation of skills and capital inflows in the form of remittances, it is also associated with the deaths of refugees and migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea and the rise in xenophobic and racist tendencies in Africa and the world. In migration routes, wanton violence and violation are rife.

The resurgence of violence in various parts of the continent is a recurring problem that has a negative bearing on the African renaissance. Violence and conflict associated with terrorism, violent extremism, cross-border criminal networks and fights related to overgrazing and cultivation land remain widespread. Parts of North Africa, the Sahel, the Horn, Central Africa, West, East and Southern Africa have seen this to a different extent remains a hotbed of a cocktail of militia and terror-driven violence, the collapse of governance and national security and the imperialist designs of major powers. Somalia has yet to recover from similar trends, but terror incidents have increased in the past two years. Armed banditry is driving the proliferation of arms, which is in turn fuelling internecine violence all over the continent. There are also serious concerns about a growing role of mercenaries in Africa’s conflicts.

Concerning peace and stability in Africa, so far the Continent has failed successfully to address the two goals of silencing the guns and preventing the guns from opening fire. This has led to persistent conflicts in the Sahel, Nigeria, Somalia and Mozambique involving jihadists; Libya, Chad, Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Sudan and Ethiopia rooted in the challenges of managing diversity; and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), because of Morocco’s refusal to accept the right of the people of Western Sahara to independence. Recently military coups have taken place especially in West Africa with the subversion of the democratic system increasing the possibility that people will take to arms to achieve their objectives.

South African foreign policy actors will have to contend with the interrelated diplomacies of Morocco, Israel and France interacting with some of the Gulf States in navigating a changing African and international strategic landscape. They will also have to contend with Russia’s re- engagement with Africa and an increasingly confrontational relationship between China and the United States.

The spike in terror attacks in Mozambique causes concerns that the terror problem will grip Southern Africa and cause long term damage to political stability and economic well-being, seen in regions where terrorism has festered. This has a direct bearing on South Africa’s national security and well- being. The evolving regional response and close observation by the AU mark a beginning of a more holistic response. This response must also factor in the role of Rwanda to ensure that all stakeholders involved in peace and security efforts in Mozambique can coordinate systematically in the interests of the people of Mozambique and complement regional efforts to encourage peace and development.

The ANC together with government and non-state actors must also ensure that it works with stakeholders in Zimbabwe and the region towards the ending of unilateral sanctions and the normalisation of relations with key actors in Europe and the United States, especially. Indeed this is not only important for Zimbabwe, but the region as a whole. This, while also remaining focused on the democratisation efforts in Eswatini to promote inclusive dialogue.

A prosperous Zimbabwe at peace with herself, its neighbours and the world would certainly bode well for the region in a time when much of the focus on the continent will turn towards economic recovery and regional integration. This is especially important as the country goes into national elections in 2023. A peaceful and inclusive dialogue process in Eswatini will likewise contribute to a prosperous region able to focus on the implementation the African Continental Free Trade Area. South Africa’s Chairpersonship of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security and its role in the Troika must thus be used to promote processes that bring about sustainable solutions.

Having already historically invested much political and economic capital in the peace process in the DRC, the ANC must continue to work with the relevant national and regional stakeholders to contribute to peace talks and development efforts in the DRC. The fact that the current AU chairperson and incoming SADC chairperson is the DRC, it will be important to ensure continuity of processes initiated by South Africa. It will also be important to work closely with Namibia as the incoming chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics Defence and Security to ensure continuity. Lesotho has benefitted from successful interventions by SADC and will continue to receive close scrutiny.

The Horn of Africa has continued to see growing militarization with external powers growing their military presence in Djibouti. With this comes concerns that this turns Africa and the Western Indian Ocean area into a zone for conflict and war instead of a zone for peace and development. The US has a vast number of military outposts and is involved in more than a dozen other operations on African soil, thus bringing Africa within the orbit of the US war on terror and its devastating consequences for a peaceful and weapons-free Africa.

While the Ethiopia-Eritrea rapprochement has continued, internal situations in both countries remain areas of concern. Ethiopia, in particular, has seen rising internal tensions arising from challenges in its ethnic federalism. South Sudan has benefitted from successful regional interventions, while Burundi’s peaceful change of government marks the end of a protracted transition that has seen delays. Elections continue to be associated with violence and politics linked to the winner takes all tendencies in conditions where there are not many alternative routes to resources and prosperity for the political elite.

The struggle for the self-determination of the peoples of Western Sahara remains incomplete and is facing new challenges with Morocco’s attempts to drive a wedge in the AU away from its unity in support of UN resolutions calling for a peaceful resolution to the issue on the basis of the right of self-determination for the Saharawi people. The Morocco issue, like the growing role of Israel in African affairs, signals a waning influence of progressive African states including South Africa in African affairs.

This fuels the perception that South Africa’s sway in Africa has declined, its role in championing the progressive African agenda on the continent is seen as having weakened. In this context, Morocco and other forces not aligned with South Africa’s progressive African agenda have taken a foothold and are weakening further the continental unity behind its long-established principles and values. While South Africa continues to enjoy the confidence of many as shown by its recent election to chair the African Union and the APRM, there is no doubt that its ability to work with others to lead a progressive agenda needs reinvigorating.

The issue of the growing influence of Morocco is inextricably related to the continuing challenge of FrancAfrique which sets French-speaking countries against others including English-speaking African countries in a manner that harms the cohesion of the African Union, its organs and programmes. This is also enabled by South Africa’s poor handling of the Anglophone-Francophone dynamics. The role of monarchs from the Middle East is also key to these dynamics, linking up with Morocco, France and Israel to influence African politics in their favour. The various conflicts and sources of tension make the task of building Africa’s Peace and Security Architecture increasingly difficult, a challenge must be addressed with urgency.

South Africa has yet to release the National Interest document adopted by the Cabinet for debate and comment by the ANC and public. The discussion would aid in coherent policy and planning, strategy development and implementation. This will ensure that South African interests are consistently projected continentally and globally.. It will further enhance citizen support and participation in respect of its progressive foreign policy agenda which is the pursuit of a just and equitable world order.

While Africa was recently reeling from the ravages of the Ebola epidemic, it now has to contend with the immediate and long- term effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Covid-19 affects all 54 African countries with South Africa as the epicentre. Health workers have been severely affected, while health facilities are stretched by a combination of Covid-19 and the general state of illness in many countries.

This not only undermines the already weakened health systems crucial for fighting the continent’s battles with various infectious diseases and rising lifestyle diseases, it also impedes economic recovery from the ravages of the global economic crisis post 2008. Covid-19 followed a devastating locust infestation that severely damaged food and agricultural production and threatened livelihoods. Indications are the manner in which Africa is responding to this threat will in the long-term strengthen health systems, promote industrialization around the manufacture of essential health equipment and pharmaceutical products. This will lead to greater focus on resilience through self reliance on health care systems.

The ANC and government must thus be seized with efforts to enhance the continent’s resilience to and its ability to effectively contain future pandemics and epidemics whilst supporting efforts that contribute to the development of regional value chains. Relations with external actors must equally be geared towards meeting this objective.

Africa’s response to Covid-19 is also underlining the importance of cooperation, sharing of information, exchange of expertise and solidarity. This is part of a trend globally where we have seen the practical expression of solidarity mainly from the global South to the global North when the pandemic hit Europe very hard in March- April 2020. We have also seen international NGOs and countries like China, Cuba, Russia and others extend a hand of friendship through the donation of equipment and resources to Africa and other parts of the world.

Countries in the global North have also donated medical equipment and vaccines however, their reluctance to support South Africa and much of the global South’s position on a TRIPS Waiver to boost the manufacturing of vaccines in the global South has continued to taint the global response. T We have also witnessed countries in the North readily embracing policies that put their own national interests ahead global access and solidarity efforts. This has been the practice against the advice of structures such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

South Africa’s recent Chairpersonship of the African Union and the APRM Forum of heads of state and government presented an opportunity for the country and the ANC to build a progressive movement in Africa, harnessing influence in the Pan-African Women’s Organization (PAWO), the Pan- African Youth Union (PYU) and Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The challenges facing women and youth in Africa have deepened as poverty, inequality and unemployment grows.

Women and youth formations have continued to mobilise for gender and youth empowerment, this is constrained by weak fragmented progressive African movements.

South Africa has finalised the hosting agreements with continental institutions that are critical for the African agenda. It should however address any outstanding matter that require its attention to ensure these institutions are able to fulfil their mandate effectively. The challenges facing POWA and PYU epitomise our weakness as a motive force for the progressive agenda in regional and continental integration. The assumption on our part that the progressive agenda is common-sense and shared by other governing parties must be addressed with urgency as South Africa seeks to revive its foreign policy objectives and its global stature with Africa being the epicentre.

Regional structures such as SADC and the Conference of Liberation Movements remain critical for pursuing a progressive agenda in the region through developmental regional integration. The in this respect ANC has not given this sufficient strategic attention to turn the potential into reality.

We have not acted with sufficient vigour to address the key challenges to the dream of developmental regional integration such as insecurity and instability and democratic reversals in some countries. This is due to the weak implementation of the regional agenda as contained in the Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2020-2030), the Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan, and the Strategic Indicative Plan of the Organ.

The lack of concerted and consistent attention has meant an inadequate strengthening of the SADC and its institutions. All these continue to be hampered fundamentally by insufficient political will on the part of regional states to give shared regional sovereignty a chance to work. This in effect is the failure to transcend the inherited notions of narrow national sovereignty that fragment the region.

Liberation movements in the region, working with counterparts inside and outside of government continue to possess the potential to reinvigorate the political movement for a progressive agenda by turning the affinity among them into decisive collective action to achieve developmental regional integration. These efforts must also focus on ways to effectively manage and facilitate the inter regional movement of people.

The spike in xenophobic attacks and tensions in South Africa, increasingly politicised by political formations seeking to grow their power in the run up to the 2024 elections poses a serious risk to internal stability and our Africa policy, which is in risk of being perceived as anti-African; this will undermine our ability to lead with others a progressive African agenda.

This is likely to continue and worsen towards the next elections and will require skilful public diplomacy all over Africa to counter the disinformation that accompanies it. It will also require the elevation of progressive voices and approaches to managing the movement of people, especially economic migrants within the region.

To this end, the building of extensive relationships at a party to party level, with social movements and civil society is paramount. This and its access to critical state power gives the ANC potential capacity to build momentum across Africa for turning consensus, policies and plans into concrete actions that bring about a progressive, prosperous and peaceful Africa in line with the African Agenda 2063.


As observed in 2017, growing challenges of poverty, unemployment, inequality, underdevelopment, conflict, and environmental degradation are the direct outcome of failures of the neoliberal international system. These are exacerbated by the rise of right-wing tendencies at national, regional and international levels globally. The spread of right-wing extremism has displaced social democratic and centrist forces in Western Europe and North America.

It has helped to sharpen the differences between the global North and the global South in international fora on anything from multilateral trade to climate change, and global governance to multilateralism. The right-wing movements reject globalism because it constrains their ability to impose their will on the international system, undermine multilateralism and cooperation and weaken the principle of sovereign equality among states.

The US-China trade war that intensified under the Donald Trump presidency of the US manifested in this penchant for power games, unilateralism and masculine politics. Today, tensions between the US and China continue, not just over the origins of COVID- 19, but also over the role of the WHO, China’s developing country status under the WTO, the status of Hong Kong, and the South China Sea territorial disputes. These tensions can weaken international cooperation, whist also presenting opportunities for progressive forces to push for a new and better world order.

The Russian military operation in Ukraine has turned into a costly war with NATO indirectly involved through the unprecedented supply of lethal weapons as part of the larger Western support for Ukraine against Russia.

This has a bearing on global geopolitics and has an impact on Africa and South Africa.

There seems to be a great degree of polarisation within the membership of the United Nations as countries are placed under increasing pressure to side with the West against Russia. This was on full display in the lead up to various recent resolutions brought to the UN General Assembly. A significant number of countries are non- aligned, pushing for non-military solutions to the root causes of the conflict. Western sanctions against Russia are unprecedented in both their scale, their extent and their impact on the global economy.

It has resulted in rising energy , food and fertiliser prices. The ripple effect is felt in South Africa as the price of petrol goes up and with it the cost of living. The information war that accompanies this conflict has seen powerful Western forces and their proxies in South Africa push for the country to shift from non-alignment to support Ukraine. The hypocrisy of the West in its dealing with previous military incursions such as the US- led operations in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Libya as well as Israel’s military occupation of Palestine have made countries reluctant to unquestioningly support Ukraine and the West’s military response to the Russian military operation.

In the process, the UN Security Council has been further divided to the point of being moribund. The UN General Assembly has also remained divided. This may have a negative bearing on the centrality of the UN in the pursuit of the sustainable development goals during the decade of action and in pursuing various global reforms.

Under these conditions, we have also seen the rise of new politics driven by neo- Nazism, homophobia, islamophobia, xenophobic tendencies, ethno-religious nationalism, antisemitism, and masculine politics. The attacks on social democracy, socialist alternatives and left civil society platforms have become more pronounced.

The cohesion of the global South is also in peril partly due to political and economic cleavages that prevent the South from demonstrating unity of purpose and approach when major geostrategic issues emerge, such as with the Covid-19 threat and now the Ukraine war. Right-wing tendencies and narrow nationalism have manifested in crucial countries of the global South.

BRICS forum has continued to pursue global reform and deepen intra-BRICS cooperation, demonstrated through intentions to build alternatives to the Bretton Woods Institutions through the New Development Bank., The elevation of right- wing, authoritarian forces in some of the BRICS countries threatens the internal ideological cohesion of BRICS around a progressive agenda for global change. The BRICS countries could not fully mobilise its Vaccine Centre to ensure a united response to global vaccine apartheid and these efforts must be re-energised as South Africa prepares to host the BRICS Summit in 2023.

Attempts to re-energize the India, Brazil and South Africa (IBSA) forum will confront similar challenges. There is insufficient coherence among emerging and developing powers within the G20 to effectively use this forum for the transformation of global governance. The weakness of the G7 component in the G20 as a result of internal contradictions presents opportunities for progressive emerging and developing countries like South Africa to build momentum for progressive change.

The expectation that regional formations will champion progressive change is inadequate without concrete acts of mobilization on the part of countries like South Africa and its allies. Formations like the African Union (AU), MERCOSUR, Euro-Asian Alliance, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; a China, India, the Middle East and Africa (CHIMEA) Indian Ocean nexus; a revived Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the South Atlantic; the Cuban-inspired Community of Latin American and Caribbean State (CELAC); South-Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC); ASEAN+3; the CARICOM and others have the potential to build momentum in support of the restructuring of global power. This requires leading nations of the South to mobilize with intent and energy.

The core of the neoliberal international order remains under a great degree of strain due to the aggressive posture of the USA. Tensions have emerged within the governing structures of NATO, although they have somewhat subsided in the united Western confrontation of Russia. However, the future of NATO and its cohesion on certain actions will remain tested, as displayed in its lack of consensus to impose a no-fly zone in Ukraine. Divisions within the G7 after the exclusion of Russia over Crimea continue to intensify along ideological lines.

The differences between the US and the EU have increased in light of the US position on BREXIT and the security pact between the Australia, UK, and the United States (AUKUS). Contestations between right-wing and centrist forces in Western countries have deepened with the latter losing ground. In this context, the greater potential for blow- back comes from social movements and progressive civil society formations across the world. These developments must be factored into the ANC’s international outlook.

The US dollar, like the US’ disproportionate dominance of arms supplies and military bases across the world, represents a potential threat to the birth of a truly multipolar world order with strong multilateral institutions. The power of the dollar is evident as it is the dominant currency of global transactions. It is also the predominant currency of external debt of developing countries. It is a tool that enables the USA to increase its unilateral coercive measures on some countries and now increasingly against institutions of multilateralism..

The unilateral sanctions against Iran, Syria, North Korea, Nicaragua, Russia and Venezuela, the economic blockade against Cuba (more than 60 years already), are perfect examples of this bullying conduct that is intensifying. The USA has also been intimidating the staff of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to pressure it not to try cases involving US citizens. Ironically the US wants to use the same court to prosecute its enemies including Russia.

The raft of sanctions, which are unilateral measures not sanctioned by the UN that is imposed by the West on Russia and others has had a corrosive effect on international governance and relations. This conduct has intensified in the context of both the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis before it. The extra- territorial nature of international law enables the US to impose these measures with success, while the weaknesses of existing instruments for censure against misbehaving states enables it to act with impunity.

In response to coordinated western sanctions, Russia is moving ahead to reduce its dependence on the US dollar and dollar- based international payment (SWIFT) system by linking its systems to those of China and India for international transactions. Russia has also begun Rouble based payments for business dealings with the West. The search for alternatives to the dollar-denominated financial system is ever more urgent if multilateralism and global governance is to be transformed.

Imperialist designs also continue to manifest in support of the right-wing in Latin America. Nowhere is this felt more brutally than in Venezuela whose economy has been wrecked through a combination of sanctions and sabotage, further deepening internal weaknesses and contradictions. This has led to a sharp rise in inflation, poverty and hunger.

The country’s political stability is severely weakened, its national security is fragile and its vulnerability to external machinations has increased. While onslaughts on Venezuela deepen, the solidarity with the government and progressive people of Venezuela has not improved. Russia and China have offered much-needed credit lines to the government of Venezuela and have joined forces at the UN Security Council to shine the spotlight on the USA’s imperialist designs in Venezuela.

A version of the USA’s Monroe Doctrine designed to extend the USA imperial influence over Latin America and the Caribbean is thus widespread. The USA sponsors reactionary forces in Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia and other countries, and progressive forces are placed under pressure in society and government.

There seems to be a lack of bridge builders working to cement linkages and build alliances among progressive movements across the world in defence of principles, values and vision of a just and fair world.

Revolutionary formations like the Afro-Asian People’s Solidarity Organization, ALBA, SAO Paulo Forum, World Peace Council, the Organization of Solidarity for Peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America (OSPAAL), and the World Social Forum are becoming weaker. Forums such as NAM, the G77+China, and the African Union are also faced by their own internal challenges of lethargy and exhaustion of radical ideas within and their preoccupation with procedural governance. In this context, the global fight against inequality, poverty, de- industrialization, environmental degradation, neoliberal food policies, autocracy and dictatorships, crass materialism, personalization of politics and such is on the decline.

In this already complicated international environment, we witness the devastation wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic since February 2020. It has aggravated weaknesses in global health, economy and social well-being, caused havoc on the global economy, resulting in an astronomical rise in unemployment, poverty and inequality at national, regional and global levels. While both developed and developing economies are affected, the devastation is felt most acutely in the developing parts of the world. Africa under the leadership of our president as the chairperson of the AU in 2021 and then an AU envoy on Covid has been exemplary, keeping infections low cases and fighting successfully for Africa’s access to vaccines.

International regimes regulating the behaviour of international actors are not as robust and legitimate as global governance and effective multilateralism require. Yet, these conditions also present an opportunity for progressive forces to rejuvenate and generate fresh ideas to guide the reconstruction and restructuring of world relations and conditions going forward based on long-standing progressive principles of inclusive, just and fair outcomes.

The Middle East region is still suffering the devastating effects of the regime change agendas of the United States and its allies particularly in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and Yemen. Using the pretexts of (non- existent) weapons of mass destruction, or ‘humanitarian’ support to local protests, or fighting terrorism, the US has continued to create political, economic and security havoc in the countries it has intervened in. Compounding this is the ever-growing aggressiveness of Israel (with the support of its US ally) manifested through its support of terrorist groups in Syria; its increasingly brazen transgressions of international law, agreements and UN resolutions, particularly in relation to the Palestinians and its total disregard for the territorial integrity of Lebanon and Syria.

Turkey is attempting to establish its hegemony in the region, with some accusing it of trying to re-establish the Ottoman empire. Its continued disregard of UN resolutions on its occupation of northern Cyprus; its illegal invasion and occupation of Syria and support to terrorist groups there, and its intervention in Libya all point to an increasingly assertive posture. Syria itself can be described as at the centre of the global political storm.

The United Nations and its associated institutions remain the legitimate platform for reversing challenges to multilateralism, but it too needs transformation in order to strengthen its management and the legitimacy of the Security Council. To this end, the reform of the Security Council and the entire UN system should not be allowed to collapse completely. The reform of international finance, especially the IMF and the World Bank is a key part of the transformation of global economic governance system as a whole.

But these formations are also actively trying to present themselves in a positive light, offering interest-free loans to countries hit by Covid- 19 and want to divert attention from the need for transformation. The IMF and World Bank have over the past decade introduced new subtle forms of conditionality focusing mainly on austerity measures, privatisation of state agencies and reducing the public wage bill, which weakens the ability of creditors to recover from crises over the long-term. This calls for extreme vigilance among emerging powers to ensure that this does not sink developing countries even deeper into debt and economic malaise.

The international balance of forces has a gender dimension with patriarchal systems remaining entrenched the world over, that deepens poverty among women. Women bear the brunt of global trends in socio- economic inequality, conflict and violence, environmental degradation, exploitation, and oppression. The calls for women inclusion in the economy, politics and global governance have grown and the role of UN Women is critical in this. 25 years later, the Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action remain unrealised and the need for a progressive feminist movement across the world has become even stronger. Discussions on the meaning of feminist foreign policy in theory and practice have also gained momentum across the world, including in South Africa.

Young people have also become restless throughout the world as poverty, unemployment and inequality affect them in ever more negative ways. Youth uprisings continue to serve as a reminder that the future of the world cannot be built without their participation. Yet the youth formations globally, continentally and nationally are weak, poorly linked and inadequately mobilized towards a progressive global agenda.

Under these conditions, the revolutionary credentials of the ANC have also suffered. The challenge of governing the country, which includes the inevitable compromises on strategy and tactics, the rise of factionalism, the inability to rally progressive social forces around an ANC agenda, among other reasons, has resulted in some global progressive forces questioning whether the ANC itself remains progressive.

Subsequently, the ANC has had to rely on a government-centred international programme and its role in progressive international formations has declined. Thus, the ANC has not been able to build a global progressive movement as it had hoped to achieve after the Cold War.

The implications of this for the ANC is that it has to sharpen its revolutionary and progressive character and improve its ability to build effective alliances with a broad section of progressive forces in and outside state power towards a shared desire for a more equitable, just and fairer world. This will require internal ideological and political cohesion as well as a strong ability to mobilize and galvanize support for a progressive international agenda across the world, in Africa and Southern Africa especially.

The task of keeping the progressive agenda alive now rests increasingly with social movements and critical civil society in some cases, which are also in need of support.

The building of a global progressive movement, identified in 2017, must overcome fragmentation and signs of exhaustion among progressive forces to be realised. It must harness growing youth militancy and radicalization including among student movements.

Our commitment to the vision of a humane, non-sexist, non-racist and democratic world order is facing mammoth challenges. Yet there are many opportunities for the ANC as a revolutionary movement working with like- minded others across the world to build alliances for a progressive, just and fair world order. It will require strengthening the revolutionary ideological posture, strengthening progressive alliances at home, and reaching out to the social movements and critical civil society formations in the process.

While going through a process of trimming the number of foreign representatives through Embassies, High Commissions, and Consul-General offices, the country still has a large diplomatic footprint in the world, and this can be used to good effect in navigating a global order that challenges many of the values and aspirations of progressive internationalism.


In the pursuit of “progressive internationalism in a changing world” and to attain a Better Africa and a Better World the international relations work of the ANC has been reorganised around the following pillars:

- Building a Better Africa and World

- Party-to-Party, Intra-Party and Multilateral Relations

- Transformation of Global Governance

- Policy Development

- Solidarity and Campaigns

Additionally, taking into account organisational constraints the ANC has made capacity building and coordination a cross-cutting component of the work of international relations in line with the pursuit of organisational renewal. It is important to note that from conference to conference the resolutions that have not reached full implementation have often been carried over to the next conference resolutions.

There is evidence that the government has incorporated some of the resolutions into its annual plans and annual reports. The biggest challenge for the ANC in implementation is the lack of resources and the capacity of its structures to hold government accountable in relation to the ANC’ s international relations mandate.

There are also inadequate systems in place for monitoring and evaluating implementation as well as inadequate processes for progress reports on resolutions.

With this in mind it may require the ANC to review all the resolutions, looking at how it practically can implement a realistic programme with priority areas focused on the African continent and then the globe, especially given the resource constraints.

The discussion document has also made clear that the geopolitical environment is ever changing in the world and in Africa, limiting the scope of policy choices for the ANC and government. This volatile international environment has been compounded by the national environment, which witnessed adverse effects with the downgrading of our economy by credit rating agencies, budget constraints, Covid- 19 lockdown and unrest in key economically important provinces such as Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The ANC’s policies are formulated over a five-year period in this volatile environment. Consideration should thus be given in this conference on how to allow for adjustments in policy positions that impact on our national situation drastically to allow us to navigate for the well-being of our people.


The ANC and its government must be consistent and ensure implementation of resolution regarding PAP, PAWO, PAYM and ECOSOCC. Clear decisions and timelines for implementation must be determined. Host agreements regarding PAP and PAWO, which the AU has declared a specialised agency, must be concluded by the end of 2023.

The ANC clearly needs to do introspection on whether the partnerships with various external partners on the continent will address the poverty, inequality and unemployment alleviation in South Africa and the rest of Africa in line with Agenda 2063.

The ANC should outline clear ways to address the rise of populism and acts of xenophobia that would create better understanding amongst South Africans and Africans from other countries. Failing to do this will impact our political standing and economic opportunities in other African countries.

The ANC has to support the ANC Youth League to strengthen itself and take up its position in the region, the continent, and amongst international youth structures.

Given the formal AU resolution on the reform of the ICC and the review of the Rome statue without withdrawing from the ICC, the ANC needs to review its resolution on the ICC to avoid incompatibility in policy between South Africa and the AU.

Pertaining to the region the ANC should expedite engagements amongst liberation movements to consolidate all current programmes and development initiatives as well as fast-track implementation. The ANC should also create clear engagements with governing parties to find common areas of cooperation to ensure that the region and the continent create that better Africa.


The ANC should continuously analyse the ideology and character of strategic parties and those that seek relations with the ANC in order to engage with them effectively.

Prior to this the ANC should do a reflection on its own ideological orientation and character.

Communication lines between the Party, Government, ANC in Parliament, the Alliance should be improved at all levels for Party- to -Party work to be harnessed. The ANC’s role in reinforcing government through its party-to-party engagements remains important.

Changes in governments have left some of our historical friends in opposition. The ANC thus should consolidate a clear approach on engaging ruling parties, whilst servicing historical relations. Reviving and servicing of relations with liberation and progressive movements in the African continent and the world remains critical.

Lack of resources has limited our participation in organisations such as the Socialist International, Sao Paolo Forum and other progressive forums. These forums offered opportunities to shape the discourse on continental and global critical issues as well as to meet bilaterally with like-minded parties. This has affected our leadership and contribution and should be attended to with urgency and commitment.

The ANC needs to assist its leagues to improve their party-to-party work by including them in delegations assigned to engage parties and develop a clear strategy to this effect. Party to Party work should not be seen as an end in itself. It should promote solidarity, foster prosperity and address the broader challenges of inequality, poverty and unemployment that South Africa and the progressive countries in Africa and the world seek to address. Most importantly party -to -party work in Africa should be geared towards the achievement of Agenda 2063 aspirations and curb any form of neo - colonialism.


South Africa needs to advocate for greater regional representation in the G20 and other multilateral institutions. The ANC must build its own capacity to engage counterparts, especially non-state actors in the G20.

Considering the negative track-record of institutions such as the IMF and World Bank on the continent in dealing with inequality and poverty, it is important for the ANC to interrogate their role and polices on climate change and the broader role of development finance in Africa.

The ANC needs to discuss the current implications of the World Bank and IMF loans to South Africa and come with clear proposals on repayment of the debt speedily to ensure delivery of services and policy implementation is not adversely affected. The protection of our sovereignty must be key in this and not to cede control to the IMF or World Bank in the design of assistance programmes.

With the United Nations currently pre- occupied with the conflict in Ukraine, the ANC and its government should ensure that focus on African Development is not lost within the UN organs. UN Reform efforts should also not be limited to the UNSC but also put emphasis on UN agencies.

The Women empowerment agenda led by civil society, academics and UN bodies are very rife and the ANC should actively participate in theses dialogues and programmes.

The ANC and government should encourage proactive engagement in the OECD and its bodies as an observer to ensure that voices from the global South are heard.

The ANC and government should develop a framework on how to influence the ICC and encourage further reforms to the organisation in line with AU positions.

The current geopolitical tensions impacting the work in international organisations needs the ANC and its government to interrogate if real reforms remain possible within the UN and how these reforms should take place.

Despite challenges, BRICS has been moving forward positively and has established the New Development Bank. China and Russia are both members of BRICS and have come at odds with the USA. South Africa as a member has to analyse the implications of the current global situation on the BRICS. It should continue to track, monitor, and evaluate the implementation of BRICS programmes.

The ANC and government have to continue to create greater awareness on BRICS amongst South Africans, and it should outline how it will utilise the partnership to change the lives of our people with clear implementation frameworks, including efforts to highlight the economic and trade relations, the social, academic, and other areas of cooperation.


Parliamentary Diplomacy empowerment in foreign policy is an ongoing matter and a clear toolkit in this regard should be developed to assist parliamentarians navigate a complex global arena, especially now that the SADC-Parliamentary Forum is now a fully-fledged Parliament.

Parliamentarians must strengthen the Pan- African Parliament (PAP) and engage the relevant government departments to ensure that the necessary host agreements are signed, and the Malabo Protocol is ratified.

Greater engagement by the ANC and government with the Diaspora as the 6th Region of Africa remains important in realising the AU’s Agenda 2063. Through this process, mutual opportunities should be sought, including through knowledge exchanges, investment, and cultural diplomacy. Similarly, engagement should also be pursued with the South African Diaspora to work towards supporting their work abroad and in the alleviation of poverty and inequality of Africans.

The public awareness and education programmes on foreign policy by the ANC, parliament and government must be implemented, especially in the age of social media and fierce contestations over credible information. This would further assist in taking our citizens along with us on decisions that we make continentally and globally.

The ANC should develop a fully-fledged economic diplomacy position aimed at supporting the government efforts to enhance its economic diplomacy. Such a policy must be in line with the NDP vision 2030 but go beyond to envisage possibilities beyond 2030.

The operationalization of SADPA and its role in assisting the ANC and government in pursuit of our vision for a better Africa is still required and the Bill should be engaged and finalised.

The impact of Brexit on the United Kingdom and European Union requires the ANC and government to urgently facilitate research and dialogue on this matter.

The government must set up a clear coordination structure that can manage and ensure guidelines are adhered to in managing the international activities of cities and provinces.

Policy consideration and New Policy areas

- Economic diplomacy policy position articulating the NDP vision 2030 and beyond should be discussed and drafted.

- Cultural diplomacy has grown and gained momentum. The ANC has to develop a clear policy position on the elevation on cultural diplomacy in its ability to enhance economic diplomacy and political diplomacy, incorporating it through Brand South Africa as a contribution to the arts and creative industry.

- Noting parliaments’ increased role in global matters and South African parliament’s strategic participation, a clear parliamentary diplomacy framework is developed to ensure cohesion and consistency in the articulation of our Foreign Policy. The ANC needs to give policy direction to government on the implementation of the decisions of the 52nd, 53rd and 54th Conference calling for the establishment of the South African Development Partnership Agency to place on par with other emerging powers.

- The growth in diplomacy provincially and in municipalities is increasingly being used by states accredited to South Africa as an entry point to influence our foreign policy. The ANC has to resolve on the policy framework issues for provincial and municipal engagements with states accredited to South Africa, which ensures stronger coordination and to ensure alignment of all stakeholders to the National Foreign Policy

- The ANC to formulate its policy position in regard to the emerging world order following the Ukraine-Russia conflict. It should take into cognisance the major global changes resultant of the positions taken by the big powers on the conflict, inclusive of the threats to the dollar hegemony and Visa-Mastercard dominance of international payment systems, and diversification of sources of energy and oil. Non-alignment in global geo-politics is also taking on new nuances.

- The ANC must take a policy position on the White Paper that was withdrawn and decide if it will be introduced, what its parameters will be, what its purpose will be, what form it will take and to what end. The South African national interest should also be clearly defined for this white paper.

- Given that the nature and character of progressive forces as we know them is changing even in our region and given that the ANC is courted by various parties across the world looking for relations, the ANC needs to clarify its policy position regarding progressiveness and what parameters must guide decisions in party- to-party relations and solidarity.

- There is rising geopolitics fluidity in Africa, divisions among African countries in global forums and discussions. Work needs to be done to unite the continent around our shared interest, the advancement in development to realise the AU Agenda 2063 through progressive means. The ANC must ensure that government puts Africa back in the centre of its foreign policy and rebuild relations on the continent clearly outlining the policy positions and implementation strategies to realise these set out goals and enhance our relations through engaging political parties and governments in our African in advancing our collective interest.

- Growing tensions amongst African foreign nationals and South Africans needs to be addressed by the ANC and government. The root causes of populism and acts of xenophobia need to be discussed with communities and migrants.

- The ANC has to reflect and focus on the 2024 Zimbabwean elections.

- Women and Gender inclusivity into our foreign policy has to be taken into account with the rising focus globally and continentally on the deliverable outcomes of the SDGs 2030 of “leaving no-one behind” and the intensive focus by organisations like the UN, OECD, and other international bodies on Women Empowerment through climate change and technology and financial and Economic Inclusion as resolved by the AU Summit of February 2020 that dedicated a decade to African Women Financial and Economic Inclusion.

- Given the growing embrace of the idea of feminist foreign policy among progressive partners across the world and noting the danger that this is being hijacked by powerful western forces for reasons that have little to do with the interests of women of the world, the ANC must consider developing its written position on women and/in foreign policy

- The importance of developing a strategy to engage the 6th Region of the AU, the African Diaspora on the implementation of the AU 2063 Agenda, AfCFTA, NEPAD, climate change; encourage them to invest into ensuring a better Africa through the set AU programmes as drivers of change.

- Digital Diplomacy has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and has impacted and changed the way we engage on all levels. Digital Sovereignty, Cybersecurity, tools of trade for engagement, effects on missions abroad, effects on International organisation engagements are some of the areas that need to be ironed out and a clear policy framework be developed for the ANC and government to maintain integrity and security of engagements.


The solidarity movement as we know it is very weak globally. Covid-19 has made countries and its people to become more protectionist and inward looking. The shifts in the global balance of forces has impacted on global solidarity, whereas the conflict in Ukraine has further pushed global solidarity to the back.

Africa must be at the centre of our focus, thus the importance of political education in educating the members of the ANC and the public on the sacrifices made by various African countries in our fight against apartheid is of paramount importance.

Africa Day should also be utilised to promote this education, the AU anthem, and the broader education about the importance of our unity in the continent.

The ANC and its alliance partners continue showing solidarity through campaigns led by Cosatu and the SACP, advocacy, seminars and humanitarian-aid on Western Sahara (Sahrawi); Palestine, Swaziland/Eswatini, Cuba and Venezuela. The ANC’s provincial solidarity campaigns have been weak and would be more effective with the resuscitation of the Provincial International Relations Committees and where changes in leadership on Provincial level happen, some of the previous committee members should be retained and used as resource persons to create continuity and capacity for implementation.

Policy Considerations and new developments

- Reflecting and reviewing its resolution to downgrade the diplomatic relations with Israel, given the aggressive expansion of Israel on the African continent and the necessity to engage Israel on the intensification of the brutal occupation of Palestine, and given what we know about the implications of this resolution on our Diplomatic capital.

- The Annexation of the Jordan Valley by Israel which is illegal in international law, the United Nations Charter and the Rome Statute

- US and EU imposed Sanctions on Zimbabwe entitled “Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act” (USA) both commercial and financial penalties/restrictions and travel sanctions on individuals and entities in Zimbabwe, while EU and UK sanctions remain in force since 2002 of an arms embargo, targeted assets and travel bans. These sanctions have implications for Zimbabwe and the region. This is a continuous contentious issue needing engagement and results in huge migration of Zimbabweans to countries in the region particularly to South Africa.

- The Imposition of sanctions by the USA on Venezuela in violation of international law

- Hosting of International Solidarity Conference to reignite global solidarity which was not able to take place due to COVID-19. The conference has to take place post-Covid to ensure the weakened global solidarity movement be reignited in strengthening people-to- people relations.

- The ANC has a draft concept document on how to engage diplomats as part of driving the ANC Campaigns.

- The success of the implementation of solidarity and campaigns requires better communication and involvement of the various stakeholders, alliance partners and Provinces. Most activities are implemented by the Provinces and Alliance partners and thus reigniting branch mobilisation in campaigns is important.

- The ANC also needs to create campaigns on the issues affecting migrants in line with the 54th conference resolutions and values and principles of the African National Congress.


The ANC’s resolve on the creation of a Better Africa and a Better World remains key to its revolutionary objectives, taking cognisance of the ever-changing objective and subjective material conditions in a world that is not static. We will not attain our goals if the balance of forces is not in our favour. Our new theme, in "Pursuit of Progressive Internationalism in a Changing World”, all efforts must be directed to rebuild and strengthen the progressive movement nationally, continentally, and globally.

Some of the decisions previously taken are becoming difficult to implement as they are taking longer due to complex changes. For instance, the African Union (AU) has resolved to reform or transform the International Criminal Court (ICC), and to review the Rome Statute with a view to strengthen it without withdrawing from it. For us to withdraw at this stage would undermine the African consensus having recently chaired the AU. In keeping with this AU position, a number of countries that had committed to withdraw have changed their positions, also because Venezuela and Palestine have approached the ICC to challenge the USA and they will need the support of African countries. Further, the Malabo Protocol providing for an African alternative court to the ICC has been hampered by insufficient ratification.

Therefore, this calls on the NPC to take note of these new developments that dictate a review of the 2017 position.

Indeed, the ANC’s character and ideological orientation as a revolutionary liberation movement committed to the fundamental transformation of international relationships is crucial. This enjoins the ANC to assess itself in this regard and arrive at ways in which this outlook may be strengthened. This historical duty of the ANC towards progressive internationalism also requires its ability to mobilise like-minded forces all over the world in pursuit of the transformation of the current world order towards one that is democratic, just, fair and multi-polar. To this end, the strengthening and requisite capacitation of the ANC head office, the Department of International Relations especially, deserves utmost attention as centres from which solidarity, campaigns, party-to-party and multi-party relations, and the implementation of the plan of a better Africa in a transformed global order are coordinated, managed, and monitored.

The ANC needs to reinvigorate discussions and activities to pursue a progressive international order as its long-term goal.