Foreign Service should not be reward for corrupt cadres
5 September 2020
According to media reports, President Cyril Ramaphosa has followed in the footsteps of former President Jacob Zuma by appointing a heavy balance of Luthuli House warriors over career diplomats.
Career diplomats take pride in their service to the country and strive to reach the pinnacle of their careers. What message are we sending them when the only way to reach the top in South African embassies are by committing embarrassing acts or by being the children of prominent politicians. If we continue down the path, it will shrink the talent pool significantly and be to the detriment of South Africa.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) supported the Foreign Services Bill for a myriad of reasons, the most important is the minimum criteria clause that ensures potential diplomats have all the necessary skills before they can be drafted. This was a significant in ensuring the focus moved from rewarding “friends” of the ANC and towards South Africa being better represented.
It is bad enough that South African diplomats made headlines for smuggling or acting more like celebrities than public representatives. The fact that some appointees have apparently not been cleared by security and are not posted yet, is a further hindrance. These postings have been stalled for months on end. We have also seen officials and politicians alleged to have committed grave offences end up propped in Ambassador positions as rewards rather facing jail time.
The DA challenges the President to take the Foreign Services Bill that he recently signed, seriously to ensure that an improvement to South Africa’s international image and approach. It is time to show the world we want tourism, investment and that we can be consistent in our multilateral engagements.
Issued by Darren Bergman, DA Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, 5 September 2020