Funding rogue states: South Africa's R770 million cheque to Robert Mugabe and Moussa Camara
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is dismayed by information presented before Parliament's portfolio committee on international relations by Harvey Short, Director of Nepad at the Department of International Relations, which shows that more than R770 million of South African state funds have been used to prop up rogue states, and countries that have a history of human rights abuses or non-democratically elected governments, over the course of the last three years, and under the auspices of the African Renaissance Fund (ARF).
The startling information revealed before Parliament yesterday showed that:
• A total of R600 million in ‘economic assistance' has been provided to Zimbabwe's government under the ARF, even though the international relations committee heard that South Africa does not track how the funding is spent. A total of R300 million was transferred in 2009 as part of an ‘economic recovery programme', a portion of it in the form of emergency food aid. However, during the portfolio committee meeting, when I asked whether the department had monitored and evaluated how the funds had been used, the response was that they had not. Parliament has seen no evidence that any of this money was spent on those programmes to which it had been designated. In fact, the documentation provided to the portfolio committee by the Department admits that the government "does not have [a] proactive planning mechanism, nor [is] monitoring and evaluation [in] place."
• A total of R172 million has been handed over to Guinea Conakry, beginning in 2008, the same year in which the country underwent a military coup that saw a military junta, led by Captain Moussa Dadis Camara. Disturbingly the ARF continued to fund two more projects in Guinea in 2009, whilst it was under the rule of Ct. Camara, only suspending a third due to political instability. In that same year the junta declared demonstrations illegal a day before a planned public demonstration in its capital city of Conakry, however according to media reports at the time, thousands of demonstrators defied this ban and assembled in a soccer stadium. The junta ordered its soldiers to respond, and 157 people were left dead in the ensuing violence. Again, officials indicated they have no way of knowing where this money was spent, and how much of it, if any, actually went towards the causes earmarked.
The African Renaissance Fund (ARF) has, since 2004, allocated over R1.2 billion to fund projects in over 17 African countries. The purpose of the fund and its stated guiding principles were described by former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Aziz Pahad, to include the "promotion of democracy and good governance, socio-economic development and integration, and the prevention and resolution of conflict". Clearly these laudable objectives have been usurped by the Department of International Relations' utter inability to oversee the implementation of the ARF, and the accountable distribution of funds.
We have no direct evidence that funds have been misappropriated, but we have no evidence either that funds were spent on the appropriate projects, and instead evidence that no monitoring of the use of the funds is in place. In the absence of proof to the contrary, it is very difficult to believe that these funds have gone where they should have.
What is equally disturbing is that the ARF has, as of March 2010, apparently accumulated R650-million in reserves, over a nine year period. I will submit parliamentary questions to establish why these funds are sitting dormant. This is an astonishing sum of money to leave in reserve - though it is understandable that some funds may be necessary for the purposes of emergency funding and aid relief, it would also appear that there the department has no idea where and how to spend its funds - that, on the one hand, we are seeing misallocation of budgets, to countries that should not be receiving blank cheques, while on the other hand there is no proper mechanism in place to identify those countries in need of funds for development projects, and allocate those funds efficiently.
The minister of international relations needs to get funding allocations at the ARF under control. I will request an urgent meeting with Ms. Nkoane-Mashabane, to discuss this matter, and look at ways of instituting oversight mechanisms to ensure that funding is allocated appropriately.
Statement issued by Kenneth Mubu, MP, Democratic Alliance Shadow Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, August 5 2010