The European Union promoting democracy in South Africa: strengths and weaknesses



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The European Community’s Special Programme on South Africa, Brussels: Rue de la Loi, 200, 1993.

16 After the release of Nelson Mandela, the Programme objectives were revised and in the period 1991-1993 a further ECU 147 million was committed [Holland 1997].

17 In February 1990 the ANC and other political parties were unbanned, and Nelson Mandela released. The EC responded by a gradual lifting of sanctions. In February 1991 the investment ban was dropped and in early 1992 other sanctions were removed. The sanctions related to the military sector were the last to be lifted between late 1993 and May 1994.

18 Three of the first five joint actions regarded election assistance and monitoring. The first one was conducted in Russia during the elections of December 1993. After South Africa, a third initiative was conducted in the Middle East in 1995.

19 The EU Electoral Unit in South Africa (EUNELSA) was established on 24 January 1994 and a total of 307 observers were subsequently deployed. Further assistance was provided across a range of sectors: additional European police officers were assigned to assist in security; personnel were provided for mediation tasks, logistics, election administration and most notably for voter education. Overall, the EU deployed 450 people in the Republic and provided some 12 million ECU specifically for the electoral process. The 307 observers were, on average, deployed for a considerably longer period (between one to three months) than the more numerous 1,800 or so UN observers, the bulk of whom were present for just one week. In terms of observer days spent in South Africa, the EU was perhaps the major player.

20 While South Africa has had a Delegation attached to the European Commission in Brussels since the early 1970s, formal ties between the Commission and the Republic were prohibited during the apartheid years.

21 The package included: and offer to negotiate a simplified agreement quickly in order to have a legal basis for cooperation; the granting of the benefits of GSP to South Africa, except for agricultural products; technical support to the process of regional economic cooperation; promotion of EU investments in small and medium-sized enterprises, through the instruments of the European Community Investment Partners (ECIP); continuation of the Special Programme at a substantial level of expenditure; introduction of political dialogue.

22 The South Africa’s qualified membership of Lomé came into effect in June 1998. While not eligible for non-reciprocal trade preferences and access to funding from the EDF, South Africa participates fully in the Lomé institutions and its firms have access to tenders and contracts for EDF projects in all ACP countries.

23 On 30 June Commissioner Pinheiro presented the details of the EU proposals to his South African counterpart, Minister of Trade and Industry Trevor Manuel. Although good progress was made on the non-trade aspects, in the sector of trade many problems arose, with South Africa accepting the idea of an FTA, on the understanding that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”. In March 1996, the EU Council adopted a mandate in which the free trade would not involve ‘sensitive’ agricultural products. It was only in 1997 that South Africa presented its official negotiating position, after the approval of the Lomé Protocol in which South Africa was reserved an associate membership of Lomé and the approval of a bilateral Science and Technology Agreement.

24 The TDCA was signed in 1999 and entered into force in 2000, even though the full agreement will come into operation after all Member States’ parliaments have ratified it.

25 The EPRD has been defined “the largest and more generous aid programme in Africa” [Lister 1997:163]Besides the EPRD, one should also consider that the European Investment Bank (EIB) began lending operations in South Africa in 1995, following a request from the European Council. Since 1995 the EIB committed the following amounts: in 1995-1997, € 300 million; in 1998-2000, € 375 million; and in 2000-2006, € 825 million [MIP 2003-2006].

26 The NDA has often been accused of being ineffective and, recently, the Commission has been considering the possibility of finding a different way to administer its decentralised cooperation.

27 Result areas are generally concentrated on organisational development, human resource management, training and alike. Interestingly, one of the key areas of the programme was devoted to research, which also included, besides ad-hoc publications, salaries of researchers to committees and political parties.

28 The PSP has made a relevant contribution to public participation in all provincial legislatures and parliament included. The contribution has extended to include: awareness campaigns, public participation drives to stimulate interest and participation, mock parliaments for different constituencies such as women and youth, a wide range of promotional materials and information documentation such as fact sheets, files, t-shirts, posters, stickers, radio programmes, website development, involvement of civil society organisations, etc.

29 The ex-post evaluation has highlighted features like “focus on result areas interpreted in line with internal priorities in the PMU, inflexibility, preoccupation with internal systems and procedures, ineffective communication, low level support provided to clients, slow administrative pace of processing funding applications, poor leadership and tenuous relationships with client institutions” [EU-PSP 2003: 73]. The evaluation detects a turning point in 1998 when the programme finally took a more flexible stand and paid more attention to evolutionary priorities and practical needs.

30 Interviews with the author, but also documented in Habib and Taylor (1999), Landsberg (1999).

31 The ANC was traditionally suspicious of NGOs which were not directly under its influence. In 1994, it put forward the proposal (not enacted upon) that all NGOs would be required to obtain a government license to operate. Successively, the office in charge of the RDP started realising that NGOs could be a useful instrument for the government and tried to harness them with financial means, but too late to avoid the dissipation of many of them [Simkins 1996].

32 This project is implemented by the Sa Labour Development Trust, a joint venture of the three main South African labour federations, COSATU, NACTU and FEDUSA.

33 Like in the case of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria.

34 According to the traditional system, only amakhosi are entitled to decide on land distribution and administration.

35 Interview with the Director of the FHR, Yasmin Sooka.

36 When citizens believe they are victims of unfair laws or decisions, the FHR can decide to provide funds for legal sustain and forward the case before local or national courts, or even before the Public Protector or the Constitutional Court. In this regard, the FHR seems particularly interested in receiving applications that are precedent setting in nature, have a significant constitutional impact and that promote the human rights of vulnerable disadvantaged communities and groups: applications that are therefore consistent with other legal programmes of the FHR, like ‘pro bono’ training for lawyers, the establishment of the ‘amicus curiae’ or the development of ‘class actions’.


37 The deconcentration process started in 2001, under which the EC headquarters in Brussels devolved certain powers to the Delegation in Pretoria. In May 2002, EuropeAid established its official mission at the Delegation in Pretoria. The Delegation is now responsible for the approval of annual work-plans and payments for nearly all EPRD budget lines.





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