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National Assembly approves Foreign Service Bill

Among its provisions are that South African heads of missions abroad must be fit and proper persons.

Parliament of South Africa in Cape Town. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

CAPE TOWN - A bill aimed at professionalising South Africa’s foreign service has been given the green light by the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The Foreign Service Bill will now be sent to President Cyril Ramaphosa for his assent.

Among its provisions are that South African heads of missions abroad must be fit and proper persons.

International Relations and Cooperation committee chairperson Thandi Mahambehlala said a milestone provision in the bill was that heads of missions would have to be fit and proper persons, who were properly trained.

“This is to ensure that the face of our foreign policy remains accepted and in good stature.”

Mahambehlala said the bill provided a new framework for officials’ reporting lines.

“The bill is going to professionalise the foreign service of the Republic. Currently, the management of officials from different sectors of government is highly fragmented, with officials serving in missions abroad from different departments reporting directly to, and being managed by, their respective departments in South Africa.”

The bill also gives the minister of international relations and cooperation full responsibility for managing South Africa’s extensive property portfolio in foreign countries, which until now has fallen under the Department of Public Works.

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