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Foreign Service Act Signed

June 8, 2020

The Presidency

The Foreign Service Act has been signed into law.

Parliament passed the Foreign Service Bill and sent it for assent in November 2019.

The bill was tabled in parliament in November 2015.

The bill was passed by the national assembly (NA) and sent to the national council of provinces (NCOP) for concurrence in December 2018.

In April 2019, the NCOP rejected the bill and returned it to the NA for reconsideration.

The bill lapsed at the end of the 5th parliament but was revived by the NA in October 2019.

It was designed to provide for the management, administration and functioning of South Africa’s Foreign Service.

The bill also aimed to put operational requirements in place that are suitable and support the Foreign Service.

The Foreign Service will be expected to represent South Africa overseas in an effective, coherent and comprehensive manner.

It is made up of all South African missions and their employees.

The international relations and cooperation department will also be expected to, inter alia, administer all foreign representations in South Africa, coordinate and align South Africa’s international relations between all three spheres of government, render protocol services to foreign and national dignitaries and conduct all diplomatic communications between South Africa and foreign states and international entities.

Requirements for members of the Foreign Service are set down.

Positions at foreign missions can only be taken up once security clearances have been issued.

The act aims to:

• provide for the management, administration, accountability, and functioning of a professional Foreign Service of the Republic of South Africa;
• provide for the operational requirements that are suitable and supportive of the operations of the Foreign Service in a global environment; and
• provide for matters incidental thereto.

The act comes into effect on a date still to be determined by the president.

The act also specifies that section 4(3) on requirements for the take up of positions at South African Missions including training and security clearance will come into effect on a date still to be determined by the president.