Launch of Foreign Affairs: Imbizo 23 August 2005, 09H00 - 13H00 Jameson Hall, University of Cape Town, Cape Town. Media Statement by Deputy Minster Sue van der Merwe, 18 August 2005

BACKGROUND

1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will launch its First Imbizo, under the theme "People United in Peace and Friendship towards a better Africa in a Better World". It will take place on 23 August 2005 at the Jameson Hall, University of Cape Town from 09h00-13h00 as part of government's approach of listening and engaging with people so that together we make concrete progress in building a better life for all.

2. The objective of the DFA Imbizo as with all other government Izimbizo is to engage with people and communities in a direct, unmediated interaction to build partnerships for development. Like all other previous government Izimbizo, this is underpinned by the principle of participatory democracy.

3. In this Imbizo we will be discussing foreign policy and its relevance to our domestic challenges. It is in this spirit that the DFA seeks to engage with civil society in an endeavour to hold a dialogue on the extent to which South Africa's foreign policy agenda addresses the aspirations of the people of South Africa.

4. The universal values which South Africa strives to achieve are also those to which it aspires for Africa, the South and the rest of the world. Our vision remains that of an African continent that is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable.

5. We decided to begin our Imbizo programme at the University of Cape Town. The University has an international relations department and links to many African tertiary institutions. It also has a large body of international students, many from the rest of Africa and from the SADC region in particular. Vice Chancellor Ndebele is the Chair of the Association of African Universities, and in this regard he has discussed co-operation with Minister Dlamini Zuma. particularly with regard to NEPAD and the participation of civil society in the organs of the African Union notably ECOSOCC. Professor Ndebele therefore very generously also offered to host this Imbizo.

6. In this regard, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs extends its gratitude to the Vice Chancellor Prof. Njabulo Ndebele and the management of the University of Cape Town for providing us with their facilities for this launch.

7. It is indeed fitting that this Imbizo is being launched at an institution of learning and excellence from which society expects the development of ideas and the generation of knowledge. As President Mbeki said in a recent visit to UCT "universities are fountains of knowledge, whose specialities include constant development of ideas and ongoing rigorous interrogation of old beliefs and assumptions" The President also pointed out the importance of co-operation and that in the future there could be partnerships among these institutions and with ourselves. As the President emphasized in his address: "the African university must be at the heart of any sustainable effort to rebuild our continent."

8. The Imbizo should assist all of us to work towards answering the fundamental question of how African universities could help consolidate the positive changes in Africa, give them more impetus and meaning and help our continent address the manifold challenges that impact negatively on the lives of African people.

9. In this regard, we still face many challenges in deepening popular democracy and in empowering state and civil society to serve citizens better.

10. Of course this particular interaction and engagement constitutes only the starting point. We hope to extend this programme of Izimbizo to all the provinces over the next few years and to engage with communities on our foreign policy and its meaning to ordinary South Africans and a range of sectors.

11. It is our view that we should listen and learn - collaborate, share ideas and engage in practical programmes that would ensure that our people experience prosperity and move away from the legacy of underdevelopment and exclusion. Of course, this is not simply a South African problem or an African problem. It is a reality confronting the world right now, especially developing countries.

12. All our efforts are geared towards finding ways and means of bridging the gulf between the two worlds of affluence and poverty. This is what we focus on within our country as well as in the world at large. And we can learn from others as they too can learn from us.

13. Hence our participation in a whole range of regional, continental, global, bilateral and multilateral structures. Hence too our partnership with India and Brazil in the IBSA initiative and in AASROC and in working with the African Diaspora.

14. The Department of Foreign Affairs continues to make advances in the implementation of the Government's Programme of Action through furthering governmental efforts in the transformation of our country and continent, in working towards the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment and the entrenchment of peace and democracy as well as the achievement of the overall goal of a better life for the people of Africa and the wider world.

15. Accordingly it is our hope that we will engage with the Western Cape academic community and with a view to hearing their views on South African foreign policy, its conduct, implementation and its effects on ordinary South Africans and how we can improve on our deliverables. As I have said earlier: our role will be to listen and to learn.

16. I trust that through this interaction we will find ways, both as government, and also as institutions of higher learning and the rest of society to improve on our collaboration as we implement practical programmes of consolidating the African agenda and building a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it!

PARTICIPANTS

1. Academic community from UCT, University of Stellenbosch, University of the Western Cape and the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.
2. research organisations attached to these institutions who work on international relations issues;
3. WESGRO
4. Premier of the Western Cape and the Mayor of Cape Town
5. Members of the Parliamentary committees on Foreign Affairs
6. The SRC and other student bodies on campus
7. Communities around UCT

INTERACTIVE SESSION

The interactive session will be led by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma and will include Deputy Ministers Aziz Pahad, myself, and the Director-General of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba

PROGRAMME

Even though the thrust of the programme, which will be chaired by the Director-General Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba, will be an interactive session with the participants, there will an opportunity for the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Vice Chancellor Prof. Njabulo Ndebele to address the Imbizo during the opening section. Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs will help field questions.
I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
P/Bag X152
Pretoria
0001
18 August 2005.

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