Notes following IRPS Cluster Briefing, Rainforest Room, 120
Plein Street, Cape Town, Tuesday, 15 February 2005
remarks by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
There will be no major shifts in our foreign policy because what anchors South
Africa's foreign policy remains unchanged. While our priorities may shift but,
there will be no major foreign policy changes.
· Much has happened
since we met last year - if we take a quick scan, we note there have been some
major elections in the region - Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Seychelles;
there have also been two changes of Presidents - Mozambique and Namibia. This
illustrates that the democratic agenda in the region is progressing. There have
also been elections elsewhere on the Continent - Ghana and Niger.We have also
seen a few problems - viz. Togo.
· The death of President Arafat
has heralded a new era in the Middle East. President Arafat has, since time immemorial,
spearheaded the liberation movement in the Middle East. For those who have liked
or disliked him, we hope that all will now be committed to finding peace in the
Middle East. We hope that the Palestinian people and the rest of the world will
build on his memory by building peace in this region.
· The US
held its elections and President Bush was re-elected.
· We did
however close the year on a very sad note where many lost their lives in the wake
of the South East Asia Tsunami. In this regard, South Africa must play its part,
as part of the international community, in working out how we assist especially
in South-east Asia.
· This disaster has illustrated very clearly
for us that we live in a global village. It is good that the United Nations will
focus on early warning assistance to avoid this kind of disaster in future.
We also saw 2004 close with a new challenge for President Mbeki - for him to assist
the people of the Ivory Coast find the way forward in the implementation of all
agreements up to Accra III. We have no choice but to try to achieve success in
this matter. President Mbeki has spent much time on this and will continue to
· We must remember that achieving peace on the Continent
is not an optional luxury - peace must be achieved.
· Let me mention
some of South Africa's priorities for 2005 - there will be no shifts although
changes may occur in terms of emphasis:
· SA celebrates the 50th
anniversary of the Freedom Charter - this gives us an idea of what the people
in 1955 thought of the future of South Africa. The Freedom Charter is therefore
the foundation of the people's parliament. A lot of what has been said there is
true and wise. We will reflect our own priorities against those of 1955 - most
of what they said should happen is now the foundation of our policies.
we look at the first principle - the people shall govern - this indicates democratic
governance, respect for human rights, etc. This is true for South Africa and should
become true for the Continent and the World. We continue to pursue this goal.
South Africa's foreign policy is underpinned by the African agenda - what we do
on the Continent and elsewhere is underpinned by our African agenda. In addition,
our policy cannot be seen in isolation of the people sharing the wealth of the
country - anything else would not be sustainable - the people would rebel. Sustainable
development is the other side of the coin of democracy. Tourism, investment, etc
are pursuits of developing the wealth of South Africa so that the people can share
in this wealth. Thus NEPAD is an endeavour to expand the wealth of Africa.
We will continue to consolidate bilateral relations with Africa and also central
Asia. Currently South Africa is making strides to develop strong links in particular
with Asian countries. - and there is potential for trade and investment expansion.
South Africa's first ambassador to Kazakhstan will be deployed later this year.
· Tourism expansion - there is the mistaken view by some in South
Africa that Africans should not be encouraged to visit South Africa - however,
if we look at the statistics, two thirds of South Africa's tourists come from
the continent. The view in South Africa that most of our tourists come from Europe,
etc is not true. We should encourage Africans to travel to South Africa by making
access easier. If we look at the air links, we understand that it is not viable
to travel to the rest of Africa via Europe - this must continue to be part of
our work through SAA and other airlines. We must also make the distinction
between legal and illegal visitors - those who come illegally to South Africa
will do so anyway because they do not use the visa route, etc. If we look at the
principle in the Freedom Charter that says: There shall be peace and friendship
- this implies not just amongst South Africans but all around the Continent. We
will continue to really strengthen tourism links.
· World Trade
Organisation (WTO) Negotiations - we will be paying special attention to the WTO
generally because we need rule based market access, etc. We must also conclude
this present round of negotiations - and we are looking at opening up markets
- not just for South African goods but for all African goods.
United Nations Reform - this will be one of our priorities in this year and for
the next few years to come. I believe we have made our position on this matter
very clear. South Africa has consistently called for UN reform - through working
with the Continent and the rest of the world.
· Millenium Development
Goals (MDGs) - we have to focus on whether we will achieve these goals - the recent
Jeffrey Sachs report says that from recent trends, the MDGs will be achieved in
a patchy manner but that Sub-Saharan Africa is the epicentre of a crisis. It was
welcoming to note that the recent Davos meeting paid great attention to Africa
- the MDGs will not be achieved if there is no focus on Africa.
In this year South Africa will be hosting the Progressive Governance Summit -
although not a very formal structure, it can influence the world.
South-South Co-operation - we will focus on strengthening this - South Africa
will host an India-Brazil-South Africa (Ministerial) meeting in the next few weeks.
An AASROC meeting will be hosted in Indonesia in April - this is an attempt
to strengthen trade and economic links between Africa and Asia. The Summit in
April will consolidate this agenda and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the
· Consolidation of relations with the Caribbean
- we believe that relations with this region should be strengthened - an African
Diaspora Conference will be hosted in the next few weeks (March 2005) to address
this matter - this was postponed from October 2004 - it is hoped that this conference
will culminate in an international Conference on the Diaspora.
Gender Parity - President Mbeki, some time ago, announced that South Africa must
achieve gender parity in all its undertakings. As a country we will strive towards
the achievement of this objective.
· South Africa will continue
to consolidate its work with regard to conflict resolution in the DRC, and Burundi.
· An historic agreement was signed at the end of last year between
the North and South in Sudan - we hope that this can be successfully implemented
and that the situation in Darfur can be resolved.
· Somalia - we
hope that the transitional government can return to Mogadishu. South Africa will
continue to play its modest role with regard to the re-establishment of the government
in Somalia. A South African team last week met with a team from Somalia to assess
what is needed.
· On Friday, we will meet with the AU Post-Conflict
Reconstruction Committee on the Sudan - we will meet with the SPLM and the Government
of Sudan in order to ascertain what is expected from this Committee following
the signing of agreements at the end of last and in January this year. We will
then need to visit Sudan as a team in order to assess the needs. Off course, we
will work closely with other international partners.
· This is
the new trend in the AU - not just agreements but post-conflict reconstruction.
Questions and Answers
Question Minister, do you
think that French troops should leave the Ivory Coast? What will happen if elections,
scheduled to be held in October 2005, are not successful?
troops are in the Ivory Coast because of a bilateral agreement between the governments
of the Ivory Coast and France. These troops were in the Ivory Coast before the
outbreak of the conflict with a further deployment after the outbreak. It is not
South Africa's role to interfere in any bilateral arrangement between two countries.
regard to your second question, experience has shown us that it is not good to
speculate on conflict resolution attempts - it does not help - what we should
be talking about is what we do now to ensure that the elections are held - let's
do everything we can to ensure that these do happen.
with regard to tourism, are we looking at visa exemptions, etc? With regard to
IBSA, is South Africa in a diplomatic conundrum with both India and Brazil asking
us to back their candidate for the WTO Director-General?
are not implying blanket exemptions but Africans should be encouraged to visit
Africa - this principle should inform us.
With regard to the WTO, many,
including Mauritius, which is in our region, have put forward their candidatures.
The Ministers of Trade and Industry will discuss on how to maximise the chances
of getting a candidate for the developing world through. At the end of the day,
the developing world has much in common internationally - this should be our priority.
: Minister, a recently concluded UN investigation has recommended members
of the Sudanese government and militia stand trial at the International Criminal
Court for human rights abuses. The United States would like a different approach
- eg. the Arusha Tribunal in Rwanda. What is the position of the South African
Answer Firstly, the report has not been distributed
to all member states. However, the ICC has been ratified by most UN member states
- including South Africa. We are aware of the problems experienced with the Arusha
Tribunal in Rwanda. However, the final decision taken with regard to this matter
will be done with all the facts at our disposal. And it must be remembered that
it is still too early for South Africa to take a decision because we have not
received a copy of the report.
Question Minister, President Mbeki
on Sunday hinted that a SADC group will travel to Zimbabwe ahead of the elections
- what is the progress in this regard, when can we expect the team to leave?
As you know, Zimbabwe subscribes to the SADC election guidelines- with regard
to these guidelines, invitations to observers are left to the country concerned
since this is a sovereign matter. As soon as SADC receives its invitation, it
will proceed to Zimbabwe.
Question Minister, Cosatu has hinted at
a blockade of borders. What is South Africa's reaction?
Answer : The
government's reaction will be governed by our own laws and regulations. South
Africa is a law abiding state - we will deal with the matter according to the
laws of this country.
Question Minister, you are saying that the
Zimbabwean government has not invited SADC as yet. Is this not a matter of concern
since the SADC election guidelines say observers should be invited 90 days ahead
of the elections? What are SADC's plans?
Answer : You must ask where
Zimbabwe was 90 days ago - Zimbabwe was still modifying its electoral law 90 days
ago - but yes, we would like SADC to be there and observe the elections. We will
be concerned if SADC is not invited to observe the elections - we do however hope
the invitation will materialise.
Question Minister, I am confused,
did I misunderstand the President - I thought he said the team could leave tomorrow
if they wished and that he had talked to President Mugabe in this regard?
: As chair of the SADC Organ on Defence, Security and Politics, we have spoken
to the Secretariat and member states and asked them to put forward recommendations
for a SADC observer team. As soon as the team is ready, they can go to Zimbabwe.
: Minister, are we not getting concerned regarding the timeframes with regard
to the elections in Zimbabwe - the deployment of a SADC team is continually postponed
and the elections are only a few weeks away?
Answer : The SADC guidelines
do not compel any country to invite observers ahead of their elections - there
could just be internal observers. For instance, South Africa invited the EU who
decided not to come to South Africa since they were assured that our elections
would be free and fair. A SADC country cannot be taken to court for not complying
with the SADC guidelines.
Question : Minister, do you believe that
enough has been done by Zimbabwe to comply with the SADC guidelines?
: Steps taken thus far are in accordance with the SADC guidelines. I have
just seen a report on comments by the leader of the opposition - I was heartened
to hear them say that violence has decreased and the public policing has increased,
Question : (Chinese News Agency) Minister, you spoke about
relations with Asia and said that the first Ambassador to Central Asia will be
appointed later this year - when and to which country?
Answer : China
has been centrally involved in AASROC. South Africa will be sending an ambassador
to Khazakstan - the Embassy has already been opened.
Issued by Department
of Foreign Affairs P/Bag X152 Pretoria 0001