Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma to the Ministerial Follow-up Meeting of the France- December Africa Meeting, Paris 1999

Honourable Minister Vedrine, our host,

Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We would like to express our appreciation from the warm hospitality that we have received since our arrival in France. Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this follow-up meeting to the Franco-African Heads of State Summit on Security in Africa.

Security and development are two sides of the same coin. The millennium, which is winding to a close, offered neither to our continent. It was characterised by the most barbaric human practice of slavery, which robbed our continent of the finest sons and daughters, based on a racist notion that as Africans we are sub-human.

It was also characterised by colonialism and imperialism which resulted in the plunder of raw materials, destruction of our culture and heritage, our traditional ways of farming and domestic food security and integrated Africa into the world economy as a sub-servient participant.

This was punctuated by the rediscovery of our own soul and the restoration of our dignity during the titanic struggles for self-determination, drawing the inspiration from the knowledge that a continent that was the cradle of human life, capable of such creativity as represented by the stone buildings of the Zimbabwe ruins, the pyramids of Egypt, the Benin bronzes, the Makhonde carvings and the rock paintings of the Sans to name but a few, cannot have less humans.

The racist and colonial powers put up extreme resistance but the peoples of the continent were not discouraged because they understood that their security and development depended on the defeat of colonialism and racism.

Indeed, Africa regained its pride and dignity through the sacrifices of the heroes and heroines who gave their lives under the leadership of visionaries like the late Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, Agustino Neto, Julius Nyerere, Oliver Tambo, Amilca Cabral, to name a few. This process has just been completed by the defeat of Apartheid in South Africa.

These gains were short lived. Neo-colonialism perpetuated the same economic system as colonialism while allowing the emergence of new national elite’s in independent states and themselves were destined to join the dominant global forces in oppressing and exploiting the masses of the African continent.

Unfortunately the newly formed elite’s seem to thrive on the basis of looting of national wealth and the entrenchment of corruption. In addition the international debt burden has meant a decline of standards of living and the quality of life for hundreds of millions of Africans.

In the later years of this century we witnessed a continent ruled

by dictators, military regimes, leading to conflict, civil wars, millions of refugees, displaced women and children. In the words of President Mbeki at the launch of the African Renaissance

Institute: "We bore to witness to unspeakable genocide that descended on the people of Rwanda in 1994. We know that in the end, these extraordinary Africans ended the slaughter themselves because they took it upon themselves to make the determination that Africa will not perish at the hands of her own sons and daughters".

Since security and development are the sides of the same coin, whilst Africa was torn by conflict, civil wars, transnational crime, development became a pipe dream. It was also ravaged by extreme poverty, degradation of the environment and the destruction of agricultural land by landmines. Children became soldiers instead of scholars, they became victims of hunger, women had to bear the pain of seeing their children starve to death or die from preventable diseases.

Africa is experiencing the most devastating AIDS epidemic, made worst by their poor state of nutrition and poor health services.

Throughout this post colonial period the continent has searched for ways and means by which new countries can achieve good governance, stability and security. The leadership is mindful of the complexity and the challenge of good governance. The societies are multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-religious.

The majority is rural, poor and uneducated. The poorest being women, still seen only as bearers of children, The countries are also poor.

The elite who is relatively wealthy, educated and powerful within the new nation is few and concerted in the cities. Many amongst them were assimilated into the culture, language, the mores and society of the coloniser as a mark of progress and civilisation. Many of them saw themselves as closer to the former colonial power than the villages from which they originated.

Democracy and good governance based on the notion that "The people shall govern" and equality before the law is a prerequisite for the security and development.

Respect for human rights, accountability, transparency, intrinsic to democracy, lie in enhancing the participation of the citizens in governance, in maintaining vigilance against abuse of power and corruption. The citizens then become the owners of the development process.

The democratic system must respond to the objectives make up and dynamics of our societies because if it does not respond it may create new conditions for instability and insecurity. The state should contribute to the development of its people. Education, health and provision of basic services are important for stability and development.

As a continent, through the OAU, having taken the decision that the year 2000 is Africa's year of peace, we must aim to ensure that by the end of the year 2000 no part of our Continent should be victim of the wars of destruction.

This will bring to a close a period in our history that has condemned many peoples on our continent to the cruelty of military conflict.

Our best challenge would be how to deal with debt and poverty. How do we ensure that peace, stability and security is indeed followed by economic prosperity and rising standard of living for all the people of the continent? How do we make sure that Africa does nor perish in the throes of globalisation? For this we will need the co-operation and assistance of the developed countries.

The recent Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in its Fancourt "Declaration on Globalisation and People Centred Development" stated that "poverty and human deprivation constitute a deep and fundamental flaw in the world economy"; and that "the greatest challenge facing us today is how to channel the forces of globalisation for the elimination of poverty and empowerment of human beings to lead fulfilling lives".

The Summit Meeting of the African Caribbean and Pacific Countries, held in the Dominican Republic, and the WTO meeting that has just been concluded in Seattle, were grappling with these very problems posed by what the Commonwealth described as this deep and fundamental flaw in the world economy.

It must be us who are surrounded by poverty and human deprivation who lead the search for these answers. This entire system of global political and economic governance has to be reformed amongst other things, to deal with the question of equity amongst nations and peoples of this world.

The European Community, the G7 of which France is a member, have a critical role in both the reform of the global economic governance and the question of debt.

The developed world should mobilise the business community towards sustainable investments in the continent.

The African Intelligentsia, scattered in the Capitals of the developed world, has to see itself as part of motive forces for development in Africa.

We hope that the developed countries will have the political will, the courage and the sense of human solidarity to help us search for the answers that will ensure development in Africa.

No one in the developed and developing world should be proud of being wealthy and prosperous whilst millions go hungry and do not have access to affordable medicine and health care.

Security and development cannot be achieved unless women are treated as equals and integrated into all the political and economic decision-making processes. We cannot hope to reach the full development potential of our continent if women, who are more than half of the population, are marginalized.

The time has come to take the future into our own hands, clearly define our vision and mobilise resources, both national and international, in order to ensure security and development. We are left with no choice but to collectively cooperate in promoting socio-economic development and security.

In conclusion, chairperson, we should all be introspective about the role we have played in the past and the role that we ought to play. To those of us from Africa and the developed world, as represented here by France, let us commit ourselves here and now, never again shall we be party to what undermines security and development in Africa, our beloved continent.

As President Mbeki constantly declares the next century is the African century.


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