Address at the Opening Session of The
South Africa-Algeria Bi-National Commission, Algiers,
22 September 2000.
Your Excellency, President Bouteflika,
Your Excellencies Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Your Worships the Mayors here present,
Business people from Algeria and South Africa,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
On behalf of the government and people of South Africa,
I am indeed happy to be in this historic city to re-affirm
and reconfirm a relationship born, many years ago, out
of the struggle to free our peoples from colonial rule.
This colonial rule which used the same logic whether
here in the northern most part of our common continent,
or in the southern tip of the same continent, is aptly
captured by Edward Behr in his book, "The Algerian
Problem" quoting a report by Jules Ferry, who helped
to establish France as a colonial power:
It is difficult to try and convince the
European settler that there are rights other than his
own in Arab country and that the native is not a race
to be taxed and exploited to the utmost limits.
settlers proclaim that [the conquered Arabs] are totally
incorrigible and utterly incapable of education, without
ever having attempted, over the past thirty years, to
do anything to drag them out of their moral and intellectual
It was this attitude of colonial arrogance, disregard
for the religious independence and cultures of the people
of Africa that unified our countries in the struggle
The belief that we were, as Behr observed in his book,
uncivilised people who obviously needed some education
from the colonialists was repeated in a different way
by Lord Shaftersbury about South African in a meeting
called by the Lord Mayor at the Mansion House in London
late in the nineteenth century.
It will be that, by God's blessing,
(that), civil and religious liberty shall prevail among
all the tribes of South Africa, to the end that they
may become civilised nations, vying with us all in the
exercise of the gifts that God has bestowed upon them."
It is on the basis of this common colonial legacy,
and the need for our peoples to reclaim their culture,
their civilisation and the right to determine their
destiny that when Nelson Mandela sought all-round assistance
in the struggle against apartheid, it was natural that
he turned to the Algerian people.
This assistance was given with selfless commitment
by the government and people of Algeria who firmly believed
in the liberation not just of South Africa, but of the
Furthermore, this solidarity, in the form of moral,
political and material support for our struggle, was
once again eloquently demonstrated by the role played
by Algeria in the expulsion of apartheid South Africa
from the United Nations. This was during your Presidency,
Mr. President, of the United Nations General Assembly
It is therefore very significant and a great pleasure
for me to pay homage to the people and government of
Algeria while reiterating our appreciation for the steadfast
solidarity on behalf of the government and peoples of
The establishment of the Bi-National Commission at
Presidential level is a natural continuation of the
close ties between our countries and a recognition of
the importance of translating these into structured
and concrete economic, trade, scientific and other programmes
that will have a positive impact on the standard of
living of our citizens while strengthening intra regional
Ten Technical Working Groups (TWGs) led by Ministers
and comprised of senior officials from both governments
have been meeting to determine areas of co-operation
and look at the possibility of signing additional agreements.
Each TWG has been dealing with a cluster of issues.
· Science, Technology, Culture, Arts and Education;
· Trade and Finance;
· Energy, Hydrocarbons and Mines;
· Agriculture, Fisheries, Water Forestry and
· Information and Technology, Telecommunications
· Justice and Home Affairs;
· Tourism, Youth, Sports, Women Empowerment and
· Industry, SMME, Privatisation and Pharmaceutical
· Security and Military.
Much work has already been done in a number of areas
such as construction, education, defence and the industrial
sectors of minerals and hydro-carbons. Strengthening
co-operation and bilateral relations in these and other
areas such as telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing
and the production of value added goods are just some
of the practical ways we can contribute to the reconstruction
and rebirth of the African continent.
I am very pleased that our delegation is accompanied
by a large group of South African business people. They
will interact with their Algerian counterparts to strengthen
relations amongst business people of our two countries
and hopefully agree on common business projects.
I am sure that most us are aware that President Bouteflika
while he was the Chair of the OAU, and myself as Chair
of the NAM were given the responsibility by the OAU
to engage leaders of the North, including the Bretton
Woods Institutions, on the issue pertaining to the struggle
to end underdevelopment and poverty, including the issue
of the need for immediate and effective alleviation
of the debt burden for Highly Indebted Poor Countries,
particularly those on the African continent. Our colleague
President Obasanjo was also assigned to this same task
by the G-77 at the last South Summit.
Since then the three of us, on the authority of the
OAU, have begun a process that would soon culminate
in a plan or a strategy that we believe should be used
as a platform for our engagement with the developed
countries so that together we can collaborate in the
development of our continent.
Our Bi-National Commission must, through the programme
that we will adopt, add to the realisation of the dream
of the African Renaissance, ensure that we together
entrench democracy and that we create vibrant economies
that should benefit all our people rather than few individuals.
I am confident that Algeria and South Africa will be
able to play a significant role in helping our people
to move our common continent forward.
I thank you.