Speech by Deputy Minister Pahad at the Dinner for the SADC Parliamenary Forum, 17 April 2000, Cape Town

Honourable Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Frene Ginwala, Honourable Speakers and Deputy Speakers of the Southern African Development Community of Parliaments,

Honourable Chief Whips of political parties of Parliaments and MPs Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners of SADC member states accredited to South Africa

As you once again meet as the SADC Parliamentary Forum to elaborate on matters of not only regional, but also continental and global importance, it is indeed a privilege and honour for me, on behalf of the South African Government, Parliament, and people to extend a warm and comraderly welcome to you all.

The meeting of the SADC Parliamentary Forum comes at an appropriate and opportune moment, shortly after the African Europe Summit in Cairo, the NAM Ministerial Meeting held in Cartagena and the G77 Heads of State and Government Summit in Havana and before the OAU and SADC Summits due to take place shortly.

SOUTH SUMMIT PROGRAMME OF ACTION

"We the Heads of State and Government of the developing countries which account for almost four-fifths of the world’s population, have assembled here in Havana for the first South Summit at a truly historic moment in the evolution of human society. At the dawn of a new millennium, our countries and people stand at the crossroads of history poised between the achievements of the past and the hope and expectations of a yet uncharted future. Rather than be passive witness of a history not of our own making, we in the South will exert every effort to shape the future through the establishment of a world order that will reflect our needs and interests while also laying the foundations for a more effective system of international development co-operation. To this end, we undertake to pursue a sharply focussed action-orientated agenda geared to implementing a number of high priority initiatives within specified time frames."

I am convinced that the Programme of Action emanating from these meetings will have far reaching implications for the current global order as we in the South, and Africa in particular, strive to consciously reposition ourselves to play our rightful role in international and global affairs, seeking the long overdue restructuring of the UN, Bretton Woods Institutions as well as North-South interaction.

The Parliamentary Forum is an indispensable instrument to mobilise the masses of our people to actively work for the implementation of the Programmes of Action. You are also the institution that must ensure that we are generals to the idea of the separation of the powers of the executive and legislative.

Friends,

As we meet we are all acutely conscious that, in the post cold war era, there is a renewed spirit of confidence and optimism in our continent. This was reflected in the SADC Summit in Maputo, the OAU Summit in Algiers, and the Extra-ordinary OAU Summit in Libya. The message is loud and clear, we want to determine our own destinies, albeit in partnership with others. However, this partnership must be between equals and for our mutual benefit.

The time for Africa has come. This must be the African Century and the dawn of the African Renaissance. We are, as the elected representatives of our respective constituencies, duty and honour bound to work selflessly towards the realisation of our people’s aspirations. In the regional context, this Forum has a crucial role to play in ensuring that our region and its people benefit from our broader efforts to uplift our society through a co-ordinated, harmonised and integrated approach to sustainable development. This is based on our understanding that no country can be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty.

SADC is undergoing exciting and dynamic changes, which will equip our region better to deliver to its people on the promise of a better quality of life for all. Tremendous strides have been made over the past year towards community building. Most encouraging is the sense of political will, determination and urgency which SADC members have displayed in tackling the often difficult challenges that confront us.

As we continue to work towards regional integration, our priority should and must remain the effective implementation of decisions taken. We need to redouble our efforts in making SADC a delivery orientated organisation with the resources and capacity to bring about meaningful changes to the lives of our people. SADC is dynamic – it is reverberating with the infinite opportunities, which are ours for the picking if we work in unison for the social, political and economic transformation of the region.


You will be discussing SADC integration. I sincerely hope that all outstanding issues regarding the SADC Trade Protocol are resolved as soon as possible. Without integration we can not hope to achieve our long-term objectives. If SADC is to position itself strategically as a successful Regional Economic Community which will form a building block for the African Economic Community, and, if our vision is to bring to fruition the envisaged African Parliament, then it is indeed our duty and responsibility to intensify efforts towards regional co-operation and integration. The Forum has also clearly identified that to bring about sustainable growth and development in the region, we must make a concerted effort to ensure that security and stability prevails in the region and that there is a need to work towards achieving this goal by ensuring that we remain vigilant in protecting the rights of our citizens and ensure that the enormous gains made individually and collectively in achieving democratic practices remains on track. Democracy is a vital and favourable determinant in any environment for political, social and economic transformation because it provides for an inclusive participatory process in government’s and national institutions’ developmental success.


Peace, stability, security, good governance, respect for human rights, fight against poverty and people-centred sustainable development are inextricably linked. The Forum has an invaluable contribution to make to ensure that we are successfully able to meet this multi-faceted challenge.

At this juncture it is perhaps appropriate to make mention of the Review of the SADC Institutions that is currently underway, and its importance in strengthening the organisation and to enable us to meet our challenges. An enormous amount of time and effort is being spent to revisit the structure of the organisation in enhancing its capacity to deal more effectively with the numerous issues confronting it. The process should be completed for presentation to the Summit in Windhoek in August 2000.

The Forum must make an important contribution to these deliberations.

Friends

I am encouraged that your Agenda has identified the urgent and compelling need for us to look at exactly what the catalysts will be to bring about developmental integration in the region, and in this context the need to prioritise, refocus, and redirect the scarce available resources of the region towards achieving this goal. If we in our collective wisdom choose to achieve this prioritised goal, then we must display our commitment by setting benchmarks and timeframes within which we strive to achieve these goals. I agree with your view that central to any efforts intending to bring about integration is the need to harmonise national positions into regional ones. This Forum, as the regional "legislature" must as part of its responsibilities in national parliaments promote the regional agenda. Draft protocols once finalised, need to be signed and ratified speedily, to allow these protocols to enter into force.

This brings me to the criminal syndicates, who, with their sophisticated infrastructure and huge financial resources are willing to conduct their activities from our countries.

Your agenda has further acknowledged that it is not governments alone who can bring about transformation which benefits its people, but that civil society also needs to be consulted and included in SADC’s Programme of Action. This ‘smart partnership" is of strategic importance in making the process of integration a more inclusive and legitimate one with all relevant stakeholders actively pursuing the goals of the SADC. Critical to this will be the mobilisation of resources and joint planning of strategies and roles that will complement each other. If we are to succeed in determining and controlling our own destiny in the emerging world order, then it is imperative that we ourselves create circumstances which will be conducive to sustainable economic growth and development.

We in SADC have established the SADC Electoral Commission Forum in 1998. This Forum has a vital role to play in fostering co-operation between our member states in promoting a culture of democracy and free and fair elections. As we continue along our committed path to share our experiences one electoral systems with a view to reforming them and thus consolidating democratic processes it is incumbent upon us to continue to act with decisive resolve to make vibrant democracies and people centred development one of our principal objectives.

We do this not on instruction from others but because we sincerely believe in it.

Friends

The time for talk-shops has passed – it is time for action on measurable and quantifiable deliveries. We eagerly await your dynamic and pro-active Programme of Action.

In our quest to implement our Programme of Action we must exploit the opportunities presented to us in the various fora to constructively and on an equal basis interact with our International Co-operating Partners. However we must ourselves develop strategies and proposals for consideration by our co-operating partners.

As I said earlier we want partners not masters.

We enter the new millennium strengthened by the growing reality that SADC has a genuine commitment to learn from each other and to assist each other. Each of us is indeed our brother’s keeper. We have no illusions that there are no differences amongst us on certain issues.

If this was not so we should be worried, because it would reflect hidden agendas. We gain strength from the fact that our differences are not antagonistic.

In conclusion

Allow me once again to extend our warmest welcome to you all to South Africa, and to apologise for any unforeseen inconveniences which you may have experienced due to our inexperience and unintentional oversight.

I thank you.

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