Address by Deputy Minster Aziz Pahad
to the 5th Edition of LA Conference De Montreal on 'Africa
and the Middle East", First Plenary 15 May 2000
Chairperson the Honourable Minister Maria Minna, distinguished
speakers, distinguished delegates -
I am greatly honoured to participate in this conference.
My presence at this conference is yet another reminder
that six years since the birth of our democracy, the
reality that South Africa is not a European outpost
on the African continent, but an African country whose
destiny is inextricably linked to that of our continent,
is fast gaining momentum.
I am especially happy that my friend and mentor, H.R.H.
Prince El Hassan Bin Talal, who is not only a champion
of the African cause, but also a champion for a just
and durable peace in the Middle East, and indeed a champion
of millions of innocent victims of conflict and underdevelopment
in the world, will be an active participant in this
Today the technological revolution and information
super-highway has ensured that you, in your living rooms
and bedrooms are constantly subjected to instant and
sensational images of African conflicts, horrifying
brutality, and harrowing pictures of dying children
with begging bowls. This has, not surprisingly, given
rise to a resurgence of "Afro-pessimism" and
a tendency to recount "a rosary of complaints"
The false pre-colonial and colonial characterisations
of Africans as either "child-like noble savages",
or worse, as "sub-human, barbaric, dirty, stinking
savages", can once again be seen as a reality.
The article on Africa in the most recent edition of
the "Economist" magazine is a shocking reminder
of such prejudices.
I am haunted by the nightmare of children in the developed
countries running for their dear lives when they hear
that the "Africans are coming !"
The conference programme and the impressive array of
experts participating is a clear indication of your
commitment not to indulge in the luxury of scepticism
and despondency, but to constructively and critically
examine the challenges facing Africa. I have been asked
to speak on the Rebirth of the African continent, a
truly daunting task to achieve in the time allocated.
I hope that you will bear with me as I attempt to meet
this challenge, and that you will appreciate why it
is not possible for me to adequately deal with all the
relevant issues, inter alia the scourge of HIV/Aids,
environmental degradation, the international criminal
and drug syndicates, international terrorism and the
reform of the United Nations institutions. All of which
impact on the rebirth of the African continent.
Historically and especially in the post colonial period
African leaders spoke of Africa's contributions to the
very evolution of human life and also of ancient times
when Africa was the leading centre of learning, technology
and culture. They were referring to the increasing discovery
of evidence which points to Africa's primacy in the
historical evolution of humankind; to the magnificent
royal courts of Mali and Timbukto in the 15th and 16th
centuries; to the works of art in South Africa that
are thousands of years old; to the artistic works of
the Nubians and the Egyptians; to the sculptured stones
of Aksum in Ethiopia; the pyramids of Egypt; the City
of Carthage in Tunisia and the ancient universities
of Egypt, Morocco and Mali. Those leaders called for
an African reawakening to restore this legacy. The vision
was there, the time was not right.
Today, as we prepare to enter the new millennium, there
is a renewed spirit of confidence and self-assertiveness
on our continent. The participation of two great African
leaders, President Obassanjo of Nigeria and President
Boutleflika of Algeria in this Conference, is an example
of this. Out of the ashes of despair, despondency and
military dictatorships, these two leaders played a major
role to restore democracy in their respective countries.
Once again they have taken up the mantle of revolutionaries
for the African rebirth. They are outstanding examples
of what the South African President, Thabo Mbeki, was
referring to when he said that "there exists within
our continent a generation which has been victim to
all things which created the negative past; this generation
remains African and carries with it a historic pride
which compels it to seek a place for Africans equal
to all other peoples of our common universe ... I believe
that the new African generations have learned and are
learning from the experiences of the past. I further
believe that they are unwilling to continue to repeat
the wrongs that have occurred".
These new generations of leaders are fighting for the
African rebirth under very changed conditions. What
* Firstly, the colonial system in Africa has finally
been liquidated as a result of the liberation of South
* Secondly, the masses and sections of the middle class
throughout the continent are increasingly recognising
the bankruptcy of nco-colonialism;
* Thirdly, the end of the Cold War has weakened the
struggle among the major powers for influence on our
* Finally, Globalisation has become a reality.
Today, Africans are again asking questions, inter alia
why, despite our enormous riches and potential, are
the greatest number of the least developed countries
found in Africa (33 out of 48), why has sub-Saharan
Africa's slice of the world trade fallen to three percent
in the mid 1950's and to one percent in 1995; why have
African exports fallen by 50% from 1985 to 1995.
Why do the majority of Africans live in countries where
progress performed badly or declined ?
According to latest UN statistics, of the 5 sub-regions
in Africa, only 2 accounting for only 25% of the continent's
population enjoyed a positive growth performance. Growth
decelerated in the remaining 3 sub-regions negatively
impacting on 75% of Africa's population.
Why has the world not effectively dealt with the debt
In 1980 the total debt stock of the highly indebted
countries, the overwhelming majority of whom are African
stood at about $59 billion by 1997 it had increased
to $201 billion. Outstanding external debts in many
African countries exceed entire GNP and debt service
requirements exceed 25 per cent of their total export
earnings. In the same period, the debt service paid
had increased from $5.9 billion to about $8.7 billion.
Why has official development assistance declined by
almost a 1/5th in real terms since 1992 ?.
It is estimated that in the period between 1992 and
1997 assistance to the highly indebted poor countries
declined from about $13 billion annually to $11 billion.
Why, has Africa failed to attract substantive foreign
direct investment ?
Many African countries have taken measures to create
a climate conducive to Foreign Direct Investment, which
includes trade liberalisation, the strengthening of
the rule of law, improvements in legal and other instruments
as well as greater investment in infrastructure development,
privatisation, greater accountability and transparency,
greater degree of financial and budgetary discipline
and the creation and consolidation of multi-party democracies.
Since 1990 the profit levels of foreign
companies in Africa has averaged 29%, higher than any
other region in the world. Sadly this has not led to
sufficient Foreign Direct Investment. Africa, which
has the highest number of least developed countries,
continues to grapple with the fact that its share of
FDI flowing to developing countries, declined from more
than 11% in the period 1976-1980 to 4% in 1996-1997.
The dire consequences of our failure to answer these
questions is that the largest percentage of people in
the world living on less than one dollar a day are to
be found in sub-Saharan Africa; growth per capita income
which averaged 1,3 per cent in the sixties, was reduced
to 0,8 per cent in the seventies and further reduced
to minus 1.2 per cent in the eighties; today per capita
income is as low as $500 per annum; electrical power
consumption per person is the lowest in the world; Africa
has 14 telephone lines per 1,00 and less than half of
1 percent of all Africans have used the internet.
We must find answers to these questions, otherwise
my nightmare of children running for safety when they
hear that the "Africans are coming", will
become a reality.
We seek to answer these questions in a New World order
that has changed dramatically in the last few years.
Not only do we have to deal with the legacies of the
past but now we are confronted with the phenomenon of
globalisation, liberalisation, deregulation and the
We believe, and I am sure that the Conference will
agree, that the biggest challenge that humanity faces
today, is to ensure that Globalisation benefits all
- big and small, the rich and the poor. In our global
village, there cannot be islands of development-security
and prosperity in a sea of abject poverty and increasing
conflicts. This was so well underlined, too, in President
Obasanjo's speech last night.
The Managing Director of the IMF, Michael Camdessus,
called for "A new kind of civilisation to be created
... by making global solidarity more than just and adjunct
of national policies". He went on to say that "
the global solidarity required, does not simply mean
offering something superfluous. It means dealing with
vested interests, certain lifestyles and models of consumption,
and entrenched power structures in countries".
This demands that we have the political will to inter
alia address key issues such as:
* The cancellation of the Debt-burden of the Highly
Indebted Poor Countries;
* The taking of extraordinary measures to ensure substantial
increase in foreign direct investments in Africa, eg
the Marshall Aid Plan in Europe after the Second World
* Rather than continuing the reduction of ODA, what
steps need to be taken to increase the ODA and meet
the UN target
* What creative steps can be taken to give greater
market access for African exports, including agricultural
* What steps can be taken to ensure greater and affordable
technology to Africa.
The 5 members of the Security Council must show greater
commitment, seriousness and urgency when dealing with
the issues of conflict prevention and peace-keeping
Our experience is that:
* When agreements are negotiated, quick-fixes are sought
and there is too much emphasis on force rather than
substance, also that not adequate detailed attention
is given to the post-conflict, peace-making phase;
* It takes too long to take and implement decisions;
* Resources made available are inadequate and not effectively
* Usually the peace-keepers are under-equiped, ill-trained
and outnumbered, and there is inadequate intelligence
* Most significantly, the UN forces' mandates and authority
are severely restricted.
Increasingly our experience forces us to ask the question:
Are double-standards applied to conflict situations
in Africa as opposed to elsewhere.
As we seek partnerships to meet our challenges we are
acutely aware of our responsibilities. We cannot ignore
the reality that from Sierra Leone to Angola, from the
streets of the DRC to Sudan, from the killing fields
of Ethiopia and Eritrea to the killing fields of Rwanda
and Somalia, violent conflict has become the scourge
of the African continent. Over the past three decades
more than 8 million Africans have perished in the fires
of ethnic and racial hatred, religious intolerance,
political ambition and material greed. Over 15 million
refugees and displaced persons live in terrible conditions,
landmines are indiscriminately planted, the infrastructure
is systematically destroyed and our agricultural land
laid to waste.
Any call for the re-awakening of the continent will
flounder in the presence of such persistent conflict.
Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary General recently said:
"In intra-state conflicts in Africa the main aim,
increasingly, is the destruction not just of armies,
but of civilians and entire ethnic groups. Preventing
such wars is no longer a matter of defending states
or protecting allies. It is a matter of defending humanity
We must all honestly and constructively accept the
reality that we will fail the African people by not
addressing the root causes of conflict and by not taking
sufficient action to prevent conflicts. The African
rebirth demands that we identify the root causes of
African problems and take measures to tackle them.
Our discussions must be underpinned by the reality
that Africa is not a homogeneous continent with the
same histories and geographical conditions; with the
same levels of growth and economic development; with
the same levels of democratic systems; with the same
commitment to human rights and good governance; with
the same commitment to alleviating poverty and improving
the conditions, not of the elite, but of the masses
of the people; with the same commitment to fighting
corruption and with the same commitment to oppose dictatorships,
military coups and conflicts.
The causes of African problems reflect this diversity
and complexity. However there are a number of common
themes and experiences. Let me elaborate on some.
We are all acutely aware that Africa's civilisation,
prosperity and development was seriously effected by
the slave trade which robbed the continent of millions
of our youth and most productive people and re-enforced
the notion that Africans are sub-human.
This was followed by colonialism. Can we ignore the
consequences of the fact that at the Congress of Berlin
in 1885, African kingdoms, states and communities were
ruthlessly and artificially divided and unrelated areas
and peoples were just as arbitrarily forced together.
This period was characterised by the rape of Africa's
raw materials, the destruction of traditional, democratic
structures, the destruction of agriculture and domestic
food security and the integration of Africa into the
world economy as a poor and subservient participant.
When the wave of decolonisation started in 1960, the
newly independent states inherited this colonial legacy
which impacted on our attempts to achieve territorial
integrity and national unity. This was made more difficult
because many of the colonial institutions and laws that
Africa inherited were designed to exploit the imposed
divisions and create conditions for neo-
During this latter period, our continent experienced:
* One party states and military rule occupied pride
of place. This resulted in conflicts, civil wars, genocide
and the emergence of millions of displaced and refugee
* The creation of elites that thrived on corruption
and the looting of the country's resources;
* The existence of transportation, infrastructure development
and communication systems which were designed to serve
the trade needs of the colonial power and not to achieve
a balanced growth of the country's economies;
* Economies which were mainly based on extractive industries
and primary commodities. Such economies did not require
high levels of skills or education and therefore these
were generally not provided;
* The growth of the international debt burden which,
in some countries, combined with unfavourable terms
of trade, makes negative growth in national per capita
* And as a consequence of this, actual declines in
the standard of living and the quality of life for hundreds
of millions of Africans.
To add to our misery, during the Cold War period the
activities of the super-powers in the name of democracy,
rabid "anti-communism" and "socialist
revolutions" fueled many of Africa's conflicts
and under development. Africa was sacrificed on the
altar of the cold war. At the end of the cold war "democratic
anti-communist" or "socialist" states
were simply deserted. Without the external political,
military and economical support some African states
could not sustain the undemocratic, nco-colonial system,
and their political hold on economic and political power.
Consequently, unrest and violent conflict broke out
in many countries.
The 1963 OAU decision to accept the colonial boundaries
played an important role in limiting serious conflict
over state boundaries, however many countries are still
grappling with forging a national identity from artificially
created communities, and the long-term distortions in
the political economy.
Chairperson, while we cannot ignore the past, we must
go beyond it to also critically look at present internal
causes of underdevelopment and conflicts. Today some
leaders see political power as a means of exclusively
obtaining wealth, resources, patronage and other benefits
Secondly, in conditions of lack of democracy, and respect
for human rights, lack of transparency, lack of proper
checks and balances, lack of good governance the stakes
become increasingly high. And
when, as is the case of some countries, political parties
are usually regionally or ethnically based and are the
major source of employment, the problems are exacerbated.
That is "ethnicity is politicised" and groups
begin to believe that they have to capture state power,
democratically or undemocratically, to survive not as
a nation but as a group. Another element fuelling conflicts
is the international competition for and the exploitation
Our problems are also compounded by the fact that "war
is profitable". People who are making money out
of war, have a financial interest to ensure that conflict
continues. Such phenomena are not unique to Africa.
All this leads us to conclude that the authoritarian
legacy of colonial rule, nco-colonialism and the cold
war resulted in some rulers not needing to seek legitimacy
and they did not have to encourage representation or
people's participation. The over centralised and personalised
form of government resulted in weak and dependent civil
society, weak institutions of government and civil society,
human rights violations, ethnic and racial politics
and excessive corruption. These are fertile ingredients
for underdevelopment and conflicts.
Conflict prevention and resolution and people centred
development therefore demands a striving for good governance,
inter alia, respect for human rights and rule of law,
promotion of transparency and accountability in government
and enhancing of administrative and institutional capacity.
Today, freed from the shackles of Cold War analysis,
it is not dangerous to proclaim that economic, social
and cultural rights, i.e. the right to sustainable development
that benefits the people, the right to life, the right
to work, education and health is as important as political
and civil rights.
The Vienna Conference on Human Rights also affirmed
that the existence of widespread extreme poverty prevents
the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.
Despots and dictators flourish in an environment of
abject poverty, a sad reality for the vast majority
of Africans. We have to therefore tackle the issue of
poverty if we want to ensure that democracy, good governance
and the rule of law is not only achieved but sustained.
Chairperson, Kofi Annan recently noted: "The time
is long past when anyone could claim ignorance about
what was happening in Africa, or what was needed to
achieve progress. The time is also past when the responsibilities
for producing change could be shifted on to our shoulders.
It is a responsibility we must all face".
Canada's Africa Direct Initiative, La Conference de
Montreal and Canada's Africa trade strategy, released
on 4 May by the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew, Minister of Trade,
which is designed to increase Canada'-Africa business
opportunities and partnerships and which is "closely
linked to longer-term goals of Canadian Foreign policy
aimed at helping Africa to reduce poverty levels and
integrate into the world economy", (Canadian Press
Release), is a fitting response to the UN Secretary
It is clear from all that I have said, that our vision
of the African Renaissance deriving from our experiences,
covering the entire period from slavery to date, includes:
* the establishment of democratic political systems
to ensure the accomplishment of the goal that "the
people shall govern";
* ensuring that these systems take into account African
specifics so that, while being truly democratic and
protecting human rights, they are nevertheless designed
in ways which really ensure that political and therefore,
peaceful means can be used to address the competing
interests of different social groups in each country;
* establishing the institutions and procedures which
would enable the continent collectively to deal with
questions of democracy, peace and stability;
* achieving sustainable economic development that results
in the continuous improvement of the standards of living
and the quality of life of the masses of the people;
* qualitatively changing Africa's place in the world
economy so that it is free of the yoke of the international
debt burden and no longer supplier of raw materials
and an importer of manufactured goods;
* ensuring the emancipation of women of Africa;
* successfully confronting the scourge of HIV/AIDS;
* the rediscovery of Africa's creative past to recapture
the peoples' cultures, encourage artistic creativity
and restore popular involvement in both accessing and
advancing science and technology;
* strengthening the genuine independence of African
countries and continent in their relations with major
powers and enhancing their role in the determination
of the global system of governance in all fields, including
politics, the economy, security, information and intellectual
property, the environment and science and technology.
(President Thabo Mbeki)
We know that these objectives will not be achieved
overnight. It is a process that will take decades. We
have no illusions about the difficult path we have to
traverse. We know that, while we make progress, we will
also have many setbacks. However, we are moved by a
commitment and determination to make this the African
How has Africa responded to this challenge. Since its
inception, the OAU guided by its Charter has been seized
with the objectives of peace and sustainable development.
In 1990 the OAU adopted the African Charter for Popular
Participation in Development and the landmark Declaration
on the Political and Economic Situation in Africa and
the Fundamental Changes taking place in the World. In
1993 an OAU Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management
and Resolution was established and in 1999 the OAU adopted
a Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism,
which re-enforced the OAU Convention on the Elimination
of Mercenaries in 1985.
The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (1981)
and the 1998 Protocol on the Establishment of the African
Court on Human and Peoples Rights provided important
instruments to ensure that the observance of human rights
is an integral part of our objectives of durable peace
and sustainable development.
The signing of the Treaty in 1991 of the African Economic
Union which came into force in 1994; the Cairo Agenda
for Re-launching the Economic and Social Development
of Africa were fundamental decisions to ensure that
we achieve socio-economic cooperation and development
on the continent.
With a new sense of confidence and belief that Africans
must become determinants of our own destinies and that
Africa's problems must be solved by Africans, albeit
with the support of the International Community, the
OAU Heads of State and Government meeting in Algiers,
July 1999 proclaimed the year 2000 as the year of peace,
security and solidarity in Africa. It called on all
countries to intensify their efforts to end all conflicts
by the end of that year.
It further "expressed its grave concern about
the resurgence of coup d'etat in Africa," and decided
that member states whose governments came to power through
unconstitutional means after the Harare Summit 1997
(which took a decision that the organisation should
no longer tolerate accede to power by unconstitutional
means) should restore constitutional legality before
the next summit, or face sanctions and non-recognition,
and requested the Secretary General to assist in programmes
intended to return such countries to constitutional
and democratic governments.
The Heads of States also candidly posed the question:
"Do we have the capacity to meet our challenges?".
Consequently an Extra-ordinary Summit of OAU Heads of
State and Government was convened in Sirte, Libya to
look at ways of strengthening the organisation to make
it more effective in order to meet our challenges.
The Summit resolved to revitalise the organisation
in order to play a more active role and continue to
be relevant to the needs of our peoples and responsive
to their demands.
It re-iterated the call to eliminate the scourge of
conflicts, which constitutes a major impediment to the
implementation of our development and integration agenda.
The summit decided to convene the first African Ministerial
Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Co-operation.
The Conference was held in Abuja, Nigeria, from 8 -
9 May 2000. This historical Conference concluded that
peace can be promoted through effective institutions
of conflict prevention, management and resolution. Also
that respect for democratic values, human rights and
fundamental liberties are vital pre-requisites for the
achievement of security, stability, development and
The Conference identified four interconnected and interdependent
calabashes - security, stability, development and cooperation.
Peace, security and stability is seen as prerequisites
to development and cooperation while the erosion of
security and stability is considered as a major impediment
to our development
This was be the first time that such a conference on
such a scale took place and it would undoubtedly give
impetus to our objective to make this an African Century.
Since 1994, with the advent of democracy in South Africa,
we bilaterally and through regional and multi;lateral
structures have sought to influence post cold war international
relations. This includes the need for South Africa to
play a role in conflict prevention and participating
in peace support operations.
The White Paper on South Africa's participation in
International Peace Missions tabled in Parliament on
24/2/99 states that "the nature of peace missions
has changed dramatically over the past decade ..".
The military is now but one of the many role players
in processes in which civilians have become increasingly
essential to mission success and that "our strong
national interest and experience in the peaceful responsibility
of seemingly intractable conflicts compels us to participate
in peace missions". Such participation is increasingly
a prerequisite for international
respectability and for an authoritative voice in the
debate or the future of international conflict management
and the reform of inter-governmental organisations such
as the UN, the OAU and SADC (Southern Africa Development
The South African National Defence Force has already
started specialised training for its personnel. This
is timely because we are committed to participate in
peace support operations in the DRC and other conflict
Our first priority is conflict prevention but when
conflict breaks out we can't avoid our responsibilities.
At the first ever historic Africa-Europe summit recently
held in Cairo, President Mbeki said:
"Cairo will have meaning only to the extent that
all of us, without exception, wage the struggle to end
human suffering in Africa with the passionate intensity
of the humanists who have given dignity to despised
human beings, when others were happy to enclose themselves
within their little worlds of selective and false fulfilment."
I am confident that this audience will be in the trenches
of the humanists. We must mobilize millions of people
in government and civil society to join us in this trench.
The strong foundations we together laid during the struggles
of the Vietnamese peoples, the struggles for a just
peace in the middle East and the anti-colonial and anti-apartheid
struggles in Southern Africa, provides us with an excellent
foundation on which to build.
Africa's time has come, let us through action make
our rebirth and renewal a reality. This is in the interest
of all humanity and not just Africans.