Briefing by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at the GCIS Parliamentary Media Briefing: Friday 15 September 2000

This briefing is taking place, a few days after the historic UN Millennium Summit, which put the challenges of Africa high on the international agenda.

In the last few weeks I have visited Latin America and South East Asia, for bilateral discussions and for meetings with our heads of missions in the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

We openly, frankly and self-critically assessed whether the Department of Foreign Affairs indeed the South African government and other NGOs have the capacity to meet the key objectives of our foreign policies viz the developmental challenges confronting Africa.

Our starting point was the acceptance of the reality that foreign policy is a reflection of our domestic policy and its major objective is to protect our national interests. Whatever we do either in government or outside of govenrment must always be premised by the question. Is it serving the interests of our country and our people? President John F Kennedy said: "Ask not what the country is doing for you but what you are doing for the country". Today the most important challenge facing us is the consolidation, deepening and strengthening of our non-racial and non-sexist democracy. To meet our objectives we must ensure that South Africa achieves people centred sustainable economic development and prosperity. Some critical challenges that we will have to tackle are - how do we ensure that South Africa has greater market access; greater export possibilities; greater foreign direct investment; more joint partnerships; greater technology and skills transfers; greater opportunities for human resource development; greater overseas development assistance and of course a greater number of tourists.

As you seek to answer these questions we have to accept another basic reality, namely, that South Africa cannot be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty. Our future is inextricably linked to what happens in our sub region, SADC, and the continent of Africa. Therefore, the African Renaissance is a vision that must underscore our foreign policy activities. We can’t afford the luxury of making the issue of the African Renaissance another industry for intellectual debate. The broad objectives of the African Renaissance have been identified by the President. Let me outline them. Firstly, the African Renaissance means the establishment of democratic political systems in our continent that will ensure the accomplishment of the goal that the people should govern and not the elite. Secondly, 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 peaceful means can be used to address the conflicting interests of different social groups in each country. Thirdly establish institutions and procedures which will enable the continent collectively to deal with questions of democracy, peace and stability. Fourthly achieving sustainable economic development that results in the continuous improvement of the standard of living and the quality of life of the masses of the people. Fifthly, 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 a supplier of raw materials and an importer of manufactured goods. Sixthly, ensuring the emancipation of women of Africa and lastly to successfully confront the scourge of infectious diseases such as HIV (Aids), Tuberculosis, Malaria etc. This is the basic outline of what African Renaissance is about.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations recently said: "the time is long past when anyone could claim ignorance about what is happening in Africa or what was needed to achieve progress. The time is also passed when the responsibilities for producing change could be shifted to African shoulders. It is a responsibility that humanity must face together. I believe that the expansion of the frontiers of peace, democracy and development in Africa would enrich not only ourselves but the entire world. This is the challenge that our foreign policy has to face in the coming millennium. South Africa is not a European outpost on the African continent. The success of the African Renaissance will be our success in South Africa as well. South Africa generally and the Department of Foreign Affairs specifically have a historical duty to put the renewal of Africa on the international agenda. The African Renaissance is not an event but a process we have no illusions about of the immense difficulties we face in meeting this challenge. Clearly we will make progress but we must also be prepared for setbacks. We must also be realistic and while we might have long shopping lists of what the African Renaissance might entail, we must identify and tackle priorities that we believe will take this process forward.

We must also accept the reality that Africa is not a homogeneous continent, with the same historic and geographic conditions, with the same levels of growth and economic development, with the same levels of democratic systems with the same levels of commitment of alleviating poverty and fighting corruption and indeed with the same commitment to oppose dictatorships military coups and conflicts. We have to understand the differences of our continent and begin the processes of identifying how we deal with the specifics of each country, while not forgetting the overall challenge facing us. We must understand that the African Renaissance in essence is a part of the broader long-term struggle to achieve a just and new equitable world order. The African Renaissance is not something separate from our day to day work to bring about transformation internationally and therefore in our country itself. And that means that we have to accept that the African Renaissance cannot be achieved by Africans alone. To achieve the African Renaissance we must identify ways to deepen South-South relations and on the basis of a strong South-South relations, deepen the South-North relations. Because without achieving the objectives of South-South relations on the basis of which we build South-North relations our vision of an African Renaissance will remain a dream. We are faced with the reality that we are living in a New World order that has fundamentally been transformed in the last few years. It is not just the ending of the cold war but globalisation has also become a reality. Today very few of us see globalisation as a conspiracy imposed on us. We must accept that we cannot roll back nor can we ignore globalisation. Globalisation has been made possible by the unprecedented dismantling of barriers to trade and capital mobility together with fundamental technological advances and steadily declining costs of transportation, communication and computers. Globalisation has resulted in faster economic growth, greater prosperity accelerated innovation and diffusion of technology and management skills and new economic opportunities. Since 1950 exports have increased tenfold. Mega multinationals have become a reality, a recent transnational communications takeover in the US created a company whose market value exceeds a GDP of nearly half of all UN members, though it is only the worlds fourth richest company. Foreign exchange flows has increased dramatically, it is now a startling one trillion dollars a day. Those who are in Asia and experienced the Asian crisis has alerted the world about the impact of the unprecedented movement of capital.

We are experiencing an unprecedented scientific technological revolution. In 1993 there were 50 pages on the World Wide Web, today there are more than 50 million. In 1993 143 million people used the Internet, by 2001 there will be 700 million users. In 1996 e-commerce market was 2,6 billion dollars it is expected to grow to 300 billion dollars by 2002. There are more computers in US than in the rest of world put together. The challenge confronting us in is how do we ensure that globalisation does not benefit just the few but benefits all, that peace and security holds not for a few but for the many, that opportunities exist not merely for the privileged but for every human being everywhere.

The Secretary General of UN said: "The central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the worlds people instead of leaving billions in squalor and he goes on to say that inclusive globalisation must be built on the enabling force of the market but significantly, he mentions that market forces alone will not achieve it, it requires a broader effort to create a shared future based on our common humanity in all its diversities. He then identified six shared values, freedom, equity and solidarity, tolerance, non-violence, respect for nature and shared responsibility. These values in a sense reflects the essence of the African Renaissance.

The African Renaissance is not some idealistic thing that we have conjured up. It is in essence, a vision of a New World order that is more caring and meaningful. The former Head of the International Monetary Fund, said: "A new kind of civilization has to be created, the global solidarity required does not mean offering something superfluous. It means dealing with vested interests, certain lifestyles, and models of consumption and entrenched powers of structures in countries". What does this mean? It means that we must mobilise all the forces that in the South and in the North, to ensure that the developed countries, take certain concrete measures, interalia;

the cancellation of all debts of the highly indebted poor countries.

the taking of extraordinary measures to ensure substantial increases in foreign direct investments in South Africa and other African countries; if after the second world war millions of dollars poured into Europe through the Marshall Aid Plan, because of the "spectre of communism" why is it not possible for us to mobilise the same amount of resources to take Africa out of the dire straits it is in at the moment. Our objective is a special program for the African Renaissance.

- to halt the reduction of overseas development assistance. It is unacceptable that as the developed countries get richer they cut their development assistance rather than increase it.

- we must increase our efforts to ensure that there is greater market access for the products of Africa including agricultural products. We need to mobilise against the developed countries policies of agricultural subsidies, which is helping to sustain their agricultural sector while keeping the prices at an artificially low level.

- we must tackle the issue of non-tariff restrictions, which all developed countries without exception imposes.

- In the globalised world order without getting on to the bandwagon of the technological revolution we cannot hope to achieve any successes in our vision of the African renewal. We must therefore ensure that Africa receives affordable technology.

"The central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the worlds people, while globalisation offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, while its costs are unevenly distributed …

Only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalisation be made fully inclusive and equitable"

The Summit therefore committed itself to making the right to development a reality for everyone, and to freeing the human race from want. It agreed to:-

address the special needs of the least developed countries at the UN Conference on the least Developed Countries in May 2001;

to adopt a policy of duty and quote free access for essentially all exports from the least developed countries;

to implement the programme of debt relief for the heavily indebted poor countries without delay and to agree to cancel all official bilateral debts of those countries in return for their making demonstrable commitments to poverty reduction;

to grant more development assistance.

The Summit resolved to:

Half by the year 2015 the proportion of the worlds people whose income is less than one dollar a day, and who are unable to reach or afford safe drinking water.

To ensure that by 2015 children everywhere, boys and girls will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that boys and girls will have equal access to all levels of education.

By 2015 to reduce maternal mortality by ¾ and under 5 child mortality by 2/3rds of current rates.

By 2015 to have halted and begin to reverse the spread of HIV AIDS, malaria and other infectious diseases.

An important objective of our foreign policy is the transformation of multilateral institutions. In the 1930’s, the attitude of "I’m not my brother’s keeper" or resulted in political revanchism, authoritarianism, militarism, unprecedented social upheavals and indeed communism. After the Second World War institutions were created to prevent this from happening again. The UN, the Bretton Woods Institution (IMF and the World Bank) and GATT which is today subsumed by the WTO. These institutions were created on the reality of an inter-national world order. Today globalisation has created a global neighbourhood and like the thirties if and if the uneven development of globalisation continues the spectre of billions of the poor becoming ungovernable will become a reality in the 21 st century. The developed countries are also beginning to accept that there can be no islands of prosperity in a sea of poverty. The developed countries cannot feel secure and they cannot hope to continue to develop while many other countries in the world get poorer. There are no borders or walls that can protect the developed countries from the effects of poverty, deprivation, infectious diseases, internationally criminal syndicate, terrorism and environmental degradation. We are able to challenge the negative impacts of globalisation given the common shared values everybody is talking about, i.e. a new world order which is more caring and more equitable. South Africa’s foreign policy objective is to change these multi-lateral institutions so that they become truly representative of the aspirations of all, - the powerful and the weak, the big and the small, the rich and the poor. It is encouraging to note that too.

Summit resolved to:

Spare no effort to make the United Nations a more effective instrument for pursuing all priorities, viz,: the fight for development for all the peoples of the world, the fight against poverty, ignorance and disease; the fight against injustice; the fight against violence, terror and crime; and the fight against the degradation and destruction of our common home.

Summit therefore resolved:

To reaffirm the central position of the General Assembly as the chief deliberative, policy-making and representative organ of the United Nations, and to enable it to play that role effectively.

To intensify our efforts to achieve a comprehensive reform of the Security Council in all its aspects.

To further strengthen the Economic and Social Council, building on its recent achievements, to help it fulfil the role ascribed to it in the Charter.

To strengthen the International Court of Justice, in order to ensure justice and the rule of law in international affairs.

To encourage regular consultations and coordination among the principal organs of the United Nations in pursuit of their functions.

To ensure that the Organisation is provided on a timely and predictable basis with the resources it needs to carry out its mandates.

To urge the Secretariat to make the best use of those resources, in accordance with clear rules and procedures agreed by the General Assembly, in the interests of all member States, by adopting the best management practices and technologies available and by concentrating on those tasks that reflect the agreed priorities of Member States.

To promote adherence to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel

To ensure greater policy coherence and to improve better cooperation between the United Nations, its agencies, the Bretton Woods Institutions, and the World Trade Organisation, as well as other multilateral bodies, with a view to achieving a fully coordinated approach to the problems of peace and development.

To further strenghthen cooperation between the United Nations and national parliaments through their world organisation, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, in various fields, including: peace and security, economic and social development, international law and human rights democracy and gender issues.

To give greater opportunities to the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society in general, to contribute to the realisation of the Organisation’s goals and programmes.

Specifically in relation to Africa the Summit resolved to:

To take special measures to address the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa, including debt cancellation, improved market access, enhanced Official Development Assistance (ODA), and increased flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as well as transfers of technology.

Build up capacity to tackle the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and other infectious diseases.

I am proud to say that SA made an important contribution to these very important decisions of the Millennium Summit.

The South African Government is accused of "punching beyond its weight". We can’t be diverted by such "childish infant disorder".

We have to accept that South Africa, because of its unique character, is a bridge between the:

Developed and developing countries

Between developing countries, - English speaking – French speaking. Between Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa – (Afro-Arab Solidarity).

between Africa and Latin America

between Africa and Asia

(Afro-Asia solidarity)

After 6 years of a democratic government, we can confidently say that we will not shy away from the role we must play in international affairs because of fears of being accused of acting like a "big brother".

President’s role

The President has played a major role in ensuring that the African developmental agenda is humanity’s agenda. His input in the Berlin; Commonwealth, Afro-Europe, G-77, Scandinavian, European, G-8 and Millennium Summit is internationally recognised.

Chairperson, today the world is constantly bombarded with sensationalists and instant reporting of African conflicts, African brutality, starving women and dying children. The Afro sceptics and Afro pessimists are daily re-enforced in their convictions that nothing good can come out of Africa. The Washington Post in an editorial said: "Africa’s apparent hopelessness is now so widely accepted that it is in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy". A BBC journalist who was based in South Africa, George Alagiah, wrote, " there is a lot of historical baggage to cut through when reporting on Africa. The view of the continent is infected with the prevailing view of the 19 th century". Explorer John Speke in 1860s said "As his father did, so does he. He works his wife, sells his children, enslaves all he can lay his hands on, and unless fighting for the lands of others contents himself with drinking, singing and dancing like a baboon, to drive dull care away" … there are many for whom these words still have resonance. He goes on to say, my job is to give a fuller picture but I have a gnawing regret that as a foreign corespondent I have done Africa a dis-service by too often showing the continent at its worst and too rarely showing it in its full flower. The Economist article entitled the "Hopeless continent". While correctly identifying some of the problems facing the African continent, is a dangerous reflection of the "historical baggage" that the BBC correspondent was referring to.

This reflects the 19 th century stereotyping that was so prevalent at that period and we Africans and indeed the world cannot indulge in the luxury of such racialist stereo typing sceptism and despondency. It is our task to constructively and critically examine the challenges and problems facing Africa. We must do so by dealing with the root causes of our problems and putting this in the proper context. We must also have a better understanding of the positive developments in our continent.

Historically and especially in the post colonial period our leaders in Africa spoke of Africa’s contributions to the very evolution of 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 human kind; they were referring to the magnificent courts of Mali and Timbuktu in the 15th and 16th centuries, to the works of rogue art in South Africa that are thousands of years old, to the artistic artworks of the Nubians and 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 the African awakening to restore this legacy. I strongly believe that the post-colonial leaders in Africa who raised the issue of the African renewal were sacrificed on the altar of the Cold War.

Today, in the absence of the Cold War, we are in a better position to take up the challenge of the African renewal. We have to ask some questions - why is Africa, which occupied such a place in the evolution of humanity, faced with the reality that despite our enormous potential and riches, the greatest number of the least developed countries of the world, found in Africa? [A startling 33 of the 42 of the world’s poorest countries are found in Sub-Saharan Africa.]

Why is it that in the majority of the African countries economic progress has performed so badly or declined?

Why has Africa lost its share of the world markets? Since the fifties, it fell from more than 3 % to less than 2 % in the mid 90’s and if South Africa is taken out of the equation the figure of Africa’s contribution to world trade is a mere 1.2 %. Why has the cumulative terms of trade losses cost us almost 12 % of our GDP? Why are so many of our countries still settled with severe debt problems? [In 1997 was estimated to be 159 billion and in 1999 has increased to 201 billion dollars] and we are faced with the reality that outstanding external debts in many African countries exceed entire GDP, and debt service requirements exceed 25 % of the total export earnings. No HIPC African country can achieve sustainable economic development if the debt issue is not resolved.

Why are we still faced with the reality that overseas development assistance has dropped more than one fifth in real terms since 1992.

Finally, why has Africa, including South Africa, failed to attract sufficient foreign investments? This is despite the fact that many countries in Africa have taken steps to create a climate conducive to foreign direct investment. What the media doesn’t report is that many countries have now put in place trade liberalization policies, the strengthening of the rule of law, improvements in legal and other instruments as well as greater investment in infrastructure development, privatization, greater accountability and transparency, greater degree of financial and budgetary discipline and the creation and consolidation of multi-party democracies. Investments in Africa earn the highest earnings on investments anywhere else in the world - 29%. But all of this has not resulted in foreign direct investments into Africa.

The dire consequences of the African reality is that sub-Saharan African is the world’s poorest region; with about half the population living on less than $1 a day. Average income is lower than in 1970. Saving are close to zero. Diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV/Aids are rampant. Electrical power consumption per person is the lowest in the world; Africa has 14 telephone lines per 1,00 Tokyo has more telephones to Africa continent and less than half of 1 percent of all Africans have used the internet. Today, Africa which missed out on the industrial revolution, is in danger or being excluded from the world global technological and information revolution.

We have also to confront the shocking 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 conflicts have become the scourge of our continent. We cannot accept the fact that over the past three decades over 8 million Africans have perished in the fires of ethnic and racial hatred, religious intolerance, political ambition and material greed. We cannot accept the fact that over 15 million refugees and displaced persons live in terrible conditions. This is the highest number of refugees anywhere in the world. We cannot accept the fact that landmines are indiscriminately planted, injuring and killing innocent citizens and that the infrastructure of many countries is systematically destroyed and their agricultural land laid to waste. Kofi Annan, " In intra-state conflicts in Africa, the main aim increasingly is the destruction not only 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 itself". South Africa as one of the relatively advanced developed countries in the African continent has a responsibility to ensure that all our activities, in the context of the Africa Renaissance is aimed to bring about peace and stability on the African continent.

We should look at some root cause of conflicts:

Politics ethnisised

"Winner takes all" – mentality

Power of elite and marginalisation of masses

Wars "privatised"

International competition for Africa’s resources

The World Bank and other studies found that Africa's economies are generally characterised by narrow commodity exports with little beneficiation of diversification, therefore highly vulnerable to market fluctuations in demand and commodity prices. Primary markets limited to the North, to which Africa countries highly dependent for its imports; large rurally based agricultural population, engaged in subsistence economy, alongside a weakly developed large urban based economy; weak macro economic policies and management principles combined with low skills, low productivity, corruption and lack of regulatory frameworks, lack of reliable socio-economic data. Therefore, there is a unstable environment for sustainable economic growth and development; weak infrastructure in most sectors, interactive, industrial, manufacturing, services, socio-economic, legal, transport, communications and information technology. Majority have rurally based subsistence economies with under developed agro-industrial sectors; land is often communally owned and characterized by poor infrastructure, environmental degradation with unsustainable energy resources.

Why faced with this reality are we confident that we can achieve an African Rennaisance?

"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 or our common universe … I believe that the new African generations have learned and are learning from the experiences of the past. I further belief that they are unwilling to continue to repeat the wrongs that have occurred" [President Mbeki].


Regional integration is a sine qua non for the continent’s renewal. Therefore SADC is the foundation on which we seek to make the 21st Century an African Century.

The aim of SADC is to create a Community providing for regional peace and security, sector cooperation and an integrated regional economy. As a regional institution it has laid the basis for regional planning and development in southern Africa. SADC forms one of the building blocks of the African Economic Community (AEC).

Our vision for the Southern African region is one of the highest possible degree of economic cooperation, mutual assistance where necessary and joint planning of regional development, development of basic infrastructure, the development of our human resources and the creation of the necessary capacity to drive this complicated process forward, as well as the urgent need for peace, democracy and good governance to be established throughout the region.

The countries of the Southern Africa regional can achieve their full potential only through close cooperation in the exploitation of natural resources in a coordinated fashion, the pooling of technical expertise, the armonisation of trade practices and the promotion of economies of scale. This is one of the principal tasks of the SADC.

The SADC Free Trade Protocol, implemented on the 1st September is an important step to achieve integration. Other sub-regional groupings such as ECOWAS and COMESA have also taken decisions to accelerate their integration process. This undoubtedly will open up new possibilities for sustainable development in the region and the continent.

The increased development of our common Transport, Electricity and Telecommunications infrastructures will also accelerate the economic development of the Continent.

Chairperson, the SADC Region does not function in isolation. In this regard it needs to form partnerships with the rest of the international community which will significantly increase its chances of success. Europe as a strategic partner has a major role to play. Europe’s share of the world’s GDP amounts to 25% and it accounts for 20% of world trade.

In this respect, SA is a member of the 3-country steering committee driving the Berlin initiative, which strives to foster closer cooperation between the European Union and SADC. Priority issues that are included under this initiative are the consolidation of democracy in the Southern African region, combating illicit drug trafficking, clearance and landmines, regional integration, promotion of Trade and Investment and combating HIV/AIDS.

Chairperson, Africa’s commitment to change is reflected, inter alia, by

the decisions of the Algiers Summit of the OAU, July 1999, which called for the year of peace; the condemnation of coups and the decision to prevent any country, which had carried out a coup since 1997, from participating in the OAU; [the delegations of Cote ‘d’Voire and Comores were not allowed to participate in the last OAU Summit in Togo because of their unconstitutional change of government; the decisions to tackle issues such as corruption, terrorism, international criminal syndicates an environmental degradation.

the decisions of the extraordinary summit of the OAU held in Sitre, Libya, which called for a frank assessment of the organisational structures and work of the OAU

the decisions at the last OAU Summit to establish an African Union and to initiate discussions on the formation of an African Parliament.

The African Union is a merging of the political and economic tasks confronting the OAU. The new structures are:

Assembly of Heads of State and Government which is the supreme organ. It will meet at least once a year. Chairman will be elected by the Summit.

Executive Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs or designated Ministers.

Specialised technical units. Composed of ministers and senior officials

Committee on rural economy and agricultural matters

Committee on Monetary and financial matters

Committee on trade, customs and immigration matters

3.4Committee on Industry, Science and technology, energy, natural resources and environment.

Committee on Transport, communications and Tourism

Committee on Health, Labour and social affairs

Committee on Education, culture and Human resources.

Other institutions envisaged

Pan African Parliament

Court of Justice

Financial institutions

African Central Bank

African Monetary Bank

African Investment Bank

A secretariat of the Union

Permanent Representative of Committee of Ambassadors based in Addis Ababa

A advisory organisation on economic social and cultural council composed of NGOs



"We are the miracles that God made to taste the bitter fruit of time/we are precious/and one day our suffering will turn into the wonders of the earth". To make this dream come true what do we do?

I am reminded of what President Mbeki said at the historical 1st ever Africa-Europe Summit. "Summit will "have meaning only to the extent that all of without exceptions, wage the struggle to end human suffering in Africa with the passionate intensity of the humanistic who have given dignity to despised human beings, while others were happy to enclose themselves within the little worlds of selective and false fulfilment".

The objective of South Africa’s foreign policy is to ensure that millions of people, throughout the world, join us in the trenches of humanity.

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 9 September, 2004 3:43 PM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa