Minster 's Speech to Tribute Magazine Forum on Africa Day, 25 May 2001

His Excellency, President Thabo Mbeki

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Leaders of political parties

Fellow Ministers

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are honoured to be invited by the Tribute Magazine to come to speak to you today about Africa Day. Africa that has given so much to us, Africa that has fought so unremittingly with us against Apartheid crime against humanity, so that as equal to any other, we can exercise our sovereignty as a people. We will forever be indebted to the continent and its people. Africa of which we speak is a cradle of humanity and has given humanity her civilisation and continues to hold unlimited opportunities for the future.

Let us re-state the obvious, we are of Africa, her destiny, her fortune or misfortune, her pain is inescapably ours. Thirty eight years ago our founding fathers, unfortunately not mothers, met at the epoch-making Conference to establish the Organisation of African Unity. At that Conference leaders such as Nyerere, Kaunda, Nasser, Nkhrumah and others with their rich and unfailing fountain of wisdom made the following commitment, " The purpose of the Organisation shall be to promote unity and solidarity of the African States and to intensify their co-operation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa".

President Oliver Tambo of the Movement from which I come had this to say on that watershed day "The Organisation of African Unity is one of the most hopeful symbols of African aspiration and determination to carve a proper place for our continent in the world".

To us, the sentiment of African solidarity and unity are deeply rooted and has always found expression in our Movement. The song Nkosi Sikelela I Africa composed by Mr Eric Sontonga in 1903, which became the national anthem of the ANC is inspired by this moving ideal of African brotherhood and sisterhood, and this outlook is expressed by our slogan (Mayibuye i Afrika).

On 1and 2 March 2001 in Sirte, Libya, the leadership of Africa took a far-reaching decision to transform the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union which will come into force when we host the OAU Conference next year. The decision to transform the OAU was adopted as a response to the ever- evolving process of globalisation, which has imposed serious and new challenges on the continent.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We all know of the sordid and indeed sad tales of the African continent from slavery which robbed Africa of her able bodied and healthy men and women to imperialism and colonialism which pillaged and plundered her raw materials, destroyed her culture, her traditional agriculture and domestic food security. These ventures and escapades on the continent were occasioned by a premise that as Africans if we were not equal to the marauders, we must have been sub-humans. Neo-colonialism perpetuated and reinforced the exploitation of the continent, while creating a self-serving and rapacious elite, whose only interest was the vertical integration into the dominant global forces.

The unstable political systems such as one party state and military dictatorship that followed only served to plunge the continent into the dark process of intractable conflicts, genocide and civil wars which resulted in the displacement of millions and the refugee populations, especially women and children. These coupled with the unfavourable terms of trade, debt overhang, declining Official Development Assistance, lack of FDI, Malaria, HIV/Aids and poor governance have led to the marginalization of the continent from the global economy.

Distinguished Guests

Notwithstanding, these pervasive and demoralising conditions which sometime seem to have assumed their permanency of place on the continent, a new generation of African leaders is emerging in the continent. This leadership is sufficiently outraged by conditions which defines Africa’s contribution to human development as only chaos, anarchy, internecine wars, barbarity, as well as the projection of Africa as nothing but the object of pity forever dependent on the mercy of others. It is this anger that has fuelled the movement for continental renewal, which seeks a space for Africa under the sun as any other.

This leadership is hard at work to create conditions where security, peace, stability, multi-party democracy, human rights, emancipation of women are the norm rather than exception, and where people themselves will regain their sovereignty to determine their destiny. To expunge from their political jargon models such as one party state, which themselves have become the cause and the source of instability and civil wars. Consequently, the decision by the Organisation of African Unity to ban from amongst their ranks those who usurp power by force confirms this relentless move towards the renewal of our motherland.

Pursuant to these bold initiatives, the O.A.U. mandated Presidents Mbeki, Bouteflika and Obasanjo to work on a plan for the economic rejuvenation to address the principal development challenge facing the continent. Presidents’ Wade and Mubarak have joined the three Presidents. Following extensive consultation with their colleagues inside and outside the continent, with international financial institutions, multilateral institutions, business and the civil society an embryonic stage has been reached. These leaders working very closely with their regional counterparts have identified the following areas as deserving the undivided attention of the continent and constituting the basis for the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme namely (MAP.). The areas are:

Peace, security and governance
Investing in Africa’s people
Diversification of Africa’s production
Investing in Information Communication Technology and basic infrastructure
Developing financing mechanism
A question would be rightfully asked, why would this Programme succeed when similar initiatives have in the past failed to extricate the continent from its economic quagmire. We would hazard a response, that now for the first time ever, there exist a conjecture of circumstances internationally which will permit the continent to be successfully integrated into the global economy. Events such as the Millennium United Nations Special Declaration on Africa confirm this determination to work together with Africa to overcome her marginalization.

The recently held Conference on the Least Developed Countries majority of whom are in Africa took profound decisions fundamentally to deal with the extraordinary conditions facing these countries. We set ourselves target dates to do this work. We just held a productive meeting with the US Secretary of State, General Colin Powell on how the United States can work together with Africans to ensure the realisation of the objectives of the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme. MAP is designed by African hands for Africa and entails that Africans themselves take conscious decisions to effect change. It should not and must not be allowed to fail.

Distinguished Guests

The African leaders acknowledge that it is well nigh impossible for any economic activity to take place under the barrel of a gun. It is therefore, painlessly obvious that conditions of peace, respect of the constitutional guaranteed rule of law, human rights, sound economic governance are necessary prerequisites for success. The success of the MAP would be judged on its ability to substantially reduce poverty, which is disproportionately affecting women and children. That the majority of Africans subsist on less than 1$ is in itself the fertile ground for conflict. They are working conscientiously to ensure gender mainstreaming in public policies. The diseases that continue to strangle the African child demands a partnership between Government and the private sector. The impact of HIV/AIDS in Africa is devastating. In this respect, the recent court victory against giant multinational pharmaceutical companies in South Africa was Africa’s victory and the people of the world.

We cannot gainsay that the information technology revolution is the driving force of the process of globalisation. The information gap between the continent and the rest of the world determines who to a large extent has access to knowledge, ideas and information that drives development. Africa’s contribution to international trade lies with her raw materials. In this knowledge-based economy it is more imperative to work towards the benefaction of her products thereby adding value and ensuring the export of the finished product. The developed countries have demonstrated their commitment to help Africa close the digital gap through projects such as Dot Force and others.

Equally disconcerting is the fact that, African countries continue to be net exporters of foreign currency much needed capital in the continent. Issues such as Foreign Direct Investment, debt relief and the better-targeted Official Development Assistance deserve the urgent attention of the developed countries. Donor fatigue should be replaced with donor fury which refuses to witness one segment of humanity living in the conditions of quintessence, splendour and opulence, while the other live the degrading life of squalor, sickness and hunger.

Ladies and Gentlemen

President Luthuli the visionary, seeing into the future had this to say in 1961 about the continent’s rebirth "let me invite Africa to cast her eyes beyond the past and to some extent the present with their woes and tribulations, trials and failures, and some success, and see herself an emerging continent bursting to freedom through the shelf of centuries of serfdom".

The incontrovertible truth is that the Africa of hope is emerging like warming rays of sun on a cold winter day, ready to envelop us with its warmth. This Africa of hope challenges us to be warriors of her renaissance. This challenge is borne everyday by Africans in their peasant associations, village committees, professionals, civic movements, women’s organisations, they who rebel against individuals who think they are indispensable to the future of their countries, hence a need to tamper with the constitutions. They are the unsung platoon members who insist that it is through the negotiated settlement that the sister country of Angola can truly realise her true potential as an engine for growth in the region.

They quietly insist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that it is only through the Lusaka Peace Process that that great nation can indeed be a bulwark for change and prosperity in the region. They insist that out of conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea must necessarily come co-operation. They act so that those who lay waste to Somalia must find no joy by working feverishly for reconstruction and development of that country.

The incontestable reality is that African Renaissance is inseparably interwoven with emancipation of African women. She who has single-handedly and disproportionately born`e all the ills of the continent deserves a frontline position in the Battalion for the rebirth of our continent. The leadership in Africa can only ignore at their peril, the enormous contribution of more than half of the continent’s people. Women have given so magnanimously in the sustenance of the continent intellectually, politically and socially. Their creative energy, resilience and organisational skills will indeed ensure that this century belongs to Africa.

We wish to warmly thank the Tribute Magazine for allowing us the opportunity to share with you and prove to you that Africa is hard at work to achieve her re-birth. Tribute Magazine is the member of the Battalion of the mighty force of the continental movement for change and renaissance. By honouring these distinguished and gallant Africans today, men and women, you are confirming this long held view that out of Africa comes excellence. By reporting on the positive images of Africa without glossing over the negatives you are in your small way making a dent against Afro-pessimism so dominant out there.

Members of the Battalion strewn all over the continent and in the Diaspora speak boldly that the sun has not fallen on the continent but it has just set. This is a hundred years in which Africa must and shall regain her glory. Her children must and shall walk tall in pride and dignity well clothed, well fed and with security, in order to reach their true potential and to borrow from the President of the Republic "not being ashamed to be African".

I thank you.


Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 7 September, 2004 5:01 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