ADDRESS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT ZUMA AT THE 21ST FRANCO-AFRICA SUMMIT

"Africa and the political challenges of Globalisation: Democracy, Human rights and Good governance:

Your Excellencies
Ladies & Gentlemen

For centuries Africa has gone through various phases of subjugation ranging from the slave trade, to colonisation, to the era of national liberation struggles and its attendant dynamics. As we were poised to enter this young century, we stood proud as Africans, because at last all Africa was free and we could claim the 21st century as our century - Africa's return. No part of our continent is burdened with the yoke of foreign rule. She has come full circle - Africa is a free continent again.

Africa has never had the opportunity to influence the events that have shaped her destiny over the years. We are beginning this century at a time when we have the possibility to determine, with less outside interference, the direction that our continent is to take. It is for this reason that we regard this century as Africa's Century.

As African leaders we recognise that there emerged, following our liberation, a trend where the gains we had made were reversed by prevailing world circumstances, such as with the cold war.

During this period many of our countries fell victim to foreign agendas with some collaboration from some of our own people.

African independence soon became synonymous with poverty, corruption, mismanagement of resources and "senseless" wars that only served the interest of those that instigated them. Valuable time for Africa's development was lost. Although not solely responsible for this "state of affairs", generations of Africans will continue to suffer the consequences.

However, despite these constraints, significant progress is being made towards the consolidation of democracy, good governance and the respect for human rights and the dignity of the peoples of Africa.

We are inspired by, and applaud the pace-setting example of African countries that are surely moving in this direction and are testimony to this new reality in contemporary African politics. While problems compounded by the national realities of some of our countries exist in many areas, we believe that progress is being made. This is so because many of us are committed to the construction of genuinely democratic systems of governance.

As Africans we know what needs to be done. Democracy, good governance and the respect for human dignity form part of our very nature and culture as Africans.

The deviation from these inherent values is a legacy of our dark past from which we have recently emerged. The slave trade era through to the period of colonial domination disregarded the human rights of African people and were by no means democratic.

It is important at this point to recognise that the ideals of democracy, good governance and the respect for human rights that we are increasingly accepting as leaders, cannot be sustained without a secure and stable environment.

In this regard the economic development of our continent is interlinked with its democratisation. It is an underpinning element of the successful recognition of human rights, good governance and democracy. The absence of a sound economic structure makes it harder to ensure the right of every African to human dignity. As African countries we have limited capacity to adequately address the issue of poverty and lack of health security as a result of our economic realities. This is in itself an inadvertent violation of the right of our people to human dignity.

As African countries we have limited capacity to adequately address the issue of poverty and lack of health security as a result of our economic realities. This is in itself an inadvertent violation of the right of our people to human dignity.

The President of South Africa, Mr Thabo Mbeki, is one of many leaders from the developing world, who have been insisting that Africa be given the right to assume its rightful role as a significant stakeholder in the international arena. In line with the principles of democracy and good governance, Africa is staking a claim for its full participation in the shaping of a new world-order.

At the same time, if we as African leaders are not vigilant in ensuring that the gains we are making towards consolidating a democratic order on the African continent, the many challenges associated with globalisation threaten to undermine the many opportunities that it presents to us.

Strict observance of the decisions that we as African leaders take in the OAU will further deepen the democratisation process that is unfolding in the continent.

Failure to adhere to the principles of democracy, good governance and the respect for human rights is not an option. The holding successful elections is not sufficient guarantee that democracy will hold from government to government.

To ensure long-term stability across the continent; and the survival of democratic rule we must develop, in our countries, electoral systems that are relevant to our national peculiarities -and build strong supporting institutions of democracy that will serve as the pillar of our countries. These must be strong enough to stand the test of time and not be vulnerable to manipulation and abuse.

As Africans, we should be vigilant and guard against the possible re-emergence of the practice of changing governments through unconstitutional means, as defined in the OAU Lome Summit resolutions.

Having said all of this, to meet these challenges, Africa needs a genuine partnership with the international community. Our partners have to develop a clear understanding and commitment to Africa's agenda. This should be visible even in those international fora where Africa's voice is not represented or is underrepresented.

In this regard the international community has an opportunity to make a contribution towards the achievement of the African Renaissance.

I thank you.


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