Address by Deputy President Zuma to
the Opening Session of the African Caribbean pacific
(ACP) - European Union (EU) Joint Parliamentary Assembly
Issued by: Office of the Presidency
18 March 2002
Presiding Co-Presidents of the ACP-EU Joint Assembly,
Presiding Officers of the South African Parliament,
European Union Commissioner,
Presidents in the Offices of the ACP and EU Councils,
Co-Secretary Generals of the ACP and EU Secretariats,
Chairperson of the Committee of Ambassadors,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of Parliament,
Allow me to begin by adding to the warm South African
welcome that our visitors have already received. We
are indeed happy to have you in our country, and trust
that you are enjoying our hospitality.
Colleagues, I am truly privileged for the opportunity
to address you as you begin your important deliberations
on issues that affect the peoples of the North and South,
the developed and developing worlds.
Your gathering is an important one, as it confirms
the view that addressing poverty, underdevelopment and
instability is the responsibility of all of us, regardless
of whether we live in the North or South.
Your meeting here, in this important partnership of
parliamentarians, affirms the fact that we have to work
together to tackle the legacies of underdevelopment,
colonialism and apartheid. It is important for us to
discuss these issues, and also to ensure that whatever
we do, we do it in a manner that will enhance and consolidate
the sound economic and political relations that we have
Our approach must continue to be informed by the imperative
of promoting sustainable development, particularly in
African, Caribbean and Pacific countries.
The maintenance of constructive North-South dialogue
is of particular importance to all of us. It allows
us the platforms on which to discuss issues such as
globalisation, debt relief, trade and foreign direct
investment as well as improved infrastructure, especially
information and communication technologies.
We must note, ladies and gentlemen, that this session,
is taking place during the week in which the Financing
for Development Conference is being held in Mexico.
As part of the developing world, we trust that the
conference will deliver, among other things, an improvement
in the financial relations between North and South,
and especially a global financial architecture that
protects developing economies from ravages of currency
speculation. The issue of the need for the restructuring
of the financial architecture is indeed critical point
in the relationship between the North and South.
Honourable Members, we are happy that your meeting
is taking place on African soil. The African continent
has for many years been seen by some as a continent
of doom. We believe Africa should now be seen as a continent
of hope, and with good reason. The continent is moving
in the right direction, towards creating enabling mechanisms
for sustainable development, peace, stability, democracy
and good governance and culture of respect for human
Many will agree with us that sweeping changes are taking
place in Africa. The New Partnership for Africa's Development
(Nepad), has introduced a new beginning and has become
a blueprint for removing the continent away from economic
and development stagnation.
Nepad brings with it a new way of doing things, and
a new culture of managing the affairs of the continent.
This new way of doing things includes the fact that
for the first time, we see Heads of States and Governments
actively involved in driving Nepad, and becoming involved
in all processes regarding its conceptualization and
In addition, political leaders themselves are now raising
issues that they would have felt uncomfortable to discuss
in the past. These are issues such as the need for good
economic and political governance, the necessity of
working towards lasting peace and stability, and also
the need for instituting peer review mechanisms, to
ensure compliance with principles that would be agreed
The decision of the OAU not to recognise leaders who
come to power through military means is but one example
of the determination of African leaders to do things
Honourable members, I must stress that we take the
issue of resolving conflicts in the continent quite
seriously. Related to this question, a debate has begun
about the need to review the principle of non-interference
in the affairs of other states. While respecting the
sovereignty of all nation states, it is also a fact
that conflicts spill over into neighbouring states and
become the problem of more than one country.
The resolution of conflicts will create the right environment
for creating strong states, and will also prepare the
continent for sustainable development.
Honourable Members, you would also be aware that the
inaugural meeting of the African Union will take place
in July this year, in South Africa. The AU is being
structured to enable it to meet the challenges imposed
by the new global conditions, and for it to be able
to operate and execute its mandate in the new environment
and new way of doing things in the continent.
Given these developments, we would therefore value
the contribution of parliamentarians in promoting this
new culture and new way of doing things, and in improving
the quality of life of all in the developing world,
especially in our continent.
It is for this reason as well that we are heartened
by the kind of relations that the ACP and EU have managed
to foster, nurture and sustain. This will assist in
creating long lasting partnerships in the fight against
poverty and underdevelopment.
Having said all the above, colleagues, I think we should
appreciate the enormous responsibility that we face
as parliamentarians. One of the challenges is how do
we execute our oversight role effectively, for the benefit
of the people we represent, given the changing circumstances
in the world.
For example in Africa, you now have leaders who are
committing themselves to a number of important principles
and policies, such as peace, stability, democracy, good
governance and respect for human rights.
How then do African parliamentarians ensure that they
use their positions to ensure that governments implement
programmes they have undertaken to implement? The same
applies to any other part of the globe. The question
we need to answer is how do we as parliamentarians execute
our tasks in a manner that protects the citizens who
voted us into office.
Colleagues, before I conclude, allow me to remind you
of the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be
held in Johannesburg in August this year. The Summit
provides an invaluable opportunity to emphasise the
importance of tackling the challenges that poverty and
Colleagues, I trust that as ACP and EU parliamentarians,
we will play our role in infusing a stronger development
thrust to the North-South dialogue, at the Summit, and
Let us also use forums such as this one to further
strengthen dialogue, and work towards a new world order
that is just, equitable and peaceful.
I wish you well in your deliberations, and I hope our
visitors will enjoy their stay in our beautiful country.
I thank you.