Address by Deputy President Zuma at
the Opening Ceremony of the 4th Session of the South
Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission
Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, The Vice President
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Government Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Ministers
of State present,
Premiers and Governors present,
Representatives of local government,
Captains of industry,
Members of the diplomatic corp,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is always a great pleasure to welcome you, My Brother,
and your delegation, to South Africa, given the warm
relations that exist between our two countries.
It is therefore my honour and privilege to welcome
you to the Fourth Session of the South African-Nigerian
Before dealing with the business at hand, allow me,
Your Excellency, to express our most sincere condolences
following the tragic loss of life during the unfortunate
incident at the Ikeja Military Cantonment in Lagos in
January this year. Our thoughts were and still are with
the Nigerian people.
Let me dwell briefly on progress we have made so far
in this BNC.
During the inaugural session in Abuja in October 1999,
we identified potential strategic sectors of co-operation.
These were formalised during the Second Session held
in South Africa in April 2000, through the establishment
of six Working Groups and the conclusion of six co-operation
Last year in Abuja, the progress made within the various
existing sectors of co-operation was consolidated, and
new areas of co-operation were included, through the
conclusion of a further five bilateral agreements, two
Memoranda of Understanding and a Declaration of Intent.
Mr Vice-President, I am confident that the Fourth Session
will see a further consolidation of existing co-operation,
as well as the formalisation of yet unexplored areas
Let me also allude to the fact that the enabling environment
created by the Commission has contributed to increased
engagement between the private sectors of our two countries,
and growing business-to-business linkages.
South Africa particularly welcomes the establishment
of joint ventures between South African and Nigerian
parastatals and other institutions in this regard, such
as the recent joint venture concluded between South
Africa's ESKOM and the Nigerian Energy and Power Authority.
In addition, the trade data indicates substantial increases
in trade between our two countries, between 1993 and
2000. During that period, exports have grown by more
than 200% and imports by 400%.
Colleagues, we are meeting amidst a rising urgency
for accelerating the improvement of the quality of life
of our peoples. As we speak, President Mbeki and President
Obasanjo are meeting in Abuja, together with thirteen
co-members of the Heads of State Implementation Committee
of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
Our Heads of State are showing the way by being hands-on
in their approach to solving the problems of our continent.
It is our duty to assist them in this endeavour by making
the priorities and objectives of NEPAD come alive, within
the context of this BNC.
The NEPAD sectoral priorities have been defined as
bridging the infrastructure gap (which covers sectors
such as information and communication technology, energy,
transport, water and sanitation); human resource development
(with specific reference to reversing the brain drain,
reducing poverty, bridging the education gap and improving
the health of our peoples); agriculture; the environment;
culture, science and technology.
Considering the progress made since last year's third
session of the Commission, I am glad to note that most
of these NEPAD priority sectors are indeed covered by
the six BNC Working Groups.
We therefore welcome the work already being done in
the sectors of energy, transport, education, health,
agriculture, culture, science and technology.
We are also pleased with the inclusion in the agenda
of this session, of discussions on co-operation in the
information communications technology, water and environmental
I must also add that the BNC has already proven its
potential as a vehicle for promoting sub-regional and
continental political and economic integration. It is
up to us to make optimal use of this potential.
In this regard, My Dear Brother, I am sure you share
my satisfaction with the progress made since the formalisation
of regular consultations between our two governments
on multilateral issues of mutual concern.
The immense value of this co-operation has been especially
clear so far, within the context of the OAU/African
Union and the United Nations, where our respective delegations
have successfully adopted joint approaches to key questions.
We are convinced that this kind of cooperation and
consultation is the only way to ensure that Africa's
interests are taken into account in the international
political and economic arena.
In light of this, Mr Vice President, allow me to congratulate
our two Presidents for the role they have played in
ensuring that the Commonwealth addresses the most critical
issues currently facing our sister country, Zimbabwe.
We are confident that the initiative to assist Zimbabweans
to unite in pursuit of peace, stability and economic
recovery will bear fruit. We also believe that the suspension
of the country from the Commonwealth should serve as
an incentive for Zimbabweans to unite and work together
to rebuild their country.
The most critical challenge in this period is to assist
the people of Zimbabwe to reconstruct their economy,
deal with food shortages, handle land reform in a law-governed
manner, and to bring about political and social stability.
In pursuit of our objectives and those of the Commonwealth,
we will continue discussions with the Government of
Zimbabwe, as the elected government of that country.
Having said all this, our view Your Excellency, is
that we need to vigorously challenge the doctrine of
"collective punishment" that is emerging in
relationships between Africa and the developed North.
This is the doctrine that any significant project initiated
by our continent, particularly NEPAD, will not be supported
if a particular leader or country behaves in a manner
that is unacceptable.
Colleagues, we meet just a few days after the Financing
for Development Conference, which took place in Mexico
The conference served as a reminder of the need for
the restructuring of the world economic order, to increase
the voice and participation of developing countries.
This also includes participation in the making of the
rules and setting of standards and codes within the
international financial system.
Distinguished guests, let us also note that since our
last gathering in Abuja, the tragedy of September 11
took place in the United States, and brought about a
fundamental change in the world environment.
Terrorism issues have since then gained prominence
in the international arena, and this will continue for
some time to come. Let me reiterate that South Africa
fully supports the global campaign against terrorism,
within the framework of the United Nations, and contributes
to the efforts of regional and other multilateral organisations
in this regard.
We believe that the campaign against terrorism should
focus on the root causes of terrorism, and to develop
appropriate strategies to address them, which will not
impair the objectives with regard to the renewal of
The attack on the United States has also raised very
sharply, the need for an international discussion on
terrorism, within the umbrella of the United Nations,
so that the world can arrive at a collective agreement
on the definition, and the strategies of combating this
Ladies and gentlemen, I am saying this in this gathering
because our two countries are dedicated to the ideal
of nurturing peace, democracy, good governance and the
respect for human rights. We need to work even harder
to ensure the promotion of these ideals in the continent,
including the proposed peer review mechanism to ensure
adherence to common good practice by all countries.
As active participants in international efforts to
resolve conflicts in the continent, South Africa and
Nigeria also need to encourage dialogue among the warring
We also need to encourage and assist in post-conflict
peace-building initiatives and programmes. It is in
this context that South Africa is currently hosting
the Inter-Congolese Dialogue.
We are also looking forward to consolidating the gains
made in transforming the OAU into a dynamic new African
Union at the 39th Summit of the organisation to be held
in South Africa in July this year. The AU will be critical
in the drive for peace and stability in the continent.
Distinguished guests and colleagues, in our quest for
sustainable development and a better life, it is important
that as governments we form partnerships with organs
of civil society in the continent. Such partnerships
are crucial in making a success of the new vision and
direction being given by our political leaders in the
For this reason, we hope to see business communities,
the intelligentsia and other civil society structures
in the continent participating actively in deliberations
in the World Summit on Sustainable Development to be
held in this country in August this year.
The Summit is another area this session of the BNC
will need to seriously consider.
In conclusion, My Dear Brother, let me reiterate our
pleasure at having you in our midst.
I wish all delegates fruitful discussions and trust
that working groups will work tirelessly during the
next few days, to ensure an outcome that will consolidate
the partnership between our two countries, not only
to our mutual benefit, but also to that of our continent
as a whole.
I thank you.