Keynote Address by Dr Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs, South Africa - South
African-German Women in Dialogue - Berlin, Germany -
24 April 2003
Chairperson / Programme Director
His Excellency, SA Ambassador to Germany, Prof Sibusiso
Ministers present here today
Your Excellencies Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of my Government and the people of South Africa
I would like to thank the organizers of this Conference
and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany
for allowing us once more the opportunity to deliberate
on the important challenges facing my country and our
It is my fervent hope and wish that conference will,
while building upon the excellent bilateral political,
economic, cultural relations and co-operation between
the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of
South Africa will lay a firm foundation for the consolidation
of the existing bonds of friendship and ties among women
of our two countries. Long live our fraternal relationships.
Malibongwe Igama lamaKhosikazi!
The cooperation between South Africa and Germany especially
on gender issues can only but advance the cause of gender
equality in both our countries. Your Governments
interest in and support for the development of women
in Africa has not gone unnoticed on our Continent.
We, in South Africa and the rest of the continent will
act to the best of our ability to ensure that the process
of reform continues until gender equality has been achieved.
The challenges facing our Continent and South Africa
are no different from those facing other developing
countries. Ours, in South Africa, is complicated both
by the legacy of Apartheid racist policies and the patriarchal
nature of our society. We are confronted by the major
challenges of poverty eradication, underdevelopment
and the growing income inequalities within our nation
and between men and women.
Since 1994, South Africa has been grappling with the
transformation of our society and the creation of a
better life for all. Colonialism and Apartheid imposed
a harsh life of oppression and exploitation in general
on all black people. South African Black women in particular,
were the worst victims of white exploitation and discrimination.
They endured and suffered the triple oppression of race,
class and gender.
For black people, poverty eradication must therefore
mean the provision of basic needs, such as clean water
and sanitation, which so many among us in this audience
take for granted. I am sure that for most of us here,
there would probably be more taps in our houses than
there are people. However, in many areas of our country,
the opposite is the reality.
Whilst for many in the developed world, the choice is
between the utilisation of electricity, gasoline, gas
or solar energy in the household the developing
world on the other is faced with the stark reality of
the need to still extend the electricity grid to all.
The provision of basic services such as water, electricity
and sanitation is very significant in bettering the
quality of lives of black women. The provision of these
services simply means that no longer shall they spend
hours on end and endless energy searching for firewood,
drawing and fetching water. Such services if provided
enable women to spend their time more qualitatively
In South Africa we have provided these services to millions
of people both urban and rural but there are still millions
more who are waiting for the delivery thereof.
Needless to mention that the provision of such basic
services will lead to the improvement of the general
health of the populace and consequently less diarrhoeal
diseases, cholera and respiratory problems.
Education, skills training and technological advancement
remain the cornerstone for development and improvement
of peoples lives. It is a sad reality that many
black women lack basic education, have no skills and
have limited access to modern technology. In this regard,
educating the girl child is not only critical in redressing
the imbalances of the past but also essential in poverty
eradication, especially the feminisation of poverty.
The provision of adequate, affordable and accessible
health services especially in rural areas remains essential.
The provision of universal free primary health care
and free health care for children under six years of
age, pregnant women has made an enormous difference
to our people.
Women still bear the primary responsibility of looking
after the sick at home. Special attention has to be
paid to women when dealing with the HIV/Aids pandemic,
TB and malaria. Women tend to be more susceptible to
HIV infections than men. They have less access to proper,
balanced nutrition. We are now focussing on mother to
child transmission in addition to our normal HIV/Aids
Additionally, a lot of HIV/Aids programmes place emphasis
on home-based care- that relies solely on the availability
of healthy women to provide the human resource for that
Employment and economic growth remain a big challenge
for our country and Continent. Policies that address
the skilled health production resources, jobs, economic
opportunities, employment equity and basic salaries
have to pay special attention to the impact on women
in general and black women in particular.
The development of a new human rights culture in our
country and Continent should consider womens rights
as an integral part of human rights and should guarantee
gender equality for women.
True to the words of one of the great heroes of our
struggle, the late Oliver Tambo, that "Our struggle
will be less than powerful and our national and social
emancipation can never be complete if we continue to
treat the women of our country as dependent minors and
objects of one form of exploitation or another. Certainly,
no longer should it be that a womans place is
in the kitchen. In our beleaguered country, the womans
place is in the battlefront of our struggle".
Women indeed are in the struggle for a non-racialism
and non-sexism. They are in the struggle for human rights,
the struggle against hunger, illiteracy, homelessness,
disease and the restoration of dignity. There is no
dignity in poverty.
Another fundamental challenge is that of safety and
security. Whereas we have made very positive strides
in making South Africa safe and secure for all its citizens
and tourists. We are now focussing on the safety of
women not only in the street but also at home.
Whereas, domestic violence is an international phenomenon
that transcends race, class or religion, we have a programme
focussing on this. It is totally unacceptable that there
are women who cannot feel safe at home. We have the
legal framework to deal with this scourge. The most
difficult challenge is to change attitudes of the family,
society and the judiciary system. In some communities,
it is still frowned upon to charge a husband or partner
with domestic violence.
Women of our country have made huge advances in terms
of participation in the political life of South Africa
and in the executive. After the 1994 elections, we had
over 20% in our Parliament, now it is 30 %, thanks to
the ruling Party, the African National Congress, who
has a 30% quota system for all their structures including
Parliamentary seats. There were two women Cabinet Ministers
appointed then. By the end of the first five-year term,
we had four women Cabinet Ministers and now in 2003,
we have nine women out of a total of 27 Ministers. The
Government has decided to lead by example and to create
role models for other women, young and old. This has
had a very positive impact on our society. This needs
to be translated to all other sectors of our society.
We incurred much criticism for the quota system with
antagonists arguing that women must be chosen because
of merit. We have shown in practice that there are plenty
of women of merit, what the quota system does is to
force society to look for women and find them. I am
convinced that even if we had 50% we would still find
excellent women to fill that quota.
South Africa is peaceful and stable like the vast majority
of countries on our Continent. Where conflicts exist
we are as Africans involved in trying to resolve them
using methods that are in line with African culture
and tradition. I am glad to say that there is a lot
of progress whether it is in Angola, the DRC, Sudan
or Cote dIvoire.
Peace is essential for development and economic growth.
Wars have the most devastating effect on women and children
as we have seen now in Iraq. As a result of these wars,
women and children are displaced, are becoming refugees,
encounter humanitarian problems because of lack of food,
there are no health-care services and there is lack
of income. All of these impact most on women. The vast
majority of women are not involved in creating wars,
but remain major victims of war and conflict. Women
would rather see these conflicts resolved in amicable
ways and in the context of international laws within
our multilateral organisations such as the United Nations.
We are also dealing with the situation in Zimbabwe.
The Zimbabwean Government is at this point in time dealing
with three important Bills which are already in Parliament,
which we think will make a difference in bringing solutions
to some of the problems. The first bill will give citizenship
to thousands of farmworkers who were removed from the
farms and who originally came from Mozambique and Malawi
and this will allow them to have access to land for
resettlement and farming.
The second Bill that is being amended is the Information
Bill. As you would know this Bill caused an uproar within
the international community. This is being done in an
effort to accommodate those complaints.
Thirdly, the draconian law and order maintenance act,
which was promulgated during the then Rhodesian government
of Ian Smith, has now been amended to be in line with
democratic and human rights norms.
The Government of Zimbabwe is also normalising its relations
with the commercial farmers. The government has drafted
a Memorandum of Understanding, which is now being discussed
among the ranks of commercial farmers, who will hopefully
submit their response to government soon. Tripartite
discussions between Government, labour and business
about the Zimbabwean economic situation have produced
a document, which spells out different responsibilities
to be undertaken. We are optimistic that a dialogue
between all the concerned political parties in the country,
The information technology has left Africa marginalized
and if this digital divide is not closed Africa stands
the risk of being further marginalised. As we attempt
to close this gap, again, a special focus has to fall
on women and the girl child at school.
Indeed, Africa has strengthened its multilateral fora
like regional organisations and also through the launch
of the African Union. Unity, solidarity and partnership
amongst ourselves remain critical to our success. We
have dared to call this an African Century, with the
concomitant responsibilities that accompany it.
The OAU, the predecessor of the AU, focussed mainly
on unity among the African people and decolonisation
process of the continent. Now the challenge facing the
AU is a concentration on issues such as democracy, good
governance, human rights, unity, peace, security and
development hence the development of our socio-economic
recovery plan- NEPAD.
Accordingly, we express our hope that Germany and its
people will join us in a true partnership for the development
of the African Continent. NEPAD, the Millennium Development
Goals of the UN and the programme of action developed
during the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable
Development (WSSD) provides us with sufficient issues
to help us improve the lives of millions of Africans,
Women still tend to be employed in the low-paying jobs
and in most instances as domestic workers, in manufacturing
textiles and as farm labourers. In the economy they
are often in the informal sector. Indeed, this has to
be addressed to integrate them into the mainstream economy
while programmes to train and assist them to establish
their own businesses should be targeted.
We need to build solidarity and mobilise women to participate
in their own emancipation. In South Africa progress
that has been achieved in all sectors has been in large
measure because women themselves participated not only
in the struggle for emancipation but are still evolved
in the titanic struggle against poverty, underdevelopment,
peace and security and democracy.
Women whilst depending on Governments and Parliaments
to create legal frameworks for the creation of a non-sexist
society and for their emancipation, themselves, ought
to be involved in those very legal and Government processes.
Accordingly, they are not and should not be passive
recipients of charity.
Women in our country and Continent have to be the locomotives
for development because of their energy, resilience
and capacity for hard work. They constitute the majority
of the population producing the other half as well.
Whilst we appreciate the solidarity and support of the
developed world, Africa carries the responsibility for
its own development. Attempts to create mirror images
of the developed world out of African societies would
As NEPAD has proven, we have the capacity, ingenuity,
creativity and intellect to shape the Africa we desire
for ourselves. The assistance that we receive from the
developed world should compliment these ongoing efforts.
Challenges of preserving our Continent and the planet
face us all. We must rely on our co-operation as women
of the world in the creation of a world free of wars,
racism, sexism, free of hunger, poverty and under-development.
The impact thereof is felt more by women.
Our collective efforts in Europe, Africa and elsewhere
in the world must guarantee the continued survival of
humanity on this planet. Together we must protect the
biodiversity of our rivers, oceans and forests and thus
safeguard planet earth for future generations.
I am confident that together we shall face and conquer
these challenges for the sake of humanity as a whole.
I thank you