Address to the debate on the New Partnership for Africa's Development
National Council of Provinces, Cape Town, 18 March 2003

Madame Chairperson,
Honourable Members and Delegates,

I am indeed very happy to join you in the National Council of Provinces, to discuss the critical challenges we face in the country and continent.

Madame Chairperson, the NCOP is the perfect forum to discuss the issue of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), as it provides an opportunity to interact with government at all levels.

The NEPAD programme is critical to the reconstruction and development of the continent. It is therefore important that all sectors of society become involved in it. It should develop into a concrete programme of action, involving all of us at all levels and sectors, both governmental and non-governmental.

It should be possible to develop an all-encompassing programme of action because there is general consensus in the continent about the value and importance of NEPAD.

Most importantly, NEPAD introduces a new style of social, economic and political governance. It is designed to make leaders accountable not only to the populations, but to their peers and neighbours as well.

NEPAD's African Peer Review Mechanism is based on the reality that our destinies are intertwined as African countries, and that we need to be aware that our actions will influence our neighbours in a particular way.

Madam Chairperson, the importance of parliamentary oversight as we strive for the revival of the continent cannot be over-emphasised. The establishment of the Pan-African Parliament, another key AU structure, is therefore vital. We believe members of this House can play a key role through this institution.

Our parliamentarians can seize the opportunity by forming linkages with their colleagues in the continent and beyond, to market NEPAD as well as monitor its implementation.

You would, through such parliament-to-parliament linkages, transcend boundaries that governments may not be able to bridge, and promote popular democratic practices throughout the continent.

Madame Chairperson, given the many opportunities offered by the establishment of the Pan African Parliament, we are concerned that thus far, only ten countries have ratified the Protocol. We therefore, hope that AU member states that have not signed and ratified the Protocol, will do so in order to expedite the launch of this important continental oversight body.

Colleagues, related to the implementation of NEPAD, is the imperative of eradicating conflicts in some parts of the continent. There is a clear correlation between peace and stability on the one hand, and economic growth and sustainable development on the other.

Driven by this goal of creating a better Africa, South Africa is actively involved in conflict resolution in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of the continent. Substantial progress has been made in these endeavours already.

With regards to Burundi, we have secured three out of four ceasefire agreements, signed by the armed movements and political parties and the Transitional Government of Burundi. Work is continuing to implement the ceasefire agreements and where challenges arise, we are pleased that the various parties are always open to discussions and to finding solutions.

We believe Burundi has been through the worst already, and that the situation can only improve. Although challenges may arise, the processes and structures exist to resolve these, both within Burundi and externally. The eventual return to constitutional legitimacy and democracy remains critical for Burundi and other conflict-ridden sister countries. We hope the belligerent parties realise the urgency with which this needs to happen.

The African Union continues efforts to ensure a return to peace and stability in Sudan, Comoros, Somalia, Western Sahara and Cote d'Ivoire.

To ensure lasting peace, there is a need for the establishment of new political systems, which would take into account the diversity within these societies. Diversity and difference should be viewed as providing opportunities rather than as a threat to certain political classes.

The opportunities exist for vibrant, viable democratic political systems and institutions to arise in these sister countries. Also critical is the creation of the necessary checks and balances.

The establishment of inclusive democratic political systems would permit the renewal of mandates, or the replacement of governments should the electorate so decide, within the context of the constitution.

It would eliminate the reason for armed rebellions and other unconstitutional activity. In this context, Madam Chairperson, we condemn the coup d tat in the Central African Republic over the weekend, and we are sure that members of this House join us in doing so.

I would like to invite the NCOP to find ways of assisting the Barundi people in particular, and other peoples affected by strife in general, in their search for lasting solutions.

Interaction and sharing of experiences with parliamentarians in these countries would assist in spreading the message of peace, as well as in promoting democracy and good governance throughout the continent.

Madam Chairperson, NEPAD has all the right elements which should make it succeed in extricating the continent from the abyss of underdevelopment, poverty and conflicts. It is for this reason that we spare no effort in creating the right conditions for it to succeed, whether locally or outside the continent.

It is this determination to succeed, among other things, which make us concerned about the global security situation, in particular the American-led campaign against Iraq.

It is our well-considered view, that a war in Iraq will aggravate the misery and poverty in Africa and other parts of the developing world. We believe it would reverse all our gains achieved through the NEPAD initiative, as it has the potential to push Africa to the backburner in the international arena.

We hope the United States and its allies can still find it possible to avert war even at this eleventh hour, and allow the United Nations to deal with this matter multilaterally.

Madam Chairperson, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to interact with colleagues in this House. I hope there will be more interaction on this topic in the NCOP as the year progresses.

It is an important matter that requires the collective wisdom of the public representatives gathered here.

I Thank You.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa