Opening Remarks by H.E. Dr Nkosazana
Dlamini Zuma, Minister of Foreign Affairs
of the Republic of South Africa on the Occasion of the
Asian-African Sub-Regional Organisations Conference
(AASROC) Joint Ministerial Working Group Meeting, Durban,
24 March 2004.
Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa
it gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to participate
in this Ministerial Working Group meeting of the Asian-African
Sub-regional Organisations Conference (AASROC) here
in Durban, South Africa.
We meet today to re-commit ourselves to inter-continental
cooperation and to ensure that our vision becomes a
living reality for the peoples of Asia and Africa through
concrete and tangible plans that will translate into
action and real implementation.
The formation of AASROC is based on a vision of solidarity
and cooperation among the developing countries of the
world that takes its cue from that grand vision first
espoused in Bandung (1955).
A great South African leader and Nobel Peace Prize
Winner, and President of the African National Congress
from 1952 to 1960, Chief Albert Luthuli, who also supported
the developments in Bandung, in his 1961 Nobel acceptance
speech, spoke of the important role that Africa should
play, together with other countries, in the shaping
of a new world reality. He said the following:
"In a strife-torn world, tottering on the brink
of complete destruction by man-made weapons, a free
and independent Africa is in the making, in answer
to the injunction and challenge of history: "Arise
and shine for thy light is come."
"Acting in concert with other nations, she
is qualified to demand of the great powers to "turn
the swords into plough-shares" because two-thirds
of mankind is hungry and illiterate; to engage human
energy, human skill and human talent in the service
of peace, for the alternative is unthinkable - war,
destruction and desolation; and to build a world community
which will stand as a lasting monument to the millions
of men and women
who have given their lives
that we may live in happiness and peace.
These inspiring words should be seen in conjunction
with the profound insights of President Sukarno of Indonesia
at the Opening of the Bandung Conference in April 1955.
His words are worth recalling. He said that:
"This twentieth century has been a period of
. Man [sic] has learned to
control many of the scourges which once threatened
"But has man's political skill marched hand-in-hand
with his technical and scientific skill? The answer
is No! The political skill of man has been far outstripped
by technical skill."
He goes on to say:
"What can we do? We can do much! We can inject
the voice of reason into world affairs. We can mobilise
all the spiritual, all the moral, all the political
strength of Asia and Africa on the side of peace.
Yes, we! We, the peoples of Asia and Africa, can mobilise
what I have called the Moral Violence of Nations in
favour of peace."
The challenges facing both our continents and the world
in general are still similar although the current processes
of globalisation have widened the gap between the rich
and the poor of the world.
Today we in the developing world are faced with a multitude
of additional challenges, which call on us to constantly
develop new and innovative means to address these emerging
issues. AASROC is one such initiative, a creative inter-continental
forum, which seeks to strengthen, in the first instance,
economic interaction and to enhance trade, investment
and tourism opportunities. The untapped potential that
exists in these areas needs to be fully explored. We
need to gain a better understanding of each others strengths
and comparative advantages in order to leverage these
We need to put our collective energies into making
AASROC a dynamic initiative between our two continents
that can establish and enhance vital links between our
peoples. We cannot but stress that the valuable exchanging
of experience and best practice at this meeting is what
will result in positive outcomes and ensure that dynamism
is constantly brought about within the organisation.
We need to bring our various stakeholders together in
the realm of people to people contact, particularly
our business sectors.
One of the most remarkable developments in our time
has been the information revolution made possible through
advances in communications technology. Yet many people
on our continents are excluded from the global village
as a result of imbalances in acquiring the latest knowledge
and skills brought about through progress in science
and its applications.
A number of exciting initiatives have emerged over
the recent past including TICAD, the Sino-Africa Process,
the India-Africa Fund, and the Langkawi International
Dialogue, among others, which must eventually be aligned
in order to derive maximum opportunities from the individual
and collective advantages that they offer. These programmes
will serve to strengthen progress towards enhancing
Yesterday I had the opportunity to meet my African
colleagues to review progress with respect to initiatives
that have been identified in terms of the AASROC framework.
As you are aware the New Partnership for Africa's Development
(NEPAD) has been developed as a programme of the AU
to bolster the rejuvenation of the African continent.
To that effect, AASROC has been identified as a very
important supportive initiative in the true spirit of
mutually beneficial partnerships.
We in Africa have always looked to our colleagues in
Asia as a source of inspiration and as important partners.
International solidarity between continents especially
in the political, economic and social spheres, as well
as through cultural exchange and understanding, are
what will also strengthen our voices in the world.
We must ensure that the bedrock of this New Strategic
Partnership between Asia and Africa is one that is based
on strengthening and enhancing the economic interaction
between Asia and Africa. We recognise that the vast
potential that exists in the economic arena is virtually
untapped and it is therefore incumbent upon us to find
practical means to unlock this potential. In this regard
our sub-regional organisations have to play a creative
and critical role to ensure that we grow substantially
our trade and investment potential by interacting and
co-operating with each other.
We also recognise that the private sector has a crucial
role to play in enhancing the economic vision of AASROC.
While we create the enabling environment for interaction
we believe it is necessary for them to interact vigorously
amongst themselves to leverage the opportunities for
the mutual benefit of all.
We will therefore endeavour to map out programmes and
projects to ensure that our countries are better equipped
to deal with the myriad challenges we seek to address
through the channel of AASROC as we prepare to lay the
platform for AASROC II later on in the year.
While we advance the economic agenda, we are mindful
of the global political challenges that we have to jointly
confront to create an equitable environment conducive
to economic growth and development.
Let us once more, even in the 21st Century be inspired
by the words of Luthuli when he said: "Arise and
Shine for Thy Light is come." Let the message of
Sukarno be remembered in our discussions and take us
to even greater heights when he declares: "We can
do much! We can inject the voice of reason into world
affairs. We can mobilise all the spiritual, all the
moral, all the political strength of Asia and Africa
on the side of peace."
We look forward to a vibrant and constructive meeting,
which will enable us to consolidate the partnership
between our two continents.
Thank you for your kind attention and I wish you well
in your deliberations.