Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in the State of the Nation Debate, The National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town 16 February 2005

Madame Speaker
President Mbeki
Deputy President Zuma
Honourable Members
"There shall be peace and friendship!

South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war;

Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all; …

The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation."

This is what the people of this country declared 50 years ago, led by the ANC which has always been the driving force for progressive change.

Mr President, in outlining the key elements of our international agenda and programme, you said:
"We shall do all this, Madame Speaker, conscious of the responsibility that we have not only to our own citizens, but also to the rest of humanity in pursuing the goal of a better world.

In the first instance, our greatest challenge in this regard is to consolidate the African agenda, and we can draw inspiration from the many positive developments on the continent since we addressed the Joint Sitting of Parliament last May".

This illustrates that the ANC-led government has been true to the international vision and tradition of our people and the founding leaders of our Movement.

We continue to give concrete expression to one of the fundamental aims and objectives of the ANC which is the cause of the National Liberation and the right to independence of nations in Africa and the rest of the world.

In our work on the continent we continue to be guided by a basic understanding so simply put by our first Nobel Laureate, Chief Albert Luthuli, when he delivered his lecture at the University of Oslo on December 11th 1961 when he said:

"All Africa has this single aim: our goal is a United Africa in which the standard of life and liberty are constantly expanding…The goal pursued by millions of our people with revolutionary zeal … carries the only real promise of peace in Africa".

It is this same content of Africa's liberation that President Mandela expressed in his address to the OAU Summit in Tunis in 1994 when he said:

"If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of Mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown".

This content of our engagement means that our engagement with the world is guided by the same goals that we pursue everyday of our lives here at home viz., pushing back the frontiers of poverty and underdevelopment, and the constant expansion of the vistas for human advancement and freedom.

Thus Madame Speaker, the founding President of our democratic state redefined our relations with the continent- away from being a source of suffering and pain to being a potent force for good and for the all round regeneration and advance of our continent.

Madame Speaker, I have drawn your attention to an enduring perspective that has shaped the attitude of the ANC primarily in its engagement with the continent but also with the broader global community. It is a perspective that continues to inspire and guide us even today as we find our bearings through a maze of complexities in the execution of our tasks.

We remain consistent because our approach is rooted in a rich legacy of practical experience, intellectual interrogation and moral judgement.

It is in this context Mr President that we salute you for your leadership in ensuring that whatever difficulties, we stay the course; that we do not betray our people simply because the alternative may bring short-term comfort and popularity.

A luta Continua.

Madame Speaker - it is also against this background that we wish to make it clear that in whatever form it arises any fundamental challenge to our expression of support to the advancement of our continent like the now fashionable questioning in some quarters of the time devoted by the President and Deputy President to the affairs of the continent- we shall treat with the contempt it deserves. We do so fully confident of the support of our people and the verdict of time. We also do so in the knowledge that the security of our own future objectively depends on and Africa that is free, peaceful, democratic and prosperous.

Thus we shall:

  • Strengthen the AU and its organs both materially and morally.
  • Continue to support the advance and consolidation of democracy in the DRC and Burundi;
  • Contribute what we can to the post conflict reconstruction in Angola and the Comores. We are consequently proud that our country is currently playing host to the Prime Minister of Angola who is here as a guest of the Deputy President;
  • Continue to support the legitimate struggle of the people of Western Sahara based on their right to self-determination.
  • As you indicated, we are inspired by the comprehensive agreement between the Government of Sudan and the SPLM ending the decades long conflict in our continent. On the 18th we shall be chairing the Post Conflict Reconstruction Committee Meeting here in the mother city.

This meeting will discuss the agreement itself and map out the action plan for the committee in the coming years. The challenge is how to make sure that in the next six years the lives of the people of Sudan especially in the South change for the better to an extent that they vote to stay in a United Sudan. The alternative will have wide-ranging negative implications.

Our government together with UNISA participated in an important exchange of ideas with the senior Leadership of the SPLA\M in the South of Sudan from 5 - 8th February 2004.

  • Mr President, we support you in your task in Cote d' Ivoire that you were asked to carry out by the AU.
  • The formation of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia heralds a new hope. The re-establishment of a State of Somalia is not going to be easy but we have no choice but as part of the AU to participate in that Herculean task.
  • We support the President's position on Togo and the holding of democratic elections in line with their constitution.
  • The attainment of sustained peace and enduring stability on the African continent can only become a reality if there is also sustained socio-economic development. Therefore we must focus on the implementation of NEPAD programmes. The only concern is the much-needed resources to carry out this work. We must strive to make resources available from our own continent for these processes.
  • At the recent meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the challenge of Africa's renewal and development was placed high on the global agenda. We are encouraged that the world's decision-makers gathered at Davos sought to address the global and African challenge of poverty, further paving the way for us together with our international partners to be able to realise our developmental objectives.
  • The UN report by Jeffrey Sachs on the Millennium Development Goal indicates that Sub-Saharan Africa demonstrates a widespread shortfall for most of the MDGs and is at the epicenter of crisis and as a consequence requires specific poverty scale-up interventions by all. Fortunately the same report makes the bold statement that the MDGs can still be achieved by 2015 if there is renewed and intensive effort by al parties.
  • Certainly what we need is the realisation of the MDGs, but we also do need the Continent to develop to its full potential and for Africans to posses a prosperous future.
  • Of course, Africa will only be able to boast about being free when its women are also free. We ought to acknowledge the efforts of President Mbeki in this regard. We know that the President has also strongly motivated and supported the AU positions on gender parity within the organisation and its related organs and structures. The AU also extended this requirements for governments to implement in all structures of leadership in member states. In this regard, later this month and early in March we shall participate in New York in a major UN meeting which will review implementation of our commitments to the Beijing Platform of Action. We are certain that this process will give further impetus to the realisation of women's emancipation in the wider world.
  • As part of our contribution in mobilising the African continent and demonstrating our solidarity with the struggles of the people of the Diaspora we will be participating in the Carribean Diaspora Conference. We hope that this will lead to a global Africa Diaspora Conference that will ensure that Africa's development needs are met.
  • We are in fully agreement with what President Mbeki has said about the Middle East. We are concerned with the situation in Lebanon. But we believe that the resolution of the Israeli-Palestine Middle East conflict will be a major contribution to peace in the world.
  • This year has seen a number of important events in the evolution of the global multilateral system. As we previously reported, the High Level Panel set up by Secretary General Kofi Annan has released its report. We have engaged this report and are fully prepared to participate in the oncoming Ministerial meetings of the AU Executive Council in Swaziland from the 20th to 22th February and in early March in Addis Ababa called to discuss this report.
  • In yesterday's debate, I found the heckling of the Honourable A.U. Gaum rather unfortunate. It is very telling that those who were derogative were being so to someone who was talking highly positive things about our country. I would like to remind the Members of this House that they are all supposed to be Ambassadors of South Africa.
  • I found it rather contradictory that Sheila Camerer claimed that she supports the Homecoming Revolution, but then went on give a litany of reasons why South Africans abroad should not come home. In essence, she is saying that she does not support this excellent initiative.
  • We have instructed our Missions to work closely with Angel Jones and Marina Smithers of the Homecoming Revolution and hope this project the greatest of success.
  • It is high time that as South Africans we all agree to act in the interests of our people, our country and our continent. This would be a real homecoming for us all as we work towards a better country in a better Africa and a better world.

Thank you.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853
Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

16 February 2005

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