Notes on the Address of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the Inaugural Imbizo of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Jameson Hall, University of Cape Town, 23 August 2005

Welcome to all especially, to the Ministers and Deputy Ministers from our sister departments, the Premier of the Western Cape, Members of Parliament especially members of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, MECs, members of provincial legislature, the Vice Chancellor of University of Cape Town and his staff, representatives and students of the University of Stellenbosch, Western Cape and the Peninsula Technikon and members of communities from the Cape Town metro and all others who came to listen and take part.

I would like to express our gratitude to the Vice-Chancellor of UCT, Prof. Njabulo Ndebele for hosting us in what is the first Imbizo of Foreign Affairs. We are glad to share this experience together.

What I would like to do is to give you a global overview of our foreign policy and then get an idea from you through questions where your interests lie.

What informs our foreign policy?

Our foreign policy is linked to our domestic policy and the two are mutually reinforcing. The principles and values are defined through the Freedom Charter and our Constitution. South Africa stands for a democratic, peaceful, stable, prosperous, non-racist, non-sexist society with respect for human life, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable. We also want a better life for Africa and the world as a whole - we cannot have a better Africa without a better world. This is based on solidarity on a better life for all. Does our foreign policy contribute to a better Africa and a better world?

Africa is a priority in our foreign policy for the following reasons:

  • a better world is one anchored on a better life for the Continent and its people;
  • the fortunes of South Africa are tied to the fortunes of all Africans;
  • the Continent needs collective action to fight for a better Africa for all.

As part of this effort, the evolution of the African Union (AU) has formed an important focus of our attention. South Africa served as its first Chair and with other member states remain seized with ensuring an effective operationalistaion of the AU organs and its structures - some of these have been established and others are being planned, such as:

  • The Peace and Security Council (PSC): Through the PSC we shall continue to contribute to various peace-building, conflict-resolution & post-conflict reconstruction efforts that we are engaged in. SA's experience with conflict-resolution is important given that we have seen that Africa is not a priority for the UN Security Council (UNSC). When it comes to action in Africa, the UNSC reacts at the speed of an elephant - slow and graceful, but when it comes to other crises the UNSC reacts like a cheetah with much speed. South Africa thus believes it can assist in the rest of Africa where serious tensions and conflicts arise - in conflict-resolution but also in the reconstruction process to ensure that the situation to not slide back into conflict;
  • The African Human Rights and People's Court to be established will also fulfil an important role;
  • The Pan African Parliament (PAP) seated in South Africa, while a consultative parliament, plays an important role in the process of further democratisation on the Continent and also focusing on the respect for human rights;
  • African Central Bank;
  • African Development Bank;
  • NEPAD - our attention has also been focused on the implementation of NEPAD projects and priorities and we have been engaged in getting support for the implementation processes from both within Africa and from our development partners. NEPAD is more focused on the development and economic issues i.e. to fight poverty & underdevelopment. Infrastructure development is a priority, especially transport links - air, rail, road, sea - in Africa which is so important to all for a better life. Critical also are the areas of agriculture, energy, telecommunications, health and education linked to the investment in human capacity building;
  • The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is an issue being debated widely. While it is viewed by some, especially by countries of the North as a punitive tool, African countries see it as a means to assist each other. Where we are found to be strong or weak, then we can engage in sharing experiences and thus help each other's countries.

African countries are at different levels of development and we need to pool our resources to improve to the same level. The 53 countries in Africa cannot all pull together. We need locomotives and there are a number of countries that can fulfil that role and act as locomotive like South Africa. But we also will do that responsibly and not in an arrogant way, but rather through sharing where we have advantages and assist others in those areas.

While we will remain focused on the challenges at home, we have a role to play in the development of Africa and to contribute to it reaching its full potential. South Africa can only reach its full potential, if we assist Africa in its development. We need to look at look at what the EU, the US and Asia, have achieved through trading within their blocks. Africa needs to focus more on trade amongst each other, while also expanding our industrial base and skills capacity to further grow our economies.

South Africa views SADC as the foundation for its regional, continental and international engagements. SADC with the other Regional Economic Communities (RECs) like ECOWAS, IGAD and COMESA are the building blocks for Africa's economic integration. The establishment of RECs by 2008, an African Customs Union by 2010 and an African currency are important challenges for the future.

SADC at its Summit last week accepted a Protocol on the free movement of people. The free movement of people has to follow the process of the free movement of goods and capital in the process of regional integration.

Africa is a patriarchal society. Modern development has, however not achieved full development of both men and women. More needs to be done to place women at the edge of development in Africa. Through the African Union and SADC we are working towards parity in decision-making. This renewal in the role of women will help our foreign policy to ensure that the world, Africa and at home we achieve a more peaceful and glamorous society.

Africa forms part of the global village and our development cannot be achieved in isolation. South Africa's foreign policy actively focuses on providing bridges and linkages with the world outside:

  • South-South Co-operation - initiative by the developing countries of the South to work in solidarity to address the challenges of marginalisation as a result of globalisation that is biased towards countries of the north;
  • India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA) - working towards the linking of our economies and our people;
  • Africa & Asia partnership - encourage business links, but also exchange of visits by journalists to improve understanding of each other's societies;
  • MERCOSUR and strengthening of relations with South America ;
  • African Diaspora focused on the Caribbean;
  • Relations with the North, especially the G8 countries - engagement through a proper dialogue, which previously was not quite satisfactory. Now the North is properly engaging with African countries on central issues;
  • Continued interaction with the European Union with a focus on the Economic Commission for Africa.

In these foreign policy issues, trade is important. Trade is a driving force at our missions abroad and Foreign Affairs work closely with Trade and Industry and other sister departments on pushing trade. Securing investments for South Africa are also part of this drive. Tourism is another priority and we work hard to realise our huge tourism potential. We have a wonderful country and we must convey the truths of our beautiful country around the world.

Academic institutions can take responsibility in assisting the process of development especially in skills development and capacity building on the Continent. A more structured interaction and exchange on this will benefit all, as we have seen with our government and universities' capacity building programmes in the Southern Sudan.

We also need to continue sharing our cultural heritage with the Continent of Africa and with the peoples of Asia.

As we celebrate sixty years after the founding of the United Nations it is clear that no UN reforms have taken place. The UN Secretary-General has now proposed reforms in three areas:

  • Security (dealing with terror, weapons of mass destruction, disarmament, actions against international crime/ drugs etc). The Security Council is the agent for international security; and reform in this area is very important;
  • Development (dealing with poverty, women's rights, Millennium Development Goals - MDGs). While the MDGs are important, we should look beyond that and also look at reactions and contributions from financial institutions on these issues;
  • Human Rights (respect for human rights)

In the Security sector there are 2 issues:

  • The fight against terrorism. We must be careful in how we fight terrorism - how we respond. There must be a look at the roots of this terrorism, what encourages people to engage in terrorist activities where death is considered to be better than life;
  • Stability, peace and security in the Middle East are seen as important for better security in our world.

On the question of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) South Africa has a clear policy. It is preferable that no one should possess nuclear weapons, but where these exist we need to regulate through a 3-pronged approach i.e. disarmament, non-proliferation and use of nuclear technology within the rules. It is our view that where a country has nuclear technology, it should be allowed to use it for peaceful means within agreed rules i.e. energy and science & technology fields. The West however wants to control that and decide as well as control the supply for example in the case of Iran. And while we are not pitching for Iran, we believe they have a right as we do to make use of nuclear technology for peaceful uses.

In general, we must also understand that we do not only meet and visit with people, who are our friends. We also have exchanges with people we differ from. That is the only way we can influence others. We must not assume all to be friends. We must continue to exchange and influence those we differ from.

That is giving you a general view of our foreign policy. Now I see the Director-General is hoping I will conclude so that we can give you a change to ask questions. What you have to understand is that while I, as the Minister set the foreign policy, the Director-General is in charge of operationalising that policy, in deciding how we use the department's staff and money to implement policy. So I therefore think I need to hand over to the Director-General after these few thoughts and ideas and I look forward to your questions and comments.

Minister Zuma's Replies to Questions

Q: Comments on Imbizo; Compliments re the first Imbizo - including request to provide for other languages in this case some Afrikaans speakers in the audience who could not follow the proceedings?

A: I agree with the constructive comments that the holding of this Imbizo was overdue and indeed we should have started earlier, but now that we have made that start, this process will continue. The aim is to also go to other provinces to hold the Imbizo there. We will take your recommendations forward for future Imbizos in our interaction with communities. I think there is a need to come back and also address those communities in Afrikaans - those who cannot follow in English. I was not aware that we had Afrikaans people attending who could not understand English. If I had known we could have planned accordingly. Perhaps I should ask Deputy Minister Sue Van Der Merwe to take that this up for future interaction here in the Western Cape. I may not be able to be at all future meetings but our two Deputy Ministers could more regularly interact with our communities and focus groups.

Q: What is DFA doing to popularise and communicate foreign policy to our communities?

A: We realise the importance of linking up with our communities to inform, consult, get support and assistance from our people for our foreign policy objectives. It is important for us to communicate to all our people for example, on the issue why South Africa should be a home for all Africans, the same right we had in our struggle years.

Foreign Affairs has a vacant position for a Community Liaison Officer and we will look at how that post can be utilised to improve the linkage with our communities. That post was established and will act on filling it.

I am so pleased with the number of young people here today and with the high level of your comments and interaction.

Q: What is the role of women in development and how is the role of women in government strengthened?

A: The women are the people who are moulding our society and indeed our Continent today - they are central in the future of this Continent. It is no mistake that it is women who nurture life and who are central in the continuity of the human race. Women have special qualities to take us forward towards the prosperity of our country. They are the most important in national service to a country because they ensure jobs, food and education for future generations. It is impossible to exclude them from the centre of where our future is shaped, because they are so central to our being. Look at our women, they are peacemakers and can do so much to prevent the suffering - under wars and conflicts. Look at the role of women in the rural areas and all the positive energy they are generating. Also as teachers they are playing a central role in education.

Q: What is South Africa's role in relation to the Zimbabwe Crisis? Is "quiet diplomacy" still relevant in the case of that country? Has the West's targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe worked? Why is there not greater and more practical opposition and outcry by the South African Government and this particular department to blatant human rights abuses in Zimbabwe?

A: I do not know what this "quiet diplomacy" we read and hear about is meant to be. Diplomacy can only be through talking, and yes, if quiet diplomacy is to mean being non-confrontational, than that is what we agree with. It is clear that the confrontational megaphone diplomacy by Western countries had failed. What did the West deliver through their approach?

South Africa will continue to talk and patiently negotiate with and advise the Zimbabwean government. Our policy on Zimbabwe is predictable and consistent and based on internal values we stand for. If in South Africa, we were willing to sit down and talk with people at Kempton Park who did horrible things to us and negotiate and agree on how to solve our problems, why can't the same diplomacy be used in talking to Zimbabwe?

Zimbabwe is a sovereign country and we have no leverage over them. We seem to think there is a lot we can do to force Zimbabwe to go this way or that way. What do people want us to do to force them, take our Cheetahs and Rooivalks and go and attack Zimbabwe to try and bring about change? It is not going to happen. We can only negotiate, we can only talk to them. South Africa remains willing to advise and assist Zimbabwe in making the right decisions in a non-confrontational way. But we know our limitations in what can be done from our side.

The "smart sanctions" adopted by the European Union and Western governments, aimed at the Zimbabwean leadership however had a general affect on that country. If you are in business and you hear that your country has sanctioned the President of Zimbabwe, are you going to go running there with your investments? You will not. These problems then became a vicious circle, because when you are isolated, you cannot get foreign currency, you cannot get capital, and you are not able to pay your debts to the IMF and others.

It is also important that we all understand what has happened in Zimbabwe and that land remains central to all Zimbabwe's problems. After Independence, the international community perceived that things were going well in Zimbabwe. It was only in recent years that the land situation shot to prominence when the UK government said it would no longer provide money to government to buy back land for redistribution. The British took land through colonisation and after the freedom war, agreed at Lancaster House to finance the process to correct the historical injustice of land. After a period of little movement of land redistribution, it was clear that the willing-seller and willing buyer principle was not satisfactory. This was worsened when a new British government, through the then Minister of State for Development, Clare Short, decided their government would no longer honour financing this land transfer. Of course there are things I also think Zimbabwe could have done better, but solving the land issue remains the central problem in Zimbabwe.

South Africa is also addressing our own land issue, but doing it differently. The violence that took place in the redistribution programme in Zimbabwe was unacceptable to us.

Q: With regard to the Issue of "dogs of war " operating on the Continent - did the Zimbabwe government not do us a favour by exposing these mercenaries?

A: SA has legislation in place to deal with these mercenaries and will act to ensure that these people to not undermine the AU and South Africa's efforts in securing peace and stability across the Continent.

Q: Thousands of people have lost their lives in the DRC and that is inextricably linked to fighting for power over resources. South African mining houses have been implicated in a 2002 UN report. What has the South African government done to act on this? Across African companies like Anglo American and De Beers are exploiting mineral wealth in countries - what are we doing?

A: This is more specifically an issue for the Minister of Minerals and Energy and I will refer it to that Ministry. But let me comment on the findings of the UN report. We looked at the report, but no companies were specified and while we requested the UN to provide us of those details to consider prosecuting these alleged violators, that was never received. We are working very closely with the DRC and we have South African troops as part of UN peace-keeping efforts.

Q: What value is there in having former Pres. Aristide in South Africa, what can he do to contribute to peace from South Africa? Why did we take him in?

A: South Africa responded to Caricom's request to the African Union and we agreed to receive him in South Africa. He was elected by the people and was unconstitutionally removed. Haiti has been a country of struggle under US and French involvement and had to defeat French and Spanish dictators. It is clear that the situation in Haiti will not be solved while the leader of its biggest party, President Aristide in exile. If anyone wants to solve the problems of Haiti, they can't solve them by oppression. Some people are in jail and cannot do anything behind bars. They are struggling. There was a time when it was believed that apartheid would never go away - South Africans continued the struggle until they were free. The same will happen in Haiti - they will struggle until they are free. The struggle will have to continue until free political movement has been secured in Haiti. President Aristide has called for free and fair elections from South Africa. The United Nations is working hard to ensure some stability in preparation for elections. We will continue to work with the UN on this.

Q: Will former Deputy Pres. Zuma have a fair trial and what can be done to ensure this?

A: It is part of our foreign policy that everyone must have a free & fair trail - whoever and wherever they are in the world and in our country and that is crucial. The Deputy President of the ANC also has the right to a free and fair trial.

Q: Are we able practically to implement scientific agreements as finalised with countries across the world?

A: Agreements in the field of Science & Technology are a priority, some are working very well and some are not. The President wanted science and technology to develop in South Africa that is why it was decided to separate the Science & Technology from Arts &Culture portfolio, to demonstrate the focus on this sector.

Q: What are we doing to address the causes of terrorism and to deal with the problems of terrorist activities?

A: We must look at the causes and ask the question what generates this type of action where people place death before life? We must try to address the realities and find resolutions. If people feel that they are undermined and marginalised and have no right to self-determination, we need to address these. We must continue to strive for a just, humane and better world. With the problems of the current nature it is difficult to undercut people who propose terror. We need to do more.

Q: What is South Africa's role in the Sudan?

A: On Sudan, the African Union has done a lot. South Africa as Chair of the AU Committee on Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Sudan, has seen the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the North and South being signed, with IGAD haven taking the lead. AU soldiers have been deployed in Darfur and South Africa is playing its role in creating the conditions for peace and stability.

Q: What is SA's involvement in Burundi & DRC?

A: Africa is crucial to us and we will continue to assist the conflict areas like Burundi and the DRC to bring and keep peace and ensure prosperous and stable countries.

Replies to Questions Addressed by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad

Q: Iraqi Deputy President Tariq Aziz addressed a parliamentary caucus meeting and there was speculation that South Africa supplied Iraq with uranium. In fact, you visited Iraq yourself to deliver a letter from President Mbeki to Saddam Hussein. My question is - are these friendships healthy for South Africa's international image and will it not damage our push for a seat on UNSC?

A: South Africa had foreseen there would be war in Iraq, the pre-text being that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq and we decided to act to try and prevent that scenario, understanding what the consequences could be. SA said there should be UN support for action against Iraq. We also warned that an overthrow of Iraq would not be a long-term solution. We thought that through new initiatives the war could be stopped. But the war went ahead. Today we now have the reality to deal with - that the military option had not secured long-term solution. Our engagements re Iraq were aimed at preventing war.

South Africa will act against South Africans who are illegally involved in security work in Iraq in contravention of the Foreign Military Assistance Act. We cannot allow our citizens to undermine peace efforts in other countries and regions.

Q: What is our position on the Middle East crisis?

A: We support a two-state solution, of the two states, Israel & Palestine that is secure and exist side-by-side. We have continuously called on both sides to refrain from violence and terror. South Africa was critical of new Israeli settlements, of building of the new wall and submitted our case to the International Court of Justice. If the conflict between Palestine and Israel is not solved, we will not be able to have peace in the Middle East.

Q: What actions are we taking against violations by mining companies in Africa?

A: Companies must accept corporate responsibility not just in South Africa, but also when doing business in Africa and we will encourage SA business to play a positive role in this regard. We know many of Africa's conflicts are resource-linked.

Q: What is SA's role in peace-keeping in Africa?

A: SA has been playing a crucial role in helping to bring peace on the Continent eg in the DRC. In Sudan we are playing a role in the post-conflict reconstruction process especially in southern Sudan.

End

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