Farewell Message by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, the honourable Ms Sue van der Merwe, at the Function to Bid Farewell to the Delegation of the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement, Burgers Park Hotel, 08 April 2005

Members of the Academia
Your Excellencies
Honourable Ministers
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

I am honoured to be here tonight and thank you to the University of South Africa (UNISA) for organising this function. It has indeed been a great honour for us to host the leadership of the SPLM/A and the training has not just been for your benefit and your country but also for the benefit of the Government of South Africa, namely, an opportunity to carry the African Renaissance forward.

As I bid you farewell tonight on behalf of the government and people of South Africa, I also wish to share with you a message of encouragement for the role you are playing to bring the hope and a better life for your people.

I will start by telling you a little story about our history from which, I believe you will find a lot of parallels to your own situation.

Some sixty years ago, a 28-person committee of the African National Congress (ANC) met to prepare a document entitled the "Africans' claims in South Africa", whose purpose was to make known the full aspirations of the African peoples so that their point of view would also be presented at the Peace Conference that would end the Second World War. It was also intended to inform the United Nations about the movement's interpretation of the Atlantic Charter.

In their report, the committee further stated that:

This is our way of conveying to them our undisputed claim to full citizenship. We desire them to realise once and for all that a just an permanent peace will be possible only if the claims of all classes, colours and races for sharing and for full participation in the educational, political and economic activities are granted and recognised.

The core message carried in the above statement is what has over the years driven the ANC to strive to be an all-inclusive movement for the betterment of the lives of all Africans and South Africans. Thus, it is very clear that from a very early period in its history, the ANC has had both a transformational and internationalist agenda.

This vision still drives our movement, government and people today, who continuously strive to remove the mental shackles of colonialism from our continent and at the same time consolidate the African agenda to be our own liberators.

Our two movements have common histories and destinies, namely to provide visionary leadership to undo the injustices of the past and to look at the future of our countries rather than our own narrow and time bound interests. The ANC leaders who produced the "Africans' claims in South Africa" document were leaders not only of the ANC, but also of the African majority.

Indeed, as we grapple together with challenges that face Africa today, we remain conscious of the role and contribution that countries like Sudan can bring to the collective effort to create a better Africa and better world. This therefore places a responsibility on you as the leadership of the Sudanese People Liberation Movement/ Army (SPLM/A) to think about the future of your country and its contribution to the rebirth of Africa and the creation of a just world.

The onus is upon the SPLM/A as a progressive movement to contribute to the realisation of the ideal of the African Renaissance by ensuring that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in implemented. However, we should not forget that the Government of Sudan is an equal partner in the Agreement. Therefore, South Africa in partnership with the African Union will endeavour to ensure that the Government of Sudan also abides by the protocols and implements the Agreement.

The current conflict in Sudan has its roots in the very forces that kept South Africa as the last outpost of colonialism on the continent, namely, racism and the artificial separation of the African people within and across borders. On reflecting on the pervasive effects of colonialism Fanon contended that:

Colonial domination, because it is total and tends to oversimplify, very soon manages to disrupt in spectacular fashion the cultural life of a conquered people. This cultural obliteration is made possible by the negation of national reality, by new legal relations introduced by the occupying power, by the banishment of the natives and their customs to outlying districts by colonial society, by expropriation, and by the systematic enslaving of men and women.

In this regard, there are many parallels to draw between our societies. Across the continent we are beginning to confront issues of race and identity head on because we recognise that these go to the heart of some of the current problems we are faced with. Like South Africa, Sudan is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society and this rich tapestry of diversity should serve as a strength rather than a weakness.

The Bahái faith teaches us that:

We live in a world filled with a wondrous diversity of experiences, opinions, physical appearance, cultures, religion, etc. One of the challenges of this age is not only to find a way to live in harmony with people, who differ from us, but to celebrate the diversity and learn from it. We can only learn a limited amount from those who are like us but there is a fortune of new knowledge to be gained from those who have a different perspective to our own.

Coming from such diverse societies as we do, I believe that we both have something to learn from each other and will always be willing to learn new ways of doing things. I hope that your stay in South Africa has given you a better understanding of us as a nation and I believe that we also gained and will continue to benefit from our interactions. It has been a wonderful experience and great opportunity to carry the African Renaissance forward and to promote the advantages of peaceful transition. This peaceful transition will largely depend on Sudan learning from the mistakes of countries that have gone before you (including South Africa) and not to repeat these mistakes. Such a learning process will lead to the creation of a new cadre in Sudanese politics. In a speech entitled "The Cadres: Backbone of the Revolution" delivered in 1962, Che Guevara argued that:

The main cause of our errors was our lack of a feeling for reality at a given moment; but the tool that we lacked, that which blunted our ability to perceive and which was converting the party into a bureaucratic entity and was endangering administration and production, was the lack of developed cadres at the intermediate level. It became evident that the policy of finding cadres was synonymous with the policy of going to the masses, to establish contact anew with the masses, a contact which had been closely maintained by the revolution in the first stages of its existence.

From this vantage point, we can ask ourselves what a cadre type is.

We should say that a cadre person is an individual who has achieved sufficient political development to be able to interpret the extensive directives emanating from the central power, make them his, and convey them as orientation to the masses, a person who at the same time also perceives the signs manifested by the masses of their own desires and their innermost motivations.

I wish to believe that the training offered by UNISA and the interactions that you had with your colleagues both at political and governmental levels has gone some distance towards starting to develop this new cadre. We will continuously engage with you to determine where things and issues could have been done better and endeavour to improve in those areas.

We should therefore continue to encourage people-to-people interactions as well as promote co-operation in the areas of sport, culture, science and technology, education as well as enhance economic and political relations between our two nations.
Similarly under the leadership of the African Union we will continue to strive to bring about peace on the continent so that the revival of Africa does not remain a distant dream. We will therefore continue to mobilise for the contribution that the creative and imaginative thinking that Sudan could add to our collective effort to make Africa a better place.

As the highest representatives of your people, you have already opened the doors for engagement and should take this a step further by fully participating in continental and international relations to promote, not only Sudanese, but also continental interests.

We as South Africans have had a wonderful opportunity to learn more about our brothers and sisters in Sudan and hope that the understanding and knowledge we have shared provides good grounding for the future of this project and the future of the relationships between our two countries

On behalf of the people of South Africa, I wish to express my gratitude at the honour that you have bestowed upon us by the Sudanese people to host the current training session and bid you farewell.

I thank you.

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 14 April, 2005 10:31 AM
This site is best viewed using 800 x 600 resolution with Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape Communicator 4.5 or higher.
2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa