Address by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad at the Opening Ceremony of the 2nd Meeting of the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission Special Implementation Committee (SIC), Tshwane, 5 May 2005

Chairperson
Your Excellency Prof. Mike Kwanashie
Your Excellency Mr Bangumzi Sifingo
Delegations from Nigeria and South Africa

It is both an honour and a privilege for me to open the second meeting of the South Africa-Nigeria Bi-National Commission's Special Implementation Committee. The first meeting of this Committee, you will recall, was held two years ago, in October 2002, prior to the 2003 5th annual session of the Commission.

On the eve of the 7th session of our Commission due to be held in Nigeria later this year, we are reminded of the foundation on which it was established, namely a mutual recognition of the fact that ours is a special friendship and partnership that we should continue to deepen and broaden. This present meeting allows both sides an opportunity to review the progress made in implementing decisions of the Commission. In any relationship, I am sure you will agree, there are always options to do things in a better way. This meeting will therefore examine some of the structures of the existing Commission and see whether restructuring options exist which could amplify its effectiveness. We must candidly ask ourselves whether we have met the objectives set by our principles. There is some perception that our Joint Commission has not achieved much. Is this a correct perception? What is the role of the Implementation Committee? Has it carried out its tasks? We must answer these questions.

We are acutely conscious that we cannot successfully meet the challenges of poverty alleviation and sustainable development if there is no peace and stability. I am therefore happy to note that our meeting takes place at a time when the continent is making progress with regards to conflict resolution. This season of hope brings with it prospects of enduring peace, stability and prosperity. In this regard I would like to take this opportunity to salute the role of HE President Olusegun Obasanjo for his selfless commitment to bringing about a peaceful resolution to conflicts that continue to afflict our continent. We pay tribute to Nigeria's role in bringing about an end to the conflict in Sierra Leone and in Liberia. These two brotherly countries are now going through a post-conflict resolution phase. The sounds of machine guns have ground to a tumultuous halt in these two countries. Peace in Sierra Leone and Liberia has brought with it prospects for stability in the Manu River Basin, and by extension in the West Africa Region.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the transitional government is making commendable progress with the implementation of the Global and All-Inclusive Agreement. The DRC has entered a critical phase in the transitional process, namely the phase of preparing for elections and finalising the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) process. In so far as elections are concerned it is crucial that outstanding legislation be passed expeditiously and the necessary funds be availed for conducting the elections. At the moment plans are afoot for voter identification and registration. Concerning the DDR process thousands of combatants voluntarily laid down their arms at the end of March 2005, and a sizeable number of these were able to make use of reintegration programmes and jobs promised to them. More still needs to be done in this area to ensure that all combatants are disarmed and reintegrated into Congolese society. The announcement by the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), on 31 March 2005, that they would unconditionally abandon the armed struggle and return to Rwanda, has boosted prospects for security in the Eastern part of the DRC and broadly in the Great Lakes Region. This development will without doubt contribute towards the easing of tensions between the DRC and Rwanda.

At the beginning of this year the government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement signed an historic Agreement, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which marked an end to one of Africa's longest conflicts. This Agreement will contribute towards building national unity and creating conditions for socio economic development. We hope that the spirit that led to the conclusion of this agreement will prevail amongst the warring parties in the ongoing Darfur conflict. In this regard we wish HE President Obasanjo success in his untiring efforts at bringing about peace in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

In so far as Burundi is concerned it is heartening to note two major developments that took place recently namely the adoption of an interim constitution by the transitional government and the Burundian political parties, and the successful referendum that was conducted in a peaceful atmosphere. Progress has also been made with the DDR process and most importantly the PALIPEHUTU/FNL; the only armed grouping outside of the Arusha process has indicated its interests in joining the transitional government. The approval of the Electoral Code and Communal Law by the Senate that will allow the National Independent Electoral Commission (CENI) to finalise the elections timetable is another positive development that is worth mentioning. Many challenges remain, including the announcement of the election timetable, the integration of returnees, and internally displaced persons. The urgent resuscitation of the Burundi economy, especially the Agricultural Sector on which 95% of Burundians rely for their livelihood and the infrastructure in general, remains crucial. This will commence after the elections, and will be implemented within the framework of the reconstruction development programme.

With regards to Cote d'Ivoire, we are happy to note that the parties to this conflict are currently implementing the Pretoria Agreement. Last week President Gbagbo announced that he had accepted the determination of the Mediator with regards to the contentious Article 35, therefore paving the way for Mr Alassane Ouattara to contest the Presidential Elections scheduled for October 2005. We are hopeful that this step will be key to unlocking a major problem which has beset Ivorian politics for the last decade. In a series of meetings on implementing the DDR process, the Chief's of Staff of FANCI and the FAFN, together with Prime Minister Diarra met in Bouake following the signing of the Pretoria Agreement and agreed that all heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the Zone of Confidence. In addition they agreed that the DDR process would commence officially on 14 May and extended to 31 July 2005. These are indeed positive and encouraging developments which call on us to maintain the momentum and accompany our Ivorian brothers and sisters in their search for peace. The resolution of the Ivorian conflict will without doubt contribute to peace and development in West Africa.

In Togo, we welcome the decisive intervention of the ECOWAS Chair, Niger, following the death of President Gnassingbe Eyadema. We also welcome the intervention by Nigeria in seeking to defuse the volatile situation following the elections that were held on 24 April 2005.

We can confidently proclaim that many of the conflict areas on our continent are moving in the direction of peace and stability. Recent events have proven that Africa is taking its future into its own hands in addressing these remaining areas of conflict.

Sadly, in relation to conflict resolution, we Africans do not take sufficient credit for successes achieved, this interalia, include

1. DRC

While the crisis was deepening the international community hesitated and were reluctant to take timely action.

Africa, at its own expense, hosted several meetings which finally led to the Global and All Inclusive Agreement.

We remained seized with the situation and are involved in various initiatives in the administration, military and economic fields.

It was generally accepted that the "negative forces" from Rwanda based in the DRC, were the major source of instability and conflict in the DRC, however there was no decisive action to deal with them.

It was only after the Peace and Security Council decided to send in a contingent of 7 000 troops to forcibly disarm the negative forces that they decided to form the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda and committed themselves to finding a political solution.

2. Burundi

According to the UN mandate, it could not send troops to Burundi until there was a complete cease-fire. However, after the Arusha Agreement, it was absolutely essential to consolidate the progress made. Africa therefore decided to send an African force to help create conditions for a UN intervention.

3. Darfur

Africa once again had to act timeously and decisively to stabilise the situation.

I believe that Africa's experiences will serve the UN well not only with regards conflicts in Africa but throughout the world.

Allow me to use this opportunity to convey to the Government and people of Nigeria, the congratulations of the government and people of South Africa on the major role being played by Nigeria as the current Chair of the African Union.

Discussions must deal with progress but also identify some major challenges that remain.

The importance of the Peace and Security Council.

Concretisation of all elements, interalia

  • the Standby Force
  • Early Warning System
  • Common Defence and Security Policy

Reform of Global Governance

On the proposed reform of the UN system, the Report by the High Level Panel establishes a dialectical nexus between development and security issues. The issue of the reform of the UN Security Council will be placed on the agenda for the 2005 Millennium Review Summit, scheduled to take place in New York from 14 - 16 September 2005. African representation in the UN Security Council will assist in advancing an African agenda in the UN system, an agenda that seeks to deal with the twin challenge of poverty and under development.

The report released on 21 March 2005 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations entitled "In Larger Freedom: towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All", is the focus of the debate on the UN Reform process and forms the basis on which the outcome of the Millennium Review Summit (September 2005) is being prepared.

In terms of the Ezulweni Consensus, we should undertake an active approach once the AU has adopted a united African position on the report of the Secretary-General. Differences have emerged. How do we deal with this?

Presently six African candidates. How do we give concrete expression to our decision to jointly campaign for the proposed two Security Council seats.

In the final analysis we must never allow competition for the Security Council seats divide the continent, which will prevent us from tackling the fundamental challenges of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.

Democratisation of world governance should not be restricted to the Security Council but should include all the UN structures including the Bretton Wood Institutions.

Sustainable Development

We enter a challenging period as Africa in particular and the South in general, as we engage the developed countries of the North on issues of development. South Africa and Nigeria, together with a number of others, will engage the G8 at Gleneagles in Scotland in July this year. As developing nations, we are striving for a more equitable, far and just international system. We should therefore use this SIC meeting as a platform to develop views on finding for NEPAD, debt issues market access within the framework of the Doha agenda, and official development assistance.

In this regard we should be guided by the 13th meeting of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Implementation Committee that was held in Sharm Al-Sheik on 19 April 2005 to discuss the implementation of NEPAD and related projects as well as its financing. It is incumbent upon you to fully study the decisions of this meeting and consider how we can co-operate to ensure implementation.

You should answer the question - what concrete progress we made in relation to NEPAD.

The G8 Summit will also discuss priorities such as co-ordinated assistance, increased support to regional programmes, increased international donor aid, conflict resolution, infrastructure, private sector engagement as well as reform of UN institutions. In this regard the Commission for Africa report, released on 13 March 2005 by the G8 Africa Personnel Representative States and NEPAD Steering Committee, will be an integral part of discussions. Your deliberations must enable us to have a common approach at the meeting.

The Asia-Africa Summit held in Indonesia from 18 - 24 April 2005 represents a critical step towards the implementation of a New Asian - African Strategic Partnership. The attendance by 85 Asian and African countries at the Conference is a demonstration of the political will and commitment to forge a new strategic partnership between the two continents. Among the documents produced during the Conference was the Declaration on the New Asian African Strategic Partnership (NAASP). The Asia Africa Strategic Partnership, will place emphasis on the promotion of trade and the development of infrastructure and transport sectors between African and Asian countries.

As two major players on the African continent how do we ensure that the new strategic partnership, in concrete terms, helps us to tackle the major challenges of underdevelopment.

With regard to world trade and economic development, the Millennium Project Report (MPR) provides the UN Secretary-General with the mandate to develop concrete action plans for the international community to reverse poverty, hunger, disease and underdevelopment affecting many countries, especially the African continent. Various programmes have been identified to enhance implementation of the MDG's at the regional, national and international level. The global partnership between developing and developed countries should be enhanced in order to address these issues. Strategies focusing on poverty alleviation should be long term and therefore focused on sustainable development and economic growth. It would be critical to promote coherence in the international development policy, to promote reform of international institutions, to encourage debt relief and to promote access to markets. It is critical that African countries engage the international community on supporting cross- border investments in developing countries. In keeping with the above, NEPAD is the key socio-economic and sustainable development tool of the African Union. The United Nations has therefore adopted NEPAD as the framework for the UN's engagement with Africa.

WTO

Both our countries support the Doha Declaration in view of its development and poverty alleviation measures. We must continue to demand better market access for all African countries in order to improve exports as well as promote economic growth for African countries. We will continue to support promotion of trade as this will undoubtedly increase foreign direct investment and simultaneously increase employment opportunities, which will assist in extricating poor countries out of poverty. We must continue to support the promotion and development of agriculture and it is hoped that progress will be made on agricultural liberalisation during the Round. One of the groups lobbying extensively for the promotion of agricultural issues is the G 20 of which both South Africa and Nigeria are members. The G 20 and the EU have produced a broad framework for agricultural negotiations during a meeting held on 12 February 2004.

We seek to respond to the challenges facing our two countries and our continent in conditions of specific realities, this interalia, includes

1. Globalisation

Very few people can argue that we can "roll back" globalisation. However while we accept that globalisation opens up possibilities for the vast majority of countries, especially in sub Saharan Africa it has had negative consequences, which further marganisalises and impoverishes of people.

How do we respond to this?

2. Africa is not high on the agenda of the USA. The fact that the Africa Committee of Congress has been merged with the Human Rights Committee and the International Organisations Committee.

3. Negative reporting on Africa generally and NEPAD specifically continues.

This increased markedly after the Zimbabwean elections. It seems that the EU and the USA will continue to impose sanctions on the Zimbabweans, further aggravating its precarious economic situation.

How do we respond to this?

4. How do we respond to a recent article TERRORISM: NIGERIA - US EXPERT: NIGERIA MAY BE AL-QAEDA'S NEW HAVEN

Lagos - A United States intelligence expert and former ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Princeton Lyman, has said that after the dreaded Middle East terrorist group, Al-Qaeda was chased out of Afghanistan, it has shifted base to Nigeria in which its influence is growing by the day. Lyman in a report on the American television news station, CBN News, quoted a United Nations investigation which he said uncovered al-Qaeda's surreptitious training and building bases in Nigeria in support of his conclusion that the country is a natural target for terrorists seeking to expand their operations. Lyman, said, "You have 60 million or more Muslims in Nigeria. It is the most populous state, and it is a country in which there has been a long history of religious tension, sometimes well-managed, sometimes not well-managed. If you wanted to target a state in West Africa, that's the one you target." The CBN noted that in a video message broadcast on the Arab television station al-Jazeera, Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden singled out Nigeria, because of its close ties with Washington, as a country worthy of jihad -- making the threat of a terrorist attack on Nigerian soil a very real possibility. Lyman noted: "...and that in itself is very damaging to international interests." In justifying why Nigeria is a potential area for al-Qaeda to show interest in, the report states that Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer and also one of the top sources for oil for the United States. America imports as much oil from Africa, as it does from Saudi Arabia and the thirst for African oil is expected to double in the years to come. Lyman said, "Twenty-percent of the new oil coming on the market over the next decade is going to come from West Africa, and U.S. companies alone are going to be investing about 50 billion dollars up and down West Africa. Nigeria is a major part of that." It is further believed that slashing the West's oil arteries has become a major part of Al Qaeda's terror tactics since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on World Trade Centre, New York and other places US security experts say that by hitting oil targets overseas, terrorists can hit the US economically. In the last 12 months, al Qaeda-linked groups have launched a series of attacks on several oil-rich countries, including Nigeria. CIA's new director, while briefing the congress after his appointment had expressed concern that the allure of fanatical Islam is attracting an alarming number of people from Nigeria's Muslim community. The rise of religious extremism is threatening to turn Africa's most populous nation into a breeding ground for international terrorists. "As you know, you don't need a large amount of people," Lyman observed. "You need 'seams' within populations to exploit frustrations that have been going on for a long time.' Intelligence experts, he said, have warned that, for a long time, the U.S. has ignored Nigeria on almost every level, including intelligence gathering. Author Douglas Farah has documented al Qaeda's growing sanctuary in Africa. "The U.S. intelligence involvement in West Africa, particularly after the collapse of the Cold War, was minimal," said Farah. "The Africa, or the sub-Saharan African bureaus of the CIA, were cut to the bone. They lost two-thirds of their station in West Africa, and the stations that remained were staffed at less than half the level they had been before. So you are talking about a huge cut in our ability to monitor these areas of the world," he said. Farah says that is one reason why U.S. intelligence failed to anticipate the stunning spread of radical Islam across Africa. He added, "but particularly in West Africa. The Wahabbi strain of Islam, which preaches hatred to the West and is largely funded by Saudi charities, moved in very rapidly in the early 90s. And it is something that people are only now discovering, and only now starting to focus on in a very minimal way." Paul Marshall, a human rights advocate, says it is Saudi-sponsored Wahhabi strain of Islam, that is fuelling much of the Islamic fervour in Nigeria. Marshall said, "You go there and you'll find the Saudis, and you find the Sudanese there, you find the Libyans there, you find Syrians there, Pakistanis there, and it's all part of a world-wide Islamization." It is believed that to try and checkmate the spread of Islamic fundamentalism, the Pentagon is deploying huge amounts of resources to intelligence-gathering in Africa. Washington has sent U.S. Marines and Special Forces to train local armies in several countries where terror threats are believed to be growing. General Charles Wald who oversees most of Africa for the U.S. military's European Command once said, "We are developing information sharing -- some people might call it intelligence -- but we are doing that, and we are helping train those countries to do a better job of actually policing their borders." (Global Media)

Have we studied the UN Report? What are the implications of what the report states and what Paul Marshal concludes.

Against this background, it is my opinion, that the Special Implementation Committee is the most important mechanism with regard to our bilateral relationship, as it provides us a platform to assess challenges and progress within the different Working Groups that are encapsulated by our Bi-National Commission. I am disappointed by the fact that it took us this long to meet again and I hope that during your deliberations you will find a way for a more consistent plan regarding the regular meetings of this mechanism. This institution is really envisaged to be the engine room of the BNC.

Delegates, certain challenges have been identified with regard to the implementation of some agreed projects by the different Working Groups. It is my wish that by the time we are finished we would have also identified ways and means to engage with such bottlenecks, and ensure the smooth implementation of BNC decisions.

Our principals are conscious of the challenges our countries and the continent face and demand that we take our Joint Commission and the Implementation Committee serious.

This demands that we frankly assess what we have achieved.

Time is not on our side.

Once again, I wish you success with your deliberations.
I thank you.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa on 082 990 4853.

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

5 May 2005


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