Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, at the State of the Nation Debate, The National Assembly, Parliament, Cape Town, 8 February 2006

Madam Speaker
President Thabo Mbeki
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Honourable Members:

President, we thank you for your accurate diagnosis of the state of health of our nation. It is reassuring, celebratory and optimistic, yet it also captures the challenges that lie ahead. You correctly proclaimed that today is better than yesterday and tomorrow will be better than today. The Soweto uprisings and the reaction of the desperate regime epitomize yesterday.

I Ningizimu Africa yonke yayigubuzelwe ubumnyama kukhona ukukhala nokugedla kwamazinyo, kodwa kubo bonke ubunzima esasibhekene nabo sasiloku sinalo ithemba. Ithemba lethu kwaku umbutho wesizwe uKhongolose.

At the time, the apartheid regime had embarked on desperate self-destructive actions of killing, and imprisoning children. The African National Congress was the only hope of all South Africans, black and white.

The ANC was always able to galvanise, inspire and strengthen the spirit of resistance which had characterized our people everywhere through the length and breath of our country since 1652. The ANC was able to turn the tears of sorrow, anger, humiliation and pain into tears of joy and freedom in 1994 when Cde Nelson Mandela became the 1st President of the democratic South Africa after 27 years in jail.

Ngaleyomini zehla izinyembezi.zokujabula sibona uTata efungiswa ukuba uMongameli wokuqala okhethwe intando yeningi aNingizimu Afrika ekhululekile.

The ANC had turned hope into the reality of freedom. All South Africans proudly witnessed Nelson Mandela take the first salute as Commander-in-Chief.

Madam Speaker,

This freedom means all South Africans can proudly stand. This freedom means indeed that all South Africans journey through Africa and the whole world without fear and shame.

All South Africans can now together with the government struggle against poverty and work for a better life for all.

Indeed life is better today than yesterday. Yesterday we were struggling for survival. Today we are struggling to improve the lives of all South Africans.

Today we can complain about the pace of change. We can criticize ourselves for not eradicating illiteracy, poverty, the bucket system, landlessness fast enough but nobody can deny that we are improving the lives of all South Africans.

Nobody can deny that South Africa is a totally different country than it was even 10 years ago.

Nobody can deny that the ANC and the Government have been true to the words of that young inspiring South African intellectual Pixley ka Seme and later one of the founding members of the ANC when he wrote 100 years ago about "The Regeneration of Africa."

He called for Africa's renewal so that "a new and unique civilization" would be added to the world.

Recalling Africa's pre-colonial past, he argued that:

"The African is not a proletarian in the world of science and art. He (sic) has precious creations of his own, of ivory, of copper, of gold, fine, plaited willow-ware, and weapons of superior workmanship."

He described civilization as resembling "an organic being in its development- it is born, it perishes and can propagate itself. More particularly it resembles a plant, it takes root in the teeming earth, and when the seeds fall in other soils, new varieties sprout up."

For him and for many of his generation, Africa was in need of a regeneration "thoroughly spiritual and humanistic - indeed a regeneration moral and eternal."

True to its tradition, the ANC has made a commitment to stay the course and not betray the founding leadership of the movement.

The leadership of the ANC have sought to bring about a better South Africa in a better continent and a better world. Thus our national efforts for a peaceful, prosperous country and winning nation, of entrenching a human rights culture and strengthening democracy is also what we have sought for the rest of Africa and for the world.

Madam Speaker,

The president said in the State of the Nation: " The Age of Hope and the People's Season of Joy are upon us." This is also true of the rest of the continent.

Africa's regeneration is becoming a living reality for many African people.

The majority of African people now live under democracies, which was not the case yesterday.

The Organisation of African Unity of yesterday is now the African Union of today and tomorrow who knows we might have a "United States of Africa" or a different version of integration.

As Antonio Guerrero said in his book, My Altitude:

" You will see the wonder of the world when you give it more love and the most profound of its splendour when we live in peace."

We are not completely there yet but we are slowly making progress.

Madame Speaker,

  • The African Union continues to make progress. Congo-Brazzaville has been given the Chair for 2006 and we look forward to working under their leadership in this regard.
  • There is ongoing discussion and action on the political and economic integration of the continent. In our region, this finds expression in the timetable we have adopted for the integration of SADC.
  • In the area of peacekeeping and conflict resolution, progress has been made notably in Burundi, Liberia and Sudan, North and South, all of which are now engaged in the processes of post conflict reconstruction.
  • Burundi has a new democratic government.
  • Liberian people have entrusted their hard earned peace to a woman who is the 1st female elected President on our continent - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
  • In Guinea Bissau, a progressive government is now in place and constitutional order restored.
  • Elections are to take place in April in the Comores, which will constitute a transfer of power in terms of the Fomboni agreement,
  • Elections are planned for both the DRC and Cote d'Ivoire in 2006. South Africa continues to support peace processes in the Ivory Coast.

Patrice Lumumba's "profound trust in the destiny of his country" was not misplaced. "History" he said "will have its say."

But much as we celebrate these advances, those of us involved in the daily struggles to make our continent a better place know that it will not be easy to attain our objectives. This is why we will not shy away from acknowledging and confronting the challenges still facing our continent.

Problems do remain:

  • the Ethiopian - Eritrean border dispute
  • the situation in Darfur, Sudan.
  • the situation in Somalia.

These will continue to preoccupy the African continent and SA will continue to play its role within the AU.

Madam Speaker,

Indeed today is better than yesterday.

An average African economic growth rate of 5.1% was registered in 2004 and similar levels in 2005.

Whilst SA is going to implement the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative (ASGISA) to achieve 6% growth, Africa as a whole is implementing the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

Africa is on the steady but sure path to its regeneration. Its women are on the move. There are no positions that are taboo for them. Presidents, Deputy Presidents, Premiers, Speakers, Judges, Academics, Engineers, Doctors and Entrepreneurs.

Madame Speaker,

SA has also continued to contribute to a world of hope and peace, free of racism, sexism and poverty. A world free of weapons of mass destruction.

We believe in a nuclear free world.

South Africa as a member of the IAEA board of Governors, has been pre-occupied with the question of the implementation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran for about three years. We have engaged with concerned parties to find a peaceful and long-term sustainable solution within the IAEA.

The IAEA has been working to correct the past failures of Iran and clarify various outstanding issues. The Director General of the Agency, Dr El Baradhei, is due to present an updated assessment of the progress to date to the scheduled meeting of the Board in March.

We have recently experienced a regrettable turn of events: Iran's decision to withdraw two of its voluntary, non-legally binding confidence measures has resulted in the EU3/EU initiating decisions by a vote of Board members in September 2005, and again last week to report the matter to the UN Security Council.

South Africa has always worked for consensus decisions by the Board (and since 1995, we joined the Board, these are the only two decisions adopted by vote).

During last week's meeting, members of the NAM and several others agreed that a report could be sent to the Security Council in March after consideration by the Board of Governors. Consensus was within our grasp but the sponsors of the resolution insisted on sending "… all IAEA reports and resolutions: to the Security Council now. This decision has in turn led Iran to withdraw all its voluntary confidence building measures including the Additional Protocol (which it was implementing as if it had been ratified).

This decision also means that Iran may resume its enrichment programme though it remains committed to the Safeguards Agreement and retains its membership of the NPT.

South Africa believes that the matter can be resolved through negotiations and dialogue within the IAEA, which has the necessary competence and expertise to address this issue. We therefore appeal to all parties not act in a hasty manner that can increase tension and confrontation but to await the DG's report next month.

The Board should be allowed to consider the DG's Report and thereafter convey to the UN Security Council and General Assembly the Report together with its own conclusions.

Madam Speaker,

As we celebrate this Age of Hope and the People's Season of Joy, let us not forget the people of Palestine and Western Sahara struggling for self-determination. Let us hope that the Quartet, the people of Israel and Palestine, will get to the two stage solution as spelt out in the Road Map.

We shall spare no effort in making sure that the UN of tomorrow should be better than the UN of today. Through the G77 and China and the Non-Aligned Movement we shall use our collective strength to achieve a reformed United Nations.

In conclusion (in the words of Ben Okri in The Famished Road):

"The road will never swallow you. The river of your destiny will always overcome evil. May you understand your fate. Suffering will never destroy you, but will make you stronger. Success will never confuse you or scatter your spirit, but will make you fly higher into the good sunlight. Your life will always surprise you."

If we remember that the ANC has always been the hope of this country and the agent of progressive change, indeed the road will never swallow us and we will see the most profound of its splendour as we live in peace.

I thank you.

Issued by Ronnie Mamoepa at 082 990 4853

Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X 152

8 February 2006


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