Address by Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the Departmental Year End Function on 15 December 2006

The Programme director
The DG is not here
Deputy Minister
DDG's who are all here
Leadership of the Department
All members of the Department who are here

Its a pleasure to be here today, at certain times we are not able to share this end of year day. A few times I've been away when you were having this function.
Today I am very happy that we are able to come together, just to celebrate the end of year because its been a very hard year.

I know that all of you have worked very hard in your different responsibilities and we can without a fear of contradiction say we have done well this year. And hopefully we will do better next year.

I would really like to thank every single one of you but to also say that the work you are doing in many ways is a contribution to what we have all committed ourselves in this country - a better life for all.

A better life for all starts with you - whatever responsibility you are given you have to do it well. We have to all go to bed every day and be able to say I have done my best today. In that way you are contributing to a better life for all.

Of course we have also as this department the responsibility to contributing towards a better world and that means in whatever we do; our foreign policy and how we implement it has to contribute to a better world and we must say this year we have done well.

PEACE AND SECURITY

One of the highlights of our work has been the elections, the democratic elections in the Congo. The Congo has not had democratic elections for more than forty years but South Africa has consistently been trying and contributing to a democratic dispensation in the Congo.

We all recall a time when our former President Mandela, together with his then Deputy President who is President now spent time on the Antaniqua, that boat that ship ,where they spent time talking to Mabuto, talking to Kabila Senior, Laurent Kabila.

It's been the long time, almost ten years since that time. But we know that this kind of work is not the kind of work where you plant a seed today and eat the olives tomorrow.

The person who usually plants olive trees in this department, is not necessarily the one who will have it but the important thing is to keep on planting the olive trees.

So that there are people in future who will be able to reap them. So our former president started the process. It ended with the democratic elections and there are a lot of people in this department, who in one way or another have contributed to that process. We know that we have contributed to a better life in the Congo just as we contributed to a better life in Burundi.

All the efforts that we are making are in a small way consistently contributing to a better life, so we should in that case congratulate ourselves for the contribution in the Congo and Burundi because South Africa played a very critical role in both of these countries.

I think the defining moment of the Congolese process started on the boat Antaniqua so this department has done well there.

But there are lots of other things that this department has done in various parts of the world, all contributing to South Africa being seen as an important player.

Nationally we are seen as a miracle. The truth is, it is not a miracle its hard work.

Men and women in this country have produced the South Africa that we live in today and are at the same time fashioning the South Africa that our children will leave in tomorrow.

UNITED NATIONS

So next year, in January will be serving in the Security Council as a non-permanent member for the first time and of course that has the implications for all of us, because that is not just a simple role to be in the Security Council.

The Security Council has the responsibility for our collective security worldwide. So we will be taking decisions that have direct implications for people's lives worldwide. A lot of decisions of the Security Council are binding to the governments the world over.

So it's a very responsible position, which means we have to work hard. We have to understand the agenda and the issues.

I'm glad we have a very good team.

Just before we came here we were actually discussing part of our agenda for the Security Council.

As you know the Security Council works twenty four hours around the clock so we have to be a step ahead in terms of understanding their agenda, in terms of discussing the issues.

But we have a good team and all the support from the department and the government. I'm, therefore, quite sure will manage that responsibility very well.


DEPARTMENT

I think the department itself has grown, and has also been rejuvenated. I see a lot of young blood around which is nice because it means the department has a future. Young people are the guarantee of the future of this department.

So as young people you are very welcome to this department. But being in this department is a very special honour and privilege. You, therefore, have to conduct yourself with that in mind - to represent your country internationally.

It's a big honour that your country has bestowed on all of us that we are the representatives of South Africa - that comes with huge responsibilities and as young people we have to learn and understand that you have to work hard. I know a lot of people who make mistakes whilst working hard and that is acceptable.

I have really no time for people who are lazy. If you make a mistake working hard, we are all humans but if you think you are going to protect yourself from making mistakes by being lazy you don't belong here. Anyone who is lazy does not belong here. I don't see anybody who is lazy here. As long as you are not lazy, you are welcome and behave yourself in a befitting manner

Editor's note: The Minister deliberated at length on the role of women in society, the empowerment of women in critical positions of influence in business, government and our respective communities. Although progress has been made in this regard, the Minister emphasised that the departmental transformation process should significantly spearhead the promotion of women to be entrusted to positions of influence.

WOMEN

She also referred to the Beijing Conference on Women that took place almost twelve years ago in China and drew on the following examples: " A clause there that is talking about non-discrimination including sexual orientation - I am talking about this because is something that is being talked about in the whole of the country - and the South African delegation was defending this clause, others were saying no and a few delegation was defending it including the South Africans, maybe in Africa we were not many.

I remember at some stage one of them, bolder African delegations came to us and said what's wrong with you South African women? Why are you defending this clause? So we said to them - we come from a very difficult history of discrimination and as we were fighting our struggle against discrimination, we were saying to ourselves that we will be building a nation where nobody will feel discriminated against.

So it's got nothing to do with what you think as an individual, its got to do with the principle that we are not going to discriminate against people - and it's important because the Deputy Minister (Sue van der Merwe) was telling me, when she was accompanying a foreign dignitary to one of our townships - this foreign dignitary was approached by an elderly South African man - who the said, yes you have passed this law, of course he did not realise that this was a foreign dignitary, he thought he was a South African - but where are the children going to come from, tell me.

Now it's not for us to ask that question, its personal choices but our Constitution says we should not discriminate. I think that's what we should be explaining to our people in case we meet this - we should not be defensive- it's an anti-discrimination law that the Constitutional Court had said should be passed and because we believe in non-discrimination, that's what we have done so that our people understand where we come from, that this is a free country.

DEPARTMENT

Having said that - please thank you very much for the hard work, I hope most of you will get time to rest and recharge your batteries.

I hope you will spend some time with your families because one disadvantage in Foreign Affairs is that most of the time you spend time away from your families. Some of us at one stage or another, we'll spend time away from our families and this is the time for those who will not be working full-time, the skeleton staff that will remain, to spend your time with your families.

Please to thank them on our behalf for having been patient with your absence. Thank them for having tolerated the fact that sometimes you will have to travel, sometimes you have to come back home late and say to them , we are very grateful for their contribution to your work, government's work, but it is also their own contribution to a better life for other people. So look after them and look after yourselves. We want to see all of you next year. So do come back.

A lot of you will drink I know. Just drink moderately, don't drink to a point where you will not remember who you are because lots of things might happen which might have real consequences for your future, the life of your family. Please don't put your life and others at risk. So use a condom.

If you think you have drunk too much, ask a friend to drive your car.

Please enjoy Christmas, enjoy the New Year and lastly I am very happy to Mxo (Mxolisi Nkosi) smiling - welcome Mxo - but enjoy yourselves - this is the time to enjoy yourselves."

Thank you.

 

Quick Links

Disclaimer | Contact Us | HomeLast Updated: 22 December, 2006 9:22 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