Address by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad on the occasion of the Graduation Ceremony, 10 February 2006

Programme Director - Ms Tselane Mokuena
Ambassador January-Bardill
Graduants
Distinguished Guests
Senior Managers & Colleagues
Ladies and Gentleman

It is both an honour and a privilege for me to address this graduation ceremony which is held in recognition of the graduants from our Diplomatic Training Programme, Mission Administration and Foreign Affairs Attachés Course and those officials that have completed the Foundation Course. I must express our gratitude to Ambassador January-Bardill and her staff for once again achieving outstanding results in the above courses.

The Branch: Foreign Service Institute and Human Resource Management continue to be a critical catalyst in responding to the Department's human capital needs. We all realise the role you play and as such we are committed to providing the necessary support and resources.

But today the focus is on you the graduants. I am indeed honoured to share this special occasion with you in what marks the beginnings of a new phase in your careers. I know how challenging diplomatic life is, demanding levels of integrity, intellectual rigour, and professionalism.

It is a role that demands from every fibre in our being, a consciousness to defending and promoting the interests of our Country. In a global context that is not always kind to Africa, the South and the developing world, South Africa and our Foreign Affairs Officials have an awesome responsibility to promote our Foreign Policy Objectives.

Our vibrant Democracy has propelled us into being a powerful Emerging Economy and political player; this has contributed immensely to our success as a country facing global challenges. The political miracle of twelve years ago has given us a moral high ground, allowing us to influence global affairs in a manner very few other countries our size are able to do.

South Africa has over the past decade asserted itself as an African state with African renewal and the continent's development as the key priority of its foreign policy. I want to remind us all of President Mandela's words that has steered us on this course:

"South African cannot be an Island of Wealth in a Sea of Poverty."

In the light of your theme for this graduation: "Diplomacy to benefit poor communities", we will all do well to take to heart the words of President Thabo Mbeki, spoken this time last week in his address at the Opening of Parliament, when he said:

Quote

"… our people expect that:

  • We should move faster to address the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment and marginalisation confronting those caught within the Second Economy, to ensure that the poor in our country share in our growing prosperity;
  • We should make the necessary interventions with regard to the First Economy to accelerate progress towards the achievement of higher levels of economic growth and development of at least 6% a year;
  • We must sustain and improve the effectiveness of our social development programmes targeted at providing a cushion of support to those most exposed to the threat of abject poverty;
  • We must act more aggressively with regard to our criminal justice system to improve the safety and security of our people, especially by improving the functioning of our courts and increasing our conviction rates to strengthen the message that crime does not pay;
  • We must ensure that the machinery of government, especially the local government sphere, discharges its responsibilities effectively and efficiently, honouring the precepts of Batho Pele; and,
  • We must harness the Proudly South African spirit that is abroad among the people to build the strongest possible partnership between all sections of our population to accelerate our advance towards the realisation of the important goal of a better life for all.

Unquote

The biggest challenge we face today is to develop a common progressive agenda that serves the interests of the masses of our peoples. Our vision must be one of a prosperous, non-racist, non-sexist democratic world that is inclusive and that belongs to all who live in it. South Africa's policies are underpinned by a vision of " A better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world".

In SA, we are in a situation where the ANC has won every election since 1994 with substantial majorities. In large part our electoral successes are a combination of a number of complex factors including:

  • The active promotion of our vision of creating a non-racist, non-sexist and democratic SA that belongs to all who live in it;
  • Poverty eradication;
  • Our commitment to a connection to the people- the creation of a people's contract;
  • Promoting respect for the constitution; protecting and advancing the fundamental human rights of our people; and
  • Understanding the intricate relationship between domestic policies and regional and continental policies.

Our concerns have not only been confined to our borders. We have clearly articulated a vision for the continent of Africa that also compels us to promote peace, development and stability in our region and in Africa as a whole.

As long as there is one regional conflict there can be no peace and stability in Africa. As long as there is poverty and unemployment, as long as the masses of people on our continent feel hopeless it will be difficult to promote and consolidate democracy. To achieve your objectives in Africa we need a progressive agenda.

We have to look critically at the fundamentally transformed world situation that we have to function in, inter alia,

  • The dominance of one major power and the absence of a balance of power in the global system
  • The continuing move to unilateralism and the weakening of the multilateral system;
  • Weakening and disregard of international law treaties
  • The stark failure of the attempts at UN reforms and the failure on a way forward to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), This was so evident at the recent UN Summit in New York;
  • The failure to develop a response to globalisation;

In May 2004, President Thabo Mbeki suggested that " perhaps the time has come for the emergence of a united movement of the people' of the world that would come together to work for the creation of a new world order".

In the era of unprecedented globalisation from which countries of the South have generally benefited little. Our activities are underpinned by some basic challenges:

    1. The fight against poverty, unemployment ad underdevelopment;
    2. The fight for peace, security and stability;
    3. Restructuring the global balance of power;
    4. The fight against terrorism
    5. The promotion of sustainable environmental practices
    6. Good governance and democracy
    7. Restructuring global governance

Let me attempt to deal with some of these challenges.

The Fight Against Poverty, Unemployment and Underdevelopment:

Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 against the US, there have been sharp debates about what constitute the key challenges confronting humanity. Some of the powerful countries argue that it is terrorism, which must be dealt with militarily. Billions of others, while not ignoring the threat of terrorism, argue that the main threat facing humanity is poverty and underdevelopment, which amongst other things creates conditions for terrorism.

As progressives, we are concerned with the eradication of poverty? Whilst globalisation is creating immense opportunities of growth and wealth creation for some, it has produced an abundance of poverty for millions.

Increasingly the world is being constructed into two contrasting global villages- one in which the rich are getting richer and another where the poor of the world are getting poorer and marginalized.

This ever-increasing gap between the have and have-nots is occurring between countries, within countries, between regions, within regions, between the North and South, within countries of the North and within countries of the South. The world as a direct result of globalisation has been cast as a vast ocean of poverty in which a few islands of prosperity are to be found. Never before has the world witnessed such unprecedented alienation and marginalisation of societies from the institutions that shape and direct their lives.

Consider that globally:

  • 50 000 people die daily as a result of poverty and poverty related diseases;
  • 30 000 children die every single day before they reach the age of 5.
  • In a world of 6 billion people, 2 billion people of poverty live on less than $ 2 a day and 700 million of them classified as desperately poor.
  • 1.5 billion of our fellow inhabitants have no work.
  • For Africa the situation is more stark. The recent UNDP and UN Social Development Report, while indicating that some progress is being made in Africa concludes that Africa is the continent where the masses of the people are getting poorer and that ours is the only continent that will not meet the MDGs.
  • Over 40% of Sub-Saharan African people live below the international poverty line of US$ 1 a day.
  • More than 140 million young Africans are illiterate.
  • The mortality rate of children under 5 years of age in Africa is 140 per 1000, and life expectancy at birth is only 54 years.
  • Only 58% of Africans have access to safe water
  • Africa's share of world trade has plummeted, accounting for less than 2%.
  • In absolute terms, bilateral ODA flows to African economies have dropped in the last decade, from $25 billion to $ 16 billion (40% drop) and fell well short of the estimated $ 64 billion a year required to reach the MDGs
  • According to a latest study of UNCTAD debt continues to impact decisively o our development efforts
  • Sub-Saharan Africa, received $ 294 billion in loans from 1970-2002, paid out $ 268 billion in debt service and still has a debt stock of $ 210 billion.
  • Add to this other capital outflows, some legal but most illegal, as well as the brain drain and one gets some sense of the transfer of resources from the world's poorest continent to the richest countries of the world.

In 2000, the historic Millennium Summit Declaration proclaimed " we believe that the central challenge we face today is to ensure that globalisation becomes a positive force for all the world's people. For, while globalisation offers great opportunities, at present its benefits are very unevenly shared, whilst its costs are unevenly distributed. We recognise that developing countries and countries with economies in transition face special difficulties in responding to this central challenge. Thus, only through broad and sustained efforts to create a shared future, based upon our common humanity in all its diversity, can globalisation be made fully inclusive and equitable".

The Declaration identified fundamental values that were essential to international relations in the twenty-first century, these included:

  • Freedom
  • Equality
  • Solidarity
  • Tolerance
  • Respect
  • Shared responsibility

The MDGs, inter alia, seeks to halve by the year 2005 the proportion of the world's population who live on less than a dollar day.

What has been done to achieve the lofty ideals proclaimed by world leaders

The way some of the developed countries are dealing with the WTO talks and the recent UN Summit compels us to conclude that nothing substantive has been done to deal with the conclusion of the Millennium Summit. Clearly they don't have the political and economic will.

Economic Diplomacy

Africa's response in terms of NEPAD

The development and adoption of NEPAD is confirmation of the emergence of a growing number of progressive leaders and the increase of their influence. In addition the development of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) is a uniquely African contribution to peer accountability and responsive and responsible government. Our government is currently engaged with the APRM. These are leaders who are not only visionaries, but also people of action who are committed to driving the implementation of their vision and plans. It is this development that makes the transformation movement both sustainable and irreversible.

The sectoral programmes of NEPAD cover many priorities, such as agriculture, science and technology, human development, industrialization, transport, environment, economic integration, etc. Taken in totality, they address the important objectives of self-reliance and the internal and regional integration. Furthermore, they cover new areas that were not very urgent priorities when Lagos Plan was drawn up, viz conflict prevention, management and resolution, political economic and corporate governance, protection and promotion of democracy and human rights and people-centred development.

NEPAD has placed African priorities such as agriculture, infrastructure, ICT, research and development, health, institution and capacity building, firmly on the international agenda, thus changing the dominant development paradigm that has for so long been imposed on our continent.

We most definitely need to find ways of developing the progressive forces in Africa in order to respond to these challenges, inter alia, developing a progressive alternative to the Washington consensus and neo-liberal agenda, to enable us to successfully deal with poverty and under-development, to deal with other central challenges identified in this paper, and to ensure that NEPAD realizes its full potential

Institutional changes on the African Continent
Strengthening the African Union

Of the 18 organs of the AU, 7 have already been established i.e. the Assembly, Executive Council, Permanent Council, Permanent Representatives Committee, Commission, Pan-African Parliament (PAP), peace and Security Council (PSC) and the Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC). The operationalisation of the Specialised Technical Committees (STCs), the judicial infrastructure and the financial institutions of the Union remain outstanding.

2. The Second major challenge humanity faces is global and regional peace and security:

2.1 End of the Cold War, Emergence of one superpower
2.1.1. No post Cold war peace dividends. Today's world is more dangerous.

2.2 September 11- yet another decisive moment.
2.2.1.1 Concepts and policies that determine the international relations paradigm now includes:

  • " Axis of Evil"
  • "Rogue states"
  • " For us or against us"
  • Clash of civilizations"
  • Religious "crusades"

Some dangerous consequences of the new international paradigm most starkly evident is:

  • Afghanistan
  • Iraq
  • Middle East
  • Denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula
  • Iran nuclear programme

African conflicts (elaborate)
Africa's efforts to solve these (elaborate)

Other threats to peace and security:

  • HIV and AIDS and other infectious diseases
  • Environmental degradation and climate warming
  • International crime syndicates
  • Terrorism

The third major challenge we face is the restructuring of global governance

What is absolutely clear is that if we are to meet the many challenges that humanity faces, we have to strengthen multilateralism.

Having said that we must accept that the UN and its various institutions have to be fundamentally transformed to make it relevant in the 21st Century. Sadly the recent UN Summit attended by close to 170 world leaders to look at progress regarding the MDGs and the reform of the UN did not meet expectations of the South. The hundreds of amendments introduced at the last minute to the outcomes document ensured that non of the major issues, were effectively dealt with, inter alia,

  • Reform of the functioning of the Secretariat
  • Reform of the functioning of the GA and the Bretton Woods Institutions
  • A more representative and transparent Security Council
  • A common understanding of collective security
  • A common definition of terrorism
  • A world free of weapons of mass destruction
  • More concrete and decisive action regarding the operationalisation of the MDG
  • The membership and functioning of the Human Rights Council
  • The membership and functioning of the Peace Building Commission

The New World order that is emerging is unsustainable. In the interests of humanity we must urgently strive to fight for a world of peace, democracy, freedom from poverty, non-racism and non-sexism. We must address the concerns of the billions of people in the world who are marginalized. We must reject the tendency to accept as inevitable the legacy of the neo-liberal paradigm and of right wing political dominance that is committed to marginalizing the masses.

Democracy
This is an overarching issue impacting on all 3 of the major challenges I have talked about.

The North must recognize that the South cannot be force fed democracy. Democracy and democratic institutions of governance and administration must emerge from within societies.

Unfortunately, today some countries are politicising the issue of democracy. We in Africa have always committed ourselves to democracy, good governance, protection of human rights and the fight against corruption. We did so because we clearly understood the dialectical relationship between democracy, peace and security and sustainable people centred development.

The founding documents of the OAU are testimony to this. Sadly Africa's decolonisation process co-incided with a period which the " Cold war" was at its "hottest". Many of our countries became pawns in this period, which had a disastrous impact on our societies. Today with the end of the Cold War and a more assertive African continent the objective and subjective conditions are ripening for us to achieve what the founding fathers of the OAU sought to achieve.

The Constitutive Act of the AU and the APRM (a unique initiative in the world) are instruments that must be critically analysed but more importantly we must work together to operationalise these instruments.

We must also recognise that good governance and administration must be viewed in the context of the fight against poverty, unemployment, the need for living incomes and underdevelopment. The failure of socio-economic transformation in the South, including closing the gaps between the first and second economies on a global, regional and national scale, will spell disaster for democracy and progressive politics as a whole. Global poverty constitutes the deepest and most dangerous structural fault in the contemporary world economy and global societies. It constitutes the most challenging structural fault. Logically, this means that the correction of this fault has to be at the centre of the politics, policies and programmes of progressive thinking

We need to radically rethink democracy, political participation and citizenship. "Democracy and the very institutions of democracy including political parties, institutions of governance and the illusion of political participation via a ballot cast every 4 or 5 years need to be democratized. Progressives need to start promoting notions of "democratic citizenship"; the "democratisation of democracy"; inclusive political practices and they need to promote strong organizations in civil society. Progressives also need to be far more assertive about their conception of the developmental state as a corrective to the excesses of the marketplace and as the legitimate repository of the will and aspirations of the majority". (Minister Essop Pahad).

Present world order is unsustainable.

We must mobilize millions throughout the world to attain the objectives, goals and programmes agreed to at the Millennium Summit. The attainment of the Millennium goals, the implementation of the programmes that emerged out of the World Conference against Racism, xenophobia and Related Intolerance (WCAR), the World Food Summit, the Financing for Development Conference (FfD) and the World Summit for Sustainable Development (WSSD) are all central to the challenge of the development of countries of the South.

Governments and people committed to real and fundamental change around the world need to work in co-operation to ensure:

  • A progressive alternative to the Washington Consensus and the neo-liberal paradigm.
  • The eradication of global poverty and unemployment with the immediate objective of meeting the targets of the MDG
  • The African Agenda re people centred sustainable development and concrete support for NEPAD
  • The cancellation of debt of poor countries
  • A just economic order including the termination of agricultural subsidies and trade barriers
  • We deal constructively with the two issues that threaten world peace and security; the Middle East conflict and Iraq.
  • Support for peace, democracy and sovereign independence of Iraq.
  • Support for the Middle East Peace Process. In the context of a two-state solution we must mobilise against the Separation Wall, withdrawal from all occupied territories, end of new settlements and extra judicial killings and suicide bombings. We must intensify efforts to put the Road Map back on track.
  • Terrorism
  • WMD
  • Sustainable energy security
  • HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases including drugs and treatment at affordable prices
  • Environmental degradation and climate warming
  • Gender equality [as an over-riding issue]

Let us be reminded of what an African intellectual Theophile Obenga recently wrote:

" Any renaissance must correspond to a period of strong emotions, intensive creativity and flames illuminating the countryside- an exceptional period when a nation's creative genius discovers its mission, fulfils it to its best, without betraying, diminishing or downsizing it. It should correspond to great moments in history and great works. All people want rebirth after misfortune; wars, genocide, holocaust, ignorance, obsurantism, colonialism. Rebirth is a positive attitude of hope.

We have to mobilise the masses in Africa and internationally "to bless Africa with a generation creative genius that discovers its mission, fulfil it to its best, without betraying, diminishing, reducing or downsizing it-the misionary to achieve Africa's integration and renaissance.

 

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