Address by Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the State of the National Debate, The National Assembly, Cape Town, 13 February 2007

Madame Speaker
President Thabo Mbeki
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Comrades
Honourable Members

President, as you began the State of the Nation Address, you pointed out that Mama Tambo, freedom fighter and devoted community builder was absent because she had passed on. Thank you for your wonderful tribute at her funeral on behalf of us all.
You also reminded us of the 90th anniversary of the birth of Oliver Tambo and the 40th anniversary of the death of Albert Luthuli. They are both part of a generation and a leadership that dedicated their entire lives and energies to remove from our country "much that is ugly and repulsive in human society." They ensured that the common dream of freedom came true.Indeed our task now is the transformation of South Africa "into a democratic, peaceful, non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous country, committed to the noble vision of human solidarity."

It is the attainment of democracy, peace, prosperity that we wish for Africa and the world as well as for ourselves - a new world order that is also free of racism and sexism, a globe in which we all share the benefits of our own labours, a more inclusive people-centred world.

The late Albert Luthuli, in his Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech in 1960, had this to say, and I quote:

"This is Africa's age - the dawn of her fulfilment, yes, the moment when she must grapple with destiny to reach the summits of sublimity saying, ours was a fight for noble values and worthy ends, and not for lands and the enslavement of man…

"In a strife-torn world, tottering on the brink of complete destruction by man-made nuclear weapons, a free and independent Africa is in the making, in answer to the injunction and challenge of history: 'Arise and shine, for thy light is come.'

Nearly half a century later, we in the African National Congress can report that through our own efforts and those of our brothers and sisters in other parts of this continent, we are beginning to see the dawn of Africa's golden age and that a free and independent Africa is asserting itself in the world.

In the January 8th statement, you also recalled that the ANC and South African people have a long tradition of international engagement and solidarity. And you went on to say that this arises from the understanding that our fortunes as a nation are intimately interconnected with the fortunes of our neighbours, our continent and indeed all of humanity; and that it is therefore on the basis both of moral responsibility and collective self-interest that we continue to be actively engaged in the effort to build a better Africa in a better world.

Our greatest achievement in Africa in recent years has been the restoration of peace and democracy in the Great Lakes region in general and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in particular. True to Patrice Lumumba's last words "History will have its say in the DRC", history has had its say in the DRC.

For the first time in more than 40 years, there is a legitimate democratically elected government. Our involvement in the DRC has not come to an end. The challenges of nation building, infrastructure development, health, education, economic development and the building of state institutions are only starting.

Madame Speaker, Darfur, Somalia Cote d'Ivoire will be major preoccupations for us and the rest of the African continent for months to come.
The mutual distrust between the North and South Sudan is slowing the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Should this not be speeded up, a real danger arises that come the referendum, the South will vote for independence. The international community must make good the pledges made in Oslo for reconstruction so as to make unity attractive for the Southerners.

President Mbeki in the State of the Nation address emphasised the importance of community safety and security. On the international front as within South Africa, we acknowledge in particular the vulnerability of women and the prevalence of gender-based violence in the world.

Within the Progressive Women's Movement and other woman's organisations we shall continue to make inroads in addressing the plight of women and how to empower women in our country. In this regard, South Africa has been mandated by the Continent to host a conference of the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO) in 2007 in which African women can help to take forward the emancipation of our continent's women.

We salute the work of SAWID (South African Women in Dialogue) in particular which remains helpful in improving the situation of women, both at home and in terms of their work with other African countries.

The African Union (AU) decided that the continent has to co-operate with Africans in the Diaspora and has decided that the Diaspora must constitute the 6th region of the continent. In this regard South Africa was mandated to host the Global Conference of the Diaspora and the continent. This will bring together Africans from around the world, who wish to contribute towards the cause of Africa's development and advancement. In this regard, we will work closely with the AU and the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). This event will be preceded by consultation at national level and at ministerial level.

We see this event as providing a platform for reasserting African culture. From the Summit will also emerge a concrete plan of action that will be of mutual benefit to both Africans on the African continent and those in the Diaspora. It will have both an intergovernmental and civil society component. We look forward to co-operating with parliament in this regard.

Madame Speaker

The AU is also grappling with the challenge of how to accelerate the political and economic integration of our continent. Whereas all agree on the ultimate goal of a united Africa, the vexed question of how remains.

A decision has been taken to have what is called a "Grand Debate' on this very question in Ghana in July this year. Before that, wide national consultation is needed, including debates in this very Chamber.
Put simply, the question is whether the time has come to action the late Kwame Nkrumah's vision of a United Africa. Let us recall his words in 1961 in London:

"Never before have a people had within their grasp so great an opportunity for developing a continent endowed with so much wealth. Individually, the independent states of Africa, some of them potentially rich, others poor, can do little for their people. Together, by mutual help, they can achieve much. But the economic development of the continent must be planned and pursued as a whole. A loose confederation designed only for economic co-operation would not provide the necessary unity of purpose. Only a strong political union can bring about full and effective development of our natural resources for the benefit of
our people.

The political situation in Africa today is heartening and at the same time disturbing. It is heartening to see so many new flags hoisted in place of the old; it is disturbing to see so many countries of varying sizes and at different levels of development, weak and, in some cases, almost helpless. If this terrible state of fragmentation is allowed to continue, it may well be disastrous for us all.

Critics of African unity often refer to the wide differences in culture, language and ideas in various parts of Africa. This is true, but the essential facts remains that we are all Africans, and have a common interest in the independence of Africa. The difficulties presented by questions of language, culture and political systems are not insuperable. If the need for political union is agreed by us all, then the will to create it is born; and where there's a will there's a way. Those, who think that we are ready to implement Nkrumah's vision and they say that if he thought we were ready then, we should be ready now. The other view is that we should follow a step-by-step route maybe like the EU.

Let us start the discussion and prepare ourselves for the Grand Debate in Ghana; and we hope that Parliament and the Provincial Legislatures will debate this issue.

Madame Speaker,

Paul Kennedy in his book, The Parliament of Man, quotes Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1837 in "Locksley Hall"

"When I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
Saw the Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;
Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
Pilots of the purple twilight dropping down with costly bales;
Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rain'd a ghastly dew
From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue;
Far along the world-wide whisper of the south-wind rushing warm,
With the standards of the peoples plunging thro' the thunder storm;
Till the war-drum throbb'd no longer; and the battle-flags were furl'd
In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapped in universal law."

Paul Kennedy points out that in 1837 this young English poet prophesised a future of world wars, but he also forecast that the nations of the world, realizing that they could destroy one another, might mutually agree to form a political federation , the Parliament of Man. Indeed, Harry Truman at the San Francisco Conference read that passage from "Locksley Hall".

I am quoting this to demonstrate that the need for a multilateral system is today, as was envisaged by Tennyson, the only way to save nations from destroying one another. The United Nations is the global primary instrument by which the world should solve its problems. We still believe that the reform of the UN should continue. Some progress has been made, but it is not complete.

South Africa has made its voice heard that UN reform should be based on the equal treatment of security and development issues with human rights an overarching issue. Under SA Chairmanship last year the G77 also took a consolidated position on all reform issues.President, you said "because this organisation of the people of the world has grown to encompass the entire world, many had thought it would be logical that this custodian of global democracy would itself serve as a beacon in our contemporary quest for democracy in all our countries. Clearly for the UN to continue occupying its moral high ground, it has to reform itself urgently and lead by practical example as to what is meant 'to be democratic'."

Madame Speaker,

As you are all aware, on 16 October 2006, South Africa was elected by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly onto the Security Council as a non-permanent member for the period 1 January 2007-31 December 2008. It is important to note that South Africa's candidature had previously been endorsed by the AU. Our participation in the UN Security Council is also to champion the cause of Africa and to be a voice for the African continent. We will work hard to elevate the African agenda of achieiving peace, security and development. We see our task as bringing greater alignment to the work of the Security Council and that of the AU, especially the Peace and Security Council and those bodies outlined in Chapter 8 of the UN Charter which deals with regional organisations.

The major challenge that South Africa will have to contend with is how to operate in an environment that is characterised by conspicuous power imbalances and a domination of the Security Council by its permanent members.

South Africa will also have to be seized with challenges when it chairs the Council and we need pay greater attention to matters that the Council intends dealing with. The problem of Serbia and the clamour for the independence of Kosovo are important concerns at present. We have also been asked to be the Lead Nation on the matter of Timor-Leste.
Special groups have been set up for most issues on the Council's agenda and South Africa is already strategising on how we can contribute to deepening the understanding through our participation in discussions (e.g. Quartet - Middle East; Group of Friends - Iraq, Western Sahara and Lebanon; Contact Group - Kosovo; P3 +2 - DRC; P5 + Germany - Iran; Group of 6 - North Korea). This participation will remain guided by our view that only matters that affect international peace and security should be on the UN Security Council Agenda.

Honourable Members,

We will also be chairing the G20 Finance Group. We look forward to the chairing of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). In this regard we maintain that for the purposes of development in the world, it is important that nations be allowed to make greater use of nuclear energy for peaceful means as guided by the NPT and we defend the rights of countries to do so. At the same time, we acknowledge that the use of this technology can also open up the possibilities for dangers. Thus we continue to work within the IAEA on strengthening global safeguards on the use of nuclear energy. I would like to conclude by thanking the President for reminding us that there is urgency to the creation of a better life for all.

We are further reminded of the words of Comrade O R Tambo. Speaking at the University of Fort Hare in 1991, he showed how our struggle for freedom is a struggle for the freedom of humanity as a whole:

"That fight cannot be seen apart from our struggle to regain our humanity. We are, therefore, called upon to embark on the long and thorny road of transformation. Transformation requires a more dynamic discourse that insists on capacity and potential; on originality and on a creative existence that makes and remakes its own essence; that stimulates a will to overcome history, time and necessity, rather than encouraging submission. We need to introduce this into our universities as much as to our national fora. South Africa needs to believe in our capacity to overcome our painful history; to begin again and to regard our failures, when they occur, not as finite moments, but as occasions for a new beginning."

Fifteen years later, we are confident that the path we have taken is the correct one. Our will to overcome history has kept us on the road to complete transformation. We have kept our shoulder to the wheel to create the conditions for the sustained social, political, and economic development of our people and to the cause of the emancipation of an entire continent and that of the developing world.

President, thank you for making it clear that the most important resource is our people. And that important as the development of the economy is, "development is about transforming the lives of people." The road ahead is still long, but the road map is clear.

I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001
13 February 2007


 

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