Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, to the National Assembly on the occasion of the Budget Vote of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Cape Town 29 May 2007

Madame Speaker
President Thabo Mbeki
Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
Members of the Portfolio Committee of Foreign Affairs
Honourable Members
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

This year is the 40th Anniversary of the death of Inkosi Albert Luthuli, South Africa's first Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.

In 1961 Inkosi Albert Luthuli spoke of the "golden age of Africa's independence."

"Could it be that history has delayed her (Africa's) rebirth for a purpose? The situation confronts her with inescapable challenges, but more importantly with opportunities for service to herself and mankind…How she sees her destiny is a more vital and rewarding quest than bemoaning her past with humiliation and suffering."

Indeed how we see our destiny as Africans is a more vital and rewarding quest. Since time immemorial, South Africans have visualised a common destiny for all Africans. This is evident in our National Anthem that is derived from a song composed by a school teacher, Enoch Sontonga, in 1897. It subsequently became a National Anthem of several countries on the continent after their liberation.

In 1906 Pixley Ka Seme, in his essay "The Regeneration of Africa" picks up on the theme of African renewal and African unity. He argues that:

"The African people possess a common fundamental sentiment which is everywhere manifest, crystallizing itself into one common controlling idea."

His essay would inspire generations to come into mobilising for the cause of Africa's development.

The idea of a common Africa also preoccupied generations of Africans.

More than 40 years ago, great African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Sekou Toure of Guinea, looked into the future and recognised the need that for Africa to succeed, Africa should unite. The idea that Africans could come together as a united federation of nations and states led to a new consciousness of what it means to be truly African.
In the words of Nkrumah,

"We must endeavour to eradicate quickly the forces that have kept us apart. The best means of doing so is to begin to create a larger and all-embracing loyalty which will hold Africa together as a united people with one government and one destiny."

After various meetings on the continent, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was based on the principles of unity and solidarity which sustained the struggles for liberation throughout the whole continent.

Various initiatives over the years have paved the way towards this moment in Africa's history where we can 'engineer' our own renaissance. The Lagos Plan of Action, the Abuja Treaty, the formation of the African Union, the adoption of the NEPAD initiative - have all been milestones along the road to unity.

The existence of the Pan African Parliament is already a pointer in the direction of unity. It brings together African parliamentarians to consider important questions on the social, economic and political future of the continent and all its peoples.

The African Human Rights Court is already established. It will eventually be amalgamated with the African Criminal Court. The Commission on Human and Peoples Rights is functioning, although it needs more resources. The financial institutions are still to be established.

There are lots of protocols and common policies which have been adopted. The declaration of Heads of State to strive for parity between men and women in all state institutions, academia, and social and civil society structures is recognition that the continent cannot reach its full potential, unless women play a central role in all decision-making and development programmes including poverty eradication.

In this context we are honoured that the next congress of the Pan African Women's Organisation (PAWO) will take place in South Africa later this year. The PAWO should be revitalised to become a potent instrument for galvanising the collective energies of the women.

Honourable Members

Some of the priorities for integration should be on:

  • Infrastructure, transport, railroad, ICT, energy
  • Agriculture, to guarantee food security
  • Water
  • Human resource development, education, and health
  • Trade.

We have to make an effort to attract some of the skills back to Africa.

In July this year, the African Union Summit will discuss the feasibility of an African Union government. This Grand Debate takes place in Accra during the Golden Jubilee of Ghana's independence. A few weeks ago, in preparation for this Summit, we were privileged to host the Retreat of Foreign Ministers in Durban

We also hope that our Parliament will hold a debate on this matter before the AU Summit.

Whatever the outcome of the debate, the most urgent task is to strengthen the capacity of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities to implement existing decisions.

Madame Speaker

The African Union took a decision in January 2006 that South Africa should host the global Africa-African Diaspora Summit, scheduled for 2008. The proposed theme of this Summit is: "Towards the realisation of a United and Integrated Africa and its Diaspora" and the aim is to produce a shared vision of sustainable development for both the African continent and the Diaspora.

The Preparatory meetings have already started in South Africa, London and Brazil. Further meetings will take place in the USA, the Bahamas (Caribbean and Central America) and Paris (for Europe) and Addis Ababa (for Africa)

The Ministerial Conference will take place in October this year in Durban followed by a Global Summit of the African Diaspora Heads of State and Government in 2008. There will be a civil society component as well.

The effort by our country on behalf of the AU is a part of our own contribution to rekindle the flames of solidarity, inspired by the establishment of the first black republic in Haiti. As part of our ongoing engagements with CARICOM, the AU and the UN, we will continue to monitor political developments in Haiti.

Madame Speaker

This year is also the 90th birthday of that "giant who strode the globe like a colossus", Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo (Nelson Mandela at the funeral of OR Tambo).

In 1986, in his address to the Non-Aligned Movement in Harare, OR Tambo said that:

"between our people there exist indissoluble bonds of common purpose born of the same heritage of suffering under the yoke of apartheid colonialism and racist oppression."

These indissoluble bonds keep us together in order to:

  • best serve the needs of our people and countries we need to work as one:
  • use our collective muscle in the interest of all our peoples
  • develop African natural resources together
  • unite for our collective defence and to implement a shared vision of enduring peace together

These bonds should bind us together in the implementation of NEPAD. We therefore welcome the imminent launch of the Pan African Infrastructure Investment Fund, at the behest of our own President Thabo Mbeki, which will take place on the margins of the AU Summit in Accra, Ghana, in July this year.

Madame Speaker

South Africa participated in the 24th France-Africa Summit held in Cannes in February where discussions were centred on Africa's strategic importance to the world.

South Africa will participate in the G8 Summit which will take place in Germany in June both as part of the 5 Outreach partners (and the Chair of the AU) as well as part of the African NEPAD leaders.

Germany's use of its G8 Presidency in 2007 is to continue the fight against poverty in Africa. Chancellor Angela Merkel's commitment, that the Summit will examine economic growth, governance, energy and the environment in Africa, is encouraging. The Summit will also look at partnerships on reforms and economic growth; promotion of private investments and medical schemes and HIV/Aids.

Together with other founding NEPAD countries and the Chair of AU, we will take this opportunity to assess how far the Gleneagles commitments of 2005 have been implemented.

Madame Speaker

The European Union approved a strategy for Africa that will guide its relationship with the continent for the coming years.

However, this high-level policy process did not evolve through rigorous consultation with African governments or civil society. We are encouraged that this major defect is being corrected and consultations with the AU are taking place so that a joint strategy can emerge. This new strategy will be adopted at the EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon envisaged for later this year.

We reaffirm our commitment to consolidating bilateral relations with countries of the North in a manner supportive of the advancement of the interests and needs of the continent. In this context, on 14 May this year, our relations with the EU were elevated to a higher level. We have agreed on a Plan of Action to establish a strategic partnership.

This SA / EU partnership is premised on an expansion of areas of co-operation guided by the principle of adding value to the existing framework in the Trade, Development and Co-operation Agreement. It also includes:

  • Elevation of the dialogue between SA and EU to Summit level with the 1st Summit envisaged for 2008;
  • The holding of SA/EU Ministerial Troika meetings twice a year alternating between our country and the EU - the next of which is planned for October 2007 in this country; and
  • Ensuring that the SA/EU strategic partnership is supportive of the EU/Africa engagement and acts in support of the regional harmonisation and integration of the entire Continent.

South Africa continues to expand its interests in the North and to exploit the opportunities that exist for increasing trade and investment links and nurturing an environment that is more conducive to partnerships, which are to our mutual benefit.

Madame Speaker

As regards the African Peer Review Mechanism, we look forward to the forthcoming meeting in Ghana where the final country review report of South Africa is to be tabled to the African Peer Review Forum of Heads of State.

At the regional level, South Africa is contributing towards the SADC Common Agenda especially on matters of integration. Negotiations on the SADC Customs Union and the future of SACU are work in progress.

Madame Speaker

The continent has recently seen elections held in Senegal, Lesotho, Mali and Nigeria. As we speak today, our President is attending the inauguration of His Excellency, President Omaru Y'aradua of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is historical in that it is the first time that this important African country sees a transition from one civilian government to another. We therefore recommit our country to work closely with the Federal Republic of Nigeria as part of our efforts aimed at the regeneration of our continent.

South Africa continues to contribute toward post-conflict reconstruction and development in the DRC. It is our belief that the road to sustainable development in the DRC depends on national reconciliation. Only as a united nation will the people of the DRC be able to deal successfully with the challenges of sustainable development.

The Extraordinary Summit of SADC in Dar-es-Salaam mandated President Thabo Mbeki to facilitate dialogue between the government and the opposition in Zimbabwe and report back to the troika on progress. The success of President Mbeki's facilitation largely depends on the political will of the Zimbabwean government and opposition political parties to take Zimbabwe out of this crisis. We call on the international community to support President Mbeki and SADC in these efforts.

In Sudan, we urge the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement and for the donors to fulfil their commitment. We call for the speedy implementation of the heavy support package for the AU Mission in Darfur. We also urge all parties to resolve all outstanding issues around the UN-AU Hybrid force in order to end the humanitarian crises. The capacity building project with Southern Sudan is continuing.

South Africa also continues to support peace efforts in Cote d'Ivoire, stabilisation efforts in Western Sahara as well as strengthening our bilateral relations with other African countries.

South Africa is still involved with the Comoros in their effort to consolidate their democracy and deal with post-conflict and development challenges.

We endorse the Pact on Peace, Security, Stability and Development signed by leaders of the Great Lakes Region. These countries have resolved to put in place mechanisms that will not only ensure the peaceful resolution of conflict, but also look beyond to reconstruction and development.

We equally support the efforts of the UN Peace Building Commission, which attempts to co-ordinate efforts of the international community in post-conflict reconstruction in countries emerging from conflict such as in Burundi and Sierra Leone.

Madame Speaker

Whilst acknowledging the huge responsibility accompanying our two-year non-permanent seat, we pledged to work with all members of the Security Council, relevant non-Council members and regional organisations in pursuit of peace and stability in all regions of the world.

The Security Council is required to act on behalf of the member states in a manner that is consistent with the Purposes and Principles of the Charter of the UN. The Charter in Article 24 confers on the Council primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.

Furthermore the Charter under Article 39 the Charter determines that action by the Security Council is reserved for situations where there "is a threat to peace, a breach of peace or an act of aggression". This was a careful division of labour allowing the UNSC to deal with matters of international peace and security. The General Assembly is intended to deal with other matters.

It is worth noting that the balance of forces within this body favours the P5 which wield the right of veto. It is therefore no co-incidence that some members of the P5 would have more interest to take issues of importance to them to the UNSC.

The UN General Assembly is the most representative and democratic organ of the UN, where each member state participates, guided by the principle of sovereign equality of states and here the balance of forces does not favour any member. On the other hand, in the UNSC, some members of the P5 tend to want to encroach on mandates of other organs that fall under the General Assembly if they do not get what they want.

Our interventions in the Security Council have been - and will continue to be - informed by a desire to serve the interests of the African continent and the developing world in particular; and the global community in general to make a direct contribution to the work of the UN in the maintenance of international peace and security.

We are guided in our interventions by the need to respect the mandates of the respective UN organs and independent multilateral bodies and to uphold international law, including international humanitarian law.

We have done well so far and, despite enormous challenges ahead, South Africa stands ready to continue making a case for Africa, the developing world and for sustainable global peace and security, for the sake of present and future generations.

South Africa has therefore been particularly active on African issues before the Council. We have also been instrumental in the adoption of Council decisions endorsing peace agreements and in the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement in Côte d'Ivoire and assisting Rwanda to secure its long-standing objective of lifting the arms embargo against it.

South Africa will co-lead a Security Council mission to Sudan and Ethiopia and participate in its mission to Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana in June 2007. This will be an opportunity for the Council to assess conditions at first hand and to hold intensive discussions with the African Union and the parties to the conflicts in Sudan and Côte d'Ivoire.

During our Presidency of the UN Security Council in March 2007, South Africa re-introduced the theme of the relationship between the UN and regional organisations.

We were pleased with the outcome of the debate because, at the conclusion, the Security Council adopted a Presidential Statement (PRST) that required the Secretary-General to provide a report, in consultation with the AU, on specific proposals on how the UNSC could foster closer collaboration and deepen its partnership with regional organisations, in particular the AU.

In our recent address to the United Nations Security Council during this debate, we said that South Africa believes that the time has come to look into ways of strengthening this relationship, in line with the decision of the AU Summit in January this year.

We also reminded the Council that the Summit of the AU had called upon the United Nations "to examine, within the context of Chapter VIII of the UN Charter, the possibility of funding, through assessed contributions, peacekeeping operations undertaken by the African Union or under its authority with the consent of the United Nations."

South Africa will therefore continue to pursue this initiative on the relationship between the UN and regional organisations throughout its tenure of the Security Council.

Another successful initiative taken during our Presidency was to persuade the Council to adopt a statement on the role of women in the maintenance of international peace and security to mark International Women's Day. This was the first time since the adoption of resolution 1325 in 2000 that the Council was called upon to take a formal decision related to the situation of women under armed conflict. The South African statement was also significant in that it addressed the role of women in a comprehensive manner, recognising that women are peacemakers, political leaders and business people, rather than just victims of conflict.

South Africa is the lead nation on Timor-Leste and we are proud that we can use our membership of the UNSC to help our sister peoples of Timor-Leste in their journey towards democracy and stability in their country. As part of our responsibility in this regard we managed to send an observer team to the recent Presidential elections in Timor-Leste. Our team concurred with the observations of the rest of the international community that these elections were indeed free and fair.


In articulating positions on global peace and security we continue to draw lessons from our Constitution which seeks to promote a culture of human rights and inculcate democratic principles. We are also guided by a number of principles enshrined in international law. It is our experience that in certain instances, we make choices when equally important principles stand against each other.

Our own national experience has also taught us the value of seeking negotiated solutions to problems, no matter how intractable they may at first seem, and of engaging all relevant role players in a dialogue.

This thinking greatly influenced our voting patterns over the past four months at the UNSC.

Emerging from this brief experience at the UNSC, we think the principles behind our positions should have been conveyed more robustly from the outset.

Looking ahead, we will once again be faced with the difficult task of taking positions on a range of complex challenges facing the Security Council and explaining those positions to the South African public and an international audience. These include the proposal by the UN Secretary-General's Envoy to grant Kosovo "supervised independence" without the consent of Serbia and another proposal to impose the formation of an international tribunal on Lebanon to prosecute those suspected of involvement in the assassination of prominent Lebanese leaders. We are engaging in an exhaustive consultation process with all relevant parties to ensure that we have the best possible basis for taking an informed, independent and principled position on these issues.

With greater vigour we shall re-ignite the debate on the reform of the United Nations and all its institutions including the Security Council, and also enter into strategic alliances with member countries from different regions as a way of amplifying our voice, that of Africa and the developing countries in the UN.

The United Nations Human Rights Council

Honourable members will be aware that South Africa was also elected as a member of the newly established UN Human Rights Council. As founding members of this multilateral body, we are contributing in shaping the international human rights agenda.

Our participation at this level is informed by our foreign policy objectives predicated on the need for developing an agenda responsive to the needs of the poor, mainstreaming gender issues and the further empowerment of women. An agenda which affirms the inextricability of economic, social and cultural rights on the one hand and civil and political rights on the other.

The Middle East

At the request of the UN, we recently hosted the UN Conference of African Solidarity with Palestine that was attended by both Palestinian and Israeli politicians, academics and a range of delegates from governments and civil society. The conference called for the ending of sanctions against the Palestinian Authority and the resumption of dialogue between Palestine and Israel.

Yet in recent weeks, violence has again erupted between Palestinians and Israelis. We call on both parties to cease hostilities and allow for the resumption of negotiation processes.

The situation in Lebanon also warrants attention. We call upon the leadership of Lebanon across divides to come together to reach amicable solutions to the problems besetting this country.

Madame Speaker

South-South relations

More than fifty years ago African and Asian leaders met in Bandung and sought greater co-operation and unity. In recent years and in the spirit of internationalism and solidarity, our two continents, representing over 100 countries, formed the New Africa Asia Strategic Partnership (NAASP).

At the first summit, South Africa was chosen as Co-chair along with Indonesia. We are currently preparing towards a NAASP Ministerial meeting to be held early next year in preparation for the Summit to be held in South Africa in 2009.

To further consolidate South South relations and in pursuit of sustained economic development and enhanced co-operation on multilateral issues, India-Brazil-South Africa, (IBSA) will hold the second IBSA Summit in October this year.

These initiatives further strengthen south-south co-operation and the noble objectives of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the G77+China.

South Africa pursues a one China policy like the majority of African countries. As regards Sino-African relations, we have seen that China-Africa trade has tripled in five years and that China's resource and energy needs, among others, have certainly contributed to the economic growth of the African continent by boosting prices and exports.

We view our relations with China as a very strong historical and strategic engagement, as was evident in the State Visit of President Hu Jintao earlier this year. In this year, we are adding more substance to this relationship, through creating a sustained comprehensive strategy, especially as we celebrate the first ten years of bilateral diplomatic relations, details of which we shall announce later.

We need to identify opportunities presented by the rapidly expanding Chinese economy, examine complementaries of our economies and ensure mutual benefits.

In this regard, we believe that among other important structures, the Forum on China-Africa Co-operation in particular should be effectively utilized as a platform for discussions, alignment and agreements on NEPAD and Africa's developmental agenda. The November 2006 Beijing Action Plan (2007-2009) should also serve as a foundation from which the strategic partnership can be further strengthened.

In an endeavour to actively promote South-South relations, South Africa remains strongly committed to expanding its bilateral ties with countries in South America and the Caribbean. In the context of the African agenda, the constructive outcome of the South America - Africa Conference held in Nigeria in November 2006 was particularly encouraging.

Iran

The evolving confrontation between the big powers and Iran over its peaceful use of nuclear energy has escalated in recent months and the matter has effectively been shifted to the UNSC from the IAEA Board of Governors.

The most recent report by the Director General of the IAEA of 23 May 2007 to both the IAEA Board of Governors and the UNSC confirms, as was expected, that Iran has not suspended its nuclear enrichment related activities and continued to expand them. The report also notes that the Agency is able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran.

This would in effect mean that the international community would have no authoritative and verified information about the precise scale and nature of Iran's nuclear programme. Thus, with Iran restricting its co-operation, the Agency concludes in the latest report that "the level of knowledge of certain aspects of Iran's nuclear activities has deteriorated." If this process continues, the Agency and the international community will inevitably have increasingly deteriorating information about that programme.

At every point we have called for dialogue and negotiations and in the current crisis encourage all parties to spare no effort to seek a comprehensive and sustainable solution.

South Africa will continue to encourage all the parties concerned to enter into dialogue and negotiations in order to seek a comprehensive and sustainable solution.

South Africa and the international community do not wish to see Iran develop nuclear weapons and also do not wish to see war over Iran's nuclear programme: it is therefore imperative that the international community rises to this challenge and, through innovative leadership that sees the bigger picture, finds an early solution to the growing crisis which could deteriorate sharply and result in a major catastrophe that would be disastrous for all concerned.

Just over a week ago, we participated in the first preparatory meeting for the 2010 NPT Review Conference and called for the elimination of all nuclear weapons as a major contribution to non-proliferation. We also insisted, as before, that developing countries, including South Africa, cannot be denied their right to peaceful nuclear technology as provided for in the NPT.

Madam Speaker

The challenge for us now is to build a South Africa and an Africa that can withstand the ravages of time - an Africa for tomorrow - for the youth of today and for future generations. We need to be able to imagine this great continent 40 years from now.

We need to ask ourselves: what does this mean for the future, for Africa's future? How do we make this abundance of human capital the possibility of our own success coupled with our abundance of natural resources which surpasses those of other continents and will still do so in the future.

A united Africa and Diaspora could best meet the needs of their own people; hence the importance of current debates. A common bond and not bondage should bring us together, true to the words of Nkrumah and to our own struggle for liberation:

"Divided we fall, United we stand!"

Our role in international affairs has been growing and the nature of international relations is getting more complex. We face the challenge of using the breakthroughs we have made to turn them into opportunities to help to address poverty, underdevelopment and unemployment.

A key challenge, as we do so, is that of co-ordination of our international work. This will assist with international work in all three spheres of government as well as maximise the impact of our interventions.

Madame Speaker

In order to assist with eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable economic development, an important task of the Department of Foreign Affairs is economic diplomacy. Consequently and necessarily our work in the international arena has to leverage possibilities to address this challenge.

Over the years we have expanded our missions, giving us the ability to build strategic partnerships to diversify our trade, to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and to facilitate investment opportunities for South African companies especially on the African continent. These interventions have contributed to the positive economic environment, which we now enjoy.

An important element of this is the growing importance of our country as a resource of FDI to our continent. We must never underestimate this contribution to the project of the African renaissance.

Of course we all have heard the sometimes negative feedback on the conduct of some of the investors. But let us not lose sight of the fact that the dominant picture is a positive one. We should sustain these efforts whilst rectifying any shortcomings. This is critical to our country playing its historic role as one of the locomotives on our continent.

A second area of growing importance is the growing contribution of economic activity with other countries of the South to the overall economic profile of our country.

This diversification results in greater robustness and enhanced ability to withstand shocks in different areas of the world economy.

In addition to the effort we are putting in our interaction with such major emerging economies as China, Brazil and India, we are giving greater focus to the countries of the Middle East, particularly the GCC, ASEAN and Japan.

This is the context to our government's recent engagement with such countries as Saudi Arabia and Vietnam. This does not diminish the need for continued consolidation of growth in our traditional partners in the North, particularly the EU, US and Japan, which continue to account for a greater part of our total trade and source of FDI.

We continue to make progress with the opening of Missions. In the last financial year we have established an additional four diplomatic Missions in West and Central Africa; Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Chad, Sao Tome and Principe. We are now hard at work with opening missions in Benin, Guinea Bissau and Mauritania during this financial year.

We spend a lot on rentals in places where we are literally permanently represented. Against this backdrop, we have taken a decision to scale up our acquisitions.

In conclusion, I would like to express my profound gratitude to President Thabo Mbeki for his leadership and Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and the Cabinet for their support.

My appreciation also goes to my cabinet colleagues especially those in the IRPS cluster for their support. A special thanks also goes to the Chair of the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Job Sithole and to the members of this Committee for their guidance and responsiveness.

May I also take this opportunity to thank Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad and Deputy Minister Sue van der Merwe for their excellent contributions and for devoting so much energy, insight and intellect in assisting with creating a better life for all in our country, continent and world as a whole.

I wish to extend a special word of appreciation to the DG - Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, senior management of the Department, our Ambassadors and High Commissioners who have spent sleepless nights on new tasks and making our dreams come true.

They have done us proud in advancing South African positions under difficult circumstances; and as a consequence, our country is regarded as an important role-player championing the cause of Africa's development, working towards peace and dialogue and for a more inclusive world.

Madame Speaker

It is our hope and wish that the house will approve our Budget vote for 2007-2008.

I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

29 May 2007

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