Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini
Zuma at the Parliamentary Debate on the Unification of Africa, Cape Town, 14 June
"Debate on the Continental Government"
and Deputy Speaker
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members of
Representatives of Political Parties
We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude
to the Honourable Members for taking this time to engage in this important debate
of the Union Government.
The question of unity and solidarity is itself
more than a century old. In the spirit of Pan-Africanism there were earlier initiatives
by Sylvester Williams, Web Du Bois, Marcus Garvey and many others.
weeks ago, during our Budget Vote, we expressed hope that parliament would initiate
a debate on economic and political integration of Africa, appropriately dubbed
the Grand Debate.
Let me hasten to add that this debate is not new, but
what is new is the level of participation by civil society, parliamentarians,
and different socio - political formations.
At Ghana's independence fifty
years ago, the first President of Ghana, Kwame Nkrumah said: "Our independence
is meaningless if it is not linked to the total independence of the African continent."
There were various events held from 1958 to generate discussions
on forging African Unity these events, together with other important meetings
in Brazzaville, Casablanca, Monrovia and Lagos, would culminate in the founding
of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963.
Why was the integration
so necessary? Why was the OAU established, besides the decolonisation?
1963, in his speech entitled "Africa Unite", Nkrumah pointed out the
following, which is still true even today:
He further argued that:
forces that unite us are far greater than the difficulties that divide us at present,
and our goal must be the establishment of Africa's dignity, progress and Africa.
It is for us to grasp what is a golden opportunity to prove that the genius of
nationhood by coming together speedily, for the sake of Africa's greater glory
and infinite well-being, into a Union of African States."
opportunity" of which Nkrumah spoke with urgency was not fully realized during
his lifetime. "We must act now", he said "Tomorrow may be too late."
is therefore, obvious that while the collective political will was strong, conditions
had not yet been attained for such a Union of African States.
process started in earnest with the formation of the OAU even though it was not
through the "Union of African States" that Kwame Nkrumah, Sekou Toure
and others had pressed for.
Speaking at the OAU Summit
in Tunis, in June 1994, the then President Nelson Mandela expressed this position
very passionately and stated that:
"Finally, at this meeting in Tunis,
we shall remove from our agenda the consideration of the question of apartheid
in South Africa.
Where South Africa appears on the agenda again, let it
because we want to discuss what its contribution shall be to the making of the
new African Renaissance. Let it be because we want to discuss what materials it
will supply for the rebuilding of the African city of Carthage.
with its historic tasks has come to an end. Surely, another must commence with
its own challenges. Africa cries out for a new birth, Carthage awaits the restoration
of its glory.
If freedom was the crown, which the fighters of liberation
sought to place on the head of Mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness,
prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown."
Africa should unite has never been in question. The question is the model of integration
that would help accelerate Africa's economic development and strengthen democratic
governance on the continent.
The current leadership of the continent realising
that the OAU belonged to the epoch with its historic tasks that had come to an
end and that another had to come with its own challenges launched the AU with
clear objections including
- Acceleration of the political and socio-economic
integration of the continent;
- Promotion of peace, security and stability
on the continent;
- romotion of sustainable development at the economic
and cultural levels;
- the integration of Africa's economies;
The question therefore is what model of integrating
is best suited for the realization of these objectives.
As I mentioned earlier,
integration has been a continuous process which has been taken to a higher level
through the AU and its institutions, including -
The question to answer is whether
the time has come for a Union Government in order to implement the above, even
if it targets a few areas.
Should we do more in rationalizing and strengthening
the Regional Economic Communities (REC's) as building blocks?
strengthen the AU Commission's capacity by providing it with both human and financial
resources and giving it a stronger mandate?
Should we do more to mobilize
financial resources for the implementation of infrastructure, human resource development,
agriculture, and so on?
If we agree to form the Union Government, which
areas will fall under it?
There are suggestions that we may start with Defence,
Foreign Affairs, Trade, Infrastructure, Finance and Agriculture, amongst others.
Others say we should go for a fully fledged Union Government. If we do,
there would have to be harmonization of policies in these areas. There would also
have to be proper funding of this government. Are the conditions now ripe for
the Union of African States? These are some of the questions you have to answer.
It would not be desirable for me to pre-empt this important debate,
so I have just posed questions and given options to allow the house to have proper
The forthcoming Ghana Summit will consider nothing but this
question of the Union Government.
Should it be established now? And if
yes, then all the attendant questions will need to be considered. And if not,
what then needs to be done to accelerate integration?
across the continent are consulting their respective citizenry on this matter
because there is no consensus yet on how to accelerate the integration; hence
the Grand Debate.
As we ponder these critical questions, it would be important
to reflect on the words of our President, then Deputy President, Thabo Mbeki,
at the adoption of the present Constitution of South Africa.
I am born of the peoples of the continent of Africa
pain of the violent conflict that the peoples of Liberia, Somalia, the Sudan,
Burundi and Algeria is an pain I also bear
The dismal shame of poverty, suffering
and human degradation of my continent is a blight that we share.
on our happiness that derives from this and from our drift to the periphery of
the ordering of human affairs, leaves us in a persistent shadow of despair.
is a savage road to which nobody should be condemned.
This thing that we
have done today, in this small corner of a great continent that has contributed
so decisively to the evolution of humanity says that Africa reaffirms that she
is continuing her rise from the ashes.
Whatever the setbacks of the moment,
nothing can stop us now! Whatever the difficulties, Africa shall be at peace!
However improbable it may sound to the sceptics, Africa will prosper!
we may be, whatever our immediate interest, however much we carry baggage from
our past, however much we have been caught by the fashion of cynicism and loss
of faith in the capacity of the people, let us err today and say-nothing can stop
How best can we achieve this peaceful and prosperous Africa?
you for your attention.