Address by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of
South Africa, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the Belarusian State University on
receiving an Honorary Professorship, Minsk, 6 July 2007
Chancellor of the
Belarusian State University, Prof. Vasily Ivanovich Strazhev
Natural Sciences, Prof. Viktor Vasilyevich Samokhval
Vice-Rector in Humanities,
Prof. Vladimir Leonidovich Klyunya
Vice-Rector in Social Affairs, Prof. Vladimir
Head of the International Relations Service, Mr Vladimir
All Principal Officers of the University
Ladies and Gentlemen:
thank you for the honour that you have bestowed upon me as an honorary professor
of the Belarusian State University of and the privilege you have given me to address
this special gathering.
Universities occupy a very special place in society.
They sharpen the enquiring mind and perfect the analytical skills. They are arenas
for the production and contestation of ideas.
A great African writer, Ben Okri
in his book Astonishing the Gods tells us that universities are "places for
self-perfection, places for the highest education in life". He says that
the purpose of a university is "to discover the hidden unifying laws of all
things, to deepen the spirit, to make profound the sensitivities of the individual
to the universe and to become more creative."
I accept this honorary
professorship with honour and humility. On behalf of the African women whose toil
in the fields may be the only hope for the survival of their children. The women
who with bundles of wood on their heads, buckets of water on their sides and babies
on their backs can be mistaken for beasts of burden. They do so for the love of
their children, their communities and their continent. They do this conscious
of their responsibility for the survival of the human race.
To be so honoured
by a university that has opened its resources and facilities to the benefit of
Africa and the world is an even greater honour. I am indeed proud to be an honorary
professor of this great institution that collaborates with more than a hundred
similar institutions all over the world and where many of our African leaders,
including South Africans in our liberation movement, were given the opportunity
to study to help to build a better Africa in a better world.
are well aware, in South Africa apartheid was a system specifically designed to
oppress and dispossess the majority. It produced gross inequalities in all aspects
of life and education was specially designed to perpetuate servitude. As stated
by Pixley ka Seme at the founding conference of the African National Congress
(then the South African Native National Congress) "
in the land of
their birth Africans are treated as hewers of wood and drawers of water".
The education prepared the majority of Africans to be able to take simple commands
from their masters.
The new democratic government had to transform the entire
education system to ensure basic education for all. The biggest challenge is to
deal with that legacy of apartheid whilst at the same time trying to grow a diverse
economy based on information, knowledge and innovation. We need to ensure that
we have a highly educated population with high-level skills who can meet the needs
of industry and the new information economy.
In order to embark on a path
of sustainable economic growth in terms of which we can effectively close the
gap between the first and second economies inherent in our society, combat poverty
and ensure effective service delivery, we recently have launched social and economic
initiatives to address these challenges, namely the Accelerated and Shared Growth
Initiative (Asgi-SA) and the Joint Initiative for Priority Skills Acquisition
(JIPSA). They will also contribute to the development of our industrial base as
well as value-addition in the manufacturing sector and the growth of our markets.
Skills development is a critical element in these processes.
that we can learn a great deal from Belarus with its high education and literacy
levels, the strong focus on science and technology and the sound industrial base.
We are particularly interested in the work of highly ranked institutions such
as the National Academy of Science and others. Respected for its innovative work
in broadening the science and technological base of Belarus. We trust that in
the context of our growing and constructive relations we can expand our co-operation
with these reputable institutions in the field of technological and skills training.
two years ago at a university gathering, President Thabo Mbeki pointed to the
need for us:
"to find ways in which together as institutions of higher
education, government and the rest of society, we will improve our collaboration."
also spoke of the challenges facing African universities in particular and the
need to find ways of strengthening links between university programmes and those
of the African Union and its development programmes, particularly the New Partnership
for African's Development (NEPAD), our African social and economic recovery and
Perhaps of great importance to the gathering here today
is the emphasis President Mbeki placed in the role of higher education; and I
"Two of the key activities of higher education, namely research
and teaching, in all their forms and functions, are perhaps the most powerful
vehicles that we can and should use to deepen democracy. Research, in particular,
engenders the values of inquiry, critical thinking, creativity and open-mindedness,
which are fundamental to building a strong democratic ethos in society.
need research and a curriculum that can contribute to the advancement of all forms
of knowledge and scholarship. In particular these must address the diverse challenges
and demands of the local, national, regional and African contexts, while simultaneously
upholding rigorous standards of academic quality."
In this context,
I recall vividly the encouraging message His Excellency President Alexander Lukashenko
sent when he congratulated President Mbeki in person and the leaders and peoples
of all African countries four years ago on the occasion of Africa Day. He said
that the Belarus Republic is willing to participate in implementing the New Partnership
for Africa's Development (NEPAD) "through mutually advantageous co-operation
in economic projects, scientific developments and training of specialists."
It is evident from the above that our two countries, recognise that the
development of society can only come about through the active enhancement of education,
the advancement of knowledge, the training of specialists and the practical realisation
of economic co-operation. We believe that our friendship and partnership with
the Republic of Belarus and with this university in particular, have the potential
to contribute towards the realisation of an African renaissance and that together
through our collaboration we can instil in our youth the need to be progressive
agents of change. Education indeed, has the capacity to contribute to the greater
good of humankind.
We would like to share
with you our vision of an African continent that is united and prosperous and
the steps that we are taking for the social and economic development of Africa.
Africa is home to the oldest liberation movement on the African continent. Established
in 1910, the African National Congress (then the South African Native National
Congress), was established by people who believed not only in the liberation of
South Africa but in the self-determination of the entire African continent.
inspired by Pan-Africanism, statements by giants of the oldest liberation movement
in Africa, the African National Congress, such as John Dube, Sol Plaatjie, Pixley
ka Seme, Albert Luthuli, ZK Matthews and by Oliver Tambo consistently over the
decades reflected our leaderships' commitment to the regeneration of Africa and
The success of the independence movement in Africa in the
late 1950s and 1960s naturally led to the formation of the Organisation for African
Unity (the OAU) that had as its objective the decolonization and unification of
Africa. Great African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana recognized that the
development of African economies depended on unity.
was not to be the case in his lifetime, as the conditions had not been realized
for such a Union to be possible. In our view, it would require more work through
various programmes of regional cooperation and integration and through the establishment
of appropriate pan African institutions.
We arrived in Minsk straight from
Accra, Ghana where the Heads of state and Government of the AU dealt with the
"Grand Debate on the Union Government".
In the words of our President
immediately after the AU deliberations, at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana:
"From the discussions it is clear that the political leadership of our continent
is of the view that the future of all our peoples and individual countries lies
in the socio-political and economic integration of Africa. This is because it
would be difficult for one or a set of African countries to achieve higher rates
of sustainable development while the majority are still defined by poverty and
underdevelopment. Therefore, the political and economic integration of Africa
has to happen not merely because we share the same history, populate common geographic
space and exhibit identical physiological features-important as these are - but
because our destinies are intrinsically bound together".
Mbeki implied, was that with the liberation of South Africa and the holding of
the country's first democratic elections in 1994 as part of a second wave of democracy
across the African continent and as the last country, except Western Sahara, to
gain its liberation. South Africa is committed to a renewed effort to work towards
Our own experience has taught us the value of dialogue and
problem-solving through negotiation. Our approach to African affairs and international
relations are premised on the belief that there should and can be peaceful solutions
of the world's problems. We embrace multilateralism in principle and in action.
The promotion of peace and security was identified as fundamental for sustained
development. We believe that there is a fundamental inter-connectedness between
security, stability, human rights and sustained development - each element can
help to reinforce each other.
South Africa's foreign policy is therefore
driven by an African agenda of social and economic development. A key focus became
the need to strengthen the capacity of African institutions to meet the developmental
Clearly the OAU, as it was constituted, was no longer able to meet
the needs of the present and to fully address the challenges of economic and political
integration and the eradication of poverty and underdevelopment. Thus the formation
of the African Union, which was launched on South African soil in 2002, was an
important step in the direction of this unity.
The strengthening of Regional
Economic Communities has been identified as pivotal to expedite unity, to promote
regional security and stability, to work towards free trade and the harmonization
of policies. In this regard, South Africa has played its part in the strengthening
of the Southern African Development Community.
At the same time the building
of the African Union has meant a concerted effort towards building its commission
and technical committees as well as various organs. One of the most important
organs of the AU is the Pan African Parliament. It is playing an advisory and
consultative role for the first five years after which it maybe given legislative
powers. We are honoured to host the Pan African Parliament. The Economic, Social
and Cultural Council is also already in existence.
The African Union has
established its Peace and Security Council so as to be able to react fast to conflicts
whilst waiting for the UN whose reaction is very slow. Preparations are afoot
to establish a Standby Force for peacekeeping. Each of the five Africa regions
has to prepare a brigade. This can then be used as a rapid reaction force. A Human
Rights Commission and a Human Rights Court have also been established.
our destinies are initially bound together we have taken a view that all African
countries have an obligation to create a continent that is stable, secure and
peaceful, well governed and prosperous. A continent that is democratic and respects
It is for that reason that South Africa has spared no effort
acting within the multilateral framework in contributing towards peace in the
DRC, Burundi, Comoros, Sudan, Cote d'Ivoire, Liberia, etc.
Even now our
President on behalf of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is facilitating
a process in Zimbabwe in order to assist the Zimbabweans themselves to find a
solution to both their political and economic problems.
We have contributed
troops to various peace missions on the continent.
South Africa and the
continent have recognized the centrality of the role of women and acknowledges
that for the continent to develop to its full potential, women need to be fully
integrated. The position of women is crucial because they are often the backbone
of the family, agriculture and African economies. If women are marginalized, Africa
will never reach its full potential. We are therefore extremely proud that the
African Union has led the African continent in its adoption of gender parity,
so that commissioners are 50% women. Development initiatives can only succeed
with the full participation of women and taking leadership in such projects. The
role of women must include not only political representation, but also work in
peace-building and conflict resolution as well as post conflict reconstruction
Although Africa is making progress on all fronts, many African countries
still face the critical challenge of raising the rate of GDP growth and sustaining
high growth rates over an extended period in order to accelerate progress towards
meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Recognising the crucial
need of sustainable development Africa has established the New Partnership for
Africa's Development (NEPAD), which identifies some priorities for the continent
in order to deal with poverty and underdevelopment.
The key priority
action areas are:
- Operationalising the African Peer Review Mechanism;
and supporting implementation of the short-term regional infrastructure programmes
covering transport, energy, ICT, water and sanitation;
- Facilitating implementation
of the food security and agricultural development programmes in all sub-regions;
the preparation of a coordinated African position on Market Access, debt relief
and ODA reforms and
- Monitoring and intervening as appropriate to ensure
that the MDGs in the areas of health and education are met.
enables us, as Africans, to take possession of our own future and pursue domestic
reforms aimed at maximising our benefits. This has been a significant development
in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment. The challenge remains for the
full implementation of NEPAD projects and programmes.
In 2000, a study by
the World Bank Group with contributions from the African Development Bank, the
African Economic Research Consortium, the Global Coalition for Africa in Washington
and the ECA, concluded that "despite gains in the second half of the 1990s,
Sub-Saharan Africa enters the 21st century with many of the world's poorest countries".
The "Commission for Africa Report" confirmed the above analysis
on the extent of poverty in our continent. Now, the 2007 UN Economic Commission
of Africa Report tells us growth in Africa has increased but it is still not enough.
We have also learned from this report that African economies continue to
sustain the growth momentum of previous years, recording an overall real GDP growth
rate of 5.7% in 2006 compared to 5.3% in 2005 and 5.2% in 2004.
as 28 countries recorded improvements in growth in 2006, relative to 2005. Africa's
growth performance in 2006, as in previous years, was underpinned by improvement
in macroeconomic management in many countries, and strong global demand for key
African export commodities, sustaining high export prices, especially for crude
oil, metals and minerals.
This is a welcome development. However, Africans
need to develop their own capacity for manufacturing and beneficiation, rather
than merely exporting raw materials. Hence, we also need to put in place the necessary
infrastructure for the growth of modern economies. As a continent, Africa has
begun to mobilise its own resources for development and to harness its domestic
investment as well as partnerships.
In this regard, a welcome development
has been the formation of the Pan-African Infrastructure Development Fund last
week during the African Union Summit in Accra, Ghana. South Africa has played
an important role in this initiative and President Mbeki together with President
John Kufuor of Ghana co-hosted the launch ceremony.
The Fund has been established
to invest in infrastructure across the continent so as to provide a backbone for
growth and the economic development of the entire continent. This is a commercial
fund capitalised by equity investments of several continental investors, both
private and public. It will fund infrastructural projects i.e in roads, rail,
airports, ports, energy, water, sanitation and ICT. The Fund attests to the fact
that Africans have taken their destiny into their own hands. The continental nature
of the initiative shows Africa's commitment to and belief in African-driven initiatives,
as well as the viability of the continent.
There is now also increasing
attention on Africans in the Diaspora to return to the African continent to contribute
constructively to its upliftment and also to fund much needed skills development
on the continent.
As alluded to earlier, according to the 2007 UN Economic
Commission of Africa Report, "progress towards the MDGs remains below expectations
in Africa." Compared to other regions, Africa, however continues to lag behind
in all indicators of social development. Measures of poverty have remained virtually
unchanged over the past decades.
Given these serious challenges facing
Africa, we believe that it is critical to increase investment in education to
match the expansion in demand so that gains in enrolments are not achieved at
the expense of quality of education. More efforts are also needed to accelerate
progress in gender equity in access to education.
Two main challenges facing
Africa today are:
- Firstly, there is an urgent need to put in place
an environment that will promote public-private sector partnership in investment
(domestic and foreign) activity. This will make us achieve high quality economic
growth and create employment opportunities for poverty reduction. I believe that
this challenge is in line with the requirements of the United Nations Millennium
- Secondly, Africa must become a full and competitive
participant in world affairs, including trade and investment. For this to happen,
it must create conditions to increase its power in international decision-making
bodies and increase its share of foreign direct investment.
of the African Agenda will indeed therefore remain South Africa's overriding and
most compelling foreign policy priority.
Allow me to make a few remarks
on South Africa's role in the global community. South Africa believes in taking
a multilateral approach to global challenges. We therefore endeavour to strengthen
ties with countries especially of the global South for the purposes of trade and
investment but also to deepen political links and to share best practices. In
this regard, we have been active in the trilateral forum of India-Brazil-South
Africa (IBSA). We have also been party to the Africa-South America Summit that
took place last year in Nigeria. We have been active in the Asia-African Strategic
partnership and are strengthening our relations with China in a bilateral and
As regards global governance, South Africa believes
that the structures of global governance should be made more democratic, representative
and legitimate by increasing the participation of developing countries in multilateral
institutions such as the UNSC and the Bretton Woods institutions. Special focus
should be placed on the reform of the UNSC and the international financial architecture,
to make it more responsive to the needs and the interests of developing countries.
South Africa has now finished six months in the United Nations Security
Council (UNSC). South Africa has based its foreign policy on fundamental principles
and consistency and will therefore continue to defend our principled and predictable
positions especially in ensuring that the UN charter is scrupulously upheld and
that the UNSC only deals with issues that are in its mandate.
and Belarus are both keen members of the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM). We share
your vision towards the reinvigoration of NAM and we believe that together we
can champion the importance of the diversity of voices reflected in NAM, being
seen as a strength that can help to achieve sustainable development in the world
today, in the face of those who wish to promote unilateralism.
with the developing North and in the WTO are not meeting our needs as seen in
the Doha Round which fails to meet the development needs of the world's developing
nations, inter alia as regards the critical issue of market access and subsidies.
Africa wishes to reaffirm its support for the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and
our advocacy of a world free of nuclear arms. Belarus and South Africa therefore
share similar concerns on the Board of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency)
and we also welcome the constructive contribution that Belarus has made as party
to the NPT and the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
We also welcome your groundbreaking
work in improving controls over illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons
in particular. We also value your endeavours against human trafficking.
On behalf of the government and people of South
Africa, I would also like to express our appreciation to the Government and people
of Belarus for our special relationship, founded on a solid foundation, laid during
the era of the USSR and the liberation struggle in South Africa.
and South Africa, having suffered the devastation of war and the dehumanising
apartheid oppression respectively, share a strong commitment to building a better
life for all in our countries and regions and thus contribute to a better world.
In addition to our good political ties and dialogue, we should continue
to strive to strengthen our economic ties to its full potential. Key to this is
the increasing exchange of business delegations, getting to know each others markets
and to explore joint projects in the field of science and technology. The economies
of both our countries are showing significant growth which creates attractive
opportunities for trade and investment for our respective private sectors.
should also explore increasing practical co-operation in the fields of education,
skills development, cultural exchanges and military technological co-operation.
It is against this background that Minister Martynov and I agreed yesterday
that the launch of ITEC, during my visit, augurs well for the consolidation and
active expansion of our economic ties in a structured and a focused manner.
would like to thank you again for associating me with this great university.
I pledge to impart my knowledge and experiences with you in keeping with the trust
and confidence that you have vested in me.
I thank you.