Speech by Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad on the Occasion of the Annual Luncheon for West and Central Africa Ambassadors and High Commissioners to South Africa, Monday 21 May 2007, Pretoria

Our strategic approach remains the achievement of an international order with greater security, peace, dialogue and greater equilibrium between poor and rich countries. We are guided by the principle of a "Better South Africa, a better Africa and a better world".

Today, there is a growing tendency on the part of some of the powerful countries, to reduce the complex and inter-related problems of the world to a militaristic approach to narrow national interests, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Forced with this reality, Kofi Annan called for a world order in which "right is might and not might is right".

The challenge for Africans is to ensure that "might is not right."

It is within this broad context that we have identified three major challenges that Africa has to deal with.

1.) Poverty Alleviation and Sustainable Development in South Africa, Africa and the world.

We hope to achieve this in conditions of the accelerated pace of globalisation. As you are aware, key characteristics of globalisation have been the liberalisation of international trade, the expansion of FDI, mass cross-border financial flows and the phenomenal development of information technology. This has resulted in growing inter-dependence in investments, financial trade and the organisations trade globally. This has also manifested itself in unprecedented political and social interaction. All of this impacts on our countries economic, financial and political sovereignty.

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.

The world as a direct result of globalisation has been cast as a vast ocean of poverty in which a few islands pf 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.

The 2000 historic UN Millennium Summit Declaration adopted the Millennium Development Goals.

The Summit resolved to, inter alia, halve by the year 2015, the proportion of the world's people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger and, by the same date, to halve the proportion of people who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water.

To ensure that, by the same date, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling and that girls and boys will have equal access to all levels of education.

By the same date, to have reduces maternal mortality by three quarters, and under-five child mortality by two-thirds, of their current rates.

To have, by then, halted and begun to reverse, the spread of HIV and AIDS, the scourge of malaria and other major diseases that afflict humanity.

The sad reality is that the MDGs aspirations, to date, have proved to be elusive because of the lack of political will by many of the developed states to take the necessary measure to achieve the lofty ideals they so loudly proclaimed.

Today the reality is that:

The world spends approximately 1 trillion dollars (US) a year to make bombs and guns and prepare for war; yet

  • 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 because they do not have adequate food or medicines. This is 210, 000 children a week - equivalent to 1 Tsunami each week killing our children;
  • In a world of 6 billion people, 2 billion people live on the poverty line of less than $2 a day and 700 million of them are classified as desperately poor.

1, 5 billion of our fellow inhabitants have no work.

In recent decades the poorest 5% of the world's population has lost more than a quarter of its purchasing power, while the richest increased its real income by 12%. The national per capita income of the twenty richest countries is 37 times larger than that of the twenty poorest, a gap which has doubled in size over the last forty years.

Despite recent studies showing improved economic performance in Sub-Saharan Africa, no-where else is the need for reform of the international system more urgent that in Africa.

  • Over 40% of Sub-Saharan African people live below the international poverty line of US$ 1 a day.
  • 34 of the world's 41 highly indebted poor countries are in Africa.
  • The cost to Africa of servicing its foreign debt of US 349 billion in 1997 amounted to 21.3% of its earnings from the export of goods and services.
  • Africa with almost one-sixth the world's population accounts for only one-fiftieth of global trade- and its share is diminishing.
  • The high mineral commodities change prices and the discovery of new oil reserves can change the bleak picture.
  • Only 76% of Africa's children attend primary school and only 26% go on to secondary school.

Less than 4% receive tertiary education, compared with 51% in developed countries.

Despite the recent commitments to increase ODA to Africa, in absolute terms, bilateral ODA flows to African economies have dropped in the last decade and fee well short of the estimated $ 50 billion a year requires to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

  • Capital flights continue

Brain drain continues

Some positive assessments

We seek to achieve our MDGs in a world order that is, inter alia, characterised by:

  • Uneven development between and within countries
  • Increasing marginalisation and increasing poverisation of many countries
  • Failure of development round of WTO talks and tendency for bilateral trade agreements to the detriment of developing countries
  • Unprecedented international division of labour

Migration (legal and illegal)

The stark failure to integrate migrants into many societies and then increasing political, economic and social marginalisation has resulted in social upheavals, increased xenophobia and racism in many countries in Europe and also the USA.

  • Failure of reform of Bretton Woods Institutions

    The challenge that confronts Africa and the rest of the developing world is how to develop a strategy that will effectively position countries of the South in a way that will ensure that they make the global agenda relevant to our needs. Such a strategy should be based on solidarity and partnership of the countries of the South through integration and co-operation. Their closing of ranks will result in the developing countries using their amassed strength to turn the global agenda to be favourable to their interests.

    Our countries are integrated within the global economy. Thus, it is open to the pressures imposed on all medium-sized, middle-income countries of the South by the objective process of globalisation.

    Excellencies

    The consolidation of the African Agenda serves as a pillar upon which our engagement with the international community rests. This requires a long term commitment to the successful restructuring of our REC's, strengthening of the AU structures and organs, including the implementation of the NEPAD and ensuring peace, stability and security in Africa within the framework of the AU Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development policy (PCRD).

    The AU Summit held in Banjul, Gambia in July 2006 recognised the pace of integration on the continent must be accelerated. Africa cannot become a full-fledged member of the international community without having achieved its own monetary and economic integration. The mooted formation of an AU Government requires urgent consideration.

    African Foreign Ministers meeting in Durban held from 8 - 10 May 2007, to prepare for the "Grand Debate" Summit to be held in Ghana at the end of June 2007.

    Today, Africans are appealing neither for the further entrenchment of dependency through aid, nor for marginal concessions. We are convinced that an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of under-development that afflicts Africa. The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty and under-development exist in abundance and within our reach. What is required to mobilise these resources and use them properly, is bold and imaginative leadership that is genuinely committed to a sustained human development effort and the eradication of poverty, as well as a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.

Despite all weaknesses, obstacles and challenges, there is a major transformation process that is taking place on the African continent that is anchored on key principles of African ownership and leadership, self reliance and a new partnership with the developed and developing world that is based on mutual respect, responsibility and accountability.

This effort of African leaders to wrestle Africa out of its present conditions of stagnation has found its ultimate expression in the new partnership for Africa's Development, NEPAD.

The NEPAD sectoral programmes cover many priorities such as agriculture, science and technology, human development, industrialisation, transport, environment, economic integration etc. Taken in totality, they address the important objectives of self -reliance and the internal and regional integration, conflict prevention, management and resolution, political, economic and corporate governance, protection and promotion of democracy and human rights and people-centred development.

Chairperson

The vehicle for achieving the aims of NEPAD is the AU, which was launched in Durban 2002 to replace the OAU.

The key institutions have been operationalised:

  • The Assembly
  • The Executive and Permanent Representative Committee
  • Pan-African Parliament (SA has 5 representatives). We are hosting the Headquarters of PAP

    Work is progressing on operationalising the other institutions, viz,
  • Economic Social and Cultural Civil Society
  • Court of Justice
  • African Central Bank
  • African Monetary Fund
  • African Investment Bank

    Sub-regional structures are the building blocks of NEPAD.

    SADC has adopted a time frame for its integration process.

  • The formation of a Free Trade Area by 2008
  • The completion of negotiations of the SADC Customs Union by 2010
  • The completion of negotiations of the SADC Common Market by 2015
  • The diversification of industrial structures and exports with more emphasis on value addition across all economic sectors by 2015
  • Increase in intra-regional trade to at least 35% by 2008;
  • Increase in manufacturing as a % of GDP to 25% by 2015

    As South Africa, we are very happy to witness the important developments taking place in the West Africa & Central Africa region. The continuing efforts by the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) to bring lasting peace to Cote d'Ivoire, which led to the signing of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement between the warring parties and the ongoing removal of the Zone of Confidence dividing this sister country; the pending transfer of power from President Olusegun Obasanjo to President-elect Alhaji Musa Yar'Adua in Nigeria; the democratic and peaceful elections in Senegal and Mali; the ongoing efforts to stabilize the situation in the Republic of Guinea; the ongoing efforts to resolve the Chad-Sudan-Central African Republic cross border conflict; all of these point to a region that is taking measures aimed at a peaceful resolution of conflict and embracing democracy. Let us again congratulate the countries of the region individually and collectively through ECOWAS and CEMAC for their efforts to ensure that the region leads by example in making Africa a continent we can all be proud of.

    As far as Liberia is concerned, South Africa will continue to support the Post Conflict Reconstruction Process currently underway, though both multi-lateral and bi-lateral channels. During 2007, we hope to launch the Freetown electricity re-generation project that will contribute to the stability of electricity supply in this historic capital.

    For our part, we look forward to another year of intensifying relations with countries of the region. In March, President Mbeki undertook a working visit to Benin that laid the basis for bi-lateral co-operation. This was followed by his attendance of Ghana's 50th anniversary of independence in Accra. Last year we launched a Joint Commission of Co-operation with the Republic of Guinea and held the second session of the South Africa-Mali Joint Commission of Co-operation; early this year we signed agreements for the establishment of Joint Commissions of Co-operation with Burkina Faso and Niger. We also launched a Joint Commission with Ghana. We intend to do more…This year we look forward to hosting the inaugural session of the South Africa-Senegal Joint Commission of Bilateral Co-operation, arrange the third session of the South Africa-Gabon Joint Commission of Co-operation, inaugurate the South Africa-Equatorial Guinea Joint Commission of Co-operation, hold a Special Implementation Committee meeting with officials of the government of Nigeria in preparation for the 7th Session of the Bi-National Commission, and host a meeting of senior government officials in preparation for a Joint Commission of Co-operation with the Republic of Congo. We have already sent officials to Malabo to lay the ground work for Minister Dlamini-Zuma's visit to the country. Senior government officials have also just returned from Bangui where they held consultations with relevant stakeholders on the Central African Republic's Post-Conflict Reconstruction Programme. South Africa intends to launch a Joint Co-operation Commission with the Republic of Cameroon following the successful visit of Minister Mpahlwa and the signing of the General Co-operation Agreement during 2006. In an effort to build closer ties with countries of the region and expand our Diplomatic representation, South Africa will also be opening Diplomatic Missions in Niamey, Cotonou, and Bissau during 2007/08.

    We must increase economic relations between SADC and ECOWAS. The challenge is to change structures of our economies; the responsibility of more developed countries.

    The road ahead is going to be long and difficult. We are going to take 2 or 3 steps forwards and possibly 1 step back at a time but Africa is clearly on the right path.


Excellencies

Africans also have to deal with democracy, good governance and human rights. However we believe that democracy cannot be "force-fed", but must develop with the realities of each country.

Through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), NEPAD introduces a voluntary instrument for monitoring compliance with the principles, priorities and objectives of the Constitutive Act and other decisions of the AU. It provides a mechanism for peer learning and the sharing of information and best practice. Participation in the APRM is voluntary. 24 countries have joined. 2 countries have been reviewed. SA is presently being reviewed.

Some of the questions that Africans must answer are:

  • What must we do to ensure stability, democracy and inclusive political, economic and social systems in multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-faith African societies;
  • What conflict resolution mechanisms should we put in place so that competing interests in our diverse societies do not lead to violent conflict and instability?
  • Given the long-standing continental decision to respect the colonial boundaries we inherited, how should we manage the reality that since these political boundaries divides families and entire communities, so that they do not become a factor of conflict and instability?
  • How should we design our political systems to obviate the possibility of resort to undemocratic means to gain political power or resolve disputes, including the use of violent means and resort to coups d'etat;

  • What mechanisms and procedures should we put in place to ensure that the AU is able to assist all member states of the Union to honour their obligations as defined in the Constitutive Act of the AU and the Conventions and Protocols approved by the Union?

  • What should we do to complete the anti-colonial revolution by eradicating all vestiges of the legacy of colonialism, including the repudiation of neo-colonialism;
  • What are the appropriate socio-economic programmes we should adopt to ensure the sustained and sustainable development of our societies within the context of NEPAD and the process of globalisation; and

    South-South co-operation

    The uneven distribution of the benefits of globalisation, the imbalance of power between North and South and lack of sustainable development in most of the countries of the South, has challenged the developing countries to formulate strategies that would help them to level the playing field.

    In advancing the agenda of Africa and the South, we must continue to actively engage and co-operate with like -minded countries in regional and sub-regional groupings of the South, such as NAM, G77+China, etc.

2. The second major challenge that Africa is facing is:

Peace and Security; threats to international peace and security and the restructuring of global exercise of power.

2. The third major challenge we face is to restructuring of the global exercise of power

  • Growing influence of non-state actors in international relations e.g. trans-national corporations, NGOs, think-tanks


In Conclusion, Your Excellencies,

The new world order that is emerging is unsustainable. In the interest of humanity we must intensify our efforts to build an international movement 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 marginalised.

We must seek the path of hope and solidarity, pursuing effective constructive dialogue amongst peoples of the world on mutual interests, benefits and a shared responsibility to the common issues that confronts humanity. This movement must indicate respect for international law and promote multilateralism as means to seeking consensus in the affairs of the world".

A more just, equitable and peaceful world order demands that Africans must unite in our efforts 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 for Sustainable Development (WSSD), which are all central to the challenge of the development of countries of the South.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

21 May 2007



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