Keynote Address by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa, Mr Aziz Pahad at the Occasion of the Diplomatic Civic Reception, Tshwane, 03 April 2008

Mayor of the City of Tshwane, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Dr Abdullah Alzubedi
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Senior Officials of the South African Government
Senior Officials of the Tshwane Municipality
Distinguished Guests

It is a pleasure to be part of this important diplomatic civic reception organised by the City of Tshwane in honour of the role that the diplomatic community is continuing to play within this City’s jurisdiction and beyond.

It is very encouraging to note that there are now currently 122 Diplomatic Missions and 26 international organisations in South Africa. A powerful representation that we appreciate highly. It creates opportunities that have not been fully exploited. We must give some consideration to why.

May I also take this opportunity to say how pleased I am to share this welcome with the Mayor of Tshwane, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

The Executive Mayor in the State of the City Address on 14 March 2008 confidently stated that “through the work of the city council in the last two years, the lives of our people are better today than they were yesterday and will even be better tomorrow. What we have promised, we have delivered and we are indeed on track to make sure that targets that are still ahead are achieved.

The Mayor also indicated that guided by the city development strategy and the five year programme of Action, the theme for the State of the City address is: “Sustainable Development through partnerships”.

She noted that the Tshwane Business Council was established on 7 February 2008. In May, the City and the Council will host the inaugural annual Tshwane International Investment and Trade Fair.

She concluded that all this reflects that Tshwane is a capital city of a country that boasts the biggest economy in Africa. It is a city that continues to grow at higher rates than the national and provincial averages. It is a city of tremendous opportunities. It is a solid foundation for partnerships with the rest of SA, the region and the continent.

It is clear that Tshwane is a city that provides tremendous opportunities for economic links, for academic and cultural links, for tourism and people-to-people relations.

The diplomatic corps must use your presence here to effectively exploit these opportunities for our mutual benefit.

There is also considerable significance in the fact that this city is led by a woman. Strengthening gender equality and eradicating violence against women remain key components of our policy.

South Africa will, amongst others, commemorate two key events this year which reflect on the history of women in our country.

These events are the 90th anniversary of the Bantu Women’s League of the ANC as well as the 60th anniversary of the formation of the ANC Women’s League, which both galvanized women into an organized grouping capable of advancing the interests of women within the movement and society.

The ANC Women’s League has also played an important role in the establishment of the Progressive Women’s movement, a non-partisan coalition of women’s organisations to advance the struggle of women for full equality.

Colleagues,

As you are aware, the diplomatic community is no stranger to socially responsible activities in South Africa as demonstrated by its continued invaluable involvement in various community development projects and initiatives.

One such initiative is the International Fair which the Department of Foreign Affairs together with the City of Tshwane and the diplomatic community has been organising for the past nine years.

Thousands of Rands have been raised for charities in and around the City of Tshwane.

The diplomatic corps are also involved in other community development activities and raising much needed resources for civil society organisations.

We believe that vibrant civil society movements must play a critical role in development including implementing programmes aimed at poverty alleviation, social cohesion, infectious diseases, reducing illiteracy and unemployment. Civil society is not a “watchdog” or a substitute for the opposition but an important instrument to ensure that people become their own active agents of change.

Colleagues,

Today’s diplomatic civic reception indeed gives us the opportunity to further strengthen our international relations with this important constituency which is the eyes and ears of their respective countries in South Africa.

Cynics and sceptics continue to argue that SA’s policies are ad-hoc and not strategic

As we prepare for the elections next year, it is important for me to once again outline what drives our foreign policy objectives.

Vision

Our vision is an African continent, which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united and which contributes to a world that is just an equitable

Mission

We are committed to promoting South Africa’s national interests and values, the African Renaissance and the creation of a better world for all

Strategic Objectives, interalia

  • Through bilateral and multilateral interactions protect and promote
  • South African National interests and values
  • Conduct and co-ordinate South Africa’s international relations and
  • promote its foreign policy objectives
  • Monitor international developments and advise government on foreign policy and related domestic matters
  • Protect South Africa’s sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Contribute to the formulation of international law and enhance respect for the provisions thereof
  • Promote multilateralism to secure a rules based international system

 

Principles Underpinning South Africa’s Foreign Policy

The principles which serve as guidelines in the conduct of our foreign relations include:

  • A commitment to the promotion of human rights
  • A commitment to the promotion of democracy
  • A commitment to justice and international law in the conduct of relations between nations
  • A commitment to international peace and to internationally agreed upon mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts
  • A commitment to Africa in world affairs, and
  • A commitment to economic development through regional and international co-operation in an interdependent (and globalised) world

Overview of the strategic priorities of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the period 2008-2011

The thrust of the work of the Department of Foreign Affairs remains anchored on the following overarching priorities as confirmed by the January 2008 Cabinet Lekgotla and the President’s State of the Nation Address, namely:

  • Consolidation of the African Agenda
  • Strengthening of South-South Co-operation
  • Strengthening of North-South Co-operation
  • Participation in the Global System of Governance
  • Strengthening of Political and Economic Relations

Given this mission, vision and strategic perspectives, we are acutely conscious that we live in very challenging and dangerous times. The last decade has brought unprecedented and important changes in the evolution of the world political and economic paradigms.

Past the Cold War period, we function in a fundamental transformed international environment, characterised, inter alia, by Globalization and its consequences

  • International Economic Volatility
  • Terrorism: Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and Climate change (Meeting in Thailand)
  • Increasing unilateralism and militaristic approach to dealing with challenges.

In this paradigm, let me deal with some priorities:

African agenda          -           No development without peace and no peace
without development

  • Conflict Resolution and Post-Conflict Reconstruction & Development

Successes have been achieved in

    • Liberia
    • Sierra Leone
    • DRC
    • Angola-20th Anniversary of Cuito Cuanavale
    • Kenya  
  • Challenges
    • Somalia
    • Darfur
  • Zimbabwe

Nearer home, elections have been concluded in Zimbabwe. Some have expressed concerns about the delay in the elections results. The ZEC has explained that the harmonised elections i.e. simultaneous elections for the President, Parliament, Senate and local government has caused some logistical problems and hence the delay.

What is a matter of serious concern is the orchestrated campaign, by sections of the international and South African media, to categorically claim that the delay is a plot by the government to “doctor” and “steal” the elections.

The media and many governments are aware that the possibilities of doctoring the results are limited by the fact that results were posted outside every polling stations immediately after the votes were counted. The pre-mature announcement of a victory by the MDC of Tsvangarai was based on these posted results.

However, rather than waiting for the will of the people to be expressed by the final announcements of the results, we are subjected to an unprofessional and organised campaign a conspiracy to ‘doctor’ the results and ‘steal the elections’. Why do people not wait for the final results before making pronouncements?

To end all conspiracies, it is important for the results to be announced as soon as possible.

Now the Parliamentary results have been announced:

MDC (Tsvangarai):   99
ZANU-PF:    97
MDC (Mutambura):   10
Independent: 1

3 to be re-run

Thus the opposition has won the majority of Parliamentary seats. Are the exponents of conspiracy going to continue to claim foul play and demand new elections?

The role of the international community, including the media, is to support the efforts of the Zimbabwean people to deal with their challenges and not to be instruments of conspiracies and destabilisation.

We will recognise the results of the elections and call on all parties to accept the results. If there any challenges the constitutional processes and the electoral law must be utilised to seek redress.

  • ME  & Persian Gulf

Further afield, the greatest threat to international peace and security is the M.E and the Persian Gulf area.

Anti-Americanism has reached frightening heights and it has become the major source of terrorism.

  • Iraq

We are in the 6th year of the war and there is no solution in sight. The carnage continues and the humanitarian catastrophe has reached unprecedented dimensions.

  • Afghanistan

Peace, stability and development remain elusive

  • Iran

The alleged nuclear weaponisation programme continues to increase the tensions and the possibilities of another war front.

Today, it is generally accepted that none of these challenges can be effectively dealt with unless we deal with the issue of the legitimate demands of the Palestinian people for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, and all relevant UN resolutions.

The establishment of a Palestinian state side by side with a secure Israeli state is the sine quo non of a comprehensive peace in the region, which is vital for international peace and security.

Colleagues,

Our country is a strong proponent of multilateralism and strongly believes the challenges facing the world can only be dealt with if we tackle these collectively.

We believe that the United Nations provides a key component of the edifice of the multilateral system which provides the only framework for the resolution of the problems facing the world today. 

Our main concern is that the Security Council has, in recent years, been increasingly assuming for itself legislative and executive powers that were not foreseen in the Charter. By doing this, the Security Council weakens multilateralism and undermines the work of other organs of the United Nations.

It is not only a necessity to strengthen multilateral institutions but it remains critical for the transformation of these institutions to respond creatively and contextually to present day challenges.

Strengthening multilateralism also means reforming the United Nations Security Council to make it more transparent, democratic and representative. The President of the General Assembly has initiated a process to complete the work of transforming the Security Council.

Colleagues,

South-South co-operation is also one of the pillars and cornerstones of our foreign policy. Given the importance of countries of the South, China, India and Brazil and given the common challenges that the developing world encounters on trade and socio-economic issues amongst many other challenges, we have to consolidate and strengthen South-South relations.

Our experience with, inter alia, the:

  • WTO  talks
  • The debate on climate change
  • EU-APC Economic Agreements

Once again shows that major powers interpret national interests in a very narrow way and therefore to achieve a more equitable world order, it is absolutely imperative for the countries of the South to co-operate more.

We must increase South-South co-operation, inter alia, better utilise NAM, the New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (SA- China-Africa Forum; Japanese TICAD)

Colleagues,

Our government has consistently stated it’s very clear and firm conviction that human rights, good governance, unity in diversity, building of democratic institutions. We have a consistent, predictable and strong track record in favour of strengthening the human rights machinery of the United Nations. We are proud of the fact that South Africa is among the first members of the new United Nations Human Rights Council.

It is therefore disturbing to learn about the tragic xenophobic attacks on nationals of other countries who have suffered indiscriminately at the hands of some of our community members residing within the City. In particular, in Atteridgeville, in Saulsville, Brazzaville, Phomolong and others.

These attacks are unacceptable and will never be tolerated by our government and I am happy to see that the City has taking urgent steps to arrest this problem. And I am confident that we will be in better prepared to deal with the increase in xenophobia in our country

Xenophobia presents one of our new serious challenges that government and civil society movements will need to address by investing in efforts that will enhance the spirit of diversity and tolerance within our communities. 

To fight xenophobia effectively, we must look at the root causes of xenophobia and also how these root causes are being exploited by criminal elements.
We are driven by the spirit of Batho Pele and Ubuntu and while we ware concerned about the xenophobic attacks, we must question against the sensationalised report and “expert analysis, which erroneously suggest that we have a crisis.

Colleagues,

Two years ago, President Thabo Mbeki said:

“A winning partnership is surely one in which we encourage sustainable trade and investment while promoting a better life for all within sustainable human settlements.

Peace and friendship will surely flourish when we empower and uplift the poorest of the poor from hunger and unemployment, disease, homelessness, illiteracy and environmental degradation.”
The widespread pursuit of “partnerships and collaborative relationships” remains one of the most significant trends in our domestic and international policies.
Tonight, is about celebrating our partnerships and about sharing our cultures and our food and the spirit of our different countries.
Tomorrow must be about stronger economic, political and people-to-people partnerships.
I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

3 April 2008

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