Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma during the State of the Nation Debate: “A Better Africa and a Better World”, 9 February 2009

Madame Deputy Speaker
Your Excellency President Kgalema Motlanthe
Your Excellency Deputy President Baleka Mbete
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Honourable Members

Addressing the Organisation of African Unity in 1994 former President Nelson Mandela said, “If freedom was the crown which 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. There can be no dispute among us that we must bend every effort to rebuild the African economies”.

Madame Speaker

I am honoured to address this august chamber on the question of “A Better Africa”. All of us gathered here today are unequivocally desirous of a peaceful and stable Africa, where in every city, town and village - in every community - people live in peace and harmony with all the basic necessities of life - an Africa in which all our people have access to shelter, education and healthcare, decent employment and equal opportunity to advance and improve their lives lifting themselves out of the abject poverty. We must unwaveringly strive for this dream -A dream we should champion, advocate and eventually achieve.
Madam Speaker

Honourable Members

Central to the vision of a better Africa is the greater regional and continental political and economic integration as indicated by our fore bearers in their call for unity.  In this era of regional integration which has moved the world towards economic blocs and stronger multilateral diplomacy, most economies on the continent remain small and fragile. It is imperative that we also consolidate and deepen our political cohesion and economic integration as we move towards a united continent.

The financial crisis and economic depression serves to emphasize that economic regional and continental integration is not optional but a must.  

If we seek to build a better Africa through continental integration as we must the development of shared values becomes critical. It would be difficult to envision this continental economic, social and political integration if we did not agree on a set of common shared values.  South Africa must and shall therefore continue to promote the importance of democracy, good governance, and the rule of law, the protection of human rights, non racialism and gender equality.  Particular attention should also be given to building the capacity of sustainable democratic institutions as well as deepening of the culture of democracy among our people in Africa. 

The African Peer Review Mechanism and the Pan African Parliament should play a critical role in nurturing these common values.

As stated in the Manifesto of the ANC Government will continue to work together with people of our continent and its Diaspora for cohesion, unity, democracy and prosperity of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union and strengthening our capabilities to respond to the challenges we face.

Guided by the Freedom Charter South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiations-not war

As we continue to work towards the realisation of an African Union Government, which must necessarily, amongst others, contribute to the reduction of some of the destructive conflicts that we have been experiencing.  A united Africa speaking with a single voice would also be more influential in global affairs.  Furthermore the benefits of political and economic integration are evident when we look at the experience of other regions of the world.  The history of the continent itself shows that we have indeed continued to build incrementally towards the goals of continental unity. The Abuja Treaty, the formation of the African Union, and its institutions and the adoption and implementation of NEPAD have all been important stages in this regard. 

There can be no doubt that a better Africa requires that we accelerate investments in some critical sectors like energy, infrastructure such as roads, ports and telecommunications, facilitating easier intra and inter-regional trade.  especially because Africa has most of the landlocked countries. Acceleration of the free movement of people and goods.

If we are to achieve a better Africa like the Warrior of light in Paulo Coelho’s book.  We should not be paralyzed by the fact that other countries have more opportunities than we do. “A Warrior tries to make most of his virtues”

“He knows that the gazelle’s power lies in its legs. The power of the Seagull lies in the accuracy with which it can spear a fish. He has learnt that the reason the tiger does not fear the hyena is because he is aware of his own strength. We have to define for ourselves what we can truly rely on”.

    a) We should rely on our human resources. The regions and the countries that show sustainable growth and human development have all paid special attention to education, skills development and health. We must prioritise these in the continent as we do nationally.

    b) We should rely on our fertile African land- develop our agriculture.

    c) We should rely on our abundant natural resources. How we manage these will determine how quickly we reach the African dream. Squander and plunder for the benefit of the few will defer this dream.

    d) We should preserve the environment as part of a global effort so as to bequeath future generations with a liveable planet.

    e) Rich cultural heritage

    f) The private sector on the continent has to be the catalyst

 As this generation we like Paulo Coelho should ask ourselves how will our actions ‘affect the fifth generation of my descendants? because everything a person does has enduring consequences and he needs to understand what kind of world he is leaving behind for the fifth generation.’

A better Africa will also have to assume its share of global responsibilities.  In this context South Africa was honoured to serve in the United Nations Security Council in 2007 and 2008.   In this role we did our part in advancing the goals of a better Africa.  We promoted the importance of the cooperation between the UN and the African Union.  Indeed as we seek to build a better Africa I believe that we have a duty to look forward to a day when African conflict situations will no longer be the predominant agenda of the UNSC.  We owe this to future generations.

You mentioned, Mr President, that our country stands ready to walk the next steps with the people of Zimbabwe as they embark on the difficult path of economic recovery. Accordingly, we appeal to the goodwill of the international community which has to be matched by the political will of the people of Zimbabwe to take up the challenges of the reconstruction, reconciliation and development of the country.

We have just come from Addis Ababa where it was decided that the African Union Commission should be transformed into the African Union Authority in an effort to strengthen it. The details are still to be worked out.

As part of creating a better Africa, we have ourselves contributed our own sons and daughters of our country to various positions both in continental structures as well as international organisations. In this regard we have taken the decision to advance the candidature of Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty for the position of Director-General of the IAEA.  We believe he has the capacity to truly contribute to humanity’s balanced approach, characterised by a burning desire for a peaceful world.  We shall continue to identify other suitable qualified South Africans for deployment to such international organisations in pursuit of a better Africa and a better world.

We need to build partnerships with the rest of the world for a better Africa. Partnerships with the new Barack Obama Administration, the EU, Russia, China, India, Brazil and the rest of  Asia, the Caribbean and South America.

I hope both sides of the house believe in the African dream. Let us all work for it.

I thank you

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