Statement by the President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency, Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the 13th Ordinary Session of the African Union (AU) Summit, Libya, 1 July 2009

Your Excellency, Brother Leader, Muammar Gaddaffi, current Chairperson of the African Union
Excellencies Heads of State and Government
Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H E Dr Jean Ping
Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission
Commissioners of the African Union
Chairpersons of the Organs of the African Union
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

It is with great pleasure, honour and humility that I accept and appreciate your welcoming me into your fold as the new President of the Republic of South Africa.

This is in addition to the many messages of congratulations that I have received since my assumption of the position of President of the Republic of South Africa. I must also express my sincere gratitude for the presence in great numbers of the Heads of State and Government at the inauguration in South Africa. This signalled the good wishes of sister countries in the continent.

Brother leader, I particularly want to thank you for your warm welcome to my delegation and me, and for all the facilities that have been put at our disposal.

To us in South Africa, this experience is not new, for during the long period of our struggle for national liberation we were beneficiaries of African generosity and solidarity.

For this, we shall be eternally grateful to all the peoples of our continent.

It has been this experience amongst others that has informed the determination with which we have located the advancement of the African agenda at the very centre of our framework of international relations.

Having been entrusted both by my party, the African national Congress and indeed by the overwhelming majority of the masses of our people, it is my firm undertaking to continue to be true to the cause of the Renaissance of our continent.

Chairperson and Your Excellencies,

I bring with me the best wishes from the government and the people of the Republic South Africa to your deliberations aimed at addressing the critical challenges relating to poverty and development, within the context of the current theme, “Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security”.

The choice of this theme could not have come at a better time given the current challenges exemplified by the global financial crisis, slow and stagnant economic growth as well as the growing threat of food insecurity.

This Summit provides us with an opportune moment to critically examine and find ways and means with which to decisively address the need for food security and the need to succeed in the war against poverty.

For us in the Continent, investing in agriculture is not an option but an absolute necessity if we are to succeed not only to feed ourselves but also exploit our natural resources to compete effectively in the global market place.

Please accept your Excellencies our determination and dedication to the cause of Africa’s development.

Our resolve to collectively fight against the forces of poverty remains firm.
We remain fully committed to the Maputo declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.

This declaration correctly calls for the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) and flagship projects, as well as evolving Action Plans for agricultural development, at the national, regional and continental levels.

One of our key priorities and Flagship programmes over the next five years is a comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform, improvement of the conditions of farm workers and farm-dwellers and which builds the potential for rural sustainable livelihoods.

We have adopted a three pronged strategy of Agrarian Transformation, Rural Development, and Land Reform in order to change the face of rural areas in our country through socio-economic development, and to improve food security.

Access to land is a key priority for people in the countryside. We will therefore review the appropriateness of the existing land redistribution programme. We are doing this in order to speed up land reform and redistribution and to promote land ownership by South Africans.

The land reform programme will be accompanied by technical support to beneficiaries to ensure optimal utilisation of the land especially for agricultural purposes. We will also continue with measures to support our commercial agriculture sector, big and small, to promote food security.

Chairperson and Excellencies, South Africa supports the institutionalisation of the Conference of African Ministers of Agriculture.

The Conference should facilitate agribusiness investment, partnerships and joint ventures within the continent to integrate African agricultural value chains that will link with the global marketing system. Working together as the continent we will be able to fight hunger and poverty, and work towards a more prosperous and food secure Africa.

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
1 July 2009

Source: The Presidency (http://www.thepresidency.gov.za/)

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