Address by the President of the Republic of South Africa His Excellency Mr JG Zuma on the occasion of the 2nd Africa-South America Summit (ASA), 26 September 2009, Margarita Island, Venezuela
Your Excellency, President Hugo Chavez,
Your Excellencies and Your Majesties;
Your Excellency Chair of the African Union;
Chair of the African Union Commission;
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed an honour to form part of this historic event to promote South-South cooperation.
We are here to re-affirm and enhance the partnership that has developed and evolved over the years between our continents.
This was given further impetus during our first formal meeting at the ASA Summit in Abuja, Nigeria in 2006.
This 2nd ASA Summit is an indication of the positive growth in strategic historic and political relations.
Excellencies, the Africa - South America Partnership provides an opportunity for Africa, under the leadership of the African Union (AU), and Union of South American States (UNASUR) to collectively evolve a comprehensive roadmap for the multifaceted expansion and deepening of a mutually beneficial partnership.
The dynamic changes currently taking place both on the African and the South American continents have opened new possibilities for a closer partnership.
Furthermore, the realities of an increasingly interdependent world has emphasised the need for countries on these two continents to work together to address common goals and challenges.
However, Africa is only as successful as its people.
The African Diaspora, represented among others in this region, could play a pivotal and fundamental role in the development of the continent.
We acknowledge this and pay homage to South America’s population of African descent.
We hope to build on this very important strand that links our two continents.
In the great spirit of Pan-Africanism, we take this opportunity to welcome our brothers and sisters into the global African community, harnessing our cultural ties, together with our shared history, to foster solidarity.
The restoration of Africa and South America to its full potential is our prime duty.
Working together, we can do more.
Your Excellencies, in the spirit of doing more, we need to reflect on the requirements to create a prosperous partnership.
As a developing region, South America has much in common with Africa, especially in so far as advancing the development agenda of the South is concerned.
There is much that the two regions can share in terms of capacity building and cooperation in the areas of social upliftment, rural development, tourism, renewable energy, climate change, sport, education and cultural exchange.
We can also work together to advance the interests of the developing world at a multilateral level.
However, there are also challenges, which need to be addressed jointly to ensure a mutually beneficial outcome of the ASA Partnership.
Africa and South America maintain multi-sectoral relations, which are reflected in numerous initiatives with many African countries.
These initiatives should result in much needed skills transfer in specific sectors, such as health, foreign direct investment into Africa, cooperation in peace and security efforts, good governance, and cooperation on efforts to reduce poverty in Africa and South America.
Together, we need to forge a close working relationship to pursue common goals in advocating for the reform of the current global multilateral system.
The transformation of the global multilateral system will be of benefit to all, as the global financial crisis has so painfully shown.
The global meltdown has affected the livelihoods of millions in this increasingly interconnected world and has turned into a crisis of poverty for much of humanity.
And sadly, there is little in the way of a bailout plan for millions of the poor, most of whom are not to blame for their predicament.
So, unless something is done to tackle the global financial crisis and its consequences, millions more will slide into poverty.
Therefore, as countries of the South, we need to have a common position which speaks to our concerns.
Our concerns call for an effective and comprehensive reform of the international and financial systems.
In doing so we can take forward the lessons learned and use the opportunities created by the global financial crisis to foster better economic opportunities between our regions.
We made this point in our engagement in the United Nations General Assembly debate on the 23rd of September and also at the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh.
There are also lessons to be learnt from each other as tighter controls and stricter regulations in our banking sectors have sheltered us from the direct impact of the global catastrophe experienced by the North.
Another issue on which we need to speak with one voice is climate change as the world gathers in Copenhagen for the historic meeting on a future international agreement.
Climate change is an issue that affects us all and, if we are to be successful in combating climate change, we all have a role to play.
The road to Copenhagen and the next two years are critical for global action.
We need to be firm on the historical responsibility of developed countries and their obligation to comply with emission reduction commitments.
We also need to continue fostering positions of consensus as we have done in the G77 plus China.
It is hoped that this ASA partnership would create a platform to conceptualise the issues at stake, consolidate a common South position, and agree on strategies for successful negotiations.
We made an excellent start with the Bali roadmap and it is hoped that the road to Copenhagen will not only be paved with good intentions but concrete actions and rigorous implementation.
It is only together that we can address this defining challenge.
Other issues of equal priority for countries of the South include human rights, non-proliferation and disarmament, renewable energy, anti-narcotics trafficking, peace-keeping and meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Excellencies, also notwithstanding the challenges that we are collectively facing in the different regions of our continents, I want to salute the efforts that have been undertaken to resolve conflicts.
We hope that durable peace and stability will be found on both continents.
While Africa is assuming responsibility for securing peace and stability on the continent, we can only function effectively when other countries enhance African institutional capacities and closely cooperate.
I believe Africa and South America can make great strides in restoring peace, safety and security for its peoples.
We all have a stake in our success.
Together, Africa and South America can make a tangible difference in maintaining peace and stability on both continents.
Political, economic and social conditions in which security could become the norm should be put firmly in place.
This includes strengthening good governance, closer regional cooperation on economic, social and security matters, and preventing the illegal exploitation of resources.
We, the people of Africa at large remain committed to intensify our efforts to achieving lasting peace in every part of our continent.
We also attach importance to our dialogue and cooperation with South America.
Historically, Africa has always shared a deep and rich engagement with countries of South America.
We are both among the richest continents in terms of natural resources, and among the poorest continents in terms of socio-economic development.
Our continents can work together to usher in a new era of empowerment and prosperity.
In a world which boasts breathtaking advances in science, technology, industry, and wealth accumulation, we still have massive poverty and obscene inequality.
We therefore have a great responsibility to make this ASA partnership beneficial for all our people.
I firmly believe that South America can play a positive role in the development of Africa’s enormous, yet under-exploited, potential, as can Africa in South America.
We have made the undertaking to work together to achieve more in this partnership.
It is my belief that within the broader South-South relations, the relationship between Africa and South America carries the greatest potential for success.
The success of this relationship will play a key role in the long-awaited development of our two continents, as we make ever greater progress in eradicating poverty and underdevelopment.
Accordingly, we hope the Margarita Declaration and Plan of Action can translate outcomes into tangible benefits.
In conclusion, today as we gather on this beautiful island of Margarita to adopt the Declaration of Margarita and its Action Plan, we can only hope that the principle and decisions contained within it are carried back to our countries and implemented with tenacity and vigour.
We have to do so, in order to make this partnership the great success it should be.
I am encouraged by the strides we have made to date, and am confident that a prosperous partnership is within our reach.
I would also like to take this opportunity to welcome you all to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa next year.
We hope to see you in South Africa in 2010!
Your Excellencies, let me thank our host, President Hugo Chavez, for the hospitality and excellent facilities at the disposal of the South African delegation at this beautiful Island of Margarita.
I thank you