Address by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Mme Maite Nkoana-Mashabane on the occasion of the Africa Day at a Gala Dinner in Midrand South Africa on the 29th May 2009.

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners

Honorable Members of Cabinet

Members of the Diplomatic corps,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is with great honour that we, the Government of South Africa, host this auspicious celebration of the 46th annual international commemoration of Africa Day and we do so in humble remembrance and recognition of the great struggles and tireless efforts deployed to attain and ensure the freedom of all people and countries of this beautiful continent of ours. As we do so, we also reflect on the great strides we as the collective people of Africa have made in carrying forward and establishing the vision of our predecessors who signed the historic Abuja Treaty on 3 June 1991 embodied in the African Agenda with the objective of promoting economic, social and cultural development and the integration of African economies in order to enhance economic self reliance, as well as to promote an endogenous and self sustaining development and to coordinate and harmonize policies among existing and future economic communities, in order to foster gradual establishment of the African Economic Community.

In his speech on the occasion of the inauguration of the President of the Republic of South Africa his Excellency President Jacob Zuma said “Today, we renew our struggle to forge a nation that is at peace with itself and the world. As we rejoice in being surrounded by our friends from all over the world, we reiterate our gratitude for the sterling contribution of the international community to our struggle for freedom.

We single out the African continent, for refusing to rest until the southern tip of Africa was free. We recommit ourselves to continue to be an active member of the international community.

We will continue to use multilateral and bilateral forums and relations to take forward the goals of eradicating global poverty, strengthening peace and security and to promote democracy”.

It is therefore important, at this juncture to reflect on the theme of this year’s Africa Day Celebrations being “Towards a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa” and in doing so commend the great strides that we have achieved as a continental people, while recognizing the challenges and milestones that still remain as we strive towards the realisation of a united, peaceful and prosperous Africa. In this regard, we note and commend the fruits that have been yielded from our collective efforts to establish peace on the Continent and as a result, more and more people than ever before live in democratic societies. In many of the African countries the guns are silent and mechanisms towards peaceful resolution of conflicts are in place and peace is being realised. This situation gives us confidence and hope that we are on the right path towards a possible "just world and a better Africa" for humankind. We can therefore today proclaim that a "just world and a better Africa" is a possibility and although this work is not complete and we continue to face many challenges to sustain the gains that we have made, we, the people of South Africa and indeed the people of Africa at large remain committed to intensify our efforts to achieving lasting peace in every part of our Continent. 

Similarly, we need to reflect on the state of integration in Africa, both at an economic and  political level, as well as emphasize the importance of remaining seized with this process going forward as it forms the pillars on which establishment of the African Economic Community is premised. In this regard, we commend the ongoing efforts of the eight Regional Economic Communities to harmonize their policies and programmes, and as the current Chair of Southern African Development Community (SADC) we are especially proud of the launch of the SADC free trade area in August 2008. We as the Government of South Africa and a member of SADC, will continue to work towards regional economic integration in Southern Africa on a fair, equitable and developmental basis, promoting SADC integration based on a developmental model that includes infrastructure development, cooperation in the real economy and development of regional supply chains. We also continue to support the collective efforts towards attaining continental integration through the establishment of the African Union Authority as a step towards the strategic goal to integrate Africa. However, the process must be informed by a developmental agenda for Africa with its primary focus on building Regional Economic Communities as the building blocks of regional integration. We therefore welcome the outcomes of the 12th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union held in Addis Abba, Ethiopia from 1 to 4 February 2009 on the process towards establishing the African Union Authority, especially the recommendations of the Council of Ministers in this regard and remain seized with the process.

Finally, as we reflect on the requirements needed to create a prosperous Africa, it is inclusive of continental peace and unity, strengthening the African Union and its structures, and requires even more vigorous efforts to promote democratic rule and good governance, respect for human rights, economic development of the Continent so as to assume its rightful place as a global player, the eradication of poverty, combating the diseases that afflict our nations and prioritizing education as we strive towards attaining Africa’s millennium development goals, whilst promoting the responsible harnessing of our finite natural resources. These issues remain priorities for the government of South Africa and we will continue to join hands with our fellow African brothers and sisters as we address these issues as a collective, through among others, continued dialogue, sharing of best practices, encouraging intra‑Africa trade, strengthening South-South relations, working towards equitable North‑South relations, transform and harness African natural resources to the benefit of the people of Africa, encourage sustainable flows of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), attain increasing market access for African products to generate employment and in so dong contribute to poverty eradication, working towards ensuring access to basic health care for all, as well as ensuring primary education for all the children of Africa.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, I stand before you, encouraged by the great strides we have made to date, confident that a peaceful, united and prosperous Africa is within our reach.  We will therefore continue to do our level best to ensure that the future of our Continent will be one that we can be proud of.

I thank you.

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