Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane response during the Debate on the State of the Nation Address
“Recommitting ourselves in building a better Africa and a better World”
President Jacob Zuma laid out a comprehensive work programme for our government. He identified both the tremendous possibilities that lie before us, and the challenges that we face. He also emphasised the role that our country needs to play in the rejuvenation of our Continent as well as in making the world a better place for all. It must be the spirit of collectivism that guide us as South African and Africans otherwise Ka Sepedi bare “Tau tsa hloka seboka di shithwa ke nare e hlotsa”. Se, se bolela gore ge re sa shomisane le dinaga mabapi re ka ikhwetsa re le mathateng a go feta a re lebaneng le ona.
We are therefore called upon to play our role in the design of an international order that will better deliver for the peoples of the world, many of whom still live in conditions of abject poverty. The message of our movement “Working Together We Can Do More” is also relevant and apt to our international relations. It will guide us as we build partnerships with other nations of the world to address the many challenges that face the international community.
Our people declared through the Freedom Charter that “there shall be peace and friendship”. Based on this vision of the Freedom Charter, democratic South Africa is at peace and enjoys friendly relations with nations around the globe. Thus, as we start a new term of our government, we can do no less than preserve this proud heritage. We are expected to marshal these peaceful and friendly relations for the further advancement of our country and our people.
Kgomo e tswaletse mphorokgohlong wa dithaba, e gana basimane ba tsea mohlana wa yona ka gobane e hlaba.
If anyone had doubts, the financial crisis has proved that today we live in a global village. A crisis that originated in one part has quickly spread to all corners of the globe. In its wake it has left no country untouched, increasing unemployment in some and causing recessions in others. In general it is setting back by many years the gains that we made in pushing back the frontiers of poverty in the developing world.
We know that the crisis was caused, amongst others, by the lack of effective regulation of global finance. Significantly, the crisis has also exposed the democratic deficit in global governance. The existing global institutions do not reflect the world of today. They were not created to deal with the challenges that the world is currently facing.
We should see in this crisis an opportunity to hasten the reform of global governance. We should not let this opportunity pass. We urge those who occupy positions of privilege in the current global architecture to realise that it is also in their interest that these institutions be reformed.
It is these perspectives that will inform our participation in both the United Nations Conference on the global financial crisis, in June, as well as in the next Summit of the Group of 20, G8, G8 + 5 and as well as in the WTO processes. Our view is that the strategy out of this crisis is to strengthen South-South relations and intensifying of new market opportunities. We need to develop strong links with countries in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East and enhance our partnerships like IBSA and China.
It is our considered view that the United Nations, as the institution that is at the centre of the multilateral system, is also in need of reform both politically and structurally, in particular to its key organs such as the Security Council. You may wonder why we are talking so emphatically about the reform of the system of global governance. We talk of reform because of our strong belief in the importance of multilateralism. We talk of reform, therefore, because we wish these institutions of global governance to be more effective in discharging their mandates.
I also wish to submit to this esteemed Chamber that we will struggle to achieve the objectives that we have set ourselves as a country without a conducive international environment.
The current global environment also convinces us of the correctness of our quest for a strong and effective integration of our Continent. We have always been convinced that it is when Africa is united that our voice will be stronger in the world. As we conclude our term as the Chair of SADC we are happy with the strides that our region has made.
In addition to the launch of the SADC Free Trade Area work is advancing towards the implementation of other protocols that will further enhance the integration of our region. We have to continue pursuing this important objective. What we seek is a regional integration process that is underpinned by a developmental perspective.
The President called upon the international community to support Zimbabwe’s inclusive government to achieve economic recovery. We can only add to that call by stressing that this is an important window of opportunity for all of us to help the people of Zimbabwe. We believe that this support should not be delayed any longer since it is also critical for the consolidation of the political process in that country. Bjale ka ge Mopresitente o boletse gore nako ye releng go yona e boima e nyaka kopano magareng ga baagisane.
We have always looked at the African Regional Economic Communities, such as SADC, as the building blocs to a stronger Continental integration. Indeed, this was the wisdom that informed the Abuja Treaty of 1991. Since then, we have also seen the entry into force of the African Union in 2002. The birth of the African Union marked a new dawn in the history of the integration of our continent.
What has been witnessed in the continent in the recent past could not have been foreseen a few decades ago. Then, some saw our continent as a place without hope. In the eyes of some, Africa was defined only by conflict and misery. But today we can be bold and say that these sceptics of the yester years are also witnesses of the important progress that our continent is making. The spread of democracy, the increasing recognition of the need to respect human rights, the emergence of institutions such as the African Court for Human and Peoples Rights and the Pan-African Parliament – all these give hope to the people of Africa. They also serve to redefine the image of our continent in the eyes of the world.
We also have to contend with the fact that challenges remain in the Continent. Indeed, some of the progress that we speak of can still be reversed if we do not apply the necessary vigilance, and if we decide to rest on our laurels. What this calls for are strategies that include effective post-conflict peace building and the provision of support to those who wish to build democratic institutions in our continent. It also means that we have to promote these and other values within SADC and the African Union.
South Africa’s role in post-conflict peace building initiatives in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Sudan is contributing to the consolidation of the peace processes in those countries. We have to continue in this path. Like the President said and I quote “we will continue to encourage a peaceful and sustainable settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the two-state solution. We will also support the peace efforts of the AU and UN on the African continent, including in the Saharawi Arab Republic and Darfur in Sudan” close quote. We also welcome the rapprochement between the United States and Cuba and looking forward to the normalisation of relations between these two countries.
In the ANC 52nd National Conference, we said that South Africa should be “proactive in the debate and processes that lead to the creation of the African Union Government, including the mobilisation of progressive forces (and governments) towards a common understanding of the strategic plan”. This Union government must be build through regional structure as building blocs with strong economic integration at all levels.
To achieve these objectives we will partner with countries in the continent and others outside of the continent. It also means working for the implementation of NEPAD and the strengthening of the African Peer Review Mechanism.
It is also in this context that our government has taken the important decision to change the name of our Department to International Relations and Cooperation. The President also reminded us that will establish, as agreed at the 52nd National Conference of the ANC, the South African Development Partnership Agency, which will enhance our capacity to contribute to the development partnerships that Africa needs.
Our work in international relations will continue to be informed by the domestic priorities of our government. The international relations work that the President highlighted in his address to this Chamber and the decisions of the 52nd National Conference of the ANC are based on the Freedom Charter and South Africa’s own national interests.
The first President of democratic South Africa, Isithwalandwe, Tata Nelson Mandela, correctly and wisely reminded us that South Africa could never be an island of prosperity in a sea of poverty. We must use Mandela day to propagate to the world the spirit of Ubuntu. A re kopantsheng lefase ka letsatsi le, re ledire letsatsi la boditshabatshaba, le tume dinageng mabapi and mose wa mawatle. Serokolwana se senyane seikoketsa ka mongkgo. We also join the president’s in popularising the Mandela day.
I have talked mainly about our work in advancing the consolidation of our African agenda. South Africa is privileged to also enjoy peaceful relations with countries all over the world, both in the North and in the South. As the President indicated, we will also continue to enhance these relationships. Our success as a country is predicated on peace in the world as well as in strengthening our cordial relations with countries both in the North and the South.
To achieve all these goals we have to also recognise the important role that non-state actors play in international relations. Therefore, among the partnerships we will seek to build are partnerships with South Africa’s own business community and civil society including academics and the media. We have to enhance the potential and the capacity of all these partners to represent Brand South Africa.
Honourable members, the President also reminded us that we should continue to extend our solidarity with the suffering people of Palestine and Western Sahara. To all of us, and to the rest of the international community it should not be acceptable that the sister peoples of Palestine and Western Sahara should continue to live in the conditions that they are in.
Ours is to export ubuntu and partnership amongst our people, people of the continent and the world. Let their problem(s) be our problem because “Indlovu ya hina le”. We are because they are.
I thank you