Public Lecture by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the University of Limpopo, 16 October 2009
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Limpopo, Professor Mahlo Mokgalong
Premier of Limpopo, Comrade Cassel Mathale
Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, Professor Maake and the Head of Department of Political Science, Dr Rathete
Members of the Executive Council of Limpopo
Executive Mayors Thabo Makunyane and Motalane Monakedi
The Director General of the Department, Dr Ntsaluba and other members of Senior Management from the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
Our student community
Ladies and gentlemen
It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to deliver a lecture at this University which despite its “bush” status of the past, managed to produce some of our best brains and leaders for present-day South Africa. I really wish to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to our host for allowing us to be associated with the history of this University. Re a leboga Mokgaditsi!
Not long ago, this University played host to the historic 52nd National Conference of the ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), whose outcomes were to form basis for our 2009 Election Manifesto and the programme of action of the Government to which I am deployed. The policies we are implementing today through our international relations, for example, are an attempt to give life to the many resolutions taken by ANC delegates who met at this University in December 2007. Indeed, these delegates declared at the end of the Conference that: “The strategic vision and the resolutions of [52nd] National Conference constitute a mandate that will guide the actions of all cadres of the ANC, wherever they may be deployed, and which will form the centre piece of our policy agenda over the next five years”.
Therefore, the foreign policy that is the subject of my talk today is not an idea of an individual but a policy position of the ANC.
Vice-Chancellor, we are here on a crusade. This crusade seeks to ensure that we use every available space and time to popularise our country’s foreign policy and the mandate of our Department. We also seek to establish an engagement with the academia across the length and breadth of our country, so that we solicit their views as important non-state actors. We wish to see ordinary South Africans being able to associate with all what we do as practitioners of foreign policy.
I have been asked to focus my talk on the “Policy Vision of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation in the Next Five Years and Beyond”.
However, to comprehend our vision going into the future, we would need to look back at where we are coming from. At every stage of the evolution of our country’s foreign policy, we have always maintained that such foreign policy should be a mirror image of our domestic policy and therefore our national interest.
Before we plunge ourselves into our history of the last fifteen years, we have to recall that the ANC, the mandating party, has a long history of involvement in international affairs as one of the pillars of our struggle for national liberation. The anti-apartheid movement was one of the most well-oiled international solidarity movements, thanks to the work of the ANC in engaging governments, international organisation, and civil society throughout the world. When the ANC entered the Union Buildings in 1994 it not only inherited the legacy of decades of Apartheid foreign policy, but it also brought with it friendships and alliances that were cultivated in course of the struggle.
As a liberation movement, the ANC has always considered itself part of the global contingent of progressive forces working for a better world in the spirit of the declaration in the Freedom Charter that: “There shall be peace and friendship”!
Students of Political Science will know that the genesis of the concept of national interest is associated with the 15th century Italian philosopher, Niccolo Machiavelli. Considered one of the founders of the Realism school of thought, Machiavelli argued that in international relations a country’s foreign policy is geared towards pursuing its national interest.
National interests are by their nature multi-faceted. In the main, national interests refer to a country’s goals and ambitions; they are about the state’s survival and security, extending to its pursuit of wealth, economic growth and power. By their very nature, national interests find resonance in, and are informed, by our domestic agenda.
We do attach great importance to our national interests in our foreign policy. But unlike Realists, we do not believe that the international system in characterised by anarchy and that states have to hide behind the cover of their sovereignty and focus narrowly on the pursuit of their national interests. We believe that states can work together around a common global agenda and shared values for a better world. This, for example, was demonstrated in our adoption as the international community of the Millennium Development Goals; or in the global Platform for Action we agreed to in 1995 in Beijing for the promotion of gender equality and empowerment world-wide.
Vice-Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen,
Our foreign policy has traversed three periods since the advent of our democracy in 1994. Our focus between the latter year and 1999 was on translating the ANC policy position on international relations into a guide and programme for the new Government, and rejoining the international community, including Africa, from which our country was isolated because of the policy of apartheid. This we achieved, and with great distinction. The framework and value system we established for our foreign policy during this period remains our pillar to this day.
Right from the onset, in 1994, we identified the following as principles that have to underpin our practice of international relations; namely:
• A commitment to the promotion of Human Rights;
• A commitment to the promotion of Democracy;
• A commitment to Justice and International Law in the conduct of relations between nations;
• A commitment to International Peace and to internationally agreed upon mechanisms for the Resolution of conflicts;
• A commitment to Africa in world affairs; and
• A commitment to Economic Development through Regional and International co-operation in an interdependent (and globalised) world.
At the same time, our foreign policy priorities were identified as follows:
Peaceful co-existence and the promotion of economic development in Southern Africa;
• Constructive interaction with Africa, specifically to address the challenges of the next decade and to find solutions to conflict;
• Interaction in multilateral organisations;
• Improved relations with the G7 nations, as well as with South Africa's major trading partners; and
• The continuation of traditional friendships and the promotion of new partnerships.
After 1999, during the second Administration of the ANC-led Government, Africa became the centrepiece of our foreign policy, as we worked collectively with others on our continent to transform the Organisation of African Unity into the African Union as part of our effort to claim the 21st century for our people. We also established the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) as our programme for the socio-economic renewal of our continent; as well as the African Peer Review Mechanism as a vehicle to promote the spread and consolidation of democracy in our part of the world. The African Union, through its various organs such as the Pan-African Parliament, and Regional Economic Communities like our Southern African Development Community (SADC) – all constitute an institutional leg with which Africa is to walk the road towards deep integration and continental unity.
The third Administration that left office in April this year devoted a significant part of our foreign policy attention to the consolidation of our African Agenda. We take pride in the work we have done in the integration of the SADC region; in promoting peace and security throughout Africa; in supporting Africa’s social and economic development through the NEPAD in particular; in working with others for democracy and good governance; in reaffirming and promoting African culture and history as in the case of our joint project with the government of Mali in Timbuktu; and in defending and advancing the cause of Africa on the global stage. We have also been visible in the initiative of the African Union that is aimed at strengthening people-to-people and inter-state ties between our continent and the African Diaspora.
This is where we are today. We have to intensify our dedication in the domain of the African Agenda to realise our vision of a better Africa. This has to go hand-in-hand with strengthening our relations with the countries of the South and those of the North, as well as energies we put in playing our role for a just and equitable global system.
In the last 15 years, we have evolved as an influential developing country with significant growth in diplomatic representation in all regions of the world. This year, South Africa has 124 diplomatic missions abroad - of these, 62 missions are headed by women. Diplomatic representation in South Africa has also become an important source of financial injection in the country’s economy. During the financial year 2007/8 the diplomatic community injected R5 billion as a result of their official expenditure.
Mr Vice Chancellor, ladies and gentlemen,
We are not saying all this as an act of self-gratification or to “beat our own drums”, but to demonstrate that through sustained and focused efforts, we can collectively transform the political and socio-economic landscape of our region and our continent – and the world.
The African National Congress, established 97 years ago to serve the masses of our people, has prioritised, in its 2009 Election Manifesto: the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods, education, health, rural development and land reform, and the fight against crime. These five domestic priorities inform our foreign policy of the next five years.
Our primary task going forward is to continue to address the legacy of apartheid, including the plight of the working people, the urban and rural poor, the women, the youth and the disabled. It is our task to mainstream the cause of these constituencies into the work of our Government and the entire state machinery.
Indeed, our Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) that seeks to guide government’s programme in the electoral mandate period 2009-2014 has the following priorities:
• Speeding up economic growth and transforming the economy to create decent work and sustainable livelihoods;
• Massive programme to build economic and social infrastructure;
• Comprehensive rural development strategy linked to land and agrarian reform and food security;
• Strengthening the skills and human resource base;
• Improving the health profile of society;
• Intensifying the fight against crime and corruption;
• Building cohesive, caring and sustainable communities;
• Pursuing regional development, African advancement and enhanced international co-operation;
• Sustainable resource management and use; and
• Building a developmental state including improvement of public services and strengthening democratic institutions.
Our pursuit of regional integration, African advancement and enhanced cooperation in the next five years, will involve:
• Improving the political and economic integration of the SADC;
• The continued prioritisation of the African continent;
• Strengthening South-South relations;
• Intensifying strategic relations with strategic formations of the North;
• Strengthening political and economic relations; and
• Participating in the Global System of Governance
South Africa has just handed over its chairpersonship of the SADC to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) during the 29th Ordinary Summit held two weeks ago in Kinshasa. South Africa will, however, remain a member of the SADC Troika in the capacity as outgoing chairperson until August 2010 with the incoming Chair due to be Namibia.
The SADC is a vehicle for South Africa’s foreign policy for collective action to achieve regional development and integration in Southern Africa because we have no doubt in our mind that our country’s future is inextricably linked to that of our neighbours and the rest of the continent.
South Africa is active in promoting SADC regional economic integration agenda through the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP), which incorporates milestones towards deeper integration and sustainable patterns of development. One of our achievements in this regard is the SADC Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which was launched at the SADC Summit in August 2008 in South Africa.
South Africa is also participating in the tripartite process linking the SADC together with the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). These three Regional Economic Communities are embarking on programmes to harmonise their trading arrangements, the free movement of business persons, and joint implementation of inter-regional infrastructure programmes.
However, more must still be done for SADC to realize its full potential and the objectives we have set for ourselves. For instance, preliminary indications from the 2009 Free Trade Agreement Audit Report are that the pace of growth of intra-SADC trade is lower than that of SADC with the rest of the world, despite general increases in trade. This is an issue South Africa and the rest of the SADC will be engaged with improving in the near future.
There are other critical interventions that are necessary. We had prioritised the following interventions during our chairpersonship of the SADC:
• South Africa’s support to the WESTCOR Project to address energy issues in the region;
• Regional spatial development initiatives (SDIs);
• Work on the Information Communications Technology (ICT) to enhance broadband access in the region within the context of the NEPAD Broadband Infrastructure Network;
• The operationalisation of the Project Preparation Development Fund (PPDF) and the SADC Development Fund;
• Trans-Frontier Conservation and Development Areas (TFCDAs); and
• Water infrastructure projects
It is also critical that countries of our region should mobilise their respective private sector to support SADC initiatives towards consolidating regional integration. Organisations such as the Association of SADC Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASCCI), the SADC Business Forum, the NEPAD Business Foundation (NBF), and the African Business Network (ABN) should be engaged to facilitate the role of the private sector in deepening regional integration. The next five years present an opportunity for us to forge stronger links with and between the business sectors in the region.
We will also continue to work with our neighbours and the international community to support the implementation of the Global Political Agreement in Zimbabwe and finding a lasting solution to the crisis in Madagascar.
Our recent State Visit to Angola is one effort towards strengthening bilateral relations among Member States of the SADC. Sound and strong bilateral relations with our neighbours will help consolidate the spirit of solidarity and cooperation that kept our region together during the dark days of apartheid.
The agenda of integration in the SADC region is part of our continental effort towards African unity. Regional Economic Communities such as the SADC are our building blocks to deep, continent-wide integration. This unity is one pillar of the African Agenda.
The African Agenda is grounded in a philosophy that recognises the inseparable, triangular linkage between democracy and good governance, peace and security, and socio-economic development. The African Union that we launched here in South Africa in 2002 out of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) is the custodian for this agenda.
The NEPAD and regional integration are the corner stone of the strategy for the economic rejuvenation and prosperity of our continent. We have to overcome our situation of underdevelopment, including challenges of want, disease and ignorance. As South Africa, we are not only host to the Secretariat of the NEPAD, but we have been among those countries in the forefront of this development initiative since its inception.
The Millennium Development Goals provide us with benchmarks and targets for addressing questions of poverty, disease, gender empowerment as well as access to basics such as education and healthcare. It should be of great concern to all of us that many of our countries will not meet these goals by 2014. As South Africa we take these MDGs very seriously and we have integrated them in our development plans across all sectors of government.
The African Union is very central to the realisation of the goals of the African Agenda. We remain committed to the African Union, including our support to its various organs such as the Pan-African Parliament that we host in our country. We are at work with other African countries and the African Union Commission to ensure that the three Financial Institutions of the Union that are envisaged in the AU Constitutive Act see the light of day. It is incumbent on all of us to make sure that the African Reserve Bank, the African Monetary Fund, and the African Investment Fund become a reality, because these three institutions have a critical contribution to make to the renewal of our continent.
We need a strong and effective African Union – and this applies to all its institutions, programmes and organs. The decision on the African Union Authority will have to be implemented within the context of our understanding of the AU as an intergovernmental organisation of sovereign Member States. It is not our understanding that the African Union Authority will be a supranational entity operating over our heads.
Furthermore, democracy and good governance have to continue to spread and flourish on our continent for Africa to occupy its place in this century. The African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), as a product of the NEPAD, makes what used to be impossible in Africa now possible. Countries can now review and advise each other on how best we can make democracy work for our people. But we still need to encourage more and more of our countries to join the APRM.
We must also continue to discourage the tendency for elections to lead to civil strife and, in some cases, even to war on our continent. The work of the African Union in strengthening our institutions of democracy, including our electoral systems and laws, is a mission that should enjoy the active support of all of us. The squabbles over the outcome of elections are generally due to weaknesses in the quality of our elections – in our laws, institutions, and the voter education of our people and political parties.
Another tendency that is presenting our democratisation efforts with a challenge is that of the unconstitutional change of government – that is: taking power through a coup, rebel military action or refusing to step down after been defeated in an election. The African Union has a position on this matter including punitive measures against its perpetrators. Yet this tendency is continuing as its perpetrators often use elections to legitimise and prolong their hold on power.
Our support of the African Union position on the application of the Principle of Universal Jurisdiction, in response to recent indictments issued by the International Criminal Courts on key African personalities, does not mean that we are for impunity or violations of human rights. Our view is that the imperatives of justice should not undermine equally important efforts to promote lasting peace. For example, in the Sudan, we have our troops in Darfur; former President Thabo Mbeki is leading the African Union High-Level Panel on justice and reconciliation in that country; and we are leading the AU ministerial team on the reconstruction of Southern Sudan. Whatever we do in Sudan we have to bear in mind both the imperative of peace and of justice.
Peace and security is, indeed, important to the African Agenda. We need peace, not war. We also need institutions that are strong enough to prevent differences among the political elite to degenerate into conflict. Wars destabilise countries, destroy infrastructure and institutions, and divert energies away from development.
Once peace is resorted after war, the reconstruction of the country becomes a new challenge – that is: rebuild institutions and the economy, as well as healing and reintegrating communities.
South Africa is involved in this domain. Our soldiers are deployed in peace missions in different parts of our continent. We are also working with the people of Southern Sudan to rebuild their part of the country. We are equally involved in the reconstruction of the DRC, helping with rebuilding of their Public Service, among others.
We will continue to play our active part in the AU Peace and Security Architecture.
We recognise that we cannot achieve many of our objectives as a continent on our own, but through working together with our partners, including those in the North. But this partnership does not suggest in any way that we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to own and take full charge of our destiny.
In this context, South Africa continues to value its relations with countries of the North, be it those in the European Union or the G8 group. These countries are important to our foreign policy objectives, especially with respect to our effort to promote international trade, the transfer of technology, and attracting foreign direct investment to our shores.
Our relations with Japan remain very important. In this respect, the ten-year Partnership Forum and the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) process stand out as important vehicles that have the potential to take our bilateral relations with this country to greater heights.
I must say that we have made strides over the years in our engagement with our partners of the North through our bilateral relations and interaction via the G8 and the European Union. Africa is an important item in this engagement.
We do, however, have to do more to grow this partnership. This may also require attending to challenges associated with the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) of the European Union which, in our view, pose a serious threat to the success of our agenda for regional integration and continental unity.
The African Agenda and South-South co-operation are of strategic importance in the pursuit of our foreign policy objectives to address, among others, challenges of economic and political marginalisation that emanate from the process of globalisation that is biased towards the countries of the North.
President Zuma reminded us of the significance of Africa’s relations with the South in his address to the World Trade Center Business Club during his recent State Visit to Brazil when he said that:
For decades, South Africa’s main trading partners have been the countries of the North.
As with the rest of Africa – and much of the developing world – South Africa has primarily been an exporter of raw materials to Europe and North America.
That has now started to change.
Africa is beginning to explore the potential for trade and investment among countries of the South.
Our engagement with the South has entailed joining multilateral bodies like the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) because of the progressive role they continue to play as a voice and representative of the interests of the South in global affairs. We also value the intensity and strength of our bilateral relations with strategic countries of the South such as China, Brazil, Mexico and India. We have even elevated our partnership with Brazil and India to a forum that the three countries use for regular consultation, cooperation in various sectors, and coordination of our diplomacy where necessary.
We stand to benefit from the work of the African Union in strengthening ties between our continent and those of countries of the South. I have in mind here the partnership between the AU and China and that with India.
The New Asia-Africa Strategic Partnership (NAASP) is, for its part, a vehicle to enable countries of Africa and Asia to cooperate for their mutual benefit with the view to promoting peace, prosperity and progress on the two continents. We also value our relations with member countries of the Association of South East-Asian Nations (ASEAN) not only for the role they play in global affairs, but also for lessons we can draw from the developmental experience of the so-called Asian Tigers.
Our strategic engagement with the South, including our history of struggle, make it possible for us not to forget our internationalist responsibilities with respect to the struggle of Palestinians and the hardship brought upon the people of Cuba by the continuing internationally-condemned embargo imposed on them – for example.
This picture should not suggest, Vice-Chancellor, that all is well in relations among countries of the South. I want to recall here what President Zuma said (about challenges facing relations among countries of the South) in his address at the 2nd Africa-South America Summit that was held two weeks ago in Venezuela:
… 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.
Yes, the transformation of the global multilateral system will be to the benefit of all. Hence we continue to call for the transformation of the international system for a better world and Africa. Such transformation will be about making organisations such as the United Nations more effective and efficient in discharging their role and responsibilities.
The UN has to be relevant – it must address pressing challenges of the world; it must tackle the world’s development challenges as well as peace and security issues. It must also take the lead in making sure that the international system is governed democratically to rid our world of the North-South divide in global power relations and wealth distribution.
Since its inception the UN has been a highly contested institution, first, between the East and the West during the Cold War and, today, between the developed North and the developing South. As countries of the South, we are advocating against the North wanting to limit the UN reform programme to administrative matters pertaining to the Secretariat. Our stance is for a reform programme that will ensure relevance, equity and the democratisation of the institution.
The developing world has also been calling for the reform of Bretton Woods institutions, because without a better consideration by these bodies of financing and developmental needs of our countries, it will be difficult for the South to prosper. For us, the transformation of Bretton Woods institutions must entail:
• Reconfiguring institutional and economic systems away from the legacy of colonial relations; and
• Building closer synergy between the activities of Bretton Woods institutions and those of Africa’s own institutions, particularly those that have been given critically important mandates for infrastructure provision and improved regional interconnectedness, such as the African Development Bank and the Regional Economic Communities.
We welcome processes currently underway towards the full transformation of these institutions. It is also encouraging that these processes are now part of the G20 programme for the reform of the international financial system to prevent another financial crisis. We are all anxious for an early conclusion of this reform process with the hope that its outcome will increase, substantially, the representation of the South in the governance of these institutions; align their ideological orientation with our development agenda; and ensure that their programmes speak directly to developmental programmes in our countries.
The transformation of the global trade regime, for its part, will enable our countries of the South to use trade to address developmental challenges. But the current system of global trade is not in our favour; nor does it promote our development. We believe that the speedy conclusion of the current Doha Round of negotiations at the World Trade Organisation will be a big step towards unlocking the full potential of international trade so that globalisation can work for all of us. South Africa has never stopped calling on our partners of the North to play their part in unlocking the deadlock at the WTO for the Doha Round to deliver on its developmental promises.
A transformed international system – with democratised United Nations and Bretton Woods Institutions and global trade that is to the benefit all of humanity – will put us in a better position as the international community to meet targets we have set for ourselves in the Millennium Development Goals. We will disagree less on issues that should be in our collective interest.
The context of our foreign policy will always change with developments in the world. Our timely and effective response to these new developments will in many ways determine the extent to which we will be able to use our foreign policy to advance our national interest.
We hope that changes in the United States to the Obama Administration will enable the international community to work together much better than before especially in the context of the current global economic recession. We are also challenged as a country to continue to engage the United States individually and as part of the collective of the African Union to advance our interests and those of our continent.
The global financial crisis presents an opportunity for us to advocate for and promote an alternative to the neo-liberal model of development which believes in the mystery of the market and gives no significant role to the state in the economy. We now know that the market cannot work to the benefit of all of us when the state is not there to play its active, developmental role. In fact, the market, left on its own, can bring all of us down.
This crisis, bad as it is for our economies, is also encouraging countries of the South to forge closer ties, especially in the area of trade.
These relations that we are part of globally are not just out there; they extend to our cities and villages where we stay. When we meet with our partners in the world, or when we conclude agreements, we do this in your name to create possibilities at home. We have agreements with other countries and international organisations on areas such as education, healthcare, combating crime, technology transfer, rural development, and promoting job creation. Universities also benefit from the many science and technology agreements we have with countries and relevant international bodies. Our work is not in the sky, but down here where all of us are working together for a better life for our people and country.
The shift from a state-centric international system to the involvement of multiple non-state actors has posed challenges for the structure and form of engagement with stakeholders on the implementation of our foreign policy.
To include non-state actors in our foreign policy debates is crucial. I am happy that our Policy, Research and Analysis Unit in my Department holds dialogues with key non-state actors such as academics, think tanks, and researchers to enrich our foreign policy. I must admit, however, that much still needs to be done.
As a start, tomorrow I will hold a roundtable with various think tanks to exchange ideas on nuances of our foreign policy. I am hopeful that, together with my visit today and the Imbizo, we will not look back as a Department in our interaction with non-state actors about our work.
Next week, we will be heading to Rhodes University. We will endeavour, following the example set by our President, to remain accountable and transparent in our work. We have the challenge to promote the understanding of our foreign policy among our people.
Vice-Chancellor, I cannot complete my address without talking about the youth of this country and what I think they can do to work with us. As academic institutions, you are a vital tool in grooming the skills of youth. Our youth represents a significant skills base for both the country and the continent and this capacity should be harnessed and harvested for a better life and a better Africa.
My Department offers a wide range of opportunities which includes representing our country as a South African Diplomat in one of our 124 Diplomatic Missions abroad. The Department has started reaching out to the youth by encouraging them to choose a diplomatic career, and this initiative has produced positive results in increasing the level of awareness about the function and mandate of the Department. The Department, in line with the five priorities of Government, contributes to skills training and development of the unemployed youth in our country. Our programmes include the Diplomatic Cadet Programme consisting of young graduates that aspire for a career in Diplomacy, the Internship Programme of student and graduate interns who require practical work experience to acquire a qualification, and the Learnership Programme for youth with Matric plus a certificate that imparts experiential learning to develop workplace skills.
Our Cadet Programme includes both theoretical classroom based training and practical training on a variety of modules relevant to the Department and development of a well-rounded South African Diplomat. Candidates who successfully complete the 12 months long programme and perform at the required standard and meet relevant requirements, are offered permanent employment at the Department’s Head Office in Pretoria. In fact, 83 Cadets have since been trained and absorbed into the Department with a third group of 52 Cadets currently undergoing training.
Our recruitment drive mainly through print media is in February/March and June/July each year.
Furthermore, we have opted to evolve our Foreign Service Institute and it is now called the Diplomatic Academy to enable us to benchmark our work and its training component against the best in the world. Currently the Diplomatic Academy provides nationally recognised qualifications for administrators and diplomats in the Foreign Service.
Vice-Chancellor, I wish to challenge your University to take advantage of our programmes directed at the youth and to also explore opportunities for collaboration with our Diplomatic Academy.
Vice-Chancellor, your University can also extend to us a helping with the research you do to enrich our understanding of the world and international relations. But you also have a role to play in helping the country achieve the priories we have set for ourselves. For instance, you can work with Government in the area of rural development as follows:
• By producing Agriculturists, Veterinarians, and Technicians who can apply their knowledge to the challenges of farmers, and help our country deal with the broader problems of planning and program implementation;
• Through the development and implementation of Agricultural Research Programs built around the testing of scientific theories, the application of research to the solution of practical problems, and verification of research findings under practical farm conditions;
• Training of rural communities on best practice relating to food security; and
• By disseminating agricultural information and results of research to rural communities.
I have journeyed you through the past and future of our foreign policy, including the priorities of our policy vision. These issues are not abstract or far removed from our reach. This very Province bears testimony to what we always say that our future is inseparably-linked to that of our neighbours and the rest of Africa. The developments in Zimbabwe have had an impact on this Province. Like the people of Zimbabwe, you have an interest in the speedy resolution of challenges in that country.
We are also encouraged by strong bonds of family and friendship between the people of Mpumalanga and those of Swaziland. Many of our people in the Free State, Eastern Cape and Gauteng have families in Lesotho. The people of the North West also live side by side with those of Botswana. These people-to-people ties in best one best example we need for the kind of future we envisage for the SADC region.
We cannot look at ourselves in isolation from our location in this region. South Africa cannot be an island of peace and prosperity. What we do in the SADC, the rest of Africa, and in our relations with countries of the South and those of the North – is in our interest now and in the future. We have been consistent since 1994 in what we do in our international relations, but there is also been areas of change by virtue of the dynamic nature of the environment we work in and the lessons we learn. We harbour no illusions that this consistency will continue into the future, but our effectiveness in our foreign policy will also depend on how we respond to changing circumstances.
Again, let me thank all of you for your audience. We will need to work together, hand in hand, for a better life for our people and a better Africa and the world. But this will not be easy as it will take a lot of determination and courage like we did during the difficult years of our struggle. I am reminded here of what Mwalimu, Comrade Julius Nyerere, said in December 1987 in his address to the ANC Conference in Arusha, that:
Throughout these long years the struggle has been waged inside South Africa, by the people of South Africa. It has waxed and waned. There have many setbacks, until sometimes the faint-hearted despaired and occasionally even the courageous retreated for a time into sullen resignation. But never was the flame of resistance extinguished. Always new people came to pick up the torch of freedom from those whose strength had been exhausted, and to carry it forward.
We need this strength! You, students, better be prepared for one day you will have to pick up the torch!
I thank you!