Keynote Address by Deputy Minister Marius Fransman on the topic of “Cultural Diplomacy and Sports as Tools for Nation Building and Development” on the occasion of DIRCO’s Annual Conference (November 19, 2010)

Programme Director, Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba;
Honourable Deputy Minister Ebrahim;
CEO of the Local Organizing Committee, Dr Danny Jordaan;
Honorable Member of the Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Ruth Magau;
Senior Officials of the International Marketing Council;
Representatives of Labour;
Members of the Media;
The CEO of the Feedom Park, Dr Mongane Wallie Serote;
Respectable pannelists from Host Cities; and
Ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the OR Tambo Building!  As a Department, we take great pride in being associated with the legacy of a great revolutionary, a thinker, a humanist, a non-racialist, an internationalist, a mentor and a diplomat of note – Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.

It was in his 1990 speech that OR, as he was affectionately known, counselled that “It is our responsibility to break down barriers of division and create a country where there will neither be whites nor blacks, just South Africans, free and united in diversity”.   This is a vision that inspires our work.  This is a vision that inspired the topic of this DIRCO Annual Conference.
We convene this Annual Conference because, as a Department mandated with managing the implementation of our foreign policy, we understand and appreciate the fact that the terrain of foreign policy is no longer the preserve of diplomats or practitioners like us.

It is on the basis of this understanding that we welcome the involvement of non-state actors like our NGO’s, business, academia, religious and labour formations, civil society, and sporting fraternity – in the practice of our foreign policy.

It is for this reason that in our White Paper Process and the establishment of the Council on International Relations, we have sought to engage with all non-state actors, in an attempt to ensure that whatever we do will be broadly reflective of the views and wishes of all South Africans. We have also registered a measure of progress on our project of establishing the South African Development Partnership Agency (SADPA), which will seek to manage our developmental partnership engagements.

Programme Director

Our topic for today -  “Cultural Diplomacy and Sports as Tools for Nation Building and Development”    - is an attempt to reflect in some depth on a phenomenon which has gained prominence in the practice of diplomacy and international relations in recent years.  Cultural diplomacy is not simply about “culture” in the narrow sense.  It is about a country projecting its power in the domain of ideas – to influence the ideas and outlook of states, international organisations, and non-state actors in order to pursue its national interests and enhance its geopolitical standing. 

All governments across the world are investing enormous diplomatic and political resources in winning the hearts of minds of other nations and the people of the world.  The tools they use vary from establishing TV stations for external service to the promotion of cultural and sporting exchanges.

The practice of Cultural Diplomacy is in-line with our domestic policy - which in turn informs our foreign policy – because our foreign policy is the externalisation of our domestic policy. We remain convinced that there is a need for us to build on the foundations laid by the 2010 FIFA World Cup – to build a better South Africa and a better Africa in a better World - for all.

It is our conviction that South Africa should promote its cultural diplomacy through sport - for development and nation building. In this regard, we believe South Africa has worked tirelessly to place the developmental needs of the South and of Africa at the forefront of our foreign policy engagements.

We remain proud of the fact that Sport in South Africa has acted as a unifying factor domestically. In this regard we fondly remember the rainbow nation during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, the 1996 African Cup of Nations and the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.

Who amongst us can forget that, as soon as our Bafana Bafana beat France and then decided to exit from the 2010 FIFA World Cup – all of us, without fail, rallied behind our Ba-Ghana Ba-Ghana. This was a clear demonstration that sport as a tool of our foreign policy can also assist with our goal of Continental integration.

We believe that the economic, cultural and social aspects of sporting events could become a valuable tool for South Africa in our fight to address our developmental challenges, as well as the developmental challenges facing the African Continent.

To a great extent, we are of the view that truly the World Cup has also afforded South Africa and Africa the opportunity to do away with negative stereotypes while enhancing our positive perceptions. 

According to the media statement released by the Minister of Tourism on 05 July 2010, the World Cup uncovered the rich multiplicity of South Africa’s tourism resources to a worldwide television audience. But above that it has introduced our country to non- traditional markets, including Latin America, Eastern Europe and Asia.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen,

It is widely understood that sporting mega-events, such as the Fifa World Cup Tournament, are complex affairs which originate from specific sets of economic objectives but which have political and social corollaries that usually extend far beyond the event itself.

With the World Cup we made South Africa’s brand promise “Alive with possibility” a reality. These gains need to be nurtured and turned to concrete investment and trade agreements that will positively impact on lives of all South Africans.

Under the rallying call of “South Africa – Ke Nako”, South Africa became the stage and the entire African Continent the theatre of what we believe was a successful soccer spectacle.The 2010 FIFA World Cup was inarguably an opportunity for nation building for our young democracy. It was another grand opportunity after the 1994 Democratic elections that we saw South Africans of all shades and colours flying our national flag with pride and dignity.

The World Cup brought together a sense of pride and unity. It promoted patriotism and a true sense of belonging. It sent a crystal clear message to the world that we are real rainbow nation, united in its diversity as OR envisioned - a rainbow nation at peace with itself and at peace with the world.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen,

The FIFA World Cup taught us, amongst the many things, that sport is a useful tool of nation building as it is a unifying factor of a nation and a feel good factor of a nation. We are confident that it promoted our national aspirations as laid down in the Supreme Law of the Republic and seek to:


  1. “Heal the divisions of the past and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental rights;

  2. Lay the foundations for a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by:

  3. Improve the quality of life of all citizens and free the potential of each person ; and

  4. Build a united and democratic South Africa able to take its rightful place as a sovereign state in the family of nations.


It is worth mentioning that the 2010 FIFA World Cup helped our country to consolidate our shared spirit of unity in purpose and unfaltering sense patriotism. Most importantly, it also entrenched our foreign policy imperative of consolidating the African Agenda.  

Without giving a graphic narration of what role sport plays in nation building and development, the Latin adage “Res Ipsa Loquitur” – which means “things or facts speak for themselves” – aptly captures what we became.

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen,

Our view as DIRCO is that a shared vision and unity in diversity is a fundamental tool of nation building and development. We believe though that development can be sustained if it is people-driven and people-centred.

Towards build-up to 2010 FIFA World Cup, we had our fellow South Africans demonstrate their sense of patriotism, by flying our rainbow flag and wearing Bafana Bafana jersey every Friday. To us this was a show of faith and confidence in our country and our continent. Our people were confident that we were going to have a successful 2010 African FIFA World Cup.

Collectively, all this contributed a lot in delivering the most successful FIFA World Cup ever; to an extent that FIFA declared that South Africa will be plan B for the next World Cups. What a confirmation to the Latin phrase “Ex Fidei Feducia” which simply means, “With confidence comes from faith”.   

There is no denying the fact that sport builds a healthy and economically productive nation. To accelerate economic growth, we need a healthy and productive nation as they are drivers of sustainable development. We need to develop and promote sport for all ages and in particular the youth, in whose hands lies our future.

We cannot over-emphasize the benefits of sport in ensuring that our children are kept away from crime, drugs and general delinquent lifestyle which is the enemy of any nation. It is through sport that we can build morally strong social fabrics of our society. Sport is a strong foundation for building a sustainable society. “A society which tackles its present challenges without diminishing prospects of the future generations.”

Programme Director, ladies and gentlemen,

We acknowledge as a proven fact, that the World Cup has provided a major springboard for Brand SA both domestically and internationally.  The positive aspects of the country that have emerged from hosting the 2010 World Cup have resulted in increased patriotism, positivity, self-belief and self-respect.

The challenge that remains for our country and through future sporting events is to sustain and develop a united, cohesive and inclusive South Africa, in pursuit of building one winning nation.

Sport undoubtedly plays a significant role in the daily lives of billions of people around the world. It is therefore vital that we in South Africa and our Diplomats abroad, recognise the positive aspects of various sporting codes in the pursuit of our foreign policy objectives.

With such a distinguished cadre of sporting panellists, it is not for me to talk about the legacy of this once in a lifetime opportunity that FIFA presented to our country and the Continent. So I will leave the inspiring stories about “Football for Hope Forum”; the “Green Goal programme”; and “the 1 Goal education campaign

The success of the World Cup won for our country the hearts and minds of the world!

I look forward to receiving the outcomes of this Annual Conference which should help us understand the concept of Cultural Diplomacy better, and how we can leverage it better as a country.  The World Cup was a small step in the right direction to profiling our country as a land full of possibilities – as a land that everybody in this world should visit in their lifetime. 

The event projected us as a responsible member of the international community.  It prepared the world to return us to the UN Security Council.  It gave the world confidence that the hosting of COP17 next year on our shores will be a great success also in terms of outcome.

We have demonstrated to the world that our democracy may be of the age of a teenager, but that we have the maturity to stand tall among adults!

I thank you!

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