Address by His Excellency President JG Zuma to Parliament of the Kingdom of Lesotho, 12 August 2010
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Hon Ms Motsamai,
Honourable Speaker of the South African National Assembly, Mr Max Sisulu,
His Excellency Right Honourable Prime Minister; Mr Pakalitha Mosisili
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Honourable Members of Parliament;
We are meeting in a very important institution in any democracy, Parliament, where the representatives of the people gather to carry out their will.
It is therefore a singular honour for me to be invited to address the joint sitting of Parliament of the great Kingdom of Lesotho.
Lesotho occupies a very special place in the hearts of many South Africans. Many of our people spent years in this country during our liberation struggle.
Some of our bravest and brightest cadres fell in this country, at the hands of the apartheid security forces. And many Lesotho nationals lost their lives too, in the struggle for a free South Africa.
The memories of the horrific 1982 Maseru massacre are still fresh in our minds. The Basotho people paid a high price for providing shelter to their oppressed South African brothers and sisters.
The visit is special for me as an individual as well. I recall many visits to this country, for meetings with Prime Minister Leabua Jonathan and other leaders.
I remember the bravery with which Prime Minister Jonathan sought to protect many of our cadres, a gesture of solidarity that is unequalled.
Allow me therefore to take this opportunity to thank the people of Lesotho for the solidarity and comradeship. We are humbled to be expressing this gratitude in Parliament, to the representatives of the Basotho people.
Honourable Prime Minister,
We have observed the evolution of the Kingdom of Lesotho from colonial subjugation to a modern independent state with a distinct character.
This unique character is not only the beautiful mountains and breathtaking natural scenery, but also that Lesotho is in the belly of another country, South Africa.
This geographical location made Lesotho vulnerable during the years of colonialism and oppression.
In this era of freedom and democracy, we must find ways of making this symbiotic relationship to work for the mutual benefit of both countries and peoples.
Recognising this symbiosis, our two countries signed a Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation in 2001 and renewed it in 2006.
Its purpose is to promote political, economic and social cooperation between the two sister countries.
I am happy to report that great progress has been achieved in our bilateral cooperation, as evidenced by a number of agreements that have been concluded over the years.
These agreements are at various stages of implementation. This visit will assist us to take our relations to a higher level, and promote a speedy implementation of agreements and undertakings made over the years.
We are also renewing and emphasising our commitment to joint projects that must contribute to growth and development.
Honourable Speaker, allow me at this juncture to mention a few of these projects which our two countries have identified in the recent past. Lesotho and South Africa are collaborating in the implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
This win-win project has created an industrial base in Lesotho while supplying South Africa with much-needed water resources.
Our two countries are working to finalise negotiations on the second phase of the Water Project.
Furthermore, we have jointly identified the development of the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Conservation Area as an anchor in our tourism cooperation.
We note with appreciation the ongoing work to construct an access road between Sani Top and Mokhotlong within the Maloti-Drakensberg.
This will not only ensure proper use of natural resources for sustainable development, but will also promote tourism between our two countries.
We see great potential therefore in the pursuit of growth and development.
Honourable Speaker, our cooperation also occurs within the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) as well.
At the meeting of the SACU Heads of State and Government, it was agreed that we should finalise and implement policies on agriculture, industrialisation, competition, unfair trade practices and other priority commitments in the SACU Agreement.
We agreed that SACU must be transformed into a vehicle for regional economic integration, capable of promoting equitable development, in order to ensure that it achieves its new vision.
We see great potential in SACU.
That is why the Summit also resolved that we should develop a roadmap for moving towards an Economic Community and Monetary Union.
Honourable Speaker and Members of Parliament,
The promotion of democracy and good governance within the African continent is a key priority for the African Union.
In this regard, allow me to convey my sincere congratulations to the Government of Lesotho for having successfully completed the African Peer Review Mechanism process.
Lesotho was one of the first countries to accede to the African Peer Review Mechanism in July 2004, at the AU Summit held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The country’s embracing of the APRM principles signifies its commitment to key democratic principles.
The challenge is to consolidate the gains made through broadening of the political space for various political players, to shape the country’s governance and the path to a prosperous future.
Besides strengthening institutions of governance, it is also imperative that a democratic culture and practice is embraced and entrenched.
This culture entails political tolerance and representation, public participation, Government accountability, observance of human rights and the rule of law.
We wish you well as you work to ensure adherence to these democratic norms, in line with what we have agreed to as members of the African Union family of nations.
August is Women’s Month in South Africa. As you are aware, this year, the world also marks a number of anniversaries relating to promoting women’s emancipation.
We mark the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and its Platform for Action.
It is the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the 10th year of the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.
Most importantly, 2010 marks the launch of the African Union African Women’s Decade from 2010 to 2020.
The world also commemorates the 10th year review of the UN Millennium Development Goals or MDGs.
We join the African continent in declaring our determination to make this truly the African Women’s Decade.
The dedication of the AU Summit to women and child health in July was a true demonstration of the paradigm shift, and a realisation that women make up more than half of the population of the African continent.
Our two countries should find programmes to work on, that will help us promote the empowerment and development of women, especially the poorest of the poor.
Excellencies Right Honourable Prime Minister,
Next month, at the United Nations General Assembly, Heads of State and Government will be called upon to account on progress made in the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.
As you would be aware, this development blueprint is accompanied by a series of targets for advancing development and reducing poverty by 2015 or earlier.
During the 2010 Soccer World Cup tournament in our country, we made a conscious effort to promote Goal number 2, promoting access to primary education.
We hosted a Heads of State Summit to promote access to primary school education, especially in the African continent.
We did this because education is a fundamental human right enshrined in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
It is a precondition for sustainable and human development and a catalyst for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals.
It is a driver for increased employment opportunities and livelihoods, women’s empowerment, improved maternal and child health, reduced chances of HIV and AIDS infection and greater environmental awareness and responsibility.
Countries cannot improve human development without a continuous investment in education.
Reports that about 72 million children do not have access to education, around the world, is of serious concern.
It is therefore unlikely that the Education for All Goals - including universal primary education and gender equality in education - would be reached by 2015.
Our message to the world is that the recent financial crisis should not be used as an excuse to delay further action on the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals, especially education.
Developed nations should not cut back on development support to Africa, especially on education, on the basis of the recent economic crisis. Education cannot be postponed.
Rather, the recession should urge us to double our efforts to achieve greater progress. This also means that as African governments, we must meet our commitments, and invest in education as much as we can.
We would like to work with the Kingdom of Lesotho as well as other countries within the Southern African Customs Union and SADC, to promote this education for all goal, in memory of the first African Soccer World Cup tournament on African soil.
Lesotho is an important player in the Southern African region.
There is a need for us to continue to work and adopt common positions in international forums that will benefit our countries and the continent at large.
South Africa is a candidate for a non permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.
We are hopeful that our candidature will be able to receive the support of many countries including Lesotho.
South Africa intends to use this seat once more to raise the issues of mutual interest to the Continent and the developing world.
In this regard, we still maintain our position on the reform of the UN Security Council.
A transformed UN system will be more efficient and more accountable to all its member states.
It is our firm view that the Security Council should also be enlarged to better reflect and portray contemporary global political realities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The issue of promoting sustainable development is uppermost on our agenda as the African continent.
Our continent is one of the regions least responsible for climate change, but sadly, it is affected most by results of global warming.
Many African countries are beginning to experience the effects of global warming. The long droughts coupled with soil erosion are a direct challenge to the agricultural sector in Africa.
We need to lay a firm foundation for better policies and encourage countries that still need to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol to reconsider their policies on climate change in order to save our planet.
I have been greatly honoured to be requested by the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban ki Moon to serve as co chair of the Second Panel on Climate Change Sustainability.
I will share this privilege with Excellency President Tarja Kaarina Halonen of Finland.
The Panel will have a special focus on climate change as a sustainable development challenge, addressing its three pillars, namely economic, social and environmental.
This assignment by the United Nations is in recognition of the key role that the African continent plays in key international interventions and processes.
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Our two countries should also continue to play an important role in our organisation, the Non-Aligned Movement.
This great movement continues to serve as a platform to forge relations and unity among us as countries of the South.
In forums such as the Non-Aligned Movement, SACU and SADC, we should speak with one voice, in order to deal with contemporary issues, such as global economic challenges as they affect our developing countries.
It is also of paramount importance that we join hands in multinational forums such as the World Trade Organisation and the World Economic Forum.
We must jointly voice our concerns with the current unbalanced trade between the rich countries of the North and developing countries of the South.
As we pursue these partnerships, we should never lose sight of our developmental needs and the regional imperative of integration.
In conclusion, Honourable Members of Parliament,
As the two governments, we are mindful of the need to enhance our bilateral relations by exploring more areas of cooperation.
Together, we can make our two countries prosperous and strong actors in the regional and international arena.
Once again Honourable Speaker, let me thank the people of Lesotho for the undivided support offered to us through the years of struggle.
I would like to extend my best wishes to you and to all the people of the Kingdom, in this historic journey towards economic and social development.
I thank you for this opportunity.