Address by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim at the Africa Regional Dialogue on the New Development Agenda Post-2015 Global Thematic Consultations on Governance 11 October 2012
Honourable Bethel Amadi, President of the Pan African Parliament
Madame, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba, Deputy Secretary-General of the Commonwealth
Honourable Members of Parliament
Excellencies, Ambassadors and members of the Diplomatic Corps
Representatives of UN Bodies
Members of Academia, Civil Society
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to be present here as the representative of South African Government. We thank the organisers of this Dialogue Session for the opportunity to engage on clarifying what exactly the Post-2015 Development Agenda entails.
The development agenda for Africa has been characterised by efforts to reverse the negative effects of the historical processes such as imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism. These efforts, that culminated in the adoption of a collective paradigm of development under the auspices of the continental body, the erstwhile Organisation of African Unity (OAU), currently the African Union (AU). Therefore this is a starting point for us in the discourse. These efforts are supported by appropriate continental structures to drive the development of the continent and the fulfillment of the MDGs. For South Africa and the continent the MDGs must be seen as an ideal that has validity in their own right apart from the timeline for the establishment of their fulfillment.
Therefore any discussion on how we take the developmental agenda forward must take this into consideration and must not seek to reinvent the wheel. For us, we approach 2015 more as a timeline that is reached in a context where the ideals have not been fulfilled completely.
I raise this as I am concerned that the discourse on the Post-2015 agenda must not create a situation where it is assumed it is an end of an era and a beginning of another because fundamentally at the centre of the MDGs was the ideal of poverty eradication and the creation of a better life for all. We must not create an impression that we have moved to a new era and that we have accomplished everything on the MDGs; or that the path we chartered on the MDGs were not worthy.
The common purpose which the MDGs has achieved, their positive profile, the sense of ownership, and their ability to focus attention and resources on key development areas should not be compromised by a debate on the Post-2015 Agenda.
We must understand what necessitate a Post-2015 agenda over and above the fact that we reached an end of a timeline.
It is important that these issues are addressed in the context of intergovernmental processes within the rules-based multilateral system, which allows for true, representative, inclusive, open and transparent reflection envisaged on what needs to be done to advance the developmental agenda and eradicate poverty. The central intergovernmental structure that allows this for the developing countries, especially African countries is the UN system. As we engage here we must ensure that we do not run ahead of the intergovernmental processes.
Coming back to the theme of this workshop which is governance; again this is an area where the African continent in the short space of time of the constitution of the African Union, driven by its own need to improve governance in order to consolidate efforts to achieve the MDGs, but also under pressure from forces outside the continent who forced to impose wave after wave of governance reform, has achieved a lot. Of particular concern is how demands outside the continent for governance reform became conditionalities for the much needed donor assistance. Therefore an approach on governance must take into account what has taken place in Africa especially considering the African Peer Review Mechanism and the institutions in place to support and improve governance.
It is our belief that talk of a new development agenda is a misnomer as we are still faced with the same development challenges and equally, we feel it is important that the issue of governance in African countries is approached with care. This will ensure that we avoid a situation where whatever we put as suggestions for governance i.e. the rule of law, transparency, accountability etc. becomes conditionalities for donor assistance and end up frustrating the flow of assistance thereby undermining the key objectives of development which is central to poverty eradication. We are not starting from scratch and therefore must build on what we have done up to now.
We do not need new norms, we need assistance and means of implementing what is on the table. So as we advance the discourse on governance we cannot loose sight of this.
Furthermore when we talk of governance Post-2015 what exactly do we intend to achieve for Africa and developing countries.
Where the focus should be on governance, in relation to the development agenda, is on the democratisation of global institutions; which is the UNSC, and the Bretton Woods institutions. South Africa’s position is well known on the reform of the international institutions, most importantly the UNSC which deals most critically with peace, a key requirement that must happen unimpeded. The UNSC must be democratised, its membership made representative and its ways of working made transparent and above all it must be accountable.
The challenge is how we in the 20th Century align the institutions of the UN and especially the UNSC to ensure that they are truly representative of the people, accountable, transparent, responsive and effective. We need to strengthen the organs of the UN themselves to make them effective governance structures especially because it enjoys universal membership.
On global governance we cannot leave out the international financial institutions including the Bretton Woods institutions, although not universal in membership it has powers that affect all of us. It is imperative that they are made proactive and sensitive to the poor, these two must be reformed to be made accountable and responsible, particular as their decisions affect the lives of many people especially the poor.
We know that South Africa has all the institutions in place, already we have a constitution that defines the contents and parameters of governance in Chapter 10. So for us the question is what in relation to governance that if we did not have in place, would impede on poverty eradication and the creation of jobs and a better life for all.
The African Union has done a lot on governance and a fundamental basis for underpinning sustainable development on the continent. Not only has it put in place normative standards and requirements on governance but has built institutions to support these. We must build together the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Specialised Technical Committees and the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM). In going forward we therefore must work with regional and continental bodies.
In conclusion Programme Director, South Africa firmly believes that as we go forward, the collective efforts and commitment of the community of nations to the development agenda must be inspired by the spirit and intent of what has been done before in particular the Millennium Development Declaration and the MDGs. Above all, developing countries must have a sense of ownership of the processes and commitment that will arise out of these.
I thank you