Opening Remarks by Director General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Ambassador Jerry Matjila, on the occasion of the Global African Diaspora Pre-Summit Consultations Meeting, DIRCO, 17 May 2012

Programme Director and Chairperson, Ambassador M. Rakwena;
Hobourable Dr Jimmi Adisa, Director of the African Citizens Directorate of the African Union Commission;
Members of Civil Society Organisations;
Members of the Business Community;
Men and Women of Media;
Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me first take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for having made time out of your very hectic schedules to join us here this morning. Today, we are gathered here to renew, engage and find a resolve on how to carry forward our ideals of justice and a better life for all, in a better South Africa, Africa and the World. But most importantly, what brings us here today is to provide a platform within which, you as stakeholders to the affairs of our government, can share with us your views, opinions and thinking on the scheduled Global Diaspora Summit.

We therefore believe that this interface will, amongst others, provide all of us, collectively, with an opportunity to engage on issues of common interest and mutual benefit for the advancement of Africa’s common agenda.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

You may be aware that our government, in partnership with the African Union Commission, has for over the years, been engaging on preparations to host this all important Global Diaspora Summit which is scheduled to take place on 25 May 2012, in South Africa.  Our partnership with the AU is therefore a clear indication of the commitments we have made, and in line with our foreign policy, to strengthen the African Agenda and its institutions.
Our partnership is based on shared values and converging interests, which include supporting peace, security and development in Africa, achieving the Millennium Development Goals, strengthening and reforming the multilateral system and promoting a more inclusive, efficient and equitable system of global governance.

We are, as a country, inspired by the confidence Africa has on South Africa to be hosts to a Summit, which would see the convergence of people of African descent under one roof, engaging on issues of common interest and mutual benefit. We remain honoured for this opportunity bestowed on us by the African Union.

Programme Director;

It is against this background that, as hosts and partners to this Summit, we should engage in open and frank exchanges, even when we have areas of divergence. The strategic objectives have to deal a blow to Afro-Pessimism, develop strategies to free ourselves from vestiges of colonial influences, mobilize resources to address challenges of underdevelopment, poverty and unemployment in our countries in Africa and the entire African Diaspora.  It is therefore my hope that during the course of our interaction today, we will not only get to know each other better, but we will also reinforce a more effective process of strategic consultations between ourselves.
Ideally, our meeting today should assist us identify, at the socio-economic and political levels, areas of possible cooperation on significant international developments with our brothers and sisters in the Diaspora.

I encourage all of you to learn from the ideas generated from this Pre-Summit Consultations in order to take forward an agenda that would strengthen our relations and rapport with the African Diaspora. I am particularly pleased by this programme as it will seek to, amongst others, provide an overview of the Global Diaspora Meetings and Summit, and Consultations with Regional Committees on key issues around the African Diaspora.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have no doubt in my mind that as discussions and engagement ensue, we will find time to give the necessary attention to issues such as, among others, the plight of young men and women in youth development, women in business, women in development, and the role of the African Diaspora in the fight for self-determination and social transformation of Africa. We need participation of all people of African descent to accelerate Africa’s development. The African Diaspora must be seen as a torchbearer and pathfinder of our regeneration and therefore very pivotal in advancing the cause of Africa and everywhere. We hope that resolutions emanating from the discussions would guide us in our work as government, and give impetus to our dialogue with the Diaspora.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, we encourage you all to continue consultation in the spirit of true solidarity, transcending artificial regional boundaries, language compartmentalization, Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone and all other post colonial “phones” that is used to divide us and fuel tensions and infighting amongst us especially in Africa. To all those who will participate in the activities of the programme, we would like to express our sincere gratitude to you for role you seek to play in connecting and inspiring the future of our continent. We are pleased to see many young women and men, professionals, academics and think-tanks participating in this programme.

We sincerely hope that you will be connected and inspired by the experiences of the veterans who will be participating in this programme. Wisdom is intelligence that stood the test of time. That is why mentorship is very important in building the future of our successors. Sharing experience is passing our heritage to our future generation which is the future of Africa and its Diaspora.

We wish you all the very best in you engagements.

I thank you.

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