Address by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, to the Special Joint Sitting of Parliament debating Agenda 2063, Cape Town, 31 October 2014
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
“We must continue to promote the African Agenda. It remains the anchor of our foreign policy. We should thus continue to work closely in support of the African Union, and its agencies to build a credible, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
This is what President Jacob Zuma told the 2014 Heads of Mission Conference about the tasks that must be executed effectively and efficiently by every South African diplomat.
Therefore, today we are gathered here to speak about the Africa we want for our generation and those who will inherit this continent from us.
Africa has undoubtedly transformed from where it was in 1963 when we formed the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to chart a new path for the continent, and lay the foundation for the African Union we are proud Members of today.
Last year we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU’’ Moropa o llile kgorong tsa Addis Ababa”. We looked back with measured satisfaction at the road we have travelled. But we also committed ourselves to doing more and better in the next fifty years. In making this commitment, our leaders at their May 2013 Summit, undertook to prepare a vision and road-map of where Africa should be in fifty years, in the year 2063. This vision, now consolidated into a framework document, is what we know today as Agenda 2063. What we are talking about here is not a wish-list but a carefully thought our plan with identified drivers and an implementation strategy.
Agenda 2063 is about the Africa we want to build in the future. It connects the Africa of yesterday to the Africa of today and the Africa of tomorrow. The Africa of yesterday is the indispensable lessons we have learnt since the days of independence. The Africa of today is our destiny that is firmly in our hands with every action we take. The Africa of tomorrow is the future we are creating through what we do today.
However, Agenda 2063 is people-centered and people-driven. In this regard, the June 2014 Summit of the AU requested Member States to consult domestically, to ascertain the views of all our people, across all sectors, on Agenda 2063. This Joint Sitting is part of these consultations.
Other South African stakeholders are also being consulted. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has convened consultations with government departments as well as representatives of the Youth; Academics and Think-Tanks; Women; Civil Society; and the Business sector consultation process continues.
In the consultations convened by DIRCO, the stakeholders welcomed the African Union’s decision to develop Agenda 2063. Amongst others, the consultations confirmed the urgency with which the stakeholders want the African Union and its Member States to strengthen the implementation of policies aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary Africans. Stakeholders emphasised that Africa should have the essential resources to attain the seven Aspirations of Agenda 2063.
What will be needed, the stakeholders told us, is sustained political will; as well as bold and transformational leadership across the sectors of our society and nation.
Government departments also had their say. Their input highlighted the need for strengthened cooperation and coherence in the formulation of policies at the national, regional and continental levels. This would ensure clarity and complementarity in resource allocation and management; and also for monitoring and evaluation purposes.
The phase of conceptualisation and consultations over the base programme of Agenda 2063 is expected to be concluded at next year’s January Summit of the AU where, among others, the first of the ten-year implementation plans for this vision will be considered. AU Member States and the Regional Economic Communities will be required to include the elements of Agenda 2063 Plan in their national and regional programmes, respectively. This Parliament will be expected to be an active part of the implementation of this Plan, including through its oversight role.
To jog our memories, the evolving Agenda 2063 is currently premised on seven aspirational pillars, which are:
- A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development;
- An Integrated Continent, politically united, based on the ideals of Pan Africanism;
- An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for Human Rights, Justice and the Rule of Law;
- A peaceful and secure Africa;
- An Africa with strong cultural values and ethics;
- An Africa where development is people-driven, relying particularly on the potential of women and youth; and
- Africa as a strong and influential global player and partner.
In highlighting the above Aspirations, the African people unequivocally expressed a collective desire to uplift the continent from the morass of underdevelopment and degradation. With Agenda 2063, the AU is rallying all African to continue the march for the rebirth of the African continent in all aspects – to extend our political liberation to economic and social liberation.
We once again commend Parliament for convening this Joint Sitting whose purpose is:
- To get Parliament’s insight and full participation in Agenda 2063 processes;
- Gather inputs for the finalization of the Agenda 2063 Draft Framework Paper which has been widely circulated;
- Validate and strengthen the seven Aspirations that will drive the continent’s transformation; and
- Determine how Africa should resource its transformation and continental institutions to reduce its dependency on donors, among others.
Agenda 2063 prioritises our unity and regional integration as key vehicles for Africa’s accelerated social and economic development. The Solemn Declaration adopted by AU leaders during the 50th anniversary celebrations held in May 2013 speaks to this determination, and the collective responsibility required in order to develop Africa to its fullest potential. Recognizing that Africa can achieve this potential, Agenda 2063-echoes the Pan-African call that Africa must unite in order to realize its Renaissance. The destiny of Africa is in our hands. We must act now to shape the future we want. This is what is at the heart of Agenda 2063 - that as Africans, we must define, shape and pursue the future that we want.
Agenda 2063 is thus a shared strategic framework for inclusive growth and sustainable development for Africa’s transformation. Importantly, it is a continuation of the Pan-African drive for self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity - in order to, amongst others; galvanize and unite in action all Africans and the Diaspora around the common vision of a peaceful, integrated and prosperous Africa, driven by its citizens and taking its rightful place in the world.
Our government’s work for a better life for South Africans is intertwined with the country’s pursuit of a better Africa in a better world. The county’s destiny is inextricably linked to that of the Southern African region and the entire Africa. Regional and continental integration is the foundation for Africa’s socio-economic development and political unity, and essential for South Africa’s prosperity and security. Consequently, Africa is at the centre of South Africa’s foreign policy.
South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP) already includes the key proposals in Agenda 2063, including a strengthened focus on regional cooperation and integration. The NDP highlights that South Africa needs to deepen its investment and promotion of cooperation and integration as means to enhance socio-economic development, both in Southern Africa, and in the rest of the continent. Amongst others, enhanced regional integration will expand regional and continental trade; and the sharing of experiences and technical cooperation across the sectors.
The realisation of Agenda 2063 will be influenced by where the world will be in 30 to 50 years. Several scenarios have been developed by experts and think-tanks for the world of the next five decades. Scenario planning is of course not an exact science but it is nonetheless helpful for planning purposes and projecting into the future. One thread running through the various scenarios for the future tells the story of the shift in the international balance of forces in the direction of the countries of the South. Therefore Africa has to ensure that is part of this shift; that it leverages it to attain the goals of Agenda 2063.
There are challenges in our current global system that will need to be overcome, and among them are:
- The untransformed and undemocratic nature of the global institutions that govern the world we live in;
- The uni-polarity and unilateralism which undermine our multilateral institutions and the multi-polarity required for Africa to have a greater voice in the world; and
- The continuing threat to international peace which affect our continent and other developing countries; whose objective, in many instances, is regime change and control over our natural resources.
A transformed international order is what we want as Africa. Indeed, one of the seven Aspirations of Agenda 2063 is about “Africa as a strong and influential global player and partner”. Africa will prosper better in a transformed world that is governed democratically. A better world will enable Africa to leverage its demographic dividend to claim its place in the 21st century. The Africa we see rising today must be in full flight in 2063.
But how high and fast we rise as a continent will depend on what we do today. The following principles should therefore inform our approach to the future, and these are:
- African ownership, including finding our own solutions to our problems;
- Silencing the guns once and for all;
- Self-reliance to reverse and eradicate our dependency including on Aid for fiscal support;
- Our people must come first, with the benefits of a prosperous Africa fairly shared among all of us;
- Industrialisation supported by a strong infrastructure, instead of dependence on commodities and other raw materials;
- African unity should remain paramount; and
- Africa should continue to be assertive in world affairs and not give in in its demand for a permanent presence on the UN Security Council.
The potential of our continent is not in doubt. The UN’s children agency, UNICEF, estimates that based on current trends, within the next 35 years, 25 in every 100 people in the world will be African; and that by then, 40 percent of the children in the world aged under five years, will come from our continent. Our people are our wealth.
One article in African Business Magazine of January 2013, caught my eye because of its title "Why Africa Will Rule The 21st Century"; which read as follows:
"According to the authors of a new book, The Fastest Billion – the story behind Africa’s Economic Revolution, Africa’ s current sustained growth level is set to not only continue but rise over the next four decades so that, come 2050, the continent’ s GDP will equal the combined GDPs of the US and the EU at current prices" (close quote)
Indeed, in his address to that historic gathering in Addis Ababa in 1963 which established the OAU, President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, speaking about Africa’s potential, highlighted that,
“The resources are there. It is for us to marshal them in the active service of our people. Unless we do this by our concerted efforts, within the framework of our combined planning, we shall not progress at the tempo demanded by today’s events and the mood of our people” (close quote).
Agenda 2063 seeks to provide this framework as we, today, seek to respond to the demands of our time for a better Africa.
Looking beyond into the future as South Africa, we take our guide and inspiration from the Freedom Charter. “There Shall be Peace and Friendship”, we said. With peace, we will seek no wars. With friendship, South Africa will have no enemy in the world’s community of nations but partners and friends.
The NDP is our roadmap to the year 2030; and happily so, resonates very well with Agenda 2063.
Between now and 2019, in our Medium Term Strategic Framework – and in creating a better South Africa, contributing to a better and safer Africa in a better world – our output priorities are:
- Advancing our national priorities in our bilateral and multilateral engagements;
- An economically integrated Southern Africa;
- Political cohesion within Southern Africa to ensure a peaceful, secure and stable Southern African region;
- A peaceful, secure and stable Africa;
- A sustainable, developed and economically integrating Africa;
- An equitable and just system of global governance;
- Strong, mutually beneficial South-South cooperation; and
- Beneficial relations with strategic formations of the North.
As South Africa we are clear of the task at hand. Agenda 2063 is a call to action.
President Oliver Tambo had us in mind when he addressed the 50th session of the OAU Liberation Committee in Harare in May 1988 when he said:
As we mark this historic occasion of the 25th anniversary of the OAU Liberation Committee and its 50th session, and cast our eyes west into the Caprivi Strip and Namibia and across the Limpopo into South Africa, we see the tree of freedom rising in all its magnificence, watered by the blood of our own peoples and nourished by the victories that the peoples of our continent have scored during the last quarter of a century.
There will be no 50th anniversary of the Liberation Committee to celebrate and no hundredth session, because long before then, we shall all meet in a liberated Namibia and liberated South Africa, together to attend to the urgent question of the rebuilding of our continent as a zone of prosperity, peace and friendship among the people. (close quote).
Two years after this address, Namibia got its independence. Ours followed four years later. Our freedom was just but the beginning of a more difficult struggle for a better South Africa in a better Africa and a better world. President Tambo was clear about the task for a free South Africa. As he put it: “together [we must] attend to the urgent question of the rebuilding of our continent as a zone of prosperity, peace and friendship among the people.”
The poignant message from Comrade O.R. resonates well with Agenda 2063.
This is what we have been doing since 1994. Prosperity, peace and friendship are critical to the attainment of the vision encapsulated in Agenda 2063.
Honourable Members, I encourage you today to propose, critique, and offer solutions and strategies on the Africa you want by 2063. We all know the challenges. The vision is clear. Of importance today is what must be done to achieve the Africa we want? Today’s Joint Sitting must help us answer this question.
Now is the time to contribute to the vison of our fore bearers to achieve the goals of the Africa we want.
I thank you!