Address by Deputy Minister Mfeketo on the occasion of a Public Participation Programme (PPP) visit to South Africans leaving in Australia as part of IORA Conference Engagements Thursday, 9 October 2014
Your Excellency High Commissioner Mqulwana; Your Excellency Ambassador Sooklal; Senior Officials of DIRCO; Fellow South Africans and your honoured guests; President of the Australia Africa Business Council, Councillor Bill Repard; Ladies and Gentlemen; I bring you warm and fraternal greetings from the leadership of South Africa and all her people.
I am here to attend the 14th meeting of the Council of Ministers (COM) of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). As you may be aware, IORA is an association of 20 member states which are brought together by a shared commitment to build a stable, secure and prosperous Indian Ocean Region.
These states have committed to achieve the above through driving meaningful projects which are covered under six priority areas of co-operation. These areas are:
- Maritime Security and Safety
- Trade an Investment Facilitation
- Tourism Promotion and Cultural Exchanges
- Gender Empowerment (as a cross cutting issue); and
- Academic and Science and Technology Co-operation.
In pursuing these priorities the 20 member states enjoy the full co-operation of six Dialogue Partners which are China, Egypt, France, Japan, United Kingdom and the United States of Africa.
We are pleased to share with you that South Africa has just been endorsed as the next Vice Chair of IORA with effect from 2015-2017 after which we will become the Chair from 2017-2019. Working with you as ambassadors of brand South Africa, we can move the agenda of development within IORA forward. I shall return to this subject.
We have enjoyed the warmth and hospitality that we have received from Australia since we arrived here. We thank the Australian leadership and her people for all the courtesies which have been extended to us. This experience compels me to reminisce about the significant role that was played by Australia during our struggle for freedom from apartheid and its related evils. We will continue to treasure these memories of friendship when friendship with the liberation movement was not fashionable.
The South Africa of 2014 is not the same as the South Africa of 1994. Over the past 20 years the ANC government has moved South Africa forward. Statistics which underscore this fact abound. You will have followed the narrative of ‘moving South Africa forward’ from President Zuma’s pre-elections and post elections’ State of the Nation addresses, among others.
I know that you maintain a very keen and active interest in the events and developments within your country. We felt the unshakeable bonds of patriotism between you and us in Motherland when you held events in celebration of our 20 years of democracy in this part of the world.
We were equally inspired when you joined hands to mark the internationally acclaimed and celebrated 67 minutes of Mandela Day work on 18 July last year and in preceding years. Like many others in South Africa, I was encouraged by these important statements.
I encourage you to maintain this interest through continued engagement with our Embassy here in Australia. The Embassy will be in a better position to provide you with information than other sources which tend to be motivated by ulterior motives.
Fellow South Africans, this country is known for its incredible commercial prowess in the areas of agribusiness and mining. Many among you are actively engaged in projects associated with these strategic areas. We depend on you to leverage your economic diplomacy to the benefit of South Africa’s programme of accelerating economic transformation to address poverty, unemployment and inequality.
Over the past 20 years the government has been hard at work. We have been deconstructing the inefficient apartheid machinery which committed disproportionately high resources to the services of a few. We have been working hard to re-orientate a racialised system, infrastructure and personnel which were geared at serving a small minority of less than 3 million people efficiently and condemning the majority of the population to miserable existence in conditions of squalor.
Ladies and gentlemen, we must constantly remind ourselves that South Africa has never known good governance until when the ANC government received an overwhelming mandate from the people of South Africa to address the legacy of apartheid and, under the mantle of President Mandela and his successors, deliver a public administration system which will restore their dignity.
Working together, we have defended and consolidated the social gains achieved since 1994, despite the negative global economic situation. More of our people are being lifted out of extreme poverty as we protected and created more jobs than before, expanded social grants, housing and basic services to our people and further improved access to better education and health care.
Yes, we have significant challenges. We are grappling with them but we must be cautious not to downplay our achievements when we stress about our challenges. We must not behave like the legendary mouse, lesasabudi, which slowly bites itself until it dies when it experiences stress.
Our government is engaged in a 5 year programme whose pillars are the New Growth Path which focuses on shifting the trajectory of economic development; the National Infrastructure Plan which guides the roll-out of infrastructure to improve our people’s lives; and the Industrial Policy Action Plan whose focus is re-industrialising the economy. Of course these programmes are underpinned by the Medium Term Strategic Framework which has started to implement the National Development Plan vision 2030, the country’s shared vision for economic growth and development.
In the next 5 years, we will build on progress in implementing the priorities of our 2009 Manifesto, and take forward our commitments to overcome unemployment, poverty and inequality. These priorities are:
- Creation of more jobs, decent work and sustainable livelihoods;
- Rural development, land reform and food security;
- Fight against crime and corruption.
We will also continue to expand access to housing and basic services as part of our commitment to build integrated and sustainable human settlements.
These goals require that we build a democratic developmental state capable of mobilising all sectors and boldly intervening in the economy in favour of workers and the poor. Working with all sectors of society, we will need to create conditions for the promotion of patriotism, social solidarity and social mobilisation and contributing to a better region, better Africa and a just world.
I wish to thank everyone for the opportunity to address this important body of South Africans who have wide ranging skills, competencies and expertise from which we can learn and benefit. I invite you to remain in touch with your country. Our challenges are big but working together we can be bigger than our challenges.
I now wish to invite you to engage with me.
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road