Address by Minister Dlamini Zuma to
the South African Institute of International Affairs,
Johannesburg 30 January 2001
Dr Greg Mills
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed my singular honour and privilege to deliver
the 7th Foreign Ministers Annual address here
at the South African Institute of International Affairs.
Since its inception in 1994, following the democratic
changes in our country, this address provides us with
an opportunity to highlight past and ongoing achievements
and developments over the previous year, on the one
hand, and to discuss first hand the plans and vision
of the Department of Foreign Affairs for the year ahead,
on the other.
I would like to depart slightly from that tradition
this evening since it is the first address in this new
century and new millennium, and speak more generally.
In his New Year message to the nation, President Thabo
Mbeki said that "the year 2001 should, for us,
mark the commencement of the African century".
He maintained "
for us as South Africans
the determination to make this an African Century means
many things in terms of what we ourselves must do".
For us to be able to deal with the challenges of African
Renaissance and the African Century it is necessary
to pause and look back into the history, both the bright
and positive and the dark and melancholy periods, that
have shaped and defined us as Africans.
Genetic, palaeontological and linguistic evidence indicates
that anatomically modern humans existed only in Africa
until about 100,000 years ago, when some migrated from
the continent and progressively populated the entire
globe. It is therefore clear that Africa is the cradle
of humanity and advanced civilisation.
We need only to look at the architectural heritage
as presented by Egyptian sphinxes and pyramids, Tunisian
city of Carthage, Zimbabwe ruins as well as the old
city of Timbuktu in Mali to mention a few.
The intricate sculptures of Makonde of Tanzania, the
Benin Bronzes of Nigeria the beautiful paintings of
the Drakensburg, various artistic creations of the Egyptians
demonstrate to us a continent with a great past. Africa
is a continent that boasts of old highly organised kingdoms
from the Ashanti to Monomotapa to that of Timbuktu.
This is part of our heritage, of our history which
we should be proud of, a history which should inspire
us and generations to come, a history which should assure
us that we indeed have capacity to overcome the present
obstacles to the restoration of Africa as a great, prosperous
The dark side of our history cannot be forgotten because
it is part of what defines and shapes our present position
Slavery robbed the continent of its finest and fittest
sons and daughters. It was the most barbaric and cruel
manifestation of racism. It is my belief that it is
only if you define a people as of an inferior race that
you can trade them as slaves.
Colonialism and imperialism not only lead to carving
up of the continent amongst certain European countries
but it also meant Africans, through violent oppression
and divide and rule were denied freedom, self determination
and access to education. Their culture was despised
and destroyed, their languages were suppressed, their
ethics and values were replaced by European values,
languages and religion. We were thus denied of our identity.
However all was not lost, the great African armies
in Isandlwana in South Africa and Sudan defeated the
mighty armies of the British Empire. There were also
heroic struggles of the peoples of the continent, which
saw progressive decolonialisation of the African countries
and defeat of Apartheid in South Africa and Ian Smith
The Cold War meant that democracy was not given a chance.
Progressive independent minded leaders were assassinated
and replaced with dictators and authoritarian regimes
that served nothing but the interest of the former colonial
At the close of the 19th Century we were reduced to
a continent lacking dignity, although we still had pride.
There is no dignity in homelessness, there is no dignity
in hunger, no dignity in poverty. No dignity in a continent
that is devastated by preventable diseases, a continent
which has the majority of the poor. There is no dignity
in turning children into killing machines, child soldiers,
no dignity in a continent where women are turned into
beasts of burden. There is no dignity in ignorance.
There is no dignity in genocide and ethnic strife. There
is no dignity in under development.
Then came the dawn of the new Century we began to see
signs of the rebirth of our continent. We clearly saw
the beginnings of the African Century.
The democratic changes that have swept across the length
and breadth of our continent; the creation and strengthening
of democratic institutions; the resolve of the African
leaders to isolate and banish any leader who takes power
through a coup; is a revolutionary step which none of
the other organisations have taken not even the UN.
The challenge is to defend democratic gains and remain
vigilant against the enemies of democracy if not reversals
may occur as we have seen in countries, which we thought
were stable democracies.
The greatest challenge is how to create and maintain
inclusive democracies, how to avoid distribution of
power and resources along ethnic and religious lines
because we have seen that this invariably leads to instability
since those who are excluded will naturally fight tooth
and nail to achieve what they believe is rightly theirs.
The DRC, Angola, Sierra Leone, Sudan are challenges
that we are grappling with and we are encouraged by
the fact that African leaders are trying to solve these
problems themselves. The silence of the guns between
Ethiopia and Eritrea and the rebirth of the State of
Somalia, though hesitant, are indeed indications that
the African Century is in the making.
Unity in diversity in South Africa after such a bitter
struggle, the reconciliation efforts after the most
tragic genocide in Rwanda, the efforts of Former President
Mandela in Burundi all speak of a continent that cannot
fail to achieve its rebirth.
The restructuring of SADC and the Free Trade Protocol
herald our onward march towards deeper regional integration.
Coupled with the launch of the COMESA Free Trade Area
and the launch of the ECOWAS Passport and ECOWAS Travellers
Cheque, clearly demonstrate progress towards the African
Economic Community envisaged in the Abuja Treaty.
The signing of the Constitutive Act of the African
Union is one more step towards the realisation of the
vision of the founder fathers of the OAU for a United
States of Africa. How is the African Union going to
be different from the OAU?
The OAU is essence has been concentrating on political
issues and issues of stability. The leadership of the
continent therefore has not been seized with the economic
and developmental issues.
The African Union is going to deal with all issues.
There will be Technical Committees, which will deal
Rural Economy and Agriculture;
Monetary and Financial Affairs;
Trade, Customs and Immigration;
Industry, Science and Technology, Energy, Natural Resources
Transport, Communication and Tourism;
Health, Labour and Social Affairs.
The development of the Millenium Action Plan by Presidents
Obasanjo, Bouteflika and Mbeki on behalf of the OAU
is an indication that the African leaders have decided
to take the destiny of the continent in their hands.
Their efforts in Davos at the World Economic Forum to
sensitive the corporate leaders to the African challenges
are commendable. This plan will enable the continent
to put its own road signs on the long journey towards
realizing the African Century.
The hosting of Rio + 10 on the African Continent bears
testimony to the contribution that Africa wishes to
make on environmental issues. It is indeed a difficult
but essential challenge to preserve the environment
for future generations.
The World Conference Against Racism and Xenophobia
and other Forms of Intolerance later this year in South
Africa will firstly be a catharsis for injustices of
the past, and will look at the contemporary forms of
discrimination and work out how whilst acknowledging
injustices of the past, we can come out with a forward
looking achievable programme.
It is befitting that it is to be held in South Africa
and on the African continent because it is in this very
South Africa and in Africa that the worse forms of racism
were experienced. This is where the struggles were fought
and won but Africa has shown an enormous capacity to
forgive. Not other continent has been able to reconcile
and live with the perpetrators of racism, killings etc.
without hunting them down and bringing them to justice.
In fact we see Nazi war criminals more than fifty years
later still being hunted and tried. Maybe because Africa
is the cradle of humanity it finds it in its heart easy
to forgive. I do believe that indeed we should forgive
but not forget. This is our contribution to the building
of a better world for the sake of humanity.
Africa is going to continue to struggle for democracy
not only in our country but also in the international
multilateral organisations like the World Trade Organisation,
the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and
the United Nations particularly the Security Council.
South Africa and the Continent shall continue to fight
for solidarity amongst nations and amongst people. It
should surely be demeaning to any of us to know that
a child somewhere is dying of hunger. Or of a preventable
disease. We shall strive for a more caring society.
We shall continue to struggle against sexism. One of
the hallmarks of the African century should surely be
the emancipation of women. The struggle for a non-sexist
society should be as important as the struggle against
Can South Africa and Africa achieve the African Century
on its own? It is clear that we have to build partnerships
at various levels:
Level of National Government , Business, and Civil
Level of bi-lateral co-operation between nations;
Level of multilateral organisations.
Africa has to build partnership with multilateral organisations.
To this end we all descended on the eternal shores of
the Nile to build partnerships with the European Union.
The success of the Cairo meeting will only be judged
by the strength and usefulness of the partnership.
The aim of the South South Summit was to strengthen
partnerships amongst developed countries.
The China Africa Summit held in Beijing was the beginning
of a partnership between Africa and China as opposed
to individual countries having bilateral relations.
The Franco African Summit is an example of ongoing
partnership with France. Africa and Japan have also
been building a partnership which as witnessed the first
visit of a Japanese Prime Minister to be hosted under
the beautiful African skies.
The G8-Summit and the meeting of Presidents Bouteflika,
Obasanjo and Mbeki in Tokyo illustrate the form of partnership
that needs to be nurtured. America and Africa need to
have a strong partnership. These are a few examples
of the partnerships, which of course have to be evaluated
from time to time. We are for instance beginning to
see some movement on the debt relief even though its
not enough but is a good start.
At the Millenium Summit, there was a consensus that
the development challenge of Africa is the biggest challenge
facing the world, in the 21st Century.
The biggest guarantors of success and defenders of
our gains should be the masses of our people. (For our
initial partnership is with them). They should be mobilized
around all these challenges:
Democracy and Human Rights;
Fair Distribution of Resources;
People Centered Development;
Eradication of Poverty.
They should not be seen as passive recipients but active
agents for change.
The path to the African Century is not smooth, it is
full of obstacles and stones, subjective and objective.
However, many of the problems are neither inevitable
I would like to conclude by quoting from President
Mbekis speech to the Ghana, South Africa Friendship
"All of us gathered here today, as well as many
others in every part of the continent and in the Diaspora,
are therefore faced with this challenge of transforming
our continent, so that the assertion that the 21 st
century will be an African Century, does not turn into
a beautiful but false prophesy.
The 21 st century must be a hundred years in which
when we define the continent as rich, developed and
prosperous, it would not be wish for some distant prospect,
but a reality and existence that in the past have only
appeared in dreams".
This is the challenge of our time! I am convinced that
we will rise to this challenge.
I thank you.