Speaking Notes for the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms
Sue van der Merwe, at the DFA Year End Function, 9 December 2005
- We are reaching
the end of another year in the life of the Ministry and the Department of Foreign
Affairs. Today is really a celebration of team spirit, of working together to
make our country and our vast continent a better place and of contributing collectively
to the wellbeing of the peoples of the world.
- Yet as we celebrate,
let us remember that in this period we are still commemorating the 16 Days of
Activism on No Violence against Women and Children, the United Nations-endorsed
campaign that is held between the 25th November (International Day of No Violence
Against Women) and the 10th December (International Human Rights Day).
is appropriate that as we reach the end of this campaign for this year, that we
ask ourselves what we have done to instil a human rights culture in our places
of work, at home and through the various roles we play in the Ministry and Department
of Foreign Affairs.
How has each and every one of us assisted in
nurturing a culture of peace and a more people-centred society?
we as a collective ensure that we are a caring community?
I am posing these
as questions because I believe that we must also look into our own hearts and
minds for answers and that this time of the year offers us an opportunity for
soul-searching and contemplation.
- This time of the year also gives
us an opportunity as Foreign Affairs to reflect upon our achievements and our
activities so that we are better equipped as we plan for the events of the new
- As part of ensuring that the Department fulfils its mandate
as government and that it increases its skills base and expertise, we have appointed
a number of people in this year. Let us use this opportunity once more to welcome
into our ranks a total of 255 new staff members.
- Let us also
mention the 143 staff members who have been promoted this year. We congratulate
these high achievers and we wish them well in their new positions.
the Ministry and Department, we also take the development and nurturing of skills
among our youth very seriously and as such we have engaged 39 learnerships within
Corporate Services in 2005. These learnership opportunities have given our youth
first hand experience in how our department operates and hopefully they will also
stimulate an interest in pursuing a career in international relations in the future..
are also pleased that the Ministry and Department hosted 20 students from Saulsridge
High School in Atteridgeville as part of the "Take A Girl Child to Work"
career-orientated programme. This programme is aimed at assisting girls and young
women to be informed about career choices and possibilities. This programme was
very successful in this year and the staff and the girls learnt a great deal from
- The year began with our Minister heading a governmental
delegation to New York, where we participated in the United Nations Conference
on the Status of Women: the Beijing + 10 Conference to review programmes of action
directed towards the emancipation of women in activities and all spheres of life.
The empowerment of women has been a focus of the Department throughout the year.
a department in 2005, we also honoured our women ambassadors and high commissioners
in recognition of their skills and talents.
- We have also hosted
the launch of the 16 Days of Activism against Women and Children abuse successfully
as well as a Women's Day event earlier in the year.
- The Department
also organised its first Imbizo that was held in Cape Town in August. It was aimed
at educating and informing the public about our role in national, regional, continental
and international affairs and it also provided an opportunity for us to hear what
ordinary people and the academic community are thinking about our role in the
- This event was a resounding success
with an estimated audience of over a thousand people who had come to listen and
to ask questions. This strengthening of partnerships will continue in 2005 as
we continue our engagement with the South African community.
of you may not be aware of this, but it important to note that in April this year
we distributed funds amounting to R54 454.84 to various charities raised at the
International Fair in 2004.
- In 2005, we successfully organised
the South Africa-African Union-Caribbean Diaspora Conference in Jamaica in March.
The conference was part of our ten years celebrations and to acknowledge the contribution
made by Africans in the Diaspora in assisting against the fight against apartheid.
have continued our work in strengthening south-south co-operation through hosting
the trilateral India-Brazil-South Africa Ministerial Forum in Cape Town earlier
- In recognition of the struggles of the African and
Asian people against colonial domination, we commemorated together with our brothers
and sisters in Asia the Golden Jubilee of the Asian-African Conference. This Afro-Asian
partnership will continue to flourish in the years to come and strengthen our
relations with the countries of the East.
- We have continued to
intensify our mediation, peacekeeping and post-conflict reconstruction efforts
on the African continent which have resulted in progress made and positive outcomes
- Peaceful, free and fair elections were held in various
countries on the continent embracing the principles of democratic governance.
- We have also made strides in international diplomacy and it
is encouraging to see that our country's businesses are investing more and more
capital in our region and in the rest of Africa.
- The Millennium
Review Summit held in New York in September this year (in the 60th year of the
existence of the United Nations) gave us the platform to continue as a global
community to speed up the processes of poverty alleviation and eradication and
to work towards a more inclusive world.
- We hope that the 6th
WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in next week will come up with concrete
proposals to help to meet the needs of the developing world.
this year has also seen the passing away of some of our colleagues - friends and
family members both here and abroad- we salute them for their dedication and tireless
efforts in the work that they did for our institution. We shall continue along
the path they have helped to shape and we shall always remember them.
has also been the year of the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Charter adopted
in Kliptown five decades ago.
- As we use this time today to build
our team spirit, to strengthen our relations with our colleagues, let us remember
the words of the Freedom Charter and continue to be inspired by this vision in
the years to come - of a world in which there is peace and friendship among all
peoples, a world in which all are free and equal.
- On behalf of
the Minister and Deputy Minister Aziz Pahad, I wish you a wonderful day and I
hope that you all enjoy the music and the refreshments. Thank you for your hard
work throughout the year.
- For those who will be going on leave
quite soon, I would also like to wish you well.
- As the year ends,
I wish all of you peace and happiness during the festive season. Let us return
from our celebrations refreshed and re-invigorated for the demands of the New