Remarks by the Minister of Minerals and Energy of the Republic
of South Africa, Ms Buyelwa Patience Sonjica delivered on behalf of the Minister
of Foreign Affairs, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the conclusion of the 38th Commonwealth
Parliamentary Association Africa Region Conference, Cape Town, 27 July 2007
Honourable President and Deputy President of the CPA-Africa Region
Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the CPA-Africa Region
Honourable Speaker of the
Chairperson of the NCOP of RSA
Secretary-General of the
Secretaries and Clerks of Parliaments
It is a great pleasure for me to be here
tonight and to address this farewell dinner for all delegates from many different
countries, yet who share common values and a historical journey that spans centuries.
Unlike in the distant past, we now come together in dialogue and discussion
as people, nations and states that have a great deal to talk about, ideas to exchange,
best practices to share, and to work towards a common understanding of where this
globe we call home is going and how the people of the world can best make progress
I believe that our collective hope is for a more inclusive world;
and that what we do when we come together on occasions such as this one is to
plan the road ahead, build foundations and pathways to a more inclusive world
and an egalitarian world society.
For us on the African continent, part
of our common dream has also been that of African unity. Thus, this year has also
been a very special year for us, since together with our brothers and sisters
in the African family, we have come together to celebrate 50 years of the independence
of Ghana. We have used this opportunity to work actively towards putting in place
the building blocks for a continental unity. But we have also looked back at our
history to see how far we have come from the days of independence, from the moments
We have paid tribute to visionary leaders and great democrats
such as Kwame Nkrumah. Today I am reminded of his insightful words from his book,
Africa Must Unite.
"In our struggle for freedom, parliamentary
democracy was as vital an aim as independence. The two were inseparable."
wanted to free our people from arbitrary rule, and to give them the freedom to
choose the kind of government they felt would best serve their interests and enhance
their welfare. Our struggle was fought to make our people free to practise the
religion they chose, to give them the liberty to associate in whatever groups
they wished, to create an atmosphere in which they could say, write and think
freely, without harming their neighbour or jeopardising the state."
words speak to us from the pages of history, but they also echo the principles
that we still hold dear, the ideas and ideals that bring us together as parliamentarians,
the notion that 'the People Shall Govern' - the desire for 'government for the
people, by the people and of the people'.
Of course the Nkrumah dream and
that of his generation of leaders did not always fall on fertile ground. The situation
that he and others of his ilk faced was more complex on the ground and possibly
more challenging than the Africa and the world that we have today.
ought to salute these efforts and those of his generation, outstanding leaders
in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Americas who paved the way for us
to occupy the space we now do. The seeds that they planted have now begun to grow
and we continue to water the tree and seek comfort in the shade of a democratic
Nkrumah's statements on African unity, in some ways, also points
to some of the unifying factors that bring us together from across the globe.
Nkrumah speaks about "hopes and plans for creating a modern society which
will give our people the opportunity to enjoy a full and satisfying life."
forces that unite us," he argues:
and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart. These are the
forces that we must enlist and cement for the sake of the trusting millions who
look to us, their leaders, to take them out of the poverty, ignorance and disorder
left by colonialism into an ordered unity in which freedom and amity can flourish
Of course, the challenge for us today is
that in this rapidly globalising world, collectively we need to put our shoulders
to the wheel to address "the poverty, ignorance and disorder" of a different
kind. No country remains untouched by the forces of globalisation. Our destinies
are linked together as never before.
We have to face the reality of an ever-increasing
gap between the wealthy and the poor of the world. We need to work hard to bridge
the gap between developing and developed nations and to produce that 'common wealth',
that shared prosperity that our very name and identity suggest is possible and
Of course, much progress has already been made.
on the positive side, globalisation is creating unprecedented opportunities for
wealth creation and for the betterment of the human condition.
performance across the globe is the best it has been in years. Global expansion
has meant higher demands for commodities at higher prices, among other developments.
There are unprecedented opportunities for wealth creation and for the betterment
of the human condition. Reduced barriers to trade and enhanced capital flows are
fuelling economic growth.
But there is a great deal of vulnerability that
comes with opening yourself so completely to global forces of which you have little
control and which seem to the ordinary onlooker as more powerful than national
sovereignties and the democratic order that we as parliamentarians and as citizens
of the world hold so dear.
This puts immense pressure on all of us and
informs our work. It poses challenges that some say we will only be able to solve
together as inter-nations and not necessarily as nation states. The restructuring
of the international systems of political and economic governance must become
a living reality as part of arriving at a more democratic world order.
this context, our work as parliamentarians from different and far-flung places
becomes even more crucial.
Certainly our shared work must be to nurture
and strengthen our network, to build closer relationships so as to deepen our
democratic cultures. This Association offers all of us the opportunity to share
ways and means
- of strengthening our parliaments,
- to better
measure the impact of our legislation,
- to improve oversight through sharing
knowledge about the systems we use,
- so as to deepen public participation
- and improve access of citizens to their rights
- and enhance the
accountability of public representatives to the electorate.
also need to go beyond this as indeed I am told that this gathering has done in
articulating the connections between sustaining vibrant democracies and sustaining
development. I believe that at the heart of our striving is precisely this view
that the democratic exercise is also part of sustaining development, that thriving
economies and societies derive from truly sustaining democracy.
former UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, also articulated this view when he gave
the fifth Nelson Mandela Lecture in Johannesburg a few days ago. And I quote:
live in an era of interdependence. That is true everywhere in the world; but in
some ways it is more obvious in Africa than anywhere else. We Africans know, perhaps
more than most, that problems like water shortages and disease, like environmental
degradation and political unrest, cannot be neatly contained within national borders.
If some of us are poor, we are all the poorer; if some countries are unstable,
we are all less secure.
Similarly, we know that solutions to these problems
will only come if we work together - across borders, across boundaries of race,
religion, language and culture.
To accelerate our progress, to extend its
reach into every corner of this continent, we must work together toward a comprehensive
strategy - one that rests on three pillars: peace and security; development; human
rights and the rule of law.
They all re-inforce each other; they all depend
on each other, just as we do."
Ladies and Gentlemen:
these circumstances, how then through our work do we ensure that we are all enriched
by our riches.
Researchers tell us that the world has enough resources
to eliminate poverty - but only if we take determined and concerted action at
national and international levels, which brings us back to the building and renewing
of the democratic foundations that bring us together in this meeting.
this reason, we need to ensure that the integrity of the institution that is parliament
is preserved and strengthened and is dynamic enough to address the problems besetting
us at present.
The Association has done valuable work also through election
monitoring and assistance, thus improving our participatory democracies. The interconnectedness
between good governance and sustainable economic growth has been a theme of this
event; and I trust that the outcomes will enrich our practices now and in the
I also believe that this Association can play an important role
in supporting the strengthening of the institutions of the African Union, particularly
the Pan African Parliament (PAP), whose mandate comes up for review very soon.
As you are aware, the PAP, as currently constituted, only has advisory
powers which come up for review in 2009 during which time a decision will be made
as to whether it can be given decision-making powers.
Parliamentary Association could also play an important role in the strengthening
the future role of regional parliaments such as the PAP. This will ensure that
these institutions are able to develop effective ways of overcoming problems and
devising workable solutions to the challenges we face in the international community
If the various topics discussed during the course of this conference
are anything to go by, then I am indeed encouraged that we are indeed making progress
towards a democratic, non racial, non-sexist and united, world - a world in which
- to quote former President Nelson Mandela at the dawn of South Africa's democracy
- "the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement."
this conference draws to a close, I would like to thank all participants for their
very active contributions to the conference and the enlightening deliberations
and discussions that have taken place.
May the sun continue to hold a lofty
position in the sky because of all your efforts in strengthening democracy all
over the world.
Finally, on behalf of the government and people of South
Africa, we wish to thank all the distinguished delegates for coming to our beautiful
I trust you have made strong friendships here in the last few days
and that you have formed a bond with the people of this land. May you return to
our shores soon to experience more of our country, landscapes and culture.