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Speech delivered by Deputy Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Ms Nomaindiya Mfeketo

Budget Vote Debate, Vote No.1

Promoting South Africa's role in the regional, continental and international arena context

31 May 2017, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable President,
Honourable Deputy President,
Deputy Speaker,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Members,
Special guests,
Fellow South Africans,

A few days ago, we celebrated Africa Day under the theme of a better Africa and a Better World in a liberated and democratic South Africa.

We have definitely moved far away from what former President Nelson Mandela called the skunk of the world, into becoming one of the major players on the global stage.

Honorable Members

South Africa is an integral part of the continent, its history and its future. The contemporary challenges of the continent and its destiny are intertwined with that of South Africa. A stable and peaceful continent means a peaceful and stable South Africa where a boy and a girl child face a future of prosperity, security and dignity.

The Presidency budget vote gives us an opportunity to present how South Africa has played a stabilizing, constructive role, contributing to peace, security and development, both in the region and continent.

Since 1994, South Africa's foreign policy has aimed to play an active role in shaping the architecture for regional and continental integration, including developing norms and standards that underpin collective efforts to ensure peace, security, stability and development.

Honorable Members

In terms of our efforts to promote and contribute to sustainable development, democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the Southern African Region and Africa generally, South Africa has played an active role in the conceptualization of the continent's development vision, namely, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) as well as the establishment of a voluntary instrument for the promotion of democracy and good governance, namely the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Madam Speaker

We have achieved a lot in relation to the role of South Africa in multi-lateral institutions in a bid to foster a more equitable world, build social solidarity, peace and cooperation.

South Africa's vision of a better South Africa, in a peaceful and prosperous Africa, supported by its political, military, economic capabilities has enabled it to play multiple roles of peace-making, peace-keeping, economic and development partner.

In the global South, South Africa will continue to play its role of promoting South-South Solidarity in order to advance their mutual interests in global platforms.

The Presidency through its diplomatic work has ensured that South Africa continues to play a progressive and constructive role in the reform and strengthening of the United Nations as an important institution of global governance.

We will continue to defend and guard the centrality of the UN and its Charter in addressing global challenges and problems.

South Africa will continue to call for and pursue the reform of the UN Security Council so that it reflects today's global realities and ensure that Africa is represented in the permanent category.

We will use South Africa's chairship of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that developing countries, particularly African countries benefit from peaceful use of Atomic energy.

As a responsible global citizen, South Africa will continue to advocate for a rules-based multilateral system that places people-centered development at the centre of its agenda.

We call upon the UN to assume its historic responsibility in the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian question.

Priorities for 2017

South Africa will use its role as SADC Chairperson to intensify the SADC regional integration agenda with a focus on industrialisation to boost the region's capacity to produce value-added goods, and the development/rehabilitation of infrastructure to facilitate intra-SADC trade.

Under the proposed theme "Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains", South Africa will focus on harnessing the participation and involvement of the regional private sector in the implementation of the SADC Regional Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap.

South Africa will also use its position as SADC Chair to accelerate the implementation of the SADC-COMESA-EAC Free Trade Area, which will enhance intra- Africa trade and contribute towards the achievement of the Continental Free Trade Agreement.

With the year 2017 having been declared by the AU Heads of State and Assembly as the year of "Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investment in the Youth", South Africa will champion efforts aimed at leveraging the youth bulge to propel the continent's socio-economic development, through an integrated approach to improve youth development across the continent and to ensure their full participation in economic activities.

South Africa's efforts will be aimed at contributing to the realisation of the African Union's Agenda 2063 vision and the implementation of its first ten year plan. We are conscious that strong structures are required to effectively implement AU decisions as well as the realization of the aspirations of Agenda 2063.

We are prioritising infrastructure development, particularly, road, rail, and aviation in order to boost intra-Africa trade which will act as a catalyst for continental development and prosperity. This will be embedded in regional economic communities, which are building blocks towards the realization of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).

South Africa will assume the chairpersonship of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) which brings together 28 countries from the East and South Coast of Africa, South and South East Asia, the Gulf region and Indian Ocean islands. Unlocking the potential presented by the Blue Economy, including, the sustainable exploitation of marine resources, the creation of value chains, as well as maritime security will be a major priority for South Africa. The goals set in Operation Phakisa will guide our engagement in this regard.

Honourable Speaker,

As the chairperson of BRICS in 2018, South Africa will drive an agenda to intensify intra-BRICS cooperation in diverse fields, as well as its consolidation as a significant player in shaping a new, equitable global political and economic order.

Plans are afoot to set up the first regional office of BRICS's New Development Bank (NDB), the Africa Regional Centre (ARC), located in Johannesburg. At the Goa Summit in India, BRICS Leaders expressed their satisfaction with the progress in operationalising the ARC and pledged their full support in this regard. The first tranche of NDB project loans were disbursed in 2016, which included a project in renewable energy amounting to USD 180 million to South Africa.

Through its co-chairship of the Development Working Group of the G20, South Africa will continue to promote the principle of inclusivity for the benefit of our continent and the global South. Thus our efforts will be geared towards ensuring that programmes of the G20 are aligned to Africa's development agenda.

At the multilateral level, we are prioritising the advancement of the reform agenda in the UN and its agencies. Key to this is the enlargement of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to reflect the current global realities.

We shall also place a high premium on ensuring the multilateral system is aligned to support the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and the Paris compact on climate change.

In conclusion: I wish to end with the words of the late President Tambo whose year we celebrate this year. Oliver Tambo, our Chief Diplomat in exile, would have been 100 years old this year if he were still alive. I ask you to remember his words of encouragement as we continue to build South Africa. This is what he said when he was delivering the opening address at the International Solidarity Conference, on the theme "From Apartheid to Peace, Democracy and Development" 19 February 1993, Johannesburg.

'We believe that we must stand together in creating the new South Africa. When our work is done, let all look at the new South Africa with hope and encouragement - hope and encouragement because she will have demonstrated that it is possible for people of different colours and different races and nationalities to live together in peace and friendship, sharing a common sense of nationhood and humanity'.

I thank you...

     
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