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Speech by Deputy Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, H.E. MS M.R Mhaule on the occasion of the debate in the National Assembly on Africa Day: "The year of Nelson Mandela, a better Africa and a better World", Cape Town

24 May 2018

Honourable Deputy Speaker
The Honourable the President
Honourable Deputy President
Members of the Executive
Honourable Members
Esteemed Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Esteemed guests
Ladies and gentlemen

I am very honoured to be afforded the opportunity to participate in this commemorative debate on Africa Day. I am particularly pleased at the theme under which this discussion takes place today, "the year of nelson Mandela, a better Africa and better World", because it talks to the challenges we face today.

I'm proud that today we can celebrate the gains of our struggle for liberation from Cape to Cario. I share the view of Akwasi Aidoo of Senegal when he says,

"Africa Day is like no other day, because it symbolizes, in a very practical way our collective spirit and search for unity and dignity".

As we celebrate the centenary of Nelson Mandela, it is imperative that we remember that our own destiny and future can never be divorced from that of the continent. From Nkwame Nkruma in Ghana to our very own son of the soil Rolihlahla Nelson Mandela, one can only marvel at the depth of wisdom and patriotism that these thought leaders expressed in their call for African renaissance in calling for unity in diversity, peace and tolerance.

Honourable Deputy Speaker,

Our founding fathers' of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which is now the African Union (AU), envisaged an African continent that is independent, united, peaceful and prosperous. This vision was exemplified through the long struggle for liberation of the Africa continent. While the primary agenda of decolonisation has been realised, with only Western Sahara still under the colonial occupation by Morocco, the continent in still lagging in terms of economic emancipations of the African child.

Honourable members,

We will continue to play our part in conflict resolution in those countries that are still plagued by pockets of instability and conflict. In addition, South Africa reaffirms its continued solidarity to assist the people of Western Sahara in pursuit of their inalienable right to self-determination and decolonisation. South Africa remains steadfast in its rejection of all acts of terrorism and extremism that have increasingly affected countries on our Continent, contributing negatively on internal instability.

It was anticipated that the re-admission of Morocco into the AU would expedite the resolution of this dispute. However the contrary prevails. To this end we will continue to lobby all AU members and the broader international community to expedite the resolution of the Saharawi question.

As South Africa, we'll also continue with our conflict and mediation processes in South Sudan until we find lasting peace to Africa's youngest nation.

Honourable Members,

As you may be aware, this year marks 30 years of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale which Nelson Mandela regarded as a milestone in quest to end the tyranny of colonialism and apartheid.

Our iconic leader, in reflecting on his impressions of the Cuito Cuanavale battle during his visit to Cuba on the occasion of the 38th celebrations of the Moncada victory said:

"I was in prison when I first heard of the massive assistance that the Cuban internationalist forces provided to the people of Angola, on such a scale that one hesitated to believe, when the Angolans came under combined attack of South African, CIA-financed FNLA mercenaries, UNITA, and Zairean troops in 1975. We in Africa are used to being victims of countries wanting to carve up our territory or subvert our sovereignty. It is unparalleled in African history to have another people rise to the defence of one of us".

Chairperson, we continue to be encouraged by the internationalist spirit and character of the Cuban people and we are forever indebted.

Honourable members,

We have presented our candidature to serve as Africa's rotational non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2019-2020. We are honoured that the African Union has endorsed our candidature. We will use this seat to achieve Africa's goals.

In carrying out the legacies of President Mandela and O.R. Tambo of democracy and equality, South Africa will also prioritises the transformation of the system of global governance based on African's common position, famously known as the Ezulwini Consensus to make the system more responsive to the needs of the developing countries and ensure fair representation in global governance structures. The Reform of the Security Council thus remains a recurrent essential element of South Africa's overall effort to reform the United Nations in order to make it more broadly representative, efficient and transparent and thus further enhance its effectiveness and legitimacy.

Ladies and gentleman

In 2018 South Africa assumed the Chair of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) under the theme: "Partnering with the Private Sector in Developing Industry and Regional Value Chains". We will continue to focus on building our political and economic integration of SADC states. We will continue to strengthen peace, security, democracy and development. It is also worth noting that the SADC accounts for approximately 80% of our total trade with the continent.

We welcomed the adoption and launch of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Kigali in March 2018, as well as the signing of the Kigali Declaration. The Kigali Declaration served as a complimentary political statement of unity in purpose, symbolising a unified commitment to conclude the outstanding issues necessary for operationalisation and full implementation of the CFTA

As soon as we finalise the parliamentary approval process, South Africa stands ready to ratify. We hope that these issues are finalised timeously so that we may be in a position to sign the CFTA at the July 2018 African Union Summit in Mauritania.

Furthermore, we recognise that both SADC and the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) are primary vehicles to regional economic integration. They are important building blocks to achieving the TFTA and the CFTA.

Additionally, the launch of the Single African Air Transport Market as part of the Agenda 2063 Legacy projects is indicative of the development path the continent is striving towards. This initiative will indeed contribute towards the ease of travel and doing business in continent which is what we have been longing time.

Honourable Speaker,

South Africa joined the BRICS formation to advance our foreign policy objectives that are predicated on leveraging our international agreements for domestic gains, promotion of the African Agenda and the Agenda of the Global South.

These objectives informed our continued participation in the Forum. In order to give effect to the centrality of Africa in our foreign policy through the BRICS we hosted the 5th BRICS Summit under the theme "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation", in Ethekwini in 2013.

We have again assumed the chairship of BRICS from 01 January 2018 and will conclude this role on 31st December 2018; we understand that our identity is not based on geographical composition and that our engagement with other formations must benefit the continent. Preparations are progressing well for us to host the 10th BRICS Summit which will be held from 25 to 27 July 2018 under the theme: "BRICS in Africa: Collaboration for Inclusive Growth and Shared Prosperity in the 4th Industrial Revolution". Thus this theme underscores our commitment to Africa's development and prosperity.

The BRICS countries produce a third of the world's industrial products and one half of agricultural goods. Furthermore the BRICS countries constitute 43% of the global population and as such have a large human resource base and a significant consumer market. Member States such as South Africa and India also enjoy a promising demographic dividend.

Honourable Deputy Speaker,

South Africa also assumed the Chair of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) in October 2017 and will continue until October 2019. It has been agreed that we will lead this pre-eminent regional body linking Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Australasia via the Indian Ocean based on the elements of our theme of "IORA: uniting the peoples of Africa, Asia, Australasia, and the Middle East through enhanced cooperation for peace, stability and sustainable development".

In collaboration with the new South African Secretary-General of the Association, we will further strengthen its work programme, particularly the IORA Action Plan (2017-2021), which South Africa is championing to make the organisation more outcomes oriented. Importantly, we will create and enhance the institutional mechanisms necessary to advance important priorities for South Africa and the region, such as Women's Economic Empowerment; Maritime Safety and Security; the Blue Economy; and, Tourism.

Our work will also seek to align under Operation Phakisa: Oceans Economy and the African Union's 2050 African Integrated Maritime Strategy (AIMS) with the overall focus of IORA on the Blue Economy.

Honourable Members,

Africa remains home to some of the fastest-growing economies in the world for 2018. This positive economic outlook provides South Africa with a unique opportunity to not only drive investment to Africa, but also attract investment from the Continent. This approach is in line with the pronouncement of the President during the State of the Nation Address, to amongst others, to host an Investment Summit during the year. Our Department is firm in its belief that both the public and private sectors from across the continent have an important role to play in this important initiative.

Lastly, we must utilise our youth bulge for the development and reconstruction projects of the continent so as to realise other key agenda activities that formed the basis of the formation of the OAU/AU, which is prosperity on the continent.

We also want to take this opportunity to send well wishes to the people of Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Madagascar on their upcoming elections.

As such all hands must be on deck to help us usher in a new dawn for the continent, and be true to Madiba's counsel that South Africa cannot escape its African destiny. And all of us must also honour President's Mandela's dream that 'I dream for an African which is in peace with itself'

I thank you!!!

     
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