Share On

Andries Carl Nel

Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, South Africa

Distinguished panelists
Comrades and friends.

It is an honour to participate in this discussion under the moderation of Don. Matteo Zuppi, someone who played such an integral role in facilitating the peace in Mozambique, the 18th anniversary of which we celebrated yesterday.

It is significant to do so in the city of Barcelona, a city steeped not only in history, culture and soccer but also a rich tradition of struggle in defence of democracy and human rights.

It is also an honour speak alongside HE Mr. Peter Mwanza, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security of Malawi, Malawi being the current Chairperson of the African Union. 

Seeing that we are being kindly hosted by Spain I would like, as host of Spain's victory in the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, to congratulate them on their home field, and thank all who helped us to make the first World Cup to be held on African soil the tremendous success that it was. The success of the World Cup has set a very positive context for this discussion. It has shown a red card to Afro-pessimism, a concrete demonstration of where Africa can, and must be in the 21st century.

I would like to start by taking a few steps back in history. On the 26th of June 1954 the people of South Africa gathered at Kliptown in Johannesburg to adopt the Freedom Charter.  In this document they spelt out a vision of the society that they wanted to create, saying that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white. One of the clauses of the Freedom Charter proclaims that:

"There shall be Peace and Friendship!"; that, "South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations"; that, "South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war"; that, "Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding equal rights, opportunities and status for all"; that, "The right of the peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised and shall be the basis of close co-operation."

This clause highlights the fact that the struggle for a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa has been profoundly internationalist in character, informed by solidarity and the conviction that we are indeed part of, "A Family of Peoples, A Family of God", for whom an injury to one is an injury to all. 

On the 8th of January 2012 we will be celebrating the centenary of the African National Congress - the ANC - founded on the 8th of January 1912 in Bloemfontein. The theme of our centenary will be "Unity in Diversity." 

Because the defeat of Apartheid was a victory not only for the people of South Africa and Africa but for all of humanity we hope that many in this room will be part of those celebrations, either in South Africa or in many places around the world.

The Freedom Charter continues to be one of our fundamental guiding documents. It informs our conviction that by working together we can, and must, realise the vision of a better South Africa in a better Africa in a better World.

Therefore we are guided by the principles of respect for human rights, the promotion of democracy, peace, justice and international rule of law, as well as regional and international co-operation in an interdependent world.

South Africa’s foreign policy engagements have and will continue to be informed by values of “ubuntu”. Ours is a value-laden foreign policy which seeks to create a people-centred society within which prosperity and development prevail. It is on this basis that we continue to identify ourselves as a partner in development.

Turning to the topic of Africa in the 21st century. Speaking of the Renaissance or renewal of the African Continent in his address to the Organisation of African Unity on 13 June 1994, President Nelson Mandela said:

"The fundamentals of what needs to be done are known to all of us. Not least among these are the need to address the reality that Africa continues to be a net exporter of capital and suffers from deteriorating terms of trade. Our capacity to be self-reliant, to find the internal resources to generate sustained development, remains very limited.

Quite correctly, we have also spent time discussing the equally complex questions that bear on the nature and quality of governance. These, too, are central to our capacity to produce the better life which our people demand and deserve. In this regard, we surely must face the matter squarely that where there is something wrong in the manner in which we govern ourselves, it must be said that the fault is not in our stars, but in ourselves that we are ill-governed.

Tribute is due to the great thinkers of our continent who have been and are trying to move all of us to understand the intimate inter-connection between the great issues of our day of peace, stability, democracy, human rights, co-operation and development."

In giving effect to this Renaissance of the African continent, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was transformed into the African Union and the establishment of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

The NEPAD, as a blue print for Africa’s socio-economic development, represents the incarnation of the objectives of the AU at a practical level to intensify the struggle against poverty and underdevelopment. 

NEPAD programmes include the peaceful resolution of conflicts, peace-building and post-conflict reconstruction; building and maintaining partnerships; institutional and capacity building on the continent and remains the main frame of reference for Intra-African relations and Africa’s partnerships with international partners such as the EU-AU Strategic Partnership, Forum for Africa China Partnership (FOCAC), the G8, New Africa Asia Strategic Partnership (NAASP), and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Important also is the consolidation of an African Agenda. 

In achieving these goals we need to strengthen solidarity with countries of the South and partnerships with countries of the North, as well as seeking concrete ways for sustained engagement with the African Diaspora. 

The African Diaspora is undoubtedly a repository of intellectual, economic and social capital that Africa needs to rebuild its institutions, infrastructure and human capital.  But the plight of the African Diaspora is also of concern to us, not least because of problems of racism and other forms of discrimination and exclusion that these African sisters and brothers continue to face in countries where they reside. 

The strength of the AU is essential for Africa’s unity and development and thus every measure must be taken to ensure that we afford it the necessary resources and political support to realise this goal, including such AU organs and institutions as: the African Central bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank; the Africa Court of Justice; and the Africa Court of Human and People’s Rights, the Pan African Parliament, and the Pan African Women Organisation (PAWO).   

We have continued to advocate for a gradual and an incremental approach, focusing on the regional organizations, as building blocks towards the Union Government. This approach is premised on our understanding that the African Union is a union of independent and sovereign states, thus the actions of the AU Agency are contingent on the mandate of Member States.

But important as they may be, it is not only the action of states and supranational organization that are necessary, but the active and conscious involvement of the African people at levels in the creation of a better life for all.

This discussion takes place in the context of a dynamically evolving geo-political context. The end of the Cold War was characterised by the shift from a bipolar world to a unipolar one dominated by the United States, it also signalled the emergence of a new global power in China, new regional powers in India and Brazil in the South, and the re-emergence of Russia. It is also characterised by the increasing influence of non-state actors such as transnational corporations and international non-governmental organisations. Power in the world is more diffused than ever before.  We are also confronted by the most serous structural economic crisis since the 1930s as well as global warming and related environmental challenges.

We believe that the transformation of the international system will not only give Africa a bigger voice, but will also put us in a better position to address the developmental plight of our continent.  We will continue to work with other nations and progressive non-state actors for the reform of the United Nations, including the Bretton Woods Institutions.  We cannot achieve our objective of a better world when the current configuration of the Security Council of the UN is informed by the geopolitics and security concerns of the 1950s when most of Africa was under colonial rule.  Also, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are a critical resource in efforts of the international community to combat poverty and reverse underdevelopment, and as such their governance, capitalisation and programmes must be based on the principles of equity, people-centeredness and transparency.  We cannot expect countries to be governed democratically and yet live in an international system that is governed undemocratically.

However, democracy goes hand-in-hand with economic justice and prosperity.  We must ensure that Africa stays the course in its pursuit to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), mindful of the impact of the global financial meltdown. We therefore need to continue to work with progressive forces in the world to implore the international community to play a constructive part in complementing our efforts.

I would like to conclude with the following words of  President Nelson Mandela to the OAU, "If freedom was the crown which the fighters of liberation sought to place on the head of mother Africa, let the upliftment, the happiness, prosperity and comfort of her children be the jewel of the crown."

We are confident that we are amongst friends, members of the Family of Peoples, the Family of God, who will act in partnership with us to ensure that this jewel finds it's rightful place.

I thank you.

Nkosi Sikelele i'Afrika! 
God Bless Africa!