Peace, security, important to African agenda

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International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says South Africa has always regarded Africa as a centrepiece of its foreign policy. Addressing the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria on South Africa’s foreign policy, Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa has mobilised a significant amount of resources towards the socio-economic awakening of the continent.

“South Africa has always regarded African as a centrepiece of its foreign policy, and mobilising a significant amount of our resources towards the socio-economic awakening of our continent, peace-making and peace-building, as well as post-conflict reconstruction and development. “We are heavily involved in various parts of the continent particularly through our bilateral channels with our sister African countries, our sub-regional body Southern African Development Community (SADC), and the African Union (AU),” she said.

The Minister further said the AU is also very central to the realisation of the goals of the African Agenda. “We remain committed to the African Union, including our support for its various organs such as the Pan-African Parliament that we host in our country. “We are at work with other African countries and the African Union Commission to ensure that the Financial Institutions of the Union that are envisaged in the AU Constitutive Act see the light of the day. “It is incumbent on all us to make sure that the African Reserve Bank, the African Monetary Fund, and the African Investment Fund become a reality, because these institutions have a critical contribution to make to the renewal of our continent.
“We need a strong and effective AU and this applies to all its institutions, programmes and organs,” she said. Nkoana-Mashabane further said Peace and Security is, indeed, important to the African Agenda. “Without peace and security there can be no sustainable development, and without sustainable development there can be no peace and security and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Africa will remain a dream deferred. We need peace, not war,” she said.

Throughout the current conflict in Libya, South Africa and the AU have steadfastly maintained that the future of Libya should be decided by the Libyans themselves. “This is what the AU roadmap is all about; an inclusive durable political solution to the Libyan crisis on the basis of the will of the Libyan people. “We continue to encourage Libyan stakeholders to accelerate the process leading to the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government that would be welcome to occupy the seat of Libya in the AU,” she said.

With the imminent fall of Colonel Muamar Gaddafi’s government, Nkoana-Mashabane is urging the Libyan authorities to immediately institute an all-inclusive, inter-Libyan political dialogue aimed at building a truly representative and people-centred democratic dispensation.

Regarding Somalia, she said South Africa supports a comprehensive approach that addresses both the economic and political dimensions of Somalia.

With regard to Zimbabwe, the Minister said: “We will continue to call on the parties to spare no effort in implementing the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in order to stabilize the political situation in Zimbabwe and encourage them to support efforts aimed at the consolidation of democracy in that country.”

In relation to IBSA, the minister said South Africa’s membership was not only going to enhance the country’s trilateral partnership with India and Brazil, but would also be an important pillar for strengthening the muscle of the South in global affairs. “We believe that IBSA has become even stronger now that South Africa is a member of BRICS.
“The rationale for South Africa’s joining BRICS was in consideration of a matter of crucial importance to BRICS Member States, namely the role of emerging economies in advancing the restructuring of the global political, economic and financial architecture into one that is more equitable, balanced and rests on the important pillar of multilateralism.”
“It is our belief that the mandates of both groupings (IBSA AND BRICS) to co-exist as they are also highly complementary. We will actively promote trade and investment which enhances industrialization and promotes job creation. New areas of cooperation within BRICS are also been explored in science and technology, culture, sport, climate change and energy,” she added.

The minister added Pretoria needs to do more in terms of strengthening communication and dialogue on its foreign policy with residents and international stakeholders. “One of the major outcomes of South Africa’s fifteen year foreign policy review since 1994 is that despite the good foreign policy work that South Africa has been advocating in our continent and internationally, we need to do more to strengthen communication and dialogue on our foreign policy with South African and international stakeholders,” she said.

Nkoana-Mashabane said at the core of many of the foreign policy engagements is to continuously build international relations and partnerships that will contribute to the achievement of South Africa’s five national priorities.

The five national priorities are Education and Skills Development; Job Creation and Sustainable Livelihoods; Improving the Quality and Quantity of Health, Rural Development and Agrarian reform; and the Fight Against Crime and Corruption.
“Ours is a foreign policy that is guided by Ubuntu (humanity) and a commitment to the establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the national development priorities of our continental and international partners as well,” she said.

The minister said the foundations and strategic perspective of South Africa’s foreign policy are derived from a long standing history, ideology and values that embrace the spirit of internationalism. She said these also include the rejection of colonialism and other forms of oppression, our quest for the unity and political, economic, and social renewal of Africa; the promotion and defence of the plight of the suffering masses and poor of the world; and our opposition to the structural inequalities and abuses of power in the global system.
“Our struggle for a better life for all in South Africa is closely intertwined with our struggle for a better Africa and a better world all. “These values are in ingrained in the South African Constitution and inform our foreign policy and my department’s vision,” she said. The minister said other principles underpinning the foreign policy includes a commitment to the promotion of human rights not limited to political rights but including economic, social and environmental rights.

A commitment to the promotion of democracy; justice and international law in the conduct of relations between nations; a commitment to international peace and to internationally agree upon mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts; as well as a commitment to the interests of Africa in world affairs; and a commitment to economic development through regional and international co-operation in an inter-dependent world.