President Jacob Zuma says the nation is proud of the role played by the South African National Defence Force in the country’s peacekeeping efforts.
“They are an important player in our foreign policy a force of peace” h saidat the University of Pretoria this morning. “A total of two thousand three hundred and four South African National Defence Force soldiers are at present deployed externally. They serve diligently in the DRC, Central African Republic and Darfur in the Sudan.”
Zuma was speaking on South African foreign policy at the University of Pretoria toan audience that included the diplomatic corps. “We thank the Department of Political Sciences and the Centre for Mediation in Africa for inviting us to this institution to discuss aspects of the country’s foreign policy. We appreciate your interest in the peaceful mediation of disputes in particular, which is the driving force behind our peacemaking efforts especially in the African continent,” Zuma said.
He noted the basis of SA’s foreign policy was crafted by “ordinary people of the Republic of South Africa, and is embodied in the Freedom Charter of 1955.” The Freedom Charter proclaimed that “there shall be peace and friendship, and outlines the following aspects of foreign policy; SA shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations; SA shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation – not war; Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all; and The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation”.
In addition, former ANC President Oliver Tambo “further enunciated our foreign policy thrust at the First Congress of the Angolan ruling party, the MPLA in Luanda in 1977. He said ‘We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage’. It is important to state from the onset, that our foreign policy is an extension of our domestic policy and our value system.
“As South Africans we believe in a democratic and open society in which government is based on the will of the people and every citizen is equally protected by law. We believe in a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.
“To implement this vision, the country’s Foreign Policy is based on four central pillars. We accord priority to SADC and Africa as a whole. We work with countries of the developing South to address shared challenges of underdevelopment. We promote global equity and social justice.
“We work with countries of the developed North to develop a true and effective partnership for a better world. And finally, we play our part to strengthen and transform the multilateral system, to reflect the diversity of our nations, and ensure its centrality in global governance,” Zuma said.
“One of our major accomplishments which enable us to participate more in peacemaking, is the re-election of South Africa to a non-permanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term. We believe we are playing a constructive role, pursuing the interests of our country and the continent.
“Our pressing priority currently is the reform of international institutions, including the United Nations Security Council. Africa and Latin America are not represented as permanent members on the Council. This is a serious anomaly which reflects negatively on the UN system. As South Africa, we believe we can play a critical role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, advancing the interests of the continent. The time has come for Africa to be represented at that level in this world body.
“Our foreign policy also entails effective economic diplomacy. We work to attract investments and tourism, remove barriers to trade, support the development of larger markets in Africa and expand the markets for South African products. This is linked to our domestic imperative of eradicating inequality, unemployment and poverty. The results thus far are encouraging. South Africa’s global exports have diversified over the last few years and have increased from R477 billion in 2007 to R584 billion in 2010.”