(Mr M L Fransman): Hon Speaker, hon members, ladies and gentlemen, a special welcome goes - as done already by the Chief Whip - to our veterans of the Western Cape led, in this case, by Mme [mother] Lesia. Thank you for honouring us with this particular visit. [Applause.]
We also want to specifically - especially as the younger generation - thank all the members in this House for the fact that we are part and parcel of the formation of that period of the organisation of the African Union. Thank you for the type of work done. Thank you for going into exile. Thank you for making sure that you continue to lead us in the formation of unity within Africa. [Applause.] You can clap hands as well. Therefore, thank you very much for this opportunity.
I would like to start these remarks with an extract from the poem "Africa is rising" by a founding father of the ANC and its first Treasurer-General, Pixley Ka Seme. First published in The African Abroad, on 5 May 1906, he said:
O Africa! Like some great century plant that shall bloom In ages hence, we watch thee; in our dream ... Shine as thy sister lands with equal beam.
Pixley Ka Seme prefaced this poem with the profound words, and I quote:
Civilisation resembles an organic being in its development - it is born, it perishes, and it can propagate itself... ``The most essential departure of this new civilisation is that it shall be thoroughly spiritual and humanistic - indeed a regeneration moral and eternal!
Such are the wise words of one of our forefathers.
We have come a long way since the formation of the OAU and, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary, it is necessary that we do some reflection on the journey we have travelled side-by-side with the OAU in our quest for the liberation of the continent and all its peoples. Not only was this journey uppermost in the minds of the founding fathers, and in the ANC in particular, as can be seen from Ka Seme's poem, but it infused how we defined ourselves as a liberation movement, as South Africans, Africans and in solidarity with the poor working-class masses on the continent as well as in the world.
Generation after generation of leaders before the founding of the OAU and since played a pivotal role in the ideological, policy and programmatic foundations of this agenda that are reflected in our history of Pan- Africanism, diplomacy and international solidarity.
Given the ANC's own ideological outlook, since the inception of African Unity, Pan-Africanism and international solidarity with the oppressed masses of the continent and the world, for the past 19 years, our agenda as a developing nation has always been inspired by, and intertwined with, the founding principles of the OAU. To this date, the key strategic objectives guiding our foreign policy engagements find expression in the founding principles of this continental body and Pan-Africanist philosophy.
It is well-documented how OAU prioritised the decolonisation of Africa as its main objective. With the establishment of the liberation committee, our people took a conscious and deliberate decision to wage a united struggle against colonialism and against apartheid.
It was through the pursuit of African unity that apartheid South Africa experienced increasing international isolation from the 60s until its demise in the 90s. This indeed was a victory for the people of Africa.
Today, we must be proud when we reflect upon the role of the frontline states whose people were at the forefront of this campaign within the OAU, creating initially the South African Development Co-ordination Conference, SADCC, which transformed into the regional organisation known as the Southern African Development Community, SADC.
As South Africans, we must make it known to those who have rallied behind us in times of need that we are profoundly appreciative of the role they played during our struggle. Today we are free, but a lot still needs to be achieved. However, we are on the right path. At the same time, we recognise the current challenges within our country as they relate to crime against numerous immigrants and refugees from our continent staying in our communities. We therefore condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the recent outbreak of attacks against foreign nationals.
Many of us will recall that Pan-Africanism and its movements had already, by the 40s, laid the philosophical and ideological roots for the establishment of the OAU.
The Pan-African movement was further strengthened when Ghana became the first sub-Saharan country to gain its independence. The Accra meeting in 1959 focused on and reaffirmed the issue of solidarity and unity. This conference, as previous speakers and the Chief Whip have already indicated, led to the establishment of the OAU.
By then, a number of African countries had achieved their independence, but most of Southern Africa remained an outpost of uncontrolled white minority rule, only to be freed through lengthy struggles, championed by liberation movements that were driven by the ideal of Pan-Africanism.
Today, South Africa is free from political domination, but the struggle continues. We still have to work towards economic emancipation of our people, both in our own country and in the region. This therefore requires further unity amongst the people of Africa. But, for now, we must join the continent in celebrating the journey we have travelled so far.
Speaking at the plenary of the recent World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, President Zuma shared the following, and I quote:
Africa's attitude towards itself and how it interacts with the world has changed for the better.
Fifty years after the setting up of the Organisation of African Unity, OAU - now known as the African Union - the continent stood at a precipice. If you take 50 years since it was established, we are almost at a point of launching Africa into very great activities to achieve a prosperous continent.
Given its history, therefore, the African Union has thus declared 2013 the year of Pan-Africanism and the African Renaissance as the clarion call for the celebration of the 50th anniversary. The intention is to use the anniversary celebrations to reaffirm Africa's commitment to the ideals of continental unity, solidarity and a quest for Africa's renewal.
In a similar vein, the yearning for an African Renaissance was and is inspired by the same Pan-Africanist ideology and challenges, and the acknowledgement that throwing off the bondage of slavery must free the continent to rediscover its identity and chart its own course in all areas of human endeavour.
Even though much still needs to be done, we have registered some tremendous successes in propelling Africa's development. I really want to say to the speaker just before me that the reality is that there are still challenges but, at least, 33 to 34 countries out of 54 have already subscribed to the principle of good governance and to the principles of ensuring that peer review can take place.
We have seen, in all countries, democracies except in a few individual countries that experienced some coups d'etat, and that shows how we have been able, as an African continent, to move forward. Today, Africa has been decolonised with the exception of Western Sahara. It has fully developed a notion of shared values and African governance architecture. After 50 years, Africa's peace and security architecture is therefore also in the making.
To hon Kalyan, who actually raised the issue of Western Sahara as well as the point that she made that President Zuma is silent on that issue, let me just quote what President Zuma said a few months ago in February of 2013 in the state of the nation address. This is what he said:
The right of self-determination of the people of Western Sahara has to be realised.
So, I want to say that we are very vocal as the government and equally so as the ANC on that particular issue. But, yes, we must continue to make sure that the people there are also free.
We also must be cognisant of the fact that there remain many challenges. Whilst we are making much progress there still remain many more governance challenges and conflicts. Equally challenging is our continent's historic, economic and infrastructural architecture, which is geared towards propping up former colonial powers at the expense of Africa.
Many of the economies remain extractive and exclusive as opposed to being economically inclusive. Minerals and raw materials are extracted and shipped to Europe to be manufactured and sold back to us with all roads and railways leading to the sea. This is one of the main structural constraints why trade between Africa and the Western world has historically been more than intra-African trade.
Hon members, we know that there cannot be any development without peace and no peace without development on our continent. Therefore, good governance, democracy and improved infrastructure are the foundation upon which Africa's future development rests. Without sound and well-maintained infrastructure, national economic development will remain severely constrained. Infrastructure has been responsible for more than half of Africa's recent improved growth performance and has the potential to contribute even more in the future.
This is why African leaders have been engaging the development of infrastructure on the continent for many years through the New Partnership for Africa's Development, Nepad. One of its major objectives is to promote infrastructure development as a driving force for Africa's integration as well as its development.
Within this framework, one of the first actions initiated under Nepad was the formulation, in 2002, of a Short-Term Action Plan, in the area of infrastructure, including priority measures and projects. The ongoing programmes and initiatives of the Regional Economic Communities and sector organisations constitute therefore the base for this action plan.
With all these milestones, we must not be under any illusion that the struggle for Africa's economic emancipation is over. It is not. It is common knowledge that many African countries are still weakened by the influence that our former colonial masters still wield on the continent politically, culturally and economically.
Apart from all these hard challenges, which we as Africa will need to confront over the next 50 years, I want to address a softer challenge for us as a nation across all sectors, which I believe is fundamental to our growth as a nation and a continent.
Currently, there are many amongst us as business, civil society, individuals and opposition parties who, in practice, don't believe we should be contributing to building Pan-Africanism, unity and international solidarity. Today, some amongst us still believe that we are not part of Africa, and they don't want to be a part of Africa.
Whilst some opposition parties theoretically do not have much divergence with our foreign policy, their practice and actions as a result of individual beliefs and personalities indicate diametrically different positions and opposition to our foreign policy. For example, hon member Mulder said just earlier that the Chief Whip only spoke about the past. It is very important to note.
He then posed a question about the current state and the future of Africa. All the speakers who spoke on behalf of the ruling party, and my own input, raised both the history, as the Chief Whip did, and the current economic trajectory and the infrastructural outlook into the future for Africa. The strategic question, however, that I must pose to hon Mulder is: Why are you scared to speak about our past. What is in that history that you are scared of?
Whilst extensive and robust opposition and divergence of positions with regard to domestic policies is expected from some of these sectors, our nation requires greater social cohesion, functional coherence and a more unified as well as visionary leadership, collectively, from these sectors to contribute to building a solid social compact, and a unity of purpose in respect of the foreign policy agenda, particularly as it relates to Africa and its renaissance.
As a nation our history, role, participation and contribution to the development of Pan-Africanism, unity and international solidarity at a policy and philosophical level and through participation in the OAU and now AU is a proud one, of which we all should take ownership, support and find ways to continue to intensify strategies for its implementation and our own growth. Then we can truly reflect upon Pixley Ka Seme's prophetic words that Africa is rising, and recommit ourselves to the cause of eradicating Africa's endemic poverty and underdevelopment. Then we will live out President Zuma's vision, which he articulated recently, when he said:
In 50 years we would like to see an Africa that is connected totally, an Africa that is economically viable. We want to be an Africa that is able to use its own resources to develop itself and trade with the world on an equal basis and an equal level.
Thank you. [Applause.]