SA committed to building a better world

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Pretoria - Not shying away from the challenges and uncertainties faced by the world today, South Africa remains committed to building a better world.

This was the message from International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, who delivered her department's Budget Vote in Parliament on Wednesday.

Despite the multiplicity of global crises, ranging from the decline of major economies of the North; mass and random killing of innocent people through acts of terror; ecological crisis due to climate change; rising food prices and the energy crisis - the country is up for the task of giving people hope for a better world, said the minister.

She said her ministry would execute this task by enhancing continental development and integration, with a focus on South Africa's role in consolidating the African Agenda.

Staying within the continent, the minister recommitted South Africa to regional integration in Africa, saying the country's foreign policy would continue to promote free trade within the continent.

It would also give focused attention to the implementation of the regional integration programmes and projects, whilst the Africa Union Commission would continue to deal with policy and serve as the secretariat of the AU.

This, she said, would include SADC integration and the promotion of peace and security in Africa; advancing South Africa's national interests through the enhancement of South-South and North-South Cooperation; and advancing South Africa's national interests through participation in institutions of global governance.

"Africa is stronger when it is united. Africa's voice is heard when we speak as one. We prosper better and faster when we work together as a continent, for our unity and integration."

Nkoana-Mashabane also reiterated the call for the transformation of the AU so that it can better deal with today's challenges.

In order to deal with these challenges, she said the AU must turn its focus to the development of the African continent, including fighting and reducing poverty, eradicating conflicts, building sustainable economies and the integration of Regional Economic Communities and advancing Africa's interests in the world, among others.

Nkoana-Mashabane said if Home Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was elected to lead the AU Commission at the AU's Summit in Malawi in July, she would focus on these issues.

"If elected, Dr Dlamini-Zuma will serve all AU Member States as a loyal servant of Africa. She is not being fielded as a candidate to pursue the interests of any particular country or region. She will be guided in her work by the statutes of our Union, our programmes, as well as decisions of AU Policy Organs, especially the Assembly and Executive Council," Nkoana-Mashabane told MPs.

She also recommitted the country to supporting the implementation of NEPAD, but raised concerns that there are only three years remaining to the 2015 deadline for attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

She said countries must do more individually and collectively as the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and the continent as a whole if the MDG targets are to be met.

Moving to the "hot spots" on the African political landscape, the minister mentioned that Pretoria was engaging the new leaderships in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya with a view to strengthen bilateral relations and promote cooperation on continental and global issues.

"We are ready to share with these countries our experience in transitional justice and constitution-making, among others," the minister said, adding that South Africa has heeded the call for assistance by countries in the Sahel region such as Chad, Niger, Mauritania and Mali, who are at the receiving end of the impact brought about by the disappearance of arms from the Libyan military, by helping with the humanitarian relief.

The minister said South Africa would assist countries such as Madagascar, North and South Sudan, Somalia, the DRC, Zimbabwe, Western Sahara and Swaziland to find lasting resolutions to their respective challenges.

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