Hon Chairperson, hon members, distinguished guests, Africa Day is a celebration of a continent that has given so much to us. It is Africa that fought so bravely with the ANC and other liberation movements against the apartheid regime so that, as equal to any other, we could exercise our sovereignty as a nation. We will forever be indebted to the continent and its people for the support. The Africa of which we speak is a cradle of humanity and it has given humanity her civilisation and continues to hold unlimited opportunities for the future.
In 1963, at the epoch-making conference to establish the OAU, leaders such as Nyerere, Kaunda, Nasser, Nkrumah and others with their rich and unfailing fountain of wisdom made the following commitment.
The organisation shall have the following purposes:
a. To promote the unity and solidarity of the African states; b. To co-ordinate and intensify their co-operation and efforts to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.
Our then President of the ANC, Oliver Tambo, had the following to say on that watershed day:
The Organisation for African Unity is one of the most hopeful symbols of African aspiration and determination to carve a proper place for our continent in the world.
To us, the sentiment of African solidarity and unity is deeply rooted, and it has always found expression in our movement. The song Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika, composed by an African man, Enoch Sontonga, in 1903, became the national anthem of the ANC and contributed to the north of our borders - Zimbabwe- for a period and Zambia to this day. This anthem was inspired by the moving ideal of African brotherhood and sisterhood, an outlook expressed by our slogan "Mayibuye iAfrika" [Let Africa return].
We are all too aware of the sordid record of colonialism and what it did to the African continent; from slavery, which robbed Africa of her able-bodied and healthy men and women, to imperialism and colonialism, which pillaged and plundered her raw materials and destroyed her culture, traditional agriculture and domestic food security. These ventures and escapades on the continent by colonialists took place on the premise that as Africans we were not equal to the colonial master. For them Africans were subhumans.
Neocolonialism perpetuated and reinforced the exploitation of the continent while creating a self-serving and greedy elite, whose only interest was the accumulation of wealth and the strengthening of their positions in the global balance of forces. Unstable political systems such as military dictatorships that followed only served to plunge the continent into a process of intractable conflicts, genocide and civil wars. This resulted in the displacement of millions and refugee populations, especially women and children. This, coupled with the unfavourable terms of trade, international debt, declining development assistance, lack of foreign direct investment, malaria, HIV and Aids and poor governance, led to the marginalisation of the continent from the global economy.
Notwithstanding all these, a new generation of African leaders emerged on the continent - a leadership that is hard at work to create conditions where security, peace, stability, multiparty democracy, human rights and emancipation of women are the norm rather than the exception. This is where people themselves will regain sovereignty to determine their destiny.
The economic recovery of Africa can be traced back to the 1990s when the then OAU mandated the then Presidents - Mbeki of South Africa, Bouteflika of Algeria and Obasanjo of Nigeria - to work on a plan for economic rejuvenation to address the principal development challenge facing the continent. They were later joined by President Wade of Senegal and Mubarak of Egypt. Extensive consultation took place with their colleagues inside and outside the continent, in international financial institutions, multilateral institutions, business and civil society.
They worked closely with their regional counterparts and identified the following areas as deserving the undivided attention of the continent and constituting the basis for the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme. The areas are as follows: peace, security and governance; investing in Africa's people; the diversification of Africa's production; investing in information and communication technology; basic infrastructure; and developing financing mechanisms.
The economic programme was to be later extended into a more comprehensive programme - New Partnership for Africa's Development, Nepad - which the African Union endorsed and to which it is giving considerable time and resources for its functioning and success. The success of Nepad will be judged on its ability to substantially reduce poverty, which is disproportionately affecting women and children. Part of this programme is to ensure gender mainstreaming in public policies.
The information technology revolution is a driving force. The information gap between the continent and the rest of the world determines who has, to a large extent, access to knowledge, ideas and information that drives development. Africa's contribution to international trade lies with her raw materials. In this knowledge-based economy, it is more imperative to work towards the benefaction of her products, thereby adding value and ensuring the exportation of finished products. Developed countries have demonstrated their commitment to help Africa to close the digital gap through specific projects.
With regard to women in Africa, the incontestable reality is that "African" is inseparably interwoven with the emancipation of African women. She, who has single-handedly and disproportionately borne all the ills of the continent, deserves a frontline position in the battalion for the rebirth of our continent. The leadership in Africa can only ignore at their peril the enormous contribution of more than half of the continent's people. Women have given so magnanimously in the sustenance of the continent intellectually, politically and socially. Their creative energy, resilience and organisational skills will indeed ensure that this century belongs to Africa.
Seeing into the future in 1961, President Luthuli, the visionary President of the ANC, had the following to say about the continent's rebirth: Let me invite Africa to cast her eyes beyond the past and to some extent the present with their woes and tribulations, trials and failures, and some success, and see herself an emerging continent, bursting to freedom through the shell of centuries of serfdom.
In conclusion, Africa Day instils in us a sense of responsibility to improve the quality of life of all people affected in critical areas of socioeconomic life. It provides a moment to renew our commitment to ourselves, the African continent and our shared heritage and destiny. We join other Africans in renewing our pledge to work together for the rebirth and renewal of the African continent and the advancement of Africans, wherever they may be. We recommit ourselves to work with other Africans in our region and the rest of our continent to promote the achievement of the goal of African unity.
Motho ke motho ka batho. Ke a leboga, Modulasetulo. [Legoswi.] [A person is a person because of other people. Thank you, Chairperson.] [Applause.]
Pastor E V DUBE (KwaZulu-Natal): Chair, hon members, MECs, Deputy Minister, this day is indeed being celebrated at a very opportune time when South Africa is about to show the world how we will deal with Mexico in our first game. The celebration of this day is thus the acknowledgement of the progress that we as Africa have made while we are also aware of the challenges we are facing in the global environment.
This day marks another point of introspection for us in looking deep within ourselves to see whether we have been able to cross the barrier of the past era that was characterised by political instability, poverty and underdevelopment in our lovely continent, Africa.
In his remarks on 31 May 2007 in welcoming Africa Day, the UN Secretary, Ban Ki-moon, said that this day provides an opportunity to reflect on the continent's prospects, for taking stock of its problems and acknowledging its achievements. I want to reiterate in this House and emphasise that when we speak about democracy, unity, peace and prosperity in Africa, we are speaking about South Africa. We are indeed speaking about the leadership of the ANC that has been tried and tested in democracy, unity and peace. As we look at the subjects of democracy, unity and peace, we are striving to fully realise and get the results of prosperity. We must not forget the devastation that is being inflicted by HIV and Aids, including its alarming spread amongst women, thus surely reversing past developments and things we have gained. We must strive at this age of democracy to protect those who are infected and affected by using our spirit of "umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" [a person is a person because of other people].
One cannot look down upon important steps taken by our government towards consolidating peace in Africa. This includes our involvement as a country in Madagascar, Zimbabwe and Sudan, to mention but a few. This is to ensure that there is a notable democratic process that will give birth to peace, uniting Africa towards the destination of a prosperous Africa.
We are also aware of and notice the violence that is still taking place in the small pockets of some countries in our continent, which is motivated by intolerance amongst human lives. Indeed, there is a definite need to find political solutions through democratic means in those areas that are facing crises that are afflicting our people in our beloved Africa. I fully agree with Kofi Annan when he says that the continent will have a bright future if its people will stand tall.
Today, we pride ourselves on hosting the World Cup. Of course this puts us at the centre of global attention. We can surely appreciate the foreseen GDP growth rate of about 5% by the end of this year, as indicated by the African Development Bank, ADB, and the International Monetary Fund, IMF. This can be attributed to our democracy, unity, peace and prosperity that we strive for as a country through the mechanism of mature leadership, obviously, of the ANC in South Africa. One cannot fail to comment on growth in trade within Africa and with partners including the Global South.
In making sure that democracy, peace, unity and prosperity in Africa are entrenched and enhanced, we'll fulfil the dreams of our forefathers - the likes of Nkwame Nkrumah, iNkosi Albert Luthuli and the one and only Tata Madiba.
There are notable strides and undeniable achievements when one has to compare what Bill Clinton did when he was still president. Looking at his mission in 1998 in Accra, Ghana, he said that from Kampala to Cape Town and from Dakar to Dar es Salaam, Africans are being stirred by new hope for democracy, peace and prosperity. Challenges remain, but they must be aware that there is a call for action; there's no cause to despair. He said people must draw strength from the past and energy from the promise of a new future.
I want to conclude and close by saying that the ANC will make sure that we keep peace. We'll build democracy so that we'll have a prosperous Africa. I thank you. [Applause.]