Address by the Hon. D. Dlakude, Deputy Chief Whip of the ANC during the State of the Nation of Address Debate

17 February 2015

His Excellency President Jacob Zuma

Deputy President of the Republic, Honorable Cyril Ramaphosa,

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Honorable Baleka Mbete

The Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, Honorable Thandi Modise

Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers

Distinguished Guests

Comrades and friends

This 5th term of Parliament patently marks a defining moment in the history of our beloved country.

Madam Speaker,

As I stand here today in this house to address our honorable guests, colleagues and our nation, the authenticity of this non-racial Parliament which once was only a dream, now serves as a sharp reminder of where we come from as a people.

As the nation watches today, it is with great pride that I come face to face with the torch bearers and inheritors of the Freedom Charter, to celebrate the remarkable progress that this ANC led Government has made on the international stage over the brief 20 year period of our young Democracy.

Madam Speaker,

This Great Country of ours leapt from an International Pariah state, to one of Africa’s leading Participants on the Global stage. Our smooth transition to democracy, instantly placed us on a pioneering path as one of Africa’s leading states.

Our movement is guided by the Freedom Charter, which in fact, remains the Cornerstone of our International Relations Strategy.

This symbolic manuscript emphatically declares, that South Africa shall be a fully independent state, which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations.

It further declares that South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace, and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation, not war. It also states, that Peace and Friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding equal rights, opportunities and status.

Madam Speaker,

Almost half a century after the adoption of the freedom charter in 1955, this declaration on how to position ourselves on the global stage remains as relevant today as it was then.

This in itself proves that our core values as an organization cut through time, geographic locations, racial, and class lines. This ANC Led government, as guided by the Freedom Charter has always and will continue to commit itself to multilateralism, the fight for Human rights, social justice, the facilitation of peaceful conflict-resolution and the transformation of the global political and economic order.

Madam Speaker,

Land deprivation was formally introduced in the year 1910 and circumstances became aggravated during the Apartheid Regime, therefore, the subject of land remains a sensitive issue in our country. There is an undeniable link between Ownership of Land and Economic Freedom hence, the ANC is determined to roll back the shadows of inequality by putting the Land and Wealth back into the hands of our people. As the President of the Republic affirmed in his 2015 state of the nation address `In terms of our new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership will be set at a maximum of 12 000 hectares (ha). Foreign nationals will not be allowed to own land in South Africa but will be eligible for long-term lease.`

This move in no way aims at alienating the International Community, it is a much needed mechanism required to redress the wrongs from our past. We however remain fully committed to doing Business with the international community.

Madam Speaker,

Since the inception of our Democracy in 1994, South Africa has built strategic partnerships with various countries and international organizations, to assert the African Agenda on the International stage. Today, South Africa has far-reaching representation across the globe in the form of more than 150 embassies, consulates and offices around the world.

To give a brief overview of some of our challenges and achievements in pursuit of building solid international relations with key players on the global stage, it is pertinent that I factually outline, a few of the triumphs our country has relished, as well as the challenges we have faced during the existence of our young democracy.

The NDP asserts that, the most significant achievement in South Africa’s post-1994 international relations, has been our assent to the Group of 20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, commonly known as the G-20.

The NDP further highlights the fact that, one highly significant outcome of our Membership to the G-20, was that South Africa was invited almost regularly to the group of 7 meetings of the world’s most powerful elite, which is, that political leadership that effectively decides on the direction of world affairs, universally known as the G-8. In recent years however, there has been a moderate decline in these invitations. This has been due to the overall demise of the ‘Golden Decade’ of African Diplomacy, spanning from 1998 to 2008.

Madam Speaker,

As we stepped away from the shadows of an International Pariah State, to become the most celebrated African Country in the Global Arena, we have also experienced many structural changes and transitions, which helped define our identity as a global participant.

We remain well poised and committed in our resolve to engage and deliberate in strategic structures such as the G20 and G8, in order to effectively articulate and advance the African Agenda. History also reminds us that our previous engagements on this platform were both fruitful and mutually beneficial in our advance towards a progressive global order.

We are currently faced with the colossal task of clawing our way back to the top of the list of African Countries, in the forefront of world matters on the Global stage. It is our collective responsibility to Rise up as a Government, as the Business Community, Civil Society Organizations and as citizens of this Great Country, to reclaim our rightful place in the Global Arena.

We did it in 1994 when we collectively stood for something we all believed in, and together, we succeeded. We became Historic Pioneers of Transformation nationally and globally.

We instantly became one of the most celebrated countries in the world, perceived as heroes and heroines by people who reside in countries and cities some of us never even heard of before.

And that, Madam Speaker, is the remarkable impact that Rising up as a nation that is united in its diversity can accomplish. Fellow South Africans, there is no single reason why we cannot Rise up to Conquer ourselves in the same way we did in 1994, this time we will collectively champion an Agenda that spans beyond the borders of our country, together, we will become pioneers of the Great African Agenda.

Madam Speaker,

South Africa’s involvement in the UN has also seen a few milestones since the inception of our Democracy. While South Africa is not a Member of the United Nations Security Council, we have a non-permanent seat. In 2015, the UN celebrates its 70th anniversary but the decision-making Security Council, composed of 15 member-states of which ten are non-permanent, and five permanent remains largely unchanged. South Africa is therefore decisively calling for transformation of the UNSC to be more accountable, democratic, representative and to work for reform of global governance institutions so that their decisions promote equity and fairness.

Madam Speaker,

One of our finest moments was when we became an official Member of the BRIC countries in the year 2011. Indeed, this was a noteworthy milestone imprinted into the history pages of our country, it was a defining achievement worth celebrating.

Some questions have been raised about our Country’s Membership to the BRICS due to the fact that South Africa’s Economy is smaller than that of the BRIC economies. The NDP however affirms, that South Africa can play a Leading Role in BRICS by helping to facilitate deeper integration of relations between African States, and other BRICS Member Countries, and by focusing on other niche advantages.

The NDP further asserts that, South Africa has several strengths that can be used both when negotiating within BRICS, and in broader global negotiations between BRICS and the world.

In going forward, the NDP recommends that South Africa’s foreign relations, must reflect its role as an equal member, and strategic African Partner in the BRICS Group and in world affairs, in general.

We will contribute to the African Agenda for industrialization, and regional integration for sustainable and inclusive development. The ANC is satisfied with the notion of Trade, Political, Economic, Security, Environmental and Social exchange that will develop from the BRICS relationship.

Our involvement with the BRICS will provide us with a fair opening, to reaffirm our Political Voice on the Global stage as one of the fastest growing African Economies with increasing influence. The ANC is hard at work to break this country out of the inherited mold, of this Fragmented Economic structure that we inherited from the Apartheid Regime.

We are fully committed to strengthening relations with the Business Community, in order for us to collectively chart a common course that will carve inroads into the Global arena, for the Economic advancement of our country which in turn will impact the lives of ordinary South Africans at large.

Solid International Political and Economic Affiliations with Associations such as the BRICS, are critical aspects of our strategy towards the Radical Economic freedom of all our people.

We are indeed proud to be associated to the BRIC countries, and we will continue to utilize this platform as a powerful instrument to further the African Agenda on the Global stage, and to further expand our Economic, Social and Political Standing in the Global Arena.

Securing World Peace and fighting for Human Rights are ideals that remain at the center of the ANC Government’s Political mandate. Therefore, we will support the African Court on Human Rights, strengthen the AU institutions to ensure that they serve the interests of the people, and promote democracy and good governance across Africa.

We will continue to show our support and encourage Peace in the Central Africa Republic, South Sudan, Mali, the Democratic Republic of Congo and many other parts of our continent.

The ANC’s commitment to safeguarding Peace and Security in the African Continent, has seen us committing many of our Young Men and Women to peace-keeping missions on the continent. The ANC will continue to play a critical role towards restoring Peace across Africa first and foremost by taking action and speaking out against acts of terrorism that directly affect the Men, Women and Children of this Great Continent of ours.

Madam Speaker,

The kidnapping of more than 200 schoolgirls by boko-haram insurgents sent a shock wave across the globe in April 2014, compelling South Africa together with many other nations to add their voices to the ‘Bring Back our Girls’ Global Campaign.

The ANC condemns the kidnapping and rape of Women and Children as an Act of War, we therefore remain deeply concerned about the disappearance of these girl-children. We will continue to communicate with the government of Nigeria, to keep track of progress made for the safe return of these children whose Human Rights have been grossly violated. As an international agent of change for Africa first and foremost, we resolve to take the lead in the process of reviving the ‘Bring Back our Girls’ campaign on a global scale, by means of using technology as a means of communication in order to bring the matter back to the center of the international agenda.

We will call on all international architects of change for Africa, to join this noble fight for humanity for the safe return of these vulnerable children who are in need of urgent help from the global community.

Madam Speaker,

Our experience as a once oppressed nation under the Apartheid regime, has indeed heightened our intolerance to governments that perpetrate acts of violence and oppression against humanity.

The UN General Assembly designated 2014 the International year of Solidarity with the People of Palestine, in an effort to foster Global action and Direct Peace negotiations by the UN. Sadly, the year turned out to be a gray one for both the Israelis even more so for the Palestinians.

As Discussions broke, down violence escalated. In July 2014, Israel invaded the Palestinian Territory of Gaza which led to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinian Civilians, many of them, children.

These incidents harshly remind us of a time that held Black South Africa captive under the commands of white domination. Our History compels us to hear and respond to the cries of this vulnerable nation of Palestine. The ANC has therefore pledged solidarity with the people of Palestine, and we will continue to speak out against the occupation of Palestinian territories by the Israeli Government. As international agents for global transformation, fighting for Human Rights and Social Justice as enshrined in the Freedom Charter, we will support any means to force the Israelis to free the people of Palestine which includes the imposition of Economic Sanctions against Israel. We will not end this fight, until the People of Palestine have gained absolute Liberation from Israeli domination.

We have also played a critical role towards the campaign for the Cuban Five to be Freed from Prison in the United States of America. As asserted in the ANC’s January 8th Statement, we Celebrate the release of the remaining three members of the Cuban Five and Applaud President Raul Castro, and President Barack Obama for taking a step in the right direction to secure peace between Cuba and the USA. We further wish them well in forging diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Madam Speaker,

One of the greatest Leaders to walk the face of our planet during our times, the Great Nelson Mandela, once said ‘Money won’t create success but the freedom to make it will’.

Today, we live in a country where we are free to move, to dream, to create, to define and redefine our own destinies regardless of our race, gender, class or creed.

Madam Speaker,

I rise to congratulate you all for contributing towards the stability of our country, some of you make a contribution every single day without even realizing that you are adding value to the stability of this great nation of ours. I am talking about the spirit of our people to coexist peacefully, regardless of our political history and current differences.

The mere act of working peacefully with a colleague of a different race, who has an entirely different religious background from yours and a set of values that you do not understand, or even agree with and yet, you coexist peacefully for the sake of a better working environment which ultimately contributes towards peace in our country, is commendable. This, Mr. President, is one of the most remarkable traits of our nation, an honourable characteristic that the international community will always hold in high esteem, and aspire to incorporate into their own countries.

Our children go to school freely without fear of being massacred in school benches as an act of war, our girl-children are encouraged to get an education and to reach for Greatness, our Women hold prominent Positions in Government, in Business and in various civil society and international organizations, the Great Men of our nation are also fighting to roll back the shadows of our history by defining and redefining their own destinies, as we collectively work towards building lasting legacies that will stand on the global platform long after we are gone.

Fellow South Africans, we should be truly proud to be South African because we have Peace and Stability, the liberty to Rise to Greatness in our own country without fear of being incarcerated or even executed because of our race, gender, class or creed.

As enshrined in the Preamble of the Freedom Charter “We the people of South Africa, declare for all our country and the world to know that South Africa belongs to All who Live in it, Black and White.”

Today, our country is truly living this vision as declared in the preamble of the Freedom Charter. We, the ANC believe that we are a Great nation to be proud of and that many war-torn countries can learn from our History and Present-day circumstances, in order to build a peaceful and secure system for all the men, women and children of their own countries.

Madam Speaker,

The last 20 years of our young democracy laid the foundation for us to announce our Socio-Economic and Political Greatness on the Global platform, in the next 20 years to come.

Therefore, this era demands that we collectively display decisive Leadership on the Global stage, by closing the gaps between Government, the Business Community, Civil Society organizations and the people of this Great Country.

Let us fiercely rise up as a collective to chart this great course forth for the next 15 years as defined by the NDP, which demands that the people of South Africa become a part of an active citizenry, taking greater collective responsibility for our own development.

Let us chase after our Dream of a Poverty Free South Africa, a South Africa that is Free of racism and classism.

Let us work towards becoming one of the world’s Leading Economies, a Global architect of transformation for Africa and the world, an influential Leader on the international platform and simply a country we can all truly call our Home.

God Bless our Nation.

I Thank you.

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