Speech by Obed Bapela on the State of the Nation Address Debate

9 February 2007

Speaker/Chairperson, The President, Deputy President, Ministers and all Honourable members,

Ke le dumedisa ka Sepedi; kere thobela, re ya tamisha.

"The ANC forms part of the global forces including governments, parties and civil society organisations in developing and developed countries- campaigning for a humane and equitable word order," a quote from ANC Strategy and Tactics.

Mookamedi, wa naga ya ga borena ya Afrika Borwa,

Mo moletlong le mo tshepidisong ya yona, mogatlo wa ANC, o ile wa ithuta ebile wa tsenya letsogo mo morerong wa tshebedisano ya botho (human solidarity) lefaseng ka bophara.

It was informed in its international work by values of internationalism, promotion of human rights against abuses and violations and support for national liberation.

Le lehono, re sa ikemediseditse go latela ditletlebo tseo, (principles), ebile re tla tswela pele go tiisa, megatlo ye sepelago le rena (strengthening progreesive networks), lefase ka moka go fihlela re bona tekano, le thlompho ya botho lefaseng, (that is, emergence of an equitable and human world order).

The emphasis is also made to remind us where we come from and why we are continuing in the path to create a better world, and also to express the ANC solidarity message to the people Myanmar, (Burma, as it used to be known).

The ANC Lekgotla, expressed as follows; "The ANC should work, together with other organisations locally and internationally, to campaign for the restoration of democracy and human rights in Myanmar. The meeting further reiterated the ANC's deep concern at the situation in Myanmar, including widespread repression and the continued house arrest of Aung San Suu Kyi, and urged that these matters be taken up through the appropriate organs of the UN system".

We raise this issue to clarify our position, knowingly, that we will meet in international platforms, some amongst us, will contextual it out context for their selfish interests, or may regard it as regrettable, as already said by some.

As a matter of record, would want to inform parliament and the nation that our delegates in the Inter Parliamentary Union, and also in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association have signed, attended and spoke in solidarity with the people of Myanmar, who in every for of these bodies will have side talks and petitions to be signed. We will continue to give support and solidarity to the cause of the people of Myanmar and will support resolutions if appropriately raised in the correct platforms.
Letter by Howard Sackstein, a former Anti Aparthed Activist

Ke tshepa gore Mookamedi otla atologa, a fe lesedi go setshaba sa ga bo rena ka yona taba molomong ye khwi, gape a bontshe gore re le MaAfrika Borwa, re ya ithekga go bona tharollo ka se se diragalang ka Maynmar.

Taba ya bobedi, ke tlo bolelagao ka yona ke ya, tema eo Palamente e bapalago, mo go tliseng toka le tekano lefatsheng. Parliaments all over the world are strongly emerging as international players in global politics.

So is our Parliament, we have affiliated to a number of world Parliamentary bodies, such as the IPU, CPA, PAP, SADC, ACP - EU, and are being canvassed to join others such as the APU, and during the visit to Belarus by the Speaker, for us to consider mobilising others for the establishment of the Non-Aligned Movement- Parliamentary body, for which we are considering.

The challenge remains that affiliation alone is not enough and should now embark on the transformation of this bodies, to make them more relevant, significant and for them to become instruments of change and to take up issues such as fighting poverty through monitoring of our respective countries performance in achieving the Millennium Develop Goals (MDG's), on Consolidation of the African Agenda, and pursuance of programmes such as NEPAD, Regional Economic Integrations, Global warming, fighting the causes of terrorism, ensuring that the number of African children going to school increases, that health accessibility to women and children is a right and not a privileges for a few, ensuring that conflicts in the continent are eliminated, women and children leave in peace and not remaining refugees forever and Africa emerges as an important global player.

We must strive for a world free of hunger and poverty, for a day when one day in some years to come will say; as a country and a continent,  "Tlala o nyele, bohuma bo fedile." Meaning we would have defeated hunger and poverty.

We need to engage, monitor and involve our people in a participatory democracy in seeking solutions afflicting our humanity as parliaments, as people's representatives for who we represent as they voted us into parliaments.

We have just adopted as the joint Rules Committee of parliament a policy and for the establishment of the Parliamentary Group on International relations that will guide us to engage and fulfil on all this challenges. Hoping before the end of the 1st Quarter will be able to adopt it in both houses to begin implementing it.

Parliamentary Diplomacy is on the rise and members will be expected to empower themselves and follow events closely in pursuance of the strategic goal of a better world and a better Africa. All of us should not view international or foreign politics in a narrow minded way, as our Foreign Policy captures it correctly, the "Foreign Relations are an expression of the domestic interests" We do all this to attract investment to our country, to open space for goods to enter other markets, for our people to people relations to increase, to allow mobility of skills which benefits countries and parliamentarians to also become ambassadors of their own country.

Opting for AID/ or Assistance:

In relation to the theme of these years, State of the Nation, parliament chose a theme, "Let's deepen Debate South Africa. Part of the contribution to the debate is for South Africans to discuss, debate and express views around our role in the continent in particular.

There is acknowledgement of South Africa's role in conflict resolution, peacekeeping and that we have a strong economy, better infrastructure, strong leadership and some even include a strong army, hence continues calls to participate in various missions in the continent.

They acknowledge, that we as a country still have our own challenges and notable have expressed on addressing the needs of the poor and fighting crime, and in particular violent crime. But are confident that we will win over on the tow pressing issues. They are also warning us, that we South Africa have a tendency of running down our own country.

This expectation and pressure is beginning to expand to include assistance to kick start development and their economic growth. We being asked, "Why don't you also help in the post conflict programmes, to help us towards development, in form of grants, loans and aid?"

For example, during the visit for bilateral relations on behalf of The Office of the Speaker to Cape Verde; an African country with 10 islands on the Atlantic Ocean, were informed, that their country does not have running rivers. No source of rivers exist and their drinking water (bottled) used to come from South Africa, an African country, but since the national airliner, the SAA changed and stopped in Dakar - Senegal on its way to USA, Now, they had to import their water from Europe, Portugal. The SAA did whatever it did informed by the profitability of the route and should no be blamed, but it's decision impacted on the Cape Verde people.

People's Republic of China has donated the building of three dams in between the mountains to capture water during rainy season, (one is completed) not for the purpose of drinking but for agricultural and farming activities. In exchange they have donated a land to China for the purpose of building mega hotels for tourism, which is the biggest economic driver of the islands.

Lastly, the country uses oil for generating of their electricity, as they do not have water for power generation, and with oil prices fluctuating, it has become too costly for them, and a view emerged during discussions that those countries in Africa, like South Africa with coal reserves could in their investment strategies and within NEPAD strategies help in converting their power to coal generation and for them to save on oil for other use.

In Sudan, where South Africa is also a Chairperson of the AU Post-Reconstruction Committee, expectations are high for the South Africa's type of development especially in the South. At government level, we need to strengthen the bi-commission agreement, which should also include banking sector and our two Reserve Banks.
(An issue happened where one South African company, won a tender to maintain bridges across the Nile river, the company couldn't get any loan from South African banks for they bits.)

Let the debate begin, on: "Whether South Africa should consider a policy option for the creation of a fund for development aid, - focusing on Africa to assist with development challenges for the continent and to set a trend for other stronger countries in Africa to follow suit". Currently the African Renaissance fund is just an intervention fund

South African Companies doing Business in the Continent:
South African private sector investment into the continent in areas of retail, mining, construction and engineering should be encouraged. The only challenge is for the business sector to also raise the flag of our country. Whatever they do, the companies should have the humane culture of respect.

Most countries do welcome such investment as it has brought goods and contributing to their economic growth at a faster rate. The issue many MPs we interact with and sometimes they raise in the meetings, is the labour practices which are ignored or not respected, poor salaries and the that most African countries are agriculture driven economies and yet, retail; shops still import from South Africa their agricultural goods.

Government should foster a partnership in the spirit of NEPAD and the vision for a better Africa, and business people to raise a flag proudly as some do.

As I end my speech, would like to call on Parliamentarians, to discuss and report on International matters in their constituencies. As a reminder, our Foreign policy is an expression of our domestic interests. South Africa is part of the global family of nations and South Africa is indeed an African Country. As Ingoapele Madingoane said, in his famous poem of the 80s, "Africa my Beginning and Africa my Ending".

Last contribution is on African Solidarity, Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, to mention a few in their capitals, have dedicated some streets, to our leaders in South Africa and others such OR Tambo, Chief Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Nkwame Kruma, Sam Nujuma, Kenneth Kaunda, etc, should there consider to do the same, in thanking those leaders for fighting colonialism and free Africa, but also for contributing to the liberation of South Africa and Africa. Again, Africa my beginning - Africa my ending! Africa our home.