By – SAnews.gov.za
Pretoria – The African continent remains central in South Africa’s foreign policy, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane reaffirmed on Thursday.
“We stand for cooperation and partnership, instead of competition, in global affairs. South Africa will continue to forge closer political, economic and social relations through targeted high-level interactions in Africa,” she said while delivering the department’s Budget Vote in Parliament.
But for this realisation to happen, there needs to be peace, be it in the SADC, Great Lakes, and the Horn or in North Africa.
“Peace shall remain a dream if the continent continues to experience setbacks such as the recent coup attempt in Burundi,” she said, reiterating Pretoria’s condemnation of the attempted unconstitutional change of government in that country.
“We must silence the guns! Africa must be at peace with itself.”
The minister said her department will also focus its medium-term budget on the implementation of Africa’s Agenda 2063, a five-decade plan aimed at realising the socioeconomic transformation of the continent.
This will also be a central feature of discussions at the African Union Summit in June, to be hosted in Johannesburg.
The summit will also see the ratification of the SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Agreement.
This, according to Minister Nkoana-Mashabane, will pave the way for the Continental Free Trade Area negotiations due to be concluded in 2017 – a step which will ensure that Africa trades more and more with itself.
The Minister said to realise the full benefits of continental integration, democracy must be deepened to give people the voice they deserve.
“We should govern our countries in a manner that is progressive, inclusive, with the people always first. Our constitutions have to reign supreme to ensure the accountability of our leaders and political certainty.”
The minister also took a swipe at the slow pace at which the continent implements policies.
“We are not short of policies. It is in action that we are inadequate. Our continental organisations are in place. What they need however is more effectiveness, sharpness in programme delivery, and finding innovative sources of self-financing for budgetary self-reliance,” she said.
The minister also committed to working with other organisations to G20, BRICS, IBSA, IAEA to promote strong, sustained and inclusive economic growth.
“We must continue to demand and work for a fair global economic order.”
She also turned her focus to the reform of the United Nations and UNSC reiterating that the 70th Anniversary should be year of reform.
Africa must be represented in the permanent category of this council, she said.