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Source: Department of Social Development
Title: Skweyiya: Regional Social Policy
Opening address by Dr Zola Skweyiya, Minister of Social
Development, South Africa, at the conference on Regional Social
Policy, Sandton Convention Centre
Honourable colleagues, the Ministers responsible for social
development in the SADC region
Dr Sergei Zelenev and all our partners in the UN Department of
Economic and Social Affairs
Members of the diplomatic corps
Senior government officials
Representatives of the UNESCO and other agencies in the UN
I thank you most sincerely for affording me the privilege of
welcoming you here today on behalf of the government and people of
We truly appreciate your presence, as Ministers and officials
responsible for poverty alleviation, social inclusion and
programmes aimed at assisting vulnerable groups in the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) region. This occasion provides
a valuable platform for us to share ideas on the similar and
complex challenges faced by our region and the continent. I am also
pleased to welcome our partners in this dialogue, the United
Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. We are pleased
with the support we receive from the United Nations (UN) family.
The UN Commission for Social Development and the 2005 UN Social
Summit, not only welcomed the New Partnership for Africa's
Development (NEPAD), but also urged the United Nations to support
African countries to achieve the objectives and priorities of
NEPAD. As a result, we continue to work very closely also with
agencies such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and
Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), which remains a significant partner
in all our programmes locally and internationally.
It is our fervent hope that this dialogue will serve to highlight
and enhance the social dimensions of NEPAD, in our attempts to find
common ground on a regional social policy. As we all know, NEPAD's
primary objectives are to eradicate poverty; place African
countries on a path of sustainable growth and development; to halt
the marginalisation of Africa in the globalisation process and
accelerate the empowerment of women.
It is our view that we need to work more vociferously to raise the
profile of, and the delivery, on the social dimensions of NEPAD.
Despite its objectives, NEPAD Action Plans have mostly focused on
the equally critical economic and governance issues.
Social policies which promote social inclusion, within the NEPAD
framework, will assist us to respond to the challenges we face in
the continent, which know no boundaries. We are one people and one
community. It is critical that we have such a dialogue to discuss
how we can deal with issues of migration, social protection,
assisting orphans and vulnerable children, conflict prevention and
management, the impact of poverty and unemployment as well as HIV
It is a reality that the challenges of Africa and the world can
only be met through co-operation across national boundaries and by
the conscious pursuit of common interests.
Ladies and gentlemen, the adoption of the Millennium Development
Goals (MDGs) in September 2000 produced unprecedented efforts to
meet the needs of the worlds poorest. The MDGs have proved to be an
effective vehicle for rallying public support and poverty
reduction. Our deliberations this week will no doubt take us a step
forward towards the optimal realisation of these goals.
The Millennium Summit, which adopted these goals, reiterated key
development objectives agreed upon by various preceding
international conferences and events, including the World Summit
for Social Development. Significantly, the Millennium Summit and
the World Summit for Social Development, places people at the
centre of their own development, in what is generally referred to
as "people centred development".
Also significant is that Goal Eight recognises the need for global
collaboration to eradicate poverty by all, including those in the
public, private and donor sectors. I am pleased that the session of
Senior Officials over the last two days dealt with some of these
issues, which focus on improving people's lives.
Colleagues, we support the decision by SADC that the Employment and
Labour Sector should be revived as it is an effective mechanism for
us to feed into the African Union (AU) Labour and Social Affairs
Commission and the United Nations Commission on Social Development.
These organisations offer a practical realisation of the need for
us to seek collaboration as a region.
Colleagues and all our partners in development, let me reiterate
how pleased I am that you made the time for us to get together for
this critical dialogue, which builds on interactions which began in
1999. You will recall that during 1999 and 2000, SADC Ministers
responsible for social development met to discuss the
implementation of the outcomes of the World Summit for Social
The meeting culminated with the SADC Statement of Intent on
Copenhagen +5, held in Geneva during 2000. The Copenhagen Summit
came up with a programme for social development which culminated in
the Millennium Development Goals. During the special session on the
review of the Copenhagen Declaration, recommendations were made to
the SADC Council of Ministers to consider establishing a structure
that would look at implementing the outcomes of the summit of
social development issues in general.
The SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)
launched in 2004, covered Social and Human development as one of
the core areas of co-operation. In 2004, in preparation for the Ten
Year Review of the Implementation of the Copenhagen Commitments,
the Ministers responsible for social development committed to
ongoing Continental dialogues focused on integrated poverty
eradication strategies, social integration and full
You will also note that we hosted in partnership with UNESCO in
November 2004, the SADC meeting of Ministers responsible for Social
Development. The meeting recommended to SADC's Integrated Committee
of Ministers (IMC) to approve the establishment of the forum for
SADC Ministers responsible for social development. This would be in
line with the amended SADC Treaty Article 12, which mandates the
IMC to create such permanent or ad hoc committees to cater for
cross cutting sectors.
Already, regular direct contact between Ministers, officials and
civic organisations has led to deeper mutual understanding. It has
also promoted the adoption of common goals and harmonised
approaches, the development of strategies and the transformation of
deliberations into practical results. This lays a good foundation
for future work, and makes us optimistic about the way
My dear colleagues, allow me to use this opportunity to reiterate
our heartfelt gratitude on the support we received from you during
the struggle to end the nightmare of apartheid, and in rebuilding a
free and democratic South Africa. We are now working together to
fight an enemy of a different kind, the scourge of poverty,
unemployment, crime and other social ills, together.
I am happy today to be amongst you all who carry the hopes of the
most vulnerable members of our populations. We are filled with
hope, that we can and will win this war against poverty and
I wish you well during your stay in our country, and fruitful
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Social Development
23 November 2006