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A Pahad: Debate on State of the Nation Address (18/02/2003)

18th February 2003

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Date: 18/02/2003
Source: Department of Foreign Affairs
Title: A Pahad: Debate on State of the Nation Address


PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE: INTERVENTION BY DEPUTY MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, MR AZIZ PAHAD, 18 February 2003

Madame Speaker
Honourable Members
The basic theme of the President's State of the Nation address was the call to all South Africans to unite in the fight to roll back the frontiers of poverty. I hope that as we seek to achieve this noble objective we are also able to roll back the frontiers of ignorance, unsubstantiated statements, and anti-South African politics that permeates the ranks of some of the opposition.

The childish histrionics that we have been subjected to in the last few days calls for a wind of change to blow away "historical relics" that falsely continue to argue that nothing in South Africa has changed and that for many people "life is actually worse." They must be living in "Leonstaat" oblivious to what is actually happening in our country.

Mr President

You identified the tremendous challenges confronting us, and once again critically assessed our achievements and identified our problems. The facts, statistics and future political, economic and social programmes you announced clearly indicate that we are a "winning nation". This is widely acknowledged by many in the world, it is also acknowledged by millions of honest South Africans black and white. Only our rightwing anti-South African ideologists mainly on the DP benches fail to acknowledge this truth. We urge you, Mr President, to stay on course and ignore them.

Mr President

You once again identified the dialectal link between our domestic policy objectives and our foreign policy objectives. We live in a globalised world and our ability to consolidate our democracy and ensure that we become a prosperous nation, which improves the quality of life of all our people, is impacted on by many factors outside our own country.

Later today you will leave to attend the Franco-African Summit in Paris and then the NAM Summit in Kuala Lumpur. Both these important Summits will be important occasions to seek support for NEPAD and a peaceful world. We wish you a good and successful trip.

The cornerstone of our foreign policy will be to end conflicts peacefully, to achieve a new world order that is more equitable and people-centred and to create conditions for sustainable development. This demands that we strengthen and not weaken multilaterism.

As you indicated we seek to make the 21st century the African Century. This therefore demands that this should be a Century of African peace, and of world peace. Today you said we have to "choose sides" in the contest between human hope and human despair, between war and peace. Without peace we will fail in our effort in which we are engaged, to transform ours into a country of hope, and revert to the past on which we have turned our backs, a past of misery and despair."

The logic of this argument should be understandable to any normal and sane person. However, true to tradition the DP, many of whom pretend to be "rocket scientists" have once again exposed their inability or refusal to understand such logic. More dangerously they have once again tried to turn the debate into an anti-South African argument.

I am concerned that they have dangerously argued that our seeking a peaceful solution to the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, in terms of the Security Council Resolution 1441, is anti-American. What objectives are they pursuing by constantly spreading the false allegation that we are anti-American?

Honourable member Gibson is reported to have said that our mission to Iraq was "political tourism and cuddling up to Saddam's dictatorship" and that "as with Zimbabwe the government will start out with the appearance of honest brokers before the mantle eventually slips away and they tell us that the Iraqi-Baath party is an ally like Zanu-PF." The comments by Honourable Leon were as ridiculous and embarrassing. He calls for change in everything we are doing. We will not have sleepless nights, because millions know that his changes are to take us back to the pre 1994 days and they will reject this call with the contempt it deserves.

Madame Speaker, one wonders why we continue to be subjected to such childish infantile disorder?

Mr President

We have constantly said that the objectives of our interaction with the Iraqi government and many other governments in the world was to ensure that we prevent a war that will have disastrous consequences for world peace and stability, and for the development of Africa.

We called on the Iraqi government to accept and fully implement Security Council Resolution 1441. We urged them to co-operate fully with the UN inspectors and we also urged them to satisfactorily respond to the concerns expressed by the inspectors in their reports to the Security Council on 8 December 2002.

Much reference has been made to the South African model of disarmament as being the ideal one. During my last visit we offered to share our experience in eradicating weapons of mass destruction. The Iraqi government has accepted our offer and a team of South African experts will shortly leave for Iraq.

During my visit our delegation also met with the leaders of the UN Inspectors, Dr Blix and ElBaradei and they were highly appreciative of the South African efforts. This view is shared by many in the world.

If the prophets of distortions cared to read the latest report of the inspectors to the Security Council on 14 February 2003, and followed the debate they will honestly admit that much progress has been made. There are still outstanding issues to be resolved, this is work in progress and therefore the South African government supports the call for the mandate of the inspectors to be extended, so that they can successfully complete their work.

Since some of the opposition are driven by the philosophy that "they have made up their minds and do not want to be confused by facts", let me give the House some of the facts;

The Executive Chairman OF UNMOVIC Mr Hans Blix on 14 February 2003 reported to the Security Council that, amongst other things:

The inspectors have continued to build upon their capabilities. The regional office in Mosul is now fully operational. Plans for a regional office at Basra are being developed. Eight helicopters are fully operational.

The inspectors have conducted more than 400 inspections covering more than 300 sites. These were performed inspections without notice, and access was almost always provided promptly.

More than 200 chemical and more than 100 biological samples have been collected. The results to date have been consistent with Iraq's declarations.

The process of destroying approximately 50 litres of mustard gas has commenced. The laboratory quantity of thiodiglycol, a mustard gas as precursor has also been destroyed.

Resolution 1441 (2002) requires immediate unconditional and active efforts by Iraq to resolve existing questions of disarmament - either by presenting remaining proscribed items and programmes for elimination or by presenting convincing evidence that they have been eliminated.

On the issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and related proscribed items and programmes, so far UNMOVIC has not found any such weapons, only a small number of empty chemical munitions. However many proscribed weapons and items are not accounted for.

Significant outstanding issues of substance such as anthrax, nerve agent VX and long-range missiles will have to be resolved.

Al Samoud 2 and the Al-Fatah missiles could very well represent prima facie cases of proscribed missile systems, as they had been tested to ranges exceeding the 150 kilometres limit set by the Security Council.

Based on data provided by Iraq, Al Samoud 2 missiles were capable of exceeding the 150-kilometre range.

At a meeting in Baghdad on 8 and 9 February, the Iraqi side addressed some important outstanding disarmament issues and gave us a number of papers e.g. anthrax and growth material, the nerve agent VX and missile production. The presentation of the papers could be indicative of a more active attitude focusing on important open issues. The inspectors were given a list of 83 names of participants "in the unilateral destruction in the chemical field, which took place in the summer of 1991." The list appears to be useful and pertains to co-operation on substance.

A commission, which had been appointed in the wake of our finding 12 empty chemical weapon warheads, has had its mandate expanded to look for any still existing proscribed items. A second commission now has been appointed with the task of searching all over Iraq for more documents relevant to the elimination of proscribed items and programmes. The Iraqi side confirmed the commitment to encourage the persons asked to accept private interviews, whether in or out Iraq.

A presidential decree has been issued containing prohibitions with regard to importation and production of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The Iraqi government has agreed to the use of the USA U-2 surveillance planes, the use of French Mirage aircraft, and German drones and the Russian Antanov aircraft. The IAEA Director ElBaradei on 14 February 2003 reported that:

The IAEA has conducted a total of 177 inspections at 125 locations. Iraq has continued to provide immediate access to all locations.

Collecting a broad variety of samples, including water sediment and vegetation, analysing them for signatures of nuclear activities.

Resumed air sampling at key locations in Iraq.

Continuing to expand the use of hand-held and car-borne gamma surveys in Iraq.

We will start helicopter borne gamma surveys.

Recently able to conduct four interviews in private.

Iraq has expanded the list of relevant Iraqi personnel to over 300, along with their current work locations.

Iraq also supplied the IAEA with documentation related to questions and concerns that since 1998 have been in need of further clarification.

The Government of Iraq reiterated last week its commitment to comply with its Security Council obligations and to provide full and active co-operation with the inspecting organisations. The IAEA concluded, by December 1998, that it had neutralised Iraq's past nuclear programme and that, therefore, there were no unresolved disarmament issues left, our focus since the resumption of our inspections in Iraq, two and a half months ago, has been verifying whether Iraq revived its nuclear programme in the intervening years.

We have to date found no evidence of ongoing prohibited nuclear or nuclear related activities in Iraq. However a number of issues are still under investigation and we are not yet in a position to reach a conclusion about them.

My hope is that the commitments made recently in Baghdad will continue to translate into concrete and sustained action. SA will continue to ensure that the Iraqi commitment will be translated into concrete and sustained action.

The debate in the Security Council which starts today, and the emergency summit of the EU indicates the complexity of the Iraqi challenge and demands informed and clear-headed analysis and not simplistic and bombastic outbursts.

Only people with different hidden agendas can misrepresent our efforts and seek to discredit them. The DP must answer some burning questions - are the almost 10 million people throughout the world who marched in support of tackling the issue of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction peacefully through the Security Council Resolution 1441 reflecting genuine concerns and fears? What is the opposition's position on war and peace? Are they honest enough to discuss the consequences of a war? How are we destroying multilaterism by supporting full implementation of Security Council Resolution 1441?

What is their real objectives in spreading lies that the South African government is anti-America? We will not be deterred by the dinosaurs of politics sitting on the DP benches. History will judge them.

Mr President

Over the last few days a South African delegation met with a top-level delegation of former Israeli intelligence and security personnel.

We shared our experiences of the South African negotiation process, peacemaking and transition to democracy. We also looked at the continuing challenges and the fears and aspirations of our people.

The Israeli delegation gave their account of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ways of resolving the conflict.

Mr President, your message of South Africa's intensified efforts to have continuous engagements with all the parties to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict was highly appreciated. We are convinced that the meeting, as part of the many initiatives under the Spier process, led by you will make an important contribution to peace and stability in Israel and Palestine.

Mr President

On the African continent, South Africa's efforts to seek peaceful solutions to the conflicts in Burundi and the DRC have made important progress. Soon more troops from South Africa, Mozambique and Ethiopia will go to Burundi to protect the demobilised-armed formations gathered in the various assembly points. They will join the over 7000 SANDF personnel who are already in Burundi.

We can be proud that the presence of the SANDF in Burundi is making a valuable contribution to peace and stability, and will help to reformulate United Nations philosophy on conflict resolution and peacekeeping. The Deputy President's tireless work is highly appreciated.

In the DRC the process of implementing the agreement is slower than expected. We are part of the Third Party Verification team based in Kinshasa which is working tirelessly to deal with the obstacles. We are confident that progress will be made and welcome the Congolese talks which will soon start in South Africa.

We remain concerned about the situation in Cote d'Ivoire, Sudan and Somalia and will continue to support all the efforts to end these conflicts. On all these issues we will ensure that Parliament and the Portfolio Committee are regularly briefed.

Mr President

Once again we have been subjected to hysterical concerns about our so-called failure to tackle the Zimbabwe issue. We remain convinced that the collapse of Zimbabwe will have serious implications for the whole region and especially South Africa. Why would we want this to happen?

Our quiet diplomacy is criticised without any credible suggestions on what we should do more than what we are doing.

Our critics fail to explain what "megaphone diplomacy" has achieved. They fail or refuse to acknowledge that since the political and economic crisis started we have been tirelessly engaged in efforts to help the Zimbabweans to deal with their crisis.

Any honest person, not motivated by hidden agendas, must acknowledge that we have consistently, bilaterally or through SADC, raised areas of concern and sought solutions.

The Commonwealth mandated us to engage with the Zimbabweans to tackle some of these issues. As you have said Mr President, there has been some progress, inter alia, the Zimbabweans have agreed to look at some of their legislation laws on the media; they will also look at legislation that have been described as anti-democratic. The issue of thousands of Zimbabweans of Mozambican and Malawian origin who were displaced because of the land distribution programme is being tackled. They will be given Zimbabwean citizenship. We initiated discussions between the MDC and Zanu-PF. This was stopped because the legality of the elections was challenged in court by the MDC. Zanu-PF will not resume the talks until the court case is completed.

The Zimbabwean government has declared that the land distribution programme is over and admit that some mistakes were made. They have assured us that discussions are taking place with Zimbabwean farmers who lost their farms.

There are still areas of concern that are being discussed and hopefully solutions will be found.

Let me once again categorically state that we reject any suggestion of regime change by force. Also no Zimbabwean has called for sanctions and so this is not an option. We must accept that Zimbabwe is not the 10th province of South Africa.

Sadly the DA is trying to whip up minority fears by suggesting that what is happening in Zimbabwe will happen in SA. This is a very dangerous game, and I urge them not to persist with it.

In the interest of Zimbabwe and the region let us constructively assist all Zimbabweans to jointly find a solution. The crude politicisation of the world cricket cup is unacceptable and deepens antagonisms and delays solutions.

Mr President

In your address you said

As we enter the last year of the First Decade of Freedom, we will heed the lessons of these first ten years and build on what has been achieved, and with renewed courage, we must together approach the Second Decade of Freedom, as one in which the tide of progress will sweep away the accumulated legacy of poverty and underdevelopment. It is in this spirit that we shall prepare for a fitting celebration of our ten years of freedom next year.

The tide has turned. The people's contract for a better tomorrow is taking shape. I trust that all of us will identify with this historic process. Given the great possibility we have to move forward, we dare not falter.

I want to assure you Mr President that our foreign policy will be driven by this vision. We will succeed despite the purveyors of doom and gloom sitting on my left.

Thank you.

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs (http://www.dfa.gov.za)
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