Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Online Letter
Dear friends and fellow South Africans,
"We are building the future and, to do that, we need the courage to embrace innovation!" This was the clarion call of German Secretary of State, Mr Hans-Jurgen Beerfeltz, during the ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ), on Monday night.
Some 1200 prominent leaders in politics, business, science and society were gathered at the Concert Hall on Berlin's Gendarmenmarkt to express support for the development initiatives of the Federal Ministry over the past half a century. It was an honour for me to attend, at the invitation of Minister Dirk Niebel, for I have enjoyed a long-standing friendship with the German Government in the pursuit of development in South Africa.
The African continent has benefitted enormously from the steadfast commitment of the German Government through the BMZ. Too often international aid is taken for granted, especially on a continent such as Africa. I have even read articles written by African jurists suggesting that there ought to be an international law entitlement for Africa to receive international aid and assistance from more developed countries in general and from those in the Western world in particular. I do not subscribe to this view.
I am big enough, as many other African leaders are, to say thank you.
I know the frustrations of not often seeing the fruits of the many seeds being planted in Africa through international aid and assistance. The soil of Africa is fertile and those seeds will germinate, even though that process takes longer than in other places.
That is because things in Africa, in order to germinate, need to run roots deep into our soil. This ensures that, once they germinate, they will not be eradicated.
The future will witness not only the fruits of past investments, but also the wisdom in having made them. Africa is the continent of the future, the last to receive the full measure of its developmental potentials. Because of the investments of the past, Germany is uniquely placed to reap the benefits of what it has done in Africa in the past 50 years.
I am a great advocate for forging an ever stronger partnership between Africa and Europe. I firmly believe that the future success of both Africa and Europe lies in greater social and economic integration between these two continents which so well complement one another. The excessive resources of one are the needs of the other, and the immense opportunities in one match the reduced opportunities in the other.
I hope that in the next fifty years we will see Europe and Africa coming together in a framework of genuine partnership, mutual respect and parity, so as to create an area of free economic exchange and ever increasing political integration. This will give Europe the space it needs for its industrial expansion, and bring to Africa a comprehensive framework for its organized long-term development.
I wish to see all African people able to join hands within the mainstream of humanity to provide their important contribution in forging a future world society which will not only be more prosperous, but also more just and humane.
These were some of the thoughts I brought to the table as I participated in the Future Forum on Global Development, which preceded Monday night's ceremony. It was inspiring to sit with 70 international pioneering thinkers and investigate the possible challenges and opportunities in the development policy of the future.
It was also inspiring to hear Nobel Laureate Professor Muhammad Yunus, of Bangladesh, echoing the sentiments I have expressed for so many years about the value of self-help and self-reliance. I was encouraged by his emphasis on government assisting individuals to create jobs, rather than making them dependent of hand-outs. It was wonderful to hear someone of his stature confirming my own beliefs.
In advance of the three day Forum, we were asked to ponder an unusual question; if we were to meet someone from the year 2050, what would our first question be? I entered the Forum asking, "What were the most beneficial - and most detrimental - things we did between 2011 and 2050 towards creating a unified society in which people are truly free of social injustice and poverty?"
By the time I returned to South Africa on Wednesday morning, I felt reassured that the questions we so desperately seek answers to in Africa are being asked in countries throughout the world. There is unity in our pursuit of a future worth celebrating. Even given our tremendous differences and disparities, that unity gives me hope.
Yours in the service of the nation,
Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
Ms Liezl van der Merwe
Press Officer to Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi MP
082 729 2510