Hon VF Hlabisa – Leader of the Official Opposition and President of the IFP
TUESDAY 25TH MAY 2021: PIETERMARITZBURG
Hon Speaker, Hon Premier & Hon Members
The 25TH of May 2021 marks a 58TH birthday celebration for the founding of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). It is common cause that Africans across the African continent and in African diaspora communities gather to commemorate and acknowledge the progress that has been made in the fight against colonialism and its legacies. Within the same breath, it is also equally noble and necessary to reflect on the continent’s great challenges of the twenty-first century.
One esteemed African Foreign Minister remarked in an African Union meeting in 2014 and said, “Africa is rich, but Africans are poor.”
For a very long time in human history, this has been the story of Africa. A continent blessed with an abundance of mineral resources and natural riches, yet her children remaining the most least nourished, least resourced and least developed. When our fore-bearers founded the Organization of African Unity in 1963, the main objective was the liberation and freedom of every inch of the African soil. This objective was achieved with the liberation of the last African outpost in 1994 from the chains of Apartheid and colonial bondages, South Africa. Sadly, we have to bear in mind that the peoples of Sahara have not yet been freed from the chains and bondages of their own brothers, Morocco. As Africans of all countries in the continent, we owe a lot of gratitude and allegiance to the ideals of the founding fathers of our African unity and Pan-Africanism
When South Africa achieved freedom in 1994, the OAU changed course and began a new focus of growing the African economy and silencing the guns in the continent. Hence, in 2002, the OAU became the African Union in a big fanfare function that was celebrated in our shores here in Durban, at the Kings Park Stadium. This was the beginning of a new chapter for the countries of Africa.
The African Union put as its mission the promotion of Inter-continental trade. This is not moving at a required speed because of inter-continental conflicts and wars. The African Union put as its main objective the silencing of the guns amongst African countries. This is not happening. Instead, the conflicts in DRC, in Somali, in Ethiopia, the attacks and kidnapping to school children in Nigeria, are all hampering this objective. Recently, SADC has experienced highly devastating attacks by the ISIS to gas line developments in Mozambique. All these are driven by ego-centric and self-centred egos of people who want to grab country’s opportunities of development for their own personal enrichment purposes.
One has to appreciate the recent launching of the African Free Trade Agreement by our African governments. We await the fruition of this agreement with interest. We are looking forward to developments that will promote inter-continental travel in Africa. It is unacceptable that when you have to travel to some countries in Africa, the easiest and convenient route is to travel via Europe or Asia before you come back to that African country. It is unacceptable that African countries resort to importing Western and Eastern ways of life into their legislations and overlook incorporation of their African ways of doing things into their laws. Recently, we have been surprised by the move by our department of Home Affairs to want to incorporate polyandry into our marriage laws. In the African set up of the way of life, this is foreign and uncalled for.
The promotion of democratic principles in African governments has not yet resulted in required fruition. It is common in Africa that you hear of intentions to amend the constitution so as to allow a President who has run his terms to continue contesting for unprecedented periods of time. The rule of law in some governments in Africa is taken for granted. Noncompliance with electoral laws to allow the rigging of elections is something common in Africa. This will happen at the full watch of the Election Observer Missions. You hear such missions issuing statements that elections were free and fair yet they saw that elections were stolen in broad daylight. It does not help promote the African unity when truths are not told by those given powers to be in the forefront.
Hon Speaker, what I am saying is that the principles and objectives of our founding fathers in the African Unity are sometimes highly compromised by the failures of our different governments. These failures are not a result of the inabilities of mother Africa. These failures are human made. They are a result of self-centeredness, greed and no regard for the lives of others. We need a new sense of direction to leadership in Africa in order for Africa to survive. It cannot be that whilst Africa is the breeding ground for gold, cooper, oil, diamond and other riches, yet African women are not able to afford gold jewellery, African cars run out of petrol because of affordability.
KwaZulu-Natal is one of the hot spots of Xenophobic attacks. The IFP is firm and against Xenophobia. Hon Speaker the failure to implement a rule of law-based approach in dealing with undocumented immigrants may lead to an influx of immigrants who will put a heavy strain on the country’s resources, which might be responded to by citizens with another wave of Xenophobic attacks. A ‘wait and see – we will deal with it when it happens’ approach, will not work. Xenophobia is a creeping threat that works against South Africa’s image in the continent. Therefore, preventative measures are of paramount importance before we lose our allies and neighbours. It has been a long standing IFP policy that while compassion is necessary, self-interests and preservation come first. It follows from this that the IFP believes in the importance of recruiting desirable immigrants and advocates a points-for-skills system of evaluation. South Africa should advertise for skilled immigrants and the government should have maximum control over who it allows within our boarders.
As a province, our operations must also be driven by the zeal to want to contribute to South Africa’s fulfilment of the seven new Aspirations that Africa agreed to in September 2014 at the African Union Assembly as ff:
- A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development
- An integrated continent, politically united based on the ideals of Pan Africanism
- An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law
- A peaceful and secure Africa
- An Africa with a strong cultural identity, values and ethics
- An Africa where development is people-driven, relying particularly on the potential of women and youth
When we debate Africa day every year, we have to question ourselves as a province on how much have we been able to do in order for our country to move to the direction of these aspirations. When we do our budgets, when we conduct our oversight, when we monitor the operations of our local governments, when we present our various reports, these aspirations must be our guiding principles and our yard stick to the future.
I thank you.