I say go raibh maith agat to the Chairman for inviting me to attend the committee. It is a history making experience. I take a great deal of pride in the fact that we are doing things which are entirely new. Although I am not the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I have a close interest as chairperson of the arms' control committee, the export of arms from South Africa. It is rather unusual for me to chair this committee because I am a person who is more regulatory. I am not a strong believer in arms' sales but I notice that Ireland is increasingly buying arms from South Africa as part of its process of diversification.
I am closely interested in the development of South Africa in the context of southern Africa and the world. I am grateful to this committee for an opportunity to address its members and to meet so many old friends. I explained to the ambassador who the members are and how I came to know them.
South Africa has good relations with Ireland and we are good friends. I will not use the diplomatic cliché that our relations are normal and congenial because they go beyond that. As Africa takes shape, it is important for Ireland to play a more leading role in this process. Both Governments are keen to strengthen our ties and friendship politically, economically and in new forms of partnership and co-operation. We have to move on from the past ten years to new forms. I am confident this committee will be supportive in this matter.
Later this month, South Africa will end its Presidency of the African Union. It will hand over to Mozambique at the Maputo Summit. South Africa was the chairman of the non-aligned movement and the non-aligned conference was held there. Ireland played an important role in the two major conferences which were held in South Africa, the world conference on racism and xenophobia and the world summit on sustainable development. At present we chair the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. We hope it will be given some teeth. Square brackets are something I learned about when I was Minister for Water Affairs. The idea of square brackets is where there is no agreement. The last time I was at the United Nations, the pages were replete with square brackets. After the conferences in Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg, I think we have passed the time of square brackets.
Ireland is, as of today, a member of the EU Troika and it assumes the EU Presidency in January 2004. Our two countries share close views on many international and political issues. Multilateralism is the bedrock of international relations. As a former teacher of international law for 30 years, respect for international law and for small countries is something I learned from Frank Aiken. Utmost respect for international law is the safeguard for small countries. In a unipolar world where choices are very limited, respect for law and international law and multilateralism must form the basis of inter-state relations for smaller countries such as ours. In his speech to the world newspaper congress last month, the Taoiseach said: "We need a concerted and global effort to address the challenge of an increasingly divided and dangerous world". He concluded: "The United Nations must remain the central pillar of the international order.".
President Mbeki and the South African Government take precisely this view. In his state of the nation address in February this year, the president made the point, and called for respect by all countries of the principle and practice of multilateralism, and for the continuing responsibility of the United Nations with regard to the issues of international peace and security and the peaceful resolution of international conflicts. Recently, the EU presidential declaration was made in the context of weapons of mass destruction. We can debate the issue of intervention in relation to this matter but it is clear that in terms of enforcement there must be a decision by the Security Council.
Breaches of the peace or acts of aggression must be dealt with multilaterally. Our two countries, therefore, must work in close partnership. It is vital that there should be close partnerships to advance this vision of an international order resting on multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations and other international institutions. It is especially important now with the Doha round and the World Trade Organisation which, I understand, will not reach its conclusion in September, at Cancun in Mexico. The Doha round is vital if multilateralism should triumph.
Our countries are also fully committed to bridging the gap between developed and developing countries. We share many similar views on debt, trade, the role of development assistance, support for capacity building and encouraging investment flows to developing countries. As President Mandela said, one has dialogue between friends and one negotiates with one's enemies. That is the same for everyone. We can increasingly act together and not just agree with each other, which is what we tend to do.
I will make some comments on political and economic developments in Africa. For too long, Africa has been viewed as beyond redemption or in Pliny's view: "Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre", meaning in a patronising way that something odd would come out of Africa every now and then. We now demand a fair deal and we are moving towards addressing the challenges that are our responsibility.
The formation of the African Union a year ago, offers a real chance. I grew up with the Organisation of African Unity which was established in 1963. It played a crucial role in the decolonisation of Africa. In the liberation of Mozambique and Angola, Namibia and South Africa, it acted as the single united voice. It is very difficult to find regional organisations acting with a single voice. It served its time and it had fundamental defects in its structure and approach.
The African Union has created institutions to advance African interests. As in the case of Ireland and the European Union, this will involve some pooling of sovereignty. We have set up the African Union Commission and the Peace and Security Council is soon to be established as well as a range of other structures. The Parliament is an important development and South Africa is bidding to have the headquarters of the Parliament based there, largely because we have a most redoubtable Speaker who keeps us in order in our Parliament.
We are an infant democracy. Women are taking a leading role in that they comprise 40% of our Parliament and 40% of the Cabinet. They are represented in the strategic areas of mining, mineral affairs, public service, health, education and foreign affairs. A larger number are Deputy Ministers in the Cabinet. The impetus in Africa is coming from women, which is a good idea.
The terrible conflicts in the DRC, Burundi, Angola and Mozambique, are human catastrophes and have caused enormous damage. One of the lessons there was that foreign intervention is not always benign in these matters, particularly when mineral wealth is concerned. Now, of course, Africa must deal with this as we have dealt with the issue of Mozambique and Angola.
South Africa has played a role as you rightly said, Chairman, to bring an end to conflicts in the DRC. We believe that the movement towards peace and the establishment of an interim government with minor variations is binding by the Sun City agreement that was signed in South Africa. Soon an EU force will be working side by side with South Africans in Bunia. As Members know, we have a few hundred troops in Burundi because we want to seek protection for the political leaders of the negotiation teams and, of course, Mr. Mandela and our Deputy President, Mr. Jacob Zuma, played a very important part in bringing all the parties together in Burundi.
Of course we must tackle causes of conflict in Africa also and enable African countries to respond effectively. The patterns of trade, for example, are vital. I think Ireland has an interest in this. If there is no economic and social development, there will be refugees. That is the iron law of life. So it is in Ireland's interest. Rather than making a fortress Europe of exclusion and denial, it makes more sense to be involved in developing the economies on the basis of African Union, which is a different sort of intervention. We must welcome, therefore, the joint Africa-G8 plan agreed in Evian to enhance African capabilities to undertake peace support operations. However there must be no impression left of great power intervention in these battles.
On economic issues, the new programme policy of NEPAD represents the best chance for decades to advance African economic interests. This is a classic example of multilateralism also. South Africa is very careful to ensure it does not play the kind of role that may be allegedly associated with its economic, political and social power and authority. We are very careful. When I was Minister with responsibility for water affairs, and was negotiating the Lesotho highland scheme, which was the biggest infrastructure scheme in the southern hemisphere, we stood back and allowed Lesotho to make the running. Although we had the capacity, we felt we must ensure there was genuine bilateralism in the relationships.
We in Africa fully accept the need for good political and corporate governance, hence the African peer review mechanism that is now in place. We must recognise that the peer review cannot be a punitive instrument. That is as relevant to Zimbabwe as to any other area. It is to support building up democratic institutions. Europe never tried to be punitive in any case. There was the old fascist government in Portugal for years; there were the Greek colonels. There was no intention in the Council of Europe or anywhere else to take a punitive position and the same must be applied to Africa.
This must be a partnership. Africa needs foreign direct investments. It needs fair trade since free trade is now one of those great incantations of inter-state relations. Free trade must be associated with fair trade. It needs greater debt relief, building on the World Bank IMF heavily indebted poor countries initiative. It is an urgent matter.
I mentioned the Doha World Trade Organisation development round. It is interesting that for the first time a multilateral trading approach said that the next round must be developmental, not simply trading. We want to see evidence of that. The first signs were rather modest at Monterey, when the financial institutions took part in developing an approach in this area, but there must be a sharper understanding. It is important that the European Union and Ireland help to resolve the current impasse, including an agricultural export subsidies issue. However there is an impasse. It may be that the Cancun talks could be a disaster and after Seattle, we cannot afford another disaster.
So the wider point I want to stress to the Government is that South Africa wants to see the EU and Ireland do everything in their power to help us make the AU and NEPAD succeed. President Chirac emphasised this when at the Evian meeting, he invited the heads of states from other countries to the associated meetings. Obviously the dynamics of the European Union should encourage emphasis on Africa.
Ireland's increasing development co-operation role is appreciated by South Africa and Africa. It is important to recognise that Ireland is largely involved in niche areas. The 0.7% target by 2007 could be an example for other developed countries. I understand this was re-iterated by the Taoiseach in a speech to the World Newspaper Congress last year.
I was asked what would be the challenges of Ireland's Presidency of the EU. Certain African issues will be important during the Irish Presidency. These include the EU-African Union relations. I hope it will be possible that the EU-AU summit that was postponed earlier this year could be held during Ireland's Presidency next year. The EU should have an unyielding focus on helping advance peace in the Great Lakes region. Technical assistance will be very important in developing the structures in Burundi and also in Rwanda. The world has largely ignored the blood letting and genocidal behaviour in Rwanda, during which 800,000 people died. Rwanda needs special attention in developing its judicial, court and administrative structures. The world lost an enormous opportunity in 1994 and 1995 by not responding in a meaningful way. I praise the role of Mr. Ajello, the EU special representative, up to now.
As far as Zimbabwe is concerned, it must be recognised that the perspectives in Africa differ from those in Europe. Land is the central issue. Undertakings made about land reform at Lancaster House were not fulfilled. As it wanted huge social development in schools, health and education to overcome the legacy of colonialism, Zimbabwe borrowed enormous amounts of money and had possibly the best educational system in Africa. As colonialism had left a deficient system, it borrowed enormously.
As South Africa has not borrowed a penny from any institution since 1994, we can now embark on our basis with infrastructure development, social development, and social security development a comprehensive social policy for South Africa - possibly the first Third World country that could embark on a comprehensive social welfare system. We did it on our terms.
By 1995 or 1996 Zimbabwe faced an enormous debt issue because it borrowed money, which it used for subsidising schooling, hospitals and very cheap food. After 1995 the paymasters called and that was when the stress and tension came. Quite clearly what has happened in the last four or five years pales into insignificance compared to what has happened in the Congo. Our view is that we persevere. We have been accused of quiet diplomacy. However by its very nature all diplomacy is quiet. Megaphone politics have not worked. It may have sounded very good to impose smart sanctions, but they were a joke. EU member states may have felt good in imposing them but they had no effect on Zimbabwe. On the contrary, they tended to strengthen the position there. Nobody can disagree with the argument that smart sanctions have not worked.
Without a physical intervention in Zimbabwe, for which nobody has called, one finds, for example, that South Africa continues to supply electricity to Zimbabwe. If we cut it off, the country's economy and social institutions would collapse. Our view has been that the troika, which has been working on this issue, is taking the correct approach. The issue of an interim government is clearly central. What kind of interim government will there be? One cannot have regime change as it is an impermissible approach. The most sophisticated approach is called regime legitimacy - the phrase used now - which should be worked out by the Zimbabwean people. In the past three or four days, the possibility has arisen of movement towards greater participation by the opposition.
I end by examining EU-South African relations which are generally excellent. The trade and development co-operation agreement is now provisionally in force and is working well. South African exports to the European Union increased by 24% in 2000 and 21% in 2001. Ireland played a role in solving some of the tricky issues of negotiation of the trade and development co-operation agreement, notably in wine, spirits and levels of access. This did not go unnoticed in South Africa, although, as a lawyer, I noted Ireland expressed a reservation that South Africa should not make Irish whiskey and wanted Irish whiskey to have the same patent rights as grappa. While I drew this to the attention of our negotiators, we do not have the slightest intention of committing ourselves to Irish whiskey.
The Cotonou agreement between the EU and ACP countries is a model of its kind. Let us give new strategic, political focus to strengthening EU-African relations as a whole, politically, economically and in every form.
From a South African perspective, our relations with Ireland are excellent. A decade after the ending of apartheid, we have consolidated our democratic order. While I am aware Ministers do not like to be second-guessed by courts, our constitutional court is playing a vibrant role in determining and advancing economic and social rights by interpreting the constitution. Politicians and Ministers like to decide policy on investment and economic and social rights. The court is not making policy decisions but declaring that there is a constitutionally protected right to education which the Government must advance. In addition, it must develop infrastructure and pursue policies which do not result in higher education or schooling being reduced.
As someone who fought for including economic and social rights in the constitution, I am pleased the constitutional court is performing its functions. We are in the process of establishing a commission on language, culture and religion, a central participative structure and the last of the great commissions. Our human rights commission is an active body and we also have gender and youth commissions. We have what we call agencies to assist in the constitutional order.
As a lawyer, I am pleased that our constitutional system has been strengthened by two sets of local government elections. Incidentally, as we do not have a dual mandate no one can take us to court to request the right to participate in local government and Parliament. We are strengthening local government and investing significant sums in it because it is vitally important. Our next elections will be held next year, the tenth anniversary of our freedom, and presidential elections will also be held.
Ireland exported €73 million of goods to South Africa in 1993. Last year, the figure was €304 million. In 1993 South African exports to Ireland amounted to €16 million, while last year the figure was €111 million. Ireland clearly benefits most from our trading relationship. With our common interests, we can do much more. South Africa is a gateway to Africa which offers major opportunities for increasing world economic growth.
South African and Irish parliamentary co-operation is important. We have a lively Parliament and portfolio committee system, much to the chagrin of Ministers because our portfolio committees are preoccupied with amending legislation introduced by ANC Ministers. We also have committees dealing with women's rights in Parliament outside the normal portfolio system. I understand members of the committee had intended to visit South Africa but the trip was cancelled. It is important to strengthen ties between our Parliaments.
I will raise the question of the beef trade with our Minister for Agriculture as I did following my last visit. Our Minister for Agriculture is a remarkably strong woman. I will also bring to her attention the fact that foot and mouth disease has been extirpated and there are no problems with the Irish beef trade. I thank the committee.