SA a 'ray of light' in Africa - minister
Cape Town - South Africa is one of the rays of light on the African continent, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said on Wednesday.
"We are on course towards creating a better South Africa and contributing to a better and safer Africa and the world," she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.
"Eighteen years on since 1994, our country is standing tall in the global family of nations."
The department would continue to focus on South Africa's role in consolidating the African agenda, including Southern African Development Community integration and promoting peace and security in Africa, she said.
The department would further focus on advancing South Africa's national interests through the enhancement of South-South and North-South co-operation, and advancing South Africa's national interests through participation in institutions of global governance.
Turning to the African Union (AU), Nkoana-Mashabane said based on the experiences of the first 10 years, the organisation needed to do more on development of the African continent, including fighting and reducing poverty, inequality, and underdevelopment.
Conflicts on the continent had to be eradicated by providing African solutions to African problems, sustainable economies had to be built and continental interconnectivity enhanced through infrastructure to promote intra-African trade, among others.
Further, democracy and good governance in the various countries had to be consolidated, and provision made for people in the spheres of education, food security, health, shelter, and job creation.
The AU also needed to do more to accelerate integration in all spheres, with the regional economic communities as the building blocks, and to advance and defend the interests of Africa in global affairs.
"These priorities inform the contribution that South Africa will continue to make to the programmes and activities of the AU," she said.
Recent events in Mali and Guinea Bissau were a reminder of the problems still existing and the fragility of democracy on the continent.
"In this regard, we are at one with the Ecowas [the Economic Community Of West African States] and the AU in rejecting unconstitutional changes of government and secessionist tendencies."
In the Horn of Africa, South Africa remained concerned about the tension between Sudan and South Sudan.
"We will continue our engagement in post-conflict reconstruction and development support to both countries in the interest of peace, development, and prosperity."
South Africa was hopeful mediation efforts by the AU high-level implementation panel, the AU peace and security council, and the United Nations security council, among others, would yield positive results towards restoring normalcy in that part of the continent, she said.