Madame Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of South Africa and
Chairperson of the Executive Council of the African Union
Mr Amara Essy
Interim Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union
Members of the Executive Council of the African Union
Ladies and Gentlemen
It gives me great pleasure to address Your Excellencies at the opening ceremony of the Third Ordinary Session of this important body of our organisation, the Executive Council of the African Union. I must begin by wishing you a very warm welcome to Maputo, and an agreeable stay among us. As we say in African style: "Please make yourselves at home".
I would also like to take this opportunity to express the sense of honour felt by the citizens of Maputo, and indeed all Mozambicans, to be receiving the grand African family on their native soil, and to be able to bear testimony to a decisive moment in the life of our continent.
It is an honour for us to host the Second Summit of the African Union in our capital city. Here our continent's illustrious leaders and dignitaries will reaffirm their individual and collective commitment to the fight against poverty and the promotion of socio-economic development, two indispensable preconditions for freeing Africa and its peoples from hunger, misery, disease and the conflicts that still endure.
The birth of the African Union, and the adoption at the first African Union Summit held in Durban in July 2002 of NEPAD as its main development and anti-poverty instrument, were historic milestones in the transformation of our continental organisation. They will enable it to meet its peoples' aspirations and respond to the challenges we face on the threshold of the twenty-first century.
Ladies and Gentlemen
I would like to express my appreciation and satisfaction for the excellent work done by the members of the Executive Council of the African Union, and in particular by Minister Zuma in her capacity as Chairperson, since the Durban Summit. Her dedication and devotion to the African cause have been decisive for imbuing the start up of a new organisation with the necessary energy and dynamism. This is the inestimable contribution made by the South African presidency to the process of implanting the African Union's bodies and institutions.
It is therefore our firm conviction that the contribution of the South African government and of Madame Nkosazana Zuma, together with the cooperation of each and every one of us, will continue to be required as we move along the delicate path of consolidating the African Union's bodies and institutions, some of which will be operating from Maputo. Likewise, the management and resolution of the conflicts and crises that are still tearing our continent apart will unquestionably need the commitment of all African countries and peoples to pursuing the goals incarnated in the founding of the African Union.
Peace, stability and democracy are essential pre-conditions for Africa's economic development and social progress. It therefore behoves us all to use the intelligence, wisdom, spirit of unity and companionship that have always characterised us to raise up an African society of peace, harmony and social justice.
I would like to congratulate Mr Amara Essy, Interim Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, and his team on the commitment, diligence and spirit of self-sacrifice they have shown in creating conditions for establishing the administrative machinery of the new organisation. In particular I must highlight the document on the structure of the Commission, terms of employment and their financial implications, which will be considered once again by this Council and recommended for approval by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government.
This is a fundamental instrument for enabling the decisions we take to be implemented, hence the urgency and importance of approving it with a view to the effective implantation and functioning of the Commission.
Distinguished Members of the Executive Council
The agenda of this session of the Executive Council presents us with a major challenge, considering that we have a historic responsibility before Africa and the rest of the world to transform the decisions taken in Durban and other Summits into concrete actions that will give us confidence in following our chosen road: THE ROAD TO THE UNITY AND POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL INTEGRATION OF OUR CONTINENT. THE ROAD TO THE DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRESS OF AFRICA AND ITS PEOPLES.
Economic progress and the well being of our peoples were the ultimate goals of the struggle for self-determination and political independence, which was hard fought and won by Africa's best sons and daughters.
Allow me to seize this moment to express once again our profound gratitude for the unfailing support given by brother countries and peoples to the just cause of our struggle to win our land and the freedom and dignity of our people.
We are now called on to give of our best to win our people's economic emancipation, within the framework of globalisation. In this context, our countries' implementation of NEPAD renews hopes for the sustainable economic development of the African continent, our common home. NEPAD is an African initiative through which we will be able to take advantage of the opportunities that globalisation offers.
However, we need to underscore the fact that our continent is ravaged by malaria, tuberculosis and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The fight against these diseases must not be seen as merely a health problem, but on the contrary as a vital question of our peoples' security and survival. We must all make this fight our own, and thus a battle waged by the whole African family.
Our presence in this room represents an unequivocal will and desire to take up the challenges rapidly and collectively, with the necessary courage and realism. It is our historic obligation to commit ourselves jointly to the re-affirmation of our identity as Africans, and to winning the place we deserve in the world.
In conclusion, I would like to take this opportunity to appeal for determination and perseverance in your deliberations, with the exclusive aim of achieving the essential objectives of this important meeting.
With my best wishes for the success of your work, I declare the Third Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union open.
Thank you very much.
Maputo, 6 July 2003