As part of the process of political transformation we are happy to report good progress in building democratic instruments which make for stable and enduring democracy. These instruments include the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the Human rights Commission, Commission on Gender Equality, NEDLAC, the Commission for the Protection of Language, Cultural and Religious Rights, etc.
Our recently adopted constitution, the supreme law of the land, guarantees the independence of the central bank and the judiciary.
In South Africa we also too aware of the threat to our dreams posed by the scourge of rime in all its guises. We have, through the National Crime Prevention Strategy, committed ourselves to fighting and ridding our society of this scourge.
The challenge facing our democracy and the rest of the continent is to improve the quality of life of ordinary citizens, to increase job opportunities and to ensure economic growth on a sustainable basis.
We have recently launched a macro-economic strategy – the Growth, Employment and Redistribution Strategy (GEAR) – which defines more precisely how we intend to achieve high levels of growth and job creation as important elements of our Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP).
This strategy focuses on reducing the budget deficit, restructuring the public sector and stabilising and restructuring the labour market.
Recognising the importance of negotiation and consensus building on major policy questions, we have created the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC), a trip partite consensus-seeking arrangement between government, labour and business.
Regional security and co-operation
In the Southern African context, the region’s trade and industry ministers are in the process of elaborating sectional policies which will lead to determining common investment strategies.
Indications are that there is a great scope and synergy for building the necessary economies of scale across the region. On such area that lends itself to this possibility is eco-tourism. There is a clear need to invest for example in the tourism infrastructure and general economic and social infrastructure across the boundaries of the individual member states.
The importance of closer regional co-operation also relates to regional insecurity as a result of those matters which adversely affect economic stability and prosperity.
We can cite the following threat posed by the region increasingly becoming a conduit for illegal narcotics trade across the globe. Experience has shown us that countries that become conduits also end up being major destinations of this trade with horrifying consequences on the economy, crime as well as the moral and social fibre of society.
The same thing can be said about illegal trade as it relates to motor vehicles, guns and endangered species. Trade in these illegal activities tend to be interdependent on each other and thus feed the growth and spread of powerful syndicates.
The matters of development and peace in the region is also of great concern. From a South African and Southern African perspective, we have been acting and designing processes that will ensure and sustain development and peace.
The sub-continent is committed to regional economic development and a common security agenda. As part of this process, we have established interstate mechanisms to handle co-operation in the fields of politics and security as well as the combating and preventing of crime.