Transcript copy: Speaking notes for Home Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma during media colloquium ahead of African Diaspora Summit
21 May 2012
Thank you ladies and gentlemen and to all panellists. And thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to come and say a few words about the African story and how it is told. Maybe I want to begin where the last panellist stopped, who tells the story? I think that telling the story should be our collective responsibility, media together with us all. So we must tell our own story in the way we want to tell it.
I want to use a simple example, I am surprised that we have allowed ourselves, as Africans to be defined by others. Every time I read about ourselves as Africans and I read about Anglophones, Lusophones, Francophones I get very angry because who of us has English as a mother tongue.
English is not my mother tongue, French is not anyone's mother tongue, Portuguese is not anyone’s mother tongue. We all have our own mother tongues African language mother tongues but we have allowed ourselves to be pigeon holed into these categories. What is Anglophone about me? I am not Anglophone, I am a Zulu speaking South African. And I speak a bit of other African languages.
I learnt English because it is a tool to communicate with the rest of the people who may not understand Zulu that is all it is. But we have allowed ourselves to be defined by these labels, even as we talk about our own continent we cannot have an Anglophone, or a Francophone what is that? Really? But it’s the way we have allowed our story to be told and defined and now we are continuing to tell the story by how someone else sees or defines us.
We are Africans and that is what it is. We have different mother tongues and none of these is what and how we allow ourselves to now be defined. So that is just one example of if you do not, as a lion, tell your own story, the hunter will tell the story.
And if we look at the continent, no one, except maybe ourselves and perhaps palaeontologists, talk about Africa being the first continent able to support life and human life as well Africa being the cradle of humanity. Instead Africa is the dark continent and other things. So, we must tell our own story and our continent is a continent, as we speak now, of more than a billion human beings and that of that billion human beings, the majority is made up of young people.
And what does this mean?
We are a young continent, a young population we are not an aging population. So if we are young population, what should we do so that this works for us, in our favour? We must make sure those young people are healthy and skilled and this then gives us enormous possibilities in our continent for growth, not only economically, socially and culturally and that young, skilled and healthy population that is able to contribute to the growth of the continent, will become consumers so it means our market will be huge.
Even as we talk about this, or I read about it, there is no reflection on how Africa can take advantage of this. Rather there is reflection on how others can take advantage of this market. But of course, there are certain things we need to do to be able to take advantage of this.
If we are to take advantage of this, I have talked about skills, education and healthcare for our young people. But we must also be connected. Why is it that I cannot take a train to Ghana and enjoy the beautiful scenery and landscape of Africa. Our continent is one of the most beautiful continents and I can say this without fear of contradiction because I have been to almost every country in Africa. I know this and Africa is one of the most beautiful continents.
How many of us at holiday time, when we have a few extra pennies, back our bags with our families and say we are going on holiday somewhere in Africa. It has everything, there is nothing it doesn’t have and more but because we think, in the way we have been conditioned to think about our story, there are only a few exceptions to this.
Generally you hear about people travelling to this continent or that continent. Our continent is a continent of all possibilities, really. But the important thing is to be connected if we were connected by road, air, rail, it would be much easier to do.
But it would also mean we could trade amongst ourselves. We talk about trading but trading means goods and services must be moved through the continent how do we do that? We are surrounded by oceans and seas two oceans the Atlantic and the Indian oceans, the Meditteranean, the Red Sea but none of us even have tankers or ships that carry goods none of us.
We do not make them, we do not own them and we believe we can be competitive if we ask other people to come and carry our goods right on the southern tip of Africa. There are certain things we must look at so our story can be as positive as our continent and what nature have given us.
People talk about the scramble for Africa I don’t want to go there suffice to say that we have all the materials we could need, that are needed in the world, collectively uranium, platinum, gold, cobalt we have it somewhere and what do we do with it we either leave it in the bowels of the earth and keep boasting of how rich we are because we have materials. There is no use as long as it remains in the bowels of the earth. We must create wealth from it.
And when we take it out, what do we do we take it out and ship it to other countries. Why is Antwerp known as the City of Diamonds? They do not have a single diamond mine in Belgium or in the neighbourhood it comes from here but none of us is known as a diamond mecca or a diamond centre. So, telling the story is not just about telling it, it is about living the story. How do we allow this to continue happening?
We all know that Switzerland is the centre of chocolate but where is their cocoa? Do they have a single cocoa patch, even a little one? They do not. But can we afford Swiss chocolates can our children afford them but cocoa comes from here. So, what are we going to do about it. This is the story. I know Ghana is trying but still this is not enough.
Even the Lagos Plan of Action said we should co-operate in terms of our mineral resources, exploration, mining, beneficiation but how many of us really beneficiate what we take out?
The African continent has more than a quarter of the world’s arable land but our agricultural output is 10%. How many of our countries on the continent import food not from within the continent but from outside but we can afford to grow enough food in its diversity within our continent to export it to other countries as well. But it is important to make sure that even as we grow that food, we can distribute it amongst ourselves. So must really be connected.
We talk about these corridors east-west, Senegal to Djibouti, but why is not happening? Let it happen now. It cannot just remain as a song.
As a continent, one of the areas that absorb and create jobs is tourism. We have everything that tourists want. It is up to us to improve and make sure we can have tourists coming to our countries. And if you look at tourism across the world, the largest number of tourists to any country come from its region, yes – whether it is France, Asia, the US, their biggest number of tourists come from the region.
But what about us. Even in South Africa, when South Africans think tourists they think European and Asian tourists, and we want these, but really the largest number of external tourists come from our continent and this is how it should be. More than 60% of our external tourists come from the continent.
But if you stop any South African on the street, very few of them think the majority of tourists come from our own continent but this is the story we are not telling. The majority think we are waiting from American tourists, British tourists, Japanese tourists, Chinese tourists. Or is it because we are the same so we cannot differentiate and we can tell a Japanese with a clicking camera. But we should tell that story.
I was told I should not be long. But I think this century I think it was somewhere declared as the African century but as we count the decades, we should be able to say what has been achieved in each decade, with the century being the century of the African continent.
Look at the African sky, we have the sun in abundance and everyone is telling us that the sun provides clean, sustainable and renewable energy. What are we doing to get all our scientists and technical people to see how we can utilise this sun so we can save our forests.
This is the story we should be telling. We do not even need to get scientists from elsewhere we have enough scientists all over the world that come from this continent. At some stage the Heads of State had discussed we should get them to come back but have centres of excellence not necessarily that a South African should come back to South Africa or a Nigerian to Nigeria but we should have centres of excellence in different countries so they can grow and exercise their scientific knowledge in a centre of excellence because no one country can be an expert in everything.
We know there are Africans who are even working in space technology in the US. They are Africans but because they do not have an area where they can grow here, they reside and work in the US. We should be looking at and saying how do we as this continent make sure these scientists can come back and add value to the things we need to do as this continent.
And of course, when it comes to the environment, our continent is one of those with megadiversity and we must preserve this. But we must preserve it as our own and not for other people to come and patent this as their own.
The last thing I want to touch on is that, Africa besides being a young continent, has a majority of women on this continent. And as democrats, we must make sure that women are part of the life of this continent they are part of the advances of this continent, in everything, including journalism. I do not know how many women are editors, perhaps I can count them with one hand. This is the story we must be talking about what are we doing to ensure there is equality, even in journalism.
And because women are not telling the story, you can tell how women are portrayed in the media, even in journalism. We are portrayed, I will not go to that length, but you know how you portray us, including advertisers who want to sell us things. How many men are there when a nice sporty car is being advertised they drive it but we advertise it. Why?
Because the car that is being advertised is something that can be owned and you can have it, it is yours. If you want to drive it at 03h00 in the morning you can do and no one is going to stop you because it is yours. And you associate this with us. And then we wonder why there is so much gender based violence.
Of course, if you are an object that is owned by someone, they can do anything to you. You can do anything to your shirt, because it is yours. And we are always associated with possessions that people own and can do anything to.
But the media we are not saying it must be a praise singer for any government, but it must inform. You know, journalists are part of us, part of this continent, they must criticise the leadership when something is wrong, but they should also tell the right story when there is something good to be told. And they must also anticipate the potential, talk about it because they are part of it.
They cannot sit there and talk about the continent like they are not part of it. And this why we give them all the freedom they need, because we want them to be able to do this. But also, as women we must be given our place on the continent, in science, business, academia, in every aspect of life and when we talk about gender equality, some people want to distort this and say it is against men, it is a movement against men it is not.
Why would we be against men, we bring them to this earth, we nurture them and make them great why would we be against them? We will never be. They are our children. You are our children as men and women. In fact women are the ones that ensure the continuation of the human race. We conserve other animals but we do not do this for humans because women ensure that the human race continues.
So, if we have been able to, over millions of years, to ensure the human race continues, why are we suddenly inferior to the very human race we have helped to produce. But somehow when these men are old, having been brought up by women, they believe they are superior to women. This cannot be. These are the stories we should be telling and they are not anti-men stories, they are pro-human stories, pro-humanity stories.
I will stop there. Thank you.
Interaction between Minister Dlamini Zuma, panelists and guests at the colloquium
Thank you very much. As a Minister I have had a lot of experience with the media. Perhaps I should share some of my experiences. I probably agree that the editors are probably really the ones who run with what is said. In 1996 I was campaigning in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). As you know, the Western Cape and KZN, did not have their local government elections in 1995 they had them in 1996. So I was campaigning there. Some of you who are old enough, will remember there was a lot of attention of Serafina II.
I was out campaigning and I was quite surprised that the journalists were really interested in my campaign train. I went to Hammarsdale first and I had a few more areas to which I wanted to go. I went to my first ward committee and the people came, the candidate came, they said everything they wanted to say, they did not say anything about Sarafina and we discussed.
The journalists came and said they wanted to talk about Sarafina so I asked in what context – within the context of the campaign or generally because if generally then they should come to my office and we would discuss. But if they want to talk about it within the context of this campaign, then they should ask what the citizens are saying and he said no, my editor says the only story is he wants is about Serafina.
He then said he would go with me to the second ward we had about four wards to cover. Sarafina did not come up and he said he would go to the third one. Sarafina did not come up. We went to the fourth one and Sarafina did not come up. I then asked him why he did not call his editor and say Serafina was not coming up but there were other stories to be told. He then said the only story his editor wanted was Sarafina. So I replied he would get that in my office.
Here I am campaigning and I want to answer anything the public and community want to talk about. So they followed me the whole way and there was no story. They did not publish a single line about the campaign because all they wanted was the story of Sarafina.
In fact they were at odds with the population. In fact, at one school, to the disappointment of the journalist and the editor, there was one group who was doing their own enactment of Serafina because they wanted to show what they had learnt. And so, they went back and did not report a single word. The agenda they were pursuing was not reflective of the public’s agenda.
I have many stories like this, even during the anti-smoking legislation. I have lots of experience with media because the majority were not on my side. They were on the side of the tobacco companies but the public was not on the side of the tobacco companies.
I do believe we should only tell the positive stories. I believe we should tell the stories and if we tell the stories, there will be positive stories. There will also be negative ones. The mindset at the moment is that if you are telling government stories, they must be bad stories.
My view as a minister is if I really want to communicate I like doing it through the radio because the listeners are listening to me. I do this most of the time because you are telling the story Ukhozi and others are very good at this because you tell the story and then they give listeners an opportunity to interact with me. I love that because you are telling the story and you are hearing the story from the public.
If you tell the same story to the print media, they misinterpret it and by the time you read it, you no longer recognise it. That is my experience. I do not know if you recall when I began in this portfolio, Radio 702 gave me an hour on the first Thursday of every month and I took this up. We continued until they said that some of the ministers were complaining that they were giving me too much airtime.
But when the story was negative about Home Affairs, they gave me time and I took the opportunity. It wasn't about whether the story was negative, I wanted to know what the public was thinking and what we could do to improve on this. This helped quite a lot. Metro FM did it a few times and so on. Now that the story is not as negative, I don't get the same hour. But it is ok.
Ok, maybe let's give the challenge back to the media, give us the slots and let's see if ministers refuse them, then you can come back to me and tell me that minister’s are refusing these slots.
And other other thing about this investigative journalism, is very good when I was in exile I was sitting listening to television and there was a programme there were some British people who had come to South Africa to work and they were making a lot more money here than they would have made in Britain. And of course, some of the work they were doing was not rocket science. It was the kind of work ordinary Africans could do.
The journalists that were following them they were now living in nice houses and their conditions were better than they would have had in Britain. And the journalist was talking to other white people about how they could afford to live in such nice houses and why Africans couldn’t do this. And they were talking about how lazy we are and how we don't like work.
So this journalist went to one of their houses one evening they were having a braai. And again he asked the same questions and they were saying, these guys are very lazy that is why they are not getting anywhere in life. It is not because of apartheid. As they were talking, they were drinking and during this, the cameras would cut away to the kitchen where this lady was cooking and preparing the food they would later eat as well her serving them. And then they would continue about this. And then in some house they will say the same thing and show the person working in the garden while the owners were sitting around.
They were showing that we could not be described as lazy. Perhaps we were not given the kinds of jobs that would earn us a lot of money, lazy was not a word that could be used to describe us. If we were lazy we wouldn’t be bringing up all these children, cooking, cleaning, etc. The journalist did not say this, but he would let the camera and the footage tell the story for instance someone sitting and drinking saying how lazy the ones who were working are. So, you can tell the story in many ways, but tell the story. This is all we are saying.
Now, coming to the AU question now the story that I hear a lot of, is the story of South Africa. Now, I don’t know how South Africa as a country is going to run the AU and how South Africa, as a country, has become a candidate. This what the discussion is about. This is carried in the majority of articles about South Africa and its attitude.
Now if the story is about South Africa, I haven’t heard what is so great about Gabon either. Maybe they should say what is good about Gabon and what makes it ok for Gabon to field a candidate and not South Africa. Maybe at that level, if they say they do not want to talk about the candidates, they should talk about the countries.
But is the story that is being told the story of two candidates or is it the story of one candidate from one country and that candidate is a problem. So, I’m not going to say whether it is being told well or not, I am just commenting on what is being done.
Equally if a candidate come from South Africa or not, when that country is in the African Union, they work on the AU agenda which is determined by the continent all 54 countries collectively. No one can say they will pursue their country's personal, narrow agenda at the AU. It is not even possible to do it, even if you wanted to unless you do not understand the AU.
I think that the discussion that is ongoing is very irrelevant. We need to ask why we have taken that line – why are we talking about South Africa and not the candidate. Why do we say South Africa is bullying the continent and such things.
The term of the position is four years. After four years, the African Union sends out correspondence to all member states saying if you want to field candidates because the terms of office of the Commissioner and Deputy Chair is coming to an end. Countries are asked to field candidates by a particular date if they wish. Why is that communication sent if it is sacrilege to send a candidate as a country. Why?
I don’t hear anything about this, I just hear about South Africa, South Africa.
Now, South Africa was sitting here minding its own business and we were told from southern Africa because this has a history and a context – there are five regions in the AU and southern Africa, unfortunately some journalists do not differentiate between SADC and southern Africa there is no SADC in the African Union there is North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, West Africa and Southern Africa.
So some are saying that it is not true that SADC has never held the chair. There is no SADC in the AU. There is a Southern Africa and Salim Salim belongs to East Africa. The belonged to it then and he belongs to it now. There is no one from North Africa as well that has had a candidate.
Southern Africa has tried in 2002 in Zambia, there was a Namibian candidate and there was a deadline like in January. We voted six times and then there was nothing in the rules as there are now of what to do if the majority could not be reached. So we voted about 6 times for the two candidates and at the end, southern Africa said we would withdraw our candidate it was not in the rules as now but we said we would withdraw our candidate because we did not want a deadlock as we have now. And we let the other candidate stand alone and southern Africa voted for that candidate.
Then there was a discussion that southern Africa should field a candidate the next time the next time Southern Africa put up a candidate that came from Zambia. And when Zambia put up a candidate we were told that this candidate was unknown in the continent, she had not working in the continent and she was a weak candidate. Then Gabon put up a candidate. Of course the candidate was well known because he was a foreign minister. So southern Africa said that was fine, they could try again.
In Malabo, Southern Africa was informed that if it put forward a credible candidate, the Gabonese candidate would not contest the position for a second term. So I am saying that South Africa and southern Africa was minding its own business and this was the information we received. Southern Africa then decided to send one of our best candidates so we were not told the candidate is too weak or not known. So, what is the answer now this candidate is too strong, the candidate must go to the United Nations.
SADC, it was not South Africa who said we should put forward a candidate so southern Africa asked who is a candidate amongst ourselves so that the candidate would not be pushed aside. So they managed to convince South Africa. I was minding my own business at Home Affairs and I agreed that if southern Africa says I must go there, I would because I am a disciplined cadre of southern Africa. Now, I don't hear this.
Its like we are trying to push Ping away. Ping did finish the term he was elected for. He has not been elected for a second term. He if fighting for this term like anyone else but of course, he has the advantage of being the incumbent and depending on how well he does, will show the confidence of the of the member states in his leadership. But it cannot be that South Africa is a bully. There is a new election.
Issued by: Department of Home Affairs
21 May 2012
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