29 April 2010
South Africa remains committed to regional economic integration in Africa and will continue to promote free trade on the continent, says International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashaba.
Delivering her department’s Budget Vote in Parliament in Cape Town last week, Nkoana-Mashaba said South Africa, as part of the Southern African Development Community, would build on the SADC free trade arrangement achieved in 2008 by boosting regional production capacity and facilitating cross-border trade.
“We also believe the time has come to extend preferential markets across southern and eastern Africa through the Tripartite Free Trade Area that will draw together the SADC and the East African Community,’ Nkoana-Mashabane said.
The East African Community is the regional intergovernmental organisation of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.
Nkoana-Mashabane noted the recent decision of regional leaders to integrate Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa’s Development) into the African Union (AU) and establish the Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency as a technical body of the AU.
The Nepad Planning and Coordinating Agency will focus on the implementation of the AU’s regional integration programmes and projects, while the Africa Union Commission will continue to deal with policy and serve as the secretariat of the AU.
Nkoana-Mashabane said the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament (PAP), operating from Midrand, north of Johannesburg, was a step forward in giving all the people of Africa a voice in the running of the affairs of the continent.
“As provided for in its founding protocol, the PAP has to be transformed from a consultative to a legislative body.
“In transforming the PAP, we will need to take into account its experience and history since its establishment in March 2004, with the view to building a strong, efficiently run and effective PAP at the service of the African people.”
Nkoana-Mashabane acknowledged that a lot still needed to be done to bring about stability in many African countries.
“The gains we have made on the continent have not been without setbacks, especially in the area of peace and security, including the resurgence of coups and other forms of unconstitutional change of government.
“We are unanimous in the African Union on the urgent need for the strengthening of our response to situations of unconstitutional change of government, and for closing loopholes in our existing instruments and mechanisms,’ she said.