26 May 2003
Over 50 African foreign ministers met in Sun City outside Rustenburg last week to discuss, among other things, ways of including the African Diaspora in the activities of the African Union (AU).
The ministers, who constitute the AU’s executive council, the second most powerful organ of the organisation, discussed ways of getting Africans from developed countries such as the US, UK, Germany and France, as well as from developing countries like Brazil, to play a role in the continent’s socio-economic plan, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (Nepad).
South African President Thabo Mbeki, the AU’s chairman, told the assembled ministers that “there are so many of our own, all over the world, who are enthusiastic and willing to make their contribution to the regeneration of their mother continent. This they want to do because their roots run very deep into the African soil.”
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the delegates would not prescribe a uniform role for the diaspora. “The Africans in the Diaspora are in a different situation . some may want to utilise their skills in the development of the continent, and some may want to contribute to Nepad.
“Others can mobilise in the countries where they are for co-operation . solidarity, support and investment,’ Dlamini-Zuma said, adding that Africans living at home and abroad needed each other to help in developing the continent.
Arts, Culture, Science and Technology Minister Ben Ngubane said co-operation between African scientists and his department had already started producing results. “We have already created an information databank with the linkages with all these people,” he said.