Speech by His Excellency Joaquim Alberto Chissano
President of the Republic of Mozambique President of Frelimo Party
His Excellency Antonio Guterres, President of the Socialist International;
His Excellency Jacob Zuma, Vice-President of the Republic of South Africa and Vice-President of the ANC, our Host;
Distinguished Members of the Presidium,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to begin by expressing our profound appreciation to Comrade Vice-President Jacob Zuma and, through him, to the People and Government of South Africa for the traditional warm welcome extended to us since our arrival and for the excellent conditions created for the success of this Meeting.
We would also like to register our sincere gratitude to the President of the Socialist International for his leadership and dedication to the cause of our movement. We trust that he shall continue to serve our organization with the same determination and commitment, and we wish to assure him of our unconditional support.
We would also like to commend the Secretary-General for his role in co-ordinating our activities and ensuring that the Socialist International remains relevant on critical issues.
Ladies and Gentlemen
On the 11th day of November, a tragedy ocurred in Paris, France. The world lost a great hero, a brave combatant and a charismatic leader, the best son of Palestine.
Brother Yasser Arafat left us that day but his deeds and legacy shall continue to inspire the valient struggle of the Palestinian people for freedom and self-determination.
While commanding the armed liberation struggle, brother Arafat also led the search for the peaceful settlement of the conflict opposing Palestine, the Arab world and Israel.
On behalf of the PLO and the State of Palestine, he led a diplomatic campaign that resulted in the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967 which called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. Subsequently, the General Assembly reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the palestinian people to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty, and established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People, which remains a vital instrument in the struggle.
Brother Arafat led the negotiations that have taken place in different parts of the world that culminated in the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement of 1995. Following this Agreement, brother Arafat became the President of the Palestinian Authority and he decided to return to Gaza to take charge of the new Administration.
However, these efforts did not produce the desired conclusion. We saw brother Arafat visiting every corner of the world searching for a lasting solution to the Middle East conflict. Such efforts were undermined by Israel’s decision to impede the Palestinian leader to leave Ramallah.
Under most difficult conditions in Ramallah, the leader continued to show his unflinching determination to lead his people to freedom and self-determination.
Brother Arafat’s identity with the people and his close interaction with them made him an adored leader of his people, an admired and respected leader throughout the world. The emotional farewell that the palestinian people gave him bear testimony to their love and admiration.
The Mozambican people share the profound shock of this untimely death of their hero and they extend their solidarity to the palestinian people. They have always considered the struggle of the palestinian people as their own.
We are deeply convinced that the Palestinian People will overcome all obstacles and transform the present loss and pain into renewed efforts in the fight for their inalienable rights and the establishment of a sovereign and independent state.
It is the duty of the Socialist International, side by side with the Palestinian and Israeli parties, to redouble its efforts in order to rescue the peace process and the existence of two friendly States, the State of Palestine and the State of Israel thus ensuring a lasting peace and stability in the region.
We should do in a way that such peace and stability be extended to the whole Arab world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This Meeting has a particular significance for my Party and myself personally. As we gather here to discuss "The Progressive Agenda: The Priorities for Our Movement Today", the Frelimo Party is, once again, offering to the Mozambican people its vision of the past, present and future of the country. On the basis of its deeds and wealth of experience accumulated since the time of the liberation struggle against colonialism, Frelimo is seeking another mandate to serve the supreme interests of the Mozambican people and Nation.
On 1 and 2 December this year, the Mozambican people will, for the third time in a multiparty setting, exercise their legitimate right to choose their President and Deputies for the National Assembly, our Parliament. The people have shown in the past, and they are showing now during the political campaigns, a great sense of maturity. They will know how to choose. Frelimo’s identification with the aspirations of the people and its proven record give us confidence on the victory.
As you know, and for those who didn’t know, I have decided not to stand for re-election in the forthcoming election although the Constitution allows me to run for another term of office. After long years of service in leadership positions, I have considered it wise to ask my Party to allow me to continue the struggle from a different vantage point. This is, therefore, a special occasion for me, for, this is the last meeting I attend as a Head of State.
I have been privileged to enjoy the support and collective wisdom of the Socialist International over the years, and the movement has been a source of inspiration behind the successes my country has scored thus far. I cherish the moments I have shared with all of you.
As leader of FRELIMO I will continue to do my best for the success of our common ideals within the Socialist International.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is appropriate that at this Meeting we focus our attention on what should constitute our movement’s priorities today. It is equally fitting that we include in the discussions of Panel, the challenges of building common responses for the African people through the African Union, the way forward to empower women on the basis of the Beijing Platform for Action as well as the challenge of fulfilling the commitments of the World Summit on Sustainable Development. These issues are vital and intertwined.
Any debate about our movement’s priorities should take us back to the Declaration of Principles we adopted at our Twenty Eighth Congress in Stockholm in 1989. Indeed, the validity of the principles of freedom, justice, solidarity, democracy, human rights and peace as a basic value is as unquestionable today as it was then.
In that Declaration we identified critical factors for shaping the Twenty First Century, namely Political and Economic Democracy, the Role of Men and Women in Modern Society, a New International Culture for Dialogue, a New Model for Growth, Solidarity between North and South, and Culture and Society. These are the factors that can sustain our individual and collective action as we address the challenges of today and tomorrow.
The eradication of absolute poverty is the greatest challenge of our times and, as such, should be placed at the top of our priorities at national, regional and global levels. The condition in which the majority of the people live in the world, particularly in the developing countries, is inhumane and unacceptable at a time when the advances of science and technology allow more and better production of goods and services.
The realization of the gravity of the situation led to the adoption of the Millennium Declaration in which world leaders collectively committed to specific goals to be achieved, the most salient of which is halving poverty by 2015.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) not only endorsed the Millennium Development Goals but also provided a framework for implementation. The Summit went beyond the aim of eradicating poverty and offered guidelines for action to generate sustainable development of the developing nations.
The Summit recommended among other actions:
The establishment of a world solidarity fund to eradicate poverty and to promote social and human development in the developing countries;
The development of country-owned poverty reduction strategies, to promote the empowerment of people living in poverty and their organizations;
The promotion of women’s equal access to full participation, eliminating all forms of violence and discrimination against women and improving their status, health and economic welfare;
The delivery of basic health and education facilities;
Transfer of basic sustainable agricultural techniques and knowledge, natural resource management, to small and medium scale farmers and rural poor, including through multi-stakeholder approaches and public-private partnerships;
Combat desertification and mitigate the effects of drought and floods; and
Increase access to sanitation to improve human health and reduce infant and child mortality
It is clear, therefore, that our movement has a role to play in building the political will required of governments to fulfil the commitments they have entered into both at the Millennium Summit and at the WSSD.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our success in addressing the priority action of eradicating absolute poverty will be judged by the degree of change that we will be able to effect in the least developed areas of the globe. The African continent is one such area.
The African Union and its programmatic vision, the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) offer a unique opportunity for a concerted action in support of the continent’s efforts to generate accelerated economic growth and sustainable development.
The African Union is a new organization that seeks to take Africa to new levels of co-operation and integration among African countries. The newly established organs of the Union, namely the Peace and Security Council, the Pan-African Parliament, the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, together with a fully functioning Commission are showing the determination of Africans to take charge of their destiny by preventing, managing and resolving violent conflicts that still remain in some countries of the continent and to involve all relevant actors in the search for solutions for their problems and challenges.
NEPAD is a common vision of all Africans to build smart partnerships within African countries, within sub-regions and within the continent in order to generate a balanced and integrated development of Africa through the mobilization of the region’s wealth of human and natural resources. NEPAD seeks to build mutually advantageous partnerships with all those beyond Africa that are interested in serving the interests of the African peoples in the first instance.
The United Nations have taken important steps for a system-wide co-ordinated support to NEPAD through the Office of the Special Advisor on Africa. Other partners such as the G 8, the European Union, the Nordic Countries, China, India, Brazil have adhered to NEPAD’s goals, and they are working with Africa to ensure the success of NEPAD. Like us, Africans, they also believe that through NEPAD Africa may succeed in fighting poverty and generating sustainable development.
It is worth noting that a number of countries in Africa have been scoring significant successes in economic growth and development. Mozambique is proud to be among them.
The stability that we have enjoyed since the restoration of peace in 1992 has allowed us to dedicate our efforts and resources to the development of the country while consolidating democracy and our political, economic and corporate governance.
The Mozambican economy has continued to grow at an average rate of 8% in the past six years, which has allowed us to make headways in the fight against absolute poverty, which was reduced by 15% in the same period. The challenge remains huge, for we still have 54% of population living in absolute poverty. Compounding the situation is the challenge of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Tuberculosis and other endemic diseases.
However, we are convinced that, with the Absolute Poverty Reduction Plan, better known as PARPA, we will continue to make significant progress. National strategies, plans and programmes to combat HIV and other diseases are also being implemented.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since the times of the national liberation struggle, Frelimo has been consistent in defence and promotion of the rights of women and their emancipation. After the proclamation of independence, Frelimo has continued to promote women’s rights through political work and the adoption of relevant legislation. We have always been conscious of the vital role of women as proactive agents participating and contributing towards the development of the nation.
As the Party in Government, Frelimo has continued to introduce institutional reforms, adopting policies, strategies, plans and programmes that are consistent with the objectives set in the Beijing Plan of Action.
In 2000, we established the Ministry of Women and Co-ordination of Social Action to lead the co-ordination of policies geared towards empowering women and related social action.
Gender equality is adequately reflected in the PARPA and the Five-Year Development Programme for 2000-2004. They mainstream gender approach in sectoral development programmes and they envisage specific interventions to rein-force the rights of women.
A National Plan for the Advancement of Women was developed in 2002 outlining areas of critical concern as envisaged by the United Nations General Assembly, namely:
Women, poverty and employment;
Education and training of women and girls;
Women, Health and HIV/AIDS;
Women’s rights and violence;
Women in power, in decision-making and in the media;
Women in Environment and Agriculture; and
Institutional Mechanisms for the Advancement of Women.
In order to ensure the operationalization of the National Plan, general guidelines were developed and gender units and focal points were established in a number of Ministries.
The recent adoption by Parliament of the Family law is yet another milestone in protecting and promoting women’s rights. The Law offers safeguards to women in terms of their rights in marriages, inheritance and other related pro-visions. It criminalizes domestic violence. The Law is in line with the social and cultural context of the country as well as with the Constitutional and international principles.
We are succeeding in promoting women’s rights and their role in society such that we now have 31% of women in Parliament, 26.6% in the Political Commission of Frelimo Party, the highest organ of the Party, 30.7% in the Central Committee. These numbers are gradually increasing.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude my statement by reiterating my firm commitment to the principles, goals and ideals of the Socialist International. Our movement has not been found wanting in the search for solutions for the challenges facing humanity. It is incumbent upon us to define the course for success in the challenge of fighting absolute poverty and generating sustainable development and prosperity for all. Together, with all these, we cannot but strengthen our struggle to fight POVERTY, reinforce the United Nations System and its principles, to bring the discussions on the World Trade Organization into a successful and just outcome, to bring about solutions to the DEBT problem through its complete cancellation. Peace, Democracy and Development must feature as the three different aspects of the same principle, which must continue to guide our struggle. We have to win over the challenges to create a New World Economic Order.
Let us, together, build a world of peace, dialogue, tolerance and dignity for all men and women.
I Thank You