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A Meeting with Thabo Mbeki, President of Republic of South Africa

September 12, 2002
Council on Foreign Relations


September 12, 2002
Washington, D.C.

Carl Ware [CW]: Well, good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and thank you all for coming. My name is Carl Ware, I am a member of the Council, and I'm currently co-chair, along with Vincent Mai, of the Council's Africa Policies Studies Committee. First, I'd like to welcome President Thabo Mbeki here to the Council on Foreign Relations this evening. Mr. President.


Mr. President, your visit here with us comes at a most opportune time, as the Council launches its fund-raising effort for the new chair in Africa Policy Studies. It's the only chair ... and we're not here to solicit your funds, (Laughter), but your partnership. It's the only chair of its kind in the United States. And like the new partnership for Africa's development, it will join in the new era of African renaissance.

Your leadership, Mr. President, continues to inspire us in our endeavors here in the United States. I'm proud to say that we're more than halfway towards our goal, and it's okay if you all applaud that statement. (Applause) And we'll look to people in this room and our colleagues in Washington D.C. for all of the help that you can give us because it's members like you who no doubt understand the need and the importance of this new Council initiative.

The Council's Chair in Africa Policy Studies is designed to promote the increased commitment of the Council itself in promoting diverse partnerships in Africa. The Council believes there is a challenging opportunity for us to address all of the needs, the many needs that confront Africa today.

There are three important domains of needs that we will focus our attention on. The first is under-development, the second is governance and sustainable democracies, and the third, public health issues, particularly the spread of HIV AIDS, the pandemic that is wreaking havoc on this continent. The Africa Chair will address these challenges by seeking to accomplish three main goals.

The first is to mobilize Americans and others who are skilled in ... and are interested in Africa. The second is to involve new and talented people in African affairs. And thirdly, to expand the general knowledge of and interest in Africa, among the foreign policy community and the wider American people. And so we encourage each of you, each and every one of you, to become actively involved, actively involved with us as we pursue developing partnerships through this new pioneering initiative. And now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct honor and pleasure to invite to the podium our distinguished presider for this evening, the former U.S. Secretary of Treasury, Robert E. Rubin.


Robert E. Rubin [RER]: President Mbeki asked me why I didn't have a name tag. I said, they didn't want to acknowledge I was here. (Scattered Laughter) Any event, let me make a few housekeeping announcements and then a very brief introduction. Firstly, let me welcome Bob Orr, who's in Washington with the Washington members of the Council, and we will turn to them during the Q&A session.

Secondly, let me remind you that everything that's said this evening is on the record. And thirdly, let me say, and most importantly, that tonight's remarks have been designated the David Rockefeller Lecture, and that is a lecture award that is made every year to a distinguished African, either from in government or out of government. And it recognizes David Rockefeller's enormous involvement with the Council, and also his great interest in Africa. Now, to our speaker for this evening.

I first met President Mbeki about twelve or thirteen years ago, through some friends of mine who were looking to ... the South Africa that would exist, the South Africa beyond apartheid, and it was clear at that time that South Africa would face many challenges, and it was equally clear that Thabo Mbeki was a man of enormous talent, who could provide great leadership in meeting those challenges.

My own view is that a successful Africa, politically, economically and socially is enormously in the self interest of the industrial countries, including the United States. And that the industrial countries should be far more actively engaged with Africa, to effectively deal with the complex issues that must be dealt with for Africa to achieve that success.

As all of you know, for the future of sub-Sahara Africa, South Africa is absolutely key. There have been great accomplishments in South Africa, and the potential in South Africa is enormous. On the other hand, there is also much to be done to realize that potential. No one is better equipped to discuss with us the issues facing South Africa and indeed the issues facing all of Africa than the enormously respected President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki. Mr. President, we welcome you.


President Thabo Mbeki [TM]: Thanks a lot, Bob, and Carl. Let me ... we've got 20 minutes, don't we? Okay. Because eight ... ten minutes after eight. (Scattered Laughter) Let me first say thank you very much indeed to the Council on Foreign Relations for giving us this opportunity to come here this evening and thank you to everybody for coming. Frank Ferrari gave me the list of people who had said they were coming, and I got a bit intimidated. (Scattered Laughter) If I stammer and stutter a bit, you will forgive me, it's because the audience is so intimidating.

I have a speech, which I'm not going to read. It's a good speech, a very good speech. (Laughter) The World Bank in the year 2000 posed an important question and said, can Africa claim the twenty-first century? I thought it was a rude question. But a question that indeed we needed to answer. And certainly our view was yes indeed, Africa can claim the twenty-first century. And that meant that we're to take on particular responsibilities in our affairs, to justify that claim. People who have been dealing with the African continent here would remember that in all these years, almost 40 years, that we've had the organization of African Unity, its focus has been on the issue of the total liberation of the African continent.

And I focused in particular on South Africa. So you had in this country very, very strong anti-apartheid movement, but the same thing happened on the African continent. Whatever went wrong on the African continent, military coups and all sorts of things, the cohesion of the continent around the issue of the liberation of South Africa never faltered. But there was also an understanding that you needed to deal with that matter, of the total emancipation of the continent in order to create the conditions for the continent to deal with issues of development. And I think it's a tribute to the peoples of Africa that indeed they stayed very faithful to that particular agenda.

And as I was saying, it didn't matter what was happening in particular countries, that commitment to ensure that we ended apartheid as this particular representative of a past of something that South Africa was trying to come out of, that loyalty to that particular agenda was sustained, whatever the difficulties. So South Africa becomes free in 1994. So we celebrate, it's a good day, good moment. Nelson Mandela. And the whole world loves us. Very interested in what happens here, after this great moment, but a very ... an important ... a question of great importance to the African continent, what happens afterward?

It seems to us that that particular victory told the challenge then to translate into reality what the continent had been saying for many decades. That we needed to get rid of this remnant of colonialism and white minority domination in order to create the possibility and the space to deal with these particular challenges, of African development. And as South Africans we felt that there was a particular burden. We having in a sense held back the rest of the continent from dealing with those challenges of development, felt a particular burden on us to contribute something, to dealing with this new agenda, given that this old agenda had in fact been completed.

And so we thought ... why don't we make a proposal to the continent to say, thank you very much for the solidarity and the action that was taken, to help liberate ourselves? That's done.

Why don't we then take this next step to address these continental challenges of development? It's out of that thinking that the new partnership for Africa's development emerged. And as we looked at the question, we're saying to ourselves, one great advantage we have is that we will come last(?). And coming last means you can sit nicely, freely, to criticize everybody else. They were wrong here, and they were wrong there, and they were wrong everywhere.

You can play at being wise. But there were certain lessons that were quite clear; that were coming out of the history of the African continent, from the time of the liberation of Ghana, in 1957. When the World Bank, as I was saying, asked the question can Africa claim the twenty-first century, it said some of the things that the African continent had to address in order to claim the twenty-first century as an African century, would be to improve governance and dissolve conflicts, to invest in people, to increase competitiveness and diversify economies, to reduce aid dependence and strengthen partnerships.

We agreed with the World Bank with regard to those. So what happened was that we thought it would be important that we talk strangely, in the first instance, to the developed world. And say to the developed world, Africa has to enter a new period, when it's got to overcome these challenges of poverty and under-development. But we need your support, real, genuine support. There are things that we must do as Africans, but in order to succeed, we don't need you as enemies. So we spent quite a lot of time talking to everybody. And fortunately everybody around the developed world agreed and said, fine, we accept the proposition, what do we do next?

And so we said, well, what we do next is that the Africans must sit down and say what do they mean by a response to meet the challenges of poverty and under-development? We'll do a program, we'll do a plan, as African-Americans, and then come back to you. Everybody accepted that. At the time, President Clinton was President of the United States and Bob Rubin was sitting in places where he probably sits today. (Laughter) And everybody, European Union, the Nordic countries, Japan, everybody, the World Bank, the IMF, the IFC(?), WTO, and they all agreed that we should indeed try this, so we then came back to the African continent and gave a report and said, we have done this, as South Africans.

Understanding that for four decades, the continent had said, once we freed the continent of colonialism, we have to (Inaudible). And because of that, we've asked everybody and everybody's on board, but now we as Africans have to address this question (Inaudible). And everybody agreed. And this was at a meeting of the ... summit meeting of the OAU(?), in Togo, in Lomay(?), in 2000. This is a bit of detail(?), we were going to go to Tokyo, Japan to meet with the G8, we were going to meet in Okinawa that year. President Bouteflika of Algeria and myself had been asked to make the presentations to the G8 about the debt issue on the African continent.

President Obasanjo was then Chair of Nigeria, was then chair of the G77, and had been asked by the G77 to make particular representations to the G8 about matters of (Inaudible) G77. I was also Chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and asked by the Non-Aligned Movement to make particular representations to the G8 about particular matters. The result of which was that you had these three African presidents who would go to Tokyo wearing different caps.

So what we proposed to the summit meeting of the OAU was, why don't we ask these three, since they are going to be dealing with these issues of development, why don't we ask them to constitute a group that would put together the program of action for the continent dealing with these challenges of development? Everybody agreed.

So as you can see it was entirely accidental; nothing to do with our capacities. That's where this particular leadership of the new partnership for Africa's development emerged. But in the year before that, '99, the question had been raised, principally by Colonel Kadafi of Libya, who had said the liberation of South Africa has created the possibility for us to take this concept of African unity further than it was at that particular point.

Starting from the same base, Africa needs better integration, Africa needs unity. This matter has been on the African agenda since the nineteenth century. Given that we've completed this task of the liberation of the continent, why don't then we move this one step forward, and it seems to us that that was correct as well.

It is out of those processes that have been born the African union and the new partnership (Inaudible) development. And what are we saying? What we are saying with regard to both of these, is that Africa has a particular experience of a negative kind. It's an experience of military coups, absence of democracy, tiny little economies that are in fact state economies. All manner of things of this kind which haven't worked, and what it meant is Africa falling further back, extraordinary levels of instability, deepening of impoverishment, and inability to meet these things that the World Bank spoke about when it said, can Africa claim the twenty-first century?

And so we said, well, this is our actual experience. Change is needed. But of course I'm sure that all observers of the African continent would have seen that during the nineties, the continent was already responding to this challenge. So we have an African union, which is set up by law. It's an interesting process. We approved what is called a constitutive act of the African Union. Once that law was approved, it had to go to all the African parliaments, to be legislated into force. Our parliament of South Africa looked at it and (Inaudible) all sorts of views, and it was approved, number of ratifications came into force. And that constitutive act says many important things.

We were setting up the African Union according to this law: there must be respect for democracy, there must be respect for human rights, there must be all of these commitments to this Africa that we're trying to build. So this African Union is committed to this perspective. When we did the new partnership for African development, for Africa's development as the Social and Economic Development Program, precisely because of the history and our experience on the continent we said, these are among the first matters that you must address. We create these conditions for development, these issues of peace, of stability, of democracy, of popular participation, of the rule of law, all of these matters not because somebody else in the world says so, but because our experience tells us that we've got to address these matters.

So they become part of the new partnership, and then we said, what are the critical, the key areas that we need to look at, in order to achieve this development? And of course the first and central part of this was that what we are talking about is, in the first instance, a partnership among the Africans. So when we say a new partnership for Africa's development, it's an African partnership.

What do we do as governments, as civil society, as trade unions, as business, and everybody, to meet this common challenge? And what do we do in partnership with the rest of the world? So here's a program, we said there are many critical areas, but from these other areas, and these issues that deal with issues of good governance and all of this, the conditions that make for development is stability(?), what areas do we focus on?

Infrastructure development of all sorts, human resource development, education, health, matters of war time environment, all manner of issues, our interaction with modern technology, what do we do about that? What do we do about a critically important area of the capacity of our governments? Talk about the South African experience, you can get absolutely free drugs, donated here-there(?), to deal with the health challenge. Without the health infrastructure, they become useless. Can't dispense them, can't deal with the patient who's got to deal with the ... take these drugs. Health infrastructure is not there. That's ... it's capacity.

Energy is critically important… what are the energy needs, how do we meet them? And you look around, are the people there to do an energy program for this region? They aren't.

I was told a very sad story a few weeks ago, of an international inter-governmental organization, which has to negotiate important (Inaudible) with the developed world, trade being one of the issues. And I was told that the secretariat of the developing world depends on their interlocutor, the person they have to negotiate with, to prepare their negotiation positions(?). So they prepare the positions and they say, you the developing world, when you negotiate with us, this is what you must say to us. Because there's no capacity there to do that.

I'm saying that critical questions like this, the vision is good, I'm sure. It's very precise, it's very correct, with regard to the areas of focus. But part of the heritage is that we have to build the capacity ourselves as Africans, to implement this vision which we ourselves have elaborated. This challenge, because correctly there is sensitivity that when we say this program is African growth, and African owned, it's not a matter of patriotism or nationalism, it's also a matter of a commitment, since the thing comes from us, we must take responsibility for its success. If it fails, we can't blame somebody else. But do we have this capacity? To do this?

I'm mentioning this as one of the challenges. But since we've answered the question, can Africa claim the twenty-first century? Since we've answered that question in the positive, in the affirmative, then indeed we must solve these problems. The last thing I have to say, because I'm now at 22 minutes, (Scattered Laughter), is what's been exceedingly encouraging is that the developed world has indeed responded very, very favorably to this initiative.

I was saying to somebody today that when we went to meet the G8, which includes European Union, in Canada at Kaninafsky's(?), at the end of June, to look at the detailed implementation of the new partnership, (Inaudible), having been in (Inaudible) with them for twelve months, when we arrived there they said they believe that they have a hundred ... at least 109 specific action plans, covering a whole range of areas, all this (Inaudible). Well, when I did my own counting, I'm not (Inaudible) by any means, I just (Inaudible) my arithmetic is the best, when I did my own counting, there were 120 action plans. Very specific, but the whole range of matters.

And what that suggested is that we've now got a responsibility as the African continent, to give the detail to those action plans, and the developed world is ready to respond. That's where we are. (Phone rings)


Thank you very much.


RER: Mr. President, thank you very much. I think that gives us a very good framing and we now have some time for some questions. We'll start with Washington, if Washington is connected.

(Background Conversation)

RER: They've left? Mike tells me they've left. Okay. Yes, ma'am. (Phone rings) We'll take a few questions here, and then we'll switch to Washington.

Lucy Komisar [LK]: Lucy Komisar. I'm a journalist. It's ironic that two of the countries that are richest in resources, Angola and Nigeria, are poorest as far as the people are concerned, and that's because the people running the countries have for decades stolen them blind. There are some NGOs led by a group in London that are now demanding that the international oil companies say what they pay, that is, they make it public what kind of money they're giving to these countries for the oil that they're taking out. Because that's where the money has been stolen. Some of the oil companies have accepted, some of them have not, particularly some of the Americans ...

Moderator [M]: Ma'am ... (Overlap)

LK: ... what do you think? What do you think should be done? Should the oil companies say where they pay, and what they pay?

M: Publish.

LK: Publish, sorry. (Inaudible), you're involved in that. Publish what they pay.

M: Which side is George on? (Scattered Laughter)

LK: The right side. The good side.

TM: We agree very much with the needs for good corporate governance on African continent, affecting both domestic (Inaudible) and foreign (Inaudible). I know George Soros has raised this question, I got his letter on this matter. And I thought one of the good things that happened was that ... at the World Summit for Sustainable Development, just concluded in Johannesburg, this particular matter came up. Yes indeed, we agree.

It's important that we must have good corporate governance, as I'm saying effective both domestic and foreign (Inaudible). It's critical because part of the paradigm of under-development on the African continent has been particular kinds of behavior, even by African business people, who have sought as much as they could to take capital out of the continent for whatever reasons, to corrupt political systems, and to have nice villas in the south of France. That's part of the struggle we've got to wage in order to succeed with this process of the regeneration of the African continent, so I agree.

M: We'll switch to Washington just for a moment. Bob, is there anybody there who'd like to ask a question?

Bob Orr [BO]: Indeed there is. If I could ask her to please come to the mike.

Laurie Fizpagado [LFP]: Laurie Fitzpagado is my name. Mr. President, thank you for your remarks. I have a question regarding your views on the potential repercussions on Africa, the effect on Africa of a U.S. military action in Iraq.

TM: Laurie, we ... when I spoke today at the United Nations, I said that our view is that the matter of Iraq needs to be dealt with by the United Nations. I was very pleased that President Bush when he spoke said the U.S. government would come to the Security Council, on this matter. And approach it in the context of decisions that had been taken by the Security Council with regard to Iraq. I think that's a correct position.

First of all for the U.S. to come back to Security Council and not act unilaterally, and secondly to put the responsibility on this (Inaudible) lateral organization to take a matter of this kind. To take a decision on a matter of this kind. We are interested indeed that the decisions taken by the Security Council should be implemented, and would therefore support the outcome of the process of the Security Council to deal with the matter of Iraq. What will happen, we have to depend on what the Security Council will decide.

LFP: Thank you.

M: We'll take one more question from Washington, then we'll come back to New York. Bob, is there somebody else there?

BO: Yes. Just one moment.

Kenneth Bacon [KB]: Mr. President, Ken Bacon of Refugees International. You talked very compellingly about efforts to promote stability, to stop poverty and to keep Africa from sliding further back as you put it. One country that seems to be going in the wrong direction is Zimbabwe.

What advice are you giving President Mugabe about his economic and government's policies, and are you afraid that further instability in Zimbabwe will create problems in South Africa and throughout the southern African region?

TM: We are very much interested in the resolution of the problems that are facing Zimbabwe and have been for a number of years. One of the issues affects the land. I think everybody would accept this, but there is indeed need for land redistribution in Zimbabwe. That particular matter is not at issue. The issue is how it's done.

So we agreed with the Secretary-General of the United Nations some time ago that he would bring in the UNDP, the United Nations Development Programme, to work with the government of Zimbabwe on the detail of that so that you have a credible, viable, proper, correct process of handling land distribution within the context of the rule of law. That (Inaudible) also these other questions. We discussed the matter again today with the Secretary-General and indeed he says he's pursuing that. So, that's a way we would like this particular matter to be dealt with.

The U.N. will give us a lead on this. The broader matters affecting Zimbabwean society, the politics and so on of the society, and we have thought that it was important that the Zimbabweans must give the rest of us the lead about these matters, and therefore said to the ruling party and the opposition party can't you people get together and discuss your problems? Deal with everything and anything and tell us, the reset of the world, what we do.

So, they agreed. The process of negotiations started. They asked us, they asked (Inaudible) Nigeria to participate in negotiations. Negotiations started. The opposition party, perfectly within its rights, decided to take the matter of the elections to court. So that matter is before the High Court of Zimbabwe. So the ruling party said, well, let's wait until the outcome of that to see what happens with regard to the negotiations.

So, we will await the outcome of that particular process. But that was intended to get the Zimbabweans themselves to grapple with the many, many challenges that they face.

Last question with regard to the economy. We have for a number of years interacted with the government of Zimbabwe to try and deal with the economic challenges that face that country. But part of the problem - it's a more global African problem also - you couldn't really deal with those economic questions without a stable political climate conducive indeed to dealing with those issues. There's a kind of sequence of that kind, but I'm talking about bilateral approach between ourselves and Zimbabwe.

We have interacted with Zimbabwe many times about many questions; the rate of inflation, foreign exchange rates, what you need to do to resurrect the economy of Zimbabwe, and there are many questions like this, but you can't achieve progress without a resolution of the political problems there.

So, there's the continuing engagement later this month being led by the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, as the Chair of the Commonwealth. We are having a meeting with John Howard, President Mobassa and myself and President Mugabe, again to look at the entirety of these issues to see what we can do in order to address that matter of instability and the more coherent Zimbabwe response to the problems they face.

BO: Thank you. Yes, sir.

Donald Shriver [DS]: Donald Shriver, the Union Theological Seminary. I believe that your government has a balanced budget, which is an achievement. But I also understand that some 800 million Rand are in that budget for reparations to those victims who appeared before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What is your government currently planning to do about reparations?

TM: The legislation that established the Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified two types of reparations. It said there must be urgent and immediate reparations, and then said there must be final reparations. When they got to the final reparations, quite correctly it said that those reparations must be determined on the basis of the complete report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I'll explain why that particular distinction.

So what happened was that the TRC, the Commission, when it submitted its interim report to the government indicated what needed to be done with regard to the interim and urgent reparations. The names of people and all that. So what we did was we then responded to that: particular people needed health services, they needed education, whatever other support. So that's what we're doing.

The final reparations are important as final reparations because what is outstanding, has not yet been submitted by the commission to the government, is a report by the Amnesty Committee of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Now, the Amnesty Committee is a committee that dealt with people who came and said yes, indeed, I did wrong things. I am responsible for gross violation of human rights, I've killed so many people or whatever. It's only when that Amnesty Committee report becomes available that you have the knowledge, as far as the TRC is concerned, of the full extent of the damage that was caused in the context of the TRC act.

So, that report has not yet been submitted. It's held up in the courts. It was challenged. When that report is given, then the matter of the final reparations will be determined. What we decided to do as a government is to say we will put what in reality is an undercharged(?) figure. We'll put an undercharged amount of 800 million Rand there.

We don't know when the TRC is going to present its final report, but in the event that it presents its final report in the middle of the financial year, we must not say there's no money to begin addressing the final reparations. So, we said we'll vote this money is entirely arbitrary. So, we are expecting the TRC before the end of the year to make a presentation of the final report. That will enable us then, the government, to assess indeed what is the extent of the final reparations on the basis of the report. We don't have to wait until the beginning of the next financial year before acting on it. We will use whatever resources are there and then deal with this matter more permanently in a new budget, given the knowledge that we would have had from the submission of this.

So, at the money part, there's a difficult question.

We started this process, which is why you have Bob Rubin here, who engages in struggle to free himself and to free his people. It's a voluntary act, the process of which he loses a leg. (Laughter) What monetary value to attach to that leg? (Scattered Laughter)

It's a real problem because you have many, many people, and I'm talking about thousands of people who decided not to go to the TRC because of this because they said we engaged in struggle not to be given money. We engaged in struggle in order to free ourselves. It demeans me to be told that there's a money (Inaudible) value that attached to my contribution.

It's a particular challenge, and I'm saying there are many thousands around the country who are saying, well, when did the TRC (Inaudible) results of these problems we did not want, that by the end we must be paid for having fought for our own freedom. The particular challenge and therefore what we are saying is that what we also need to do is to address what the TRC itself described as symbolic reparations, not financial.

And by symbolic reparations, they meant things that you have in this country. There are people who lost their lives in Vietnam. They must be recognized - here are their names - on a national monument, which is honored and respected and so on. It's not money. But it says what needs to be said to this person who says I didn't engage in struggle as a mercenary. I don't want to be paid. Don't insult me.

So, that's the whole range of this matter that we're addressing plus reparations to communities, because in reality, who in South Africa, certainly among the black people, who in South Africa can you say was not a victim of apartheid? Nobody. So, in saying that, you then also need to go to communities and to say this development process, this community hall, the scholarship for a child who comes out of your community is part of the price of reparation. So, that's the response to the matter of reparations.

BO: Yes, ma'am.

[Audience]: Thank you very much. There has been some coverage here in the United States regarding, I believe, your government not condoning an HIV/AIDS drug that was shown to prevent the passage of HIV/AIDS from the mother to the fetus, which I may have wrong. But I was just wondering about how that could be, given the nature of the epidemic and the widespread impact it's having on your people.

TM: The particular drug you referred to was provisionally licensed by the South African licensing authorities, the (Inaudible) Control Council. And the reason, as I understand it, that they gave a provisional license is because there were a number of questions that were not answered in the applications: questions of safety, questions of resistance (?) and they asked of the pharmaceutical company that it should provide the information within a year. Because the licensing authority, they must be certain about this particular question. Again, as I understand it, I don't know. It's well over a year now and the information has not been provided.

The same company applied for the use of that drug for that particular usage to the FDA here in the United States. The FDA asked the same questions as the South African licensing authorities asked, but what about these matters?

The pharmaceutical company was not able to provide answers to those questions and withdrew the application here in the United States. That drug is licensed in the States for multiple therapeutic use. It is not licensed for individual use for this mother to child transmission because these particular questions have not been answered. And indeed what happened is that these two licensing authorities, the U.S. and the South African ones, they started talking to each other and one of the questions that arose was that they needed to get back to the study that was used by the pharmaceutical company to justify the applications because there are question marks about all that.

So, the company withdrew the application in the States, so it's not licensed here. The South African company licensed it provisionally and the provisional licensing was because of the same questions that the FDA asked. So now, given all these developments, the South African licensing authorities are looking at this thing again. So that's the history about the licensing matter.

What we then decided to do, given the information that was being communicated about the efficacy of this drug in terms of mother to child transmission was to say that rather than sit and wait for the conclusion of all of these problems, why don't we do something to try and answer the questions that the pharmaceutical company was not answering.

The consequence of which was that we agreed to a whole number of trials around the country, (Inaudible), to find answers. One of the answers to this is a question that deals with feeding of babies because the directions require that, once you give the drug to the mother and child, the mother, for a number of months, should not breastfeed.

Now, the question again arises for a country like South Africa - it mightn't arise here in the United States - is what happens in a situation where you have a poor mother who doesn't have the money to go and buy the food in a shop because she can't breastfeed. Where does the money come from? And since this food has to be cooked and boiled in clean water and so on, what do you do in circumstances where there isn't any clean water and there's no electricity? Even if this mother were to find money to buy the formula food, how would she prepare it?

So, we've been looking at all these things. Trial work is going on now, looking at these questions in order to see because it becomes quite clear that apart from dispensing the drug, to deal with the matter of mother to child transmission, which must be carried on the state budget. So, you've got to make a conscious decision. We are therefore making the drug generally available, knowing what the consequences are. So, we are involved in those trial sides to try and answer ... um, I'm citing one question among a number which the pharmaceutical company has not given, for which reason there was no licensing here, for which reason there was a provisional license in South Africa. Some other countries out there also refused the license for the drug because of the same problem.

So, that's the issue. As you refuse (Inaudible), there's an attempt to deal with outstanding questions which has fallen on the state system which normally would have been directions that would have appeared in the leaflet that goes with the drug which says contraindications like this, handle it like this, dah dah dah dah dah, it's not there. We are trying to deal with that in ourselves because of the urgency of the problem, and that's what is happening.

M: Thank you, Mr. President. Bob, is there somebody in Washington who would like to ask another question?

BO: Yes. Julius Coles.

Julius Coles [JC]: Thank you. Julius Coles, Africare. One of the things I think everyone's agreed upon that the NIPA(?) document is a very good document. It describes Africa's problems in general very well. Nevertheless, one of the criticisms of this document is the small attention given to the pandemic of AIDS. What does this portend for the future of the implementation of that document?

TM: Well, I wouldn't agree with that. There's a whole section ... we decided to discuss this and agreed on it, not just the smaller committee but at an OAU summit that the matter of health was critically important in terms of turning the continent around. The matter of AIDS is indeed one of the principal health challenges that is in the document.

We worked very closely with the World Health Organization to elaborate that health plan. It was again part of the (Inaudible) process, we had agreed that there was no need for us to try and invent things that had already been invented, and naturally the World Health Organization had been dealing in detail with this question of the health condition of the peoples in Africa in detail for very many years.

So I am sure that any notion that the issue of AIDS is not contained in the health section of the NIPA program is wrong. It's factually not correct. Certainly, the whole matter of AIDS, malaria, TB, infectious diseases, other diseases, children's diseases, prenatal diseases, these kinds of diseases of the disease profile on the African continent is what's informed that health program, and indeed I am sure that you will see that this is one of one consequence of it, is that the commitments made by the G8 with regard to the health questions deal with the matter of the AIDS thing. I am sure that the view that this matter is not dealt with is factually incorrect. It certainly is very much integral to the health program of NIPA.

M: We'll take two final questions. This gentleman right here.

Claude Ericsson [CE]: Mr. President, it is nice to see you again. Claude Ericsson, the Associated Press. Bob Rubin said he met you 12 years ago when you were planning and dreaming of a post-apartheid South Africa. Of your dreams and plans of the time, apart from the obvious, the end of apartheid, what has given you the most satisfaction in terms of having happened perhaps faster than you had expected? And what are your biggest disappointments?

TM: I think the most exciting thing on the African continent is the images of a consensus about some very simple common basic things. This is what I am talking about - peace and stability and democracy and so on. Opposition, corruption. I think that's very exciting. What happens practically, you see, a person like myself, when I pick up a bit of courage, you know, it gives me the possibility to say to my fellow heads of state that you are misbehaving. (Scattered laughter)

And it is not my view. I am interpreting what we have agreed, what you have committed yourself to. I think that's very, very good. We've agreed to establish a peer review mechanism. The basis of the peer review mechanism is a decision that we have taken ourselves. So we have taken these decisions, so we need to take the next step to say that we agree that we must be assessed as to whether we are implementing the decisions we have taken. So, we need a peer review mechanism. Agreed? Agreed. It's so decided.

It's very good. I think it gives the possibility for all of us to hold one another accountable. And I think that's critically important because the resolutions are okay, but to translate them into something real, you need to move beyond a good resolution. I think that's a very, very positive thing.

Not a disappointment, but as you do what the World Bank says, reduce aid dependence and strengthen partnerships. Part of what that means is that indeed when we in southern Africa say water, clean water, is critically important, but also water management is critically important. Can we elaborate a program that will address these matters?

Then you run into problems. The capacity in fact to elaborate those programs. And you can see the President of the World Bank, (Inaudible) and I attended a meeting with him some years back, and he said at that meeting "The period of viceroys from the World Bank is over." Because what the viceroys did, they came and they said "This is the nature of your problem, this is the solution to the problem, this is the money we're going to give you." And if you said "No, I don't agree with your diagnosis," they said "Well, you don't get the money." (Laughter)

And so they did everything. And it might have helped. It might have helped. I don't want to deny that. But one of the things it did is that it disempowered the recipients of that help. And it's a real problem and a disappointment. But I think as a consequence of this thing that the World Bank itself says we must move away from, dependence on aid, and that new definition of a relationship between the poor and the rich which is not a relationship of donor and recipient, of benefactor and recipient, but the relationship of partnership.

The partnership gives an obligation to the point to contribute something to the partnership, not just to receive. The problem. That's a disappointment.

M: Final question, the gentleman back there.

Tilden Lemelle [TL]: Mr. President, Tilden Lemelle, long-time member of the Committee on Africa and the Africa Fund. I say that for historical purposes because of the thrust of my question. As you know, the ACOA was founded at the request of Walter Zazulu.

What is your response to the criticism made by people like Dennis Brutus and today I heard on a local radio station representatives from NGOs of South Africa who say that what's happening today, given South Africa's economic leadership, particularly in the southern tier, is really a coverup, a way to give legitimacy to the old threat that many of us in the anti-apartheid movement were concerned about and that is South Africa's economic domination under the apartheid regime of African economies in the southern tier in particular.

What is your response to those who have spent so many years fighting for majority rule in South Africa, like a Dennis Brutus and the person I heard today, that what South Africa's leadership really is all about, that it's not as they say a coverup for economic domination by those who now control the economy of South Africa, the former apartheid masses?

TM: What would be very good and useful about comments of that kind would be some suggestions as to what we should do. And I am quite concerned that many of my colleagues would have their ears wide open to listen to good suggestions. I haven't had any.

A South African telecommunications company, (Inaudible) Transformation, has led a consortium to build a fiber optic cable along the west coast of Africa. They are ready to build a fiber optic cable along the east coast. It will go somewhere up towards Somalia and then link up with the fiber optic cable to the east. Those cables will save Africa $300 million that the continent pays to make calls in Africa, because you have to route the calls ... if I want to call Angola, the call is routed via Portugal to come back to us. By putting this fiber optic cable there will change all manner of things in terms of communication. Now, somebody then, as Dennis Brutus is aware of, needs to tell me what is wrong with that? I can't think of it, of what's wrong.

One of the South African gold mining companies went into the Mali desert, found gold there, they dug a hole in the ground and they're mining gold. I went to Mali. President Konare was still president then. I can't remember what date it was. Pardon? No, no, no. Before that. I was still Vice-President, Deputy President of South Africa. We went there, and President Konare says to me "You've got a South African gold mining company. It's out there in the sticks. They are hesitant to provide medical services to pregnant women, Malian women. Can you speak to them?" So I said "No, Mr. President, I'll do that. I didn't know(?) I was going to meet them." So I raise the question. I said "But what are you up to?" So they said "Look, this mine is in the desert. There is absolutely nothing around it, the result of which we are to build the roads, bring in electricity, bring in the water, everything, to build all the infrastructure that you need.

And because of where it is, the workers didn't have a settlement somewhere. You had to build a settlement on the mine. (Inaudible). But this is a mine. So the medical people make a calculation as to what kind of medical services would be needed. So we designed this little hospital to meet these needs and staff it to meet these needs. But then what happens, Mr. Deputy President," say the mine managers, "villages, people come walking through the desert, pregnant women who need medical attention. But the mine workers, they don't get pregnant. We didn't design this thing for that purpose. So this is a problem."

So I said to them, "Well, sure I understand your argument, but the reality is as you described it. You came and opened the mine. There's nobody there but your (Inaudible) body is there, and so the people are coming. How are you going to chase them away?" "All right, all right, all right, Mr. President, okay ... Deputy President." And indeed they acted on it.

Now, what's wrong with investing? Dennis Brutus doesn't have the money to open a mine in Mali. The mining company has. He doesn't have the money to build the road and bring in electricity and provide a clinic for pregnant women. And the government of Mali was not complaining. Dennis Brutus is complaining. What is wrong about development? What's wrong with a fiber optic cable along the coast of Africa?

One of the projects that we're going to do... the last thing I'll say about it. The Congo River - big, huge, enormous river, one of the biggest in the world. I was told by an old man that the particular thing about the Congo River in terms of its size when you compare it to the Nile or the Amazon or the Mississippi and so on is that it goes through a number of gorges; not like the Rio de la Plata, to spread out when there's a volume of water, but it gets held in these gorges and the precipitation is quite strong.

The result of which is that the Congo River, of that kind of river, has the biggest hydro-electric potential of any big river in the world. So, a specific project has been done, it's been assessed, feasibility studies, costing and all of this, to increase this tiny little hydro-electric generation already taking place at the Inga (Inaudible) to increase that. That will supply energy to southern Africa, to west Africa. There are countries in the Middle East that have already said can you please export some of this energy to us.

Environmentally very good. You don't need to build dams. Environmentally very good. Cost wise very cheap and addresses an important matter on the continent - energy deficiency. What is wrong with that? There can't be anything wrong with that.

But to be fair, many of the people who communicate the kind of message that you were communicating and agitate depend on Bob Rubin and Carl Ware and others to give them funds as NGOs. (Laughter) So, there has to be a crisis. If there is no crisis, why fund them? Thanks a lot.

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