Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the international community to support the rollout of a comprehensive stimulus package for African countries.
Addressing a virtual sitting of the 75th United Nations General Assembly debate on Tuesday, President Ramaphosa, who is also the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), said the stimulus package will enable African countries to mitigate the health impacts of COVID-19 and aid the continent in the immense task of rebuilding its shattered economies.
“When Secretary-General António Guterres delivered the 18th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture in July 2020, he called on the nations of the world to forge a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal.
“He said we must create equal opportunities for all, that we must advance a more inclusive and balanced multilateral trading system, that debt architecture must be reformed, and that there should be greater access to affordable credit for developing countries. It is a call we, as South Africa, wholly endorse,” said the President.
To ensure that no country is left behind, the President reiterated the AU’s position that economic sanctions against Zimbabwe and Sudan should be lifted to allow their governments to respond adequately to the pandemic.
Expanding economic opportunities
President Ramaphosa said the pandemic has highlighted the urgency with which global leaders must strive to meet all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially Goal 1, which is to end poverty in all its forms everywhere.
“Until we eradicate global poverty, we will always fall short of realising the vision of the founders of the United Nations (UN). We must expand economic opportunities to all people around the world, but most especially to the young, to women and to vulnerable people.
“We must boldly pursue avenues of redistribution and redress as a means of advancing shared prosperity. We must deal decisively with the rot of corruption that is robbing our people of the opportunities and services that are their right,” he said.
Action against racism
The President further called on the UN to spare no effort to end prejudice and intolerance in all its forms and wherever they may be found.
He said the year 2020 will be remembered for the massive groundswell to push back the frontiers of racism under the umbrella of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“As a country that has known too well the anguish of institutionalised racism, South Africa supports the demands for swift action against racism, whether committed by individuals, companies, officials or a state.”
Empowering women and girls
The President emphasised the need to intensify efforts to empower women and girls as the world marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action.
“It is the right of women and girls to be full and equal participants in the workplace, in political life and decision-making, in the economy, in obtaining an education and in society as a whole. South Africa is proud to be a member of the UN’s Generation Equality campaign and has prioritised the eradication of gender-based violence and femicide.
“At a continental level, we are working to finalise and adopt an AU Convention on Violence against Women during the course of this year. AU member States are engaging on measures to promote financial inclusion, preferential procurement and preferential trade agreements for women,” the President said.
Meanwhile, President Ramaphosa reiterated the call for greater representation of African countries on the Security Council, saying this should be taken up with urgency at intergovernmental negotiations.
“It is only through a reformed and inclusive UN Security Council that we will be able to collectively resolve some of the world’s most protracted conflicts.
“As we celebrate the founding of an organisation dedicated to freedom and equality, the people of Palestine and Western Sahara continue to live under occupation. We repeat our call for an end to the illegal occupation of Western Sahara and for the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.”
He further called for the lifting of the economic embargo and blockade of Cuba.