Mr. Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
On behalf of the people, the Government of Mozambique and indeed on my own behalf, it is a great honour for me to address this august assembly.
I bring to you the warm felicitations and best wishes from all Mozambicans.
Two years ago, during the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, we committed ourselves not only to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war but also to rededicate our efforts to greater efficiency and effectiveness of our universal organization, with a view to enabling it play a pivotal role in promoting sustainable development particularly in the developing countries. Therefore, our deliberations in all subsequent General Assembly sessions should reflect that firm political will and commitment.
On that occasion, I informed you of the progress we had achieved in our continued endeavours for the consolidation of peace and democracy, and promotion of socio economic development. I am happy to state that, today, these positive trends are prevailing and that the situation in my country is improving. We envision the future with renewed optimism.
Our pluralist democracy continues to flourish; we are strengthening further our democratic institutions; the state of the economy improves gradually and steadily. However, many challenges lie ahead. We still have schools and hospitals to rehabilitate, and new ones to build. We still have roads to repair, and new ones to build. We still have millions of landmines to clear. We have to address our heavy debt burden and find ways and means of bringing it to sustainable levels.
These challenges are indeed immense, but not insurmountable. With hard work and the generous support of the international community, I am sure we shall succeed in our quest for better living standards for our people.
The United Nations and the international community at large have invested a lot in order to ensure a lasting peace and stability in Mozambique. Your effective work has helped in putting an end to the suffering of our people in a complex peace process. The cost of peace was high but it would have been higher if you had failed to fulfill your obligations. We therefore urge you to recommit yourselves to providing all necessary means for the consolidation of peace you have helped to achieve.
The advent of peace has made it possible for Mozambicans to rededicate themselves to the implementation of sound political and economic reforms with visible positive results. It is our earnest desire to take maximum advantage of the rich potential of our natural resources and to use them in a sustainable and balanced manner with a view to creating wealth and better future for our people.
As a result of the implementation of the Structural Adjustment Programme, launched in 1987 under the most adverse condition, encouraging developments are taking place in our economy. In 1996, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by around 6.4% and exports increased by 24%. The inflation rate declined sharply to 16.6% against 70% in 1994, and 54% in 1995. The mid year evaluation indicates 3.2% and we expect single digit cumulative rate for 1997. Moreover, we also witnessed important progress in currency stabilization. We estimate that the figures for 1997 in virtually all major economic indicators will be better than the previous ones.
Our successes in the consolidation of peace and democracy reflect the values our people inherited throughout history. They reflect our common desire and noble aspirations to live together in unity and harmony within diversity, thanks to our growing culture of tolerance and forgiveness. They also constitute a vivid example of a culture of peace we have embraced in our country. We believe that the promotion and further consolidation of a culture of peace should be the next most important challenge to all societies as well as to each individual citizen.
It was within this framework that my government in close collaboration with UNESCO convened at Maputo a Conference on Culture of Peace and Good Governance. The outcome of this conference and of other similar conferences which have taken place world wide recognized yet again the existing linkage between peace, democracy and development as well as common challenges to all countries committed to implementing these values and processes. For these reasons, I welcome the efforts underway towards the adoption of a meaningful resolution on this contemporary issue.
Peace and stability can neither be ensured with a mere holding of multiparty elections nor should they be seen as a simple absence of a military conflict. Recent history proves that in conflict resolution, a proper balance should be stricken between the need for elections and its inherent hostile propaganda, and the need for reconciliation that should follow the aftermath of a democratic process. Our own experience reminds us that it is not enough to ensure reconciliation of former conflicting parties in order to guarantee a lasting peace. Our task, today, is to guarantee that a culture of peace is embedded in all citizens minds as an important step forward in conflict prevention and management.
All citizens are called upon to participate, notwithstanding the diversity of opinions and sometimes of interests. Only commitment to supreme national interests can ensure that individual interests do not hamper these noble objectives.
Peace and democracy are fundamental tools for fostering development in all its spheres especially in today's world, where one fifth of the world population is still confronted with absolute poverty, hunger and malnutrition, illiteracy and endemic diseases. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to take concerted actions in order to revert this picture and to create an enabling environment for sustained development with emphasis on education, provision of basic health care, clean water and housing.
This requires the strengthening of the rule of law, good governance, transparency and accountability. It also requires security in all its components, including economic, social, environmental and all related issues.
As we are about to cut the threshold of the new millennium, the concept of security must considered in its global dimension. No country, no matter how big or small, can develop in isolation. Indeed, environmental problems, refugees and displaced persons, transboundary movements of peoples and goods, drug trafficking, money laundering and other transnational crimes, can only be addressed effectively through a cooperative approach in a global context.
Without peace and democracy, development will always be in jeopardy, and issues related to governance and social instability will continue to face future generations. That is why democracy and development, being two faces of the same coin remain a daunting challenge to our societies. This is an undertaking that requires a common approach from all governments, civil society including the private sector.
These are equally the challenges facing the Southern African region today. Because we believe that only collective efforts will bring about durable peace and stability and sustainable development, we attach great importance to regional co operation within the framework of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). With fourteen member states and about 170 million people, SADC is a viable economic block poised to play a positive role in the efforts for continental development.
The 1997 Annual Summit of Heads of State or Government of our Community reviewed the activities of the organization and developments that took place in the region since the last Summit. Within the framework of the establishment of the African Economic Community, as one of its building blocks, we are, inter alia, according top priority, in support of national priorities. Special emphasis is being given to the need for investment in the development of technology and infrastructures.
The Summit noted with satisfaction that all of its member states, in general, have adopted pragmatic policies with a view to fostering financial stability, private sector participation, and market let economic growth. In particular, it noted that over the last year, all members states had registered positive real GDP growth ranging from 2 to 10 percent.
The Summit also considered the applications for membership of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of Seychelles and decided to welcome these countries as the newest members of our Community.
The Summit discussed in great detail the current situation in the DRC. We have agreed that the DRC requires and deserves support from the international community with a view to enabling its newly established government and its people to cope with developmental challenges deriving from three decades of uncertainty.
A stable DRC is equally vital for the attainment of the peace that so far has eluded the Great Lakes region and for the efforts underway with a view to finding a political settlement of the conflict ravaging the neighbouring Congo. Furthermore, the DRC has a major strategic importance for the development of the region, and indeed of the whole continent of Africa, particularly in view of its great potential in key areas such as energy, water, tourism and transport and communications.
Indeed, the issue of transports and communications are of paramount importance to Southern Africa. The establishment of the Maputo, Beira and Nacala corridors are fundamental steps to improve transports and communications within the region.
The concept of development corridors we are implementing in Southern Africa represents a new partnership we are building in the region between government, entrepreneurs and communities. A development corridor is not only a road or railway linking a harbour to one point at the border of a neighbouring country, but also, and more importantly, an area along the communications route and beyond them into the interior of the countries concerned and open for investment in a great variety of economic activities thus bringing about an integrated development of the region.
The areas of investment include improvements of sea ports, railways; improvement and construction of highways, gas pipelines, energy and communications infrastructures, livestock, forestry, agriculture, mining, manufacturing, industry and tourism.
We believe, therefore, that the development corridors will contribute significantly towards the realization of the noble goals and aspirations of the peoples of the region.
This is the path we have embarked on in Southern Africa. We believe that in so doing, we are making a positive contribution towards conflict prevention, resolution and management in Africa, and in building the blocks that shall sustain the development of our continent. In order to guarantee political stability as well as sustainability of our development efforts, the region has established, within SADC, an Organ on Politics, Defense and Security with the responsibility of preventing, resolving and managing conflicts in the region.
This is the future that we envisage for the African continent. A continent in which the rule of law and legitimacy are above all other interests. A continent in which democracy, accountability and good governance must prevail. A continent in which development and social justice should be promoted and safeguarded by all of us. This is where cooperation between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity must be further strengthened.
I thank you.
UN/PDI Photo by Eskinder Debebe