Welcome to new Heads of Mission
Pictured at the presentation of credentials to President Jacob Zuma by foreign Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa at Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House on 16 October 2014 in Pretoria are standing (l-r) H E Ms T Skymoen - Ambassador of Norway, H E Dr. Nenad Prelog - Ambassador of Croatia, H E Mr A Nzapayeke - Ambassador of Central African Republic, H E Mr J G Angeles - Ambassador of Philippines, H E Mr L MacGabhann - Ambassador of Ireland, H E Mr H R G Cooreman - Ambassador of Belgium and H E Mr Bounafou Sidibe - Ambassador of Mali
seated (l-r) H E Ms M C Pinilla Perdomo - Ambassador of Colombia, HE Mr Sarrath Kongahage - High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, President Jacob Zuma, H E Mr Z Sinombe - High Commissioner of Botswana and H E Ms M L Gerards - Ambassador of Netherlands
Address by President Zuma on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by foreign Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, Pretoria
16 October 2014
High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Directors-General in the Presidency and DIRCO,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I rise to extend to you today warm greetings from the government and people of South Africa.
I would also like to welcome you Your Excellencies to South Africa’s capital and seat of government – Pretoria, in Tshwane.
The year 2014 is a historic year in the socio-economic and political journey of South Africa’s young democracy.
This victory was gained through the struggles of the South African people and freedom loving people across Africa and the world. We remain grateful to all countries and peoples that stood on the side of justice, freedom, human rights and equality during those dark days of apartheid colonialism.
In 1994, we witnessed the manifestation of a passage from oppression to freedom for all – irrespective of colour, gender, religion.
This is what nations of the world wished for us too – this we know for sure.
The birth of a new nation gave rise to a sharp focus on our country’s foreign policy, and its rebirth.
This inclusive nation we desired was that of a nation whose wishes and aspirations are nothing but peace, reconciliation, prosperity and development.
This is what we have ever wished in the face of humanity.
We are pleased that this wish is gradually becoming a reality.
Our country has a proud international relations tradition. The foundation of our foreign policy is in the Freedom Charter, a document that was drawn up by our people and was adopted in 1955.
They declared in the Freedom Charter the following on foreign policy;
“There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war;
Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all;…
“The right of all peoples of Africa to independence and self-government shall be recognised, and shall be the basis of close co-operation".
This month we commemorate a foremost internationalist, President Oliver Reginald Tambo, who was the longest serving President of the African National Congress.
He crisscrossed the world mobilizing against apartheid South Africa, and building relations for our country with the world. These are relations that South Africa is benefitting from now.
As guided by President Tambo and the Freedom Charter, we continue to expand our foreign relations footprint.
In just 20 years, we have broadened our international reach from 34 missions abroad in 1994 to a staggering 126 missions throughout the world, but with a sharp focus on Africa.
We have been consistently vocal in our belief that the struggle for a better South Africa is inextricably linked to the struggle for a better Africa.
We attach the greatest importance to the African Union (AU), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other key regional organisations.
We have also over the years, built and maintained relations with countries of the South both bilaterally and multilaterally.
More importantly, our membership of BRICS has become more critical now than it has ever been in the past. We are beginning to witness the benefits of this much acclaimed membership.
The sixth BRICS Summit in Fortaleza a few months ago has delivered tangible results for our developmental aspirations.
The creation of the New Development Bank remains by far one of BRICS’ key achievements, amongst others.
In the past 20 years, our country has also built and maintained solid bilateral relations with countries of the North.
These countries continue to play an important role in our country’s socio-economic development and international cooperation.
Our respect for multilateralism has been illustrated by our active role and participation in institutions of global governance such as the United Nations, the G20, and the G77 + China, amongst others.
Indeed, we feel proud of our achievements of the past 20 years.
Millions of our people have been extricated from poverty, South Africa is a better place to live in now than ever before.
We look forward to working with you to build stronger economic, political and social relations with your respective countries.
We believe a much stronger partnership with you will help build our skills base, fast track transfer of technology, create decent jobs, help create value-added exports, address inequalities in the country, promote inclusive growth, and promote regional integration.
Please allow me to wish you well during your stay in the land of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Helen Joseph, Lillian Ngoyi and many other stalwarts.
We thank your respective governments for choosing South Africa as a preferred diplomatic destination.
We remain truly humbled by this gesture, and commit to continue working with you towards attaining a common goal, and strengthening our working relations and partnerships on issues of common interest and mutual benefit.
I thank you.