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President Zuma welcomes 27 new Heads of Mission

Welcome address by President Zuma on the occasion of the presentation of Letters of Credence by Heads of Mission Accredited to South Africa, Presidential Guest House, Pretoria

01 February 2012

Programme Director;
Honourable Ministers present here today;
High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Members of the Media;

At the outset, let me take this opportunity to officially welcome you all to South Africa.

During your tenure in our beautiful country, I am sure you will find an opportunity not only to explore the hospitality we have to offer, but the vibrancy of our day to day life inspired by the spirit of UBUNTU.

Since the advent of democracy in 1994, our country has been advocating in our continent and internationally, a need to do more to strengthen communication and dialogue on our foreign policy with our relevant stakeholders – the diplomatic community.

We believe it is through such dialogue and influence in foras such as the UN, that we will be in a position to yield the desired benefits of our shared common goals.

Most of you might be aware that our country has just handed over the Chairing of the United Nations Security Council at the end of January 2012.

During that brief tenure in the UN Security Council, we focused on strengthening cooperation between the UN Security Council and the African Union Peace and Security Council. A UN resolution in this regard was unanimously adopted. For us, this is a sign of more positive cooperation between Africa and the United Nations.

Programme Director;

It is against this background that I want to preface this brief address on South African foreign policy by affirming the long established link between our foreign policy and national priorities.

Ours is a foreign policy that is guided by UBUNTU and a commitment to the establishment of mutually beneficial international partnerships that contribute to the achievement of the national development priorities of our continental and international partners as well.

And I believe the reason why you are here today is to join us in this partnership of creating a better life for all and a credible diplomatic corps.

The foundations and strategic perspective of our foreign policy are derived from a long standing history, ideology and values that embrace:

• the spirit of internationalism;
• the rejection of colonialism and other forms of oppression;
• Fighting for the fierce independence of Africa, free from manipulation from outside forces that are pursuing their own agendas.
• our quest for the unity and political, economic, and social renewal of Africa;
• the promotion and defence of the plight of the suffering masses and poor of the world; and
• our opposition to the structural inequalities and abuses of power in the global system.

Inspired by these ideals, as well as our celebration of the African National Congress, having turned 100 years old, we remain cognisant that ours was not only a South African success story, but an African and a global victory.

It was the endorsement by Africa and the international community which made the prestige of the liberation movement to grow.

And indeed in recognition of these ties and support that our foreign policy is still influenced by continental and global considerations.

Gestures of undying solidarity with South Africa indicate to us that the bonds of friendship and fraternity that South Africa and the ANC have built with sister countries and citizens of the continent over the years remain strong.

They have given us a legacy of an Africa that is not scared to fight for its freedom and its space in international affairs.

Programme Director;

The African National Congress’s 1994 document on Foreign Policy Perspective in a Democratic South Africa which stated that:

“Foreign Policy being an integral part or an extension of national policy and interest, becomes consequently an important component in our strategy for development and social purposes” .

Put simply, what this means is that our foreign policy engagements and international partnerships must show the symbiotic relationship between our national priorities and South Africa’s regional,
continental and international engagements.


The road to a solid and formidable relationship will require concerted efforts by all countries to demonstrate a willingness to work together on issues of mutual benefit and common interest.

For us to all succeed, we will need determination, joint partnership and responsibility.

Despite the various global challenges that we still face in Africa, and indeed the world, our goals are not insurmountable.

Despite the enormous burdens on Africa and other developing nations, particularly conflict prone countries, I have no doubt in my mind that through our strengthened diplomatic relations, we can overcome those.

Accordingly, we should not allow these challenges to dampen our determination to deliver our peacekeeping commitments.

Our actions and decisions as a country are often guided by our domestic priorities and policy;
Accordingly, we have since the country’s readmission into the international community including the United Nations (UN) in the early 1990’s- been firmly committed to advancing the values and principles of the Organization.

It is indeed in this context that, the peaceful resolution of conflicts has become one of the cornerstones of our foreign policy objectives.

I must hasten to say that central to this approach was the realization that the stability, development and prosperity of South Africa is inextricably linked to that of the region.

Through our active contribution to peacekeeping missions (especially missions on the African continent), we have sought to contribute to a better South Africa, a prosperous Africa and a safe world to live in.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Your arrival in our country coincides with the 100 year anniversary of the oldest liberation movement in Africa, the African National Congress (ANC).

Our Cabinet issued a statement that noted that the Centenary Celebrations were National celebrations, and therefore not exclusive to the ANC.

Therefore, these celebrations give us as an opportunity as a country to reflect on the legacy of the liberation movements not only in South Africa but on the entire continent and the colonised world over the past 100 years.

As we reflect on these, we also take an opportunity to thank all countries, including anti-apartheid movements, for the unwavering support rendered during our fight against colonialism and apartheid.

We are grateful that you could be here with us to witness that your efforts did not go in vain.

Your Excellencies;

Once more, welcome to South Africa. We are happy to have you here to join as we work to achieve a prosperous South Africa, a better Africa and a better world.

We wish you a pleasant and fruitful stay in this country of Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Albertina and Walter Sisulu, Moses Kotane, Moses Mabhida, JB Marks, Ahmed Kathrada and a host of heroes and heroines. They laid a firm foundation for the Constitutional democracy
that we continue to consolidate.

We hope your stay here will further enhance and give impetus to the cordial relations we currently enjoy with your respective countries.

I thank you.






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