Present Zuma welcomes new Heads of Mission
Remarks by His Excellency, President of the Republic of South Africa, President Jacob Zuma, for the Presentation of Credentials Ceremony, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House
29 January 2013
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioner designates,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen;
First of all, allow me to welcome you warmly to our country, South Africa.
South Africa attaches great importance to the building of close and cordial relations of friendship and mutual co-operation with other countries.
This country shares with its continental counterparts a common vision of a better life for our respective peoples.
We also share a commitment to the African Agenda, the development agenda of the South and the establishment of a democratic and equitable global governance system.
We believe that your presence in South Africa will contribute to the strengthening and deepening of bilateral political and economic relations between our countries.
This is a significant development in bilateral relations between our countries.
It is a strong gesture of recognition and acknowledgement of South Africa as an equal partner in the continental and multilateral affairs.
It affirms our solid place and role in world affairs, particularly the agenda of contributing to peace and development in the continent.
We are therefore looking forward to cooperation in various areas such as agriculture, mining and many others, particularly geared towards the consolidation of the African Agenda.
We have just returned from the African Union Summit, which was successfully hosted by our new African Union Commission Chairperson.
The Chairperson referred to the theme of the Summit and the 50th anniversary celebration of the Organisation of African Union (OAU) created on 25 May 1963.
Her Excellency emphasized that the spirit of Pan-Africanism and the ideals of the African Renaissance it has delivered will propel its citizens towards an integrated, people-centred, prosperous Africa at peace with itself.
To secure decent livelihoods and the free movement of people, goods and services, the African Union agreed that we must accelerate integration and connectivity.
The Summit expressed satisfaction with the progress on the implementation of the priority infrastructure projects of Programme of Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) in the areas of transport, energy and information communication technologies.
The Chairperson of the African Union Commission further underscored the need for the Union to enhance youth and women’s development alongside education as she said;
“The Pan African University and the general expansion of our higher education sector will equip our young people with critical abilities to drive innovation, sciences, entrepreneurship, research, social development and industrialization”,
As I speak, I am proud to announce that we have the Ambassador of Somalia with us here whose country has just had the new head of state.
As we all know, Somalia had been without a government for more than 20 years.
Their suffering through war and famine has been our suffering and now that they are on the road to recovery and prosperity, we wish to walk beside them and assist wherever we can with rebuilding their country.
Our government has pledged R100 million towards projects that would support the post-conflict reconstruction and development of Somalia.
Two of the projects have recently been approved and we are hoping to deploy a team to Mogadishu in the near future to ensure that they begin as soon as possible.
We hope to strengthen our bilateral relations and work together at multilateral levels with all countries represented here to improve this world as well as advancing the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 2015.
In this regard, we must utilise these opportunities to define a Programme of Action to strengthen our trade and economic relations and convene regular political consultations as a reflection of our determination to continue building on the mutually beneficial relations and friendship between our respective countries.
South Africa will continue to play a meaningful role in assisting our fellow neighbours as we are doing currently in Mali and Central Africa Republic to bring peace and stability in those countries.
With a track record in dealing with situations like this, as we see the example in Burundi, we are hopeful that a durable solution will soon be found.
We continue to value relations with our traditional bilateral partners such as Sweden, Finland, Georgia, Canada, Australia and Cuba, which were instrumental during our struggle for freedom. We will forever be indebted to you.
Together with Australia, on behalf of our world, we are co-hosting the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is the largest scientific project in the world.
We hope that this scientific endeavour shall go a long a way in strengthening our bilateral relations.
South-South cooperation will remain our cornerstone of our foreign policy and it is also imperative to strengthen these relations with countries of the South, such as Chile, represented among us here today.
As you know, South Africa will be hosting the Fifth BRICS Summit on 26 to 27 March 2013 in eThekwini.
The theme of the Summit is BRICS and Africa: “Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation”.
South Africa remains on track with preparations for this Summit.
In order to ensure that Africa benefits from our membership of this group of emerging economies, I have invited eight African Presidents to participate in the first ever “BRICS Leaders-Africa Dialogue Forum”.
Within our priority of consolidating the African Agenda, this dialogue will focus on unlocking BRICS-Africa potential for cooperation on infrastructure.
You are arriving at our shores when Africa is showcasing its sports and cultural diplomacy through the Africa Cup of Nation tournament, which is the talk of town in every corner of this magnificent continent which is known as a cradle of humankind.
Amongst countries playing here, we have those which are making their debut in the tournament and have showcased their capabilities.
However, we believe and strongly wish that we translate the home ground advantage into a resounding victory in this tournament.
In about two week’s time, our country will be observing an important occasion in our government calendar, the State of the Nation Address.
Various important pronouncements are made on this event, which also have a bearing on our relations with other countries.
You may already have received invitations in this regard.
In conclusion, we welcome you Excellencies to South Africa and trust that you will have time during the course of your stay here to also appreciate the vibrant touristic and cultural landscape of our country.
I wish you success in your stay in this country and look forward to more enhanced relations.
I thank you.