Welcome Remarks by President Jacob Zuma during the Presentation of Letters of Credence of new Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House, Pretoria
Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Directors-Generals of DIRCO and The Presidency,
Senior Government Officials,
Ladies and gentlemen
I am pleased to welcome you all to this important occasion of the presentation of Letters of Credence.
It is therefore my pleasure to extend a warm welcome to the new Heads of Missions to whom this occasion is precisely dedicated.
We have gathered here to formally mark the commencement of your tour of duty as appointed representatives of your respective governments and people.
Thus I would like to take this opportunity to heartily congratulate you on your appointments to serve with us and wish you well in working towards entrenching our existing relations.
As you are aware, we have just concluded in December with the centenary celebrations of one of our forbearers and former African National Congress (ANC) President, Comrade Oliver Reginald Tambo.
We wish to thank you for joining us in celebrating the life of a giant who played a key role in the liberation of this country, particularly in the pioneering of our global solidarity movement throughout the world.
Similarly, in its recently held 106 years birthday celebration, the newly elected National Executive Committee of the ANC declared 2018 as “100 Years of Nelson Mandela: The Year of Renewal, Unity and Jobs”.
It is my singular honour to invite you to join South Africans, Africans and peace loving people of the world in celebrating the centenary of our former President Nelson Mandela.
As the first democratically elected President, Madiba was responsible for repositioning South Africa as a responsible global citizen that could take its rightful place in the world.
Writing in the Foreign Policy magazine in 1993, Madiba said:
“For four decades South Africa’s international relations were dogged by the apartheid issue. By the end of the 1980s, South Africa was one of the most isolated states on earth. Recovering from this will be no easy task. Conscious of this difficulty, the ANC is involved in developing those policies which will be necessary to take South Africa into the new world order as a responsible global citizen.”
I can confirm that, throughout our journey as a democratic state, we have worked tirelessly to fully realise Madiba’s vision.
Our foreign policy is predicated on the values and principles of the Constitution, which have become synonymous with Madiba’s vision for peace, freedom, justice and reconciliation.
We remain grateful to the people of the world who, through the United Nations collective, officially declared 18 July as the Nelson Mandela International Day in November 2009.
Thus starting from 18 July 2010 people from all walks of life celebrate his birthday by embarking on various activities aimed at giving back to disadvantaged communities.
We must draw inspiration from this global icon who understood that South Africa cannot succeed as an isolated state.
It is against this background that the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) enjoined us to build a country that can contribute to the development of our region, contribute to Africa’s peace and prosperity and a just world.
Your presence here today bears testimony to our continued commitment to work towards the realisation of Madiba’s dream and vision.
We do so cognisant of the challenges we are faced with globally. The persistent inequalities in the world remain a serious cause for concern.
These have proven to be compounded by failure to effectively manage the movement of people between and inside countries resulting in violent clashes over limited resources.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The global political and economic structures and systems that enriched the North and impoverished the South were deliberately created.
It is therefore our collective responsibility to change these structures and systems with a view to improve the lives of all our people.
Similarly, the global financial architecture has proven to be unresponsive to the developmental needs of the majority across the world.
Thus while we are appreciative of the interconnected world, we must be conscious about the challenges that this brings to the very world.
I must therefore underscore the fact that we must collectively find creative and workable solutions so that humanity can thrive.
In this connection, we must work together to ensure that we realise our common trajectory of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030.
We must be encouraged therefore by the achievements we already recorded in the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
Guaranteeing a decent life to our people is not just an obligation but a human rights endeavour. In this regard, South Africa intends to utilise its 2017-2019 tenure in the UN Human Rights Council to pursue this broader objective.
We are in this regard also inspired by Madiba’s words when he said:
“South Africa’s future foreign relations will be based on our belief that human rights should be the core concern of international relations, and we are ready to play a role in fostering peace and prosperity in the world we share with the community of nations”.
At the regional level we have been afforded yet another opportunity to lead the development efforts through the Chairship of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) since August 2017.
The theme of our Chairship recognises the importance of public-private partnerships in development and it is as follows:-
“Partnering with the private sector in developing industry and regional value-chains”.
This focus cannot be separated from continental efforts aimed at bolstering industrialisation and building the much needed manufacturing capacity.
Furthermore this augurs well with our efforts to improve the movement of goods and services in the continent.
We are going to receive a progress report on the Continental Free Trade Area negotiations during the upcoming January 2018 African Union (AU) Summit.
Africa’s development is central to our foreign policy and to give effect to placing the continent’s agenda high at the centre of all our engagements.
As you may be aware, late last year we launched the Africa Regional Centre of the BRICS New Development Bank.
Our view is that the BRICS formation will be beneficial to the entire continent through its infrastructure and development support initiatives and funding.
Let me conclude my remarks by reminding you that this great country of Nelson Mandela is stable and is open to foreign investment.
Our country is therefore alive with a variety of opportunities that I would urge you to explore and leverage for mutual benefit.
Please feel at home during your stay and enjoy viewing our different beautiful landscapes, visiting our scenic beaches and of course enjoy our diverse wild life.
I can assure you that we will have sufficient time to interact with you during your tour of duty as the link between us and your respective governments and people.
Let me once again welcome you to our beautiful country and wish you the best in discharging your duties.
I thank you!