Welcome to SA
Pictured (l-r) Mr Mat Dris Bin Haji Yacacob of Malaysia, Mr Suprapto Martosetomo of Indonesia, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Mr Talgat Kaliyev of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Prince Senzangakhona Phesheya Dlamini of the Kingdom of Swaziland and Mr Božin Nikolié of the Republic of Serbia
Remarks by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House
14 May 2014
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassador Designates;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Senior Government Officials,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Good day and welcome to South Africa!
On behalf of the government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, please allow me to welcome you to our beautiful country, South Africa, and indeed the seat of government – Tshwane.
We are happy to welcome you to our country just a few days after successful national general elections held last week.
The elections consolidated our democracy and confirmed yet again how effective the country’s democratic institutions are, such as the Independent Electoral Commission.
Next week the new members of parliament will be sworn in, followed by the inauguration of the President and the formation of a new government nationally and in the provinces.
You have thus arrived in South Africa during a very busy but important and exciting period.
You are also being welcomed in a South Africa that celebrates 20 years of our freedom and democracy.
The year 2014 serves as yet another reminder that our freedom is a product of our people’s struggles and the unwavering support of the international community.
Working together with our partners over the past 20 years, we have ensured that our international engagements are informed by our domestic priorities, that our diplomacy becomes the diplomacy of the masses of our people.
Although Africa remains central to our foreign policy, our partners from the length and breadth of the world remain the pulse of our foreign policy.
In the next five years we will continue to demonstrate to our people that working with you as our formidable partners, our democracy will be more durable and responsive to the needs of the poor.
We are committed to strong regional, continental and global partnerships and will continue to cement these relations.
We have made tremendous progress since 1994 in building formal relations with the world. Our diplomatic, political and economic relations have expanded rapidly to include countries which South Africa previously had no relations with due to its apartheid pariah status.
By 2012, diplomatic missions, Consuls-General and international organisations resident in this country, had increased to around 315, making us the second largest home to the Diplomatic community after Washington.
Our own missions abroad increased from 34 in 1994 to 126 in 2012 – with strong representation in Africa.
This is in line with the history of our liberation movement the ANC, which has always been internationalist in outlook.
Africa continues to be our primary focus area.
Today, in the context of a rising Africa, we are better placed to respond to the challenges of transformation of the African economy for the achievement of the goal of a better, integrated and prosperous Africa, at the service of its people.
It is a well-known fact that development and peace are interdependent and interlinked.
To this end, South Africa played an important role in the enhancement of infrastructure development on the continent by spearheading the NEPAD Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative that was launched in July 2010 under my Chairpersonship.
South Africa champions the North-South Road and Rail development Corridor, a trade access corridor from Durban through Dar es Salaam to Cairo.
We will also continue our focus on critical areas such as peace-keeping and peace-building, post-conflict reconstruction and development, infrastructure development, and poverty alleviation, just to mention but a few.
We will be building on one of our achievements during this ending term of office, the adoption by the UN Security Council of Resolution 2033 in 2012, which formalized the UN Security Council’s cooperation with regional organisations, particularly the African Union Peace and Security Council. South Africa initiated the resolution.
We remain as concerned as many other developing nations about the need for a transformed United Nations.
In the next five years, we will continue working closely with the UN and other relevant institutions to promote good governance and encourage transformation with such global institutions as the UN.
To achieve the desired level of integration in the SADC region, we have to work together towards a strong African Union (AU).
The strengthening of the AU and its structures is imperative in deepening the continental integration process and advancing infrastructure development, which lays the foundation for intra-Africa trade.
South Africa has consistently sought to nurture regional integration at three levels, SADC, the Southern African Customs Union and the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
The free trade comprises SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).
Our country will continue working even harder to realise the developmental goals of the continent through these important continental structures.
Excellencies as you are aware, South Africa is a member of the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICS) grouping.
BRICS has proved to be an important platform for engagement on issues of developmental cooperation, African Agenda and reform in global governance institutions.
In the same manner, we are looking forward to broadening, deepening and strengthening relations with South East Asian countries, such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which have been our strong allies during the struggle days and remain invaluable bilateral partners in our democratic dispensation.
We remain grateful of their support to the African Agenda, the goals of the African Union and the South to South developmental agenda.
It is pivotal as well to consolidate our bilateral relations and trade with Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan, and strengthen potential areas such as mining, renewable energy and construction to name a few.
We are also looking forward to meaningful partnerships with Serbia, and hope for breakthroughs in trade, particularly in potential areas such as energy, transport, and arts and culture.
Today we commit to work with all of your and respective countries to take our relations to a higher level for more meaningful partnerships and mutual benefits.
As you prepare for your long stay on our shores, I urge you to explore our country and enjoy what the rainbow nation has to offer.
I assure you of the greatest hospitality and humility of the people of South Africa and the warmth that the land of Nelson Mandela has shared with humanity in the past 20 years.
I wish you all the best in the years ahead.
I thank you.
The Presidency, SA