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Celebrating Portugal

10 June 2019

Ambassador Manuel Carvalho hosted a garden Party in Pretoria to celebrate Portugal Day on 10 June 2019. The Secretary of State for Home Affairs from Portugal, Ms. Isabel Oneto graced the event.

Photo: Ambassador Manuel Carvalho, Mrs. Joana Carvalho, Dean of Diplomatic Corps Mr. Bene M’Poko (centre) and Mr. Thuto Shomang (Acting Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises) (behind)

Ambassador Carvalho shared with guests his experiences traversing South Africa where he found beauty and diversity, and he found Portuguese almost everywhere.

Speaking about Portugal Ambassador Carvalho said, “we continue to strive to build a better future, offering opportunities to all, rewarding the enterprising and creating an even more open society. The Economy continues to grow above the Euro area, unemployment is at 6%, Tourism is booming. The Sun is shining and the breeze is blowing, powering our economy – steadily over 50% of our electricity comes from renewables, without the light flickering: I believe we continue to hold the World record for any country running longest solely on renewables; and as a policy option to combat climate change, we have committed ourselves to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050.  

Remarks by Ambassador Manuel Carvalho

Madam Secretary of State for Home Affairs from Portugal, Ms. Isabel Oneto,
Director General of the Department of Public Enterprises, Mr. Thuto Shomang, on behalf of HE Minister Pravin Gordhan
Bem-vindos, Welcome, Sawubona, Dumela, Welkom!

My second time celebrating Portugal in South Africa!
I’ve been busy discovering this beautiful country, in all its nine provinces, from the blue of the skies, to the depths of the sea, including its eternal mountains. And I found Portuguese almost everywhere.
And if you would try to invent a country encapsulating diversity on Earth, we wouldn’t be far from here: with savannas and freezing waters, with lions and sea lions, with hippos and sharks, with springboks and penguins, with snow and tropical beaches, with fine dining or braaiing under the stars, with bubbling cities and stunning landscapes, with an anthem with more languages than anybody else, with Agriculture, Industry and Services and with Human progress from the Cradle of Humankind to the sharpest edge in modern Science.
This country is unique as an Hymn to the wealth of diversity.
This country is Africa, but where people from just about everywhere came together to form a beautiful Nation, including a sizeable Portuguese community deeply rooted here.
I’m not going to dwell on the well-known inherited challenges, unfortunately still obvious in the present. As a true friend of South Africa’s, Portugal will be always supporting the efforts to build a brighter future here. We turn to the Future.
To address those challenges, South Africa has capabilities and solid institutions. The country just went through free and fair elections and the new bodies of State are starting to function. I was happy to transmit congratulation letters sent here by the Portuguese President, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, expressing our good wishes to this great country. And we support the vision that was spelt out by President Ramaphosa when he was sworn-in a few weeks ago and a few blocks away, at Loftus, notably when he said:
"Let us build a truly non-racial society, one that belongs to all South Africans, and in which all South Africans belong.
Let us build a society that protects and values those who are vulnerable and who for too long have been rendered marginal.
A society where disability is no impediment, where there is tolerance, and where no person is judged on their sexual orientation, where no person suffers prejudice because of the colour of their skin, the language of their birth or their country of origin."
We wish South Africa well in materialising this vision.

Meanwhile in Portugal, we continue to strive to build a better future, offering opportunities to all, rewarding the enterprising and creating an even more open society. The Economy continues to grow above the Euro area, unemployment is at 6%, Tourism is booming. The Sun is shining and the breeze is blowing, powering our economy – steadily over 50% of our electricity comes from renewables, without the light flickering: I believe we continue to hold the World record for any country running longest solely on renewables; and as a policy option to combat climate change, we have committed ourselves to make the country carbon-neutral by 2050.
And the Sun shines on.  Surf is up, Golf is up, great food is there, foreigners of all origins find us one the most welcoming and problem-free places on Earth. This is also our way of celebrating diversity. We are the World Travel Awards’ Europe’s Leading Destination in 2017, 2018 and 2019. Madonna, the Aga Khan Foundation, the Web Summit or Google have recently looked at Portugal. We are the 4th safest country in the World (after Iceland, New Zealand and Austria), we stand behind Sweden in the migrants integration index MIPEX. We are one of the few countries where there is no xenophobic party in Parliament. My Prime Minister is officially a PIO acknowledged by India – and that’s a non-issue. My Minister of Justice was recently received as an-almost Angolan in Angola – and that’s a non-issue. Students from all over the World come to our internationally well-ranked universities and get quality higher education, while enjoying themselves and having a good time in a cosmopolitan environment with plenty of open air possibilities, from sailing to football.

– By the way, we just won yesterday the UEFA League of Nations in Porto. Het spijt me, Nederlands. And congratulations to all in the four squads who played the Finals, including also England and Switzerland. All were well received in Portugal.
Committed Europeans and Europeanist as we are, we also pride ourselves on our many encounters with all the peoples on Earth. As the first Europeans in the Southern Hemisphere and in East Asia, we have been learning other outlooks for over five centuries. Celtic from the North, Berber from the South, culturally Latin and Mediterranean, open to the World through the Atlantic and with Arabic, Jewish, African, American and Oriental influences, we have encapsulated diversity and we believe that it is a useful asset at a time when the World is fast becoming smaller. Precisely when others are retreating, we are acknowledged for continuing to build bridges. In a way, that’s also why we can take pride in having recently seen Portuguese citizens being chosen to the most prestigious international positions as UN SG, President of the European Commission, DG IOM or Eurogroup Chairman. It didn’t happen by chance. The candidates were good, but the country profile also helped.  

In that openness to the world, Africa has a very special place. We are ready to listen and to give voice to African concerns. We are linked to Africa by geographical proximity, but then also by people, business, History, cuisine, diplomacy or peacekeeping contributions under multilateral mandates and with our African friends. We are an observer country to the AU and to ECOWAS. We signed last year in Johannesburg the Lusophone compact with the African Development Bank. We are developing links with SADC, where I was recently received for a discussion with the Executive Secretary. We wish Africa success in its endeavours, including Agenda 2063 or the African Continental Free Trade Area. In the last year, my President, my Prime Minister and my Ministers visited more African countries and entities than I could mention here. My Prime Minister announced in Africa, in Angola, that this continent will be the priority of our EU Presidency in 2021.

And more interesting, the Portuguese National Day is being celebrated exactly today in Africa with African friends, as my President is arriving in Cape Verde. This is unique: I’m not sure it ever happened that a European National Day was formally celebrated in an African country.
South Africa takes a special position in all of this, because of its influence in Africa and as a global player.

My Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs came in November to participate in the African Investment Forum and had the occasion of meeting a number of personalities in Johannesburg and Pretoria, including a courtesy call at DIRCO, to be received by the former Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers. As foreseen, we hope to have soon here a formal round of political consultations. On Science, Portugal is one of the small number of countries to have formally joined SKA – the Square Kilometre Array; and we expect to have also an enhanced South African participation in the AIR Centre – Atlantic International Research Centre. On Tourism, my Secretary of State was in Cape Town and in the neighbouring Wine region, learning from South Africa in Wine Tourism and offering also some insights on our own experience in Tourism in general. An MoU may be concluded soon. An area where interest was expressed was the teaching of the Portuguese language for Tourism.

The promotion of the Portuguese language is indeed one of the areas of our work. As we say, Think Africa, speak Portuguese! We made a special effort to engage in the Diplomatic Fun Fair promoted in December by DIRCO. We are also developing cooperation with the other Portuguese-speaking Embassies in Pretoria and a number of initiatives did already take place, including exhibitions, lectures, theatre plays and Ambassadors’ lunches with some South African personalities who speak Portuguese. On Language, probably the most important development was the signature in April by the Secretary of State for the Portuguese Communities Abroad and the MEC for Education of the Gauteng Province, Mr. Panyaza Lesufi, of a MoU recognising the teaching of Portuguese language from grade R to Grade 12, during curriculum or extra curriculum hours. In parallel, we’re drafting the new curricula for Portuguese Home, First and Second Additional language in consultation with experts from the Department of Basic Education. This will provide a stronger foundation to the work of the 19 primary and high school Portuguese language teachers in Pretoria, Johannesburg area, Cape Town, Durban and Bloemfontein and 6 lecturers at the Universities of Pretoria, Witwatersrand,  Cape Town and Mpumalanga, fully paid for by us. 2500 students attend Portuguese language classes free of charge.

Trade and investment are priority areas where further work is necessary to bring about results corresponding to the size and capabilities of both Economies. 2018 bilateral trade was – only – 521 Million EURO, roughly balanced between the two countries: not good enough! On investment, we do receive expressions of interest, but we aren’t aware of any significant recent project from South Africa into Portugal. From our side, there some 30 companies established in South Africa, creating jobs and transferring skills in areas such as agri-food, automotive, banking, construction, energy (including renewables), fashion, hospitality, IT, logistics, and wood & cork. Just to mention one, note the award to Mota-Engil and partners of the construction of the 580m suspended bridge  on N2 on the Msikaba River in the Eastern Cape (the second longest and the third highest in Africa). Two Chambers of Commerce, CCILSA and SAPC, have recently concluded a cooperation agreement and this will reinforce our business promotion efforts.   

This brings me to my Community in South Africa, some 200.000 people that I’m proud to serve and who honour the name of Portugal.

Caros amigos, quero deixar-vos aqui uma saudação especial pela forma como alevantam o nome de Portugal. Quero convidar-vos também a todos agradecermos a vinda de Lisboa até aqui da Sra. Secretária de Estado Adjunta e da Administração Interna, Dra. Isabel Oneto, que nos trouxe um sinal da atenção que as nossas Autoridades prestam aos Portugueses fora. Recordo que o Sr. Secretário de Estado das Comunidades esteve cá em outubro e em abril. Quero assinalar também que em julho teremos no Porto o 1º Congresso Mundial das Redes da Diáspora, onde todos poderão ter interesse em participar. Falando em participação, gostaria de deixar aqui um apelo à participação de todos nas eleições portuguesas que se irão realizar em setembro e outubro. Com o novo recenseamento automático, aumentaram as possibilidades de participação de todos. E sendo a regra nas legislativas o voto postal, assinalo que aqueles que preferirem votar presencialmente poderão passar previamente nos serviços consulares a solicitar esse mesmo voto presencial.

I couldn’t wrap up without directing your attention to the reception we’re having here today. It was conceived as a garden party highlighting some things that South Africans often associate with the Portuguese joy of living. With the very appreciated support of Wines of the World, Nicola coffees, Nando’s, Princesa bakery and Makro Flowers market, we have brought you the light bubbles of a cool Mateus rosé wine, the signature peri-peri chicken (you’ll do the seasoning, some like it hot!), also some more powerful and distinguished wines from Portugal, original cheeses from my country (including Queijo da Serra, probably the best cheese in the World) to blend with fine original Ports and, to round it up, the delicious Pastel de Nata from Princesa and the authentic coffee from Nicola.

To enhance the atmosphere, you’ll have seen some of the cars that will run on the GALP Classic Car Rally from South Africa to Mozambique, on 14 -17 June 2019 and sponsored by GALP, the Portuguese oil and gas company (active in Mozambique and eSwathini).

A warm word of thanks also for the Police band that is entertaining us so delightfully, as well as a congratulations to the talent of Mr. Roberto Adão, a young and promising voice that recently concluded Law. Thank you, Siyambonga, Obrigado e parabéns.

Last but not least, the congratulations to all those involved in preparing this event, including the Embassy Residence and Office staff, Casa Social da Madeira, members of the community and the tireless dedication of my dear wife Joana. May I ask for a hearty round of applause?

And to finish, please accompany me: VIVA PORTUGAL! VIVA SOUTH AFRICA!




February/March 2020








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