Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the presentation of credentials by new Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa
Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors; Directors-General in the Presidency and DIRCO, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a privilege and honour for me, on behalf of our government and the people of South Africa, to welcome you most heartily to our shores today.
You have arrived in full summer when the jacarandas are in full bloom in Tshwane. You will be able to enjoy the beauty and warmth of our capital city.
You join us during a special year when we celebrate 60 years of the historic Freedom Charter which was adopted in 1955, which outlined the minimum demands of our people. It states boldly that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, black and white, and that no government can justly claim authority unless it was based on the will of the people.
That document is the essence of our democracy, and also articulates the type of inclusive society we seek to build.
We are certain that you will be truly dependable emissaries of your respective countries on the one hand, and agreeable allies on the other, to take our bilateral relations to a high level.
Your arrival in this country came at an opportune time.
About six months ago our government accepted a new electoral mandate, and I can say that you arrived at the point when we are just at the onset of implementing fresh resolutions, which will hopefully afford you opportunity to find niches for our countries’ mutual benefit.
As government, we are still seized with consolidating the achievements of the twenty years of our democracy.
We are expanding on our provision of basic services like electricity, water, sanitation and housing.
Our country is also improving on its provision of health and education services to attain our domestic goals and the Millennium Development Goals.
We are expanding economic opportunities by tapping on the previously unexploited resources in our country, such as marine economy, which has a potential to grow the GDP to between 129 billion and 177 billion rand in the next eighteen years.
It is our sincerest hope that through you, Excellencies, we will share best practices and opportunities with your countries to optimize the opportunities this sector presents.
Our country is also currently on a massive infrastructure roll-out drive which will provide the much needed skills and job opportunities for our people.
At continental level, we are determined to see through the accomplishment of continental infrastructure programmes such as North-South Corridor Project.
We have to continue to champion integrated development of our continent, and live up to our commitment to a better Africa in a better world.
In all these we need strong partnerships, including from the non-state sector.
Among our key areas of emphasis as a country in our resolutions is to continue to ensure tangible domestic returns for our international policy commitments and activities.
I am pleased therefore to note that today we are accepting credentials from state parties which are even outside the traditional formations such as IBSA, BRICS and many others, which ensures a much broadened scope for international partnerships.
I should hasten however, to indicate that we are still committed to strengthening south to south cooperation, the IBSA Forum and the BRICS, and that we are still steadfast in our demand for reforms in the international institutions such as the UN Security Council and the financial institutions, the IMF and The World Bank.
We also remain unflinching in our commitment to our continental formations such as the SADC and the AU for instance, our only source of inspiration for African solutions to our challenges as a continent.
We are driving our hopes, aspirations and commitments as a country and a continent buttressed by a lingering season of hope in our continent, on the one hand, and a season marked by challenges which seek to slide back our achievements of over many years on the other.
Africa has been on a very impressive upward growth trajectory, particularly in countries which have historically experienced low growth.
It is a season of hope, as well as our institutions of democracy in the continent have demonstrated considerable maturity, robustness and resilience.
The number of African countries which have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism has risen to thirty-four.
We also welcome you here still in the jubilation of the glory of several successive free, fair and truly democratic elections in various SADC member states.
These include Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique and just recently Zambia and we are looking forward to the same in Nigeria.
This success marks important milestones for us a continent, in our efforts to deepen democracy in Africa and take charge of our destiny, and vindicates our undying belief in African solutions for African challenges.
On the other hand, we are also faced with the challenges which seek to discredit the achievements we have made thus far as a continent.
The Ebola disease, which has affected more than 21 000 people in West African countries such as Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is cause for serious concern for the entire continent.
And so is the security situation in Nigeria, where the challenge of terrorism has reared its ugly head in the continent once more, threatening to wipe out all the peace infrastructures which have been so painstakingly built over many years.
These challenges demand international solidarity.
As Nkosi Albert Luthuli said at the 42nd ANC Annual Conference, “Our interest in freedom is not confined to ourselves only. We are interested in the liberation of all oppressed people in the whole of Africa and in the world as a whole”
In the same way, we are interested in peace, safety and security and goodwill of all the people in this continent.
This unity and collective action is our lodestar towards our 2063 vision and agenda.
In line with its spirit and letter that South Africa belongs to all those who live in it, we will ensure that all our people, including foreign nationals, always feel enveloped by an abiding sense of security wherever they are in the country.
In this regard, our law enforcement agencies will certainly close the net on the brazen criminality which was displayed by some unruly elements against foreign nationals in our townships a few weeks ago.
Next week we go to Cape Town for the opening of parliament and the delivery of the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
The event enables us to review the past year and look ahead to new opportunities and successes. We look forward to a successful and enjoyable SONA next Thursday.
Lastly, we welcome you once more, Excellencies.
We wish you a pleasant and very fruitful stay in our country, firm in our hope that we will enjoy fruitful interactions going forward.
I thank you!