Your Excellency, High Commissioner, H.E Kwesi Ahwoi;
Your Excellences’, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Members of the Private Sector and Civil Society;
Ladies and Gentlemen
As the representative of the Government of the Republic of South Africa, I am honoured by the invitation extended to us, to come and celebrate the independence of the Republic of Ghana.
Indeed, it is with great pleasure that we are gathered here today to celebrate the 58th Anniversary of the Independence Day of the Republic of Ghana.
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I would like to convey to His Excellency, President John Dramani Mahama, the Government and the people of the Republic of Ghana, our warm greetings and sincere congratulations on your Independence Day so great a human achievement.
May I also take this opportunity to reaffirm South Africa’s desire to further enhance and consolidate the strong bonds of friendship that exist between our two countries. On this occasion, we are reminded that Ghana was the first country on the African continent to attain her independence, on 6th March 1957 to be exact.
Through the courage and vision of the late Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana led the way for the rest of the Continent to aspire to and achieve its freedom. In his words, the visionary and a true son of the soil Nkrumah once said: “The forces that unite us are intrinsic and greater than the superimposed influences that keep us apart.” These words are as important today as there were decades ago.
While it took many decades before South Africa gained her freedom, Ghana served as our inspiration. We remain grateful for the support received from the people and the successive Governments of the Republic of Ghana in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid.
Against the backdrop of the 58th Celebrations of Independence Day of the Republic of Ghana, it is important that we reflect on the progress that we have made in our relations; and what needs to be done for this partnership to further enhance the benefit to our countries and the Continent.
Our two countries share strong democratic values and that we cooperate in promoting democracy, good governance and human rights in our Continent and the world at large.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, during all our bilateral and multilateral engagements, these democratic principles underscore the bonds of friendship and solidarity and our desire to improve the lives of our citizens and that of the Continent.
Our relations are structured through the Permanent Joint Commission for Cooperation (PJCC). The 3rd session of the PJCC was held in November 2013 under the chair of the respective Ministers of International Relations/Foreign Affairs.
At the invitation of President Mahama, His Excellency President Jacob Zuma, accompanied by a high level delegation, paid a very successful State Visit to the Republic of Ghana on 26-27 November 2013. This State Visit was in reciprocation of the State Visit paid to South Africa by the late President Atta Mills in August 2011. Both Presidents re-committed themselves to further enhance our bilateral relations and thereby ensure that the two countries remain focused towards the consolidation of the African Agenda.
The highlight of this successful visit was the signing of three Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) in various sectors. I know that the Departments/Ministries have commenced with the implementation of these Agreements as well as the seven MoUs signed in August 2011 in order to ensure that they become fully operational and beneficial to our two countries.
Both Presidents endorsed the Action Plans agreed upon by the Ministers of International Relations and Cooperation and Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration during the 3rd Session of the South Africa-Ghana Permanent Joint Commission on Cooperation (PJCC) held in South Africa on 5th November 2013. It is through these structured bilateral relations that our nations can be able to improve political and economic cooperation as well as finding solutions to our common socio-economic challenges.
Trade between South Africa and Ghana has grown significantly over the years. There are a significant number of South African companies that operate in Ghana.
South Africa is today the 14th largest investor in Ghana with investments amounting to more than R64 billion recorded between 2003 and April 2013.
The business delegation to Ghana that was led by the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry in June 2013, and the Business Forum that was held in Accra during the State Visit created further opportunities for trade and investment between the two countries. We continue to encourage our private sector and civil society to make use of every opportunity that exists to further strengthen our economic relations but we also urge them to contribute to the broader socio-economic conditions and upliftment of the people of our countries.
The tourism industry in South Africa has in recent years been driven by the significant growth in arrivals from Africa and this includes visitors from Ghana. In 2014 alone, 18 353 Ghanaians visited South Africa. Both countries need to partner and encourage people-to-people contact as this has an impact in further strengthening relations across all sectors.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen, Ghana has always demonstrated confidence in South Africa and its efforts to finding lasting peaceful solutions to conflict situations on the continent. The example set by Ghana as an "island of peace" is a gold standard the rest of the continent could emulate. In light of this, the African Centre for Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is due to honour Ghana with a peace award. We congratulate in-advance the people and Government of Ghana on this extraordinary achievement of maintaining peaceful co-existence in the midst of conflicts ravaging the Africa continent and beyond.
South Africa shares the goal of peace on the Continent with Ghana – we will continue to cooperate closely in continental and international forums, working together towards the shared objectives of developing our Continent so that we can claim our rightful position in the world.
It is important to note that Ghana is the current Chair of the Economic Community of Western African States (ECOWAS). This comes at the time when the region is encountering serious challenges in increasing terrorist activities and the Ebola outbreak. In August 2014 the United Nations identified Ghana as a base for supplies bound for West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. It is worth noting that the country is exerting remarkable efforts to tackle challenges that the region is going through.
Your Excellency, on the Independence Day of the Republic of Ghana, we want to congratulate the Government and the people of Ghana on the progress that they have made as a democratic country and we wish them every success for the future.
We are confident that Ghana and its people will continue to prosper and we are also confident that the relations between our two countries will continue to contribute to the prosperity of both our countries and people.
In conclusion, on behalf of the people and government of the Republic of South Africa, I congratulate Your Excellency once more on your National Independence Day and further assure you that Ghana has the support and loyal friendship of the South African Government and her people.
In conclusion, I would like to propose a toast to the health and the prosperity of the Government and the people of the Republic of Ghana.
I thank you.