Your Excellency, Ambassador Issombo of the Republic of Congo
Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here today to celebrate a very important and auspicious occasion in the national calendar of the Republic of Congo, the 50th Anniversary of the Independence of the Congolese people.
I am honoured to represent the South African government at this historic event. Indeed the government of South Africa joins the government of the Republic of Congo in celebrating your 50th Anniversary of Independence.
As you well know, South Africans are very passionate about the liberation and development of the African people. We believe the emancipation of all people, including women and children, is central to the successful development of any country.
It is also a pleasant coincidence that the Congolese Independence happens together with Women’s Month celebrations in South Africa. Africa has an obligation to translate its independence into real freedom. Freedom means peaceful coexistence on our continent, access to basic needs and creation of jobs.
Ambassador Issombo, I want you to know that the successful celebrations of the independence of your country make South Africans very happy and proud because we know that your government is sparing no effort to improve the lives of the Congolese people.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our relations with the Republic of Congo are excellent and continue to grow. And that is how we want the relations to be, that is, to grow further and reach greater heights. Our diplomatic relations date back from March 1993, just before the historic elections of 1994 to usher South Africa into democracy.
Both our countries have worked very hard to ensure that bilateral political and economic relations improve even further. Our governments are working towards the realisation of the development of bilateral projects for mutual benefit.
South Africa is still excited by the successful state visit of President Denis Sassou-Nguesso, on 8 and 9 April this year. The visit has indeed created the momentum and the energy necessary to improve bilateral ground work.
You will recall that several agreements were signed during the state visit; one of them is the Memorandum of Understanding on Economic Cooperation. I mention this Memorandum specifically because it is designed to increase bilateral trade between our countries.
Trade between South Africa and the Congo is steadily growing. However, statistics indicate that the trade balance is largely skewed in South Africa’s favour. This is not acceptable to us. South Africa wishes to have a situation whereby the Congolese people are able to export more of their products to us and other countries. The strengthening of economic cooperation between our countries will create an environment conducive for infrastructure development, which will expedite economic development.
You will also recall that President Jacob Zuma noted this adverse situation and urged South African and Congolese companies to improve investment ties in order to increase intra-Africa trade. We remain convinced that the bilateral work will yield great mutual results for both our countries.
We strongly believe that the launch of the Joint Commission for Cooperation is an effective mechanism to ensure the implementation of bilateral Agreements.
Both our Presidents called for the implementation of the signed agreements so that next time they meet, there should be a record of progress pertaining to bilateral work.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you, Your Excellency, Ambassador Issombo and your government for the unwavering support provided to us during the FIFA World Cup. Africa spared no efforts in assisting South Africa to ensure the successful hosting of the event.
Ladies and Gentlemen
As we all know, the Republic of Congo is an active member in the CEMAC (Economic and Monetary Community of Central African) region. President Sassou-Nguesso has always advocated for the effective functioning of CEMAC in order to put Central Africa on the global map.
South Africa commends the efforts of the members of CEMAC in working together to ensure that the Central African region prospers. Our government therefore welcomes the very positive developments in CEMAC, the inauguration of the CEMAC Parliament and strengthened efforts to deepen regional integration.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our Presidents, His Excellency President Denis Sassou-Nguesso and President Jacob Zuma, work together in many international forums. They continue to consult and work together on matters pertaining to continental and global concerns. South Africa is encouraged by the support provided by President Sassou-Nguesso to continental efforts guided by the principles of the African Union.
Supporting one another is fundamental to African unity. When we stand united on matters affecting our continent, we will definitely achieve our objectives of social renewal and economic development.
Ladies and gentlemen
We, as the South African government, see our close and friendly relationship yielding ever greater mutual benefits for South Africa and the Republic of Congo.
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health of President Sassou-Nguesso, the prosperity of the people of Congo and the everlasting friendship between the wonderful people of the Republic of Congo and the people of the Republic of South Africa.
To enduring friendship!
I thank you