Pretoria — South Africa has pledged its support for Somalia's new government and the country on their road to towards a prosperous and stable democracy.
"Their suffering through war and famine has been our suffering and now that they are on the road to recovery and prosperity, we wish to walk beside them and assist wherever we can with rebuilding their country," said President Jacob Zuma.
He was addressing new ambassadors to South Africa, which included the representative from the east African country at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse on Tuesday.
Instability due to war and the absence of a functioning government has contributed to the worsening situation in Somalia which has not had a formal government for 20 years.
The lack of sustainable programmes for institution and capacity-building also renders Somalia more vulnerable to natural disasters.
South Africa last year pledged R100 million towards projects that would support the post-conflict reconstruction and development of Somalia.
Zuma said two of the projects have recently been approved to develop the war-ravaged country and a team would be deployed to Mogadishu to ensure that work on them begins as soon as possible.
He also committed to playing a meaningful role in assisting other neighbours such as Mali and the Central African Republic to bring about peace and stability.
"With a track record in dealing with situations like this, as we see the example in Burundi, we are hopeful that a durable solution will soon be found."
He told the diplomats which included those from Cote d'Ivoire, Chile, Georgia, Niger, Sweden, Cuba, Burundi, Australia, Canada, and Cape Verde that the relations must be utilised to define a programme of action to strengthen trade and economic relations that are beneficial.
"We are therefore looking forward to cooperation in various areas such as agriculture, mining and many others, particularly geared towards the consolidation of the African Agenda."
He also hoped that the bilateral relations would be strengthened and that they would work together at multilateral levels with all countries represented to improve the world as well as advance the achievement of Millennium Development Goals 2015.
Turning to the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, Zuma said he hoped that Bafana Bafana would translate the home ground advantage into a resounding victory in the tournament.