11 August 2017

South Africa: President Jacob Zuma - Toast Remarks During State Luncheon in Honour President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia

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Toast Remarks by President Jacob Zuma at the State Luncheon during the State Visit of HE President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Republic of Liberia

Your Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, of the Republic of Liberia,

Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Distinguished guests,

On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to once again thank you, Your Excellency, for visiting us as we extend our warm hands of welcome.

We indeed, would like to make you feel at home in South Africa. We have invited you in order to further strengthen the warm and cordial bilateral relations that exist between our two countries.

At the same time, we also would like to honour you as we celebrate your tenure as the first and current democratically elected female President on the African continent.

Your visit could not have come at an opportune time when we celebrate the achievements and contribution of the women in South Africa in realising our freedom and progress made to date, in August as part of Women's Month.

Your Excellency,

We felt it befitting that we should invite you during this period when South Africa commemorates and pays tribute to the more than 20 000 women who marched to the Union Buildings on the 9th of August 1956, in protest against the extension of Pass Laws to women.

In the same vein, we would like to commend you for the strides you have made thus far in restoring and maintaining peace and order, especially after the difficult time which your country has gone through.

Distinguished guests,

It is worth mentioning that this year's celebrations build on our commitment with regard to women economic emancipation; addressing issues of gender based violence and give more impetus to government and society's efforts in this regard.

As we continue to celebrate this Women's Month, we indeed acknowledge and cherish women in our lives and their achievements, as well as the vital role that women from all walks of life have played and continue to play within our society.

Your visit also coincides with the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo in which we are celebrating the centenary of this struggle icon.

OR Tambo was a strong advocate for gender equality. During the Conference of the Women in Luanda in 1981, he said: "The mobilisation of women is the task, not only of women alone, or of men alone, but of all of us, men and women alike, comrades in struggle. The mobilisation of the people into active resistance and struggle for liberation demands the energies of women no less than of men."

He added: "A system based on the exploitation of man-by-man can in no way avoid the exploitation of women by the male members of society.

There is therefore no way in which women in general can liberate themselves without fighting to the end the exploitation of man by man, both as a concept and as a social system."

Your Excellency, Madame President,

We cannot afford to forget the sacrifices which Liberians made in support for our struggle.

Your country has hosted at times, a number of prominent anti-apartheid figures from South Africa.

Former President Nelson Mandela visited Liberia in 1962 and was well received and even assisted with some financial support to further his quest for the freedom which South Africans enjoy today.

Your Excellency,

We are confident that we shall finalise the outstanding legal instruments in order to enable us to achieve our objectives which are also aligned with the continental Agenda 2063.

It is imperative that our countries must continue to work together to establish linkages that will allow for effective and efficient intra-Africa trade.

We need to find one another through our regional bodies, and of course in the continental body, the African Union, in order to speedily address all challenges that hinder Africa's development.

It is everyone's responsibility to ensure that the set objectives in relation to the Agenda 2063 are achieved without failure.

It is not a secret that our continental development is mainly hindered by challenges which include, among others, terrorism and extremism.

Africa cannot move forward unless we completely silence the guns and ensure the lasting peace and stability in each and every African state.

We need to increase Africa's voice in the global fora so that our plights are heard and given the utmost attention they deserve.

Our call for the reform of the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council, shall never fade until such time that they are well representative, and the interests of the developing world are truly taken into account.

Your Excellency,

In June and December 2015, South Africa and Liberia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technical Cooperation and a General Framework Agreement for Bilateral Cooperation respectively aimed at strengthening economic relations as well as enhancing trade and investment between the two countries.

The signing of these two instruments has the potential to increase trade between our two countries.

I am happy that we had a fruitful discussion this morning.

We have agreed to prioritise among other areas of cooperation, trade and investment; agriculture; health; construction; energy; telecommunications; finance and mining.

We want to make South Africa home to Liberians, and Liberia home to South Africans by increasing people to people contact.

Liberia has a special place in our hearts given our historical linkage when you stood with us on our struggle against the Apartheid regime.

The Agreement between our two countries on the Exemption of Visa for the holders of Diplomatic Passports will soon be finalised.

We are also working towards finalising the Joint Trade and Investment Committee which will enable us to service the MoU on Economic and Technical Cooperation already signed.

As I conclude, I would like to express my profound happiness given our commitments to do our utmost best in our efforts to deliver services to our people.

I also wish you, Madame President, and your fellow people success as you conduct Presidential and Legislative Elections in October this year.

Furthermore, I wish to commend you, Madame President, for your role in taking Liberia out of a devastating civil war and ensuring a peaceful transition to democracy since 2005 and noting the devastating impact of the Ebola, I once more, congratulate Liberia and her neighbours for successfully managing the epidemic.

Madame President, allow me to wish you well in advance in your new endeavours as you vacate Office after serving a successful two terms as President of the Republic of Liberia.

Your Excellency and distinguished guests,

May you please rise and join me in a toast to the good health of Her Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and to the prosperity and everlasting solidarity between the peoples of Liberia and South Africa.

To friendship and comradeship!

I thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency

South Africa

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