Remarks by President Jacob Zuma at the State Banquet during the State Visit of President Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal
Your Excellency, President Macky Sall,
Hon Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa,
Hon Speaker of our National Assembly, Ms Baleka Mbete,
And the chairperson of the NCOP Ms Thandi Modise,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Members of Parliament,
Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions and other statutory bodies,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to welcome you again, my dear Brother and your distinguished delegation to South Africa.
I thank you for graciously honouring our invitation. This visit is very important to us as it serves to further deepen very strong historical ties between our two countries.
I still have fond memories of my visit to Senegal in 2013. This visit takes the relations to a higher level, building on that successful State Visit. My dear brother, let me congratulate the Government and the People of the Republic of Senegal for once again conducting successful legislative elections in July 2017.
The peaceful manner in which the elections were conducted is a further demonstration of the entrenched democratisation process in the Continent.
Of course, Senegal is one of the shining examples of democracy on the Continent. We also wish to commend the role that Senegal plays in West Africa, in contributing to peace, security and stability.
In this regard, we wish to single out your role in The Gambia when that sister country faced challenges.
Equally, let me also take this opportunity to commend you for the leadership that you have provided to the NEPAD processes, priorities and programmes as the Chairperson of the NEPAD Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee.
You and I work very closely together on NEPAD. I value your support in my role as the Chairperson of the Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative. The AU in its wisdom decided that Heads of State should champion infrastructure development in the continent as it is an effective way of advancing Africa's competitiveness and also of promoting regional integration.
The objectives of NEPAD remain relevant today as they were yesterday, in transforming Africa for the better, as espoused in our Vision 2063, "The Africa We Want".
We want to assure you of our total commitment to the noble vision and objectives of NEPAD, which we regard as our Continental economic blueprint and a key instrument to promote the development and integration of the Continent.
In this regard, we need to safeguard the autonomy of NEPAD and its institutional arrangements.
My Dear Brother
We had fruitful discussions during the day and have reaffirmed the joint commitment to ensuring that relations between South Africa and Senegal are deepened for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
Your visit comes as we mark the centenary of the birth of the late Oliver Reginald Tambo, the former President of our liberation movement, the African National Congress, and one of the founding fathers of South Africa's liberation and constitutional democracy.
Like many Senegalese heroes and heroines, OR Tambo advocated the liberation of the African Continent and of humankind at large.
As we mark 100 years since the birth of OR Tambo this year, we also fondly recall the contribution of Senegal to our liberation struggle.
That is why we have decided to dedicate your State Visit to the celebration of the legacy of OR Tambo, Mr President.
In July this year our two countries together celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the landmark Dakar Talks of 1987, recalling the historic gathering of the ANC leadership in exile with influential Afrikaner intelligentsia and leaders from home.
Those historic talks reminded us that despite deep-seated differences, we were still South Africans and had a common destiny, and that we needed to find solutions together to challenges facing our country.
During the commemorative event, a Memorandum of Understanding on the twinning of Robben Island Museum and Gorée Island Slave House in Senegal was signed.
Our peoples need to remain fully aware of the history that the two islands present and celebrate the freedom from colonialism, slavery and apartheid.
I am happy that you are scheduled to visit Robben Island tomorrow with your delegation to gain a first-hand account of where leaders such as President Nelson Mandela spent many years of their lives.
That visit is important as our two countries share a history of struggle against colonialism and apartheid. We also share common values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and fundamental human rights. It is these bonds that will keep the relations between our two countries alive and make them grow deeper as areas of cooperation expand.
While our proud nations have broken free from the shackles of colonialism and Apartheid, our struggle is not over and we must never rest.
Our countries, like many others on our continent and throughout the world are still confronted by amongst others, the paramount challenges of poverty, unemployment and insecurity.
It is this profound thought that makes us continue to want to achieve more for the benefit of our people.
It is encouraging to see that relations between our two countries are getting stronger.
However, we need to work together to improve economic cooperation for the mutual benefit of our countries and peoples.
We are happy that we have decided to elevate the current Joint Commission through which we manage the relations to a ministerial level, which will enhance our bilateral cooperation.
In this regard, we direct our ministers to fast track the implementation of signed agreements and ensure that all the outstanding agreements are finalised.
Mr President and Dear Brother,
We commit ourselves to forging a closer partnership with your beautiful country not only to advance bilateral relations but also to advance continental transformation and integration.
We agreed earlier today that our two countries should consult on a regular basis as we need to address the immediate challenges facing our two countries and also the continent.
The Ministers and the senior officials heard our instructions clearly in this regard.
My Dear Brother,
On Saturday, the leadership of South Africa will converge in Mbizana in our Eastern Cape Province where Mr OR Tambo was born, to celebrate his centenary.
He would have turned 100 years old on Saturday 27 October had he lived.
We are pleased that you were able to join us during such an important week in our country.
We are truly happy to host you Mr President and your delegation. We look forward to greater and deeper cooperation between Senegal and South Africa after this visit.
Ladies and gentlemen
May I invite you to rise and join me in a toast for the good health of His Excellency, President Macky Sall, to the prosperity of our two nations and to the continued and everlasting solidarity and friendship between the peoples of South Africa and Senegal.
To friendship and solidarity!
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency