Issued by: Office of The Deputy President

Your Excellency, Vice President Atiku Abubakar
Honorable Ministers from both countries
Senior Officials
Ladies and Gentlemen,

When we arrived yesterday I was greatly humbled by the warmth and the humility of the people of your country. I wish to thank you for the wonderful reception that we received and express my hope that our visit here will be a most fruitful one.

Mr. Vice President, it is indeed an honour to address this gathering three days after the celebration of the 39th anniversary of the birth of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincere congratulations to our brother President Obasanjo, and to all the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The independence of Nigeria amongst other countries, in the early 60's, served as an inspiration to many liberation fighters whose countries were still under the colonial yoke - indeed it was a second home for many of our own cadres during those turbulent days. We can now rejoice that South Africa, the last of those countries is now free.

It is fitting that our two countries are coming together, on the eve of the new millennium, to discuss and establish common ground for the betterment of our peoples. Our President has issued a call to the people of our continent to rise and take their place among the nations of the world and to make the second millennium The African Century.

What this calls for is for the people of the African continent to rediscover themselves and to find new ways of doing things - to find peace within themselves and their continent. Your Excellency, we have been given a mandate, as the leadership of our respective countries, to build a better life for our people and a caring continent. The challenge facing us now is how best to harness the abundant resources that both our countries have for the betterment of our societies.

We have passed the first hurdle and achieved democracy and stability in our countries. For these are the underpinning principles - if we are to take our rightful place among the nations of the world. Without freedom for our people we can never have lasting stability and without stability we can never have economic prosperity - neither can we achieve the most important objective of the OAU - of uniting the people of the African continent.

There is a need to rid our countries and our continent of the scourge of conflict, and jointly, to work harder to achieve lasting peace amongst our people. It is this seemingly endemic conflict that has undermined the development of all our countries throughout the last four decades. It is time now for us to consolidate our efforts and jointly to find the African Solution.

Your Excellency, I believe that our two countries are on course. We have now achieved democracy and stability. Our recent elections have proved that beyond any doubt. The challenge now facing us is to translate this mandate into concrete programs of action for delivery.

Our President has elaborated upon a programme for our government that will:

ensure delivery of quality services to the people

grow the economy while creating wealth

combat crime and corruption

pursue an integrated urban and rural development strategy

and build a partnership with the rest of the continent

All these objectives will be met within the broad framework of our constitution supported by various institutions of democracy such as the Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector, an Independent Judiciary, the Constitutional Court and others that continue to underping our democracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen it is the conviction of millions of our people, in our respective countries, that the establishment of this Joint Commission will set the tone for bilateral relations between South Africa and Nigeria, in a number of areas, and that these will be underpinned by concrete action steps. We should not fail them!

We meet in the context of a wide recognition that South Africa and Nigeria have the potential to support and promote rapid and sustainable development, not only in our respective countries but indeed in our continent, Africa.

By virtue of their relative strength, our two countries have the ability, acting in concert with sister countries, to lead the continent into the mainstream of global socio-economic development within the broad objectives of an African Renaissance.

It is our conviction therefore that this Joint Commission will lay a firm foundation and lead to co-operation and a partnership between our two countries in all spheres of our economies while advancing the broader objectives of the OAU.

We share the view that the objectives of the Joint Commission should be:

to provide a framework for collaborative and cooperative efforts in the common endeavour to bring Africa into the mainstream of global political, social and economic developments;
to provide the basis for the governments and private sectors of our two countries to consult each other on their respective economies and investment climates with a view to promoting trade and industry.
to improve bilateral relations between the two countries in the field of technology, education, health, culture, youth and sports;
to utilise the generous endowments of both countries in human and natural resources to maximise socio-economic development, through economies of scale, global competitiveness and specialisation based on comparative and competitive advantage; and lastly
to establish the mechanisms for putting the benefits of economic cooperation to the service of peace, stability, social integration and economic development in other parts of the continent.
In this context, our co-operation of the OAU should create a climate conducive for the creation of a better quality of life for all. It should create a platform in which we can jointly as partners impact positively, in conjunction with our sister countries, on regional peace and security; socio-economic development; poverty alleviation; and the prevention of crime and corruption.

Our President has challenge the world at large to make the next century an African century. This Joint Commission should elaborate a workable and achievable plan to ensure this dream of an African century is realised.

This should include constant and consistent, consultative and co-operative efforts with each other as equals and partners, and in conjunction with the OAU, on matters to be deliberated upon by the UN and other multi-lateral organisations to ensure the agenda of our continent is foremost in the thinking of the world.

The call by President Thabo Mbeki and General Olesegun Obasanjo for the democratisation of the UN System that will lay the foundation for the inclusion of our continent on the Security Council should be strengthened and consolidated.

On the economic front, we have already started identifying possible areas of cooperation. The Joint Commission needs to intensify and sharply focus our activities on the realisation of concrete and tangible outcomes. In this regard, I am pleased to advise that our team will be seeking to advance our mutual interests by:

intensifying our bilateral relationship through cooperation in the areas of trade, investment, infrastructure development, science and technology, agriculture, minerals and energy, transport and communications;
establishing cooperation in jointly identified economic projects and sectors as determined by our collective priorities in a manner that enhances the collaboration between our private and public sectors;
regular consultations and establishing common positions on efforts to bring the Continent into the mainstream of global economic developments, including the activities of the World Trade Organisation.
Pursuant to these objectives, our delegation of ministers and senior government officials stands ready and prepared to engage meaningfully in the following sectors or clusters of activities:

The Economic Cluster - covering iron and steel, minerals, energy, agriculture, trade and privatisation;

The Infrastructure Cluster - focusing on road and rail transport, aviation, ports and communications;

Defence and Security matters; and

Other important areas such as narcotics trade, HIV/AIDS and technical assistance.
We are convinced that the Joint Commission should also deal with cooperation in Science and Technology, Education, Cultural and Sporting exchanges. We are confident that the exchanges between our teams will lay a solid foundation for the betterment of the quality of life of our peoples, increased economic cooperation and wholesome improvement in our bilateral relationship.

On behalf of the South African Government and People, I extend a warm hand of friendship and an unequivocal commitment to make ours a thriving, well rounded relationship based on cooperation and fraternity within the framework of the Joint Commission.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa