CLOSING REMARKS BY DEPUTY PRESIDENT
JACOB ZUMA AT THE INAUGURAL SESSION OF THE SOUTH AFRICA/NIGERIA
ABUJA, 5 OCTOBER 1999
Your Excellency, Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,
Honorable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Senior SA and Nigerian Government Officials,
Ladies and Gentlemen
This is an historic moment in the lives of our people.
I have no doubt in my mind that this is the beginning
of great thigs for our two countries and indeed for
the African continent. The two days of the Inaugural
session of the South Africa/Nigeria Joint Commission
have been very brief but most fruitful - We have made
We have set out a very useful framework for the strengthening
of relations between our two countries. I truly believe
that it is this framework that is going to lay the practical
foundation for the realisation of the African Renaissance
that we all dream of.
I would like to take this opportunity to commend the
senior officials and Ministers who have worked tirelessly
to ensure the success of this Inaugural Session.
The framework that has been agreed upon will facilitate
and enable the exchange of experiences, expertise and
ideas to support and deepen our young democracies and
ensure their continued success. It will facilitate particularly,
the strengthening of democracy in our respective countries
in the area of setting up relevant institutions that
guarantee the protection of basic Human Rights for all
our citizens and entrench the culture of democratic
It is now clear to all of us that there can be no meaningful
economic growth and development while our continent
continues to be plagued by conflict. Our two nations,
therefore, have a responsibility as members of the Organisation
for African Unity, to work hard to restore peace and
stability in our continent. The abuse of the basic human
rights of all our people cannot be allowed to continue.
Entire communities are destroyed daily, creating thousands
of displaced persons and refugees. Starvation and general
dehumanisation of our people is the order of the day.
Our people are forced to beg, steal or use whatever
means possible to survive. Sadly it is the elderly,
the women and children who are disproportionately victimised.
In our frantic quest for personal power we deny our
children the right to be children.
The African Renaissance can only come about when all
of us consciously and deliberately take responsibility
for our lives and for our actions. We each have to be
proactive - we have to take the lead and contribute
to the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts
on our continent. I believe that South Africa and Nigeria
have a particular responsibility towards this and towards
ensuring that the International Community and the United
Nations in particular, continue to invest both human
and material resources in Africa in accordance with
Your Excellency, colleagues, Ministers and all participants,
as we deepen this vital relationship, it is important
to note that our two countries belong to two of the
more advanced sub-regional communities. They are strategically
placed geographically and make up 25% of the African
The destinies of our two countries are undoubtedly
linked to those of our neighbours in these sub-regional
Economic Communities that we belong to -the Southern
Africa Development Community (SADC) and the Economic
Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
What this implies, therefore is that the development
of strong economic and trade links between our two countries
and our sub-regional communities can only contribute
to the development of a truly African Economic Community
as set out in the Abuja Treaty. The processes underway,
within the SADC and ECOWAS, are building blocks to this
African Economic Community.
It is therefore quite significant that Abuja has been
the venue for the Inaugural Joint Commission where we
have signed the Agreed Minutes. These minutes commit
all of us present today, and our governments, to the
intensification of cooperation in areas such as defence
and security, science, technology, education and culture,
infrastructure ad economic development. We will continue
to work hard to ensure that we achieve the ideal of
the Abuja Treaty and improve the quality of life for
An important aspect of the framework we have agreed
upon is that it enables the Vice-President of Nigeria
and myself to consult during the Commission on important
political issues of our two countries and of the continent.
If we are to impact positively on continental and global
issues of importance, I believe it is important that
while the technical teams continue to meet and work
out issues, we at the political level also meet as and
when required, and stretegise on how best to advance
the African agenda. Our relationship has, of necessity,
to be of a strategic nature.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my
heartfelt appreciation to the President of the Federal
Republic of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo for the audience
he granted my delegation and me yesterday. I have understood
that to be yet another expression of the commitment
of his government to the letter and spirit of the Joint
Commission and to the consolidation of relations between
our two countries.
The meeting gave us the opportunity to exchange ideas
on developments in our two countries and to listen to
the ideas of His Excellency, who incidentally has had
quite a long relationship with the people of South Africa.
He reiterated the importance of the success of the infant
democracies of South Africa and Nigeria.
There is clearly a new urgency to build democratic,
accountable and transparent governments for all the
people of Africa and to rejection totally the forceful
taking of power through undemocratic means. This requires
that our democracies be strengthened and nurtured to
serve as an example of what can be achieved if we all
work for the common good for all our citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like at this point, to
thank my counterpart, His Excellency, the Vice-President
of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the warm reception
and hospitality my delegation and I have received since
our arrival in Abuja. You invited us to feel at home
and indeed we have, particularly those of us who, like
myself, are from hot and humid towns such as Durban.
In conclusion, Your Excellency, I believe we have achieved
what we set out to do. We will continue to interact
and consult, whenever the need arises, on political,
social, economic, security and cultural issues of mutual
interest and concern. The people of South Africa, Nigeria,
the continent and the world have very high expectations
of us. We dare not fail them. Indeed we cannot afford
I would like to also use this opportunity to formally
invite you to South Africa for the next session of the
South Africa / Nigeria Joint Commission next year. Your
Excellency, I look forward to receiving you.
I thank you.