Address on the Occasion of the State Banquet, Tripoli, Libya, 12 June 2002

Brother Leader, Colonel Qaddafi,
Your Excellencies,
Brothers and Sisters,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you, dear Brother Leader and the people of the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriaya for your kind and warm welcome to me, my wife and the entire South African delegation. It is indeed a special pleasure for us to be here and enjoy your generous hospitality.

We bring your fraternal greetings from the government and people of South Africa.

There is no doubt that since we arrived in your country, your warm and kind welcome has made us feel we are at home here in Libya. Indeed, we are at home. You made us feel aware Brother Leader that one of our Provinces, the Western Cape, shares the same climate, the Mediterranean climate, with Libya. Also, archaeologists have proved some unique similarities between the Mountains of the Maghrib here in the north part of our continent with the Cape Fold Belt Mountains in the southern part of our country, both having been formed at the same time some 300 million years ago.

At the same time, however, our countries are bound by more than some geographical similarities.

Our countries occupy the northern-most and southern-most parts of our vast continent. In many ways this poses a common challenge to both of us, to further strengthen and deepen the unity amongst the countries and peoples of this great continent, ensuring that we give all our people the opportunity to participate in all the processes that shape their lives.

I am confident that as we strengthen this unity between our two countries, we will also continue to collaborate to fight the scourge of poverty and underdevelopment and confront all the other challenges that our continent faces.

We have to ensure that we overcome the communication difficulties posed by the vast and great distance between our two countries, which is something that affects the rest of our continent. This will help to accelerate the pace of development of each and every African country such that with technology we reduce any negative impact imposed by time and space and thus become truly neighbours.

Today, we opened the South African Chancery here in Tripoli as a token of our determination to strengthen the relations between our countries. We are also happy that during our visit here, we are holding the First Session of our Joint Bilateral Commission for Cooperation. This will go a long way further to deepen meaningful cooperation between our two countries.

Our two delegations will also have the opportunity to focus on such important areas as trade, investment and cooperation in the field of shipping and related maritime matters as well as in transport, infrastructure, energy, public enterprises, education and health and look in other areas of mutual interest to our two countries.

Given the rich and varied cultural heritage of our two countries, it is important also, that we exchange knowledge and experience in art, sport and science and technology, and as time goes on, we hope that these bilateral agreements will expand to cover numerous other areas of importance.

Furthermore, with your leadership, Brother Leader, I am confident that our two countries can play some humble role, together with sister countries throughout Africa, to banish forever the on-going conflicts, wars and unnecessary disputes amongst some of our countries and peoples.

It was this necessity to strengthen and bring about qualitative unity and move our continental collaboration to a higher level that you, Brother Leader, worked hard for the transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) into the African Union (AU).

Indeed, although our two countries are situated at the extreme ends of our continent, we share not only similar histories of colonialism and oppression, but also similar visions and ideals of a new united and free continent, a developed and prosperous Africa, a better place that our children will inherit unencumbered by the stultifying effects of hunger, disease and conflicts.

Because our countries share a similar vision of the future of our continent, it is important to strengthen our bonds, not just for the benefit of Libya and South Africa but for the good of Africa and all Africans.

Accordingly, we have a pressing duty, together with other leaders on the continent, to ensure that the African Union becomes a success.

We are also faced with an urgent task of ensuring that the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), does not end up being a collection of noble and grand intentions without concrete actions. As you are aware, Brother Leader, much work has been done already to strengthen the partnership among ourselves as Africans so that together we exploit all out economic possibilities for the benefit of the people of the continent.

All of us are encouraged by the enthusiastic support of others outside Africa for this initiative. Nevertheless we recognise the reality that first and foremost we have to depend on our own efforts and resources in a spirit of African self-reliance.

As we continue to engage other leaders throughout the world to partner us, on a programme whose objectives as well as terms and conditions have been crafted by Africans, based on our own experience of what is desirable for the regeneration of our continent, we are confident that we will succeed because both the leadership and the masses of our people are active participants in the processes of what we should rightly call "The New Revolution".

But of central importance is that we, as Africans, should forge real, lasting and practical partnerships that will ensure that trade with each other and invest in one another's economies. The New Partnership will have meaning for all of us, if the growth and development of our economies is predicted on our own ability and preparedness to assist one another to pull ourselves from the degrading conditions brought about by poverty and underdevelopment. We much reach a stage where among the biggest trading partners of our countries are the other sister countries of our continent. This will be part of the critical South-South relations that should propel our countries to prosperity based on equality, fairness and mutual benefit.

As Africans we are living through exciting and challenging times, during which we have the possibility to transform the age-old dreams of our peoples into reality. This requires that we apply ourselves to the tasks at hand and not be satisfied merely that we have adopted good decisions. We must be guided by the understanding that nothing is done until it is done.

At this moment, we must also reaffirm our unwavering support for the achievement of the rights of the people of Palestine. It is an urgent requirement that the Palestinians and Israelis resume their negotiations to give birth to a just and lasting peace.

Your Excellency, once again, thank you for welcoming us to your great country. We expect that at the end of our visit, we shall have further deepened our relations. We value this co-operation as it will benefit our two countries and our peoples. This co-operations will also help to advance the growth and development of our continent.

Thank you, Brother Leader, brothers and sisters, ladies and gentlemen.

I thank you.

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