Speech by Minster Dlamini Zuma at the 5th South Africa-India Joint Ministerial Commission, Pretoria 4th July 2003

The Honourable Minister of External Affairs of the Republic of India, Shri Yaswant Sinha,

Honourable Ministers from South Africa,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished delegates,

I welcome all of you to this, the 5th South Africa-India Joint Ministerial Commission. We trust that your stay in South Africa has been, and will continue to be fruitful and enjoyable.

This year marks a milestone in the excellent relations between South Africa and India, as we celebrate 10 years of diplomatic ties born of a creative partnership through decades of struggle.

On the eve of celebrating a decade of freedom and democracy in our country, I take this opportunity on behalf of all South Africans to once again express our profound gratitude to the Government and people of India for their substantial contribution to all that we enjoy today.

We recall with pride that great son of India and South Africa, Mahatma Gandhi who forged a special link between our countries. Having suffered the indignity of colonial oppression and racism on South African soil, he evolved the liberation philosophy of Ahimsa and Satyagraha which became cornerstones in the freedom struggles of both India and South Africa.

In so doing the Mahatma brought the dream of freedom and gift of hope to so many millions of the poor, the colonised and the oppressed. As we look back with pride to the decades of creative partnership between our peoples and countries born of struggles, as we celebrate the past decade of a special relationship born of freedom, we must commit ourselves to journey together, as the Mahatma did, along that path that leads to a better life for all our people.

His philosophy of non-violence and its application to conflict resolution in Africa and elsewhere in the global community is still as relevant today as it has been in the life of Gandhiji – one could even say it is becoming even more relevant today.


The enduring historical linkages between India and the African continent is witnessed in the deep economic, social, cultural and sporting ties that exist between India and African countries. India has been a trusted and reliable partner of Africa and continues to be so.

It is in this spirit that we welcome India’s commitment to NEPAD and the aspirations of the African Renaissance, as demonstrated through the Focus Africa programme of India’s Ministry of Commerce. We also laud the creation of the India – Africa Fund worth US$ 200 million, to be made available to the NEPAD secretariat in the form of loans to enhance economic interaction.

Honourable Minister;

The expressed desire by our countries to engage in a Strategic Partnership, is embodied in the vision of the Red Fort Declaration. During the past 10 years, we have witnessed considerable advances between our countries in political, economic, defence, cultural and sporting relations.

We must continue to do more to further consolidate and expand our Strategic Partnership, through regular exchanges and engagements, in an atmosphere of trust, goodwill and mutuality of interest and ideals.

To this end, President Mbeki will undertake a State visit to India in October; an event that is sure to add further impetus to our expanding and deepening political and economic relationship.

The rapid expansion of economic relations between ourselves is most encouraging. In this regard we applaud the active co-operative between our Governments, as well as the apex bodies and business interests of our countries. Both of our Governments are equally resolved to ensure that the benefits of economic change and prosperity percolate to all sectors of our societies.

I am confident that the discussions between the member states of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), and India on the subject of a Preferential Trade Agreement will come to fruition. Further, we welcome the institutionalisation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – India Dialogue Forum.

The grand-design of colonialism to forcefully and oppressively control the destiny of our peoples has today been harnessed to work in our favour. The children of Africa were scattered around the globe, including Brazil as slaves, while the children of India were equally scattered globally, including in South Africa, as indentured labourers. The African and Indian diasporas have today become vibrant communities that link us together in our global village.


Last month, India, Brazil and South Africa forged a trilateral linkage in Brasilia. Let me pay tribute to your sterling and active participation in the trilateral forum that led to the establishment of the India, Brazil and South Africa trilateral joint commission - IBSA. I share your conviction that the combined energy and resources of our three countries can and must be utilised in a dynamic and creative manner to make a difference in the lives of our people, creating a better life for all.

We have the political will and the necessary resources to make this trilateral partnership a vibrant force. It is up to us to rally to the challenge we have set before us in this regard. Our commitment and responsibility to South - South co-operation and meaningful interaction has given birth to the IBSA and we need to nurture this co-operation to ensure it becomes a full-blown flower in all its radiance and vibrancy that holds benefit for all our people.

Such multilateral co-operation naturally reinforces our relationship at the bilateral level, and vice versa, and provides added impetus to the way in which South Africa and India address the social and economic inequalities and disparities that are common, not only to us, but to the developing world as a whole.

Honourable Minister, on behalf of the South African delegation, I convey to you our best wishes for successful deliberations and a productive and pleasant engagement. I also note with regret that your short stay in South Africa did not allow you time to enjoy the scenic beauty of our country. I hope that during your next visit you will be able to enjoy some of the beauty and allure of South Africa at a more leisurely pace.

Thank you.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa