Reply by the President of South Africa,
Thabo Mbeki, to the Toast by Prime Minister Jean Chretien,
at the Museum of Civilisation, Gatineau, Ottawa.
November 4, 2003
The Rt Hon Jean Chretien and Madame Aline Chretien,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The entire South African delegation is very delighted
to be in Canada and to join you here tonight, after
a memorable tour of the exhibits depicting the evolution
of your great nation in this Museum of Civilisation.
Prime Minister, you are stepping down after your long
and outstanding career in politics and government, but
we are confident that your best is yet to come in the
years ahead. We in Africa know that we can count on
your support even in your retirement.
The Museum of Civilisation is a fitting place for us
to pay tribute and homage to a great friend of South
Africa, of Africa and to one of Canada's most distinguished
and esteemed leaders, Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
You were part of those, whose dedication and conviction,
ensured that in the 1970's, the voice of all Canadians,
including aboriginal groups, was heard.
Again, in the 1980's, you played an important role
in the protection and promotion of the rights of women,
aboriginal groups and other minorities.
We are privileged to congratulate you on the important
role you played to ensure that this country has its
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Last year, when you
celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Charter, you
said in your message, Prime Minister, that this was
your proudest achievement in public service and also
an example and source of inspiration for many countries
around the world. South Africa too is inspired by your
As our first decade of freedom in South Africa draws
to a close, we take pride in the fact that we drew on
the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms as we drafted
our own Constitution and Bill of Rights. I would also
like to take this opportunity once more to convey our
thanks to the people of Canada for the important role
they played in the global struggle against apartheid.
This valuable contribution to our liberty has served
as a solid foundation for the warm relations of friendship
and solidarity that bind our countries and peoples.
Since we gained our freedom, Canada has taken her place
among the front ranks of those who have been assisting
us to build a new society. This has included capacity
building within the justice system, anti-corruption
programmes and other projects in all fields, such as
education and the arts, all aimed at creation of a new
South Africa. We are extremely grateful for your material
and intellectual assistance in promoting the development
of a people centred society, which, like Canada, will
continue to grow in conditions of peace and prosperity.
We value the increasing investment and trade between
our two countries, and are happy at the important role
you have played in this regard, Prime Minister. We are
confident that our visit here will further strengthen
our bi-lateral cooperation and ensure enhanced economic
relations between us.
Last year at the Kananaskis G8 Summit, again, Prime
Minister, you showed your solidarity and commitment
to the developing world. You demonstrated boldly why
Canada shines on the international arena as a beacon
of hope in the continuing struggle against poverty and
The Canada Africa Fund is a tangible result of our
discussions at Kananaskis. It is what you have done
practically that strengthens our resolve further to
consolidate and deepen our partnership with the government
and people of Canada.
Canada's prominent role in the Commonwealth, the Cairns
Group and the WTO, the co-operation in combating terrorism,
the Kimberley Process regarding diamonds, the Landmine
Treaty, the issue of Illicit Trade in Small Arms, the
Montreal Protocol on Ozone-Depleting Substances and
her visible presence at International Conferences in
South Africa, including the recent World Parks Congress
and the World Roads Congress, demonstrate this country's
genuine commitment to respond to the challenges facing
poor countries, especially Africa.
We are keen to continue to work with you to promote
the critically important objective of peace in conflict
areas around the world and especially in such African
countries as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan,
Burundi, Liberia and the Cote d'Ivoire, as well as in
the Middle East, including Palestine, Israel and Iraq.
The process of globalisation emphasises the need for
an inclusive and responsive multilateral system of governance,
with the UN at its apex. We look forward to working
with you to respond to all the challenges that confront
the multilateral system.
We salute you, Prime Minister, for your spirit of ubuntu
and solidarity in forging links from as far away as
the Northwest Territories, the Prairies and the Arctic,
to Africa. One day we will be able to say that we have
a prosperous and peaceful Africa because we had among
us, a warm-hearted and generous friend called Jean Chretien.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health
of Prime Minister Jean Chretien and Madame Chretien
and to the enduring and deep friendship between the
wonderful people of Canada and South Africa. To your
good health, and may you be blessed with success and
joy in your retirement!
I thank you.