Speech at a State Banquet Elysee Palace,
Paris 17 November 2003
Your Excellency, President Jacques Chirac and Madame
Your Excellencies Ministers and Ambassadors,
Friends, ladies and gentlemen:
My wife, our delegation and I feel greatly honoured
to have been invited by His Excellency President Jacques
Chirac to visit France. We have been deeply moved by
the warmth of our welcome to the Republic and this magnificent
We are also privileged to convey to President Chirac,
the government and the people of France the warm greetings
and best wishes of our own government and people. This
we can say without any fear of contradiction that our
people share the hope that our visit to France will
result in the further strengthening of our relations.
As the President of the Republic and the honoured guests
are aware, our continent, Africa, has set itself the
critically important task to achieve its renaissance.
In this context we have made bold to say that we will,
as a result of our actions, make the 21st an African
You, Mr President, are as aware as we are of the enormity
of the task we face in this regard. In a real sense
we have to address the legacy of a painful and tragic
African history that is half-a-millennium old, that
began with the export of millions of Africans as slaves.
Successfully to address this legacy we must, among
other things, even focus on the fundamental issue of
the affirmation of our capacity as Africans to determine
our own destiny. What we do from day to day must, in
practice, confirm our confidence in ourselves as the
makers of our own history.
For these reasons, our continent took the correct decision
that we must ourselves set the agenda for the transformation
and renewal of Africa. This has resulted in the establishment
of the African Union and the adoption of its programme
for social and economic development, the New Partnership
for Africas Development.
We were very pleased, Mr President, that shortly before
we left our country to travel to France, our continent
took two more steps forward in the struggle to attend
to the two and related questions of democracy and peace.
Following its ratification a few days ago by the requisite
number of African countries, the Protocol authorising
the establishment of the Pan-African Parliament will
come into force in a months time. This is of great
importance to the continuing effort to entrench democracy
and human rights in Africa.
Yesterday, the negotiations aimed at bringing peace
and democracy to Burundi took a decisive step forward,
opening the way for the inclusion of the principal armed
group in that country in the Burundi Transitional Government,
which will happen within the next 10 days. We are moving
forward steadily, towards a situation of peace within
and between the countries of the Great Lakes Region.
I make these comments about Africa to pay a special
tribute to you, Mr President. We count you as one of
the outstanding and leading champions of the African
Renaissance. We deeply appreciate your unswerving, passionate
and selfless commitment to work with us to achieve Africas
renewal. That commitment gives us enormous strength
as we confront the obstacles we must overcome to achieve
the humane goals we share with you.
In this context I must also convey our sincere appreciation
for everything that you and France have done and are
doing to help to bring peace to the Cote dIvoire.
Mr President, the relations between France and South
Africa have never been better and stronger than they
are today. I am convinced that this is because they
are based on common values, shared interests and sentiments
of human solidarity and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Over the last few years, the political relations between
our countries have achieved new heights in terms of
their quality and maturity. Similarly, our economic
relations have also continued to deepen. Daily, France
gains in strength as one of our leading international
economic partners. Cooperation in other areas is also
growing apace, helping us greatly in our continuing
efforts to eradicate the legacy of the criminal apartheid
Once again, I thank you Mr President for everything
you have done to help bring about these outcomes. Through
you, Mr President, I would like to convey the message
to the sister people of France that we are determined
to ensure that South Africa develops as a non-racial,
non-sexist, peaceful and prosperous democracy. We will
also contribute whatever we can to help ensure that
Africa outgrows her misery. We will do what we have
to do not to disappoint the expectations of the people
of France with regard to these important matters.
Let us please rise and drink a toast to the continued
good health of President and Madame Chirac, to the excellent
relations between our two countries, and to friendship
between the peoples of South Africa and France. To friendship!