Toast at the official dinner in honour of the prime minister of the Republic of Cape Verde, 21 July 2003

Presidential Guest House, Pretoria Monday, 21 July 2003

Your Excellency, Mr Prime Minister Neves,
The Honourable Ministers from the Cape Verde,
Excellencies, Ambassador Commandante, Da Luz and Ambassador Mokou,
Esteemed Guests,

It is indeed an honour for our government and myself in particular to host the first visit to South Africa by a Head of Government from Cape Verde.

Our two countries and its people have a lot in common. While geographically far apart, one located at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and the Americas and the other at the southern tip of the African continent, our peoples share the same history of colonisation, slavery and a long struggle for the eventual freedom of our peoples.

As a result of our similar histories, we also share rich and diverse cultures that today contribute to our success.

We are also particularly pleased to be receiving you Mr Prime Minister, given the support Cape Verde gave to us during our struggle for liberation.

We would like to use this opportunity of your visit to extend our heartfelt gratitude to you my dear brother, your government and the people of the Cape Verde for your immense contribution to our freedom.

You will agree with me that we are meeting at a crucial time in the history of our continent, when we all need to work tirelessly to ensure the success of our new African Union and its instruments including the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

In this regard, Cape Verde is a beacon of hope in a region that has often been characterised by conflict and poverty.

Last week we were once again reminded of that unfortunate reality with the coup d'ètat in Sao Tomè and Principè.

This emphasises the need for our continent to move decisively to ensure that all the AU institutions such as the Peace and Security Council are made fully operational as quickly as possible.

This will provide the AU with the mechanism to deal decisively with events such as the recent coup d' tat in Sao Tomè and Principe.

I was encouraged to hear from you during our discussions earlier, that there is a commitment by the relevant stakeholders in Sao Tome and Principe to work towards normalising the situation. We join the continent in appreciating your contribution in this regard.

It is also important that we strengthen our efforts of deepening democracy and good governance within the continent, and eliminate conditions, which lead people to use unconstitutional and undemocratic methods to solve political problems or in dealing with dissatisfaction. We need to increase democratic ways of people's participation in running the affairs of their countries.

Mr Prime Minister, we are fully aware of the need to increase intra-African trade and investment, and to build strong African economies.

I therefore trust that during the next three days, you and your delegation will be able to engage in productive discussions with our business sector.

I am certain that these exchanges will further deepen co-operation between our two countries and peoples.

Mr Prime Minister, I certainly hope that in between these more formal exchanges, you and your delegation will find time to explore our country and experience the warmth of our people.

Once again, we are very pleased to have you in our midst and wish you a fruitful visit.

I Thank You.

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2003 Department of Foreign Affairs, Republic of South Africa