Closing Remarks by Deputy President Jacob Zuma to the Fifth Session of the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission, Lagos, Nigeria, 11 December 2003

His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, Turakin Adamawa, Mayedero of Lagos

Ministers and Deputy Ministers from Nigeria and South Africa,

Governor of Lagos

Your Excellencies, the Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa and South African High Commissioner to Nigeria,

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen,

We have come to the end of yet another successful and most enjoyable meeting of the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC).

Once again, we have been able to share ideas, and consolidate strategies of how we can be able to take our valued and unique partnership forward. As has become customary, the six working groups did a lot of fruitful work. The overall picture indicates that substantial progress has been made in implementation during the past 21 months.

What is of absolute importance, as you emphasised earlier this morning Mr Vice President, is that we must begin to urgently implement the decisions we have taken in the previous BNCs and the current session.

Among decisions awaiting urgent implementation are those aimed at further enhancing bilateral trade between our two countries. I am therefore pleased that the two sides agreed on a draft work plan, to convene a Business and Investment Forum during the sixth session of the BNC due to be held in South Africa next year. I am also pleased that agreement was reached on concrete modalities for collaboration between the Standards Organisation of Nigeria and the South African Bureau of Standards, with the exchange of drafts on a Mutual Recognition Agreement.

We also welcome the fact that negotiations on the Agreement on Mutual Assistance between the customs authorities of the two countries were concluded.

The proposed areas of potential co-operation between the Central Bank of Nigeria and the South African Reserve Bank is also welcomed, as capacity building is crucial on monetary management, surveillance of financial institutions and external reserve management.

My dear brother, the BNC has also noted the progress made in building the institutional capacity of the African Union. The BNC has correctly welcomed the increase in the number of countries that have ratified the Peace and Security Council, as well as the 17 countries that have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism protocol.

We have also in this BNC reviewed the latest developments in Zimbabwe, and agreed to intensify the efforts of engaging the Zimbabwean government and the Movement for Democratic Change, with a view to finding an amicable political settlement. We are of the common view that the political normalisation and economic recovery of Zimbabwe is urgent and crucial.

The BNC has also noted the responsibility we have, to provide support to sister countries that are still involved in conflict, such as Cote d'Ivoire, Western Sahara/Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic, the Sudan and the Central African Republic.

The BNC has also registered its satisfaction with the progress being made in resolving conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Sao Tome and Principe as well as Guinea Bissau.

We applaud the sterling work of Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) in ensuring the return to peace in Liberia, and actively support Ecowas in all regional efforts, including the organisation of an international donor conference to assist the process of democratic elections in Guinea Bissau.

On international multilateral issues, we expect, my dear brother, our respective Permanent Representatives in the United Nations (UN) to work hard to promote the common African position on the reform of the UN and the expansion of the United Nations Security Council.

My dear friend, we continue to be of one mind regarding the importance of a multilateral approach to promoting peace and security. In this regard, our commitment to the fight against terrorism, as South Africa and Nigeria, remains based within the framework of the African Union and the UN, as this BNC has reaffirmed.

Mr Vice President, the BNC has correctly noted the deteriorating situation in Iraq, and we have voiced our joint commitment, to support all efforts by the UN to resolve the situation, which would allow the Iraqis to determine their own future.

We also commend the continued co-operation in fighting transnational crime including co-operation on deportations and repatriations, and the sharing of expertise and skills transfers between our two countries. The resolution of immigration delays and hassles will further improve the interaction between our peoples.

A lot of ground has also been covered in various areas of co-operation in the communications sector, environment, education, transport, health as well as sport and recreation.

All in all, my dear brother, the BNC has further proved to us what a valuable mechanism it is, allowing us to tackle all these matters comprehensively and effectively.

Let me congratulate all the working groups for hard work, and thank you my dear brother, for being, as usual, an excellent host to my delegation and I.

I must once again also thank the Honourable Governor of the Lagos State, for the warm welcome and hospitality.

I will not miss this opportunity, ladies and gentlemen, to inform you that I was this morning honoured by His Royal Majesty the Oba of Lagos with the chieftaincy title of being the Mayode of Lagos, which means the one who brings progress, prosperity and joy, to translate for the South African delegation!

His Majesty has invited me to return for the capping and Iwuye ceremony, and that has given me a very good reason to return to Nigeria soon for this honour to be formally bestowed upon me.

I am truly humbled by this honour and privilege, esp

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