Toast by the President of South Africa,
Mr Thabo Mbeki at the Official Dinner in Honour of the
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Gerhard
Schroder, Pretoria 22 January 2004
Your Excellency, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder,
Esteemed Members of the German delegation,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen:
I am truly delighted to extend a very warm welcome
to you, Chancellor Schröder, and the rest of the
German delegation, which is visiting our country during
this historic year of the 10th Anniversary of our Liberation
Your important visit has given us the opportunity to
re-affirm the strong bonds of friendship and solidarity
that exist between our countries and peoples.
Mr Chancellor, some of our towns and localities carry
German names. These include Berlin, Potsdam, Frankfort,
Hamburg, Hanover, Stutterheim and Braunswich. This points
to the fact of the inter-connection between the German
and South African peoples.
Our contemporary relations rest on this history, which,
clearly, we must probe further to determine the role
of the German South Africans in the development of our
country. Indeed, Mr Chancellor, at times we have referred
to ourselves as a Rainbow Nation and as The World in
One Country, because of the great variety of races,
cultures, and nationalities that constitute our population.
Germans constitute part of that rainbow. They came to
us as a fragment of the German people and gave us the
right to claim that we are both South African and German.
Today the largest group of tourists we receive from
any of the European countries comes from Germany. Some
of the most important German companies constitute a
significant part of the community of the corporate citizens
of South Africa.
They continue to make a critical contribution to the
growth, modernisation and international competitiveness
of our economy and the transformation of our country
into a stable and prosperous non-racial and non-sexist
To cite a little-known example of what some of the
German corporations are doing to help us realise these
goals, Continental Tyres has implemented an exciting
and far-reaching black economic empowerment programme
that may very well serve as an example to the entirety
of the South African corporate world.
Leaders of German business serve on two important Presidential
Advisory Councils. These are the Investment Council,
which helps us to respond correctly and speedily to
the evolving domestic and international economic situation,
and the Task Force on Information Society and Development,
which has made it possible for us to keep close enough
to the cutting edge of the evolution of the opportunities
opened up by the rapid development of information and
We are indeed very inspired by our cooperation in the
field of science and technology. This includes such
areas as marine science and conservation, the HESS telescope
facility in Namibia, the SALT large telescope in our
Northern Cape Province, the Antarctic, biodiversity,
the education for our youth and teachers, the strengthening
of our research capacity and the development of the
There is much more I can say Mr Chancellor about the
cooperation between Germany and ourselves in all areas
of human activity. This fully justifies the definition
given to this cooperation by your Foreign Minister and
Vice-Chancellor, Joschka Fischer, as a "Strategic
Partnership of Hope".
I am very pleased that your visit to Africa includes
a number of countries. This is consistent with your
concern to support our continent to meet its political
economic and social goals, centred on the strengthening
of democracy and the defeat of poverty and underdevelopment,
and represented by the African Union and NEPAD.
In pursuing these objectives, we have taken to heart
the words of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who wrote that
the "greater part of mischief in the world arises
from the fact that men do not sufficiently understand
their own aims. They have undertaken to build a tower,
and spend no more labour on the foundation than would
be necessary to erect a hut."
Neither can we fail, Mr Chancellor, to express our
gratitude for your contribution to the good quality
of our cooperation with such important bodies as the
European Union and the G8. The similarly high quality
of our bilateral relations has made it possible for
us to adopt the same positions on the major issues facing
the international community.
In this regard, we pay tribute to the work done by
the Binational Commission, under the joint chairpersonship
of the Vice-Chancellor and our Deputy President. Under
its leadership, I am certain that our relations will
grow from strength to strength.
In this context, we look forward to the German Cultural
Weeks later this year, which will expose our people
to the extraordinary wealth of German Culture.
Today, Mr Chancellor, many South Africans across the
length and breadth of our country will raise their glasses
and say - Gesundheit! - as they celebrate the knowledge
that Germany fully supports our bid to host the 2010
Soccer World Cup.
Ladies and gentlemen:
Please rise and raise your glasses in a toast to His
Excellency, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and to
friendship between the people of Germany and South Africa.