Toast Remarks by the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, at the State Banquet in his honour by the President of Zambia, Levy Mwanawasa, Lusaka, Zambia, 23 October 2004

Your Excellencies, President and Mrs Mwanawasa,
Your Excellency, President Kagame,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you very much President Mwanawasa for inviting us to the 40th independence anniversary, which will be celebrated tomorrow.

As you know, many of us who were in exile, Zambia was and continues to be our home. Had it not been the hospitality and sacrifice of the people of Zambia, South Africa would not have been liberated in 1994. Accordingly, we have come to celebrate 40 years of our own independence.

Your Excellency, this country suffered a great deal for being at the frontline of the liberation wars of Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa. Lives of many Zambians were lost while others were maimed for life because of the principled and correct decision that Zambia cannot enjoy her independence while surrounded by fellow Africans who were still under the heavy burden of colonialism and apartheid imposed by the Portuguese, the British and white South Africa.

Your economy was deliberately sabotaged so as to discourage you from doing the natural thing of joining your brothers and sisters in the trenches of liberation. I think I would be speaking for many of our African compatriots from these countries that enjoyed your hospitality that we are very much indebted to the Zambian people for your courage, sacrifice and engagement in the struggles of all these Southern African countries.

Today, Zambia, like many other African countries, is faced with many socio-economic challenges, the legacies of colonialism and neo-colonialism. As Africans, we have decided to respond to these challenges collectively and we are doing so through the African Union and its development programme, The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).

Given the marginalisation of our continent and her people, for many years, from the global processes that ensure development and prosperity, we know it would not be easy to overcome these problems.

Yet, we are determined that, working together, we will achieve the renaissance of our continent and we accordingly, still assert firmly that this century will be an African century. In this regard, we have a duty to ensure that NEPAD succeeds so that the whole of the African continent can, sooner rather than later, begin to enjoy the fruits of prosperity.

Our fates are bound together by history, struggle and the African mother land. Hence, our two countries have close political and economic relations. I am happy that in your own political and constitutional reforms you have suggested that you may want to engage South Africa so that together we could share our respective experiences in these areas.

Your Excellency, we have a duty to strengthen the economic relations between our two countries so that we are able to increase the levels of trade and investment particularly from the South African companies in Zambia. We have noted your concerns, Your Excellency, about the behaviour of some of the South African companies here in Zambia and we can promise you that we will make whatever interventions that are necessary, so that the actions of these companies do not further worsen the economic situation of the people of Zambia.

Together, Your Excellency, we agree on the urgent need for the reform of multilateral institutions. As we know, the United Nations is in the process of a reform process and together with other countries on the African continent and countries of the South, we should ensure that there are real reforms of this organisation of the nations of the world. We should ensure that through the programmes of the UN, the WTO, World Bank, IMF and others, we are able to defeat poverty and underdevelopment.

We appreciate the leadership and support that this country continues to give with regard to many challenges such as the task of resolving conflicts at the regional and continental levels. We promise that in all these efforts, of ridding our continent and the world of wars and conflicts, of working for a continent and the world free of poverty and underdevelopment, you have, in South Africa, a true partner.

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to invite you to join me in wishing President Mwanawasa, Mrs, Mwanawasa, the government and people of Zambia good health and wishing for the continued friendship and strong fraternal bonds between the people of Zambia and the people of South Africa, and a happy 40th Birthday to the Republic of Zambia.

I thank you.

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