Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma of the Republic of South Africa, on the Occasion of the Official Dinner Hosted in his Honour by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Angola, Luanda, Angola, 23 August 2004

Your Excellency Cde Prime Minister Dias dos Santos,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Distinguished Guests,
Comrades and Friends,

On behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of South Africa, I wish to thank you most sincerely for the warm welcome extended to my delegation and I since our arrival in this country that we regard as our home.

It is truly an honour for us to be on this home soil, to renew and further strengthen the friendship, comradeship and solidarity between the people of South Africa and Angola.

I must emphasise that we do not regard our presence here as a visit, but rather as a homecoming, given the history of comradeship and friendship between us.

Let me, ladies and gentlemen, sincerely congratulate the Angolan government for the peace and stability that has been achieved, after a bitter and protracted war. Angola has proven to the world that peace is an achievable goal in Africa, and that as Africans we can solve our political problems and live in peace and harmony.

We congratulate you as well for the work done to build the country socially, economically and politically, and are aware of the challenges that still remain, with regards to reconstruction and development.

Let me reiterate, dear brothers and sisters that we regard Angola as our home since the ties that bind our two peoples and fraternal ruling parties date back many decades. We shared many hardships and triumphs together in Tanzania during the 1960s, when freedom for all of us appeared elusive.

We fought side by side in battles waged in the valleys, hills and mountains of this country. Our heroic fighters who lie buried here, who fell while defending the noble principles of equality, freedom and the right to self-determination, are a reminder of this bond between our two countries.

As we mark 10 years of freedom in South Africa, we remember and salute these heroes and heroines. They paid the ultimate price for the freedom of the people of Angola and South Africa.

In remembering the history of our collective struggle, we also recall the battle of Cuito Cuanavale where the Angolan forces were victorious over the apartheid defence force. This was a decisive battle, which changed the political landscape of Southern Africa.

The myth of the invincibility of the apartheid South African Defence Force and its constant aggression in the region was dealt a final blow at Cuito Cuanavale. This historic battle determined the date for Namibian independence and hastened the freedom of the South African people.

The immeasurable hospitality, support, comradeship and status we were accorded in this country during the struggle will therefore forever remain deeply etched in our memories. We salute Angola's commitment to the total liberation of the African continent from all vestiges of colonialism and racism, and the extent to which you went to ensure that brothers and sisters in the neighbouring countries achieve their freedom from degradation and racist oppression.

We are pleased that our joint solidarity has continued to this day, and we are of one mind on various issues, particularly the rebuilding of our continent. His Excellency President Thabo Mbeki and His Excellency Eduardo dos Santos, President of the Republic of Angola, lead us in working for a better life and sustainable peace and development, and their commitment goes beyond the two republics to the continent as a whole.

My discussions today with His Excellency President dos Santos and with yourself Cde Prime Minister and the President of the National Assembly indicated that we agree on many key issues, which makes our partnership strong and durable.

This means that as we work to strengthen and deepen the relationships between our two governments, we are doing so on a solid basis and ideological foundation.

We are encouraged by the ground covered so far in our relations since the dawn of South Africa's freedom. The framework for co-operation between the two countries has been formalised through the Joint Commission of Co-Operation established in 2000, through which progress made includes agreements for co-operation in the fields of agriculture and health.

We are pleased that a lot of progress is being made to conclude, in the near future, agreements in areas such as minerals and energy, transport, tourism, sports and recreation, science and technology, town planning and defence.

Cde Prime Minister we regard the deepening and expansion of economic co-operation between our two countries as being critical. On Wednesday we will have the opportunity of interacting with the Angolan business community, and we look forward to this, given the possibilities of further increasing economic activity between our two countries.

Colleagues, brothers and sisters, our two countries, having emerged from conflict, face the challenges of reconstruction and development. In addition, we have the responsibility of working within the auspices of the African Union to rebuild the African continent to ensure the ending of wars and famine, and to put Africa on the road to sustainable development and prosperity.

The ending of conflicts remains a priority, and we believe that we need to continue working together to assist our brothers and sisters in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and other parts of the continent to find lasting peace.

Africa, which has been the theatre of so much human suffering for so long, is slowly yet surely on the move to its renaissance. Our continent, which has witnessed so much pain of slavery, colonialism and racism, is refusing to be defined as a failed experiment.

The African Union and its programmes such as the Peace and Security Council, the Pan African Parliament and the New Partnership for Africa's Development are key instruments that will guide us in reviving this continent and in ensuring our success. Let us therefore work together to make the African Renaissance a reality.

Once again, thank you for welcoming us back to our home.

O vosso pais e o nosso pais
O nosso pais e o vosso pais
Nos somos um so povo.
Muito obrigado

Issued by: The Presidency
23 August 2004

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