Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma,
at the Opening Ceremony of the 6th Session of the South
Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission, Durban, 9 September
Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,
Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,
Your Excellencies, South African and Nigeria Ministers
and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies the Nigerian State Governor,
Your Excellencies the Nigerian Commissioner to South
Africa and South African High Commissioner to Nigeria,
Members of the Business Community,
Representatives of the media.
My delegation and I are honoured and pleased to welcome
you to one of the jewels of the South African tourism
industry, the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, and to its
principal commercial port city.
It is always a pleasure to host you, My Dear Brother,
and to preside jointly with you over the deliberations
of this Bi-National Commission, which was founded on
very strong and solid foundations in 1999.
Since its inception, our Bi-National Commission has
become the symbol of the special nature of the relationship
between our two countries. It is therefore with a profound
sense of satisfaction that we can meet today, to look
back at the achievements we have made since the establishment
of the Commission, and also since the fifth session
that took place in Lagos last December.
The South Africa-Nigerian Bi-National Commission was
established because it was recognised that ours is a
special relationship and partnership that we should
continue to deepen and broaden. The fact that we are
this year celebrating the fifth anniversary of the Commission,
and are holding the sixth session, indicates the seriousness
with which both sides take this important bilateral
mechanism of enhancing co-operation.
From our side, our deep-seated commitment to this Bi-National
Commission in indicative of the seriousness with which
we regard our special relationship with the Republic
Our relationship manifests itself in various arenas,
political economic and social. We work together closely
in concrete efforts to promote peace and stability sustainable
development and co-operation not only on the African
continent, but in promoting the greater development
agenda of the developing world.
There can be no doubt that in the affairs of the continent,
the united voices of South Africa and Nigeria ring with
authority, giving the continent confidence. Our relationship
is therefore, Your Excellency, solid and deep-rooted,
and this Bi-National Commission session is poised to
take it even to greater heights.
This is evident in the work done so far by the working
groups through which the Commission operates. Preliminary
reports indicate that the working groups are making
progress in the areas of Social and Technical co-operation,
Trade, Industry and Finance, Agriculture, Water Resources
and Environment, Foreign Affairs Cooperation, Public
Enterprises, Infrastructure, Minerals and Energy as
well as Defence.
We trust that their deliberations are also focusing
on the challenges of implementation and monitoring,
which both sides agree need attention.
Your Excellency, please allow me to use this opportunity
to convey to you, and to the government and people of
Nigeria, the best wishes of the government and people
of South Africa, on the key international role being
played by Nigeria, as the current chair of the African
Union as well as the Chair of the African Union as well
as the Chair-in-office of the Commonwealth of Nations.
This role is very appropriate as our deliberations
take place when the international community is grappling
with serious challenges, such as the conflicts in the
Middle East, in parts of our continent as well as other
parts of Europe, for Example the recent hostage tragedy
in the Russian Federation.
All peace loving nations of the world need to work
together to promote peaceful resolution of disputes,
and condemn the indiscriminate use of violence which
results in the death and injury to innocent civilians.
During these turbulent times, South Africa has resolutely
stood by its support for the principles of multilateralism,
which we view as the key to the resolution of international
We are dedicated to working hard to revive the influence
and central role of the United Nations in international
governance, and regard the reform of the UN system as
being crucial and urgent.
We are convinced that the government and people of
Nigeria share this view, and trust that our combined
efforts as the African continent will contribute to
the restoration of the United Nations to its rightful
place on the international stage.
This will require determination and commitment on our
side as Africans to speak with one voice and act in
unison. The Federal Republic of Nigeria and South Africa
can play a leading role in promoting this unity of purpose
Your Excellency, we are in agreement that the founding
of the African Union and the development of the NEPAD
programme present us with an appropriate framework,
for the achievement of peace and stability, democracy
and good governance in the continent.
In NEPAD we have the blueprint for responding effectively,
to the challenges of poverty, underdevelopment, and
economic marginalisation, and already a number of projects
are in the implementation phase to achieve these goals.
Heads of State have been meeting in Burkina Faso this
week, in the 3rd African Union Extraordinary Summit
on Employment Creation and Poverty Alleviation, another
key intervention aimed at advancing this continent further
towards an improvement in the quality of life.
It is also our hope that the operationalisation of
the Peace and Security Council will give the continent
the added impetus to address conflict situations early
and decisively. The situation in Darfur is a case in
point. We acknowledge the key and leading role being
played by President Obasanjo and the Federal Republic
of Nigeria in resolving this crisis.
As you are aware, South Africa continues to play its
modest role in conflict resolution, as we believe that
peace in the world is an achievable goal. This week,
President Mbeki hosted a delegation from the governing
Likud Party of Israel, and discussed a wide range of
issues, particularly the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
We regard this dialogue as being crucial because peace
in the Middle East, will contribute immensely to global
peace and stability.
Our contribution to peacemaking and peacekeeping in
our continent also continues.
A lot of progress has been made in Burundi, although
some challenges still remain. We welcome the recent
appointment of an Independent Electoral Commission in
that sister country. It is a step in the right direction,
towards the conducting of national elections that would
usher in democracy.
However, despite the significant progress made, we
are concerned that there are those who continue to pursue
their objectives through violence, as witnessed by the
recent massacre of civilians at a United Nations refugee
camp in Gatumba, Burundi.
The urgent response of the African Union and the United
Nations to the massacre is commendable, and sends a
clear message to the perpetrators of violence that their
actions will not be tolerated.
A positive development, Dear Colleague, is that Africa
is addressing such problems, which we acknowledge as
African problems, and that the AU now offers us the
prospect of seeking solutions within an African context.
Your Excellency, the positive results of our regular
consultations on various issues are ample proof of the
suitability of the Bi-National Commission as a vehicle
At an economic level, we continue to witness the increase
in the level of bilateral trade and investment between
our two countries. During 2003 our total two-way trade
with Nigeria totalled R4, 9 billion, with South Africa's
export share of that amount totalling 2,3 billion.
We look forward to a further consolidation of this
positive trend, and believe that there is a lot we still
do to enhance business-to-business linkages between
our two countries.
We also, at the same time we urge sister nations within
the African continent to seriously look at increasing
intra-African economic activity and trade.
We are pleased that the South Africa-Nigeria Chamber
of Commerce and Industry is meeting on the sidelines
of this Commission, as it seeks to achieve this goal
between our two countries.
The levels of trade between African states have remained
too low for too long. With the emergence of the African
Union and NEPAD programmes, we have the opportunity
to give concerted attention to addressing this aspect
of our continental relations.
Mr Vice President, let me once again welcome you and
your delegation to KwaZulu-Natal. I must reiterate that
we view the warm and strong relations between our two
countries as very critical, not only for mutual bilateral
gain, but also in terms of advancing the African agenda
I wish all delegates fruitful discussions and trust
that the working groups will work tirelessly to ensure
an outcome that will further consolidate the partnership
between our two countries.
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
9 September 2004