Closing Address by Deputy President Jacob Zuma to the 6th Session of the South Africa-Nigeria , Bi-National Commission, Durban, 10 September 2004

Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar,
Honourable Nigerian and South African Government Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
The Honourable Premier of the Province of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr S'bu Ndebele, and Provincial Ministers,
The Mayor of Durban, Mr Obed Mlaba,
Governors of Nigerian States,
The High Commissioners of South Africa to Nigeria and Nigeria to South Africa,
Members of the two delegations,
Ladies and gentlemen of the Media,

We have come to the end of the 6th Session of the South African Nigeria Bi-National Commission, and I can proudly say that this successful meeting and interaction has further enhanced bilateral relations between our two countries.

The successful conclusion of this Session is proof of the long-standing warm political relations between South Africa and Nigeria, further providing a platform for the consolidation of such relations between our two countries.

Let me use this opportunity to congratulate the working groups on the excellent work they have done over the last few days. Our Ministers and officials have indeed, once again, done us proud.

The result of the deliberations certainly demonstrates that a lot of commitment and hard work went into the discussions, and provides greater impetus and avenues for further deepening the co-operation between the two countries.

The speed and efficiency with which the working groups concluded their work therefore indicates that the BNC has reached a mature level.

My Dear Brother, one of our major challenges remains the drive towards the full implementation of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which will give an economic basis to the significant political progress we have already made in building the African Union.

There is also the challenge of building the African Union into a formidable and successful body, fully capable of taking Africa into the 21st century as a prosperous, peaceful and stable continent.

In order to achieve its objectives, the African Union requires adequate resources, and this Binational Commission has correctly noted that the budget of the AU is inadequate to deal with all the developmental challenges facing the continent.

We have agreed on the importance of the implementation of the AU resolution calling for the meeting of finance experts to find innovative ways of raising money.

These experts must among other things pay serious attention to resources within the African continent. It is my considered view that given the resources that Africa contains, within private institutions as well as governments, it is possible to create a special fund to deal with special developmental programmes located within NEPAD.

I say this Your Excellency because of our agreement in this BNC that while calling upon the international community to honour pledges made to support NEPAD, that African countries should also lead by example and support their own institutions.

Ladies and gentlemen, we take heart that increasing numbers of African states are willing to subject themselves to the Peer Review process.

We welcome this positive development, and would urge others to follow the example of their fellow Africans in joining this laudable initiative.

Your Excellency, Mr Vice President, having noted the seriousness of the achievement of peace and stability in the continent, this session of the BNC has welcomed the operationalisation of the Peace and Security Council, especially the adoption of the framework for the establishment of the African Standby Force, Early Warning Mechanism and the Panel of the Wise.

We have also agreed to co-operate in matters relating to Peace Support Operations, especially our obligations towards the operationalisation of the African Standby Force. We have concurred on this given our common view that the achievement of peace and stability in our continent remains a priority.

On international governance, My Dear brother, we correctly agreed on the need for urgent reform of the United Nations system, and for this reform to bridge the gap between the international security agenda and the international development agenda.

The Commission has also agreed that discussions should continue within the African Union, regarding the proposed reform of the United Nations Security Council.

Mr Vice President, the strengthening of our bilateral political relations between South Africa and Nigeria also provides an opportunity for both countries to further explore potential economic opportunities in the two countries.

Apart from trade, both countries have the opportunity to exchange various experiences and information relating to technology, communications, transport, agriculture and other fields.

While economic relations between both countries are strong, there is still room for improvement. Solid economic relations between our two countries will increasingly contribute towards enhanced trade flows between the two republics.

We therefore welcome the progress made in this arena, in the areas of aviation, postal services, public enterprises and telecommunications. We welcome in particular, the granting of an additional frequency by Nigeria to our national carrier, South African Airways.

We have, Mr Vice President, also noted similarities and possibilities of intensified co-operation, between South Africa's focus on boosting the Second Economy in which the majority of the country's poor earn their living, with Nigeria's New Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy.

There are similarities in the focus on the areas of rural development, poverty alleviation and job creation to name a few. We are therefore of one mind regarding boosting growth and development within vulnerable sectors of the two economies, which opens up opportunities for co-operation.

I must before concluding, use this opportunity to thank His Majesty the King for being part of this session and gracing us with his presence at the official banquet last night. His presence was a powerful endorsement of this Commission and indicated the highest level with which this Province regards relations between South Africa and Nigeria.

We look forward to enjoying His Majesty's hospitality during the Umhlanga ceremony on Saturday in kwaNongoma.

Also extremely significant and unprecedented, was the support of the Premier of the Province, Mr S'bu Ndebele and the entire provincial executive committee who took time off their busy schedules to attend the BNC.

This kind of support displays the strong culture of co-operative governance between all spheres of government in our country and augurs well for the expansion of relations between our country and the Federal Republic of Nigeria, at a provincial level in our case, and State level in Nigeria.

I must also single out uMntwana wakwaPhindangene, Dr Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party, for his support of this BNC. Given that the IFP is part of the government of this province, the attendance of the President of the party indicates that there is unity and concurrence within the Provincial government, regarding the support for the South Africa-Nigeria Binational Commission.

The support of the Ethekwini Municipality and the Mayor Mr Obed Mlaba is also much appreciated. Your hospitality in this province will make us want to return and hold the BNC here again!

Your Excellency, My Dear Brother, certainly, substantial progress has been made in this 6th session of our Binational Commission. Many areas of co-operation have been further enhanced, and we close this session with full confidence that this bilateral mechanism is on track, and remains an effective vehicle of doing business among ourselves.

Allow, me therefore, Your Excellency, in closing the 6th Session of the South Africa-Nigeria BNC, to say on behalf of the South African Government, that we thank you for honouring us with your presence during this Session. We hope that you will hold pleasant memories of your short stay in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

We wish you and your delegation a wonderful stay for the remainder of your time in South Africa.

I thank you.

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