Address by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sue van der Merwe, on the Occasion of the Farewell Dinner in Honour of Ambassador Jendayi Frazer, 24 August 2005

Ambassador Fraser
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a sad occasion for all of us to have to bid farewell to Ambassador Frazer. In the short year that you have been with us, you have assumed many tasks and you have played a decisive role in strengthening the relations between our two countries.

You have displayed a genuine passion for the people of South Africa and Africa and a commitment to assisting in improving their lives. We are grateful for your concern and the care you have shown our people in various ways, the programmes you have promoted and the partnerships you have nurtured, the places you have visited and the projects you have taken under your wing.

In your letter to the editor of the Star Newspaper you said, that while still in Washington, before your arrival in South Africa, you received instructions from both President Bush and then Secretary Powell, to make the fight against HIV and AIDS one of your top priorities as Ambassador. Your government has provided you with the resources to 'walk the talk" and actually work with the Government to help South Africa make a difference in this fight."

Indeed you and your Government have played a significant role in the fight against HIV/AIDS and we thank you for this and for reaching out to our people.

For our part, the past eleven years have been a difficult and yet remarkable time of transition. So much had to be undone, so much had to be discussed. So much had to reconstructed and for the first time the needs of the entire South African people had to be met. And, most importantly, we had to reconcile our people to each other, to ensure that all of us could go in the same direction, take the same collective journey into the future, united in action and in change - as we have said "a people at work for a better life".

Today we are still continuing this great South African journey to a common destination. We are glad that you have been with us here in South Africa to be part of this particular journey. Hopefully you will return - sometime in the future - to continue walking with us, talking with us, sharing ideas and best practices, giving support and once more becoming part of this great human effort in transforming what has been a terrible legacy into something new and beautiful and truly a contribution towards the world and towards humankind.

The road we have taken is also part of long human quest for equality, for brotherhood and sisterhood, for an end to racism and xenophobia and this is a road that our brothers and sisters in the US have taken before we were able to and we have learnt a great deal about our common humanity from the great thinkers of the US and also those of the African Diaspora in your country and in the Caribbean. We have been part of the same dream as so eloquently articulated by Martin Luther King and his compatriots. We are all part of the realisation of the dream to bring full emancipation to Africa's women, to empower the women of this continent and the girl child. And we are part of a great African dream of renewal and renaissance.

We have succeeded in restoring the dignity of our people, in ensuring equality and are hard at work building on a new non-racial, non-sexist and democratic South Africa. But former President Nelson Mandela was right when he said it would be "no easy road to freedom". We are still a project in the making as much as thus far we have succeeded in nurturing the dream of a common people.

As a project in the making, we know that we ourselves possess the solutions to the problems of the present and those that may arise in the future. But it is always good to get advice, and to learn from older democracies, to know what others think of the path we have embarked upon and what could be done to expedite our work and to make greater progress.

It is for this reason that we value our strong bilateral relationship with the US. Despite the fact that even friends don't agree on everything, co-operation between the two countries has been expanding on matters of common interest and mutual benefit. Since 1994, business, people-to-people and governmental links with the US have expanded exponentially and a strong and long-term SA-US partnership has been established.

This long-term partnership reiterated by the Joint Statement made by our Presidents, during President Mbeki's visit to Washington in June this when they stated that:

Our two nations are committed to deepen the close bonds of co-operation and shared values of peace and prosperity that mark the U.S./South Africa bilateral relationship.

Ongoing interactions between our countries have highlighted the important role that the US can play in supporting some of key foreign policy priorities such as the consolidation of the African Agenda, to contribute to the strengthening of the African Union and its structures, to support peace-keeping and post conflict reconstruction. Our efforts are also geared towards the implementation of NEPAD and especially the implementation of NEPAD priority sectors at continental, regional and country levels.

Beyond our bilateral relations, I would like to make mention of the G8 Summit in Gleneagles. At the Summit in July, the US once again emphasised the seriousness with which it is approaching the problems of the developing world and of Africa in particular. Gleneagles represented the culmination of a G8 engagement with Africa's development that started with the invitation to three African leaders to the Okinawa G8 Summit five years ago.
The implementation of the resolutions adopted at the Summit will go a long way in ensuring that we create the kind of future Africa that we envisage.

On behalf of our government and our Minister, I would like to congratulate you on your new post that places you in a position where you can do so much for the people of the African continent.

Your Excellency,

I am sure you will agree that this has not been an easy year for the world's people. It has not been an easy year for the world's governments and Heads of State. Perhaps it never is easy or gets easier.

But I would like to think that, in this sixtieth year of the founding of the United Nations, and five years of the adoption of the Millennium Declaration Development Goals, we are more concerned than ever before about the need for all of humanity to work together and for those who have been marginalised as a result of globalisation processes to be fully part of world development.

In conclusion, I would like to thank you once more for your excellent contribution in promoting relations between South Africa and the United States. We are confident that your successor will carry on your good work. As the new Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, we wish you well.

Let us continue to work together.

May you return often to visit our shores washed by both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. May you be warmed by our African sunshine and most of all return to this South African family of which you are now part.

Thank you.

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