Remarks by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Sue van
der Merwe, at the Farewell Function in Honour of the Departing Ambassador of the
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, His Excellency Sadafa Mohamed Bahia, Pretoria,
15 September 2005
Your Excellency, Ambassador Sadafa Mohamed Bahia
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a
sad occasion for me to bid you farewell today, particularly after you have spent
such a short stay in our country. Yet in that brief time, you have made a difference
and you have served your country with such distinction. At the same time, I wish
you well in your next posting, which enables you to continue the good work you
are doing to represent your country and to contribute to the advancement of the
cause of your movement and your people.
Our relationship dates back to the
days of the liberation struggles of our people. It is this common history of struggle
against colonialism and for all our peoples' freedom that will always bind us
together. It is the hopes of the South and of the developing nations that we carry
with us. It is the dream of a better world, a more inclusive world society characterised
by common goals of peace, stability and bringing to an end to poverty that we
share and the prosperity of all our people that we strive for.
I am pleased to note that we meet here today not only to bid you farewell but
also mark a critical moment in our relations, because on this day, exactly one-year
ago, our government officially announced its recognition of the Saharawi Arab
Our recognition of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic
was in line with keeping the promise made by our former President Mandela in 1995,
but which was kept on hold to give the Baker Plan a chance. It was believed then
that our recognition would seriously undermine ongoing negotiations. However,
it increasingly became clear to us that not recognising the Saharawi Arab Democratic
Republic would be tantamount to being an accessory to denying the people of Western
Sahara their right to self-determination. It is in this spirit that we see the
current relationship between our two countries and will work even to strengthen
this relationship in the years to come. We look forward to your successor and
hope that he will take over where you left off and build on our historical relationship.
Your Excellency, please allow me to present you with a memento of this
glorious occasion, which was graced by the presence of your Minister of Foreign
Affairs, His Excellency Mohamed Salem Ould Salek. This is a picture that was taken
of both our Foreign Ministers on the occasion of the recognition of the Sahrawi
Arab Republic and we would like to present you with this picture as a token of
our friendship and a symbol of what we stand for together - and that is the right
of all people to be free and to determine their own future. A slogan of our struggle
echoes this statement. It says: we are our own liberators.
may I extend my sincere gratitude to you on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs for the good work you have done, the solid foundation you have laid, and
for the role you have played in fostering warm relations between our countries.
Ambassador, we wish you all of the best for your future endeavours and we know
that South Africa will always have a true friend in you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me in a toast to His Excellency, Sadafa Mohamed