Remarks by Ministers Dlamini Zuma and Cheick Tidiane Gadio on Commencement of Inaugural Session of South Africa – Senegal Joint Binational Commission,room 159 East Wing, Union Buildings, Pretoria, Wednesday 30 April 2008

Remarks by Minister Dlamini Zuma

Foreign Minister of the Republic of Senegal
The South African and Senegalese Ambassadors
The Senegalese and South African delegations
Ladies and gentlemen of the media

It is indeed a great honour and privilege to welcome you Minister to this inaugural session of the Joint Binational Commission.

Your presence today is testimony to the great bonds of friendship and congeniality that exist between our two countries.

Let me thank the officials on both sides that have taken time and worked hard to reach agreements on how the two countries will co-operate on various issues.  Off course, we are here today to chart the course we will follow in the coming year because as you know, most of the work is done between Commissions.  The Commission just charts the way and the work has to be done in between sessions.

It should not be difficult to do this work between South Africa and Senegal because we indeed come a long way and share many values, ideals and principles and as the two countries that are very involved in the affairs of our regions and in the affairs of our continents – so we should find it easy to work together. 

Off course, one of our major challenges in the fight against poverty and underdevelopment of our continent.

Our people still live in poverty, disease – some of our people still do not have clean water, sanitation, proper access to healthcare, education – these are some of the challenges that the two countries are facing.

And off course, now with climate change, we also have to face this challenge with the understanding that you cannot really deal with climate change and environmental issues properly if you do not have food and energy security because whilst looking after our planet we still have to develop, provide a better life for our people.

And, as you know some of the problems we are facing today are the result of the diversion of some of the food products into biofuels so instead of feeding the people, we are now giving this to the cars and machinery.  So it is important that whilst we do that, we also ensure food security so that our people can continue to lead healthy lives.

Off course, the commitments made by our leaders, together with the rest of the world, to attain the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) remain a big challenge for us all.

We are told by experts that unless something drastic is done sub-Saharan Africa is not going to achieve the MDGs and that should be a big worry for us all on the continent but also for the rest of the world because the attainment of MDGs has to do also with the co-operation between the South and the North.

There were agreements that were linked to that of development aid reaching 0.7% of GDP so we have to work together both on the continent to ensure that we do attain these MDGs but also to push the developed world to play their part in the attainment of these MDGs.

Off course, we are happy that the Secretary-General of the UN is calling for a High Level meeting to discuss precisely this.

The other challenge we both face – and the rest of the countries in Africa – is how to expand our industrial base so that we cease to be countries that export primary products or raw materials but we begin to add value to all our products and begin to export manufactured goods and this will off course be part of ensuring we have sustainable development and that we have economic growth and that future generations will be able to find Africa a better continent than we did.

We know that our leaders in Africa have established the African Union (AU) in place of the Organisation of African Union (OAU) precisely to deal with the challenges and opportunities that this particular phase of our lives offer and we have declared this century as the African century and that poses lots of responsibilities on us all because having declared it, we have to achieve it.

So there is lots of work, we know that not so long ago our Heads of State met in Dakar to discuss NEPAD because NEPAD forms the bedrock of our developmental agenda.  Infrastructure is very important because without infrastructure we cannot have sustainable development.  So too is agriculture – a continent that cannot feed itself cannot survive.  So is education and healthcare – gone are the days when education and healthcare were perceived to be departments that merely spent money – health and education are a core investment towards economic development.  There is no country that can develop on brick and mortar and money.  You have to have skilled, healthy human beings to drive the economy.

Off course now with ICT, without ensuring that we bridge the digital divide, Africa will be left behind. 

So these are things that we know Senegal, ourselves and many other countries are very involved in.

Senegal has even begun the Digital Solidarity Fund so it is a very important initiative.  Off course, we are aware that without energy security development becomes a pipe dream so those are the things that NEPAD is looking at – having looked at all these things we have to be able to sell what we produce and therefore access to markets is very important.  So these are the common things that bind Senegal and South Africa, besides our love for human rights, good governance, democracy and peace on our continent.

In short, I am saying that there is a lot that we can do and we should find it easy to work together because we share the vision for a prosperous Africa.

With these few words, I would like to welcome you.

Remarks by Minister Tidiane Gadio

Madame Minister, I am very grateful to the government of South Africa for your attention to my delegation and myself since we have arrived in South Africa which is a rainbow nation of Nelson Mandela who is a symbol of freedom for all people on the continent and the world.

I also convey the greetings of the President of Senegal to his brother and friend President Thabo Mbeki. 

Your Excellency, this is a very important step for our two countries sharing the same ideals for international co-operation – the inaugural session of the JBC confirms the willingness by the senior authorities to strengthen our fraternal relations while giving a new era to our co-operation to consolidate relations.

The meeting of senior officials between South Africa and Senegal allows us to assess the state of our co-operation in order to identify a programme that will guide our partnership.  It is opportune for me to thank our experts who have done very good work for this meeting from which we have received good reports.  We have obtained a very good result.  We therefore have to finalise and sign some programmes of action in sports, minerals and energy and so on.

Her Excellency is confident of the promotion of peace and stability in the world and for us to be partners in addressing conflicts and security issues in Africa.

Madame Minister, South Africa is getting ready to host within the next two years the biggest event in the world – the 2010 Soccer World Cup – in honour of South Africa and in honour of Africa.  In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in January 2007 Heads of State of the African Union committed themselves to supporting South Africa to organise a very successful 2010 Soccer World Cup.  The occasion is presented to us to show to the world our solidarity, spirit and way of doing things and our capacity to organise.  Today, I would like to assure you once more of the commitment of our two countries to solve the challenges Africa is experiencing.  For this we have co-operation in sport.  We confirm the willingness of Senegal to face this challenge of solidarity.

Madame Minister, participants, there are many things which still need to be done – there is a cleaning project for Robben Island and Gori Island in Senegal – these World Heritage Sites have to be protected.  We also have to enforce our partnership in culture and the economy.  I salute the organisation of the South Africa Week in Dakar in 2004 at which Mariam Makeba performed.

The organisation of Senegalese cultural events in South Africa has shown that the two countries are working together.

We have to unite our action to boost the private sector seeing that we recognise that the role of the private sector is very crucial in our economies.  I am certain that the delegates of our two countries will propose a valuable document for our bilateral co-operation.  We want a beneficial co-operation based on profitability for both countries. 

Madame Minister, I would like to conclude my remarks by relying on you to relay to the Head of State of our gratitude for the friendship the South African government has shown to Senegal on many occasions.

Madame Minister, in the relationship between South Africa and Senegal, as has been said before is that there are no problems.  But I would like to identify one problem: the Bafana Bafana team was not very kind to the Lions of Senegal at the African Cup of Nations earlier this year.  They did not let us go through.  But to be fair, we did not let them go through either.

Madame Dlamini Zuma, I would like to publicly say how much friendship, respect and consideration I have for you and your leadership.  As a model of an African woman in leadership, when our sisters are given an opportunity they can lead this continent to its betterment.  We have tried men’s leadership for a long time and we know what the outcome is.  So it is time to trust and give more responsibility to our sisters because you have done a wonderful job not just for South Africa but for the whole Continent of Africa.  I have been a privileged witness of everything you have done for the African Renaissance on our continent. 

I would also like to congratulate and give all my respect and consideration to President Thabo Mbeki for his continental leadership.  We are off course in the land of Nelson Mandela, a living hero for the whole African continent.  Senegal is also the land of Professor Diop who give his life for the African Renaissance, the country of Sengor and Adoulaye Wade and our country has also tried to give its 100% to the African continent. 

I always remember my first month in office when looking at the archives of Foreign Affairs I ran into correspondence from the President in 1963 to the late Oliver Tambo telling him, “My brother, I am not happy at all because you promised you would come to Senegal to receive your diplomatic passport and the assistance we have to offer you for the liberation movement of our people in South Africa.”  I found this letter very moving and proof that our people are fundamentally the same people.  I truly believe that Senegal and South Africa can be a dream team for this Continent.  Our people know this and our leaders should lead our people to the building of such a dream team for the African Renaissance, African unity, a stronger economic, commercial, social, cultural and political partnership between Senegal, South Africa and the rest of the Continent.

Thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

30 April 2008

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