Remarks by Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma at the Brick-Laying Ceremony of the new Foreign Affairs Headquarters, Friday 11 July 2008, Pretoria

Thank you very much DG.
The Deputy Minister;
And Senior Management of the Department;
All members of the Foreign Affairs Department;
Members of the Treasury Department;
Members of the Consortium;

And all the people who are actually making this happen, the workers who are preparing for us to have a decent Head Office.

I have been resisting looking at this site. The last time I looked at it, it was still earth-works. I decided I wasn’t going to look at it for some time, so that when I do it would be a pleasant surprise. And indeed I’ve kept that promise to myself that I’m not going to look. Indeed when I approached it today, it was a pleasant surprise.

I would like to really congratulate the people who are working. It is up to now really good and we hope that it will continue that way.

Ofcourse this site and the choosing of the site itself has been a very long process. We had lots of debates about it. There was an offer that maybe we should be next to UNISA. There was an offer somewhere in town. But ofcourse this is a site that Government owns and there were discussions about this site, pros and cons. There were those who were saying ‘No, this site is hidden, it is invisible. Foreign Affairs needs to be visible. So we can’t take this site.’ And there were those who felt that Foreign Affairs can’t be made visible by a site. It has to be made visible by its work. Wherever it is, it must be visible through its work, not through its location.

Through its work it must make whatever location it finds itself a good location, a good neighbourhood. I’m quite sure that, I can promise that, knowing the people who work there, they will make this site and this building very visible by their work. And by being here, they will improve the neighbourhood by their presence.

So we are very pleased that the Government eventually agreed to give us the necessary funding to build the Headquarters. You can imagine how difficult it is to be located in five different places. It just doesn’t create an environment that’s conducive to team work, conducive to bonding properly and also just feeling that you are part of a family of Foreign Affairs.

So this building is going to just do that. Whoever will be working here will feel they are part of a family, one Department.

So our thanks really goes to the Government. And our thanks goes to the Treasury Department, that on behalf of Government has had to work with us to finalise the contracts that seem to be ever so complicated. And ofcourse our most important people today are the people who are actually creating this monument – the Consortium and the people who are working on site.

We are just here to say thank you very much for the work you are doing. Continue at this pace so that indeed we meet the deadline. Because part of what we promised to Government is that once the work starts we will all do our part so that we meet the deadline. And we all know what the deadline is and I hope we will all meet the deadline and make it possible for the Foreign Affairs family to gather for work under one roof.

And ofcourse the Foreign Affairs team who have spent endless hours before the building was started. Even before we went out bidding, we spent endless hours discussing how it should be, what the specifications are. I just want to thank everyone.

I think this is one of those buildings that will stand out as one of the institutions that came as a result of our democracy.

Thanks to everyone who is here including the ladies and gentlemen of the media. It is not a very warm day. I can see some are feeling very cold who didn’t bring their overcoats like me. So I wont prolong your stay outside, but thank you very much.

I think we should give the people who are doing this work everyday a big applause so that we encourage them to continue.

Thanks and Viva to the workers! Viva!

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152

11 July 2008

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