Welcome Message by Minister NC Dlamini Zuma at the Official Opening of the SADC Ministerial Committee of the Organ, Durban, 18 July 2008

Chairperson of the MCO
Executive Secretary
Ministers and Deputy Ministers
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Senior Officials and Distinguished Delegates
Members of the media
Ladies and Gentlemen

I feel greatly privileged and honored on behalf of President Thabo Mbeki, the Government and people of South Africa, and on my own behalf to extend a very warm welcome to you all, to this the great Kingdom of
Kwa-Zulu Natal - the home of great Zulu kings, warriors and African patriots.

We meet here at the Chief Albert Luthuli Convention Centre which is named in honor and in recognition of an outstanding leader and great son of our continent who was the first African recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

As we gather here today, to deliberate upon matters of regional importance, we cannot but join with the rest of humanity in celebrating a life that has come to epitomize the struggle for peace, freedom democracy and justice – Nelson Mandela.

We do so not for glory or distinction but primarily because as we strive to improve the lives of our peoples and struggle to rid our region and indeed our continent of the scourge of poverty, under-development and challenges of infectious diseases, we can only be inspired in these efforts by the ideals and values that have sustained so many of our leaders, heroes and heroines such as Mwalimu Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson Mandela, amongst others, for so many years.

Accordingly, on the occasion of his 90th Birthday, it is only appropriate, if I may humbly propose Chairperson, that we as the SADC Ministers of the Organ, send our collective best wishes to this illustrious son of our region and continent - Nelson Mandela - and wish him a very Happy Birthday and express the hope that he will indeed have many more.

Chairperson, as we willingly and with open hearts host this meeting at the request of the Chair of the Organ, we have tried to put at your disposal within our modest means, facilities which would allow the work of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ to proceed smoothly and produce the outcomes which would make our region more stable and secure.  We hope that the hospitality extended is to your satisfaction.

May I, therefore, once again take this opportunity to welcome you to Durban and wish us all fruitful deliberations. 
I thank you.

Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs
Private Bag X152


18 July 2008



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