Toast Remarks of the President of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in honour of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, H E Alhaji Umara Musa Yar'adua: Tuynhuys, Cape Town, 3 June 2008

Your Excellency President Alhaji Umaru Musa and Madame Hajia Yar'Adua
Your Excellencies Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other public representatives
Premier of the Western Cape
Our Parliamentary presiding officers
Leaders of political parties
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Nigerian and South African business leaders
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, I am truly delighted to welcome you, Your Excellency, Madame Yar'Adua and your delegation to South Africa and wish you a fruitful and enjoyable stay in our country.

Your Excellency, we are indeed very happy that you decided to visit us because your presence among us further confirms the strong relations that both our countries have built prior to and after we attained our freedom in 1994.

We truly value these relations, which have grown into an important strategic partnership between our countries, positively affecting our work at both bilateral and multilateral levels.

Let me also take this opportunity once more to extend our condolences to you Mr. President and the people of Nigeria on the recent fatal accident which took the lives of many Nigerian soldiers who had formed part the AU/UN hybrid force deployed in Darfur, Sudan.

Those soldiers died having reaffirmed the commitment of the Nigerian people to contribute to the resolution of conflicts on the African continent and thereby advance the cause of the Renaissance of Africa.

Your Excellency, I am certain that, like many of our African brothers and sisters, you are very concerned about the recent attacks by a minority among the South African people on foreign nationals in our country. This is a matter that has deeply shamed many South Africans, who in response have rejected these completely unacceptable criminal activities, and rallied support for the foreign nationals in our country.

The South African Government has brought the full weight of the law on those who participated in these criminal acts and already arrests and prosecutions are underway against these alleged perpetrators.

I would like to assure you, Your Excellency and your delegation that the police will continue to do their work in rooting out of our communities all the criminal elements involved in these attacks. I would also like to assure Your Excellency that like our Government; the overwhelming majority of our people want to see the earliest possible community reintegration of our displaced foreign guests.

Your Excellency, we are proud and happy that Nigeria is one of South Africa's most important partners on the African continent as, together; we pursue the goal of Africa's renewal.

We know as a matter of fact that our relations will continue to grow from strength to strength because we have a partnership which is, first and foremost, embedded in our shared desire for a continental and global order that respects the diversity and equality of its inhabitants.

This partnership is also driven by a strong and common determination to promote peace and stability on our continent, to strengthen the institutions of the African Union and its development programme Nepad, as well as promote democracy, good governance, underpinned by a firm belief that we have a collective duty to address the social injustices that derive from poverty and underdevelopment.

We also share a deep and principled commitment to multilateralism and the institutions of global governance as well as the reform of the United Nations as contained in the Ezulwini Consensus.

I am indeed very happy that our countries enjoy high level bilateral cooperation which is structured in the Bi-National Commission to foster a strategic partnership that would ensure co-operation in areas such as safety and security, transport, trade and industry, health, science and technology, education, energy, environment, tourism and arts and culture.

Our central objective in this regard is to promote and encourage accelerated and balanced economic growth and development between our countries, regions and the African continent as a whole to enable us to eradicate poverty and underdevelopment.

Happily, as a result of your visit, Your Excellency, we have taken the firm decision that our governments will take all the necessary practical steps to give effect to the many agreements we concluded during the years since our liberation. Among other things, this must result in the further expansion of the economic relations between our business people and countries, predicated on the objective of securing mutual benefit.

I look forward to our interaction tomorrow with the South African and Nigerian business leaders and would like to call upon our captains of industry present this evening to engage with their Nigerian counterparts further to strengthen our economic relations.

Your Excellency let me again thank you for visiting our country and you're important Address to our Parliament earlier today. I also thank you that you gave us an opportunity to show you some of our historical sites. We would like to convey to you and through you our respect and admiration of Nigeria's role on the African continent and the enormous strength we draw from the friendship and solidarity that Nigeria has continued to extend to us.

Ladies and gentlemen, please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar'Adua and Madame Hajia Turai Yar'Adua and to the friendship between the peoples of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and South Africa. To friendship and solidarity!

Thank you.

Issued by: The Presidency
3 June 2008

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