Remarks by President JG Zuma at the State Banquet hosted by President RB Banda in His honour during State Visit in Lusaka, Zambia, 7 December 2009

Your Excellency, dear brother and friend, President Banda and Mrs Banda,
Your Excellency Vice President Kunda and Mrs Kunda,
Your Excellency, first President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Distinguished guests,

Thank you for your kind words and the very warm welcome, Mr President, to my delegation and I.

We are very happy to be back to a country we regard as our home. Not so long ago, Lusaka was the headquarters of the African National Congress for three decades.

In this regard, I would like to convey, to the government and people of Zambia, the warmest greetings of the government and the people of South Africa.

Mr President, this is my second visit to this country in one year.

In February this year I was in Chipata in Eastern Zambia, and was honoured to be your guest and that of Inkosi Yamakhosi, Chief Mpezeni of the Ngoni people.

We attended the umkhosi wencwala or the thanksgiving festival welcoming the first fruits harvest, which in South Africa we call umkhosi wokweshwama. Incidentally the amaZulu ceremony took place this past Saturday. Like the incwala ceremony, it also includes the traditional slaughtering of a bull with bare hands by young warriors. The similarity of aspects of our culture and traditions confirms that we are indeed one people!

The fact that we have returned to visit for the second time in one year illustrates the seriousness with which we take our relations with Zambia. It also indicates the special place of this country in our hearts.

Your Excellency and dear colleague;

The story of liberation in the Southern Africa will not be complete without a full acknowledgement of the central role played by Zambia towards the freedom of the sub-continent.

It was from here that the ANC and many other liberation movements including Frelimo of Mozambique, MPLA of Angola, ZAPU and ZANU of Zimbabwe and SWAPO of Namibia conducted their struggles against colonialism and apartheid.

As we know, the hosting of these liberation movements came at a great price to Zambia.

The country's economy was sabotaged, with clear intent of discouraging the Zambians from supporting the liberation movements.

This notwithstanding, the leaders of this inspiring country and its people soldiered on, supporting the fight for freedom of fellow Africans.

This is a story of immense solidarity and sacrifice, of men and women propelled by the vision and belief in the virtues of freedom and democracy in the continent.

It is the story of the well-known Zambian humanism, which embraces the equality and dignity of all. This humanism enabled us to be embraced as part of this country's extended family.

It is the humanism that we were taught by our leader, father and icon, the first President of Zambia, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, who decided that Zambia would not rest until we were free.

It is this humanism that provided our leader, Oliver Tambo, refuge in the presidential palace here in Zambia when the apartheid forces were after his life.

It is this very humanism which makes Zambia to continue to provide sanctuary to many refugees from Zimbabwe, DRC Angola and other sister countries.

Therefore, this story of compassion and care is still alive in Zambia.

Let me reiterate our deepest and eternal gratitude to the people of Zambia, for the assistance to the South African people. Your Excellency, let me also take this opportunity to thank your government and the people of Zambia for honouring our iconic leader and former President of the ANC, OR Tambo, with the highest honour, the Eagle of Zambia.

I am equally humbled to be a recipient of the similar honour this evening, Your Excellency!

Thank you for providing an opportunity for us to honour President Tambo during this visit. We certainly look forward to the special occasion of the memorial lecture.

Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen;

Given these very deep historical ties, our visit marks an important step forward in the evolution of our bilateral relations.

We look forward to fruitful discussions tomorrow. The agreements and memoranda of understanding that will be signed will help us to structure these relations even better.

We will have to ensure that we develop implementation mechanism without delay, so that the fruits of this partnership can become visible to our peoples.

We trust that our business delegations are making progress on their side.

The 60-company strong delegation that we brought along is here to ensure that our relations bear economic fruit.

Your Excellency, I wish to stress that given the history, friendship and mutual trust that the two countries enjoy, our bilateral relations have a very solid base.

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of my dear friend and brother, His Excellency, President Banda and to the everlasting friendship between the Zambian people and the South African people.

Cheers!

I thank you.

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