Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane’s welcoming address at the Occasion of the Opening of the OR Tambo building, 11 December 2009

Honourable President of the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Jacob Zuma, he was inaugurated in Zambia a few days ago. We should therefore address him as Dr. from now on.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs and now Minister of Home Affairs, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
The National Chairperson of the ruling party – the African National Congress, and the Former Deputy President of our country, Baleka Mbete
Our two Deputy Ministers, Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ebrahim and Deputy Minister Sue van Der Merwe
Former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Aziz Pahad
Former Chief of Protocol Mr. Billy Modise and Mme Modise
Deputy Directors-General present here today
Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors
Our Director General, Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba
Staff and Senior Officials of DIRCO
Ladies and Gentlemen

Welcome to our new home of DIRCO here in Pretoria! To all our guests – both foreign and local – YOU ARE WELCOME HERE AT HOME!

Our Director-General took time to take you on a journey that was led by my predecessor who is sitting here with us and we are happy she is here with us. And he also mentioned several other people who played a part in making this dream a reality but Director-General, I think amongst the many people that you were acknowledging their presence, you mentioned a lot of women. You were confirming the view that this Department was led by women and that many of the formidable actors under your leadership were women. U were demystifying or removing the myth that... (And I will say this in my mother tongue as there is no proper translation for this) “tsa eta ke e tshehadi pele di wela ka leopeng.” For those who do not understand I will try to explain but it is very difficult to translate this. “There is a belief that if you have a herd of cattle and they are led by a cow, they are bound to all fall into a donga. But if they are led by a bull they will never be led astray.” I think leaving this place today, the Premier of Kwa Zulu-Natal will go to tell all the Premiers who are not here today that indeed you have seen us removing that myth and burying it forever. 

So, therefore, to our beloved sister and leader, and former Minister to the Department: Re a leboga for all your leadership and for having given us an opportunity to no longer lead people from several different buildings throughout Tshwane and Pretoria combined but now they all are under one roof where we are. For those who do not understand the politics of this city, you will not know what I mean by Tshwane and Pretoria combined but I think she (Minister Dlamini Zuma) does. You have to know where the boundary of Tshwane ends and where it begins, Mr President.

Director-General, together with your team at the leadership level and at the administrative level who made sure that as much as you had a formidable political leader at the helm, you took heed of her advice, you succumbed to her leadership with humility and made sure that this dream is realised. To all the PPP partners, if somebody says South Africans CANNOT, we like the Malaysians can say South Africa CAN, and working together, we CAN achieve these miracles.

We have got the Tambo family here with us. Last week we were in Zambia to celebrate this forbearer, this pathfinder, this father of ours. I will leave it up to the President to elaborate on why we are seated here this afternoon.

To all those who took part on making sure that this dream is realised, we have no excuse but to go out there and propagate the good name of South Africa and continue to export Ubuntu: which is our brand, which makes us different, which also says how we differentiate between a South African Diplomat and Diplomats from other places. This is because they project, sell and propagate their foreign policy, thinking first of Ubuntu.

We have in this building the hardware; we have in this building the software. What remains is to unite these 2400 (plus) officials and staff members who are here and abroad. We said to them this morning that they remain the thread and the fibre that continues to help us build a tapestry of many colours that makes South Africa such a unique and beautiful country. We rely on the people-ware and by that we are referring to our Diplomats, our staff and everybody else.

To the Foreign Diplomats gathered here this afternoon, this is also your home away from home. I have the Chief of Protocol here who has confirmed that if you feel you would like to have some important functions here, you are more than welcome to contact him. He says that he will not charge you a fee. He will just make sure that we cover the costs because we do not know if, after Treasury had assisted us to come up with this building, whether they will allow us to collect revenue Mr. President. We do not have that permission as yet. Maybe it is part of the PPP provisions that we do not know of.

Nevertheless, we really want all the guests of South Africa to feel very much at home in this building and to make sure that we continue to build strong relations between South Africa and your respective countries.

Mr. President, it is not my day to speak we thought that which is happening here today is really above us. It needs you to find a way to say thank you to the people of South Africa, to the tax payers in particular, to parliament and in particular to the committee – that is the portfolio committee that had supported this initiative. Above all, I would like to thank all the doers. I am happy that women played a very important role in that.

There is a political message that we can take from this and we thought it was above us and that is why at this moment Mr. President I will humbly request you to come and deliver that message to all those who are gathered here this afternoon.

I thank you!

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