Address by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma at the reception hosted by High Commissioner DR Zola Skweyiya on the occasion of the State visit to the United Kingdom, also marking the 100 Day FIFA World Cup kick off and launch of the International Marketing Council logo; London, England 2 March 2010
Your Excellency High Commissioner Dr Zola Skweyiya and Mrs Skweyiya,
Ms Anitha Soni, Chairperson of the Board of the International Marketing Council,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Business Community,
Friends of South Africa,
Good evening to you all.
It is wonderful to spend the first day of our visit with compatriots and friends.
Though we may be a long way from South Africa, we feel very much at home here.
For many decades, during the difficult days of our struggle, the United Kingdom provided refuge to many of our people.
This is a gesture that we recall with deep gratitude and humility, recognising that in many instances it involved enormous sacrifice.
This is the place where our illustrious and much loved leader, President Oliver Tambo, coordinated much of the work of the liberation movement, and where his family made their home during the years of exile.
This is where the Anti-Apartheid Movement was formed. It became a key part of the international struggle for a free South Africa, and was used as a model by anti-apartheid organisations in many other countries.
We are particularly grateful for the active and untiring support of the British people. It was thanks to the pressure that they exerted, which made successive British governments to take bolder steps to isolate apartheid South Africa.
The United Kingdom continues to support development in South Africa, both in the form of official government assistance and through various civil society formations.
The bilateral relationship has been growing deeper and more meaningful each year.
We are therefore honoured to have been invited to undertake the State Visit to this country. We follow former Presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki who undertook State Visits in 1995 and 2001 respectively, and represented our beautiful country here.
A dynamic social, political and economic relationship with this country is very important for South Africa. The United Kingdom and South Africa have a relationship shaped by politics, commerce, education, culture and, most importantly, by people.
We are here to forge even greater partnerships for sustainable development as well as international cooperation.
We are building on a solid foundation. We have done exceptionally well in the 16 years since the ushering in of freedom and democracy.
Working together as South Africans of all persuasions, we have achieved much in building a new society, uniting all of our people. We have worked hard to improve the quality of life of millions of South Africans.
During this term of government, we want to make a visible impact in the areas of education, health, creating decent work, fighting crime as well as rural development and land reform.
Our partners in the achievement of these goals are not just South Africans living inside the country or foreign governments or business.
It is also the South Africans living and working in various countries in the world, especially here in the United Kingdom.
There are many South Africans of British descent, just as there are many South Africans currently living and working in the UK. This offers great opportunities for both countries. South Africans in Britain no doubt make an important contribution to their host country.
At the same time, they are gaining much experience, knowledge and skills. That is why we encourage South Africans in Britain to make use of the opportunities that exist here.
This will ensure that when they return home, they are better able to make a contribution to the development of our young nation.
While people are often concerned only about skills flight, we see the presence of South Africans in other countries as an opportunity to expand the experiences and capabilities of our people.
We should also see it as an opportunity to present South Africa to the world. Our compatriots here are the country’s ambassadors and we rely on them to project the rainbow nation in its true colours and glory, and to help the country to achieve its development goals.
You may recall that in October 2008 the Global South African Network was launched at the South African High Commission here in London.
In the 18 months of its existence, it has managed to encourage South Africans abroad to contribute to the promotion of their home country as a destination for travel and investment.
We receive positive reports of the work being done to promote the country. We appreciate this patriotism.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The year 2010 is a seminal one for South Africa. We are celebrating 20 years of the release of President Nelson Mandela from prison, which ushered in a new era for our country.
We are also hosting the greatest sports spectacle, the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Today marks 100 days towards the kick off, on the 11th of June.
South Africa was in a celebratory mood today. The main event to mark the kick-off was held in the city of Durban, where Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and FIFA President Sepp Blatter officiated.
We are pleased to celebrate this milestone with you this evening.
South Africans are excited for good reason. The World Cup provides an excellent opportunity to promote our country as a place of dynamism, growth and opportunity.
We have an opportunity to change perceptions and to challenge stereotypes about the African continent. That is why we have worked round the clock in the past few years, to ensure that the tournament becomes a huge success.
I am pleased to report that preparations are on track.
It is estimated that 450 000 ticket holders will visit South Africa for games. South Africa will be the first country in the history of this World Cup, to offer an event visa.
The event visa will be issued to nationals traveling from non-visa exempt countries, who are able to provide proof of purchase of a FIFA match ticket.
We will not compromise on security, as applicants will still have to comply with the normal visa requirements.
Let me emphasise that the soccer fans and all visitors who will come to South Africa during the World Cup can be assured of their safety.
Our safety and security plan includes the deployment of 41 000 police officers, specifically for the event.
Amongst other measures, we will provide route security, state of the art information and communications technology for security, as well as courts that will be in operation 24 hours a day to ensure quick access to justice.
The 32 nations qualifying for the World Cup will be able to provide their own specially trained police officers who will provide additional assistance to the SA Police Service, supporting their country’s delegations.
There are many other security measures that have been put in place.
Ladies and gentlemen, the World Cup has also enabled us to lay the foundations for our economic future with a massive investment in transport, energy, telecommunications and other infrastructure.
Visitors will see the shiny new airports and the grand new stadiums. This investment helped us to weather the worst of the global economic downturn and to establish the basis for a meaningful recovery.
Our economy is growing again, and we are determined that job creation should follow.
Our investment in infrastructure goes far beyond football. We are not only investing in bridges and roads. We are also investing in our people.
We have placed education and training at the centre of government’s priorities for this term, and are undertaking measures to improve the quality of learning and teaching.
We are therefore pleased to be associated with the 1 Goal: Education for All campaign which links the global effort to ensure access to education for all children to the 2010 World Cup.
Ladies and gentlemen,
As I said earlier, South Africa is in a celebratory mood. This year provides a further impetus for all South Africans, both inside and outside the country to join hands and fly the flag for South Africa.
We have asked you to fly the flag for the World Cup. In addition to that, it is my pleasure this evening to unveil our country’s new international marketing logo.
We felt it important to launch it here in London amongst our friends, and on the day of celebrating the World Cup 100 day kick off. The World Cup is undoubtedly the biggest marketing event in the history of the country.
Our logo takes its guidance from our flag, and serves as a symbol of a united Team South Africa, a nation that works together for success and progress.
The logo symbolises our vibrancy and energy, coupled with the spirit of ubuntu and resilience. The logo emphasizes our message, that indeed, working together we can do more to build a great country.
I invite you all to join us in welcoming and promoting the visibility of this logo.
We have a shared interest in South Africa’s success and in the prosperity and well-being of its people.
We also have a shared interest in deepening relations between South Africa and the United Kingdom.
This occasion, and the State visit, is an opportunity to advance both.
Let us work together to build a greater South Africa, and a better world.
I thank you.