Remarks by Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane at the DIRCO Annual Dinner, 13 February 2010, Cape Town.

Programme Director
Cabinet colleagues
Deputy Ministers Ebrahim Ebrahim and Sue van der Merwe
Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba
Senior Government Officials
Members of Parliament
Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Our corporate sponsors and other members of the business community
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Tonight is not an occasion for speeches but an opportunity for us to rekindle the flame of our partnership for this Year of Action that President Jacob Zuma spoke about in his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.   This Annual Dinner has established itself firmly in our calendar as a networking session where as DIRCO we converge in this beautiful estate with our friends and partners to exchange notes and share a meal. 

We are grateful to our sponsors who continue to make this event possible through their generous contribution.  We know that they believe, like we do, that working together can help our country achieve its full potential.

To our guests, we know that your presence here tonight is another indication of your continued commitment to your relationship with DIRCO.  When we changed our name to the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, we wanted to capture the essence of the work we do and our network of partnerships as demonstrated by the turnout this evening.

We also have in our thoughts and prayers the people of Haiti and the many lives lost in the earthquake.  For us, Haiti is a symbol of the resistance of the people of African descent to slavery and colonialism.  It is for this reason that we did not hesitate as a nation to rise up to the challenge of offering a helping hand to our Haitian sisters and brothers.  Government has also established an Inter-Ministerial Committee to coordinate our solidarity and support for the people of Haiti.

Programme Director

In the next four months the world will be converging on our shores to participate in the FIFA World Cup sporting spectacular.  We have already congratulated the 32 teams that have qualified for this event.  We are ready to receive these teams and their fans with open arms.  We have taken all the necessary measures to ensure that their travel and stay in our country will be without any hassles or trouble. 

We are also looking forward as a country to playing our role individually and as part of the African continent in the processes of the reviews of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the MDGs later this year.  We believe that the international community can work together to overcome obstacles to a world free of nuclear weapons and focus our attention on the challenges of poverty, disease and ignorance. 

We will continue to work together with other nations of the world for a better life for all. To that end, we are humbled that the Summit of the African Union held recently in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, endorsed our country’s candidature for the non-permanent seat of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2011-12.

We will continue to work together with other nations to find a lasting solution to many pressing challenges facing humanity today – such as climate change, energy and food crises, and the source and impact of the global economic meltdown.

However, this partnership among nations of the world should not be confined to states.  We value the role played by our non-state actors – business, labour and NGO communities – in international relations.

We still have vivid memories in our minds of the role played by the global anti-apartheid movement in the struggle for our freedom.  Madiba’s release from prison twenty years ago was in many ways a victory of the Release Mandela Campaign that had enjoyed the active support of many constituencies across the world.  We are free today because of the support we received from the world.

We also recognise that we still need this support and partnership to work our way through the programme of action that President Zuma unveiled on Thursday.  I am aware of the hard work and support that many of you put into working with government to make our country the success we want.

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

We will have an opportunity in the Budget Speech of DIRCO to take you into confidence on our vision and plans for the year and beyond.  Tonight we are here to celebrate our partnership, and give concrete expression to our belief that a better world is possible and can be realised when we work harder and smarter together.

I thank you!

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