Toast Remarks by H.E President Jacob Zuma at the State Luncheon in Honour of the President of Angola, H.E President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, 14 December 2010
Your Excellency, President José Eduardo dos Santos and Mrs dos Santos;
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers;
Chairperson of the NCOP, Hon Mninawa Mahlangu,
Executive Mayor of Tshwane, Councillor Ramakgopa,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Ladies and gentlemen,
My wife and I are delighted and honoured to welcome you to South Africa, Your Excellency, my brother, friend and comrade, President dos Santos and your delegation.
This is a most historic occasion for us because it is your first state visit to South Africa, a country and people whose freedom the Angolan people invested so much in.
Your historic visit to our country is therefore an affirmation of the warm, fraternal and historical relations which so happily exist between Angola and South Africa.
These relations were built and cemented during difficult times.
Many South African former freedom fighters who were in exile regard Angola as home, as they lived in various military camps, enjoying material support from the Angolans, to sustain our struggle.
Sacrifices were made and countless lives were lost during the struggle to free South Africa, which you supported practically in many respects.
The apartheid regime inflicted untold suffering to the people of Angola for the sole reason of standing by us and supporting us in our quest for liberation.
Notwithstanding the sabotage by the apartheid regime and its collaborators, Angola, under your brave and visionary leadership, did not waiver in her determination to support freedom.
Our peoples jointly bear the scars of colonialism, oppression, repression and apartheid, which has brought us closer together.
May I therefore seize this opportunity on behalf of millions of South Africans, to reiterate on South African soil, our deepest gratitude to Your Excellency, the Government and the people of Angola for the unwavering support rendered to the liberation of South Africa.
It is difficult to find words to express our heartfelt appreciation to the people of Angola for supporting our struggle and for providing us with a home away from home.
It is in recognition of the critical role that you personally played in the liberation of South Africa that this nation decided to honour you with the highest award that we can bestow on foreign nationals, the Companions of OR Tambo award.
We know that this is something President Tambo would want us to do, and that he is happy that we have performed this critical ceremony.
We congratulate you on the Award!
Mr President, the independence of Angola in 1975 and Mozambique a year earlier reverberated throughout the Southern African region.
The oppressed people in Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa suddenly realized that there was a possibility for them to be free one day.
It was therefore not a coincidence that soon after their independence, the people of Angola under your distinguished leadership championed the liberation of the entire Southern African region.
It is indeed within this context that I wish to once again congratulate Your Excellency and the people of Angola on your 35th Anniversary of independence which was celebrated on 11th November 2010.
Your Excellency, ladies and gentlemen,
We had fruitful discussions this morning, covering a wide range of areas in our bilateral cooperation. We have noted progress in our bilateral cooperation since our visit to Angola in August 2009.
It was during that visit that we signed a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding covering a number of areas including Bilateral Air Services, Trade and Industry, Human Settlements, Regular Diplomatic Consultations and Sport.
In this regard, allow me, my dear brother, friend and comrade - to express our sincere appreciation for the manner in which we were received during that Visit.
That visit was not just a State visit to cement ties. It was an emotional homecoming for us.
I want to thank you once again Mr President, for making it possible for me and my delegation to visit some of the graves of our fallen heroes who lost their lives during our country’s liberation struggle.
In this regard, we wish to thank the people of Angola for looking so well after those graves.
We commend the strides that have been made in strengthening our economic cooperation as evidenced by the steady growth in our bilateral trade and investment.
We also note the expanding cooperation in other areas including energy, agriculture, mining, human settlement and aviation.
Today, we also witnessed the signing of the Agreement on Arts and Culture; Memoranda of Understanding on Public Works and Infrastructure Development as well as Telecommunications and Information Technologies.
We also witnessed the signing of the Declaration of Intent on the Utilization of Financial Facilities; and Electricity Implementation Plan.
The signing of these instruments is a concrete demonstration of our collective determination to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.
In this regard, our two countries need to continue to forge a strategic partnership in keeping with our shared history.
May I also take this opportunity to wish you every success in your role as the incoming chair of SADC.
We assure you of our support when the time comes for you to assume this important position as Chairperson of our Regional Organisation.
Importantly, South Africa will also at the same time assume the Chair of the SADC Organ Troika.
This will require of us to consult each other on a regular basis in order to harmonise our approaches and efforts aimed at promoting peace and development in our region.
I am looking forward to a continuous and productive engagement with you during your stay in our country.
I am convinced that our respective countries and peoples will benefit greatly from our enhanced cooperation.
In this regard, I am particularly pleased that a Business Forum has been organised which will afford our business people the opportunity to interact with one another, building on the successful interactions they had in August 2009.
We also trust that their interactions will result in concrete joint venture projects that will not only contribute to the desired economic cooperation between our two countries, but will also lead to the creation of job opportunities in our respective countries.
Tomorrow we will further cement our relations with a visit to Robben Island, where you will share the experiences of outstanding freedom fighters who truly appreciated the contribution of Angola to their freedom and that of their country.
I once more wish to thank you for honouring our invitation to your second home.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, Engineer José Eduardo dos Santos, and to the friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the Republic of Angola and the Republic of South Africa.