Farewell Remarks by Deputy Minister Ebrahim Ishmail Ebrahim at a Luncheon in honour of departing Belgian Ambassador, H. E. Mr J Mutton, 10 February 2011, Cape Town
Dean of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and Gentlemen;
It is my pleasure to host this farewell luncheon in honour of Ambassador Jan Mutton on behalf of the South African Government.
Let me express my government’s gratitude for your extensive contribution towards strengthening relations between our two countries. You have pro-actively supported our programmes both within South Africa and on the African continent, especially in the Great Lakes Region.
Indeed it was your tireless efforts that promoted high-level visits between our two countries, among others, are the recent official visits to Belgium by President Zuma accompanied by many Cabinet Ministers. Less than 30 days thereafter, your Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Steven Vanackere, visited Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is remarkable that the Kingdom of Belgium continues to support our efforts of creating a better life for all our citizens. This has been strengthened through, among others, the alignment of Belgian Official Development Assistance (ODA) spending to our national priorities. This commitment has been further demonstrated by the recent conclusion of a new Country Strategy Paper by the Flanders Regional Government to fund development projects in South Africa with €25 million for the period 2012 – 2016.
Ambassador, your efforts have ensured that Belgium remains amongst South Africa’s top ten trading partners in Europe with South African exports to Belgium continuing to grow. I am grateful that our principals agreed to explore the feasibility of establishing an import platform for South African exports in Antwerp, including the Maritime gateway to the European continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
On the multilateral front, I would like to express my Government’s appreciation for Belgium’s support for our re-election to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the period 2011-2012. I hope Belgium will continue to, inter alia, support our push for an equitable system of global governance, and our contribution towards maintenance of peace and security on the African continent, especially in the Great Lakes Region.
Your Excellency, as we bid you a fond farewell, let this place be one of the many homes you acquire on life’s journey and may you return to visit us not as a stranger but as a friend and a fellow traveller towards a common destiny of development. Please accept this as a token of our appreciation for your friendship and for your valued contribution to the relations between our two countries. We hope that it will remind you of your time in South Africa and of our sincere regard.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, may I invite you, to raise your glasses and join me in proposing a toast to the good health, personal well-being and prosperity of His Excellency, Ambassador Jan Mutton.
I thank you.