Toast Remarks by His Excellency President Zuma on the occasion of the State Visit by His Excellency President Hifikepunye Pohamba of The Republic of Namibia, Cape Town, 06 November 2012
Your Excellency, President Pohamba, Mrs Pohamba and your esteemed delegation,
Honourable Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Max Sisulu and Deputy Speaker Ms Mfeketho,
Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Honourable Leaders of Political Parties,
Honourable Chairpersons of parliamentary portfolio committees,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador M’poko of the DRC,
Excellencies ambassadors of South Africa and Namibia,
On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, let me once again welcome you most heartily, Your Excellency and your delegation on this special occasion of your State Visit to the Republic of South Africa.
We thank you sincerely for honouring our humble invitation.
This is a very special occasion for the people of South Africa.
South Africa and Namibia share a history of struggle dating back at least to the 19th century. We also share a common struggle against what became the last colonial outpost in the region, apartheid South Africa.
While we count amongst our heroes people such as Inkosi Bhambatha who led the revolt against British colonialism and taxation in 1906, we are also reminded of the bravery of Chief Hosea Kutako in the liberation war of the same period in Namibia.
We are also reminded of King Mandume, who was beheaded by colonialists in Windhoek in February 1917, in an attempt to deter Namibians from further resistance.
In 1919, in its early years, under President Sefako Makgatho, the ANC protested not only against racial oppression in South Africa, but also raised the struggles of the peoples of Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland.
In December 1946, ANC President Dr AB Xuma, wrote to the United Nations General Assembly, also demanding that Namibia not be incorporated into South Africa.
Our brothers and sisters in the region displayed a similar solidarity with us over many years, as we advanced our own struggle. We have always been one people.
The relationship between our two countries also found concrete expression in the two political movements that we established to fight for freedom and democracy in our respective countries, the ANC and SWAPO.
We are reminded of these struggles this year, Your Excellency as we mark the centenary of the ANC. The centenary has also provided an opportunity to celebrate the strong pan-African character of the liberation struggles in the Southern African region as a whole.
You will recall as well Your Excellency, that the ANC, SWAPO and the Pan-Africanist Congress formed the South African United Front in exile, exerting pressure which made South Africa to leave the Commonwealth in 1961. We have always been one people.
Together we also shared the same pain of the many years of incarceration on Robben Island.
SWAPO veterans, including the founder of SWAPO, Andimba Toivo ja Toivo, Fillemon Shitilifa, Lazarus Sakaria and Hidipo Haufiku to name a few were imprisoned on Robben Island.
When they embarked on a hunger strike in 1971 to protest against their isolation in Robben Island, our leaders also joined immediately.
We are delighted that you will be able to visit Robben Island tomorrow Your Excellency. It remains a key monument to the triumph of the human spirit and the determination of our peoples not to surrender until they gained their freedom.
We recall as well that Namibia, like most of our neighbouring countries, suffered at the hands of the then South African Defence Force. Multiple raids resulted in the massacre of many freedom fighters and innocent Namibian nationals.
We pay our respects to those comrades and friends who lost their lives during those raids.
Incidentally Your Excellency, today is the anniversary of the execution of one of the heroes of our struggle, Comrade Vuyisile Mini, who was hanged on 6 November 1964. He went to the gallows singing freedom songs that he had composed.
Sadly, his daughter Nomkhosi, who had gone into exile, was brutally murdered by apartheid agents in December in 1985 when they raided houses in Maseru in Lesotho. She had survived a South African Defence Force raid into Angola in 1979. That is the type of life we once lived. We pay tribute to their memories and all other heroes and heroines of our struggle.
The independence of Namibia in 1990 was a powerful demonstration that the great march towards our own freedom was irreversible. That freedom led to dramatic changes in our own country and ultimately our own freedom four years later.
We are delighted today that our common painful history is now a springboard for our common pleasant future, given the sound political and economic relations between our two nations.
People to people linkages remain strong. Economically, South African companies have invested in key industries in Namibia, which include mining, retail, banking and insurance, and many others.
To date, total South African investments in Namibia are estimated at fifty eight billion rand. This is the clearest indicator of the robust relations between the two countries.
In the same manner, close to 80% of Namibia’s exports go through South Africa, with almost 30% destined for the South African market.
It is not surprising therefore, that today we decided to elevate our relations from the Heads of State Economic Bilateral level to a fully-fledged Bi-National Commission.
This enables us to make a remarkable improvement on the 64 existing agreements and memoranda of understanding that we have between us, which cover a wide range of areas.
The Bi-National Commission elevates the various fields in which we are cooperating.
These include the environmental affairs, Transport, Energy, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Spatial Development Initiatives, defence and security, as well as agriculture.
Our engagement today also highlights the increasing need for us to work together to cushion the poor and the vulnerable in our respective countries, from the global economic downturn.
We must work together to strengthen the African Union so that it can play its role and promote Africa’s political and economic independence.
We appreciate your support of the candidature of Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma as the SADC candidate for the AU commission chairperson. As part of SADC and the continent as a whole, we will support her in ensuring the effectiveness of the AU Commission.
In March next year, South Africa will host the fifth BRICS Summit in Durban, under the theme BRICS and Africa - Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialization.
We look forward to sharing this occasion with our sister nations in SADC as the forum provides enormous opportunities for economic growth and development in the region.
In May next year, South Africa will host the World Economic Forum Africa meeting here in Cape Town.
We look forward to working with SADC in that forum as well, to promote regional integration, infrastructure development and other activities that boost the competitiveness of the region.
We thank you for your inspirational and uplifting address to the National Assembly earlier today.
You reminded us profoundly, that we should not take our freedom for granted. We have come very far as the Namibian and South African people.
Many lives were lost and the scars left by the effects of colonialism, oppression and apartheid are still visible.
When we look back, like you did in the National Assembly today, we also marvel at the achievements we have scored. It becomes almost unbelievable that we have come this far, leaving behind a painful past of destruction and conflict.
Having achieved what seemed impossible in 1990 and 1994 respectively, we continue to work harder each day, to improve the lives of our peoples, so that they can enjoy the fruits of freedom.
This state visit has been enormously helpful in taking these objectives forward.
May you, please, rise and join me in a toast to the good health of His Excellency, President Pohamba, and to the prosperity and everlasting friendship of the people of Namibia and the people of South Africa!
To friendship and comradeship!
I thank you.