Remarks by the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, at the Annual Dinner hosted by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 11 February 2012, Cape Town

Programme Director,
Honourable Ministers,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Representatives of Political Parties,
Senior Government Officials,
Members of the Business Community,
Community leaders,
Members of the media,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Comrades and friends,

Welcome to Department of International Relations and Cooperation’s (DIRCO’s) Annual Dinner for 2012. 

I thank all of you for your presence here tonight. 

Our Dean is here with the entire contingent of the Diplomatic Corps.  We thank all of you, Excellencies, for your friendship and good relations with our country.

We also have many other distinguished personalities in our midst tonight.  We value your presence.  We value your friendship with our government.

This year, we dedicate the dinner to the legacy of Liberation Movements in Africa, and the contribution of diplomacy to the attainment of our freedom as African people.  We chose this theme, on the one hand, to recognise the centenary of the African National Congress and, on the other, to join many countries on our continent who have been celebrating 50 years of their independence from colonial rule.

Today, we pay tribute to the sons and daughters of this great continent who, when faced with two choices – submit or fight – chose to fight for the freedom, democracy and development we now enjoy. 

Today, we rededicate ourselves to the ideals of justice and a better life for all, in a better South Africa, Africa and the world.

Every year we meet after the State of Nations Address to digest the message from our President, and sharpen our resolve, individually and collectively, to make the best out of the year ahead of us in our respective areas of work. 

We will be guided in whatever we do this year by the Programme of Action unveiled by our President in his State of the Nation Address.

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen

We may be less than two months into 2012, but this year has already been an eventful one.  It began with the ANC’s centenary celebrations in Mangaung – an event that most of you graced with your attendance.  President Jacob Zuma has already thanked all our friends from all over the world who were in Mangaung to cut the birthday cake with us.

Another highlight for us was South Africa’s Presidency of the Security Council of the United Nations.  A few days ago we reported to our portfolio committee in Parliament on this aspect of our work.  Suffice to say for now, we focused our Presidency on the strengthening of the relationship between the UN Security Council and the African Union in the maintenance of international peace and security.  We were informed in this respect by the fact that around 60% of the issues on the agenda of the UN Security Council concern our continent.

The outcome of the focus of our Presidency was UN Security Council Resolution 2033 which reiterated the importance of establishing a more effective relationship between the UN Security Council and the AU Peace and Security Council, particularly in the area of conflict prevention, resolution and management, electoral assistance and regional conflict prevention offices. The resolution also encourages the improvement of regular interaction, consultation and coordination between the two bodies on matters of mutual interest.

We will continue to serve on the UN Security Council until the end of the year.  We believe that current global events have not only tested the effectiveness and credibility of the UN Security Council in its role of maintenance of international peace and security, they have also highlighted the urgent need for the reform of this organ and the entire UN in accordance with the current geo-political realities. 

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, friends

Today, it is 22 years since the father of our nation Nelson Mandela walked out of prison in his long walk to freedom. It would therefore be appropriate to recall his famous poetic statement on the birth of our democracy, when he said: I dream of realisation of the unity of Africa, Whereby its leaders combine efforts to solve the problems of this continent. I dream of our vast deserts, of our forests, of all our great wilderness. I dream of Africa which is in peace with itself.”

This dream remains our inspiration to this day in our long walk to freedom.

I am therefore looking forward to this year which will be as hectic as the previous ones.   Our plate is already full with, amongst others, the African Diaspora Summit that we will be hosting in May 2012 with the endorsement of the AU, and the outcomes of COP17/CMP7 whose implementation will be another key focus for this year.

South Africa will always count on her friends.  This year will not be an exception.  Madiba’s journey in his long walk to freedom is far from over.  This is a journey that we have all walked together in the past, and we will continue doing so this year.

I thank you!

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