Address by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Brazzaville Accord on Peace in Southern Africa
11 February 2014
Your Excellency, President Denis Sassou-N’guesso;
Her Excellency, Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and UNSG Special Envoy to the Great Lakes;
His Excellency, Marti Ahtisaari, former President of the Republic of Finland;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ladies and gentlemen;
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, it is my singular honour to extend our congratulations to the Government and the people of the Republic of Congo on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the Signing of the Brazzaville Accord on Peace in Southern Africa.
Your Excellency, allow me from the onset, to thank you for inviting us to participate in this auspicious occasion.
Particularly so, because today 11 February also coincides with the release from prison of our former President, the international icon and statesman President Nelson Mandela after serving twenty-seven years behind bars.
Although we laid to rest the mortal remains of former President Nelson Mandela last year in December, his spirit of resilience and reconciliation will forever be with us.
His legacy of a free, united and developed Africa will continue to inspire us. We should continue to be inspired by his vision for peace and a prosperous Africa that is an equal partner in world affairs.
As we pay tribute to him we also salute his spirit of African and international solidarity that he nurtured amongst us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are all aware that, in the spirit to end wars in our continent, President Sassou-N’guesso initiated and supervised the creation of the Africa Fund when he was the Chairperson of the OAU.
This Fund was used to assist the frontline states, whose economies were negatively affected by apartheid South Africa.
In 1988, President Denis Sassou-N’guesso hosted the tripartite talks involving the Republic of Congo, South Africa, Angola and Cuba, under the mediation of the United States.
The primary objective of the Brazzaville talks was to find ways and means to end the Angolan civil war.
The Brazzaville negotiations, which lasted for several months ended with the signing of the Brazzaville Accord on 22 December 1988.
The Brazzaville Accord is a historic and memorable occasion in the history of both the Republics of Congo and Angola, as well as the people of Namibia, South Africa and Cuba.
This Accord was an important milestone in a sense that it was a building block leading to the resolution of the conflicts in Southern Africa through dialogue.
It was also an important Accord which led to the withdrawal of the apartheid army from Angola, the withdrawal of Cuban forces, and ultimately led to the full implementation of the UN Resolution 435 which gave Namibia its freedom.
This opened up the possibility of resolving Southern African conflict and led to the negotiation process and dialogue in South Africa.
Today we walk tall as African people owing to the sacrifices and struggles of the Angolan people, and the unreserved support from the government and the people of Cuba, who stood firm and fought hard in defence of freedom.
The signing of the Accord also indicates the friendship and cooperation that exists among African countries which fought together for independence and democracy and are now also united in the struggle for Africa’s reconstruction and development.
Your Excellency, South Africa will forever be grateful and indebted to the people of the entire continent for their tremendous efforts which ultimately led to the liberation of our people.
The celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the signing of the Brazzaville Accord reminds us of the warm and fraternal relations that South Africa and Congo have shared historically.
Today, the cultural and diplomatic bonds that bind our two countries together are very strong.
Informed by these bonds, the two countries have formalized their strategic cooperation and partnership through a structured mechanism, namely the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC).
I cannot conclude my remarks without thanking you for your invitation to our Minister of Public Works, to attend the International Forum on the Infrastructure in Africa, “the Build Africa”, which took place last week in Brazzaville.
South Africa, and indeed the rest of the African continent commend your efforts in finding ways to develop infrastructure on the continent.
Once again, let me congratulate you, personally Mr President and dear brother, your country and all parties involved, for the commemoration of the signing of the Brazzaville Accord on Peace in Southern Africa and for having provided us with a venue where such important talks were held.
On this day, it is important for all our nations in our continent to introspect about what remains to be done in order to achieve stability, prosperity and unity of purpose.
Let us not forget our neighbours in the Central African Republic and the South Sudan and hope that they can draw inspiration from the historic accord we are celebrating today.
May I take this opportunity to wish you, my dear brother and your beautiful country, peace and prosperity, as well as good health and success in all your efforts to stabilise the Central African Region.
I Thank You!