Remarks by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the 2nd Annual Ubuntu Awards, Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC), 13 February 2016
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers
The Honourable Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador M’Poko
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners
Esteemed Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Honourable Captains of Industry
Our partners from business
Members of the Media
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to welcome you on behalf of government and the people of South Africa to this important occasion.
It is indeed my pleasure to once again be able to join you at the 2nd Annual Ubuntu Awards.
These important awards recognise industry leaders, eminent persons and extraordinary citizens for their contribution towards making our great country even greater.
Compatriots and friends
As we gather this evening, three mine workers remain trapped underground in Barberton, Mpumalanga province.
Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mazibuko and Solomon Nyerende were working in a shipping container office when the entrance of the mine collapsed, leading to the container falling into the ground.
The families are in deep pain and feel helpless in such an overwhelming situation. We assure the families that the whole nation is with them and shares the pain.
I have asked three Ministers to join the provincial government and the affected company in providing assistance and support to the families.
It is a very difficult and painful period and we trust that the rescue mission will yield results sooner.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Last year’s awards were a highlight on the State of the Nation Address (SONA) calendar and gave me the opportunity to personally thank the many special South Africans who go out of their way to fly the South African flag high on the global stage.
It was particularly heartening for me to give the Lifetime Achievement Award to one of the leading diplomat Billy Modise and of course the late stalwart Mme Ruth Mompati who through her activism, dedication and hard work improved the lives of so many.
The men and women who will be honoured this evening have distinguished themselves in the service of our country. They have served as Ambassadors of this country by excelling in their chosen fields.
This occasion proves that international relations work is not the exclusive domain of government and its entities only. It also involves participation by citizens.
South Africans participate in many activities around the world. This can be business, sports or the social development arena where they visit the world attending conferences on issues relating to women, children, health, education, science and technology and many others.
Others travel the world as tourists and never fail to highlight the good work that their country does in the international arena and also at home.
Today we honour those who hold our beautiful flag high, and who contribute to not only telling, but demonstrating the good story of the Republic of South Africa.
The men and women that have been honoured here today are inspirational examples of this. In their various industries they have truly excelled thus promoting a positive image of our nation across the globe.
South Africa is a beautiful country with wonderful people. It is also a country that participates in many activities that are designed to make Africa and the world a better place.
It is our wish as South Africa, to see peace, stability and prosperity flourishing in every corner of our continent.
It is for this reason that we are participating in the work of the African Union Peace and Security Council designed to ensure that guns are silenced in the continent by the year 2020.
We want to see an end to wars and conflicts in our continent. We want to see an end to the flight of many Africans from their countries to become refugees because of the conflict.
We want to see an end to the suffering of women and children in Africa because of wars and pockets of conflict.
We stand ready to deploy the South African National Defence Force wherever they are needed, in order to contribute to peace and stability in the continent.
We want to see economic development in our continent.
In this regard, we encourage our business community to invest in the African continent to assist in creating jobs and improving the standard of living.
We participate in all activities aimed at making Africa trade with itself more. The regional integration efforts and the creation of continental free trade area is a step in the right direction. It will contribute immensely to Africa’s development.
Indeed, we want an Africa that is peaceful, prosperous and stable for future generations.
The last African Union Summit in Addis Ababa last month met under the theme;’
“African Year of Human Rights with a particular focus on the Rights of Women”.
It is heartening to report that our National Development Plan (NDP) is already linked to Agenda 2063 and consequently the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Ladies and gentlemen
South Africa is committed to build on the achievements recorded within the context of the Millennium Development Goals to contribute towards the realisation of the SDGs.
We do so being conscious about the challenges humanity is faced with worldwide.
This includes the continued marginalisation of developing countries due to an international system that is still not reformed and which is unrepresentative of Africa and the developing world.
The current undemocratic global state of affairs must be addressed as it undermines the legitimacy of the United Nations and fails our people, particularly the poor.
It takes one voice to make a difference as our winners have presented.
In 2016 we mark 20 years since the adoption of the Constitution of South Africa (Act 108 of 1996) and its Bill of Rights.
This guiding document was written by the people of this country – who banded together to lift the country out of despair and present what to date remains globally heralded as one of the most progressive constitutions in the world
Active citizenship goes beyond borders. A good example of this was our success in hosting the China-Africa Forum in December 2015.
The results of the robust engagements between countries from across the continent and our friends from China were factored into the Johannesburg outcome document and Action Plan which we will collectively implement.
It was heartening to witness the signing of variety of agreements between our business people and their counterparts. International relations and cooperation indeed goes beyond nation states. It is also about people.
The global economic climate is far from favourable. South Africa has made the economy an apex priority in this current period.
We have been meeting with the business community in our country so that we can move together as we put in place measures that will ignite growth and help us to create jobs.
We will be meeting with labour and other sectors as well, as we respond to the persistent low growth, low commodity prices and other challenges facing developing economies.
We shall work together to build a resilient economy which will enable us to address challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
We value cooperation with all regions of the world, as we take forward our vision of building a united, non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous South Africa.
Ladies and gentlemen
We have a shared responsibility and in carrying it out we must remember Mandela’s vision regarding the nature of a developmental state we seek to build.
That is why it is so encouraging to know that there are individual such as the award winners tonight who espouse the values that we as a nation hold so dear.
These are the values that saw us triumph over the evil system of apartheid and values that have sustained us in the past 22 years of our democratic dispensation.
These values, enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic, will continue to sustain us in the years to come.
What I find most inspiring is that the tonight’s awards are reflective of so many different spheres of our society.
From arts and culture to youth, finance, civil society and sports, what these awards clearly show is that excellence is present throughout nation.
The Oliver Tambo Lifetime achievement award is especially close to my heart. Comrade O.R Tambo holds a pride of place in South African history.
O R Tambo possessed leadership qualities that reverberate to this day.
He was a father, mentor and friend to many of us in the movement.
He always believed in the people of this country and would have been proud of al that we have achieved in such short space of time.
His efforts saw him travel across to many of the countries represented by your Excellencies here tonight in a bid to ensure that every South African, regardless of race, creed, colour or gender could enjoy equal rights.
But the amazing qualities that he possessed were not held exclusively by him.
As the awards have shown, there are countless others who have striven for excellence two of whom I will shortly have the pleasure of awarding the OR Tambo Lifetime Achievement Award.
Let me conclude by once again congratulating the Ubuntu Award recipients and wish them continued success.
We look forward to continuing to work together to promote our beautiful country, its good work and its wonderful people.
I thank you.