Opening Remarks by Deputy Minister Mfeketo at the South African National Day, Expo 2017, 18 July 2017

Programme Director,
His Excellency, Deputy Minister Berik Sholpankulov, Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan,
Ambassador Matthews,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

A very good afternoon to you all.

It is a great honour and pleasure to celebrate the occasion of South Africa’s National Day with you in Astana.  May I also start by congratulating the Government and People of Kazakhstan, for an outstanding EXPO 2017 that is not only colourful and exciting, but speaks directly to one of the major challenges that the world is currently facing, namely energy. Kazakhstan has taken significant strides in promoting alternative energy sources and, in so doing, is setting an example for the rest of the world.  South Africa considers it an honour to be partnering with Kazakhstan and to participate in this historic event.  South Africa has also embarked on the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) programme which is a radio telescope to collect useful data that will work as a catalyst for science, technology and engineering business opportunities, jobs and innovation, and will certainly put Africa on the world map in science, technology and innovation. It is going to be the world’s biggest telescope and an asset for all in better understanding space science.

It is good to bear all these things in mind today, on the 18th of July, as it is a day with special significance to all South Africans, and to an ever growing number of citizens of the world. On this day, that we celebrate the life of South Africa’s greatest icon, former President Nelson Mandela.  For 67 years Nelson Mandela devoted his life to the service of his people and indeed, to the service of humanity as a whole.  In November 2009 the United Nations General Assembly therefore declared 18 July as International Nelson Mandela Day, in recognition of Mr Mandela’s contribution to the international culture of peace and freedom. We urge all on this day, to heed the call to action, and for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them.

It is therefore, befitting that the South African Government under His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma dedicated 2017 to commemorate the centenary of another South African icon and stalwart, Oliver Reginald Tambo, one of the most outstanding leaders of the liberation struggle, who mobilised international solidarity against apartheid and contributed to shaping the vision of a post-apartheid democratic South Africa.

Kazakhstan was one of the countries that showed great solidarity with the anti-apartheid struggle, and I am therefore, honoured to participate in this event where we are further celebrating the significant milestone of 25 years of diplomatic relations between our two countries.

In 1992, the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Kazakhstan established diplomatic relations. This achievement took place at a critical moment in South Africa’s history, as we stood at the doorstep of transition that was realised with the holding of the first democratic elections on 27 April 1994, which finally ended an inhumane system of racial segregation, called apartheid.

South Africa and Kazakhstan share many commonalities, including our histories and this has served to shape our relationship into the strategic partnership that it is today. We know that this strategic partnership with Kazakhstan extends beyond the South African borders to include the rest of the African Continent. Ladies and Gentlemen, of regional body, the African Union has adopted Agenda 2063 as our continental vision and roadmap. This binds our solidarity as African countries and we invite Kazakhstan and Central Asia partners to assist us in implementing this vision. It also pleases me to report that our continental efforts on Peace and Stability have improved greatly. This provides an environment for investment into the continent and we once again invite the Central Asia region to play its role in this regard. Our Peace and Stability efforts go hand in hand with global peace and stability. With Kazakhstan assuming a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council in January 2017-2018, we are confident that our mutual efforts to reform the UN, particularly the Security Council, will be greatly supported in line with our continental position declared in the Ezulwini Consensus. South Africa has already expressed its appreciation to Kazakhstan for its principled position on the calls for the reform of the UN Security Council.

Going forward, we only have to look at some of Kazakhstan’s most recent achievements to realise the value of continuing to nurture and develop the affiliation.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Notwithstanding the great strides that have been made over the past 25 years, I am convinced that the future South Africa-Kazakhstan relationship will be even more dynamic with, particularly the economic component of our relationship, showing great potential for further expansion. The importance of ceaselessly working towards this goal cannot be over emphasised as the benefits will be far-reaching, not only for our two countries and their peoples, but also for the regions we find ourselves in.

Our region, the African continent, is well represented here and it pleases me to warmly acknowledge the participation of sister African countries and the African Diaspora in this very important event.

On that note, I would like to thank the Kazakh government as well as South Africa’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan, Ambassador Matthews for giving us this opportunity to enjoy some of the offerings our two cultures have to offer and, in doing so, to celebrate 25 years of friendship and cooperation and looking forward to excellent relations in the next 25 years.

Thank you.


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