Remarks by the Deputy President of South Africa, HE Mr Paul Mashatile, on the occasion of the inaugural Saudi-Africa Summit in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz International Conference Centre, 10 November 2023
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, His Majesty, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
His Royal Highness, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,
Chairperson of the African Union, President of Comoros, HE Azali Assoumani,
Excellencies, Heads of State and Government of the respective Arab and African delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of HE President Cyril Ramaphosa, the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, I offer the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the Government and the people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia congratulations on their Inaugural Saudi Africa Summit.
Your Excellencies, the world is an interconnected village. The destiny of all human beings is equally connected. South Africa is deeply concerned about the cruel murder of innocent women, men and children and the destruction of civilian infrastructure by the Israeli Defence Force in Gaza. Israel’s continued violation of the UN resolution on the implementation of a ceasefire and the creation of a human corridor in Gaza is causing more deaths, exacerbating human suffering and polarisation throughout the region and beyond. The death toll has now exceeded 10,000 people.
The Government of South Africa has recalled our diplomats from Tel Aviv for consultations. We call on other governments to do the same to communicate the message that humanity will not permit any State, however powerful, to kill innocent people.
I urge you, Excellencies, that we stress the message of support to the people of Palestine when we adopt the declaration of this summit this afternoon.
As President Mandela said after South Africa’s triumph over apartheid that: “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians”.
We also call upon the world to work together to stop the war and work for peace in the Middle East and the rest of the world.
Your Majesty, ladies and gentlemen,
The geographic proximity of the Arabian Peninsula and the African Continent captures the essence and offers confirmation of the rich cultural and historical connection between the peoples of our ancient lands.
Saudi Arabia has initiated and led humanitarian efforts in Africa through the Saudi Fund for Development and the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre.
The Kingdom’s generosity and compassion have been a lifeline to millions on our continent in times of crisis amidst ongoing challenges, including in Sudan.
Saudi Arabia is poised as one of the foremost partners to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), which came into force in 2021, and represents a landmark step towards African integration and economic transformation.
With its strategic position as a gateway between Africa, Asia, and Europe, Saudi Arabia can play a vital role in realising the full potential of the AfCFTA. By facilitating trade and investment, the Kingdom can contribute to the transformation of African countries from mainly being exporters of raw materials to producers of finished goods for both continental and global markets.
To this end, innovation will be the key to unlocking the full potential of our partnership and with their wealth of talent and creativity, our universities should collaborate in partnership to develop cutting-edge solutions to the challenges we face, from healthcare and education to agriculture and infrastructure.
Your Majesty, we look forward to fruitful outcomes of the first-ever Saudi Africa summit. Between our sister peoples and our ancient cultures, we have a duty to build a better world, the world we want.
I thank you, your excellencies!
Issued by: The Presidency