Address by President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of presentation of credentials by new heads of mission accredited to South Africa
16 October 2013
High Commissioners and Ambassadors;
Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Senior Government Officials;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, allow me to extend a warm welcome to all our new Heads of Mission.
This month we honour one of South Africa’s finest diplomats and iconic leader, former ANC President, Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo.
As many of you may know, President Tambo pioneered the fundamental principles of ANC diplomacy and is the founding father of our foreign policy.
His words to the First Congress of the Angolan ruling party, the MPLA in Luanda in 1977, summed up our international relations goals.
He said; “We seek to live in peace with our neighbours and the peoples of the world in conditions of equality, mutual respect and equal advantage”.
He said this informed by the Freedom Charter adopted in 1955, which is the foremost policy document that guides all programmes of the ANC government.
The Freedom Charter declared as follows in 1955;
“There Shall be Peace and Friendship!
And that “South Africa shall be a fully independent state which respects the rights and sovereignty of all nations;
South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war;”
“Peace and friendship amongst all our people shall be secured by upholding the equal rights, opportunities and status of all’’.
We continue to live by these principles, as we strive to create a better South Africa, in a better Africa and a better and more just world.
Next year we will be celebrating 20 years of freedom and democracy.
We are taking stock of what we have achieved in the past 19 years since the dawn of our democracy in 1994. We are convinced that our government has delivered on the set mandate, and commitments we have made to our people.
But for us to deliver even more, together, we want to continue to forge strong partnerships with you as our formidable partners.
We are therefore humbled that your respective countries have chosen South Africa as your country of accreditation.
As we head towards marking 20 years of freedom, we pride ourselves on a number of achievements scored in the past few years.
We have consolidated democracy and laid a firm foundation in building a non-racial, non-sexist, democratic, united and prosperous South Africa.
We also pride ourselves on work done to extend basic services to all.
Some of these are services that many in the developed world may take for granted, such as access to water and electricity which is among the priority areas in our massive infrastructure development drive.
We have decided to invest in infrastructure development for both economic and social development.
Let me share with you the story of water and electricity. We have brought electricity to 6.5 million new households in 19 years. That is more than 1 300 new connections every working day.
By 2030 we aim to produce twice as much energy as we are producing today.
Three big power stations are being built and will come on line in the next three years. These are Medupi in Limpopo, Kusile in Mpumalanga and Ingula in KwaZulu-Natal.
We have also re-opened five old power-stations, subsidised solar heaters and distributed millions of energy saving light bulbs.
We are also boosting our green economy by investing massively in renewable energy. Two solar power stations are being built in Upington and will come on line in 2015. Geysers have been put in half a million households and wind farms are being explored.
With regards to water, the National Development Plan target is for every household to have clean water by the year 2030.
We are doing a lot to achieve this goal already. We have built two massive new dams in the last five years and are working on two more.
I will be officially opening the two dams, De Hoop Dam in Vhembe in Limpopo on the 2nd of November and the Spring Grove Dam near Pietermaritzburg on the 19th of November, as part of national infrastructure roll out programme.
The two dams will bring 126 million cubic meters of new water into our water systems.
You would also have pleasantly discovered that South Africa is one of only 12 countries where tap water is safe to drink throughout the country.
This is because we spend so much on capturing, storing and distributing water in a safe and clean way.
In fact, the storage capacity of drinkable water has increased by 39 million litres through the expansion of reservoirs and tank facilities.
We are currently reviewing all municipal water storage and distribution to make sure that water is safe for all to use.
I am sharing this information with you so that you appreciate the exciting phase we are going through, of reconstructing this country and building the necessary infrastructure that will improve the quality of life and boost economic development.
We are pleased with the progress made but we still have a lot of work to do.
We will be looking for partnerships with your respective countries in various ways to take this reconstruction and development programme forward.
We urge you to make time to familiarise yourselves with the National Development Plan, which will guide our development plans towards the year 2030.
The Plan presents a guiding vision for growth, job creation and improving the quality of life. We will be engaging your respective countries on the basis of the NDP.
As you know, this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the OAU/African Union. We are glad that the anniversary takes place during a period when the continent’s economic prospects are positive.
The 2013 African Economic Outlook Report produced by the African Development Bank and the OECD notes that Africa is the fastest growing continent in the world.
Africa’s economy is projected to grow by 4.8% in 2013 and accelerate further to 5.3% in 2014.
The economic outlook for 2013 confirms Africa’s healthy resilience to internal and external shocks and its role as a growth pole in an ailing global economy.
We are pleased to be part of this growing continent which offers many opportunities to development partners around the world.
We will continue to work with your respective countries and others, to deepen good economic, political and social ties.
We will also continue with partnerships to further promote sustainable development, peace and prosperity in the continent.
I trust that you will have time to travel the length and breadth of this beautiful country.
We have a lot to offer, especially the scenic beauty, history and heritage.
Again, welcome to our country to you and your loved ones. May you have an enjoyable and productive stay in this country.
I thank you.