Welcome Remarks by President Zuma on the occasion of the Presentation of Letters of Credence by new Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, Pretoria

Directors General in the Presidency and DIRCO

Your Excellencies, High Commissioners and Ambassadors

Members of the Diplomatic Corps

Esteemed Guests

Ladies and gentlemen

I am privileged to welcome you all to this distinctive ceremony and wish to extend a special word of welcome to Ambassadors and High Commissioners to whom this occasion is dedicated.

It is always an honour to receive your credentials as heads of missions and representatives of our partner countries in South Africa.

Your Excellencies,

This ceremony does not only signify the start of your tour of duty in South Africa, it is also a further demonstration of our collective commitment to deepen our political and socio-economic ties.

We indeed welcome you to this beautiful land during a significant year in the history of our nation. The year 2016 marks 20 years since the signing of our Constitution as the supreme law of the Republic by the then President, an internationally revered statesman, President Nelson Mandela.

Tata Madiba, as he was affectionately known, stated during the signing of the constitution that:-

“As we close a chapter of exclusion and a chapter of heroic struggle, we reaffirm our determination to build a society of which each of us can be proud, as South Africans, as Africans, and as citizens of the world”.

I can confidently state that the checks and balances encapsulated in our Constitution have contributed to the vibrancy and strength of our young democracy.

Furthermore, we are gathered here during an important month in the history of our continent. On 25 May 2016 which is Africa Day, we will join our fellow Africans on the continent and the Diaspora in paying homage to the founders of an independent African continent.

These are our forbearers who established the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU).

I am pleased to invite you to join us as we celebrate Africa Month through various activities leading up to the actual Africa Day and beyond.

As you may be aware, the Africa Month Programme was launched on 03 May 2016.

This is a further testimony to the importance we attach to Africa’s prosperity and our collective aspirations contained in Agenda 2063- the Africa we want.

Your Excellencies

South Africa, like all other developing nations, could not emerge unscathed from the turbulent global economic conditions following the 2008 economic crisis.

The world economy continues to experience sluggish growth. We have put measures in place to ensure that our economy’s resilience is sustained.

In this regard, I appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee in January this year to further support and assist investors to leverage existing trade and investment opportunities in our country.

In the recent past, I dispatched a team of South Africans led by the Minister of Finance to interface with investors abroad. These efforts, among others, have started yielding positive results.

We have also worked very hard to ensure that our energy constraints are addressed so that industries can keep on functioning in order to save jobs and entrench economic stability.

Our efforts towards the green economy through energy mix were boosted by the approval of the first tranche of projects by the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) New Development Bank (NDB).

This is a critical step forward towards the realisation of the BRICS mandate of providing financial support for infrastructure and sustainable development.

Your Excellencies

I must highlight that this Bank will not limit infrastructure projects and sustainable development support to its membership only.

It will, however, serve as an alternative to traditional international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and serve all interested partners across the globe.

The IMF team which recently visited our country, pronounced its confidence that South Africa’s economy will soon be on a growth trajectory.

This follows the past weekend’s affirmation of our current investor rating. I have regularly met with business and labour to review progress and collectively chart a way forward.

To further consolidate our work in this area, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is currently leading a delegation to Rwanda to participate in the World Economic Forum for Africa.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We have a shared responsibility to create enabling global conditions for sustainable development.

This includes ensuring that we pursue our collective commitment to protect the planet from degradation as contained in the United Nations (UN) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In this regard, South Africa will commence in earnest with its national processes to ratify the Paris Climate Change Agreement.

We would like to urge the other 174 UN Member States that signed the agreement on 22 April 2016 to also embark on their national ratification processes.

We are conscious of all other challenges faced by our people which can indeed limit our endeavours to bolster prosperity.

These include continued instability in some parts of the world, increased acts of terrorism and rising extremism, among others.

We shall spare no energy in addressing these challenges and I believe that working together as partners we can create a better world for all.

Ladies and gentlemen

We are appreciative of the role your people and governments played during our struggle for democracy and justice.

You have also encouraged us to play a leading role in various international forums since the advent of democracy.

It is because of your continued support and cooperation that South Africa was recently conferred the Distinguished Diplomatic Service Award by the World Affairs Council in Washington DC for:-

“outstanding commitment to global education, international affairs and global communications”.

We wish to share this accolade with you and all other partners in the world!

I welcome you once again to South Africa and trust that you will enjoy your stay.

We look forward to working with all of you as we strengthen relations in pursuit of a better Africa and a better world.

I thank you

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa