Address by President Jacob Zuma to the Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Angola

Thursday, August 20, 2009

His Excellency Mr P Kassoma, Prime Minister of the Republic of Angola,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Honourable Ministers,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Honourable Speaker, please allow me to express our sincere gratitude for this honour to address this Extraordinary Session of the National Assembly.

This honour, as well as the warmth with which we have been received, underscores the deep historical ties that exist between our two countries.

Let me also use this opportunity to thank His Excellency President Eduardo dos Santos for his gracious invitation to us to visit this great country.

It had been our wish after the Presidential inauguration in May to undertake the first State visit to this wonderful country which we regard as our second home.

Honourable members, to us, this is not just a State visit to cement ties. It is an emotional homecoming.

Angola was our home away from home during very difficult moments in the history of our country and our struggle.

We would like to express our gratitude for the solidarity and comradeship that was extended by Angolans to the ANC and the people of South Africa during the struggle for our liberation.
Angola evokes deep-seated emotions from many of our cadres, who spent many years of their lives in this country, and whose lives were shaped by experiences shared with the Angolan people.

Our visit invokes pain and sadness about many of our cadres who lie buried here in Angola, who died in combat or through natural causes.

It is a reminder to us of the certainty we always had, that with MPLA comrades and with FAPLA forces on our side, we had brothers and sisters who were prepared to die with us in the trenches for the liberation of our country. This is not a friendship or comradeship we take lightly.

Earlier this morning we laid a wreath at the grave of the late President and Angolan icon, Dr Antonio Agostinho Neto, a gallant fighter and giant of the struggle for the liberation of the people of Angola and Southern Africa.

This solemn act reminded us of the very deep friendship and comradeship that existed between the late ANC President, Oliver Tambo and the late Comrade President Dr Neto.
They both dedicated their lives to freedom, justice and a better life for the people of their two countries and the region.

Through the leadership of the late His Excellency Dr Neto and His Excellency President Eduardo dos Santos, Angola unfailingly and courageously supported us through the years of our struggle.
We remember that Mkhonto Wesizwe cadres were free to walk around the streets of Luanda armed, manning roadblocks as if they were Angolans. This was their home.

We will tomorrow travel to our erstwhile camps in Quibaxe. The visit is bound to revive both the painful memories of life in exile as well as remind us of the support and hospitality that we enjoyed from the Angolan people, which made it all bearable.

The people and leadership of Angola suffered immensely through destabilisation, but they never sacrificed comradeship and principle.

We thank you for your resolve, dedication, commitment and comradeship.

The South African democratic victory in 1994 was a victory of the Angolan people. Our success is your success because you contributed so immensely to our freedom. That we shall never forget.
Honourable Members,

We have indeed traversed long and difficult roads as a people.
Not so long ago, Angola was embroiled in a long devastating civil war, a war that left untold suffering in its path.
Last year in March, I had the privilege, as President of the African National Congress, to participate in the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale.
That historic battle has left psychological scars in the minds of ordinary people who reside in that village.

At the same time it presented a crucial victory to the peoples of South Africa and Angola to finally defeat the apartheid regime. Needless to say, many of our brothers and sisters have paid the ultimate price in defeating the oppressors.
We salute their courageous acts and we confirm that they shall not be forgotten.

Honourable Speaker,

The victory at Cuito Cuanavale spelled the end of foreign aggression and culminated with the signing of the Peace Accords for Southern Africa by the then apartheid South Africa, Angola and Cuba.

As the former President of Cuba, Comrade Fidel Castro has said, I quote," the history of Africa will be written as before and after Cuito Cuanavale".

The battle of Cuito Cuanavale further gave rise to a new political landscape in the Southern African region. It accelerated the liberation of Namibia and indeed finally securing our freedom in South Africa.

Honourable Members of Parliament,

Let me also use this opportunity to extend my sincere appreciation to the peoples of Russia and Cuba for their undivided support during those difficult times.

Based on the rich historical bond that our two countries share, it is of paramount importance that we enhance our bilateral relations.

It is only proper that the two countries should work together to turn the ties forged in struggle into mutually beneficial relationships for sustainable growth and economic development.
We are accompanied on this visit by 11 Ministers and more than 150 businesspeople.
This is the biggest business delegation that has ever been taken on a State visit by a President since the ushering in of democracy in 1994.

The size of the business delegation demonstrates the seriousness with which we take economic relations with Angola.

On the government to government side, we are on course to sign a number of agreements later today.

We have concluded discussions on a high level consultation mechanism.
It will provide political and strategic leadership and guidance to the bilateral partnership between the two countries.

The consultation mechanism will help us to consolidate and strengthen friendship and solidarity between the peoples of the two countries in various areas.

These include trade and industry, mining and energy, defence and security, immigration, tourism, communication, science and technology, banking, transportation, agriculture, fishing and others.
One other notable existing agreement is the Exemption of Visa for diplomatic and official passport holders which is being fully implemented.

Concerning the economic ties between the two countries, a number of South African companies are involved in Angola in a variety of sectors including construction, mining, housing, retail, food and beverages, hotels and leisure, banking and medical services.

The South Africa-Angola Chamber of Commerce promote the economic ties between the two countries.

Honour Speaker and Members of Parliament ,
Angola is an important player in the Southern African region.
There is thus a need for us to forge a common position on regional, continental and international issues that will benefit our countries and the continent at large.

In the regional context, we recall the committed role played by His Excellency, President Eduardo dos Santos, as Chair of the Organ on Peace and Security of SADC.

The Organ has been seized with various crucial matters such as the situation in Zimbabwe, Madagascar and others, based on the view that peace must prevail in Africa.
This august body will also recall that SADC has set out clear timeframes for regional economic integration.
It is our belief that the establishment of a Free Trade Area in the region will greatly enhance our ability to trade with one another and ensure the strengthening of the region as a whole.

Honourable members, the Organisation of African Unity and the African Union were founded on the principle of promoting unity.

Whatever we do, we should be guided by the noble cause of uniting the African people, and to help to take them out of the poverty trap.

We should not do anything that will disturb this unity that the founders of the AU worked for.
Within Southern Africa, we should play an active role in efforts aimed at strengthening the Southern African Development Community.

Our two countries also share the interest in ensuring peace and stability in the continent.
As the current Chair of SADC, we will continue to support the Inclusive Government in Zimbabwe and render whatever assistance our capacity allows.

We urge countries of the developed North to join the continent in assisting the people of Zimbabwe to lift themselves out of the socio-economic difficulties they face.

We will also play our role in supporting the SADC-appointed Facilitator in Madagascar, former President Joaquim Chissano and his team. A sustainable solution needs to be found to resolve the impasse in that country.

In addition, we cannot rest as Africans until solutions have been found to conflicts in the Sudan and other parts of the continent.

We applaud the role of Angola in peace efforts in the Central and Southern African regions, and the concerted support to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Sao Tome and Principe and others.

Yes, we do have many challenges ahead of us.

However, I am convinced that through the commitment which my brother, His Excellency the President of the Republic of Angola has displayed to the region, our two countries, in cooperating closely, can certainly move forward.

Honourable Speaker, our two countries must put emphasis on strengthening partnership and coordination in dealing with issues such as the reform of Multilateral institutions such as the United Nations security council, the G8 and multilateral international financial institutions.
A transformed UN system will be more efficient and more accountable to all its member states.
It is our belief that the Security Council should also be enlarged to better reflect and portray contemporary global political realities, and especially the reality of an Africa steadfastly claiming its position in this Community of Nations.

Honourable speaker,

It is also of paramount importance that Angola and South Africa join hands in multinational forums such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and the World Economic Forum.
We would then be able to voice our concerns with the current developments such as unbalanced trade between the rich countries of the North and developing countries of the South.
The collapse of talks last year in Geneva, Switzerland mainly over the issue of agricultural subsidy cuts for developed nations and agreement on tariff reduction is a demonstration by countries of the North that they are reluctant to promote fairness in trade in agricultural products.
This places our continent at a distinct disadvantage. Unless we, the developing countries of the South, commit ourselves in a united and resolute manner to oppose this structured inequality, we will not make progress.

Our two countries will need to harmonise their positions when participating in these fora.
Your Excellency, Honourable Members of Parliament,

Our two countries should also continue to play an important role in the Non-Aligned Movement.
This great movement continues to serve as a platform to forge relations and unity among us as countries of the South and improved relations as a unit with countries of the North.
In forums such as Non-Aligned Movement, we should speak with one voice in order to deal with contemporary issues such as the global economic recession and climate change, as they impact on developing countries severely.

Honourable members of Parliament,

We must also note that our continent is one of the regions least responsible for climate change, but sadly, it is affected most by results of global warming.
We need to lay a firm foundation for a better policy and encourage countries that still need to adhere to the Kyoto Protocol to reconsider their policies on climate change in order to save our planet.

Honourable Members of Parliament,
Together, we can make our two countries prosperous and strong actors in the regional and international arena.

Honourable Members of Parliament, on behalf of the South African Government, allow me to reiterate my gratitude to you and the people of the Republic of Angola for giving us this opportunity to address this august House.

I would also like to extend my best wishes to you and through you, to all the people of the Republic of Angola in this historic journey towards economic and social development.

This is a great new beginning for our two countries. We must now take our relations to greater heights, to reflect the deep historical bonds between the two nations.

Angola will always be our second home, as a large part of our history of freedom was lived in this great country, shaped by the wonderful Angolan people. We are one people, and should always remain so.

Meus amigos ;
Meus camaradas
Permitem - me dizer o sequinte:
O nosso pais è o vosso pais
e o vosso pais è o nosso pais .
Nós somos um só povo, uma so familia.
Sento-me em casa.
Muito obrigado.