Guyana celebrates 51st Independence Day

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Pretoria - South Africans will always be indebted to Guyana for the role it played internationally in supporting the African liberation struggle, says Public Works Minister Nathi Nhleko.

The Minister said this when he delivered a speech at the High Commission for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana’s 51st Independence Day celebration held in Pretoria on Friday.

He was conveying the congratulatory message on behalf of President Jacob Zuma, the South African government and the people of South Africa to Guyanese President David Arthur Granger. The message was read by Public Works Director General Mziwonke Dlabantu.

“Guyana ardently and unapologetically became an activist state against the continuation of imperialism, colonialism and racism in Africa, and stood firm for the liberation of the oppressed peoples the world over.

“This occasion is not only to celebrate our countries’ maintenance of cordial diplomatic relations for the last two decades but also an affirmation of our historical bonds of solidarity against European imperialism, colonialism and racial oppression,” Dlabantu said.

He commended Guyana for developing a secure transhipment hub, which facilitated the movement of Cuban troops by airplane to Angola through Cape Verde in the 1970s. At the time, this was a critical link when alternatives were non-existent, as the economic and political costs were high for any country that engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle.

“We appreciate that true freedom does not come easily and that colonialism, which robbed countries across the African continent and the diaspora of their minerals, cultures and human capital is an anti-thesis of development, freedom and democracy,” Dlabantu said.

He said the South African and Guyanese governments have worked tirelessly to deepen and solidify their relations since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the friendly nations in 1994.

Bilateral relations between South Africa and Guyana continue to grow since a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Political Consultations was signed in 2015.

The MoU provides opportunities for cooperation in other areas such as arts and culture, trade, education and agriculture, with a great deal of potential for both nations within the mining sector.

“These agreements are the cornerstones and a foundation to build on as we explore other areas of cooperation. In this regard, efforts are being made to intensify relations between our countries,” said Dlabantu.

South Africa would like to further explore cooperation infrastructure development with Guyana.

History of the struggle

Guyana’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Dr Cyril Kenrick Hunte, also addressed the celebration. He said Guyana, led by then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham, played an active role at a multilateral level, especially at the United Nations, Commonwealth, Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean community to end apartheid.

“The government of Guyana banned Guyanese cricketers and other individuals from participating in sport events that violated the 1977 Gleneagles Accord of the Commonwealth,” said Hunte.

He said Guyana never shirked from its resolute commitment in ensuring that apartheid was abolished, and embraced these actions wholeheartedly.

“We believed that freedom, liberty and democracy are indivisible and sacrosanct , for one cannot be human, if any other human being is denied the same human rights.” he stressed.

Guyana provided financial resources for the freedom fighters in Africa and granted scholarships to Southern African students to attend training institutions in Guyana, as opportunities were not accessible to them in their home countries.

Guyana wants to engage South Africa in trade and investment that will be equally beneficial to both countries.

“We look forward to sharing our experiences on mitigating the impact of global warming, the demarcation of national parks, the identification of protected areas and the safety and security of wildlife,” Hunte said.

He said Guyana celebrates the 100th birth anniversary and the contribution of Oliver Reginald Tambo with the South African people, as the liberation hero’s life exemplifies humility, integrity, passion and patriotism. -

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