Toast remarks by His Excellency President Jacob Zuma on the occasion of the state banquet hosted in honour of Her Excellency President Pratibha Patil of India, Presidential Guesthouse, Pretoria
2 May 2012
Excellency President Patil and your delegation;
Honourable Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe;
The Speaker of the National Assembly, Honourable Max Sisulu;
Chairperson of the NCOP, Honourable Mninwa Mahlangu;
The Chief Justice of the Republic, Honourable Mogoeng Mogoeng;
Honourable Ministers, Premiers, Deputy Ministers and Executive Mayors;
Heads of Chapter 9 Institutions;
Good evening to you all.
I am delighted to welcome you Madame President and your delegation this evening, at the beginning of your State Visit to South Africa.
I would like to thank you most sincerely for accepting my invitation.
I also thank you once again for the warm hospitality that was accorded to me and my delegation during my state visit to India in the year 2010.
It was indeed a memorable occasion that further cemented the wonderful relations between our two countries.
We are also grateful for the warm welcome we received during the highly successful BRICS summit in New Delhi in March this year.
Your State visit to South Africa comes during a historic year in our country, as we are celebrating the centenary of the African National Congress, the oldest liberation movement on the continent.
In 1994 our country took its rightful place amongst the family of world nations, not as a pariah state like before, but as a respectable and important member.
We acknowledge all the heroes and heroines who helped us to reach that milestone.
For example, our two countries share two outstanding leaders, Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi, who are symbols of the struggle for freedom, justice and equality world-wide.
Gandhi is known to have said that while he was born in India, he was made in South Africa. “It was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now”.
We will always remember with inspiration and gratitude, the support of the Indian government and people throughout our struggle.
India was the first country to cut trade relations with the apartheid Government in 1946.
Your country subsequently imposed a complete diplomatic, commercial, cultural and sports embargo on apartheid South Africa.
That solidarity will always be remembered.
In this era of freedom, our deep historical ties find expression in bilateral and multilateral relations.
The first State Visit by former President Nelson Mandela to India after our attainment of freedom and democracy paved the way for formal diplomatic relations, and more exchanges of regular visits that followed.
The high number of high level visits that we exchange indicates the strong dynamic relationship between the two countries.
During my 2010 state visit, we were able to further advance our bilateral relations. We signed three memorandums of understanding.
These were on Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture, air services and cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of India and the Diplomatic Academy of South Africa.
This built on the agreements already concluded over the years, in the fields of economic and commercial cooperation, defence, culture, health, human settlements, public administration, science and technology and education.
As discussed this morning in our bilateral meeting, we are of the same mind about the need to continue exploring opportunities, especially on economic cooperation.
We would like to see the expansion of economic cooperation in many spheres including manufacturing, tourism as well as the development of cutting-edge green technologies.
I would like to further emphasise opportunities in infrastructure development in South Africa which we are prioritising in a big way.
We also urge support for infrastructure development in the African continent, especially the North-South corridor that I have been asked to champion by the African Union.
A number of South African companies are already doing business in India and about 30 Indian companies are doing likewise in South Africa. This provides a good base to build from.
We are happy that inbound tourism by Indians to South Africa grew by 122 percent between 2005 and 2010. This shows great potential which will continue to harness.
We look forward to a successful South Africa-India business forum session tomorrow which will further enhance opportunities.
After your visit to Cape Town and Durban, I know that you will be able to recommend this country Your Excellency as a tourism destination of first choice!
On the international front, South Africa and India work together as members of IBSA, the India-Brazil-South Africa forum.
We are also together in BRICS, the Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa grouping.
We also work together in various fora such as the Non-Aligned Movement, Commonwealth, BASIC, G20 and the India-Africa Forum, all of which re-enforce our strong bilateral relations.
Our joint membership of BRICS will bring even more benefits, particularly in the field of economic cooperation for the benefit of our nations.
Our cooperation in IBSA, which is a platform for "South-South" cooperation, provides an excellent opportunity for extensive tripartite cooperation on strategic, commercial and cultural affairs.
The IBSA Dialogue Forum promotes cooperation and consensus on issues of trade; poverty alleviation; intellectual property rights; social development; agriculture; climate change; culture; defence; education; energy; health-care; information society; science and technology; peaceful nuclear energy; tourism and transport.
As partners of the South, it is incumbent upon us to continue to utilise this platform as a united front, as we engage our counterparts in multilateral fora on various issues.
These include matters relating to the World Trade Organisation as well as the quest for the reform of the United Nations Security Council, and in supporting each other's bid for Permanent Membership with veto rights.
Excellency and Dear Colleague,
This year we mark the 152nd anniversary of the first arrival of Indians in South Africa.
South Africa has a large population of citizens of Indian descent, who add to the diversity that we boast about as a colourful rainbow nation.
They continue to contribute immensely to the cultural, economic, social and political development of the country, as proud South Africans.
Let me thank you again for accepting my invitation to you, to undertake this state visit to our country.
This visit will go a long way in further cementing relations between our two countries.
Ladies and gentlemen, may I request you to rise and join me in drinking a toast to the good health and success of Her Excellency President Patil and the people of the Republic of India!
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency
2 May 2012
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