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15. Mai 2014

ADDRESS BY AMBASSADOR TEBOGO SEOKOLO, ON THE OCCASION OF THE SOUTH AFRICA NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATION

Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, The Apostolic Nuncio HE Archbishop Zurbriggen

Excellencies and Esteemed Colleagues

Representatives of International Organisations

Distinguished guests,

Fellow South Africans

I welcome all of you to our National Day celebration.

I extend warm and fraternal greetings from the government and the people of South Africa. We sincerely thank you for making time in your busy schedules in order to be part of this occasion.

As you are aware, on 27 April 1994, a democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa was born. On this occasion, our country made a decisive break with the past characterised by repression and exclusion and embarked on a journey to a future with a promise full of hope and prosperity for all.

This year on April 27, we celebrated 20 years of freedom and democracy. This epoch moment coincided with the holding of the fifth democratic elections in our country, which were held on the 7th of May.

Both these events represent significant milestones in the life of any nation, especially to a democracy as young as ours. This is so because the memory of the injustice of the past is still so fresh in the minds of our people.

As we celebrate 20 years we remember and pay homage to those who laid their lives so that we could enjoy the freedom that we today cherish. We remember amongst others the founding father of our Nation, the late Nelson Mandela, whose spirit continues to inspire our efforts to ensure the majority truly benefit from the material fruits of freedom for which he struggled.

Similarly, on this occasion we also extend our profound gratitude to the international community for the solid support during our struggle for freedom and for the continued contribution towards our reconstruction and development efforts in the last two decades.

Excellencies and Distinguished guests,

We have a good story to tell. During the past 20 years much progress has been made in building a common national identity founded on respect for one another, and the love for our country. This has been a collective South African effort personified in the greatness of the father of our nation, Nelson Mandela.

Our democracy is steadily nudging towards an irreversible path. It is maturing, vibrant and enduring. We are succeeding in building a strong,constitutional democracy. We have ensured that institutions that support our democracy remain strong and effective.

We understand that freedom means nothing unless it addresses the socio economic conditions of our people. In this regard we are pleased to highlight that we have made significant progress in lifting millions of our citizens out of extreme poverty. We have created jobs, extended social support to the needy, expanded housing and basic services to the historically deprived communities and improved access to better education and health care.

There is consensus in our country that South Africa today is a much better place to live in than it was 20 years ago.

Our foreign policy has come of age in the past 20 years.  We pursued a principled and independent foreign policy that is rooted on the plight of our continent supported by strong South to South cooperation as well as partnerships with the countries of the North, and active participation in institutions of global governance.

Although we have achieved considerable progress in many fronts, there are still many challenges ahead. In the coming years, we will re-double our efforts to address the stubborn triad of poverty, unemployment and inequality that still afflict our society.

In this regard we will continue to strengthen the existing bilateral relations between South Africa and Austria to the mutual benefit of our people.  We will pay more attention in deepening cooperation especially in trade and economic relations.

We are unshaken in our determination to bequeath to the future generation a country that offers equal opportunities to all its citizens. This is a vision that inspired our struggle for freedom. We will not rest until we have climaxed its pinnacle.

As I conclude let me once more thank you for gracing our national day.

Please join me in wishing good health to President Fischer and President Zuma and to the ever-growing relations between our two countries.

I thank you.

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