HON. PROF H.B. MKHIZE, DEPUTY MINISTER OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND POSTAL SERVICES
06 JUNE 2016, 17h00
ON THE OCCASION OF THE NATIONAL DAY OF THE KINGDOM OF SWEDEN
The Ambassador of the Kingdom of Sweden, H.E. Mr Anders Hagelberg,
The Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Members of the Diplomatic Community,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Government and the people of the Republic of South Africa, it is with great pleasure that I congratulate the Kingdom of Sweden in celebrating its National Day.
Sweden has been a steadfast friend and supporter to South Africans in our struggle for freedom through the very special role it played in the anti-apartheid movement. Since the advent of democracy in 1994, Sweden continued this constructive relationship by extending its generosity through projects that assisted in advancing the lives of ordinary South Africans in support of South Africa’s goal for a better life for all and the fight against poverty. Your development assistance programme has assisted in consolidating our young democracy and the upliftment of our people.
These bonds of friendship between our countries are based on the shared values of democracy, respect for human rights and social justice, as well as a commitment to the development of Africa.
I am pleased to note that today, relations cover a number of partnerships in various areas such as water resource management, science & technology cooperation, environmental protection and climate change, ICT, renewable energy and arts & culture. These projects all fall within the overall framework of the South Africa – Sweden Bi-national Commission, which was established in 2000.
The Bi-national Commission is an important platform for the long-term development of relations between our two countries. In this regard I express our satisfaction with the outcomes of the 9th Session of the BNC held in October 2015, which was co-chaired by Deputy President Ramaphosa and Deputy Prime Minister Romson. Amongst the key outcomes was the extension of the scholarship programme offered by Sweden for South African post-graduate students. These students from across South Africa will pursue their Masters Studies in various fields from August 2016.
Another demonstration of the close ties between our two countries is the number of technical and official visits which have taken place this year, in particular in the field of higher education and renewable energy. As South Africa, we look also forward to exploring new areas of cooperation with Sweden, such as the Blue Economy, within the context of the outcomes of the BNC identified in 2015.
Your Excellency, this year South Africans celebrate the 22nd anniversary of democracy. As a country we have made great strides creating a better life for our people; however we are well aware that we still have a long road ahead of us in our endeavour to redress the structural imbalances of the past.
In this context the Government has adopted the National Development Plan 2030, which outlines South Africa’s development trajectory with a focus on areas such as skills development, youth employment, manufacturing and local beneficiation, amongst other things. We trust that the Swedish government and its people will continue to act as our partners as we build a better life for all through the NDP.
We are also aware, Ambassador, that you are due to depart shortly, having served as Sweden’s Ambassador to South Africa for four years. I would like to take this opportunity to express our deep appreciation for your personal contribution in strengthening the ties between our two countries; in particular for managing the transition of Sweden’s traditional aid programme to South Africa into an equal partnership that is mutually beneficial for both South Africa and Sweden. I would also like to congratulate you on your next assignment and wish you well in all your future endeavours.
Your Excellency, may I once more, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, congratulate Sweden on celebrating your National Day.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I ask you to join me in a toast to the Government and People of Sweden, and to the continued warm relations between our two countries.