Remarks by Deputy Minister L. Landers on the occasion of the GRULAC Luncheon, DIRCO
Your Excellency, Ambassador Mairin Moreno Merida, Dean of the GRULAC Group;
Ambassadors and High Commissioners;
Ladies & Gentlemen;
Comrades and Friends;
Allow me the opportunity to extend to your esteemed selves fraternal greetings on behalf of the People and Government of South Africa.
It is my great honour and privilege to address you this afternoon on this august occasion.
As you are aware, the relations between South Africa and the GRULAC Group, etched in historical friendship, solidarity and struggle and informed by the common belief in human rights and justice, have increased since the establishment of our formal diplomatic relations with the respective GRULAC member countries.
Our shared values and beliefs must guide us in our common quest to liberate all our people from the remnants of Colonialism and oppression in all its forms.
Nelson Mandela once said, and I quote: For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” End quote
You will agree with me that economic freedom remains the key to total liberation. This is a sentiment that is cardinal in our thinking. We must now boldly re-double our efforts in increasing trade between South Africa and Latin America and South Africa and the Caribbean to realise the potential of our respective countries. Our efforts should better the lives of our people through bilateral co-operation in mutually beneficial fields. The knowledge gap between South Africa and Latin America presents an opportunity to bridge the gap through continued engagement between our countries. Furthermore, our high level visits between respective countries promotes cultural exchange as well as political, social and economic interaction.
South Africa maintains strong relations with Brazil in terms of multilateral linkages as a result of our memberships in BRICS and IBSA as well as bilateral investments and trade. Our relation with Brazil needs to be further strengthened with a bold new play of doubling trade and investment to ensure that we realise the fruits of our bilateral relations. This is also extended to our friends in the rest of the region of Latin America and the Caribbean.
South Africa and Venezuela have always maintained strong political relations. To this end we remained deeply concerned about the current political challenges engulfing your country. We believe that the current social, political and economic challenges in Venezuela should be resolved in a peaceful manner through the proper mechanisms and processes without external influence. We strongly condemn any foreign interference in the domestic political matters of a country as it violates the principles of sovereignty and international law. Together with the Republic of Cuba we remain strategic partners as we explore various ways of enhancing our bilateral relations.
As relations between our countries within this region continue to grow, we continue to engage in efforts to bring our countries closer in the context of South-South co-operation. This will allow us to continuously share ideas in respect of local, regional and global political developments that affect our countries. The soft power presented by cultural cooperation should be strengthened to bring South Africa closer to GRULAC. Furthermore, our common position in G77 should be utilised to bring us closer together.
This year we celebrate 25 years of democracy in South Africa. We have come a long way in building our democracy and ensuring a better life for all our citizens. Despite our many challenges that we have endured including the triple challenges of poverty , inequality, unemployment as well as and corruption most of the social and economic indicators do show that life has improved drastically for the majority of South Africans and in particular the historically oppressed blacks ( Africans, coloureds and Indians).
To this end we would like to express our gratitude to the GRULAC member countries for their contribution to building our fledgling democracy. In this regard I must pay tribute to the role that Cuba has played in both the fight against apartheid and in helping to build our democracy since 1994, despite their own challenges that they face due to the more than 5 decades of the US economic blockade against them.
In conclusion, South Africa currently serves as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2019-2020 term. South Africa’s tenure will be driven by the legacy of President Nelson Mandela and his undying commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. South Africa thanks you for your support and vote during the UNSC elections held on 8 June 2018. For our UNSC tenure, South Africa will count on your support as GRULAC members as we carry the voice of the global South on the global and multilateral platform.
I thank you.