Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the occasion of the presentation of Credentials by Heads of Mission accredited to South Africa, Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guesthouse, Tshwane
Your Excellencies, High Commissioner and Ambassadors,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my singular honour to welcome you to the Republic of South Africa as Heads of Mission charged with the responsibility to strengthen the friendship that exists between our countries.
We are officially welcoming you to South Africa as the centenary year of the founding President of our democratic nation, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, draws to a close.
Together with many across the world, we have used this year to reflect on the values by which President Mandela lived and the ideals for which he was prepared to die.
We remain inspired and guided by his vision of a better world that is more inclusive, more democratic and more humane.
It is a vision of a world that is built on social justice and the enjoyment of fundamental human rights by all.
We are welcoming you to South Africa as part of a progressive humanity that observes and respects the equality of all people and of all sovereign states.
We are firmly committed to the pursuit of global peace and properity through cooperation and partnership, through multilateralism and through the consistent and fair application of a rules-based global architecture.
We maintain this position at a time when unilateral action is threatening to undermine this multilateral architecture.
The emergence of unilateralism is taking place against the backdrop of rising nationalism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance.
It takes place at a time when the problems facing the world – from climate change to terrorism, from migration to poverty – require ever-closer collaboration among the countries of the world.
We should not abandon the institutions that have been set up over the last 70 years to mediate and manage international relations.
Rather we should strengthen them and, where necessary, reform them to become more effective and inclusive.
While we have a responsibility to advance and protect the national interests of our respective countries, we must work together to discharge such responsibility without arousing animosity among nations.
Like Nelson Mandela, we must strive always for the peaceful resolution of conflict and improve our capacity to prevent conflict.
We must work collectively to address the leading causes of conflict: poverty, inequality and political marginalisation.
We must accept that lasting peace and security will not be achieved unless we create a world that is conducive to sustainable development and shared prosperity.
We welcome you to our country at a time of renewed hope.
We are emerging from a period of stagnation and strife.
Over the past few years, our economy has performed poorly relative to others of the same size.
Policy uncertainty, the weakening of public institutions and high-level corruption undermined investor confidence and public trust.
We are now firmly on the path of renewal and rebuilding.
We have acknowledged the errors of the past few years and are working hard to correct them.
We are restoring trust in public institutions by appointing the right people for the right jobs, by tackling corruption and holding those responsible to account.
Our economy is showing signs of recovery, having just emerged from a technical recession with 2.2% GDP growth in the third quarter of 2018.
We are working with our social partners – business, labour and communities – on a range of measures to significantly increase employment over the next few years.
We held a highly successful investment conference in October, at which several companies announced new investments in the economy.
It was a clear indication that investors have confidence in our economy and are excited about the opportunities it offers.
We have moved with speed to resolve many of the concerns of investors.
These concerns include policy inconsistency, the cost of doing business, labour instability, a burdensome regulatory framework and limiting visa regulations.
At the same time, we are working to address some of the structural challenges in our economy, specifically the extremely unequal distribution of skills, land, assets and opportunities.
We have a higher education enrolment of nearly a million students and almost universal school attendance, but there is much more that needs to be done to improve the quality of our educational outcomes and ensure that graduates are prepared for the workplace.
We are accelerating land reform to unlock the economic potential of this important asset and bring more South Africans into the productive economy.
In approaching this issue, we are determined to adhere to the rule of law and the principles enshrined in our Constitution.
We want to use this process to stimulate economic growth, reduce rural poverty, increase agricultural production and give poor urban dwellers ownership of homes close to economic opportunities.
It is our sincere hope that you will convey to investors in your countries that South Africa is open for business.
We are keen to work with you to ensure that South Africa becomes known as an investment destination that offers great returns.
Let me thank you for the role you have played and will continue to play in strengthening the relations between South Africa and your respective countries.
I wish all of you well in the execution of your duties to your countries and to the betterment of all peoples.
Working together, and in memory of Nelson Mandela, let us spare neither effort nor strength in our mission to make the world a better place for all to live in.
I thank you.