Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of President Mugabe of Zimbabwe

16 August 1994

Your Excellency President Mugabe
Honoured Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed a great honour and pleasure for me to host you, Your Excellency, and senior members of your government on this auspicious occasion.

Mr President, that you are the first African head of State to visit South Africa is an indication of the good relations between our peoples.

Your visit to South Africa takes place a day after the ceremony in Arusha where the OAU Liberation Committee was dissolved, marking the end of an era of heroic struggles for national liberation.

The people of Zimbabwe and you, in particular, deserve our profound gratitude for the role you played in this national liberation effort, both as members of the OAU and in your capacity as leader and Chairman of the Front-line States.

Of particular significance to us is the role you played in ensuring the removal of racial domination in South Africa. This was often at a great cost to your country and your people, given the destabilisation campaign carried out by the apartheid regime against Zimbabwe and other neighbouring countries.

Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa on the Matimba Interconnector is evidence of the fact that South Africa is prepared to give its full co-operation towards the expansion of energy supply in Southern Africa and further afield.

It is our desire to co-operate closely with your country, Mr President, in all matters concerning tourism. It is imperative that we develop our region as a premier tourist destination. Both Zimbabwe and South Africa have the resources, infrastructure and expertise to jointly put this into effect.

The most important area of co-operation, however, is that of trade and commerce. South Africa and Zimbabwe historically have been natural trading partners. The attainment of democracy in South Africa has eradicated old constraints, making it possible to expand this trade relationship within the context of equality and our joint responsibility in the sub-continent.

South Africa will on 29 August become a member of the Southern Africa Development Community. In this regard, it is our resolve to contribute towards development in Southern Africa as an equal partner. Progress and development can only be achieved through meaningful co-operation amongst the countries of the region and mutual support for our singular endeavours to consolidate our freedom and to achieve lasting political and economical stability.

As far as security in the region is concerned I can assure you, Mr President, that we have successfully started the Mr President, together, our peoples shed their blood for freedom. Together, our peoples shed their blood for freedom. Together we reinforced one another during difficult negotiations in both our countries. Today, at last, we can co-operate as free nations, pursuing the true interests of our people.

Zimbabwe and South Africa not only share borders, we have strong cultural and historical connections as well. It is now the time, Mr President, to give substance to our relationship and to strengthen and expand the social and historical links which form the bond between our two countries.

Your visit at this time and my visit later this month to officiate at the Harare Agricultural Show on 26 August, are proof of our desire to do so.

We look forward to developing our existing contacts and co-operation in the field of transport. The recent signing of the agreement to build an additional bridge over the Limpopo River at Beitbridge by a Zimbabwe Consortium, will stand as a symbol of our new relationship and provide better access to and from our harbours for the increasing road - transportation traffic across our borders. Agreements between our respective national airlines as well as between Transnet and the Zimbabwe National Railways exist to serve and improve transport between our two countries. Similarly, in the field of energy and electricity supply, close co-operation between Escom and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Commission has led to the first steps being taken to integrate the electricity supply grids in Southern Africa. The trilateral agreement signed between implementation of the integration of our armed and security forces. Zimbabwe played a crucial role to enable us to achieve this in a very short space of time. We will remain in your debt, Mr President, for the large number of officers and other ranks who were given the opportunity to attend various staff and other courses in your country to prepare them for integration into the South African National Defence Force.

Our Minister of Defence, Mr Joe Modise, recently visited Zimbabwe to witness the passing out of some of our officers at a parade in Gweru and to arrange for their return to South Africa to join the National Defence Force.

It is my wish that this positive gesture from your side will be reciprocated by further co-operation between our security forces. In order to maintain stability in the region, we must co-operate in dealing with the scourge of drug trafficking, the theft and smuggling of cars and other crimes.

Mr President, we are in the process of redefining the parameters of the front-line states, with a view to redefining our mission towards regional co-operation on matters of security and stability. A good start is already being laid by the co-operation between Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa in our attempt to resolve the situation in Lesotho. Similarly, we should join forces to lend support to initiatives that are underway to resolve the impasse in Angola.

In conclusion Mr President, I again extend to you a warm welcome to South Africa. May you personally, and the people of Zimbabwe, continue to enjoy peace and stability in our common endeavours towards a better Southern Africa and Africa as a whole.

I ask you all to rise and raise your glasses in a toast to the good relations that exist between Zimbabwe and South Africa and to the continued good health of His Excellency, President Robert Mugabe and the people of Zimbabwe.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation