Address by President Nelson Mandela at a banquet in honour of President Henrique Cardoso of Brazil

26 November 1996

Your Excellency President Cardoso and Mrs Cardoso;
Deputy President Mbeki;
Cabinet Ministers;
Member of the diplomatic corps
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen,

It is indeed an honour for the whole South African nation, for our government and for me personally, to welcome you, Mr President, and your distinguished delegation this evening.

Your visit to a democratic South Africa is a very special and historic occasion for us, and one to which we have long looked forward.

It is my earnest wish and my conviction that it will be a milestone in the rapidly developing relationship between our two countries, neighbours reaching out across the South Atlantic ocean.

Your Excellency,

We in South Africa appreciate that Brazil has the largest population of African origin of any country outside of the African continent. Brazil's historic interest in Africa is therefore very much a reflection of your national being.

Your active participation in earlier UN peacekeeping efforts in Mozambique, and now in Angola, speak of Brazil's commitment to Africa. We have noted with appreciation your willingness to participate in the UN-sponsored relief efforts in Central Africa.

This African vocation of Brazil strengthens the geographic and economic basis for sustained bilateral co-operation between our two countries.

South Africa is greatly encouraged by the rapid progress in bilateral relations with Brazil: the diplomatic exchanges and co-operation in multilateral fora; the growth in tourism; and the increase in trade by more than double since democratic South Africa became a part of the world community of nations.

We are grateful for Brazil's active support for our entry into the fold of the Zone of Peace and Co-operation in the South Atlantic.

It is deeply satisfying to know that two natural partners could find one another so easily after the barriers of separation were broken down.

Our countries have much in common. As countries concerned to entrench recently established democracies and build national unity within societies of great diversity, our experiences give us much to share with one another.

As countries richly endowed in natural resources and with similar levels of economic development we face similar challenges. These include the tremendous challenges of eliminating poverty, creating employment, and providing housing and access to health and welfare service to a large percentage of our populations.

I firmly believe that we can learn much from each other.

The joint declaration of intent we signed this morning as well as the agreements in the fields of culture, air services and the combating of drug trafficking, will give concrete meaning and practical effect to our desire to be partners in peace and prosperity.

They will help bring the regions to which we belong closer together, so that the ocean that separates our continents realises its potential as an artery of trade and mutual sustenance.

Mr President,

Your struggle and personal sacrifice in the cause of Brazilian democracy is well known. So is your commitment to the social and economic upliftment of your people. The active role of Mrs Cardoso in this regard is greatly admired and an example to us all. In your relatively short term in office, you have brought financial and monetary stability to Brazil. For these and other achievements, you have won the respect of the international community.

Ladies and gentlemen;

It is my great pleasure to ask you all to rise and join me in a toast to His Excellency, President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and the people of Brazil; and to the flourishing of the friendship and co-operation between our peoples.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation