Address by President Nelson Mandela at the state banquet held in honour of President Museveni of Uganda

27 May 1997

Your Excellency President Museveni and Mrs Museveni;
Your excellencies
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to welcome you and your delegation to South Africa. Although you are not a stranger to our shores, I am especially privileged to welcome you in this official and formal capacity on the occasion of your first state visit to South Africa.

You will find the same hospitality and friendliness here as I found last year when I attended Uganda's Independence celebrations. You will feel the warm embrace of a people who know Uganda as a staunch ally in their struggle for liberation.

I was reminded when I visited Kampala, that Uganda became an independent Republic on the same day that the Rivonia trial started. During the time that I was safely behind bars, Uganda was experiencing all the trials and challenges of transition and reconstruction.

By the time South Africa came to negotiate its own transition, the "Pearl of Africa" had already achieved peace and stability and was well on the way along the road of redressing the legacy of colonialism. In this, Uganda's rebirth, you were, Mr President, a leading champion.

There is much that South Africa has to learn from your country.

Your unceasing efforts and dedication in transforming Uganda into a success story has resulted in a remarkable economic and social achievement including a growth rate with few equals in the world.

In a world plagued by AIDS, your approach in developing sound education and other programmes for dealing with this threat to our common future sets a strong example.

Like you, we believe that only a united, common approach to these and other problems has the potential to lift us to new heights. Already there has been substantial progress in this regard. The African rebirth is now more than an idea. Its seeds are being sown in the regional communities we are busy building and in the continent as a whole.

On a continental level, much is being done to encourage peace, stability, democracy and development. Together we have sought peaceful political solutions to some of Africa's conflicts, recognising that conflict threatens not only the gains we have made but also our collective future. The establishment of an African Peacekeeping Force, which now seems on the horizon, is part of our broader endeavours to find preventive and lasting solutions to these conflicts.

South Africa has been proud to be part of the efforts, along with Uganda, to address the problems of the Great Lakes Region. We are full of hope that a lasting solution will be promoted by the transition taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo. We are confident too that the people of that great country have reached the dawn of lasting peace and democracy.

To that end South Africa, within our limits, has offered technical assistance to the newly established government. Together with Uganda and others we are prepared to give whatever humanitarian assistance is possible so as to help create the conditions for stability and development and therefore a better life for the people of Africa.

Mr President,

Since the establishment of formal relations between South Africa and Uganda in 1994, the ties between our countries have continually expanded and flourished. In Uganda we see a friend and partner for peace, development and prosperity.

Trade between South Africa and Uganda is steadily increasing and this visit will forge even closer ties. I am also pleased that the resident South African High Commission in Kampala has now become a reality. The South African High Commissioner-designate, Mr Raymond Mhlaba, will soon be taking up his post, opening a new phase in the further strengthening of our relations. He will be following in the footsteps of many freedom fighters who found refuge in your country during the difficult days of struggle, especially when Southern Africa could no longer sustain the level of military assistance needed.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Will you rise and join me in proposing a toast to the health and prosperity of President Museveni, the people of Uganda, and to the flourishing of relations between South Africa and Uganda.

Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation