Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet in honour of Prime Minister Gujral of India, Cape Town

7 October 1997

Prime Minister Gujral and Mrs. Gujral;
Cabinet Ministers;
Honoured Guests;

The first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to South Africa is an occasion of great joy for us. Your presence here, like our own visits to India, helps consummate the transformation of a relationship forged in struggle into a partnership for peace and prosperity.

It is indeed an honour to host you and your entourage, Mr Prime Minister. While this is your first visit here, you are no stranger to us, just as South Africa is no stranger to India. Indeed, however many times I visit India, I find my presence overshadowed by the public interest in people like Alan Donald, Jonty Rhodes and Paul Adams!

Our shared history gave us cause to join with you in celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of India's Independence. We shall never tire of repeating that India's independence was a victory for all people under colonial rule. It was even more so for South Africans, whose freedom you regarded as essential to your own freedom, whose victory over oppression was also your victory.

Now as we emerge from the darkness of apartheid into the sunshine of freedom, we are at last able to express fully the warm feelings between our two nations.

It is a particular pleasure for us that your visit brings you the opportunity to meet with the larger community of Indian South Africans and to visit sites that commemorate Mahatma Gandhi, a leader who symbolises the unity of our experience and our shared determination to be free. You will sense for yourself the extent to which a part of India's soul resides in South Africa, as a revered part of our national life.

Each encounter between leaders of our countries, each exchange of delegations from government and the private sector, adds impetus to our growing economic relations. Though there have been many such meetings, the pace at which the relationship grows continues to inspire us.

We draw immense encouragement from the fact that trade between us increased by over fifty per cent last year after a similar increase the year before; that cultural and tourist exchanges are burgeoning; that our Department of Trade and Industry's biggest foreign office anywhere is based in New Delhi; and that high level visits between India and South Africa have since 1994 become regular and frequent.

These are indications of our joint determination to realise the vast potential for co-operation. Our common history and common challenges, as nations at similar stages of development, define the mutual benefits of such co-operation.

We have much to gain from drawing on one another's experience and combining complementary strengths as we pursue sustained growth in a competitive global environment. South Africa is eager to learn from India's experience in dealing with the legacy of colonialism. We are keen to benefit from the wisdom of a nation that has confronted the immensity of the task of eliminating poverty; and to join hands with you in this crusade which is even more relevant in today's world.

In a short time good progress has been made in establishing a framework of instruments to support economic linkages and in consolidating relations between our private sectors. Your visit is promoting that process, as we can judge from the fruitful talks we held today and the agreements that were signed, as well as yesterday's memorandum of understanding to launch the India-South Africa Commercial Alliance.

Our bilateral relationship also provides a firm foundation for joint efforts to influence world developments towards our shared goals. As old power blocs disintegrate we have a unique opportunity to help shape a new world order based on a more equitable distribution of economic and political power, including in the United Nations Security Council. We can help focus world attention on the reduction in the disparities between the haves and the have-nots.

The Red Fort Declaration signed during my recent visit to India gives expression to that strategic partnership. It serves as a clarion call for the developing world to mobilise resources in support of a new agenda aimed at economic development and growth, harmony and unity amongst the nations of the South.

Together with our friends in the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Non-aligned Movement we have the potential to become instrumental in the formation of this new global order

South Africans have long found inspiration in India, as a nation committed in practice to the universality of human rights. Let us join hands to ensure that as we enter the new millennium, the political rights that the twentieth century has recognised, and the independence that nations have gained, shall be translated into peace, prosperity and equity for all

Ladies and gentlemen;

Allow me to propose to toast to the health of Prime Minister Gujral and the people of India, and the flourishing of relations between our two countries.

Source: South African Government Information Website