Address by President Nelson Mandela at banquet in honour of President Soeharto of Indonesia, Cape Town

20 November 1997

Your Excellency, President Soeharto;
Cabinet Ministers;
Distinguished Guests,

I am honoured and delighted to be able to return the hospitality shown to me on my visits to Indonesia. My last visit to your beautiful country four months ago is still fresh on my mind as one of the most memorable state visits I have ever made.

This first visit to South Africa by a President of Indonesia is indeed historic. It is an important milestone in our deepening relationship.

It is a special pleasure to welcome you and your delegation on our soil where you will have the opportunity to sense for yourselves the parallels that bind our two countries: our shared colonial heritage; our struggles for freedom; our common heroes, cultural and social ties; and our common endeavour to better the lives of our peoples.

Here in Cape Town you will be in no doubt that a part of Indonesia's soul resides in South Africa. Our meeting here as the heads of two sovereign nations must bring solace to the souls of those early freedom fighters banished here by your colonial rulers, leaders who have brought lasting inspiration to millions of South Africans till this day.

Your visit also allows us to say again what we cannot repeat too often, that the liberation of South Africa from apartheid was a victory shared with all those who helped us through the darkest and most painful period of our history. Without the selfless actions of our friends in the international arena, the costs of our struggle for freedom would have been the heavier.

History and morality require no less of us than a reciprocal commitment to play our part in the resolution of conflicts and the promotion of peace, stability and democracy through regional and international fora. We are eager to work with those who share our ideals in pursuit of a global order which reduces the disparities between the world's haves and the have-nots.

Our bilateral relationship provides a firm foundation for joint efforts to influence world developments towards our shares goals.

The ocean which once divided Shaik Yusuf from his family and his followers now has the potential to unite us not only with each other but with all the countries on its rim. We have the capacity to reclaim the Indian Ocean as a basis for vibrant inter-regional trade, as it once was. Indonesia's wealth of experience in multilateral organisations will serve us all well as we seek to make the Indian Ocean Rim Association a paradigm for the countries of the South to serve their economic and trade interests. In this world of volatile markets, co-operation amongst these countries and their joint search for equitable international economic relations cannot be over-emphasised.

South Africa, as incoming chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the host of its next summit, is keen to draw on the experience of Indonesia. We value the role you have played in maintaining the momentum of this important organisation and in adapting it to the challenges of our age.

Mr President;

Indonesia has set an inspiring economic example of turning a legacy of underdevelopment into sustained growth and development.

Having won our political freedom, and started nearly five decades later on the same path, we continue to learn from Indonesia's experience.

These lessons are strengthening our efforts to improve the lives of all South Africans by opening access to basic amenities previously denied to them and through a macro-economic strategy to boost investment, employment and growth.

The links of trade and investment between South Africa and Indonesia are bringing benefits to us both. Rapidly as these ties have grown since South Africa became free, our governments and private sectors have much work to do in order to tap the enormous potential that exists.

This will help renew the friendship among our peoples which has endured over many years. It will also strengthen our common resolve to find peaceful solutions to problems that may beset our countries. In this regard, I wish once more to underline the willingness of our country and myself personally to lend a helping hand where such may be required, within the context of multilateral institutions.

I am confident that the agreements we signed today, and the fruitful talks we had, will help us towards our shared objectives of peace, prosperity and justice.

Mr President: May your visit provide you with many opportunities to engage with South African government, business and the community at large. Be assured that you will enjoy South Africa's hospitality as we enjoyed Indonesia's and that it will not only be tonight that you hear these words.

Terima kasih dan selamat malam. (Thank you and welcome)

Ladies and gentlemen:

May I now propose a toast to the good health of President Soeharto and to the bonds of friendship and co-operation between peoples of South Africa and Indonesia.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website