Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet held in honour of President Herzog of Germany, Cape Town

10 March 1998

President and Madame Herzog;
Deputy President Mbeki;
Distinguished Guests.

In welcoming you, Mr President, may I say that it is with immense pleasure that my government and I receive you and your delegation in South Africa. We have long awaited the first visit by a German Head of State to our country. It sets the seal on the rapidly developing partnership between our countries, and gives it further impetus.

It also affords South Africa the opportunity to reciprocate the hospitality I received on my visit to Germany, and for our people to extend to you the same warmth that I felt from the German people.

Indeed your programme here reflects the relations between our peoples as they have evolved through our freedom struggle, through our transition to democracy and now in the reconstruction and development of our country.

Your visit to the memorial of Hector Pietersen in Soweto recalls the naming of a school in Berlin after him. That was just one of the many ways in which Germany's people identified with our struggle and championed the cause of the oppressed in South Africa.

Your visit to our Constitutional Court reminds us of how we have drawn on the lessons which Germany took from history. As we sought to entrench our newly-won rights, we benefited in the writing of our own constitution from German constitutional experience.

Your interactions here with both German and South African business are an index of how economic relations have developed between our two regions since apartheid was defeated.

It was these links and many more that set the scene for the relationship between our two countries to assume a still stronger form. The basis for such a development was laid by the many visits between us in the past three years, in particular that of Chancellor Kohl to South Africa and those of myself and Deputy President Mbeki to Germany.

The bilateral agreements signed today and others in the final stages of preparation will lend further strength to our relationship. Such agreements, along with the workings of the Binational Commission and the activities Southern African Initiative of German Business, are tangible facets of what is fast becoming a strategic partnership.

We appreciate the practical recognition that Germany has given to the economic and development potential of our country and region.

As South Africa's main trading partner and second-largest investor. Germany is making a crucial contribution to our economic growth and to employment as well as to technology and skills development. We are confident that South Africa's economic potential will also make these links a benefit to Germany.

Millions of South Africans are benefiting from development programmes initiated by Germany, amongst other things, through technical assistance and bursaries to develop skills; partnerships between our provinces and your Lander; and housing projects.

South Africa's own future is bound up with that of Southern Africa and the African continent as a whole. We therefore value Germany's role in helping promote sustainable development in Africa and in fostering the European Union's partnership with the Southern African Development Community.

With German support, we look forward to even better relations between our regions. And we look forward to further opportunities of developing common positions on the issues that face the world as we enter the next millennium.

Whether it be through development co-operation, economic links or co-operation in regional and international matters, Germany is a valued partner in our nation's efforts to create a better life for all.

Though we are proud of the progress we have made, we know that we have only just begun on a task that has many challenges and will take years to accomplish. But we face the future with confidence. That is because South Africans are united as never before in their determination to succeed, and because we know that we have good friends like Germany.

Your Excellency, on behalf of the Government and all the people of South Africa, may I bid you, as well as the members of your entourage, most welcome to our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I ask you to rise and join me in a toast to President Herzog and the people of Germany, and to the deepening and widening of our strategic partnership.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website