Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet hosted by President Dos Santos of Angola

29 April 1998

Your Excellency, President Dos Santos;
Honourable Ministers;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for your kind words. Your warm welcome reminds us that for many South Africans, Angola has been a home from home.

In this room are gathered many who played a leading part in Angola's moral and material support that sustained us through the years of struggle.

We may not have exchanged many words during those years, but your actions spoke aloud to us. I greet those comrades with particular pleasure and hope to have an opportunity to shake your hands.

The people and government of Angola suffered misery that is still to be counted, as a result of their support for our struggle for freedom. We know that the effects are still felt. I have come to report to you that your efforts were not in vain.

Our struggle for freedom and democracy has progressed far along a difficult path. The people of South Africa have put in place a constitution that entrenches their deepest aspirations, drawn up in the broadest consultation. It guarantees the basic human rights of all South Africa's citizens. Institutions have also been put inn place to protect, nurture and perpetuate our democracy. These advances reflect the determination of all our people that never again shall our land seen the domination of one by another.

We observe with fraternal interest the progress that our Angolan brothers and sisters are making along a similar path. We do know that the path you tread is not the same one we have travelled, and that some of the obstacles have been even more difficult than those we had to surmount.

But the progress of recent months has been deeply encouraging, as the United Nations Secretary-General has indicated by signalling the intention to begin withdrawal of the UN military observer force.

We, in South Africa, will continue to watch and support your efforts with hope, faith and solidarity.

In the meantime we must continue efforts to rebuild our countries, through reconstruction and reconciliation, nation-building and development.

South Africa has put the achievement of sustained and export-oriented economic growth at the top of its agenda. In a globalised and competitive world that is essential if we are to produce the resources and create the jobs for reconstruction and development. But in such a world we also cannot succeed on our own. Whatever happens in any one part of our region, in particular, affects us all. As neighbours we depend one upon the other even as our peoples did in their struggles for liberation.

For us Angola is an excellent potential partner in these endeavours. We hope to see more and more South African companies in Angola, independently or in joint ventures with local companies.

We are encouraged by the rapid expansion of trade and diplomatic relations between our countries since South Africa achieved democracy. But the scope for co-operation is largely untapped. Our visit and the opportunities for discussion which it affords us will help identify further areas to strengthen our relationship in bilateral, regional and international affairs.

The General Agreement on Co-operation signed today creates a sound foundation for meaningful and strengthened bilateral relations that will bring mutual benefit to our two countries, and in turn have a positive impact on regional relationships.

There is a South African saying that, "If you are in one boat, you have to row together." We are indeed in one boat - in one Southern African region. As we navigated the storms of our region's history under colonialism and minority rule, so now we will row together on the calm waters of freedom and peace that lead to development and a better life for our peoples.

I ask you all to stand and raise your glasses in a toast to President Dos Santos and to the ever strengthening friendship between South Africa and Angola.

I thank you.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website