Address by President Nelson Mandela at banquet in honour of President Henri Konan Bedie of Côte d'Ivoire, Cape Town

8 September 1998

President Bedie and Mrs Bedie:
Your excellencies:
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed a distinct privilege and honour to welcome you and
your delegation to our country.

Your visit provides a good opportunity for our two countries to
advance the development of our peoples and our continent.

The strategic position of Abidjan on Africa's transport routes
has afforded us the opportunity on a number of occasions in recent
years to visit your country, however briefly, to discuss matters of
common concern. Whatever minor differences there may have been at
times in the past, we count Cote D'Ivoire amongst the firm friends
of liberation and transition to democracy in South Africa. Above
all, the people of Cote D'Ivoire have had an unbroken chain of
solidarity and friendship with the majority of South Africans, in
their quest for freedom and justice.

The defeat of the system of apartheid which liberated all the
people of South Africa has also allowed all the peoples of Africa to
join hands and affirm the bonds of our common African destiny
however far apart our countries may be.

It is therefore a great joy to host this first visit by an
Ivorian Head of State to South Africa at a time when Africa faces
great challenges and opportunities whose fulfilment depends on
continental co-operation and diplomacy.

Mr President, we appreciate the role your country has played in
promoting the peaceful resolution of conflicts within the West
African region.

We think of your active engagement in the search for peaceful
solutions to the complex problems of both Liberia and Sierra Leone;
the deployment of your peace-keeping troops with the United Nations
peace-keeping mission in the Central African Republic; and your
strong support for the establishment of a West African regional
mechanism for the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.

Cote d'Ivoire is rightly seen as a force for peace and a pillar
of stability in the West African region.

As our regional and continental organisations, SADC, ECOWAS and
the Organisation of African Unity succeed in providing frameworks
for Africa's nations to co-operate with each other to promote peace
and democracy they will also be strengthening the climate for
development and the upliftment of our peoples without which
democracy will remain a hollow shell.

They will be enhancing the conditions for the reconstruction and
development of our continent, for the African Renaissance whose time
has come.

Your country's impressive growth rate over recent years
encourages us all as we strive for sustained growth under the
difficult circumstances of integration in a global economic system
from which the imbalances and disparities of the past have still to
be removed.

This is a challenging time for a continent with a legacy of
terrible poverty that blights the lives of millions of her children.
But it also brings the possibility of changing this condition if we
stand together as Africans, forging bilateral relations and
strengthening our regional organisations as building blocks of
continental co-operation for development.

The South African Government therefore actively promotes the
expansion of economic ties between South Africa and other African
countries. As two of the larger economies of Africa, growing links
between South Africa and Cote D'Ivoire will not only bring us mutual
benefit but will also have a wider impact.

The recent Ivorian trade and business exhibitions in South
Africa, and the visit to your country of a South African trade and
investment delegation show that our private sectors are ready to
work with government to seize the immense opportunities that are
there. The signing today of a letter of intent on the promotion of
investments will give added impetus to this process.

Mr President;

Your visit will help deepen the mutually supportive relations
between our countries that have grown so rapidly in the few short
years of our freedom.

I have no doubt that during your stay in South Africa your will
experience the warmth of our people towards you as the
representative of your people.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you to rise and join me in a toast
to President Bedie and to the flourishing of relations between the
people of Cote d'Ivoire and South Africa.

I thank you all.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website