Address by President Nelson Mandela at the banquet hosted by Prime Minister Ramgoolam, Mauritius

11 September 1998

Prime Minister Ramgoolam and Mrs. Ramgoolam;
Your Excellencies;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Your kind words, Mr Prime Minister, together with the splendid reception on our arrival and the warmth of the Mauritian people in our encounters today, have made us feel truly as if we were home away from home.

We are deeply honoured by the invitation that you extended to us to visit your beautiful country. Coming soon after your own successful visit to South Africa, it creates a valuable opportunity to further strengthen the relations that have been growing between so rapidly our countries since South Africa achieved democracy

Indeed, you have provided us with an ideal chance to mix pleasure and serious business.

If we cast our eyes over the long history that binds our peoples, through kinship as well as the mould of common experience, then these closing years of the twentieth century stand out as a period that is unprecedented both for the opportunities to work together for mutual benefit and for the urgent necessity that we do so.

Our common membership of the OAU, of the Non-Aligned Movement which South Africa has just hosted and SADC which Mauritius is about to host, the Indian Ocean Rim Association and the Commonwealth reflect the affinities that draw us together even across the expanse of ocean that lies between us. It defines our determination to give effective voice to the interests of our region and our continent, as part of the developing world, and at the same time to seek effective partnership for development with the industrialised nations.

In an increasingly interdependent world, none of us can achieve the goals of peace, democracy, security and prosperity unless those same goals are achieved by others, in particular by our fellow Southern African nations.

We have therefore come to Mauritius to strengthen relations between us. As nation still in the dawn of our freedom, we have also come to learn from those who have gone before us.

We are inspired by your success in entrenching a democratic culture in a society of tremendous diversity, as we set about doing so in our own diverse and once-divided nation.

We admire your prodigious success is turning underdevelopment and dependence on the production of one commodity into an economic success story of diversification and sustained growth in a challenging global environment. It encourages us as we put our own economy on a path that will produce the resources for eradicating apartheid's legacy of poverty and inequity.

The agreements we have signed for co-operation in the fields of the economic, sports, culture and art reflect the breadth of our interest in building all-round relations.

South Africa has put increased trade and investment with Mauritius high on its agenda. The recent successful South African Trade and Investment Delegation to Mauritius reflects our determination to maintain and improve the rapid growth of economic links of the past few years. Both government and private sector are ready to seize the many opportunities that will spur the growth of our economies and the development of our peoples.

We are confident that growing trade, in the context of co-operation between our governments, will take us towards a more even balance of trade between us, and South Africa is committed to working towards that goal.

There are also many opportunities for us work together to take advantage of the opportunities for co-operation between us in ways that promote development more widely, within the SADC region.

Ladies and gentleman,

As one of the youngest democracies on our continent, South Africa is proud of its association with Mauritius which, as one of the oldest democracies in Africa, has been steadfast in its efforts to help make our continent and the world a more secure, peaceful and humane place to live.

I am deeply appreciative of the high honour of the Grand Order of the Star and the Key of the Indian Ocean which was bestowed on me today. I will always cherish it as a symbol of the friendship between our countries and of our partnership for a peace and prosperity.

I ask you all to rise in a toast to the Government and people of Mauritius, and to the flourishing of relations between our two countries.

Issued by: Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website