Pretoria, 10 November 1999
Your Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh,
Your Excellencies Ministers, Deputy Ministers, High Commissioners and Ambassadors,
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and gentlemen:
It is indeed an honour and a privilege for the South African Government, for our nation and for Zanele and I personally to receive Your Majesty on this your second State Visit to South Africa since the birth of our democracy.
It is also with pleasure that we receive Your Majesty as the Head of the Commonwealth on the eve of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting which begins later this week.
During your visit in 1995, you stated in our Parliament that it gave Your Majesty great pleasure to see South Africa regain its rightful place in the Commonwealth and that South Africa had an essential role to play.
As South Africans we feel humbled that so soon after you uttered those kind words, we have the honour to host the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting this century and millennium, and that on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the modern Commonwealth.
I am certain that the Heads of Government will take advantage of the happy coincidence of these landmarks to take decisions that will make the Commonwealth even more responsive to the new challenges that face all humanity.
As Your Majesty is aware, the Heads of Government have already agreed that they should focus on the issue of making people-centred development the centre point of our strategies to deal with the impact of the process of globalisation.
In the context of our experience, this must mean the sustained pursuit of the goal of a better life for all.
This encompasses eradicating poverty, fulfilling people’s basic needs and protecting and promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the basic right to development.
Accordingly, the creation of an international climate and the necessary institutions and processes conducive to such people-centred development as the central purpose of social activity has to be an integral part of the process of reconstructing the system of international relations.
We are very pleased that the Commonwealth can and will be in the lead in ensuring that we realise these perspectives.
The relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom is almost two centuries old. At times, the relationship has been a tempestuous one.
Our peoples have fought against each other, as they have also fought together against a common enemy.
A century ago, the uneasy silence that then shrouded our country was broken by the thunder of the guns of war. Peace would not return until almost three years later when the South African War came to an end.
On the other hand, during the first and second World Wars South Africans fought side by side with their British comrades against a common enemy.
As South Africans we have approached the Anglo-Boer/ South African War Centenary in a spirit of reconciliation and nation building. Long divided by racism, we now have the opportunity and possibility to unite and together say never again should our country fall victim to war.
We also approach the commemoration in a true spirit of friendship with the United Kingdom and its people. I am pleased to take this opportunity sincerely to thank Your Majesty and your government for sending as high a personage as HRH the Duke of Kent to help us commemorate that start of the South African War in an appropriate and dignified manner.
We will continuously strive further to strengthen our close and excellent relations with your Government and the people of the United Kingdom.
Our two countries are joint proprietors of a rich and complex history, which has led to the establishment of an intricate system of relations between our peoples. This has been of great benefit to us as we strive to build the new South Africa.
This shared history also places on our countries a common responsibility to work with others in the quest for a more just and equitable world.
Allow me to conclude, Your Majesty, by thanking you, your government and the British people for your continued interest in the well-being of our own nation.
I wish Your Majesty and His Royal Highness a pleasant stay in our country.
I look forward to receiving Your Majesty at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting later this week in Durban.
I have no doubt that during your stay in South Africa you will once again experience the warmth of our people in whose hearts Your Majesty and the United Kingdom occupy a special place.
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Please rise and raise your glasses to the health of Her Majesty the Queen, to the success of the people of the United Kingdom and to the friendship between our countries.