His Excellency Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Interior and Security Mr. Emmanuel Ramazani Shadari,
Ambassador Mpoko, the DRC Ambassador to South Africa stationed here in Pretoria,
Ambassador Shilubane, South Africa Ambassador to the DRC, stationed in the DRC
Senior Officials accompanying His Excellency.
Mr. Jackson McKay, Deputy Director General for Immigration
Senior Officials from the government of South Africa
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am greatly honoured to welcome you all to this important occasion, the Signing of the Visa Waiver Agreement between our two countries, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Importantly, this positive step serving further to enhance relations between our two countries, is taking place in the year South Africa is celebrating the life of one of the finest sons of the African continent and long-serving President of the African National Congress in exile – Mr Oliver Reginald Tambo.
In recognition of the sacrifices and selfless contributions of the people of our continent and world in building our democratic state, South Africa has, among other gestures of friendship, introduced the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo. Patrice Lumumba, who became the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 30 June 1960, after the first democratic elections, is an Esteemed Member of the Order of the Companions of OR Tambo.
The Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo maintain good diplomatic and political relations. The highest expression of our relations is the annual Bi-National Commission (BNC), co-chaired by the Heads of State. Through the BNC, we have been able indeed to consolidate the bonds of friendship among ourselves in the interest of the people of our two countries and those of the people of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Diplomatic ties between the two countries are indeed growing as is evident in the recent training programme of diplomats from our sister country, the DRC. To date more than 700 DRC diplomats have been trained.
At the last Bi-National Commission held last month in South Africa, a decision was taken to expedite the signing of the Visa Agreement for Official and Diplomatic passports.
The successful BNC in June, concluded by our two Heads of State, President Jacob Zuma and President Joseph Kabila, re-affirmed good relations between our two countries on matters of trade, defence, foreign relations and indeed cooperation on immigration.
As members of SADC, we have committed ourselves, through the Protocol on Facilitation of Movement of Persons that we shall continuously collaborate with each other progressively to attain the goal of easing travel and expanding trade and cooperation. This agreement should therefore be seen as a step in the right direction.
I trust that the visa waiver will further enhance our cooperation, by making it even easier for our officials to regularly interact with each other, without hindrance.
We are quite excited about the upcoming trade mission. The Department of Trade and Industry has invited companies in the agro-processing sector to apply for participation in the 7th Investment and Trade Initiative to the Democratic Republic of Congo. This can only bode well for both our economies.
Please accept our greatest appreciation to you, for making time together to assemble for the signing of this important Visa Waiver Agreement in respect of holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports.
Lastly, on behalf of our government and Department of Home Affairs, I would like to reaffirm our commitment to continue developing even stronger relationships and friendships between the people of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Thank you very much