Welcome to South Africa
His Excellency Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
President of South Africa
I am extending the warmest of welcomes from the South African portal of the Commonwealth of Nations website.
From its inception, to its role in lobbying against institutionalised racism in our country, the Commonwealth and South Africa have a long historical association. Over the years these historical ties have been cemented by common interests, values and principles.
Today, as one of the larger contributors to the Secretariat, South Africa works in a spirit of co-operation, partnership and understanding with fellow members. Being a large contributor also brings responsibilities and South Africa endeavors to use this status to influence the debates of the Councils and meetings of the Commonwealth to focus on the plight of the poorest and most underdeveloped amongst us. All our actions must always consider how we will contribute in a direct and meaningful way to the improvement of the lives of our people.
The urgency of the times, as the world grapples with the impact of the global financial and economic crises; issues of good governance, democracy and human development; and an environmental future more precarious than at any time in human history, seems to have fashioned a more genuine, cooperative and purposeful dispensation towards international partnerships and alliances. With a focus on education, health and job creation, also constituting some key priorities of the South African Government, the Commonwealth is ideally placed to assist with addressing the needs South Africa and other member states in this regard.
Consequently South Africa will continue to use multilateral relations to take forward the goals of eradicating global poverty, strengthening peace and security and promoting democracy. To this end, the Commonwealth holds tremendous relevance in today’s environment and is seen as necessary for forging mutual understanding and building relationships particularly in this new dispensation.
With the Commonwealth’s membership extending to two members of the G8, five of the G20, twelve of the Islamic Conference, over half of the G77 and NAM, as well as members of the EU, AU, SADC and ASEAN, the Commonwealth is uniquely placed to drive the renewal of the global governance architecture, which remains a key pillar in our nation’s foreign policy.
Whilst Governments have a role to play in fostering change, we will not meet our goals on development and democracy without civil society: the vast number of Commonwealth associations – impressive in the scope of their activities, are vital instruments that together with the work of the Commonwealth Foundation is important in respect of people-to-people links.
Mindful that the Commonwealth of Nations accounts for 30% of the world’s population and 25% percent of the worlds international trade, South Africa firmly believes the structures and institutions of the Commonwealth have an important role in fostering cooperation and partnership between business and government, between developed and emerging markets, between the rich and poor and the powerful and most vulnerable.
As we look to the future of the association, we remain conscientious that constant change, constant renewal and constant-re-evaluation are fundamental in today’s precarious world.
Solely by remaining relevant to the challenges and opportunities of the modern world and recognising that the solutions to our greatest challenges have to be collective through the formation of partnerships between the public, private sector and civil society can the Commonwealth be effective.
To this end, South Africa believes that the work of Eminent Persons Group (EPG) to increase the impact, strengthen the network and raise the profile of the association is a positive step in ensuring its relevance.
We remain confident, that the Commonwealth of Nations can provide an ideal foundation for a better world that we seek to build.
This website must serve as a gateway to the Commonwealth’s multifaceted role in creating a better life for present and future generations.
MR JACOB GEDLEYIHLEKISA ZUMA
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA