Your Excellency, President Rupiah Banda and Mrs Banda,
Our Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe,
Honourable Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo and Mrs Ngcobo,
Speaker of our National Assembly, Honourable Max Sisulu and Mrs Sisulu,
Honourable Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,
Mr Dali Tambo and family,
It is a great honour to welcome you to our country, your Excellency my brother and friend, President Rupiah Banda and your dear wife as well as your distinguished delegation.
The Government and people of South Africa extend their warm and fraternal greetings, given the deep historical ties between our two countries and peoples.
Your acceptance of our invitation to undertake this State Visit is a clear demonstration of our resolve to work together to consolidate our relations, for the benefit of our two countries.
We are pleased that this state visit takes place almost a year since our very successful and memorable state visit to Zambia last year. We still have fond memories of the warmth we felt during that visit to our second home.
This visit is very special to the people of South Africa.
Our relations have a strong foundation as scores of South Africans lived in Zambia during the struggle for liberation, when we shared the meagre resources of the Zambian people.
The Zambians demonstrated their incredible kindness, humanity, resolve and ubuntu, not only to us, but to Southern Africa as a whole. Many other liberation movements in the region also benefited from Zambian solidarity.
You will recall also that Zambia was the headquarters of our ruling party, the African National Congress, over 30 years.
Many of the strategies and tactics that finally freed our country were shaped in Lusaka.
This makes Zambia a very important base from which we must record the history of our country. This is more important as in 2012 we will mark the centenary of the ANC, which is the oldest liberation movement in the continent.
To cement the bonds between our two countries which were forged in the trenches of struggle, we will tomorrow, together, visit the grave of an outstanding African statesman and hero of our liberation struggle, President Oliver Tambo and that of his wife Mama Adelaide.
We are very pleased Your Excellency, that you will be able to accompany me and the children of Oliver and Adelaide Tambo, to Wattville in Benoni tomorrow on this special occasion. We extend a warm welcome to the Tambo family who are with us this evening.
Together we will pay our respects to this exceptional man who kept our quest for freedom alive inside South Africa, and ensured that our struggle remained on the agenda of Africa, the United Nations and the entire international community.
He was determined that nobody and no institution or country would rest until South Africa was free.
Zambia supported President Tambo`s determination and resolve, under the leadership of our father and leader President Kenneth Kaunda.
Such warm historical ties must translate into stronger economic, social and developmental relations between our two countries.
We have a good foundation on which to work together to fight poverty and ensure economic growth and development in both countries.
Future generations must see and enjoy the fruits of these historical relations.
We are therefore encouraged by the progress that has been made since our visit to Zambia, as indicated during our discussions earlier today.
Last year we had signed 6 agreements on energy, agriculture, health, trade, mining and diplomatic consultations.
Today, we witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Management and Natural Resources. South Africa will be hosting the UN summit on climate change next year, and our cooperation in this field will enable us to push the African agenda in these forums in a manner that benefits our region.
Coming from the Africa-European Union Summit that was held in Libya a few days ago, the issue of African natural and mineral resources is uppermost in our minds.
We made it clear to our EU partners that critical to Africa`s growth, our vast raw material resources must be harnessed through beneficiation and other means to help grow our economies and create growth.
We should ensure that we use these resources to benefit the continent and assist us in the eradication of poverty. We are happy that Zambia and South Africa are of one mind on this issue.
We are further delighted that our esteemed guest, His Excellency President Banda, is accompanied by a business delegation on his historic visit to our country.
I hope that the business delegations of our respective countries will interact extensively at the Business forum tomorrow, with a clear view to boost trade and investment between South Africa and Zambia.
In this regard, we note with great appreciation the increasing number of South African companies doing business in Zambia, resulting in the steady growth in trade and investment between our two countries.
We take this opportunity therefore to thank these companies as we trust that their operations will continue to contribute to the growth and development of the economy of Zambia.
Indeed, current and future generations must be able to see and enjoy the fruits of the historical relations between our two countries.
Our two countries share common values of democracy, respect for human rights and social justice, and we continue to build on our good relationship on these principles. Shared values provide the foundation for co-operation beyond our bilateral relations.
Our two countries also work together within SADC in pursuit of the regional integration, peace and stability in the region, especially taking into consideration that both Zambia and South Africa serve in the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security. This therefore will require of us to consult on a regular basis.
Our continued co-operation and consultations on regional matters is even more of an imperative, now that South Africa has, with the support of a number of countries including Zambia, been elected to serve on the UN`s Security Council.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Zambia, for actively supporting our candidature to the Security Council.
We can assure you that South Africa will work tirelessly to raise issues of international peace and security in the interest of the region and the continent.
Our two countries also share the commitment to the improvement of the quality of life of all our peoples. This includes taking forward the fight against HIV and AIDS.
The 1st of December marked the commemoration of World Aids Day. We rededicated ourselves to ensuring that we demystify the disease through promoting testing, and by increasing awareness, prevention and treatment efforts.
Tomorrow, the 3rd of December, is the International Day of Persons with Disability. Recognising the need to ensure equality and access to opportunities all our peoples, together we will mark this day at the Adelaide Tambo Development Centre in Wattville, Benoni.
Thank you for accepting the invitation to join me on this important awareness raising event, my dear brother.
This State Visit also takes place during the 16 Days of Activism of no Violence Against Women and Children which will culminate on Human Rights Day on the 10th of December.
We add our voices that the abuse of women and children should end, not only in our country but the entire continent of Africa, whether in private homes or even in situations of conflict in the continent.
We have a responsibility to fight this scourge until the African continent is totally safe for women and children.
May I take this opportunity once more to warmly welcome you and your delegation to our country.
As said earlier, we are determined to work harder each day, to ensure that current and future generations see and enjoy the fruits of the historical bonds between South Africa and Zambia.
May you please rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Rupiah Banda and to the everlasting and enduring friendship between the wonderful peoples of Zambia and South Africa.
To friendship! I thank you.