REMARKS ON THE OCCASION OF THE NATIONAL DAY OF THE REPUBLIC OF KENYA
5 DECEMBER 2019
Your Excellency, High Commissioner of the Republic of Kenya to South Africa, Ambassador Jean Kamau,
Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners and Heads of International Organisations,
Representatives of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation and other Government officials,
Members of the Kenyan Diaspora,
Members of the media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am honoured to represent the Government and the people of South Africa on this occasion celebrating 56 years of Kenya’s independence. On 12 December 1963, Kenya gained its independence from Britain; the Union Jack was lowered and the Kenyan flag was proudly hoisted in its place.
Your Excellency, we are proud to enjoy excellent diplomatic relations with your country which is a valued strategic partner for South Africa. Our countries share common values and principles which guide our domestic as well foreign policies. For example both our Governments are committed to: democracy, good governance, and respect for human rights including the emancipation of women and full realisation of gender equality; Pan-Africanism and a common vision for the development and Renaissance of Africa as encapsulated in Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want; multilateralism and a rules-based international system; and the resolution of political disputes through peaceful and legal means including dialogue and negotiations.
It is therefore not surprising that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding have been signed covering a broad spectrum of sectors and issues including trade; tourism; agriculture; bioscience, biotechnology, and space science; basic education; and many more are still under consideration such as long term visas for academics and other frequent travellers.
Furthermore, a number of high level visits as well as engagements on the margins of international and multilateral fora have taken place over the years including the State Visit to Kenya by former President Zuma in November 2016. This was followed by Minister Nkoana-Mashabane representing President Zuma at the Inauguration Ceremony of President Uhuru Kenyatta on 28 November 2017. Our bilateral relations were further bolstered by a visit by President Kenyatta to South Africa in 2018.
Your Excellency, our countries share healthy economic relations both in terms of trade and investments. Kenya is South Africa’s leading trading partner in Africa outside of the SADC region. South Africa is also one of the leading investors in the Kenyan economy. There are over 60 South African companies operating in the Kenyan economy in sectors such as financial services, real estate, retail, pharmaceuticals, engineering, food and beverages as well as tourism and hospitality. I must add that there is an increasing number of Kenyan companies and business people who have invested in our country’s economy.
Your Country’s stature in the financial sector particularly on vibrant innovations, placing it amongst the best in the world should be celebrated. Here I refer to innovations like the MPESA electronic money transfers that enables people from the most remote of villages to send and receive money from anywhere in the world.
We have also seen an increase in the number of tourists from Kenya to South Africa in the past year which is a further indication of our bilateral relations. South African tourists are also encouraged to visit Kenya and enjoy the available recreational diversity the country has to offer.
We further encourage both South African and Kenyan travel companies to partner with each other in the creation of affordable travel packages to both countries.
Your Excellency, South Africa is very encouraged by the steps taken by the Government of President Kenyatta in 2018 to develop critical sectors of the Kenyan economy including manufacturing, agriculture and agro-processing, healthcare, and infrastructure development.
This is a continuation of initiatives that were implemented during his first term of office. In this regard, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate your country on its first oil shipment of 200,000 barrels of crude oil that was shipped on 26 August.
This is a major achievement for Kenya, and a potential game changer for its economy and social development. As South Africa, we stand ready to cooperate in some of the identified priority sectors and projects for the mutual benefit of both our people and countries.
Your Excellency, with the coming into operation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area, further impetus will be added to our bilateral economic relations both in terms of trade and investment. Continentally, these Treaties will help speed up regional and continental economic integration which both our Governments are so dearly committed towards. This will also serve as a major boost to one of the Aspirational Goals of Agenda 2063, “A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development”.
Before I conclude, I wish to further congratulate Kenya for its selection as the African Union’s candidate to the United Nations Security Council for 2021-2022.
Africa could not have identified a more suitable and competent representative. Your regional efforts through the East Africa Community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development towards peace and a stable political environment for development within the East Africa region, including your continuous efforts under AMISOM in Somalia, are most welcomed and commended by South Africa.
Your Excellency, South Africa would like to reassure you that your journey towards securing your election in the UNSC in June 2020 is our journey too. We are more pleased by the fact that you will be taking over the seat that South Africa would have vacated. This offers an opportunity to share experiences and a possibility for continuation of some of the initiatives that South Africa has been pursuing such as the implementation of the Women Peace and Security Agenda and others.
Your Excellency, as you are aware, South Africa will assume the Chairship of the African Union in January 2020. We look forward to closer cooperation and collaboration between our two countries.
The year 2020 is an important one for Africa in the context of the Agenda 2063. It is a year in which as the Continent, we hope to realise an important milestone in our aspiration for a peaceful and secure Africa, “to silence the guns by 2020”, through the application of the principle of pursuing African solutions to problems in Africa.
Your Excellency, to conclude, on behalf of President Ramaphosa, the Government and the people of South Africa, and on my own behalf, I wish to congratulate President Kenyatta, the Government and the people of Kenya, and you, Your Excellency, as well as all Kenyans present here today on this important day and wish the Republic of Kenya a joyful, peaceful and prosperous Jamhuri Day (Republic Day).
As we reaffirm our commitment to the strengthening of the existing bilateral relations with the Republic of Kenya, allow me, Your Excellency, High Commissioner Jean Kamau to propose the following toasts:
- Toast to the good health of His Excellency, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya;
- Toast to the prosperity of the People and the Government of Kenya; and
- Toast to the strong, good and cordial bilateral relations and cooperation between our sister Republics.