South African President Jacob Zuma
Your Excellency, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Media,
Allow me, Your Excellency, to once again extend my sincere gratitude to you for accepting our invitation to visit us at this crucial moment when your country is busy preparing for the October 2017 general elections.
We are also happy that you have visited us at the time when South Africans are celebrating Women’s Month, and at the same time, celebrating the year of Oliver Reginald Tambo.
It is therefore an opportune time that we celebrate your tenure as the first and currently the only democratically elected female President on the Continent.
You are not only an inspiration to the women throughout our Continent, but to every one of us irrespective of gender, race or any other form of description.
The confidence which the people of Liberia and the rest of the Continent have in you, and the fact that you have successfully completed your two terms as the President and Head of State with excellence, is a sure sign and proof that Africa is on the right path.
It is befitting that we should today salute you, Madame President, for being a torch bearer in our unflinching and unwavering commitment to rid our Continent of prejudices, poverty, inequality, and unemployment.
South Africa and Liberia have a long standing relationship dating back to the years of our liberation struggle.
We shall never forget the role that your country and other like-minded states played in ensuring that the people of South Africa enjoy the freedom they have today.
It is for that reason, Your Excellency, that we wish to strengthen our bond of friendship and comradeship, complemented by our commitment to emancipate our people from hunger, illiteracy, and lack of employment, amongst other ailments.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have just concluded our discussions which were quite fruitful and productive.
We have, today, agreed to deepen cooperation between our two countries across a number of fields and take these relations to a higher level.
This visit has afforded us an opportunity to review a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest.
It is pleasing to note that we are of the same mind in relation to how and what our Continent and, of course, the world should look like.
That is, borrowing from our late and former President Nelson Mandela’s words, so that there should be “work, bread, water and salt for all”.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We also take this opportunity to commend the people of Liberia who under the leadership of President Johnson Sirleaf demonstrated their resolve to defeat the Ebola Outbreak together with the support of the African Union.
At the time we recall that the continental body under the Leadership of the then AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, rallied support of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust that pledged $34 Million of which MTN, a South African based telecommunications company donated $10 million to the West African effort.
Although the economic activities between our countries are still at a relatively low level, there are ample opportunities for our countries to further expand our economic relations.
In this context we recalled the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on Economic and Technical Cooperation that was signed in December 2015 which has the potential to enhance our trade relations.
Currently, the major South African businesses that have large investments in Liberia are MTN and DSTV.
We encourage more private sector companies to invest in Liberia.
Given the abundant business opportunities that exist between our countries, we have agreed to look into improving an enabling environment to ease the manner of doing business in our respective countries.
We agreed to finalise the signing of a Visa Waiver Agreement for Holders of Diplomatic and Official Passports soon.
We have also agreed to speed up discussions and finalisation of other bilateral instruments on Agriculture, Tourism, Health, Energy Water and Sanitation amongst others.
We are determined that our countries should continue to work together to take our relations to greater heights.
We also received a briefing on the upcoming Presidential and Legislative elections in Liberia, and committed to provide technical support and assistance in this regard.
Once more, we wish Liberians well as they prepare for the elections.
In relation to issues concerning our Continent, we are greatly concerned of the challenges threatening the Continent’s peace and security.
We condemn in the strongest possible terms all forms of terrorism and extremism. The activities of these illicit groups continue to dampen and hinder the much needed developments in most of the countries in the continent.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Africa’s development is dependent on peace and stability. We would like to reiterate the call for all regional bodies to intensify efforts to rid our beloved Continent of these negative elements.
South Africa and Liberia will continue to work together in multilateral engagements in order to address matters affecting the Continent.
We are resolute on our call for the reform of the multilateral institutions, including the United Nations Security Council to better represent the interests of the south.
We are committed to increasing and deepening cooperation, friendship and solidarity between our two nations.
We are satisfied and convinced that this visit will serve as a precursor for increasing contacts between our people and improve our economic relations.
I thank you.