South Africans will always be indebted to Guyana for the role it played internationally in supporting the African liberation struggle, Public Works Minister, Nathi Nhleko said in a speech delivered at the High Commission for the Cooperative Republic of Guyana’s 51st Independence Day celebration held in Pretoria on Friday (May 26, 2017).
“Guyana ardently and unapologetically became an activist state against the continuation of imperialism, colonialism and racism in Africa, and stood firm for the liberation of the oppressed peoples the world over,” declared Nhleko in conveying President Jacob Zuma, the Government and the people of South Africa’s congratulatory message to President David Arthur Granger, the Government and the people of Guyana read by Director General for Public Works, Mziwonke Dlabantu at the event.
“This occasion is not only to celebrate our countries’ maintenance of cordial diplomatic relations for the last two decades but also an affirmation of our historical bonds of solidarity against European imperialism, colonialism and racial oppression,” he emphasized.
He commended Guyana’s for developing a secure transhipment hub that facilitated the movement of Cuban troops by aeroplane to Angola through Cape Verde in the 1970s, a critical link at a time when alternatives were non-existent; and when economic and political costs were high for any country that engaged in the anti-apartheid struggle.
“We appreciate that true freedom does not come easily and that colonialism which robbed countries across the African continent and the diaspora of their minerals, cultures and human capital is an anti-thesis of development, freedom and democracy,” he said.
His Excellency, Dr. Cyril Kenrick Hunte, Guyana’s High Commissioner to South Africa in his address said that Guyana, led by then Prime Minister Forbes Burnham took an active part in the work at the multilateral level, especially at the United Nations, the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement and the Caribbean community, in order to ensure that apartheid was no more.
“The government of Guyana banned Guyanese cricketers and other individuals from participating in sport events that violated the 1977 Glenagles Accord of the Commonwealth,” Dr. Hunte told High commissioners, diplomats and other guests.
He said that Guyana never shirked from its resolute commitment to ensuring that apartheid was abolished, and embraced these actions wholeheartedly.
“We believed that freedom, liberty and democracy are indivisible and sacrosanct, for one can be human if any other human being is denied the same human rights.” he stressed.
Hunte added that Guyana provided financial resources for the freedom fighters in Africa and granted scholarships to Southern African students to attend training institutions in Guyana, as this was not accessible to them in their home countries.
He said that Guyana seeks to engage South Africa in trade and investment that will be equally beneficial to both countries. We look forward to sharing our experiences on mitigating the impact of global warming, the demarcation of national parks, the identification of protected areas and the safety and security of wildlife,” he.
He further said that Guyana celebrates the 100th birth anniversary and the contribution of Oliver Reginald Tambo with the South African people for his life exemplifies humility, integrity, passion and patriotism.
Nhleko’s speech highlighted that both governments have worked tirelessly to deepen and solidify their relations since the establishment of formal diplomatic relations between the friendly nations in 1994.
Reflecting on the bilateral relations between South Africa and Guyana that continue to grow further since a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) on Political Consultations was signed in 2015,he said that MoU provides opportunities for co-operation in other areas such as arts and culture; trade; education; agriculture with a great deal of potential for both nations within the mining sector.
“These agreements are the cornerstones and a foundation to build on as we explore other areas of co-operation. In this regard, efforts are being made to intensify relations between our countries with an anticipated reciprocal visit to that Deputy Minister Landers took in 2015,” he underscored.
Nhleko expressed a wish to explore cooperation in areas of infrastructure development between our government entities and the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in Guyana.