|Easy on the eye: The scene from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, Western Cape Province, South Africa. — Photo courtesy of South African Embassy
The celebration of Freedom Day this year is the first after the demise of our great icon, former President Nelson Mandela. We take comfort that he has left us a legacy of peaceful co-existence and reconciliation and that even in his absence we continue to work together as a united nation.
On April 27, 2014, South Africans will celebrate their country's first democratic elections in 1994. That historic day gives resonance to the perennial ideals for which our forebears selflessly laid down their lives in the past century.
It is in this spirit that celebrating our freedom, for us, equals a celebration of humanity in its totality. Our freedom is about building friendship, bridging boundaries and strengthening our relations with those who stood by us during our darkest moments in the history of our country. Viet Nam is no exception.
We commemorate the heroism and sacrifice over years of struggle to win our freedom, with the solidarity of people from across the globe. We owe our achievement to the support we enjoyed from the rest of the world. We thank the international community who played a pivotal role in assisting us to realise our freedom.
We celebrate the continuing hope and resilience of our people, working together to achieve the vision in our Constitution. On this day we reaffirm our Government's commitment to consolidate democracy and create a South Africa united in diversity.
As we celebrate Freedom Day, we can be proud of the resilient and maturing democracy that we have built as a nation. We take pride in the progress we have made since 1994 towards a better life for all and a more united society.
We have broadened access to basic services previously denied to most and made sure that many more people can participate in the economy. Millions of lives have been transformed since 1994, but we remain conscious of the challenges that we continue to face as the nation.
There is hope that the challenges that continue to confront us will be overcome, as we have made incredible progress in the past 20 years. Our country has a long standing and cordial relationship with Viet Nam, which dates back to the 1950s. As South Africa and Viet Nam continue to work together for the reconstruction and development of their economies and for the improvement of the quality of life of our people, we South Africans pause and reflect on the unparalleled support we enjoyed from your country.
Historical links between our two countries have grown from strength to strength. This is the reason why there are on-going efforts to consolidate and strengthen friendship between the people of our two countries, while exploring further opportunities for co-operation in other areas and in particular trade and industry.
Viet Nam's strong presence in South Africa justifies the cordial diplomatic relations we currently enjoy. At the level of bilateral relations, it is commendable to note that Viet Nam is one of South Africa's important trading partners in Asia.
We are confident that our relations are at a point where we can confidently further our engagements with Viet Nam on key strategic issues. South Africa offers many opportunities for co-operation in a variety of sectors and those are augmented by its stability.
South Africa is a serious international and regional player and a respected member of many multilateral and international institutions. South Africa has observed that active participation in regional and multilateral institutions is also a priority for Viet Nam.
Finally, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I congratulate Vietnamese people on the forthcoming thirty ninth anniversary of Viet Nam Re-unification Day on April 30 and the sixtieth anniversary of the glorious Dien Bien Phu victory on May 7. — VNS