Celebration of South Africa’s National Day (부제)The Republic of South Africa celebrates its 22nd National Day, universally referred to as “Freedom Day” on 27 April 2016. On this day, in April 1994, the country held its first non-racial democratic elections. It is on this day that South Africans of all races and creed took to the polls to cast aside centuries of discrimination and oppression and build a new society on the foundation of freedom and democracy. This historic election was an epochal moment that marked the death of apartheid rule and paved the way for the birth of a free, democratic, united, non-racial, non-sexist society. It ushered in a new era of peace and development whose positive impact has been felt across the borders of South Africa, well into the hinterland of Africa.
Having abandoned its shameful past, South Africa has steadily moved towards building a new society based on respect for human rights and dignity. South Africa is free, united in diversity and providing boundless opportunities to all regardless of race, gender or creed. It has been firmly integrated into the community of nations and is faithfully fulfilling its duties and responsibilities in the international system as a responsible global citizen.
This year we mark 22 years of Free and Independent South Africa with the theme:
“Together building better communities – Local government is everybody’s business”!
This year’s celebration coincides with South Africa holding its fifth municipal or local government elections. Municipal elections are held every five years to elect councillors who will be responsible for governing municipalities for the next five years. The right to vote is a fundamental right enshrined in the Bill of Rights and government has called on all South Africans to honour our history and continue to strengthen the legitimacy of our democracy.
Whilst we have made remarkable advances, challenges remain. We still face the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment, exacerbated by the economic global slowdown. Dealing with these challenges has become a central focus of our democratic state. The triple manifestations of the apartheid legacy — poverty, inequality and unemployment — reaffirm our belief that political freedom must be accompanied by economic freedom. As our President, H.E. President Zuma stated that the economic wealth of the country must bring about fundamental social change in the lives of all, especially the youth, the poor and the working class. It is for this reason that we have adopted the National Development Plan as our socio-economic development blueprint, to help us further implement the vision outlined in the Freedom Charter and the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Historic contact between South Africa and South Korea dates back to the Korean war of 1950-53. At that time the 2nd Fighter Squadron (the Flying Cheetahs) of the South African Air Force, volunteered and participated as part of the UN Allied Forces. This act of solidarity and concrete expression of support has largely remained an unforgettable act in the minds of the Koreans.
Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and South Korea were established on 1 December 1992. December this year will mark the 24th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries; our bilateral relations have grown steadily since 1995 when President Nelson Mandela visited South Korea. An important milestone to formally structure bilateral relations led to the establishment of the Policy Consultative Forum (PCF) between the two countries in April 1997. The first PCF took place in 2003 and the 8th PCF took place on 17 October 2014, in Seoul South Korea. This Forum is a vital platform that enables our two countries to strengthen and deepen bilateral and multilateral relations; to enhance cooperation in specific sectors and to further strengthen cooperation in the areas of trade, investment.
Trade between the RSA and the ROK comprises a vast range of products, from minerals and semi-finished products to high-technology electric and electronic products. South Africa is an important supplier of bulk raw materials and semi-processed minerals and metals, such as gold, coal, ferro-chromium, ferro-manganese, iron ore, stainless steel, lead, copper, nickel and zinc, for production processes in Korea.
There are a number of Korean companies present in South Africa, like Hyundai, LG, Samsung, POSCO, Handysoft, Hankook Tires, Hi-Logistics, Uno and Company. There is still considerable opportunity for the expansion and diversification of trade. South Africa is well positioned to supply Korea with products related to mining; automotive components; agro-processing; textiles; jewellery; and chemicals; as well as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. We welcome and encourage further Korean investment that will create job opportunities and skills development for our people.
We are looking ahead to the future and nurture the amity between our peoples, enhance cooperation in culture and people-to-people areas, Special attention should be given to the exchanges between the young people of our two countries, so that they can carry forward our traditional friendship. We sincerely hope and welcome more South Korean friends to visit South Africa and see by themselves the positive developments of South Africa since 1994 and the good will of the South African people.
On this auspicious occasion of South Africa’s 22nd National Day/Freedom Day let me wish all South Africans living in South Korea a Happy Freedom Day and friends of South Africa a happy, peaceful and prosperous year ahead and the strengthening and deepening of our bilateral relations with the Republic of Korea.
*The author is South African Ambassador to Korea.
Nozuko Gloria Bam