Master of Ceremonies,
The Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
The Minister of Sports and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula and all Ministers and Deputy Ministers,
CAF President, Mr Issa Hoyatou,
The President of the South African Football Association, Mr Nematandani and all leadership of local football present,
LOC Chief Executive and Members of the LOC Board,
Good evening to you all.
It is an honour for me, on behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, to join this special African moment, of the final draw of the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations.
With great excitement, we are counting down the last 86 days before South Africa hosts the 29th edition of Africa’s biggest soccer festival, for the second time.
We are humbled by the trust that CAF has once again placed on South Africa and our people to host this important football event.
The 2013 tournament takes on special meaning as we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the African Union under the theme: “the Year of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance”.
Fifty years ago, the Organisation of African Unity was founded with the cardinal objective of promoting the unity, solidarity and cooperation of African States to achieve a better life for the peoples of Africa.
Fifty years on, the OAU successor, the African Union is bringing African nations and multiple generations of Africans together to raise Africa’s profile on the global stage.
This event will certainly offer a unique opportunity to pay special tribute to the generation of Pan-Africanists who set the continent on its path to liberation.
It will also bring our nations together as envisaged by the AU’s founding fathers fifty years ago.
Each match will be a demonstration that sport, particularly football, can be a catalyst for social change, peace and unity in the African continent.
For this reason, the AU’s long term aim is to promote football as a continent-wide and integrative sport. It is also to use football to support the Make it Happen Campaign, which is aimed at securing long lasting peace and stability in the African continent.
The Government and the people of South Africa are fully prepared and ready for the tournament.
Our Government fully supports the South African Football Association and the Local Organising Committee. We have made the necessary guarantees to CAF to stage what we plan to be another successful sporting event after the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup.
In 2013, the world’s eyes will once again be on us as sixteen of the finest African football nations compete for the greatest honour of being the champions of the continent in the beautiful game of football.
We congratulate all national teams that have qualified. We look forward to exciting games, lots of goals, fair play and tons of fun for soccer lovers in the country in the continent.
We extend special congratulations to the Cape Verde national team, which has qualified for the first time.
This will also be a special occasion for South Africa as we make a return after a four year absence from the tournament.
In addition, South Africa has a proud track record of hosting wonderful sporting events.
The 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations will be a timely reflection on the legacy of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which we hosted successfully with the support of the African continent.
Tonight, we come together to collectively celebrate this key milestone.
As we begin this final draw, I will be keeping my fingers crossed for our national team, Bafana Bafana.
I hereby wish all national teams the very best of luck in the draw and in the 2013 Orange Africa Cup of Nations!
We are eagerly looking forward to host this happy festival of African football next year.
I wish you all an enjoyable evening.
I thank you.