Your Excellency, President of the CPA International,
President of the CWP,
Chairperson of the CPA,
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
The Secretariat of the Association,
Fellow delegates and observers,
I am humbled by the singular honour of addressing and deliver a vote of thanks to this historic event which marks the end of the proceedings of the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. It is also worth noting that South Africa was readmitted to the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) during the 1995 conference hosted by Sri Lanka. Accordingly, I bring with me a message of deeply-felt gratitude and humility on behalf of delegates across the length and breadth of the Commonwealth to the Sri Lanka CPA national Branch for agreeing to host this conference. The sterling work and the unwavering support in ensuring that this event becomes a success have not gone unnoticed, and for that we shall forever remain indebted to you Mr President.
Mr President, I say this because I do know from my own countries experience, that it is not always easy to host such big International events when ones country is still seized with the process of nation building, reconciliation and still engaged in post-conflict transition. Just like Rwanda and South Africa, this country has gone through difficult moments of historical injustice which very few countries have ever experienced. But we are amazed and very pleased at the fastest pace at which this country is recovering and developing.
The development projects we have seen during our tours, the state of tourism and infra-structure, health, education and their impact in society are a reflection that indeed you are a nation at work, committed to reclaim the destiny of your people. Some of these projects and natural wonders we came across will serve as lessons learnt for our parliaments and will leave fond memories when we return to our respective countries. The courteous reception and generous hospitality extended to all our delegates by the Sri Lankan people since their arrival deserve our deepest appreciation.
Mr President, In reflecting on what we have discovered in Sri Lanka, I wish to borrow from the words of one of South Africa's Freedom Fighters, President Josiah Gumede reflecting and describing his visit and experiences in Georgia, Russia, in 1925. He said, “I have seen the new world to come, where it has already begun. I have been to the New Jerusalem. I have brought the key which would unlock the door to freedom. In outward appearance, the men and women are comely and black of brow and hair, the complexion is white and rosy. They are brave and hard working with great powers of endurance. They are hospitable to guests and strangers.”
Programme Director, although ushered many moons ago, these words can still accurately describe our positive view of Sri Lanka.
I must also express my appreciation on the high level of debate and robustness we have demonstrated during the workshops. This is a reflection of the extent to which our countries in the global arena are committed to uphold the principles of democracy. Equally, I have a fervent hope that resolutions taken in this conference will go a long way in extricating our countries from many challenges they are seized with through empowering our Parliamentarians. Once again I wish to extend my deep sense of appreciation to our fellow delegates for the commitment demonstrated throughout the conference proceedings.
In closing, I would like to thank the outgoing President, the Honourable Chamal Rajapaksa of Sri Lanka for all the hard work that went into the successful hosting of the 58th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference. Let me also thank the President of the CWP for the valuable contribution to the CPA.
On behalf of South African CPA branch and its sub-branches I express our deep sense of humility to all CPA branches for the confidence shown in my country to host the 59th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference and thereby assuming the Presidency of this association.
We are looking forward to welcome the Commonwealth family to the shores of the rainbow nation and I have complete confidence that working together as commonwealth family we will make the 59th CPA conference a success.
I thank you!