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Published: 30 Apr 2010
|SA: Zuma: Address by the South African President at the awarding of the Africa Peace Award, by Accord, to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Durban (30/04/2010)|
Source: The Presidency
Title: SA: Zuma: Address by the South African President at the awarding of the Africa Peace Award, by Accord, to the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Durban
Your Excellency, Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, President of the Republic of Sierra Leone;
Honourable Ministers of International Relations and Foreign Affairs;
Executive Director of Accord, Mr Vasu Gounden;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good evening to you all.
Let me start by welcoming His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone and His Excellency the President of the Republic of Burundi and their delegations to our country.
It is wonderful that the success of Sierra Leone has brought all of us together for an African good news story.
We are privileged to be able to reflect on the progress made by Sierra Leone since the end of the civil war in 2002.
This evening we stand together in highlighting this great country's achievements as an example worth emulating by all African countries and the South in general.
We recognise and applaud the great strides made by the people of Sierra Leone in entrenching peace, security, stability, good governance and respect for human rights and democracy.
Ladies and gentlemen, Your Excellencies,
This award is a testimony to the will and resolve of the people of Sierra Leone to confront adversity.
They have decided to go on a path of development, eradication of deprivation, poverty, and disease and to create a better life for all.
For decades, the African continent has been regarded by many as a lost cause, due to instability, underdevelopment, poverty, disease and corruption.
The sceptics have from time and time again relegated the African continent to insignificance. But we are proving them wrong on a daily basis.
The African continent has risen to the challenge to prove analysts and commentators wrong. Africa has in recent years demonstrated its commitment to peace, security, stability, sustainable development and democracy.
This evening's celebration adds to the excitement and encouragement that we all need, to prove that Africa is doing things differently.
Doing things differently is evidenced by the progress made by Sierra Leone in meeting the principles governing the selection of recipient countries for this award.
The country has met the requirements with regards to:
· The protection of and respect for human rights;
· Peaceful settlement of disputes; and
· Good governance of public affairs.
We also recognise previous winners, the Republic of Burundi. That country also proved to the world that peace is an achievable goal, despite all odds.
I am proud to have worked with the Barundi people towards that goal.
Ladies and gentlemen
Africa is indeed doing things differently.
The Sierra Leone of 2010 is vastly different from the Sierra Leone of 2002. Today the country boasts a vibrant society focused on creating the conditions necessary for development, democracy, good governance, provision of quality health services, education, agriculture and others.
This focus is reflected by the country's improving ranking on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, and the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Report for 2009.
None of this would have been possible without an absolute commitment to the betterment of the lives of the people of Sierra Leone.
Despite a difficult and painful past, the people of Sierra Leone made necessary compromises towards building a common vision for social cohesion, stability, economic development and strengthening democracy.
Ladies and Gentlemen
Though today is about celebrating the progress made in Sierra Leone, we must also remind ourselves that much remains to be done.
The country continues to face socio-economic challenges that must encourage all of us to double our efforts to contribute to the creation of the necessary economic conditions to lift millions of its people out of poverty.
The continued support of the international community remains critical to the ability of the Government of Sierra Leone to carry out socio-economic programmes and reforms.
These are necessary to curb high maternal and infant mortality, create quality and sustainable jobs, economic infrastructure, invest in human capital development, and create a responsive state machinery capable of addressing social and economic challenges facing the people.
International civil society must also play a larger role in developing programmes to assist the people of Sierra Leone in their endeavour to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
As a demonstration of our commitment to the achievement of the priorities I have enumerated, the Governments of the Republics of South Africa and Sierra Leone yesterday signed a memorandum of Understanding on the Technical Cooperation for the Funding of the deployment of a Cuban Medical Brigade in Sierra Leone.
This is a South-South project, in collaboration with the Government of Cuba, aimed at supporting the implementation of the "Agenda for Change" of the Government of Sierra Leone.
Cuba will provide medical doctors, funded by South Africa to the tune of 3 million US dollars over a three year period.
As you would know, the civil war in Sierra Leone wrecked the country's health infrastructure and displaced skilled personnel, thus undermining the Government's ability to provide quality health care services to its people.
Through funding this programme, the Government of South Africa wishes to contribute towards curbing maternal and infant mortality in Sierra Leone, and to provide on the job training to Sierra Leone's medical personnel.
The funding of this important project is informed by South Africa's absolute commitment to the advancement of the African continent, and to the provision of quality basic healthcare services as reflected in the government's domestic priorities.
It is because of this commitment that I also wish to urge the South African private sector to invest in the various sectors of the Sierra Leonean economy.
It remains our view that Foreign Direct Investment is the best vehicle for developing the African continent and the global South.
Through its private sector, South Africa has a unique opportunity to be a locomotive for change and development on the African continent.
It is because of this unique quality that we encourage our business community to seriously consider investing in Sierra Leone.
We encourage South Africa's civil society to form partnerships with their counterparts in Sierra Leone, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and cooperation between the two sister peoples.
Ladies and gentlemen
Allow me to again congratulate the people of Sierra Leone on their solid achievements in putting their country on a trajectory of peace, security and development.
Allow me to also recommit the Government and People of South Africa in a partnership with the Government and People of Sierra Leone, to guarantee a better life for all our peoples.
We will continue to work together to bring about an improved quality of life for all our peoples.
I thank you.