Your Excellency, President Umaro Sissoco Embaló,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the government and the people of South Africa, I welcome you and your esteemed delegation to our country on the occasion of this state visit.
It is unfortunate that we were unable to honour your kind invitation to visit Guinea-Bissau last year owing to scheduling difficulties.
We are therefore pleased that you have honoured our invitation to visit our country.
It is an honour to host this delegation from Guinea-Bissau, a country with such a great and proud history in the struggle for the liberation of our beloved continent, and the birthplace of Amilcar Cabral, one of Africa’s finest sons.
In the dark days of apartheid, as our countrymen and women waged a struggle against an unjust regime, we were heavily influenced by his writings, and the independence struggle of Guinea-Bissau inspired us greatly.
We would not have achieved our liberation without the support of our brothers and sisters on the continent.
This visit affirms the solidarity and friendship that exists between South Africa and Guinea-Bissau.
Our common vision of a better Africa and a better world forms the foundation of our relations today and into the future.
We meet as the world is counting the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have the arduous task of rebuilding our societies, in which so many lives have been lost, and our national economies, which have suffered great damage.
Africa’s recovery depends on more of our people getting vaccinated against COVID-19.
It is a cause for great concern that the global community has not sustained the principles of solidarity and cooperation when it comes to equitable access to vaccines.
It is therefore all the more urgent that African countries cooperate to manufacture our own vaccines, and that we strengthen our health systems so that these vaccines reach the people who need them most.
This visit is an opportunity for us to consolidate the areas of cooperation that anchor our relations, explore new ones and address challenges that will affect our people in the future.
We have to give renewed momentum to the process of implementing the Agreements that exist between our two countries.
This should form part of our efforts to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area.
As South Africa and Guinea-Bissau there are multiple avenues of cooperation to increase bilateral trade between our two countries.
As part of our contribution to enhancing intra-African trade, we should give preference to our state-owned companies and private businesses when bidding for significant procurement contracts in each other’s countries, instead of sourcing these from outside of the continent.
It is our hope that we will be able to explore further opportunities for investment by South African companies in Guinea-Bissau, in areas such as agriculture, mining, energy, manufacturing and infrastructure.
Such investment would benefit both our countries, enbling Guinea-Bissau to derive greater value from its natural resources and providing South African companies with new opportunities for growth.
While much of the continent enjoys the benefits of democracy, peace, and stability, there are still pockets of insecurity and conflict on the continent.
We join the African Union and ECOWAS in condemning the attempted coup that took place in Guinea-Bissau in February this year.
The spate of unconstitutional changes of government in parts of our continent runs contrary to the aspirations of Agenda 2063 of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous continent.
It also sets back our common goal of Silencing the Guns across Africa.
We emphasise that any agrieved party needs to engage in constructive and peaceful dialogue, in good faith and within the confines for the law, when addressing any confict, dispute or disagreement.
This visit is an opportunity for us to discuss the positions we can mutually champion at the coming AU Summit on Terrorism and Violent Extremism scheduled for the 28th of May 2022 in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea.
It is important for our two countries to champion the cause of peace and development for both our nations and the continent at large.
I once again welcome you and your delegation to South Africa and I hope that we will have frank and productive discussions on the current state of our bilateral relations.
I thank you.