Thabo Mbekis Speech in Zimbabwe
South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki gave a speech at the
opening of the Zimbabwe Trade Fair in Bulawayo on May 5. The following are
excerpts from his speech, as published by the South African news agency SAPA
Our two economies, those of Zimbabwe and South Africa, are
the largest in our region. They also enjoy a considerable degree of
Inevitably, therefore, both of us have responsibilities
that extend beyond our borders...
Mr President, I might take advantage of this occasion to
mention the concern you had, a few years ago, that we, the black people of
South Africa, should not make the grievous mistake of allowing the outbreak of
a civil war among themselves.
I am convinced that the interventions you made in this
regard contributed to turn us away from a path that would have been truly
Land dispossession was one of the most iniquitous results
of the colonisation of Zimbabwe...
Both of our countries, which experienced extensive land
dispossession of the indigenous majority by those who colonised our countries,
are confronted by the challenge to address this colonial legacy.
Our peoples, on both banks of the Limpopo, both black and
white, have a responsibility to recognise the fact that the land question
constitutes an important part of the national agenda.
Accordingly, they must commit themselves to work together
to address this central question, to advance the common good.
Clearly, the resultant land redistribution also imposes the
obligation to ensure that such land is used productively, to help provide a
better life for the people...
To you, the people of Zimbabwe, I would like to convey the
message that the overwhelming majority of your brothers and sisters south of
the Limpopo share with you the hope that the land question in Zimbabwe will be
At the same time, as a people, we are convinced that it
would be best that this important matter is dealt with in a co-operative and
non-confrontational manner among all the people of this sister country, both
black and white, reflecting the achievement of a national consensus on this
issue, encompassing all Zimbabweans.
Accordingly, we trust that ways and means will be found to
end the conflict that has erupted in some areas of Zimbabwe, occasioned by the
still unresolved land question in this country.
Peace, stability, democracy and social progress in Zimbabwe
are as important for yourselves as they are for the rest of the region...
Inasmuch as we know from our own history that you are ready
to assist us to achieve peace, stability, democracy and social progress in our
own country, so are we, in the common interest, willing and ready to work with
you for peace, stability, democracy and social progress in Zimbabwe, in our
region and the rest of our continent.
The motto on our new national coat of arms, which we
unveiled a mere eight days ago, expressed in an ancient African language, says:
People who are different come together.