South Africans in Kuwait and worldwide will celebrate their country’s 20 Years of Freedom and Democracy on 27 April while simultaneously exercising their right to vote in South Africa’s fifth national elections since independence.
In an interview with The Times Kuwait, the Ambassador of South Africa to the State of Kuwait Delarey Van Tonder confirmed that the SA Embassy will celebrate Freedom Day at the Radisson Blu Hashemi Ballroom on 28 April 2014. On 30 April SA nationals resident in the State of Kuwait will be able to vote at the South African Embassy in Salwa.
Reflecting on South Africa’s liberation Ambassador Van Tonder stressed that “Our freedom is a product of our peoples legitimate struggles and international solidarity. We remain indebted to the international community for utilising bilateral and multilateral economic and political pressure to bring about change. They contributed to the fact that South Africa’s democratic transition was indeed home grown and negotiated reflecting the true will of the majority of South Africans and was furthermore devoid of destructive interventionism”
Commenting on relations between Kuwait and South Africa since the formalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries Ambassador Van Tonder confirmed that bilateral relations remain warm and cordial.
“South Africa views the State of Kuwait as a strategic role player in security and stability in the Gulf region and beyond as well as in international energy security. Furthermore, Kuwait performs a most constructive role as an investor on our Continent and specifically South Africa where it continues to contribute to the socio economic and infrastructure development of my country. We have concluded strategic bilateral agreements and a substantial number of agreements are under consideration including the establishment of a Bilateral Joint Committee which will further consolidate and strengthen bilateral political and economic cooperation.
South Africa’s relations with the Gulf States have also expanded significantly since the establishment of South Africa’s democratic order in 1994. Not only is the Gulf region a substantial source of South Africa’s crude oil requirements, the GCC countries and particularly Kuwait have become a major market for South African products especially agricultural exports, a source of tourism and investment and home to a sizeable South African expatriate community. Several South African companies in the construction and engineering sectors have successfully executed major projects in the region including cooperation in the defence and petrochemical sectors.
Although trade and commercial relations between South Africa and Kuwait can be further expanded, Kuwait maintains a positive role as an investor with significant investment through its Sovereign Wealth Fund (SFW) in South Africa’s capital and financial markets. Of note however, is the substantive involvement of among other Kuwait’s IFA Hotels and Resorts and the Al Kharafi Group in the premium real estate and tourism infrastructure development sectors in South Africa.
KAPICO, a local company with international reach has also invested beneficially in South Africa and the wider Southern Africa region. The State of Kuwait has left a positive footprint in Africa as an investment partner by contributing to Africa’s sustainable socio economic development, especially through the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development (KFAED) and by its continued humanitarian support during emergencies and national disasters affecting human security on our continent.
The historic visit of former President Nelson Mandela to the State of Kuwait in 1995 added a special dimension to our bilateral relations and impacted positively on Kuwait’s constructive involvement in the economic development of the African Continent. Since then regular high level bilateral and multilateral engagements between our countries have contributed to strengthen cooperation in the political, economic, security and cultural spheres. South Africa holds Kuwait in the highest esteem for successfully hosting the Africa Arab Summit in 2013 and for the visionary and strategic role of His Highness the Amir in the peaceful settlements of political conflicts and promotion of regional unity and cohesion”.
In conclusion Ambassador Van Tonder confirmed that South African nationals in Kuwait registered with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) will exercise their democratic right to vote in SA’s fifth national elections since 1994.
He also lauded the role of South Africans in Kuwait who “continue to make a positive contribution to the national priorities of the State of Kuwait especially in the field of education, banking and finance, security and defense, health, engineering, energy, law and human resources development”.
On 27 April 1994, South Africa cast aside centuries of discrimination and oppression to form a new society built on the foundations of freedom and democracy. It marked the end of apartheid rule and introduced a new constitutional order based on the principles of equality, unity and a democratic and prosperous society.