By Mudassir Raja
The silver jubilee of the Freedom Day of South Africa was recently celebrated with national pride and elegance at Grand Hyatt Hotel where Qatari dignitaries, members of the diplomatic corps as well as members of the South African community were present in large numbers.
The prominent among those present on the occasion were HE Dr Issa Saad al-Jafali al-Nuaimi, Minister of Justice; HE Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Subaei, Minister of Municipality and Environment; HE Ambassador Ibrahim Fakhroo, Director of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and HE Ambassador Ali Ibrahim, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps.
The 25th anniversary celebrations were made lively by the soulful music played by Acoustic Element – a cousin duo. Callen Petersen, who played the violin, and Jody Abel who played guitar and beatboxes, presented dynamic music of South Africa to the cheers of the gathering.
Before the start of the ceremony, the gathering observed one minute silence for the victims of the recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka. The ceremony was officially started with national anthems of both countries. The national anthem of Qatar was presented by South African children. The national anthem of South Africa was presented by the community members clad in traditional South African dresses. The key note speech delivered by the host Faizel Moosa, ambassador of South Africa to Qatar, was followed by the cake-cutting ceremony.
In his passionate speech, the ambassador called the day as a milestone event as the country marked the silver jubilee of its democratic dispensation. He said that 2019 marks a seminal moment as there are elections going to be held in South African to usher in sixth administration. The elections were held on April 27 (yesterday) and later they will be held on May 8.
“Critical to these developments on the domestic front, 2019 further marks the commencement of the Nelson Mandela Decade of Peace declared unanimously by the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2018 for the period 2019 to 2028. It is important to also emphasise that the decade provides renewed commitment towards global peace, security, development, conflict prevention and resolution, peace-building, co-existence, reconciliation, compassion, the promotion and protection of human rights and long-term development initiatives, as the core values of our late struggle icon and first democratically elected president,” he said.
For ambassador Moosa, freedom is a hard-earned achievement. “Through the Freedom Day celebrations, South Africans from all walks of life continue to celebrate our hard-earned liberation and prioritise the key tenets of human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in the constitution. At the same time, it is important to underline that the South African government recognises room for improvement and that more needs to be done to ensure economic liberation through the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights.”
The ambassador was upbeat about the cordial ties with Qatar. “The close relationship that exists between South Africa and Qatar is a reflection of the duty to cooperate among friendly nations. We continue to be inspired by Qatar’s vision of a modern, business-oriented state, as well as the ambitious infrastructure development programme that enables the country to compete in the international economy ensuring its long-term economic viability through diversification.
“South Africa remains open for business and a destination of choice for investment as highlighted by President Ramaphosa’s investment drive and through the hosting of the Presidential Job Summit and the Presidential Investment Summit in 2018.
“The recent gas find and the partnership with Qatar Petroleum led by Total, for gas exploration off the coast in South Africa is a game changer and will go a long way in addressing South Africa’s energy security and the development of the gas economy for sustainable growth, whilst at the same time drastically improving the bilateral trade between South Africa and Qatar. The cooperation between the two countries also extends to financial, agricultural, food and energy security, chemical, textiles, precious metals, vehicles, aircraft and vessels. It also includes tourism, sports, and international affairs.”
The ambassador further said: “Our two countries share much more in common especially the unshakeable believe in the inalienable right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. In this respect, allow me to congratulate the State of Qatar for the recent opening of the first prosthetic hospital and Artificial Limb and Rehabilitation Centre in Gaza. Allow me to also highlight that my government’s strong stand against the atrocities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has also extended towards recalling our envoy to Israel and to move in the gradual downgrading of diplomatic relations.”
At the end of the event, the guests were served with traditional South African cuisine.
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