Abiy Ahmed – the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize winner – was speaking at the African National Congress’s (ANC) 108th annual anniversary celebrations in Kimberley, the largest city in the Northern Cape.
“Ethiopians have always treated and looked with utmost admiration upon the great heroism of South African men and women in their successful struggle to end apartheid,” he told thousands of ANC supporters at the Tafel Lager Stadium in the city.
The ANC of today was the result of the unbroken chain of proud men and women who served their nation with honour, who fought the system of oppression, and suffered so that dignity and freedom might be known.
“South Africa will continue to be a more equitable”
He added that he salutes freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, Ahmed Kathrada, and “many others who dedicated their lives to the struggle for a better South Africa and a better world”.
“We also salute the current leaders, and President Cyril Ramaphosa, for keeping strong the democratic and progressive vision that Madiba produced. I have no doubt that under the leadership of the ANC, South Africa will continue to be a more equitable, wealthier, healthier, and more tolerant and hopeful nation that inspires the rest of Africa,” he said.
Regardless of differing political orientations at home and abroad, all successive Ethiopian governments had firmly supported the “just cause” of the people of South Africa for freedom and equality, said Abiy.
Ethiopia remembers Mandela
He recalled Mandela travelling to Ethiopia for three months in 1962 to undergo military training, using an Ethiopian passport in the name of David Motsamayi.
“In his autobiography, Madiba speaks fondly about Ethiopia as a country that inspired him to continue his struggle against apartheid.”
Mandela was remembered in Ethiopia for his enduring values of peace and reconciliation, and the dedication to his long walk to freedom, justice, and moral leadership Abiy said.
He added that Ethiopians continued to be inspired by Madiba’s service to humanity., and said:
“His immense contribution and exemplary leadership fostered the promotion of peace, tolerance, inclusivity, and forgiveness, which was close to the hearts of Ethiopians.”
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed
Mandela relinquishing the South African presidency after one term in office was “so rare” in Africa that it served as an example to the current crop of the continent’s leaders.
Abiy said his own party would continue to work closely with the ANC in the interests of Pan-Africanism to the benefit of the people in both countries, and through “our joint continental leadership to the benefit of Africa and beyond”.
He wished Ramaphosa success as he moved the ANC “into the next stage”.
Bilateral trade agreements
On Sunday, Abiy will join Ramaphosa at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on official state business. The men are expected to discuss bilateral trade agreements and to consolidate political, economic, and social cooperation.
The visit will also explore potential areas of trade and investment for the benefit of both countries in industries such as telecommunications, road infrastructure, mining, agro-processing, and manufacturing, according to the South African presidency.
The visit also forms part of the preparations for South Africa’s assumption of a year-long term as chair of the African Union at the 32nd ordinary session of the assembly of heads of state and government in Addis Ababa in February.
“I would like to congratulate my friend President Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress (ANC) for reaching a milestone as ANC celebrates its 108th anniversary.”
Ethiopian prime minister Abiy Ahmed on Twitter.
African News Agency (ANA), editing by Jacques Keet (ANA).