Africa Day Lecture, 2014.

Introduction of the Africa Day Lecturer, Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, by the Patron of the TMF, President Thabo Mbeki.

The 5th Thabo Mbeki Foundation Africa Day Lecture, 23 May 2014.
ZK Matthews Great Hall,

University of South Africa Muckleneuk Campus, Preller Street, Pretoria

Let me start by joining Professor Makhanya in welcoming Her Excellency, the Vice President of the Republic of Gambia. Thank you very much for blessing our Lecture with your presence here tonight.

But of course I must also say thank you very much to our Lecturer today. When we approached [Dr Salim Ahmed Salim] to request him to deliver this year’s Africa Day Lecture, he did not hesitate, and [immediately] said he was ready to come [to South Africa from Tanzania. ed].

I was not surprised about that because I have had the fortune of knowing Dr Salim Ahmed Salim for some years. I have watched him, followed him and criticised him.

You would remember that some time ago I was the President of South Africa.

Now one of the things that a President does is to receive Ambassadors. For an Ambassador to be accredited to a country, there is something called an “agrément”. This is an ‘agreement’ in French.

Ambassadors do not just arrive in a country and announce that they are coming to represent their country. The host country has to be told that an Ambassador will be sent to represent whatever country. The host country accepts and then the Ambassador is sent.

While I was President, if the Foreign Minister came to me and told me that some country had requested to deploy an Ambassador who is 22 years old, I would have said NO! How can you deploy a baby as an Ambassador?

But I would have been very wrong in the case of Dr Salim because when he took his first Ambassadorial post he was 22 years old! I think that tells you about the kind of person we have tonight as our distinguished Lecturer.

We [are meeting here today to talk] about defining [Africa’s required] Leadership Paradigm. My sense is that Dr Salim is exactly the kind of Leader that we need.

Perhaps he represents in himself the result we intend when we speak of our required Leadership Paradigm!

In 1989, the leadership of the ANC decided that it was clear that [our] country was drifting towards negotiations and therefore that we needed to prepare for that.

So we sat in Lusaka and drafted a Document that dealt with this challenge of negotiations. We decided that we would then consult the Frontline States about this Document before taking it to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

[NB: This is the document which ultimately ended up as the historic “Harare Declaration”, as approved by the OAU, the Non-Aligned Movement and the UN General Assembly. It played a critical role in the context of the South Africans negotiations which led to the end of apartheid white minority rule. ed]

The first country we visited for consultations on the Document was Tanzania. We made an appointment with the Government and travelled to Tanzania. Dr Salim was Deputy Prime Minister of Tanzania at the time.

We met a [Government] delegation, which he led, and did he attack us! He said:

You come here to talk about negotiating with the Boers! Instead you should be fighting to overthrow them. What is this talk about negotiations? We were in big trouble!

When we ended that meeting and went to our hotel we were very depressed. The late OR Tambo who led our delegation was the only one among us who was not depressed.

The rest of us were saying this was [a very bad beginning] because Salim gave us a lot of trouble. But Salim said that despite all he had said, we were going to meet with Mwalimu Julius Nyerere the next day, [who might have a different view], and indeed we did.

What Salim was doing which we did not understand at the time was to prepare us for the meeting with Mwalimu to make sure that we [marshall] our arguments correctly so that by the time we get to Julius Nyerere, we were able to convince him.

Indeed, by the time we met Mwalimu, we were well armed because when he came at us with these arguments, [such as those advanced by Salim the previous day], we knew how to respond because we were well prepared, thanks to Dr Salim Ahmed Salim.

When we say we are proudly African, I think that we are proudly African because of people like him. If you look at all of the things that he has done and continues to do today I, and I am sure many of us including Julius Malema here, would also say we want to be like Salim Ahmed Salim.

He set an example in his many roles as Ambassador, Deputy Prime Minister, Prime Minister, in his various ministerial jobs in Tanzania and as Secretary General of the OAU for 12 years, which was a critical role at a crucial time. He was also Ambassador to the UN and did a lot of work at the United Nations, the Non Aligned Movement and so on.

This is an African who is outstanding in terms of the work he carried out in Tanzania, on our Continent and the duties he carried out Globally.

He has always been determined to ensure that he represents us, the Africans, properly, so that there could not be anybody anywhere in the world who would say anything negative about Africans so long as that Africanness was defined by what Salim did.