The Queen has praised South Africa’s successful journey of ”liberation and democratic renewal” during a banquet in honour of Jacob Zuma, the nation’s president.
Published: 9:39PM GMT 03 Mar 2010
She described how, since Nelson Mandela, the figurehead of the anti-apartheid movement, was freed 20 years ago, the country has managed to achieve the mammoth task of transforming itself.
Her words were addressed to South Africa’s president Jacob Zuma, on a three-day state visit to Britain, and a host of leading figures from his homeland and the UK at Buckingham Palace.
In turn Mr Zuma highlighted how Britain helped in the efforts to ”free” his country and later assisted in establishing a democratic government.
The Queen told her guests, who included Prime Minister Gordon Brown, senior members of the Royal Family and cabinet ministers: ”Twenty years ago last month Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa heralding an extraordinary process of liberation and democratic renewal.
”The task was daunting in its scale and ambition but was achieved through a deliberate and courageous effort of reconciliation and peaceful resolution of differences.”
Before arriving in the UK this week Mr Zuma, who has three wives, attacked Britain’s colonial past in an interview after apparently responding to reports by the British media about his polygamous lifestyle.
He told South Africa’s Independent newspaper group: ”And I don’t know why they are continuing thinking that their culture is more superior than others, those who might have said so.
”I am very clear on these issues, I’ve not looked down upon any culture of anyone, and no one has been given an authority to judge others.
”The British have done that before, as they colonised us, and they continue to do this, and it’s an unfortunate thing.”
But his comments tonight to the 170 guests seated in the Palace’s ballroom praised the close bonds between the British people and his homeland.
He said: ”We cannot forget the extraordinary role they played at the forefront of a global movement for a free South Africa, as the global anti-apartheid movement has its roots in this country.
”We also appreciate the assistance that the United Kingdom provided during our transition and in the establishment of the new democratic government.”
Published in the Telegraph: