Judge President of the Gauteng North High Court, Justice Dunstan Mlambo,
Officials of the Department of Home Affairs,
Fellow South Africans,
It is my distinct pleasure to welcome you here on this auspicious occasion.
Home Affairs has the mandate of recognizing the identity and citizenship status of all persons in South Africa.
It is our mission to ensure that all South Africans value their citizenship, and are proud of it.
Accordingly, in June 2016, we implemented the first Naturalisation Ceremony to officially induct naturalised South Africa citizens.
Prior to last year, South African citizenship was handed out as a routine administrative matter.
We took the view that our citizenship is too important to be granted without a formal, mandatory induction process and an appropriate ceremony.
This ceremony comes at an important time in the history of our nation, and the world.
International migration has become a prominent moral, political, economic and social issue.
It has become an issue of controversy, rancour and potential division.
In South Africa, we have articulated the view that international migration is a natural, human phenomenon, which can benefit our development, nation building and social cohesion if managed well.
As much as any country, South Africa appreciates the importance of human connections.
We are a country which values and practices the concept of Ubuntu, an understanding of the essential interconnectedness and interdependence of humanity, which recognizes that ‘I am, because you are’.
As we emerged from our history of colonialism and apartheid racial domination, we chose to build a democracy of inclusion, tolerance and diversity, not narrow nationalism.
In their wisdom, a Congress of the People, of freedom-loving South Africans of all races and backgrounds declared in the opening words of the 1955 Freedom Charter, that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.”
It is in that spirit, that we welcome you as new South Africans, having fulfilled the requirements of naturalisation as prescribed by our laws.
You have attended the induction programme conducted by the Learning Academy of the Department of Home Affairs, where you will have been given some education on what it means to be a citizen of the Republic of South Africa.
We encourage you to continue to deepen your understanding of the rights and responsibilities which accompany that citizenship.
We are a young and diverse democracy, with many challenges and opportunities.
Out of a history of division and oppression, we are building a nation where all people matter, regardless of their race, gender, class, sexual orientation, physical ability or any other difference.
We are an African nation, inextricably linked to Southern Africa as a region, and the African continent as a whole.
We are a developing nation, and one of the challenges of our time is to unite all South Africans around a project of inclusive development.
The South African economy has for long been monopolistic and extractive, founded on cheap and expendable labour, oppressing and excluding black people, women, youth and the disabled.
Through our National Development Plan, we seek to transform this economy into an industrialised economy, based on labour absorbing and value adding industries, and the development of human capabilities.
We seek to grow our economy inclusively, such that all of our people have access to the dignity of work, economic opportunities and wealth creation.
This requires that we simultaneously grow our economy, while transforming its structure.
This requires active citizens who look for opportunities to contribute, bring others along and hold leaders accountable.
It requires skilled workers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and professionals, to drive our economic competitiveness and to create opportunities for others along the way.
You bring with you a variety of academic, professional and technical skills, and we welcome the contributions you will make in our society and economy.
From this day forward you are full South African citizens, and we encourage you to bear this status with pride.
I encourage you to take full part in society.
Learn our history, our customs, our languages, and make them your own.
Share our aspirations for South Africa, Africa and humanity as a whole.
Help us realise these aspirations, for your sake, for our sake, for the sake of all our children.
Value your rights, and value the rights of others.
Exercise your responsibilities, and lead by example.
Be productive and prosperous, and find ways to help the less fortunate do so as well.
When you travel and communicate abroad, help us spread the word about the great many positive aspects of South Africa.
It is my honour to welcome you as new citizens of our beloved country.
I thank you.