“Of all holidays, Independence Day is perhaps the best for reflecting on where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and what matters most. From our shared struggles for equal rights to our deep core values and shared culture, the friendship between the United States and South Africa has only strengthened with age, and I am certain that our partnership will continue to improve as we work together on common challenges and strive to uphold our shared ideals,” remarked Chargé d’Affaires (CdA) Todd Haskell, addressing our guests, who this year joined our virtual celebration online though an interactive platform and social media live streaming.
Joining CdA Hakell and wife Jennifer at their residence was our guest of honor, Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Mr. Obed Bapela, representing the South African government. The festivities included the presentation of colors by the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard and South African and American national anthems sung by our USAID Southern Africa Choir.
In his remarks CdA Haskell drew attention to the Covid-19 pandemic and U.S. support for South Africa and the continent, highlighting vaccine and equipment donations, and investment in local vaccine producer Aspen Pharmacare that will allow it to scale up its production, all of which will remain on the continent.
The final speech was given by Deputy Minister Obed Bapela, who congratulated the U.S. on the 245th anniversary of its independence, noting the historical ties between the two nations during South Africa’s anti-apartheid struggle, and current ties, which include substantial trade and investment. In addressing shared efforts to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, he commended President Biden’s support of a World Trade Organization proposal to waive certain intellectual property protections around COVID-19 vaccines that will allow the increased production and address inequity in distribution.