Vika Khumalo the South African Ambassador to Turkey yesterday Wednesday called for deeper relations between South Africa and Turkey.
Khumalo was addressing Turkish businessmen in South Africa at a conference organised by the South African Turkish Business Association (SATBA).
Ambassador Khumalo who was previously the Consul-General to China for 6 years following a brief report by the Turkish businessmen present on what they were doing in South Africa stated, “Having listened to what you all do in terms of import and export it sounds very good, I think the relationship between Turkey and South Africa will go from strength to strength, there is a huge emphasis on beneficiation on our part and I am sure Turkey will be able to assist us with that.”
Khumalo went onto mention South Africa’s vast quantity of natural resources that yet remain untapped, “South Africa holds the largest number of natural resources in the world to a tune of about $1 trillion,” said Khumalo, “this (research) was done by the Economist intelligence and the World Bank. We have not yet tapped into the wealth of this country and I think Turkey can assist us in doing that.”
“I would like Turkey to assist us, not just South Africa but Africa,” observed Khumalo.
He also mentioned the significance of Turkish assistance with regard to eliminating poverty in South Africa, he cited examples of the Chinese government successfully managing to eradicate poverty from certain sections in the country saying, “Nothing is impossible.”
Ms. Nowetu Luthi the Director for Mediterranean and Eastern Europe Desk at the Foreign Ministry along with Mr. Zandisile Pase from the Deputy Presidents office were present at the conference.
Ms. Luthi surprised the Turkish businessmen by greeting them with a few Turkish phrases and then smilingly said, “I was previously in the embassy in Turkey for 3 and half years; when I speak of Turkey I speak knowing that it’s my second home.”
Serkan Ergul the general secretary to SATBA briefing the ambassador on its activities said, “We really encourage our business members to partner with local businesses as a local joint venture, we also encourage Turkish business people not to be an importer in South Africa but rather to come and invest in the country.”
Serkan Ergul went onto state that SATBA has very close relations with Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) groups and whenever there were trade delegations from Turkey SATBA would show them the opportunities available in Soweto and other such areas.
Yavuz Aydin the head of the Turkish Schools established around South Africa observed that one of their schools had made history at the recently concluded matriculation exams as it produced the only student in South Africa to ever get 13 distinctions.
Ambassador Khumalo on a more casual note mentioned that his youngest daughter wanted to pursue a dancing career, “My youngest daughter wants to be a dancer and I know Turks can dance very well.