Conclusion: a special relationship?
182. It is clear that the United Kingdom's relationship
with South Africa is an extremely important one, as we have described
in detail in the paragraphs above. A question that has often arisen
during our inquiry, though, is whether this is a 'special relationship.'
South Africa, for many good reasons, enjoys excellent relations
with nearly every country in the world. It is the 'partner of
choice' for most non-African nations working in the continent
and is much sought after as a key regional player, both on a continental
and international basis. The United Kingdom is not alone, therefore,
in seeking South Africa's friendship. Moreover, there exists an
'ambivalence' in some quarters of South African society towards
Britain, owing to such factors as the history of colonialism and
to arguments over the commitment of the United Kingdom to combating
apartheid in the past.
183. However, given what we have seen and heard during
this inquiry, we feel confident to conclude that the relationship
is indeed a special one. The co-operation that we witnessed at
all levels of government; the very significant flows of trade,
investment and tourism between the two nations; the shared values
and aspirations, on both a continental and global scale; the large
diasporas of expatriates in both countries; and perhaps even the
shared admiration for the talents of sporting heroes such as David
Beckham. All of these point to a mature, honest and many-layered
understanding, with both nations able to work together in a spirit
of equality and mutual trust, and a relationship that is well
able to weather the 'turbulence' of occasional disagreements.
184. As we have noted in our Report, South Africa
faces a number of major challenges and opportunities in the years
ahead. Challenges such as the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic;
opportunities such as the chance of securing long-term peace and
prosperity for Africa through NePAD. It is our sincere hope that
the United Kingdom can work in genuine partnership with South
Africa to help it tackle both, and that this relationship will
continue to flourish and grow for many years to come.