Well, it’s always a pleasure being in Cape Town, and I remember exploring Cape Town for the first time with Erica, and it’s just wonderful seeing someone who has loved this city for so long coming back and leading our consulate. And it’s also especially touching that her husband is leading our consulate in Durban. And he was with me in Pretoria yesterday, and between the two of them, they are a dynamic duo for American diplomacy.
I also very much – yes – (applause) – you can give them both a round of applause. Thank you. I’m also very, very pleased to be joined by the Ambassador – Ambassador Gips and Liz Gips, who – Liz Berry Gips, right? – who is just a terrific partner to the Ambassador in everything he’s doing on behalf of our relationship with the country. Don and Liz and their three sons have just made a tremendous difference in connecting up people to people and in civil society and NGOs, as well as the day-to-day work between our governments.
And I’m here to say thank you. Thank you for everything you all do every single day on behalf of this really vital relationship. I just finished speaking at the Western Cape University about the importance of the relationship between the United States and South Africa, not only with respect to what we do between our two countries, but what we must do throughout the world. And you are doing an excellent job of carrying our values, promoting our interests, and deepening our relationship.
Now, I was told that I came at a heartbreaking time – the Stormers just lost to the Sharks. I have no idea what that means – (laughter) – but I’m glad everyone is moving on. We’ll have grief counselors available – (laughter) – for those of you in the deepest mourning. But your partnership is truly making a difference, especially in our work on HIV/AIDS. As you know, I was just at South Delft Clinic having a chance to witness the signing between the Minister of Health and our Ambassador of our new framework for implementing the partnership agreement that I signed with Minister Mashabane two years ago.
Last year in South Africa, more than 1.1 million people received anti-retroviral treatment with PEPFAR’s support. Seven hundred and twenty thousand pregnant women with HIV got services to prevent passing on the virus to their babies. More than a half a million orphans received care and support. And truly, I want to applaud all of you, every one of you who’s helped to make a difference in the lives of so many people here.
Now the agreement that was signed today starts the transition of PEPFAR’s work to South African control. And this year, this agreement comes after years of collaboration between our governments working to meet this incredible challenge. But whether you’re working on HIV/AIDS or building and sustaining relationships with the South African parliament or hosting groups of visiting American lawmakers, you are really contributing very directly to this important relationship at this time.
I especially want to acknowledge our Foreign Service family members who are here without your loved ones. Now, I know some of the kids had to go to the third day of the new school year. I thank those of you who let your children miss school. But I know you’re missing a lot of other people who aren’t here, and I want to thank you for them and you.
And to our locally employed staff – will all of our South African staff raise your hand – all the South African staff? Well, I want to thank each and every one of you for the contributions you are making to this consulate. (Applause.) Consul generals come and go, ambassadors come and go, Secretaries come and go, but our locally employed staff really provides the continuity. You provide the memory bank of everything that went before, and we could not do this work without you as our colleagues working side by side every single day.
Now, as some of you may know, this post is home our longest serving locally employed staff member in all of sub-Saharan Africa: James Brody. (Applause.) Mr. Brody has kept things running for more than 40 years. And we thank you for your service, your dedication, and your example. Thank you very much, sir. (Applause.)
So again, let me say thank you and how grateful I am, and on behalf of myself and President Obama, I want to thank you for your commitment to representing the United States so well. I’ve got to admit, though, it’s not exactly a hardship post. (Laughter.) I’m sitting here with the sun raining down on my back, looking at the port – you know – (laughter) – it was snowing in Pretoria yesterday. But on a very personal level, I’m very proud to be your colleague and to have the chance to represent the United States at this very important time in the history of this extraordinary country. Thank you all very much. (Applause.)