Marcelo “awaits response or silence” from government
Archive image of President Marcelo: Rodrigo Antunes/ Lusa

President starts Camões/ Portugal day celebrations in South Africa

Commemorations come after three-year delay prompted by Covid-19 pandemic

Portugal’s president Marcelo is kicking off celebrations to mark Portugal/ Camões/ Portuguese Communities Day in South Africa with a ceremony on board the Portuguese naval patrol ship Setúbal, in Cape Town, today.

The visit to this national force, which is participating in the “Open Sea” mission, will also be attended by minister of defence Helena Carreiras, chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces General José Nunes da Fonseca, and chief of the General Staff of the Navy, Admiral Henrique Gouveia e Melo.

Following the ceremony at 5.30pm local time, Marcelo is scheduled to spend time with the local Portuguese community at the Portuguese Association of the Cape of Good Hope, before flying on to Pretoria to meet the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa.

The commemorations of Portugal Day in South Africa – postponed three years ago due to the Covid-19 pandemic – will continue both in Johannesburg and Pretoria on Wednesday, a day which will also include the participation of the prime minister, António Costa, flying in from his own State visit to Angola, along with minister of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho.

Various Portuguese MPs are travelling with President Marcelo – including a representative from CHEGA, the party recently ‘banned from foreign visits’ by the parliamentary speaker.

The idea this year is for commemorations for Portugal Day (falling on Saturday June 10) starting abroad and culminating ‘at home’, with a military ceremony in Peso da Régua, (Vila Real district).

Lusa reports that according to the Observatory of Emigration, the number of Portuguese consular entries in South Africa is around 100,000. As for the total number of Portuguese people living in the country, there are varying estimates, ranging from 200,000 to 450,000, including Portuguese descendants. (Many Portuguese went to South Africa from the former colonies of Angola and Mozambique.)

The last time a Portuguese president was in South Africa was ten years ago, in December 2013, when Aníbal Cavaco Silva went to Johannesburg for the funeral ceremonies of the legendary anti-apartheid leader and the country’s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

Diplomatic relations between the West and South Africa have come under a certain amount of strain this year due to South Africa’s ‘neutral stance’ over Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine.

Source material: LUSA