Pretoria: President Jacob Zuma was on Sunday bestowed with the Order of the Lion of St Mark by His Beatitude Theodoris II, who is the Head of the Greek Orthodox Church, the Pope and Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church of Alexandria and All Africa.
The Presidency on Sunday said the Greek Pope blessed the President and the country, and wished South Africa growth and strength during his courtesy call on President Zuma at his residence, Mahlamba Ndlopfu, in Pretoria.
The Presidency said the Pope expressed his gratitude for the meeting with the President and assured him that South Africans of Greek origin are fully committed to South Africa, and thanked the President for his leadership.
President Zuma also expressed his gratitude for receiving the highest order of the Greek Orthodox Church.
“I am very humbled by this highest honour. I accept it on behalf of all the people of South Africa,” said the President.
He said building the country was a collective effort. He also accepted the award on behalf of the Greek South African community in particular, acknowledging their positive contribution to building a new South Africa.
According to the Presidency, President Zuma also cited leading citizens of Greek origin such as Advocate George Bizos and Stavros Nicolaou, the President of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Alliance, who serves in the BRICS Business Council and also as a member of the Brand SA Trust.
“The Patriarch appraised President Zuma of some of the development initiatives that the Greek Orthodox Church was supporting in Africa, including building 3 000 schools and 2 000 clinics.
“He indicated as well that the church had built 4 000 water boreholes across the continent and that they would be keen to support South Africa’s infrastructure development through developing the boreholes in this country as well,” the Presidency said.
The Pope was accompanied by Nicolaou, the Ambassador of the Hellenic Republic to South Africa, Maria Diamantopolou, High Commissioner of the Republic of Cyprus to South Africa, Petros Nacouzis, the Ambassador of the Republic of Egypt to South Africa, Sherf Naguib, the Envoy of the Pope and Patriarch in Cyprus Rev. Ethos Pappas and the chairman of the Hellenic Section of the HIP Alliance, John Balladakis.
President Zuma’s delegation included the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe, and the Deputy Minister of International Relations, Llewelyn Landers.
The Presidency said President Zuma accepted an invitation to visit the Headquarters of the Church in Alexandria, Egypt.
SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS