24 November 2017

South Africa: SA, Angola Pledge to Support Zimbabwe

South Africa and Angola have congratulated the new Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and vowed to support Zimbabweans as they begin a new chapter in that country's history.

President Mnangagwa, 75, was sworn in on Friday as the President of Zimbabwe in a colourful ceremony attended by thousands of Zimbabweans and foreign dignitaries.

He replaced former President Robert Mugabe, who resigned on Tuesday after military and public pressure put an end to his 37-year stay in power.

He will serve as interim president until late August 2018 when Robert Mugabe's term was set to expire. Thereafter, the people of Zimbabwe are set to elect their next leader.

"We take this opportunity to congratulate President Mnangagwa and hope that with the support of the people of Zimbabwe, he will be able to steer the country successfully through this transition period," said President Zuma on Friday.

President Zuma was speaking at the opening session of a ceremony to welcome Angola's President João Manuel Lourenço, who is in the country for a State visit.

President Zuma did not attend the swearing-in ceremony as he is hosting the State visit and has instead delegated the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele, to represent him.

Speaking through an interpreter, President Lourenço committed Angola to "walk the path" with Zimbabweans.

The two Presidents went on to pay tribute to the former President Robert Mugabe for his "gallant contribution" to the Southern African liberation struggles against colonialism and apartheid.

President Zuma, who met President Mnangagwa on Wednesday before he returned to Zimbabwe, said he was reassured that former President Mugabe and his family will be treated with the greatest respect and dignity and that they would be secure in Zimbabwe.

"We both agreed as well that the place of President Mugabe in the history of the liberation struggles of the continent and SADC will forever be remembered and acknowledged," said President Zuma.

Strengthening regional links

South Africa and Angola opened their talks in Tshwane with a consensus to deepen bilateral relations by paying particular attention to economic and social cooperation.

The two countries are of the view that enhanced trade cooperation can be achieved by encouraging the respective private sectors to invest in each other's economies.

Currently, Angola is one of South Africa's major trading partners on the continent. In 2016, South African exports to Angola stood at R8.2 billion and imports from Angola amounted to R18 billion, largely consisting of crude oil.

Although there are a number of South African companies involved in Angola in a variety of sectors including construction, mining, housing, retail, food and beverages, hotels and leisure, banking and medical services (rescue), the two Presidents have identified untapped sectors.

These include opportunities in agriculture, mining, infrastructure development, energy and tourism, which need to be explored to grow trade.

"We cannot overemphasise the need to strengthen cultural, scientific and technological cooperation. Considering our history, dedicated efforts need to be employed to encourage people-to-people cooperation," said President Zuma.

To facilitate this vision, South Africa and Angola are expected to sign several memoranda of understanding and agreements in various sectors. These include a MoU that will see the creation of a Presidential Bi-National Commission, a visa waiver agreement for ordinary passport holders, an agreement on police cooperation and an agreement in customs matters.

In the morning, President Lourenço was welcomed with a 21-gun salute and a guard of honour as he arrived at Pretoria's Union Buildings, which was decked out in flowers and a red carpet.

With the Angolan flag hoisted high at the Union Buildings, President Lourenço walked on the red carpet, inspecting the ceremonial guard of honour.

Moments later, the two Heads of State made their way to the presidential boardroom for a closed-door tête-à-tête.

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