PRETORIA – 5TH DECEMBER, 2016 – The Senior Officials meeting of the Zambia-South Africa Joint Commission of Cooperation (JCC) opened in Pretoria this morning.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Defence, Mr. Stardy Mwale, who is leading the Zambian delegation, has pointed out that it was a great milestone for the two countries to hold the inaugural session of the Zambia-South Africa JCC.
Mr. Mwale has observed that senior officials from the two countries have previously been meeting before Heads of State Summits to discuss matters of mutual concern and interest in various sectors but that these discussions were held without a framework to review progress and implementation.
“It resulted in sluggishness with regard to follow up actions and execution of agreed areas of cooperation. I am confident that the Joint Permanent Commission of Cooperation will provide a bilateral platform and an opportunity for the two countries to foster cooperation in various sectors as well as discuss and resolve matters of mutual concern,” he said.
Mr. Mwale urged the two sides to develop realistic timeframes and concrete proposals that would help accelerate economic and social cooperation and in turn lead to improvement in the living standards of the peoples of the two countries.
Mr. Mwale was speaking at the opening session of the Senior Officials meeting at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation offices in Pretoria this morning.
And Acting Director-General for Africa in the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Mr Kgabo Mahoai, noted that the meeting was not convened in a vacuum but emanated from the hard work that the two countries had built over several years on shared interests and mutual values.
Mr. Mahoai, who is co-chairing the meeting with Mr. Mwale, said with the signing of the JCC, political/strategic, economic, social, security and defence, issues would be reviewed holistically, so that relations could be deepened and strengthened for the mutual benefit of both countries.
He said to date, 21 Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in various fields had been signed between the two countries and that a number of them were operational. “We may, however, wish to review some of these Agreements and MoUs to ensure that they are still relevant and give impetus to our bilateral relations. Through utilising our continued collaboration and our discussions here today, it is expected that we should therefore assess progress in our sectoral cooperation while taking note of any challenges experienced and furthermore propose solutions so that we are able to set ourselves realistic and achievable goals and paving the way to where we want to be in achieving the future we want.”
Deputy Director General for Africa in the DIRCO, Mr Edward Makaya described the coming together of the two sides as a significant development as it was meant to lead to the signing of the JCC which has been outstanding for a long time.
Mr. Makaya said South Africa had been looking forward to this day as it was on record that directives had been issued at head of state level during the last two State Visits for a JCC to be established between Zambia and South Africa.
“This is significant and I hope all of us here understand that fact. We need to have our two ministers after signing the MOU on Wednesday to report to the two heads of State that finally, the JCC has been established,” Mr. Makaya said.
Foreign Affairs Minister, Honourable Harry Kalaba and South Africa’s Minister for International Relations, Honourable Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, will on Wednesday sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of the JCC on behalf of their countries.
The signing of the JCC is preceding President Edgar Lungu’s State Visit to South Africa from 7 – 9th December, 2016.
President Lungu’s visit is being undertaken at the invitation of his South African counter-part, President Jacob Zuma.
This is the first time that the two countries will establish a permanent framework through which to periodically review progress and implementation of issues of common interest and concerns.
Some of the members of the Zambian delegation are Ministry of Home Affairs Deputy Permanent Secretary Ms. Angela Mulenga, Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, His Excellency Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba, Zambia Army Commander Lt Gen Paul Mihova, Director for Development and Cooperation at the Ministry of Finance Mr. Sylvester Mundanda, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Mr. Eugene Sibote, and others from the Ministries of Home Affairs, Commerce, Justice, Agriculture and Education.
The Senior Officials’ session will consider areas of cooperation under political and diplomatic, economic, social and, security and defence clusters.
Also expected to be signed are other cooperation agreements in agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, trade and energy.