President Jacob Zuma and his Zambian counterpart, Edgar Lungu, have vowed to review all bilateral agreements signed between the two countries to ensure they mutually benefit their citizens.
The two leaders met in Pretoria on Thursday to discuss the deepening of trade and investment between the two nations.
President Lungu is in the country on a state visit following his inauguration in January last year.
South Africa and Zambia enjoy cordial relations with at least 21 bilateral agreements and a Memoranda of Understanding signed between the two sister republics.
With a two-way trade of less R35 billion, both presidents are worried about the slow pace of implementing these agreements.
They have now officially launched the Joint Permanent Commission for Cooperation to oversee the implementation of all signed agreements.
Zuma explains, ”We have emphasised the need to implement all these agreements. We welcomed the inauguration of the Joint Commission for Cooperation launched yesterday under the stewardship of our ministers. This instrument will be utilised to ensure on-going work and implementation of our agreements and other areas of cooperation. We must walk the talk. We are both very ready to ensure that this commission works. We have taken a decision that we are going to review the implementation of the agreements periodically. We cannot repeat the fact we have agreements that must assist both countries but we take time to implement.”
Trade is skewed in favour of South Africa with over 120 local companies doing business in Zambia. Zuma used the occasion to urge business people from both countries to take advantage of sound political relations between their countries.
“We have committed both our governments to strengthen cooperation on trade and investment, science and technology, agriculture, defence, energy and culture. We further committed to actively encourage both South African and Zambian companies to take full advantage of the excellent, historical political ties between our two countries to increase economic activities. We further reaffirmed our commitment to focus on economic cooperation and have agreed to work together to identify specific areas in which South African and Zambian companies can do business,” says Zuma.
Acknowledging the huge responsibility on his shoulders after a bruising election battle in his country, President Lungu says politicking is over – insisting that the main task for him is to deliver on the promise he made – counting on the relations his country has with South Africa.
“Here I am, coming from a bruising election. Zambia has stabilised. I want to move forward, so I am not here to politic eternally. Our next elections are in 2021 so we want to work with our neighbours in the region and ensure we turn around the regional economy and improve the well being of our people. Politics have a season and the season is when you are doing elections and after that your job as a politician is to deliver on that which you promise the people. Through cooperation such as this one, we believe that Zambia and South Africa will benefit by focussing on that which benefits its two people.”
During his stay in the country, President Lungu also addressed the SA-Zambia Business Forum and received a courtesy call from Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
SABC – Thursday 8 December 2016