REASONS TO CELEBRATE

Zambia 2014 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

HE Jacob Zuma, President of the Republic of South Africa, on building closer regional ties, and the potential for improved economic performance in the SADC region.

HE Jacob Zuma
BIOGRAPHY
Influenced by a trade unionist family member, Jacob Zuma became involved in politics at an early age, joining the ANC in 1958. He became an active member of the ANC’s armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe, in 1962, following the banning of the ANC in 1960. While on his way out of the country in 1963, he was arrested and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. He left South Africa in December 1975 and for the next 12 years was based in Southern Africa. Following the unbanning of the ANC in February 1990, he was one of the first ANC leaders to return to South Africa to begin the process of negotiations with the then apartheid regime. In 1991, at the first ANC conference held in South Africa since 1959, he was elected Deputy Secretary General. He was elected ANC Deputy President in December 1997, and served as Deputy President of South Africa from 1999 until June 2005. Zuma was elected ANC President in December 2007, becoming the ANC’s candidate for South African president in the 2009 elections.

On behalf of the government and people of South Africa, I would like to congratulate the Zambian nation on its Golden Jubilee celebration that commemorates 50 years of independence from the UK. Given the deep historical ties between our two countries, this is not only an important celebration for Zambia but also for South Africa and the region as a whole.

Zambia is a nation that played host to all the liberation movements in Southern Africa and generously shared her meager resources to support the cause of freedom and justice.

Our relations have a strong foundation as scores of South Africans lived in Zambia during the struggle for liberation.

The Zambians demonstrated their incredible kindness, humanity, resolve and “Ubuntu," to southern Africa as a whole. Many other liberation movements in the region also benefited from Zambian solidarity.

Zambia was the headquarters of our ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), for over 30 years. Therefore, many of the strategies and tactics that finally freed our country were shaped in Lusaka.

We now seek to further deepen and enhance these cordial and warm relations.

Zambia is now one of South Africa's top 10 trading partners on the continent, in so doing surpassing countries, which traditionally used to attract huge investments from our country.

These investments are no longer concentrated in the traditional so-called “old economy" that is mining, retail and related industries, but we are seeing a great shift to what some call the “new economy"—financial services, information communication technology, agribusiness, leisure, and others.

Zambia has been able to attract these investments thanks to its conducive regulatory framework and legislative environment, making the country a model for doing business.

Our countries are duty-bound and determined to champion and play a central and leading role in the regional and continental infrastructure development within the context of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), with particular emphasis on the North-South Corridor that traverses through the Southern African Development Community (SADC), East African Community (EAC), and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

This North-South Corridor will, in sync with regional integration efforts, facilitate trade and physical interconnectivity with a high-priority focus in the areas of mining, agriculture, and tourism to the benefit of the peoples and economies of southern African countries.

In this regard, Zambia's geo-strategic location is central to the success of these initiatives.

Zambia is an important country to unlock the regional spatial development initiatives and infrastructure projects in the region.

It is therefore incumbent upon the private sector in both our countries to assist, leverage and benefit from these huge infrastructural development projects.

Enormous opportunities exist in the downstream development and beneficiation of Africa's vast resources, as well as in the creation of the critical infrastructure in terms of roads, railways, ports and utilities.

As governments, we can assure that we will do everything possible to create an enabling environment for the private sector investments, ensuring that such investments do not only contribute to economic development, but also create sustainable employment.

Finally, we are all aware of the vantage point we find ourselves at to pull all efforts to develop our countries, our region and our continent.

Africa's future beckons!