FIRST THINGS FIRST

Zambia 2017 | DIPLOMACY | GUEST SPEAKER

TBY talks to Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa, on boosting bilateral relations, exporting South Africa's conducive business environment to Zambian firms, and augmenting intra-African trade .

Jacob Zuma
BIOGRAPHY
Jacob Zuma became an active member of the African National Congress (ANC) in the 1950s. He was arrested in 1963 and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment on Robben Island. In 1973, he continued his activities in exile in southern African countries. In 1999, Zuma was appointed Deputy President of the Republic and assisted former President Nelson Mandela as Burundi peace mediator. He was inaugurated as President of the Republic for his first term in 2009 and assumed his second term in office in 2014. His priority during this second term is to mobilize society behind the 2030 Vision outlined in the National Development Plan, the country’s socioeconomic development blueprint.

What was the upshot of the state visit by President Edgar Lungu to South Africa at the end of 2016?

We reviewed a wide range of bilateral, regional, and international issues. We expressed satisfaction at the strong bilateral relations existing between the two countries, founded on longstanding historical, political, economic, and cultural ties. We noted with appreciation the vast nature of the bilateral cooperation, which includes, amongst other areas, trade and investment, energy, agriculture, mining, defense, health, education, correctional services, and transport.

Economic relations between the two countries are growing stronger, with Zambia ranking as one of South Africa's top-three export sources in Africa. What can be done to further boost trade figures?

In order to increase trade between the two countries, there is a need for regular interaction of business communities from both countries, as well as companies from both countries taking part in various trade and investment-promotion missions. There is also a need to ensure that the agreements signed on economic cooperation between the two countries are fully implemented. Finally, the business sector should be encouraged to take advantage of the South Africa-Zambia Business Council to explore ways to further participate in the economies of the two countries.

More than 150 South African countries have set up shop in Zambia. What further measures can be taken to encourage Zambian companies to enter the South African market in a similar fashion?

Through the established South Africa-Zambia Business Council, Zambian companies are encouraged to take advantage of South Africa's conducive investment environment, as well as encouraging partnerships or joint ventures.

What practical initiatives are being launched to illustrate Zambia and South Africa's mutual commitment to regional integration, particularly in the SADC?

The two countries regularly consult with each other on the political and security situation in the region and the continent. Furthermore, South Africa and Zambia have committed themselves to working together in pursuit of sustainable peace and stability in the region. With regards to regional integration, the two countries fully support the implementation of the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap. Both countries participate in the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), which demonstrates a strong commitment to strengthening economic regional integration. There are also calls from both countries to pursue the creation of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in order to boost intra-Africa trade, and industrial and infrastructure development, ultimately impacting on the lives of our peoples.

How are the two countries working together toward achieving peace and political stability across the whole continent?

South Africa and Zambia constantly engage each other in particular to share perspectives on peace and security within the continent, and are committed to African unity and the implementation of the AU Agenda 2063 and its Action Plan.