PRESIDENT Lungu and his Zimbabwean counterpart, Robert Mugabe, yesterday held a high-level closed-door meeting at State House, which lasted for two hours.
Mr Lungu was accompanied by First Lady Esther, Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba, Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Margaret Mwanakatwe, Lusaka Province Minister Obvious Mwaliteta and Zambia’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe Ndiyoi Mutiti.
Other officials in President Lungu’s delegation were his special assistant for press and public relations Amos Chanda, special assistant for political affairs Kaizer Zulu and technocrats from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Commerce, Trade and Industry.
Mr Mugabe and his wife, Grace, received Mr Lungu and his delegation and immediately proceeded to the meeting.
And the President told journalists shortly after the meeting that he was happy to be in Zimbabwe and to confer with President Mugabe, whom he described as a statesman.
President Lungu said he is ready to learn and acquire knowledge from President Mugabe.
“I am here for the first time officially as head of State and I am getting used to the hospitality of President Mugabe and I can say he is an elder statesman in the region and he knows all the corners in the region and so I am learning from him,” Mr Lungu said.
And Mr Chanda said in an interview that the two leaders held talks on a number of issues affecting the region, including the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
“President Lungu has held a one-on-one conversation with President Mugabe. They reflected on a number of issues, including the unfortunate developments in South Africa.
“They are trying to agree on the interventions that can help bring to an end the xenophobic attacks that have broken out in some parts of South Africa,” Mr Chanda said.
Meanwhile, President Lungu is today scheduled to address the Southern African Development Community (SADC) extraordinary summit of heads of State and government, whose focus is on industrialisation.
Mr Chanda said Mr Lungu’s address to the summit will focus on the finalisation of the industrialisation strategy and roadmap within the time-frame the SADC leaders agreed.
“The President will specifically address SADC and argue that countries like Zambia will need to increase value addition methods so that they can get the necessary benefits from the raw materials that they export,” Mr Chanda said.
He said President Lungu will further make an intervention and argue for close collaboration among SADC countries.
Mr Chanda said the President will emphasise on the need for increased trade among SADC member states so that growth can circulate in the region.
“The President will also argue the case for enhanced productivity and competitiveness and also address the issue of the tripartite free trade area.
“Particularly for Zambia, his main point will be to argue that structural and economic transformation in the region will only come about through increased private sector participation,” Mr Chanda said.
He said Mr Lungu will tomorrow travel for a State visit to Bulawayo, where he will officiate at the 56th Zimbabwe Trade Fair.