SOUTH Africa has said that there is still a lot of room for improvement of relations with Zambia and attain closer working ties.
And South Africa has announced that its President His Excellency Mr. Jacob Zuma has invited his Zambian counterpart, His Excellency Mr. Edgar Lungu for a State visit in December, 2016.
South Africa’s Minister of Rural Development and Land Reform, Mr. Gungile Nkwiti announced this at the Zambian High Commission in Pretoria on Friday when he officiated as a guest of honour at celebrations to mark Zambia’s 52nd Independence Day anniversary which falls on Monday, 24th October.
Mr. Nkwiti said President Zuma and President Lungu shared common views in many areas including the developmental aspirations of the region and the continent, particularly continental peace and security and also on broader issues in the multilateral fora.
He said Zambia and South Africa enjoyed warm and cordial relations which have, over the years, translated to broader economic and trade cooperation including closer engagements at heads of State level with reciprocal visits, the latest high level engagement being last year when President Lungu paid a courtesy call on President Zuma in 2015.
The Minister said it was important to reflect on the progress achieved and identify areas that needed to be improved as the two countries consolidate their bilateral relations.
Mr. Nkwiti said trade between the two countries had increased substantially through taking advantage of the existing Bilateral Agreements to foster relations and the expansion of the scope of cooperation.”
“Our trade relations are a reflection of an inter-African trade that is encouraged in the African Union Agenda 2063. Zambia thus remains on of South Africa’s top three trading partners on the continent,” Mr. Nkwiti said.
He said it was encouraging that Zambia and South Africa have steadfastly continued to champion for regional and continental infrastructure development with particular emphasis on the North-South Corridor which traverses through the SADC, the East African Community and the COMESA regions.
Mr. Nkwiti said Zambia’s attainment of independence in 1964 became an inspiration for other African nationalists who pursued the quest for the total decolonization of the continent as motivated by former President Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who envisioned Zambia as a guiding light for Africa’s independence and solidarity.
The Minister noted that relations between Zambia and South Africa date back to 1965 when the African National Congress established its headquarters in Lusaka.
Zambia’s High Commissioner to South Africa, Mr. Emmanuel Mwamba pointed out that this year’s independence was important particularly it came after Zambia had just successfully held peaceful elections during which President Lungu was re-elected for another five-year term.
Mr. Mwamba said Zambia valued the commemoration of her independence because this reminded the country of the objectives that her forefather’s fought to attain, not only for Zambia, but for the rest of the continent and beyond as well.
“Today we stand proud and we are able to celebrate our day with a free conscious because the entire continent has now been liberated.”
“Zambia’s selfless dedication, through her efforts and resources, to the liberation struggle is well documented and is partly evidenced through our hosting of several exiled liberation fighters around the region who found Zambia a safe haven,” Mr. Mwamba said.
He observed that Zambia and South Africa had continued being close trading partners although there were some areas that needed to be addressed to foster a favourable environment for both countries.