President Edgar Lungu and visiting South African President Jacob Zuma have called for the review of the existing bilateral cooperation framework between Zambia and South Africa, in order to maximise economic benefits for the two countries.
ZANIS reports that the two leaders made the call when President Lungu held bilateral talks with Mr Zuma at State House in Lusaka yesterday.
President Jacob Zuma is in the country for a two day state visit that will coincide with the commissioning of the Oliver Tambo National Heritage Site to mark the centenary celebrations of the late South African Freedom Fighter and African National Congress (ANC) leader.
President Lungu said Zambia attaches great importance to her bilateral relations with South Africa and has expressed hope that the ties will be advanced to meet the contemporary social and economic demands of the two nations.
The Head of State expressed hope that the recent high level interactions between himself and President Zuma have created a strong connection that has culminated into increased trade and investment and political consultations between the two countries.
“We attach great importance to our bilateral relations which are premised on a shared history and experiences during the struggle for independence. Your history runs throughout Africa, when we talk of the struggle in South Africa, we talk of the struggle of Africa, ” said President Lungu.
And President Lungu commended President Zuma for honouring the life of the late Oliver Tambo by declaring 2017 as the Oliver Reginald Tambo year in South Africa.
He said Zambia decided to also honour the late South African freedom Fighter by declaring his residence as a national monument.
And President Zuma has paid glowing tribute to Zambia for housing South Africa’s freedom fighters and the ANC during the liberation struggle and fight against apartheid.
“Zambia brings back great memories of our past. This is our home where we spent close to three decades during the period when we were fighting against colonialism and apartheid Therefore every time we visit Zambia, we feel excited. ” said Mr Zuma.
Mr Zuma said the shared history Zambia has with South Africa and the need for renewed friendship has been demonstrated by his two state visits to Zambia in a space of two months.
The South African leader also called for collective efforts to forge close cooperation and partnerships between South Africa and Zambia.
Mr Zuma said he will use the state visit to review the general state of the existing bilateral cooperation by focusing on economic cooperation trade, investment and infrastructure development.
He said infrastructure development is cardinal in sustaining the development process and agenda of any country desiring to advance.
Meanwhile Mr Zuma has congratulated President Lungu on his election as incoming Southern African Development Community (SADC) Chairperson for the Defense, Politics and Security subcommittee.
He said the development demonstrates the confidence and leadership that SADC has in President Lungu to oversee the region’s defense, security and political landscape.
The South African President said there is need for Africa to move swiftly and eradicate pockets of violence and guns by 2020 from Africa as mandated by the African Union.
The two heads of State later witnessed the signing of several memoranda of understanding between the two countries in various fields of cooperation.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba and South African Minister for International Relations Nkoana Mashebane signed minutes for the Zambia –South Africa Joint Permanent Commission held from October 9 – 11, this year to spur socio-economic cooperation.
Minister of Tourism and Arts Charles Banda and his South African Counterpart Nathaniel Mthetwa signed a letter of intent to enhance cooperation in art and culture.
Mr Banda also signed another MOU with Ms Mashebane to promote tourism between the two countries.
Zambia Railways Managing Director Christopher Musonda signed an MOU with South African Railway system Transnet Chief Executive Officer Siyabonga Gama to rehabilitate railway infrastructure and build the capacity for the local railway firm.
The Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) also signed an MOU with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on exchange of audio visual archive materials.