Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane: Inauguration of Joint Commission for Cooperation between South Africa and Zambia

Opening Remarks by Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, on the occasion of the inauguration of the Joint Commission for Cooperation between the Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Zambia, Pretoria

Your Excellency, Mr Harry Kalaba, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Zambia,

Your Excellency, Mr Emmanuel Mwamba, High Commissioner of the Republic of Zambia to South Africa,

Your Excellency, Ms Sikose Mji, High Commissioner of South Africa to the Republic of Zambia,

Senior Officials from our respective Governments,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you, Minister and your esteemed delegation to South Africa on this occasion of the inauguration of the Joint Commission for Cooperation (JCC) between our nations. From the onset, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the PF Government on its re-election by the people of Zambia to a full five year mandate and in the same vein, I would like to congratulate you Minister Kalaba for your re-appointment as Minister of Foreign Affairs. The people and the Government of South Africa wish you well in your reassignment.

Honourable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

You will recall that the relations between our two countries are historical leading the establishment of the ANC headquarters in Lusaka. The people of South Africa acknowledge and hold dear the sacrifices made by Zambia and her people when you hosted us during the difficult time of our liberation struggle. Your daring provision of sanctuary to our liberation struggle and combatants was sure to provoke the fury of the apartheid regime, yet you remained resolute to continue the fight for our freedom. The people of South Africa are indebted to the people of Zambia for their gallant contributions in the fight to liberate us from the apartheid repression.

Honourable Minister,

Allow me, to also express our gratitude to the Republic of Zambia for declaring the house that was occupied by the Leader and the President of the ANC, President Oliver Reginald Tambo, as a National heritage. We are indeed humbled by this noble gesture and the fact that the declaration of this national heritage was done on OR’s 99th Birthday on the 27 October 2016.

Honourable Minister,

Over the past 22 years, both our countries have developed a strong working relationship. In this regard, the Joint Commission for Cooperation was established in 2005 to serve as the mechanism to enhance the cooperation. As you are aware, the objective of the JCC is to promote political, economic and social cooperation between South Africa and Zambia. Today, I am pleased to see us succeed in taking this important step of formally inaugurating the JCC as we were directed by our Presidents on the occasion of President Lungu’s courtesy visit to South Africa in February 2015. For our two countries, this is an important milestone which beckons us bilaterally in the right direction and further strengthening our cooperation. This inauguration of the JCC presents us with immense opportunities to consolidate and strengthen exchanges in trade and investments between our two countries and also to enhance bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of our people.

Honourable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

South Africa and Zambia already cooperate in many critical areas such as health, trade, infrastructure development, energy and mining, among others. We are keen to explore and expand further in more areas of cooperation so as to create value for our people. To date, twenty one (21) Agreements and Memoranda of Understanding in various fields have been signed between our two countries and I am pleased that a number of them are operational. We may, however, wish to review some of these Agreements and MoUs to ensure that they are still relevant and give impetus to our bilateral relations. I commend our sectoral Departments for their continued interactions and current activities and projects. In this regard, I am quite encouraged to note that general cooperation including trade between our two countries has improved steadily since the formalisation of relations in 1994.

Honourable Minister,

It is essential that mutually beneficial economic ties and investment flows continue to grow between our two countries as these are the foundations for mutual benefit and regional integration.

Our economies are currently under tremendous pressure as we find ourselves in difficult economic dynamics brought about by external factors such as global commodity prices, fluctuating currencies, shrinking GDP growth, including natural disasters such as the El Nino drought phenomenon which has affected the entire SADC Region.

Therefore, it remains an inevitable move to realign our national development plans, to embark on targeted joint efforts in order to collectively alleviate the ensuing external negative economic impacts. We need to work together to combat the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality in our countries.

Honourable Minister, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Bilaterally, we are seized with the main task of ensuring the implementation of our bilateral Agreements/MoUs, for the betterment of the lives of our people. The participation and contribution from various sectoral Departments is highly valued as they remain the driving force of our bilateral cooperation. We trust that they have utilised this platform to explore new areas of mutual opportunity and to further deepen existing ones.

Allow me also, Honourable Minister, to commend and congratulate our Senior Officials for their hard work well done. For the past two days, our senior officials met in the various Clusters to deliberate on the salient Diplomatic, Economic, Social and Security issues that are of key importance to our two nations.

Our meeting today, looks forward to the presentations of reports by our Senior Officials and the outcomes emanating from the constructive and fruitful discussions they conducted.

Honourable Minister,

It is only by working together that we can be able to achieve the desired outcomes for closer bilateral relations and cooperation. Indeed we have made good strides in this regard, but I believe there is still room for improvement and growth.

I look forward to fruitful deliberations and the report prepared by our Senior Officials.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa.

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