Toast Remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma, on the occasion of the State Luncheon in honour of the President of Zambia His Excellency Mr Edgar Lungu

Your Excellency, President Edgar Lungu,

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Members of Parliament,

Your Excellencies, Ambassadors and High Commissioners,

Business leaders,

Distinguished guests,

I am pleased to welcome you, my Dear Brother, President Lungu and your delegation.

I wish to convey our warm and fraternal greetings to you, and through you, to the wonderful people of Zambia, on behalf of the Government and people of South Africa.

I thank you Mr President for graciously accepting my invitation.

Permit me, to once more congratulate you on your re-election as President of Zambia.

Your re-election to this highest Office shows the confidence and trust that the people of Zambia have in your leadership.

I would like to also commend the people of Zambia for once again conducting peaceful and successful elections. Zambia is well known for peace, stability and democracy and therefore we were not expecting anything less.

We are happy to see that a significant number of elections held on the Continent are generally peaceful and democratic.

This reflects the deepening of democracy in the Continent. We are determined to improve and entrench democracy in the fullness of time.

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,

It is on a day like this, that one needs to pause for a moment and look back at the history between our two countries.

There is a strong connection between the two countries that will forever bind us together.

Our relations can be traced back to 1965 when the African National Congress (ANC) established its headquarters in Lusaka, under the leadership of President Oliver Tambo.

Zambia became a true and dependable friend, giving us shelter, education, health facilities and other services, in a selfless manner.

You may recall, Excellency that former President Nelson Mandela, only two weeks after his release from prison in 1990, embarked on a tour to thank the countries that had supported the ANC during the struggle against apartheid. Significantly, Zambia was the first country he visited.

Next year we will celebrate the centenary of President OR Tambo, acknowledging his contribution to the creation of the free and democratic South Africa that we live in today.

We wish to thank you and your Government, Mr President, for declaring the house in which the President Tambo lived for 22 years of his exile life in Zambia, as a National Heritage site.

We are truly humbled by this noble gesture.

This site will be an everlasting reminder of the goodwill and generosity of the government and the people of Zambia during those difficult times and a true linkage between the past and the present.

Over the years, the relations between our two countries have grown from strength to strength.

We reflected on the social, economic, political and international cooperation between our two countries during the talks earlier today.

The two governments have also established the Joint Commission for Cooperation which was launched yesterday.

The commission is important because it will meet annually to consolidate and further strengthen our cooperation and partnership for the mutual benefit of our respective countries.

In our deliberations this morning, we also emphasised the need to strengthen economic cooperation between our two countries.

I am pleased that the South Africa-Zambia business forum is meeting as we speak, to discuss areas of cooperation between the two countries. We will be able to join the business delegations later this afternoon. We will give them a clear message that economic relations between the two countries must rise, so that we can fight poverty decisively.

We thank Zambia for opening up the market to eighty two South African companies that have invested in Zambia. We urge Zambian companies to also explore and find more opportunities in South Africa.

We must also play our respective roles in ensuring the success of regional economic integration efforts as expressed in the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan.

Your Excellency,

As we count opportunities, we are also aware that our region, SADC, is also facing challenges.

Our region continues to experience a severe drought, which will lead to higher food prices and more difficulties for the poor.

The majority of Southern African countries are also facing a negative economic outlook, mainly due to falling commodity prices and weakening currencies.

This is compounded by the effects of the El Nino drought.

In this regard there is an urgent need for countries in the region to develop capacity to enable us to implement resolutions for climate action and disaster risk management outlined in the Paris Agreement and the Sendai framework respectively.

Ladies and gentlemen,

South Africa and Zambia hold dear the ideal of peace, stability, democracy and prosperity on the Continent. These are key objectives of the African Union Agenda 2063.

We need to work together in pursuit of these noble objectives in our continent. We will also work together in promoting a peaceful, more just and more equal world, within the ambit of the United Nations.

Mr President let me once again thank you sincerely for accepting my invitation, and undertaking this state visit, which has further deepened relations between South Africa and Zambia.

Distinguished guests

Ladies and gentlemen,

May I please request you to rise and join me in a toast to the good health and prosperity of His Excellency, President Edgar Lungu and to the everlasting and enduring friendship between the peoples of Zambia and South Africa.

To friendship and partnership.

I thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa.

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