Editor's Comment

That’s the way to go

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa is welcomed by three-year-old Vincent Mbewe at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport in Lusaka. PICTURE: COLLINS PHIRI

ZAMBIA and South Africa do not share a common border but the geographical gap between the two countries, has not inhibited a warm social and economic relationship. In fact, this relationship is getting warmer by the day. For the good of the two countries, this trajectory should continue,
Thursday’s visit to Zambia by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa underscores this warmth. That’s the way to go.
The consultations-cum-dialogue he had with his Zambian counterpart, President Edgar Lungu, are another step in the right direction of improving the bilateral ties between the two countries.
It has been said before, and there is no harm in restating, that there is still a lot of room for the ties to bear more fruit for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
A significant step was therefore made when President Lungu and Mr Ramaphosa signed a Bi- National Commission (BNC), the first time ever Zambia has done that.
The signing ceremony at State House on Thursday signified the two countries’ intentions to advance mutual benefits.
Through the BNC, Zambia and South Africa elevated their Joint Commission of Co-operation (JCC) to another level.
Cabinet ministers – either Defence or Foreign Affairs – chair the JCC, sometimes referred to as the Joint Permanent Commission (JPC).
But the BNC will be chaired by the two Heads of State – upgrading the bilateral relations of the two countries. There can be no better way of showing commitment to a cause.
Clearly, Zambia and South Africa are resolved that mere talk will not lift the ties to the desired heights. It is time to walk the talk.
The BNC is aimed at promoting and enhancing cooperation in various sectors of government.
The other purpose of the bi-national commission is to coordinate relevant initiatives as well as facilitate contact between the public and private sectors of the two countries.
Beyond being Heads of State, Mr Ramaphosa is chairperson of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), while President Lungu is the in-coming chair on the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security.
Therefore, the talk about regional integration has been moved a notable notch higher. This should send a loud message across the sub-region that decisions must be implemented.
Zambia and South Africa have resolved to work together closely in resolving some of the teething problems the two countries are facing.
With the deal under wraps, citizens of both countries now await the implementation of the BNC – which should translate into a win-win outcome.
Zambians are looking forward to the resolution of outstanding bilateral issues, especially those relating to trade.
Zambia is on the receiving end in trade between the two countries. Although it is good that there is growing trade, there is a very huge imbalance which favours South Africa.
The BNC offers hope for Zambian traders who have been looking forward to penetrating the South African market.
The two countries have been collaborating through various platforms such as the Zambia- South Africa Finance and Investment Forum. This should be enhanced because their offerings are many in the various sectors of the economy.
The exchange of trade and investment missions should be mutual and these should not be mere talk-shows.
The investment climate in Zambia is healthy because of the country’s comparatively much better conditions of investment, coupled by peace, which virtually guarantees these assets.
South Africa, too, is attracting huge foreign direct investments and there is no reason why Zambian businesses should not be among them.
The bottom line to the efforts being made by the two leaders is that all other stakeholders must play their part.

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