/ 6 August 2011

Zuma’s date with Burundi

Zuma's Date With Burundi

President Jacob Zuma will visit the Republic of Burundi next week to strengthen relations between the two countries, the department of international relations and co-operation said on Friday.

The president would review progress on key areas of bilateral relations which included agriculture, forestry and fisheries, trade and investment, higher education and defence, spokesperson Clayton Monyela said in a statement.

Zuma was invited by Burundian President Pierre Nkurunziza for a two-day visit, starting on August 11.

His delegation will include Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, and Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Thandi Tobias-Poloka, as well as several officials from the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

“The two leaders will exchange views on issues that are currently affecting the African continent, especially the political developments in the eastern region and global multilateral matters.

“They will also witness the signing of two memorandums of understanding on bilateral co-operation in the field of agriculture and livestock, economic and technical co-operation, as well as two agreements on education and defence co-operation,” said Monyela.

South Africa was requested and mandated by the countries of the eastern African region community to facilitate peace talks in Burundi from the mid-90s.

This led to the conclusion of the peace process in December 2009. As a result of Pretoria’s engagement in Burundi, a general co-operation agreement was signed between the two countries on February 4 2007.

Monyela said South Africa had also assisted the government of Burundi with various development projects such as the hosting of the permanent Commission Electoral National Independence (CENI) shortly before the 2010 elections in Burundi.

In collaboration with the United Nations Development program (UNDP), South Africa invited CENI to attend further workshops within the context of the 2011 local municipal elections and to observe the election processes in the country.

South Africa’s current exports to Burundi amount to R65 263 000 and imports to this country from Burundi amount to R149 100 000.

“The country regards Burundi as a country with a great economic potential in the east African community. Burundi is also an important partner for trade and investment,” said Monyela.

However South Africa has been criticised for investing heavily in the Burundian peace process, but then allowing its relations with that country to lapse and could not afterwards demonstrate how its efforts were in the national interest.– Sapa and M&G