Zuma lays foundation for closer Angola ties

2009-08-22 09:11

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma wrapped up his visit to Angola on Friday with

a clutch of new deals that analysts say will lay the groundwork for closer ties

between the two key regional players.

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos hailed the two-day visit

as a “new era in bilateral relations”, while Zuma said the new trade

partnerships would “change the economic landscape of southern ­Africa”.

The deals covered everything from sports to industry, notably a

partnership between Angolan state oil company ­Sonangol and South Africa’s

parastatal Petro SA for refining oil.

The two leaders also discussed the ­electricity supply from the

Inga hydroelectric plant in the Democratic ­Republic of Congo.

But Zuma did not leave with everything he had hoped for and

proposals for easing visa requirements and establishing a ­bilateral commission

were left unsigned.

Business leaders and analysts hailed the visit as a major step

toward reviving ­relations that had cooled under former president Thabo Mbeki,

as the two nations feuded over how to handle the crisis in Zimbabwe and the

conflict in Congo.

The tensions left South African companies out of lucrative

reconstruction jobs following the end of Angola’s civil war in 2002, while

China, Brazil and Western countries vied for a slice of the rapidly growing

economy powered by oil and ­mining.

Hoping to catch up, Zuma took along more than 100 business leaders,

the largest business delegation on a presidential trip since the end of

apartheid.

“There’s a lot of energy, a lot of interest, a lot of commitment

here at the moment. Things are on the boil,” said Jose Severino, president of

the Association of Angolan ­Industry. “Angola has many natural ­resources and

then on the South African side there are potentials, like know-how, capital and

management and from this we can create excellent partnerships to ­enhance the

growth of our country.”

Roland Henwood, a foreign affairs ­expert at the University of

Pretoria, said Zuma’s visit was just the first step in ­reviving ties.

“What we have seen is an attempt to ­cement ties and get South

Africa involved in what is one of the most important countries in southern

Africa,” he said.

“Zuma laid the foundation at least for further talks on their

differences.”

He also made an emotional pilgrimage to a former anti-apartheid

guerrilla camp in Angola where he laid a wreath and paid tribute to fallen

comrades.

Angola’s ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola was a

key ally of the African National Congress, and many ANC members were sheltered

and trained in Angola.


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