Zuma to visit Burundi

2011-08-06 08:01

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 yesterday.

Zuma 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 Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza for a two-day visit, starting on August 11.

His delegation will include Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande, Deputy Trade and Industry Minister Thandi Tobias-Poloka and 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,” said Monyela.

“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.”

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 Burundi with various development projects, such as the hosting of the permanent Independent National Election Commission (CENI) shortly before the 2010 elections in Burundi.

In collaboration with the United Nations Development programme 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 South Africa 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.

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