Ramaphosa's first state visit to India: Denel deal in sight after lifting blacklist over corruption claims

2019-01-25 06:46

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be hosted by India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his first official state visit to the country on Friday.

According to a media statement from the Presidency, Ramaphosa, who will be joined by a delegation of ministers including Jeff Radebe, Angie Motshekga, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Pravin Gordhan, will be in India to strengthen the strategic partnership South Africa has long enjoyed with India.

The two countries are expected to discuss an array of issues but will focus specifically on higher education and training, arts and culture, home affairs as well as defence and energy.

Ramaphosa and his host, Modi, both of whom face tough elections in a few months, will also have to navigate difficult conversations around trade and defence.

The two leaders have also launched mass campaigns to turn around their respective country's misfortunes, with Modi's 2014 "Make in India" initiative aimed at turning India into a global manufacturing hub and Ramaphosa's ambitious stimulus plan intended to pump investments into South Africa and create jobs to turn around an ailing economy.

Ramaphosa also jets into India following a successful showing at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where he was said to have "wowed" potential investors.

India wants to increase trade with African countries and might be looking for a free trade agreement with South Africa that would resemble the inter-continental agreement already agreed upon last year.

India to work with Denel again

It's expected that a partnership with South Africa's embattled weapons manufacturer Denel will also be made during the two-day visit.

This week, India's secretary of economic relations in the Ministry of External Affairs, TS Tirumurti, told journalists at a media briefing that the country's issues with Denel had been settled in 2018.

Denel was blacklisted following allegations of corruption.

Ramaphosa will also be India's chief guest as it marks Republic Day in celebration of that country's constitution.

He is the second South African president to have been bestowed this honour by India, the first being late president Nelson Mandela.

Ramaphosa will also lay a wreath at Mahatma Gandhi's grave and deliver a lecture in the Indian activist's honour at a business forum before participating in the Republic Day parade on Saturday.

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Read more on:    narendra modi  |  cyril rama­phosa  |  india  |  education  |  sa economy  |  diplomacy
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