PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma’s working visits to Guinea, Angola and Mozambique this week is aimed at using the political process to clear way for SA’s economic and business interests in those three countries, says Webster Zambara, senior project leader at the Institute for Justice & Reconciliation.
“What all three countries have in common is that they are mineral rich, they are in the post-conflict stage of recovery and SA wants to use them to expand its economic interests in Africa and to stimulate its own economy,” he said on Wednesday.
Mr Zambara has been studying those three countries and their recovery after experiencing years of civil wars in Angola and Mozambique, and a series of coups and internal conflict in Guinea.
“Guinea has an estimated 30% of the world bauxite deposits and bauxite is an essential mineral for the production of aluminum and South African large aluminum smelters,” he said.
On Tuesday Mr Zuma met Guinea President Alpha Conde and on Wednesday he met Angolan President Jose dos Santos. On Thursday Mr Zuma will attend the inauguration ceremony of Mozambique President-elect Filipe Jacinto Nyusi.
Mr Zambara said that apart from the historical political ties between the ruling MPLA party in Angola and the African National Congress, both countries have strong interests in the ongoing Democratic Republic of the Congo civil war.
A joint SA/Angolan statement issued at the conclusion of that meeting said Mr Zuma and Mr Dos Santos had agreed to set up a permanent framework for the trilateral mechanism of SA, Angola and Congo.
Mozambique, the nearest of the three countries to SA, is poised to play a more important role in the SA economy due to its large offshore gas deposits. “Those gas deposits could prove to be a major boost for SA’s energy needs and SA wants to participate in one of the fastest growing African economies that has seen a lot of Brazilian involvement,” Mr Zambara said.
Ethicore political analyst Abdul Patel said it was clear that Mr Zuma’s visits had been carefully planned.
“SA and Angola have signed about 22 bilateral agreements in recent years and there are seven such agreements between SA and Mozambique,” he said.
Mr Patel said that some of those agreements had very specific stipulations such as annual meetings between the heads of state.
“There is no doubt that these visits are to clear the political road for further SA economic and business interests in those countries.”
This week SA announced that it would send 1,000 soldiers to the Congo after the Forces for the Democratic Liberation of Rwanda failed to meet a January 2 United Nations deadline to disarm.
On Wednesday the Presidency announced that Mr Zuma would lead a high-powered government delegation to the Word Economic Forum in Switzerland from January 20-24. – Bdlive