By Emma Tinka Were, Ultimate Media
Jacob Zuma, the President of the Republic of South Africa paid a State Visit to Uganda from 24 to 26 March 2010 at the invitation of President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni.
President Zuma was accompanied by several Cabinet Ministers, Senior Government officials and a high level business delegation.
During the visit the two Presidents held fruitful discussions and reviewed bilateral, regional and international issues of mutual interest. They also expressed their mutual satisfaction with the strong bonds of friendship between the two countries and emphasized their determination to further strengthen and expand cooperation in the fields of agriculture, environment and water affairs, trade, investment, science and technology, social development, energy, defence and public works.
Possibilities were identified to strengthen economic relations based on partnerships in all areas of economic activity between Uganda and South Africa. The Presidents noted with satisfaction the bilateral engagement of the Ministers responsible and economic cooperation in the two countries during the State Visit. The Presidents endorsed the spirit of the Ministerial Statement on Trade and Economic Cooperation signed by the Ministers, and urged for expeditious implementation.
A specific call was made to enhance collaboration to improve the development and promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises as well as the need to foster cooperation in standards development, technology development and transfer. The importance of implementing the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit Decision was also underscored.
A draft Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in tne field of Energy was handed over by the Ugandan delegation to their South African counterparts, it was agreed that the delegation from Uganda will visit South Africa for further consultations in this regard.
The importance of Science, Technology and Innovation (5TI) in improving the lives of ordinary citizens and creating prosperity was underscored. Both countries noted the Bilateral Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation signed in 2009, and made a commitment to ensure its full implementation. A Plan of Action has been agreed upon to effect the Agreement. Priorities for the medium term include increased research in the following areas, energy, and engineering (including ICT and geosciences) and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. These efforts are expected to enhance human capacity, technology transfer and improve science and technology infrastructure within our countries. It was agreed that a joint pool of funding would be created that would allow scientists to further the priorities identified. The sectors concurred that there remains a need for more focus on Human Capital Development
On agricultural cooperation, the delegations agreed to combine the draft zoo-sanitary and draft phytosanitary MoUs into one Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) MoU. In addition, it was agreed that the MoU on General Bilateral Cooperation in the Field of Agriculture and Fisheries would also be concluded. The MoUs will be ready for signature within the next two weeks. In addition, the Agricultural Sector agreed to the creation of a Joint Management Committee (JMC) to monitor the implementation of MoUs relating to the agricultural field. The delegations agreed to prioritize the following areas for implementation: accessing and sustaining markets for agricultural products into South Africa: livestock health breeding: crops research and protection measures, focusing on post narvest technologies: capacitating pubiic institutions to respond to challenges of subsistence and smallholder farmers; sharing of experiences with regard to extension approaches and development of fresh water aquaculture. Central to this work will be stiengthening collaboration in agricultural research, diagnostics and animal disease vaccine development, as well as collaborating with private sector partners and multilateral agencies in implementation.
The bilateral engagement further focused in depth on climate change, water resource management and sustainable development, which included talks on water pollution, sanitation, environmental impact management, meteorology monitoring as well as sharing of information and experience. The need for coordinated projects focusing on bulk water transportation and rainwater harvesting was identified. A broader framework for a MoU will be discussed in detail in June 2010 during a bilateral visit.
The sector dealing with defence renewed its commitment to the existing Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation in Defence that was signea in 2005 and also signed a Declaration of Intent to further deepen and strengthen their cooperation. They also established an implementation framework with set timeiines for the administration of the Declaration and MoU.
The sector on social development undertook to exchange programs for the implementation and monitoring of various programs of children orphaned by HiV & AIDS including child and youth headed households, including the promotion and facilitation of interaction between community care workers of both countries in addition it was agreed that there should be mere support for the exchange of experience on policy and programme development in the areas of disability, as well as rural, community and youth development. This would include training of community development workers, as well as exchange of information on social development, policy, legislation and services around social protection and social security.
Bilateral talks further culminated in an agreement to establish a Uganda/South Africa Joint Permanent Commission which would coordinate and structure regular bilateral engagement. It would be chaired by the respective Foreign Ministers. It was further proposed that the Presidents should meet annually to discuss bilateral relations. It was agreea that every effort should be made to finalise all outstanding bilateral Agreements for signature op the fringes of the African Union Summit scheduled to be held in Uganda in Juiy 2010.
President Museveni briefed President Zuma on political developments in the East African region, particularly with regard to regional integration and the current situations in Sudan, Somalia, Burundi and the DRC.
On Sudan both Presidents reiterated their support for the full implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in the run-up to elections in April 2010 and the Referendum on Self-Determination in January 2011. Support was also emphasized for the Darfur Peace Process under AU auspices. The two sides agreed on the need
to closely cooperate in joint efforts to build capacity and institutions of governance in Southern Sudan.
In turn, President Zuma briefed President Museveni on the latest developments in Madagascar and Zimbabwe. On Zimbabwe both Presidents concurred on the need for the lifting of international sanctions
It was noted with satisfaction that the peace process in Burundi was progressing and the Presidents called for support for post-conflict reconstruction and peace building efforts. Both Presidents congratulated Burundi on the successful conclusion of the peace process that will lead to the elections starting in May 2010, in which all political parties in Burundi will participate freely for the first time. They further ca’leo on all the political parties to avoid engaging in any action that may interfere with the holding of a free and fair election.
On the situation in the Eastern DRC, the two Presidents observed that efforts to secure peace had improved. However, they urged MONUC not to hastily wind up its operations as the situation still warranted an international presence. The current situation in Somalia was also noted with concern
On continental issues, the two Heads of State welcomed efforts by the African Union and the REC’s to establish mechanisms of peace and security, but also noted with concern the challenges the African Union encountered in maintaining and sustaining stability on the continent. Therefore the two leaders emphasized the need to strengthen the AU to enable it to play a more effective role in conflict resolution on the continent.
The two Presidents renewed their call for the reform of the United Nations Secunty Council to afford the African continent a fair representation and to make it democratic, effective and accountable. In this regard, South Africa congratulated Uganda on its excellent contribution made during their tenure in the Security Council
A call was also made for global and complete nuclear disarmament, together with a re-affirmation of the commitment to and support of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Heads of State also re-affirmed the right of all developing countries to acquire develop and use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
The two Presidents, in solidarity, underscored the importance of cooperation between Uganda and South Africa in multilateral fora in this regard, they agreed to establisn a close.working relationship on matters of mutual interest, especially in the consolidation of international peace and security, human rights, socio-.economic development and political cooperation
During his visit, President Zuma addressed Parliament, which gave him the opportunity to thank the Republic of Uganda for their committed efforts in supporting the liberation struggle in South Africa. The President also commissioned the Oliver Tambo School of Leadership at Kaweweta. a project that symbolises the gratitude of the South African people for Uganda’s support. The President unveiled a plaque at the Wall of Remembrance, built in the Pan African Square, in commemoration of 14 ANC comrades who died in Uganda during the struggle.
Presidents Museveni and Zuma addressed the Business Forum during which they underscored the vital contribution of the private sector as an engine of growth and development. They encouraged business to look at the possibility of establishing a Joint Business Council as a platform to collaborate and promote further trade and investment.
His Excellency President Museveni congratulated President Zuma on the extensive preparations South Africa has made for the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. He expressed his confidence that South Africa would successfully host the tournament, on behalf of Africa continent. President Zuma encouraged President Museveni and all Ugandans in general to visit South Africa for the event.
The two Presidents witnessed the signing of:
- The Agreement Between the Governments of the Republic of Uganda and the Republic of Soutn Africa regarding Cooperation and Mutual Assistance Between their Customs Administrations; and the
- Joint Ministerial Statement on Trade and Economic Cooperation
At the conclusion of his visit, President Zuma expressed appreciation for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to him and members of his delegation by
President Museveni, the Government and people of Uganda during their stay in the country.
President Jacob Zuma also extended an invitation to President Yoweri Museveni to visit South Africa, which he gladly accepted. The dates of the visit will be agreed upon through diplomatic channels.
Emma Tinka Were, is the Public Affairs Officer, Uganda Media Centre