Zuma awarded the Eagle of Zambia

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Pretoria - Zambia has awarded President Jacob Zuma the highest national honour, the Eagle of Zambia.

Zuma is the second South African to receive this symbolic award. The first was bestowed on anti-apartheid struggle hero Oliver Tambo.

Speaking during a state banquet in his honour on Monday, the President said he was honoured to be a recipient of the award.

Zuma is currently on a three-day state visit to Zambia, accompanied his wife Nompulelelo Zuma, several Cabinet ministers and a business delegation representing 60 companies in the sectors of energy and petroleum, ICT, infrastructure, financial services, healthcare, mining as well as agro-processing.

The visit marked an important step forward in the evolution of bilateral relations between the two countries.

"The fact that we have returned to visit for the second time in one year illustrates the seriousness with which we take our relations with Zambia. It also indicates the special place of this country in our hearts," said Zuma, adding that South Africans regard Zambia as home.

The President visited Chipata in eastern Zambia earlier this year.

Zuma said the two countries would have to ensure that they develop implementation mechanisms without delay, so that the fruits of this partnership can become visible to the people.

On Tuesday, he is expected to meet with Zambian President Rupiah Banda. The two leaders are expected to discuss strengthening the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) as well as matters affecting the region including Zimbabwe and Madagascar.

During his visit, Zuma is to commission Zambia's biggest agricultural project, the Nakambala sugar plantation. The project, situated at Mazabuka about 140km from Lusaka, is a R1.7billion investment by South African sugar company, Illovo Sugar.

Certain co-operation agreements are expected to be signed in the fields of energy, geology, mining and mineral beneficiation, the presidency said.

In addition bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding are expected to be signed today, further strengthening the relations between the two countries.