SA means business, Zuma tells UK

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has pointed out to British Parliamentarians that the number of businesspeople on his delegation was indicative of his administration's particular interest in heightening economic relations with the United Kingdom.

The UK is South Africa's largest foreign investor, as well as highest international patron of the country's tourism industry.

"We have brought along to the United Kingdom, 216 businesspeople representing various sectors. This indicates our interest to take our economic relations forward, as we are determined to improve investments and the creation of decent jobs," Zuma told Parliamentarians in the Palace of Westminster on Thursday.

And Zuma was not shy to inform parliamentarians that South Africa provided an "excellent destination for investments in all sectors including manufacturing, agriculture, tourism and mining."

Between 1998 and 2008, total trade between the two nations has increased by 173 percent.

He said the country had achieved a level of macroeconomic stability and sustained a pace of growth that had not been seen in South Africa for many years.

"Until the onset of the global economic crisis, we had managed to accelerate the pace of job creation, and had even achieved a budget surplus," said Zuma, who is on a three-day state visit to the UK.

He said it was because of the country's economic policies, a sound regulatory environment, and a massive investment in infrastructure, that the prospects of the South African economy recovering looked promising.

Zuma also used the opportunity to set the record straight on the country's position on the nationalisation of mines.

"Let me use this opportunity to state that South African law does not provide for the nationalisation of mineral resources, and there is no discussion within government about the nationalization of mines," he said.

"Our Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act gives effect to the notion of State custodianship of mineral rights," he explained.

Last month, Zuma reiterated that nationalisation was not government policy.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, Zuma held breakfast talks at 10 Downing Street with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where the two reportedly discussed the issue of Zimbabwe, among other topics.

Zuma is said to have called for the lifting of international sanctions against Zimbabwe's 86-year-old President Robert Mugabe and some leading members of his Zanu-PF party.

South Africa, like most of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, is against the EU targeted sanctions, which they believe if lifted will accelerate economic and political reform in the beleaguered administration.

Zuma told Parliamentarians later, that South Africa was greatly affected by the crisis in Zimbabwe.

"The influx of economic refugees from Zimbabwe places a significant strain on our capacity and resources.

"That is why we have consistently sought to follow the path that holds out the greatest prospect of success."